Ophelia reinterpreted and made the think harder

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Thinking about Shakespeare . . . Cast members in rehearsal for the Globe Theatre's production of Jean Betts' Ophelia Thinks Harder, which opens tonight. PHOTO: ODT FILES

Shakespeare’s Ophelia is a minor one-dimensional character in Hamlet – the epitome of goodness, obedience, innocence and frailty.

Grief-stricken by the loss of her mother, controlled by her father and brother, and manipulated by her “intended”, she drowns her sorrows, literally.

In Ophelia Thinks Harder, playwright Jean Betts takes Ophelia in hand, presenting her with various historical points of view that challenge her cultural beliefs about the place of women in society.

Betts makes Ophelia think harder as she processes these revelations, thus enabling her to become more self-aware, finally emerging as an independent, assertive and confident young woman, in control of her own future.

Along the way, Ophelia Thinks Harder takes swipes at Shakespeare’s male “influencers” by caricaturing them, and also subverts well-remembered lines from Shakespeare’s canon to fit the emotional mood.

Dunedin’s Globe Theatre is hosting a season of this hilarious and cleverly-constructed play, directed by Lynne Keen, opening tonight and continuing until September 21.

Most performances are at 7.30pm, with 2pm matinee on Sunday.

The cast includes Rosie Dunn, Laura Wells, Cheyne Jenkinson, Craig Storey, Sofie Welvaert, Greg Freeman, Reuben Hilder, Helen Fearnley, and Charlotte Hall-Tiernan.