A West Virginia University theater graduate who has performed Shakespeare at the Globe Theatre and in Londons West End to rave reviews will return to the Creative Arts Center to perform the lead inHamletFeb. 27 through March 8.

Matt Sincell, who graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in acting from the Division of Theatre and Dance in 2001, has also appeared in numerous productions in New York City and at the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, Va.

Performances ofHamletwill begin at 7:30 nightly Feb. 27-28 and March 3-7 in the Gladys G. Davis Theatre of the Creative Arts Center. In addition, there will be a matinee performance at 2 p.m. on two Sundays (March 1 and 8).

Hamlettells the story of how Prince Hamlet exacts revenge on his uncle, who has murdered his father, the King, and then taken the throne and married his mother. It vividly charts the course of real and feigned madnessfrom overwhelming grief to seething rageand explores themes of treachery, revenge, incest and moral corruption.

Theater professor Jerry McGonigle , who is directing, said the College of Creative Arts production will have a modern twist that should appeal to younger audiences.

Its a journey into the dark side of youth coming of age and asking �€~Who am I?he said.The play is asking: Is Hamlet crazy? Or is he pretending to be crazy? Or is he pretending to be crazy and then somehow crosses a line? What do youth do today? This is a cry out to the social world they live in.

The design is very dark, underworldly and gothic,McGonigle added.The play has a contemporary look and sound, blended with an Elizabethan look and sound. The actors wear leather and denim and have tattoos and piercings. There is youthful acting out and some serious swordplay, especially at the end.

As guest artist, Sincell has also been the text coach for the rest of the cast.

Matt sat down with the actors in the play and went over their lines with them so that they understand what they are saying and can give it the clearest meaning possible,McGonigle said.The text is very clear because of that. He has gone over every single word.

McGonigle and Sincell also edited the text ofHamlet,the longest of Shakespeares plays, to cut it down to a length of about 2.5 hours.

I have been fortunate in the last five or six years to have done primarily Shakespeare,Sincell said.The first Shakespeare play I performed in was at WVU in 1998 when I was a sophomore. It was �€~The Taming of the Shrew,directed by (WVU theater professor) Phil Beck .

I developed a strong interest in Shakespeare at WVU and also performed one of the leads in �€~Macbeth,which we took to Germany as part of WVU s exchange program with the E.T.A. Hoffmann Theater,he added.

A couple of years after graduating, Sincell was selected for a leading role inShakespeares R&J,a retelling ofRomeo and Julietby Joe Calarco. It was a major off-Broadway hit that premiered in the United Kingdom as part of the Bath Shakespeare Festival and then went to Belgrade Theatre in Coventry and Londons West End, where it was described asa knockout.

In 2004, he was one of only two actors from the United States selected for a residency at the Globe Theatre in London, where he worked for a month with actors from other countries and performed a showcase of Shakespeare works.

Sincell has also performed inHamletand many other Shakespeare plays at the American Shakespeare Center. The center features the only re-creation of the English-speaking worlds first indoor theater, which Shakespeare and his colleagues built on part of Londons Blackfriars Monastery. Here, Sincell and other members of the Blackfriars Playhouse have performed Shakespeares works under their original stage conditionswithout elaborate sets and with the audience sharing the same light as the actors.

Sincell has also appeared in the filmGods and Generalsand numerous other plays in regional theater and in New York City.

The cast ofHamletalso includes theater students Jeff Potts, Josh Rocchi, Mike Baker, Brian Eldman, Matt Webster, Matt Link, Chris Pejovich, Vinny Greco, Lindsay Dilworth, Aileen Targett, Steven Bell, Jess Styer, Gary Paschall, Brian Kline and Austin Barnett.

Costume designer is theater professor Mary McClung , and set designer is student April Beisweinger, who is pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree and is completing the scene design as her thesis show. Fencing choreographer is Beck, and fight and movement choreographer is Kara Haas. Also, music composition and design is by R.J. Nestor.

Tickets forHamletare $15 general admission, $12 senior citizens and WVU faculty and staff, and $10 WVU students with identification. They may be purchased by calling 304-293-SHOW or visiting the WVU box offices at the Mountainlair and Creative Arts Center. They are also available through Ticketmaster outlets or by visiting www.ticketmaster.com .