Last Updated on August 24, 2023 by Jeremy
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In 2019, we, unfortunately, missed Quantum Theatre's performance of King Lear at the gorgeous Carrie Furnace in Rankin.
So when the group announced that they would be bringing Shakespeare's iconic play, Hamlet, back to the historic site in 2023, we knew we had to take in a show and bought tickets right away.
Not only is the performance one not to be missed, but the gorgeous backdrop also provided a stellar ambiance you are unlike to get anywhere else.
Quantum Theatre's Hamlet Shines at Carrie Furnace
One of the things we love about shows from Quantum Theatre is that they often like to use non-conventional spaces for performances. Theaters in the Cultural District are often swapped for unique performance spaces at historical and industrial sites, providing an ambiance for shows you wouldn’t quite get in a conventional venue.
Hamlet took place at one of our favorite places in the area, the iconic Carrie Furnace in Rankin, which added a gritty and dark backdrop that was perfect for the classic play.
As Hamlet tells the tale of murder, revenge, and death, there is something about the backdrop of the ruins of the old blast furnaces that really highlight the intensity of the play. The lead, Treasure, portrayed Hamlet with a grit and intensity that lives up to the setting of the furnace, and subtle modern nods to the classic, like actors playing guitar in several scenes for a live music element, really brought the show home.
In fact, this one did a great job at making you question just when it is set. On one hand, some characters wear modern dress, including one performer in a full on SWAT costume (plus other SWAT like characters adorning a nearby wall). On the other hand, the play is not adapted to modern language, which feels like you are transported back in time despite a more modern setting showing that the themes of Hamlet are indeed quite timeless (well, minus the murdering of kings, of course- we suppose that one doesn't happen so much anymore).
Our only regret was that a rainstorm moved in right as the play was about to reach its culmination and resulted in the final minutes being canceled for our performance. That said, this one all came together to portray Hamlet in a new light!
Logistics in Attending the Show
As this performance is an outdoor show with general admission seating, a few things are worth noting to help you get the most out of your experience.
First, seating is first come, first served, and doors generally open about 30 minutes before the start of the show.
As this performance will likely sell out most nights, those who value the best seats will do well to be first in the door to snag a prime spot. We decided to wait in the (minimal) concession line to buy a glass of wine, and by the time we made our way into the venue, we could only get a seat in the last row behind the lighting. The view was still great; however, it was partially obstructed all the same- so get in early!
Likewise, the theater has no excess seats available, so if your show is a sell-out as ours was, be prepared to move closer to your neighbors to make room for those who get in last minute.
Second, as the performance is outdoors, you will do well to book a ticket based on the weather forecast. A passing shower came through our show halfway through the second act, which halted the performance, and ultimately the final few minutes were canceled due to a pending thunderstorm for safety reasons.
As it turns out, our seats in the last row by the sound and light tables were partially covered, so we escaped this one rather dry. That said, if rain is in the forecast at all, be sure to have an umbrella with you just in case for the walk back to your car.
Finally, Quantum Theatre typically offers a small, concession stand on-site for beer, wine, sodas, candy, and during our performance at least, pierogi. Prices are kept at a minimum and proceeds help support the theater. We did note a credit card reader on site, but you may want to bring cash just to be safe.
Overall, we love how Quantum Theatre uses unique sites for the backdrop of the performances, and Carrie Furnace as a setting for Hamlet really helped the play shine. We wonder what Shakespeare would think about this one, as it certainly is something you would not expect.
We can't wait to see where the next show may be!
Quantum Theatre hosts several shows at various sites in the city throughout the year. Check their website at the previous link for the current schedule. The rendition of Hamlet is running at Carrie Furnace through August 27th, 2023.
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