“Hamlet” play review

Amy Miyahara, Asst. A&E Editor

Full of mature and complex themes such as revenge and insanity, “Hamlet” is not an easy production for  high school students to stage. Despite this, the Diamond Bar High School drama department decided to take on the challenge, and an extremely talented cast ensured the success of the play.

This production featured two casts; the night that I attended the show featured Pilar Alcazar in the title role of the Danish prince seeking revenge for the murder of his father the king.

Alcazar, overcoming the challenge of having to play a male character, was absolutely perfect as Hamlet. Much of the play focuses on the internal conflict within Hamlet, and Alcazar showcased this with believability and conviction through every monologue. The wide range of emotions and traits that she was able to capture, from wit to conflict to depression, perfectly highlighted the complexity of the character that she was playing.

Alcazar was not the only actress who had to face the challenge of playing a character originally written for the opposite gender, although multiple roles were altered to fit the gender of the performers. Another standout performance came from Jolynn Zhang.

She played  Laertes, the brother of Ophelia in Shakespeare’s play but turned into a sister  for the DBHS production, with a dramatic flair that added to the effectiveness of the final scene. In addition, Mary Thomas was phenomenal as Ophelia, especially in the scenes portraying her character’s madness before her death.

One element that further added to the success of the play was the music, composed by DBHS alumnus Will Nazareno and performed by members of the DBHS orchestra. The music was set to match the mood of each scene and captured the essence of the tragedy, as well as add to the lighter moments of the production. The set design, made of an impressive gray structure that reflected the intensity of emotion in the characters, was another element that enhanced the atmosphere of the play.

While the archaic language in Shakespeare’s works is not the easiest to comprehend, the cast was able to clarify the intentions of their characters through the emotion that they put into every line, showing a comprehension of the play beyond just memorization. The heavy themes in Hamlet are another aspect that might be challenging for high school students, but the cast was successful in capturing the artistry and the essence of Shakespearean tragedy.

This was particularly evident in Alcazar’s performances of Hamlet’s internal monologues, such as the famous “to be or not to be” soliloquy, where Hamlet contemplates suicide.  

Overall, “Hamlet” was an engaging production, and the ability of the drama department students to illustrate such complicated characters was undoubtedly impressive.