Hamlet is not Alice in Wonderland

Re: Diane Speer’s inexplicably glowing review of TBT’s equally inexplicable staging of “Hamlet” via Lewis Carroll, one wonders what the thought process was behind this “twist.” Ms. Speer’s feint to the contrary notwithstanding, there is no correlation or parallel or similarity between the two works, other than both being in English. If the idea was to have audiences view “Hamlet” through a new or different lens, they could have staged a modern-dress version (think Ethan Hawke’s film, “Hamlet 2000”). What TBT did was a gimmick, and a bad one. The characters might as well have been costumed as Minions.

Other problems: Polonius does not deliver the “To be, or not to be” soliloquy in the play (it’s Hamlet’s soliloquy, Act III, scene i), so why would he do so at TBT? Or is re-writing “Hamlet” part of the “new and different lens”? “Maniacal laughter [and] cool lighting effects” are the last thing I’d expect from a staging of “Hamlet.” “Macbeth,” maybe, or one of the Comedies. Hamlet as the Mad Hatter and Ophelia as Alice do not suggest a “commitment to high quality.” Shakespeare’s language is not “stilted”; it’s Elizabethan English, the English of the KJV Bible. To say that Shakespeare makes “liberal use of literary devices” is patronizing. Again, there is no correlation–none–between “Hamlet” and anything in Lewis Carroll. Mr. Mindock’s tortured attempt to fabricate one is wasted. It’s like bad conceptual theater from the 1970s. To say that Shakespeare “still stands the test of time” is perhaps the dumbest statement I’ve ever seen in print.

It’s laudable that TBT is committed to bringing Shakespeare to Northeast Michigan audiences. But this isn’t the way to do it.

Seriously. How was anyone supposed to understand the play when it was staged with such disrespect?

Clyde A Shuman