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Gerald Carpenter: UCSB to Put Timeless Spin on ‘Hamlet’

Production of Shakespeare's classic opens Friday in Hatlen Theatre

Jak Watson, left, plays Laertes and Merlin Huff is Hamlet in the UCSB production of William Shakespeare’s classic.
Jak Watson, left, plays Laertes and Merlin Huff is Hamlet in the UCSB production of William Shakespeare’s classic. (David Bazemore photo)

The UCSB Department of Theater and Dance is offering six performances of a new production of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, adapted and directed by noted UCSB faculty member Irwin Appel.

UCSB student Merlin Huff stars as the melancholy Dane, with Eddy Fernandez-Baumann as his uncle Claudius, Robert Torres as Polonius, Courtney Salvage as Horatio, Christine Buccelli as Ophelia, Emily McKeown as Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude, and Jak Watson as Laertes.

The rest of the cast includes Andrew Fromer, Joelle Golda, Julian Remulla, Brian Bock, Alexia Dox, Jordan Holmes, Garret Ward, Kaitlyn Fajilan, Erin Pettigrew and Kameron Mendez. Sets and lighting are by Vickie Scott, and the costumes are by Ann Bruice.

“Hamlet is a very modern tale,” Appel says. “It raises relevant questions about the meaning of life, thought versus action, and what reckoning might be waiting for us after this life. At the same time, it is an almost medieval tale; it is a play about castles and ghosts, heaven and hell.

“We have chosen to set our production in a timeless vein, with gothic and modern elements mixed in an eclectic style. We want the audience to be continually reminded that this is both a contemporary and an ancient story. We use very few scenic elements; instead, we take advantage of the size and scope of the Hatlen Theater and the opportunities to use light and shadow to define space and time.”

Hamlet will play at 8 p.m. May 20-21 and May 26-28 and at 2 p.m. May 22 in the Hatlen Theatre on the UCSB campus.

Tickets are $13 for students and $17 for general admission. They can be obtained at the Hatlen box office by clicking here or calling 805.893.7221.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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