Get Cultured — July 17, 2015 at 11:20 am

Puzzle The Will: Minimalistic Yet Ambitious New Hamlet


“To be or not to be…”

 You know the rest of those words.

“Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer

The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,”

 But what if, instead of that, it was re-structured to be followed by:

“So excellent a king; that was, to this,

Hyperion to a satyr; so loving to my mother

That he might not beteem the winds of heaven

Visit her face too roughly.”

That definitely change the intention, but does it change the play? I mean that’s a bad example, I’m pretty sure there are better ways to prove this point. I’m so sure of it, because I just saw one of them is playing as part of the Midtown International Theater Festival right now at the historic Davenport Theater. The play is called “Puzzle The Will,” the idea: What if we rearranged one of the most known works in mankind to create a new understanding of the words? What if Hamlet needs to be re-edited? Sounds ambitious eh? Well, ambitious or not, Lauretta Pope set herself to re-work Shakespeare’s epic tale of madness and betrayal. Does it work? Or does she crumble under the immense pressure of such a task?


Shows like this have a big chance of failing. The famous bard’s work is one of precision and interest, easy to change the time, but not the timeline. Most that try to make Shakespeare shows into something new constantly end up with a product that looks straight out of high school. I’m happy to say this is not the case with “Puzzle The Will,” and that Lauretta Pope and her many hats have managed to pull it off. Not going to delve into the story, since at this point everyone knows the woes of Hamlet and Ophelia. Plus I feel like saying anything about how she changed the structure would be detrimental to your experience. What I can say is that she breathes new life into this project with a cast that is more than willing to go there with her.

Beyond the performances by this ensemble, I was very happy to see the minimalistic approach they went with for the technical aspects of the show. The atmosphere is made possible by the wonderful work of the sound designer for this piece. The lighting was sometimes distracting, but the sound…the eerie sounds that were always in the background transported the audience into the madness happening on stage.

Is it perfect? No. No show is perfect, and if it is, it’s boring. Is it entertaining? You better brush up on your Shakespeare. Is it good? Yes. Should I go see it? Definitely. It’s not often I see a show from Good Old Shakes that surprises me. Most roads have been travelled after centuries of performances all over the world. So bravo to the team that created something fresh out of that old garden, and gave the Prince of Denmark a new way to die with everyone.

The show will be running through August 1st as part of the Midtown International Theater Festival at the Davenport Theater. Check for dates and ticket information.

Out of four stars:


Twisted Talk: Have you seen any shows from the Midtown International Theater Festival? What’s your favorite Shakespeare play? Disucss below!

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