Writer: William Shakespeare
Directors: Dominic Dromgoole and Bill Buckhurst
Reviewer: Steve Turner
The Public Reviews Rating:
The Globe Theatre touring company brought their version of Hamlet to the Elizabethan Parham Manor on a chill August evening. A cold wind blew across the grounds and as dark clouds gathered overhead one feared the worst. Perhaps the rain ponchos on sale next to the programmes would prove to be very popular as, with some trepidation, the audience arranged their seats and blankets and prepared themselves for the entertainment. Although the elements were taking a distinctly autumnal feel, the optimism of the ice cream seller had to be admired, as he confirmed that he would be selling his wares both before the performance and during the interval.
Any concerns about the weather were soon dispelled as an excellent production quickly drew the attention and kept the audience engaged throughout.
Presented much in the manner that would have been seen in Shakespeare’s day, on a small stage with a small company, the secret to the success of the production lies equally between the excellence of the actors and the inventiveness of the direction.
Michael Benz as Hamlet is immediately engaging, the audience hanging on his every word as one famous line follows another. His performance is full of the contradictions of the character from anger, resentment and at times rage he also manages to be humorous and vulnerable.
Gravitas, essential in this work, is provided by two excellent performances by Dickon Tyrell as Claudius, and Christopher Saul as Polonius, both bringing their characters to life with a deceptive ease and subtlety.
In contrast to all of the masculinity on view Carlyss Peer is a wonderful Ophelia, and Miranda Foster evokes much sympathy as Gertrude especially during her confrontation with Hamlet.
With twenty speaking parts and only eight actors, the seamless handling of the scene changes, the agility with which the actors change roles and the inventive use of music played by the cast, all add up to make you wonder why all Shakespeare isn’t played in this manner. Cutting the work down to two and a half hours may offend the purists but the inspired acting and direction on show led to a thoroughly entertaining evening, and the rain held off!
On tour until 1st September 2012.
Hamlet – Shakespeare’s Globe on Tour, Parham House, West Sussex,