HAMLETTEBy William Shakespeare (Mostly)
Bare Bones Shakespeare
Directed by the Actors
Emory Lambert - Guildenstern, Bernardo, Danes, Olga, Player, Priest
Javier Morante - Olivier, Horatio, Captain
Emily Allen - Claudia, Reynaldo, Ghost, Soldier, Player
Alex Moffit - Leandra, Soldier, Gravedigger 2
Marissa Nelson - Rosencrantz, Dane, Cornelia, Player, Gent 1,
Gabrielle Galloway - Forsytha, Pollyanna, Margaret,
Tom Moffit - Gerald, Francisco, Soldier
Julia G. Nelson - Hamlette, Gent 2
Ariana Cox - Voltemand, Player 1, Ambassador
Reviewed Performance: 7/7/2018
Reviewed by Chris Hauge, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
The creative process for Bare Bones goes back to the time of Shakespeare. The actors are given copies of the script and are expected to memorize them and develop their own character arcs. The actors are then brought together for five days of rehearsal and it is the actors who direct themselves and blend together the various characters. To spice up things for this production of “Hamlet”, the male roles are now female, and the female roles are male. So, we have “Hamlette”.
There are no lighting changes. The scenes swiftly flow into one another and costumes are only hats, scarves and various pieces of cloth. The intermission was indicated by a bicycle horn. Set pieces were minimal except for the occasional chair. The emphasis is the on the words and the relationship between the actors and the audience. To put further pressure on the cast, before the show began, the audience was encouraged to write on a white board various underlying motivations or plot twists that the actors would try to incorporate into the performance. I’m not sure if the ideas suggested were fully realized, but the idea is intriguing.
I’m also not sure that the sex reversal on the roles changed the original “Hamlet” very much. Because the production gave no anchor in any particular historical era, there was no way of knowing what specific barriers women would be facing. And with the characters living in the rarified atmosphere of the royalty, would the societal restrictions be voided or emphasized based on sex? The best thing about the concept is it gives some very talented women the chance to bite into some very meaty roles and provides the men a chance to explore characters outside their comfort zone. I assume most readers are familiar with the plot line of “Hamlet”. The prince of Denmark’s father has died, and soon after, his mother marries his uncle. Hamlet finds out that the uncle murdered the king from his father’s ghost, Hamlet swears vengeance and pretends to be crazy and all Hell breaks loose (or, as it says in the song “That’s Entertainment”- “…where a ghost and prince meet, and everyone ends up mincemeat”). It is the role of Hamlet, in this case Hamlette, that drives the action of the play and Julia G. Nelson does an admirable job of doing that.
Ms. Nelson’s Hamlette is a whirlwind of energy. If anything, it could be restrained some in the beginning to give a little bit more of a sense of foreboding to the meeting with the ghost. But she commands our attention from the moment she takes the stage. Hamlette is driven by grief and vengeance and is on the verge of real madness and Ms. Nelson conveys the explosion of emotions the character is feeling. Crying one moment, smiling and cracking jokes and winking at the audience the next, Julia G. Nelson never stops living her role’s emotional upheaval until the very end. It is a powerful performance.
Mention must also be made of the performance of Gabrielle Galloway. Playing Forsythia (Fortinbras), Pollyanna (Polonius) and Margaret. Ms. Galloway gives a different voice and stance to each character to delineate one from another. She has a powerful presence on stage, planting herself with confidence in the scene and owning her moments. In the role of Leandra, Alex Moffit is strong and well conveys the anger and grief driving the character. Ms. Moffit also makes a fun impression as one of the players in the play that will reveal the Queens guilt. Emily Allen is properly solemn as the ghost of Hamlette’s mother and regal as the Queen, Claudia. This character really lights up when conceiving the plot to kill Hamlette, revealing the conniving nature of Claudia.
Javier Morante portrays Horatio, Hamlette’s schoolmate and friend and one of the few characters in the original gender. Mr. Morante also plays Olivier (Ophelia), Hamlette’s love interest. Olivier comes across weak sometimes, but properly falls to pieces when rejected by Hamlette and when her mother, Pollyanna, is killed by Hamlette. Mr. Morante storms onto the stage with a bass guitar slung on his shoulders and roars out the song that conveys his grief and madness. It is an emotionally powerful moment.
I also wish to mention Emory Lambert for her portrayal of a very creepy Guildenstern. She also plays a priest who seems to have learned her hand gestures from another dimension. She was great fun to watch. Tasked with providing many other characters to the mix, Marissa Nelson, Tom Moffit and Adriana Cox do so with competence and energy.
This is as basic as theatre can get. You have a script, actors and audience. And the result is an energetic, emotional show that you will talk about for a long time. Please find space for it in your schedule (it runs only one more weekend). I hope you enjoy the experience as much as I did.
By William Shakespeare (Mostly)
Presented by Bare Bones Shakespeare
Performances will take place at
221 W Parker Rd, Plano, TX 75023
Thursday 7/12 at 8pm $18/$15
Friday, 7/13 at 8pm $24/$20
Saturday, 7/14 at 3pm $18/$15
Saturday, 7/14 at 8pm $24/$20
For Tickets and information go to