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Hamlet II: Better Than the Original – A Modern Twist on a Shakespearian Classic

I’ll be the first to admit: though I am a lover of literature, the premier playwright of the English language, Shakespeare, can sometimes be a pain in the ass to read. Yes, throughout high school I enjoyed the works of Othello and Macbeth—but not without a fellow friend or website helping me out to translate the outdated language. However, I can’t deny that his plays remain incredibly relevant today, whether it be through their drama or humor. Boston University Shakespearean Society’s production of Hamlet II: Better Than the Original ingeniously encapsulates both.

If every Shakespeare play were written like this, I would be in stitches the entire time. Though the rewriting doesn’t change any major plot points—at first—it brings modernity to a play from the early 1600s. In a play that originally takes itself too seriously, Hamlet II calls out the character’s extreme dramatics and reinvents them to be laughable. For example, the naiveté of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (excellently portrayed by Katya Leidig and Julia Martorell) is demonstrated through a stereotyping of frat brothers just trying to help “their bro” Hamlet “from college” out.

Additionally, the rivalry between Hamlet (Madeleine O’Keeffe) and Claudius (Sydney Romo), is made hysterical by the wittiness of both these actors. Both of these actors reinvent their roles—O’Keefe brings a different perspective to a role typically played by a male. Whilst in the original play I find the titular character insufferable, O’Keefe realizes the silliness of Hamlet’s indecisiveness, creating a new version of this age-old character. Similarly, Romo’s portrayal of Claudius was outstanding—his quick-witted one-liners come in at the exact times when the show needs them. A favorite scene of mine was when Claudius prays to God about his troubles, all whilst asking for a brand new car and other amenities. Romo breathes new life into this usually one-dimensional character.
Honestly, the revitalization of every character within this play makes the show what it is. From the comedic timing of the actors to the updated pop culture references, the characters enliven the already witty dialogue. With rewritten performances of “…Baby, One More Time” by an exaggeratedly promiscuous Ophelia (portrayed expertly by Claire Doire) and audience interaction by the boisterously uproarious dead Hamlet (Marianne Walters), Hamlet II excelled on all levels. I found myself almost crying laughing on multiple occasions, thanks to the script and these talented actors. Personally, I know that I will definitely be checking out the BU Shakespearean society in the future. You know that if a play can make you love Shakespeare wholeheartedly, it’s the real deal.

Maddie is a senior majoring in journalism and public relations in the College of Communication at Boston University. Hailing from suburban Philadelphia, Maddie is incredibly happy to be back in Boston for her fourth year. This year, she's looking forward to spending all of her money on brunch, downing lots of coffee, and of course, writing and editing at Her Campus. Outside of Her Campus, Maddie is involved with her sorority and exploring all of Boston.
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