By Erik Luna
Great physical talent, along with amazing acting made last Friday’s opening of “Hamlet,” a success for the Department of Speech, Theatre Arts and Broadcasting. Despite cold weather conditions and the East Los Angeles Christmas Jazz celebration being held the same day, “Hamlet,” opened up with a good turnout.
The play had a few twists and turns from the original play written by William Shakespeare. Instead of being set in the late 1600s, it’s set in the year 1912. The lights were set to a dark gloomy blue, interspersed with a tad bit of orange. The sound effects of howling wind filled the Black Box Theatre and soon the play commenced. Two guardsmen came out shivering in the winter night, soon they discover a spirit walking around that resembles the late King Hamlet.
After they tell a man named Horatio of the spirit, they tell Hamlet the prince of Denmark, who is skeptical of the whole matter. He accompanies the guardsmen and his friend Horatio to go see if the ghost reappears and once there, the ghost of the late King Hamlet speaks to him. The ghost tells Hamlet that he must correct the injustice done to him by his brother Claudius, Hamlet’s uncle.
After which, Hamlet becomes consumed with anger and vows revenge on his uncle. Hamlet hatches a plan to expose his uncle, using players or actors, to enact a play that resembles King Hamlet’s death. This culminates in a deathly duel and a climactic ending.
Marcelo Olivas, who portrayed Prince Hamlet, did a marvelous job as the lead. He brought a sense of comedy to the role and was one of the more physical actors in the play, throwing himself around the stage area frequently. He spoke with great emphasis and conveyed clear emotions during his scenes. As the title character, Olivias had a lot of lines to memorize and had three or four soliloquies to perform. When speaking alone during his soliloquies, he had no problems with his lines, but when working with another actor, he stumbled across some lines.
David Laird Scott, who portrayed Claudius, also did a great job with his role. Scott, who appeared courtesy of the Actor’s Equity Association, had one soliloquy to perform and did it with great passion. Anthony Masushige, who played Horatio, brought a lot to the play. He reacted well with the dialogue and showed great emotions when needed. Masushige had some great scenes with Olivas and has an emotional speech at the
At first glance, Cynthia Villar, who played Ophelia, didn’t seem like she was bringing much into her performance. She seemed like she was phoning in some of her scenes, but during her scene when she goes through a psychotic episode she surely gave it all she’s got.
Mario Valdez played four characters in the play. His performance as Lucianus, one of the traveling actors that Hamlet contracts, got a great reaction. Laughs erupted for his comical portrayal of the villainous killer that murdered the king in the play dubbed by Hamlet “The Mousetrap.”
Mayumi Roehm played Hamlet’s mother and the queen of Denmark, Gertrude. Roehm didn’t bring much to her role. She paused during her lines more than any of the other actors in the play. Roehms portrayal of the queen’s ending was comical at best.
Elizabeth Hernandez, who played a Danish ambassador named Voltimand and the player queen, had a bit of trouble throughout the play. She fumbled some lines and took some pauses when she shouldn’t have.
However, Hernandez did a good job as the player queen in “The Mousetrap,” having paused only once to clear her throat during her lines. One of the problems with the play, was that when the actors had their backs turned on the audience. Their words were muffled.
The acting of the main characters was the essential driving force of the play and it was crucial to pay attention to the dialogue. Performances of “Hamlet,” will continue on until Dec. 11. Tickets are on sale now online at www.vendini.com.