Posts Tagged ‘Hamlet

20
Oct
16

Hamlet

Hamlet

heartBeast Theatre

Spring Hill Reservoirs

October 7 – 22 2016

Reviewed by Katy Cotter

hamlet2

What is it about Shakespeare’s Hamlet? It is the story of a grieving and tortured young man who seeks revenge for his father’s death. Do we sympathise with him? Do we forgive him for his sins? As an audience, we are sucked into the drama, into the madness, into the world being presented before us. There is no doubt a tragic end approaches, though we never stop rooting for the Prince of Denmark.

Why keep telling this story, or any Shakespeare for that matter? There is no denying that the Bard’s words, his language has continued to be a point of investigation; a search to uncover new meaning. Companies are now taking on the challenge to modernise Shakespeare or place his stories into different worlds. Some have been more successful than others.

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HeartBeast’s production of Hamlet is set in a post-apocalyptic world – D-MARK – a High Security Compound. It was my first visit to the Spring Hill Reservoirs and I was immediately transported into another space and time. There was no seating bank. The audience was free to stand or sit wherever they desired, on crates or wooden boxes, and followed the actors as they moved around the compound. There were roughly 10 rooms where the scenes would play out, although I found the spaces other than where the main action was taking place were sometimes more captivating. These “off side” moments were capturing Ophelia in her private moments, or Hamlet meandering around the compound reading or muttering to himself. These were fresh insights into the character’s psyche. Perhaps they were too distracting from the main action at times. I definitely found them more interesting.

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Lighting by Jason Harding and sound design by Paul Young were incredibly detailed, creating a threatening and ominous atmosphere that allowed the audience to sink deep into the drama unfolding in front of them. The sound did overpower the actor’s at times and clarity was lost. The lighting and sound desk also doubled as a monitoring room where Claudius and Gertrude would retreat to spy on Hamlet.

The post-apocalyptic scenario worked as far as placing the story into a new aesthetic. The costumes had a medieval/Viking/space-like/futuristic feel to them that looked great under the lights. There were guns and gas masks. Ophelia had a wire strapped to her chest at one point. These elements were visually pleasing but I was not convinced it enhanced or revamped the story. I wondered what were the reasons behind setting the play in this time? What was happening in the world outside of the bunker? The sound design alluded that there was a war but I only sensed this at the end of a scene when there was an explosion, a drone strike perhaps, and Gertrude and Ophelia hit the ground in fear. That scene was terrifying and I yearned for more of these moments, though it never happened again. I felt this may have been a lost opportunity to raise new and exciting stakes for the characters and push the story into unchartered territory.

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Hamlet is a long play and like any Shakespeare, it is a challenge for the actor’s to keep the audience invested in the story. Grappling with the language and conveying meaning and genuine emotion is paramount. David Paterson who played the leading role delivered a strong and complex performance. He was charming yet extremely dangerous. I must admit I found it difficult to listen to some of the performers. The ladies in particular spoke in high registers as if they were struggling with the acoustics, and the men sometimes spoke with thick Australian accents that was jarring and brought me out of the world. I think the company would have benefitted from a more coherent sound. That being said they were united and invested in each moment.

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HeartBeast’s production of Hamlet dares the audience to participate in the action and not sit back and watch it unfold. I enjoyed the opportunity to view the story from different perspectives and let my imagination interact with the character’s I have grown to know and love. Or do I know them? Do I love them? This work challenges those preconceived perceptions of some of Shakespeare’s well known characters. There are so many elements to this show and some of them work and some fall short of hitting the mark. It is so important to see theatre that makes you question what you like or what you don’t like, what works and what doesn’t work. This High Security Compound is accessible this week only. Head on down to D-Mark.

07
Mar
14

Hamlet. Psyched

 

Hamlet. Psyched 

USC Drama

Chancellor College Performance Centre

Friday March 28 2014

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

 

How can we look after our own mental health?

 

 

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Drama Discipline Leader of USC, Jo Loth, wanted to make Hamlet relevant to her students and what better way than to incorporate MYTERN SMS?

 

MYTERN is an acronym for Take Emotional Responsibility Now. As part of her PhD studies, Jane Foster offered MYTERN SMS to the USC student community.

 

Foster has been running the service from her own mobile phone, offering daily text messages to students for inspiration, motivation, comfort and support.

 

Participants gave permission for their messages and feedback to be used for publishing purposes, and in this case, within Loth’s newly adapted production of Shakespeare’s classic tale of teen angst and a family in dissolve.

 

With two Hamlets on stage, a male and a female, the interpretations are interesting and not always as contrasting as one would think, though this may be due to shared rehearsal time and collaborative work on the character. A monologue is treated as dialogue, and there are times when I wonder about the effect of the role played solely by a female.

 

There is less need for the actors to raise their voices than they appear to think there is, with much of their shouting becoming ineffectual through over-application; we miss words and we cringe with Ophelia. These are young performers with minimal training and it shows, despite their best efforts to perform with gusto and fully commit to their roles. I’ll look forward to seeing them again in future, with a little more training and stage experience under their belts.

 

The Creative Industries Drama Major course is designed to produce entrepreneurs who can find or create work in a number of fields. Performance Skills Laboratory 1 (Acting 101) has brought them to a point where they are (mostly) confident in the space, however, I suspect lack of time has been a hindrance on students’ understanding of the text, and also with regard to connecting voice and body and character. We get a more fully realised performance from a mature age student, Lyn Stevenson; the same woman who stood out from the rest in USC Drama’s debut production, R&J (2013).

 

The production cleverly incorporates Foster’s research by giving students’ responses to her text messages to white clad ensemble figures in between the familiar scenes. The focus shifts from Hamlet to Ophelia, and her death, which brings a sudden change in pace and an unexpected conclusion. The ensemble, like a Greek Chorus or a shiver of sharks, circle Ophelia on her pedestal/coffin and take their places downstage to remind us that mental health is, indeed, a serious issue.

 

The template is potentially a wonderful resource for schools and community groups. It deserves further dramaturgical development and I’d love to see it receive the funds that would make publishing possible. This way, the (anonymous) personal stories can be easily incorporated, making the original story and local content relevant to entirely new audiences.

 

Loth has big ideas and at times very little to work with, but her gift is in going beyond our expectations and boldly challenging our notions of what theatre is and what role it plays within contemporary society. The potential of performance, to change how we see the world and each other, is evident in each original production Loth undertakes.

 

30
Nov
13

Frankenstein – National Theatre Live at Noosa Arts Theatre

 

Frankenstein (2011)

National Theatre Live

Noosa Arts Theatre

17 – 18 November 2013

 

Reviewed by Josh Kirwan

 

What better way to start a week of work experience in the entertainment industry than to experience some of the world’s best entertainment? Josh was thrilled to have the opportunity on Monday morning to experience Danny Boyle’s magnificent production of Frankenstein, thanks to National Theatre Live, the National Theatre’s groundbreaking project to broadcast to the world the best of British theatre.

 

And thanks to Noosa Arts Theatre and Fresh Air Entertainment, we’re able to enjoy the National Theatre Live screenings right at our doorstep! How lucky are we?! If you missed Frankenstein, be sure to book tickets for Hamlet and 50 Years On Stage NOW! And keep an eye out for catch-up/encore screenings in 2014 at Noosa Arts Theatre of Coriolanus, Macbeth and Othello.

 

 

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With the curtains partly drawn to frame the screen, Frankenstein graces the Noosa Arts Theatre with an outstanding “live” performance. For the first time ever, Noosa Arts plays host to Britain’s National Theatre’s live screenings, usually held at Noosa 5 Cinemas. An amazing performance by some of Britain’s leading talents, including Benedict Cumberbatch, star of the BBC TV series Sherlock, and Jonny Lee Miller, star of the CBS series Elementary, perform in Nick Dear’s re-telling of Mary Shelley’s original groundbreaking novel with Danny Boyle sitting in the director’s chair.

 

Cumberbatch and Lee Miller

 

Boyle implemented in this production the unique idea of role reversal, with both Cumberbatch and Miller alternating the roles of Dr Victor Frankenstein and The Creature. In an interview he mentioned that he did this so that both actors would have an idea about what drives the other character. However the down side to this tactic is that I am insanely disappointed that I was unable to see the roles switched.

 

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After the screening (with Cumberbatch playing the creature), a gentleman who had seen the other version the night before, explained that The Creature played by Miller was a much harsher character. Respected critic, Michael Billington stated, “Miller’s strength, in contrast, lies in his menace. Stockier than Cumberbatch, his Creature makes you believe in the character’s Satanic impulse and in his capacity for murder”. The gentleman’s statement immediately gave Xanthe a preference towards Cumberbatch’s Creature because (and I whole heartedly agree with her) without the humanity Cumberbatch brings to the role you cannot feel the sympathy for him that makes him a “victim of humanity” throughout the performance.

 

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With Dear’s inspired re-write of the classic story and Boyle’s excellent, direction the performance was bound to be a success, however; the standout element for me was the amazing light display that sat floating above the stage. What had to be hundreds and hundreds of different shaped bulbs all suspended on different lengths of wire would pulse with the brightest light to imitate Frankenstein’s electrifying experiments, and then would sit with just enough illumination to be seen to represent a beautiful night sky. Bruno Poet, Lighting Designer for the production won the 2012 Olivier Award for Best Lighting Design for this work.

 

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Additionally, it is clear that the Set Designer, Mark Tildesley, was familiar with every nook and cranny of the performance space. He obviously knew every little trick that that theatre had up its sleeve and used all of them. The set incorporated a house rising up from out of centre stage, to a little cabin dropping out from the ceiling above, to a steam train rolling out on tracks to the front of the audience. Absolutely spectacular.

 

We are so very lucky to be able to see work of such calibre here on the Sunshine Coast.

 

With the nearest big name theatres being in Brisbane it means if we want to watch a high standard performance we usually make the hour-long drive to QPAC, The Powerhouse or La Boite, which not everyone can do. No offense to the community theatre on the Sunshine Coast, but unfortunately not everyone wants to put in the hard yards and produce high quality performances. Most people are just in it for the laughs and to have a good time, which is all well and good but it means that much of the coast isn’t producing top quality shows. This means that an opportunity to view such amazing work should be grabbed by anyone who is even remotely interested in some outstanding entertainment.

 

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Last weekend we saw the five-star Frankenstein performance. Tomorrow (Sunday December 1) at 6:30pm and Monday December 2 at 10:30am we have the opportunity to experience Hamlet starring Rory Kinnear and directed by Nicholas Hytner, I urge anyone and everyone to go and see it. Even if you have no interest in theatre, I guarantee that something on that stage will make you fall in love with the magic of the theatre. But if four hours of Hamlet doesn’t pique your interest, on Sunday December 8 at 6:30pm and Monday December 9 at 10:30am National Theatre’s 50 Years On Stage is screening.

 

This is a celebration of their last 50 years of performance and will feature famous actors such as Helen Mirren, Judy Dench, Maggie Smith, Derek Jacobi, Michael Gambon, Benedict Cumberbatch and many more. Any other information you need can be found at the Noosa Arts website. The season continues in 2014 so we can catch up on productions missed, including Othello, Macbeth and Corialanus. If these performances are at all close to the calibre of Frankenstein then we are in for some top quality shows.

 

04
May
12

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead

Brisbane Arts Theatre

28th April – 26th May 2012

Reviewed by Suzannah Bentley

Before I went along to see Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, I did what most reviewers do: consulted Wikipedia. I had heard of this play, and of the playwright Tom Stoppard, but didn’t know much about it except that it was somehow linked to Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The first line of the Wikipedia entry certainly piqued my interest, reading ‘Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead is an absurdist, existentialist tragicomedy’. Before last night, my experience of absurdist theatre was limited to a turn as Vladimir in a scene from Beckett’s Waiting for Godot in high school drama.

For the uninitiated, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead follows the story of two minor characters from Shakespeare’s Hamlet (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, obviously). The concept kind of reminded me of those TV series mash-ups that were popular in the eighties and nineties where characters from one series would pop up in another and your mind would be a little bit blown by the colliding of what previously seemed like two discrete worlds. At the beginning of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, the title characters stand alone on stage marveling at the laws of probability and trying to piece together how they came to be where they are (although they’re not sure where that is).

Although the title characters never seem to figure out which of them is Rosencrantz and which is Guildenstern, the program reveals that the character played by David Mines is Rosencrantz, and Daniel Frawley is Guildenstern. As soon as the curtain opens, Mines and Frawley clearly establish their characters. Mines use of high-pitched vocals and slapstick physicality shows the audience that Rosencrantz is the silly, innocent, and acquiescent member of this odd-couple pairing. As Guildenstern, Frawley brings reason, composure, and direction to the pairing, as well as a healthy dose of pessimism to contrast with Rosencrantz’s eternal optimism. A journey with a yin-yang pair of confused courtiers has begun, and the audience settles in to watch them piece together the part they are to play in the narrative workings of Hamlet.

Soon, a band of players (Tragedians, as they call themselves) arrives. Led by the charismatic and vibrant Vanja Matula as their leader, The Player. This strange assortment of players appears throughout the play to teach Rosencrantz and Guildenstern about the nature of theatre and tragedy. The Tragedians bring physical comedy and colourful costumes to the stage and help to re-engage the audience when the bare set and presence of only Rosencrantz and Guildenstern might become stagnant.

As the play continues, various characters familiar to us from Hamlet make cameo appearances and provide Rosencrantz and Guildenstern with clues as to the purpose and progression of their story. Soon we meet Hamlet himself, played with rage-fuelled energy by Stephen Smith. Hamlet’s mother and uncle (Ellen Hardisty and Ryan Goodwin) draw laughter with their cringe-inducing make-out sessions and perpetual drinking. More familiar Shakespearean characters (including Polonius and Ophelia) drop by and the plot thickens.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead consists of three acts, with an interval between the second and third. The third act sees a change of setting from somewhere in Hamlet’s castle to a ship bound for England. The only props used to denote this location are three barrels. The minimalist set design and the message of the Tragedians is used to remind the audience of the tenuous nature of theatre and its otherness from reality.

Brisbane Arts Theatre’s production of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead was an interesting introduction to Stoppard’s renowned and acclaimed play. I felt that perhaps it was a bit long of a production to be tackled by a small company like Brisbane Arts Theatre, and at times it seemed to lag. However, highlights for me were the fun use of props and sound (the violin, swords, and fabric used in the Tragedians’ re-enactment of The Murder of Gonzago was very clever), Vanja Matula’s colourful and eye-catching portrayal of the hilarious Player (cool pants, too!), and the constant friction between Rosencrantz and Guildenstern which Mines and Frawley managed to maintain throughout. There are certainly far worse ways to spend a rainy Brisbane night than to experience your first absurdist, existentialist tragicomedy courtesy of Brisbane Arts Theatre’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.

12
Feb
10

HAMLET

Hamlet. La Boite Theatre Company’s 2010 season opener, directed by the company’s Artistic Director, David Berthold (who also has a hit, Holding the Man, about to debut in London’s West End), opened on Wednesday night at Brisbane’s Roundhouse Theatre. I saw the preview on Sunday night. And before I tell you anything else, I am telling you, GO SEE THIS SHOW. Regardless of how much you loved or loathed The Bard at highschool, whether or not you’ve seen any of the  film versions (I’m wondering, as much as you are, how The Lion King or The Banquet made it into that list), whether or not you’ve read any reviews or the associated comments, or visited theatres in cities all over the world simply to see their own Hamlet. Oh, yes, people do; I know them! They do it for Les Miserables and no doubt, for Wicked too (but probably not for Oklahoma. Just sayin’)…

The company website will tell you:

HAMLET by William Shakespeare

This is the must-see theatrical event of 2010.


And others are bound to tell you, in greater detail, why they consider this particular production a must-see. Or not. You will find those reviews (and some very interesting comments) here, here, here, here, here and quite possibly, here. Well, at least, these are the places I expected to find them too. I am telling you here, that I consider this Hamlet to be great theatre. Here is a professional production with everything- every element- I expect to see, hear, feel,  experience, discuss, remember, use as an example in my teaching…whenever I see a show, any show. And by professional I mean that, as far as I am aware, Brisbane has two fully professionally-operating theatre companies; La Boite and QTC who should both be getting it right and presenting great theatre for the masses and not necessarily just those who are bound to attend. This is a Hamlet that, one hopes, will bring audiences back to the theatre.

I am well aware that I got more out of this show than did many others. So sue me. I saw a preview. I saw the potential of a few aspects and the clarity and fruition of others. I saw something entertaining. I let go of all preconceptions and assumptions and I let myself be drawn into Berthold’s Denmark, with its arguable inconsistencies. I didn’t care that political details were diluted or by the fact that I was not moved to tears (god, don’t tell me we have to have tears to make theatre great again). Die-hard Hamlet fans would no doubt have missed terribly, some additional sub-plot and mystery and DRAMA. Home and Away? The Bold and the Beautiful?  MASS AUDIENCE APPEAL AND COMMERCIAL SUCCESS (thereby guaranteeing government and public support for the season and securing the long-term future of La Boite at precisely the right time)? OMG. SHOCKING. I feel it might be important to note, for the sake of the future of this blog, that I have never been critical about the popular appeal of shows produced by theatre companies in Brisbane or on the Sunshine Coast, merely the standard of said shows.

I loved the delightful early performances of Eugene Gilfedder and Trevor Stuart and their contrasts later, in the same roles and in their secondary roles. I’m sure these two rate as gods amongst men, as far as the Brisbane acting scene is concerned. It took me a little longer to warm to Helen Howard’s Gertrude – perhaps this was the intent – but I felt as if she also had to warm to the role of sexy, sultry seductress. By the time she got naked I was somewhat more convinced of her character and motives.

Now, let’s just talk about that, shall we? Everybody else has. The nakedness, etc. Interestingly, others have been quick to question whether or not the nudity and simulated masterbation were absolutely necessary. Um. Necessary or not in what sense? All too shocking and should not have been included……….because……….because??? Nope. I’m really struggling with this one. I found this Hamlet to be extremely unsettling, as you would expect it to be and then suddenly upbeat, as you had always hoped it could be. It is intriguing, confronting, unconvoluted and I found it easier to follow than most shortened versions produced especially for highschool students. Tell it to the HOD, kids. But don’t mention the controversial inclusions such as nudity, depravity and the pure EVIL of man. And woman. Mostly of women, it IS Hamlet’s world, after all. In fact, I am going to go so far as to say that this version, with its nudity and its Toby Schmitz (and sorry, it has to be said, there are some of us who are really disappointed about the nudity not being his), should be filmed in HD from several angles and packed up as part of the senior school curriculum, not to mention to distributors who will put it into cinemas around the world on the last sunday of every month. I think you were still thinking/hoping that this was going to be an ordinary, like, a proper review, didn’t you? Yeah, no.

I admired Helen’s naked courage, confidence and elegance. I thought it befitting for the character by that stage, to disrobe in front of us; I thought it made quite a character statement as well as, if it was indeed a gimmick included for the supposed shock value, it was successful! Brilliant! Cheers! I also remembered Kate Winslet’s Ophelia, to which a blog reader referred,  and I thought Gemma Yates-Round was justified in her homage to that performance…I just wanted to see her commit to it rather than fear her own or the audience’s  response to it. Perhaps she will get a little braver about it so we are not at all mistaken about what we see happening. I also think she will learn to take her time and find Ophelia’s desperately sad madness gradually, rather than put it on all of a sudden so we are sure to see it. How lucky Gemma is, in her professional debut, to have Helen Howard by her side. Intriguingly, the two roles were recently played by one actress. You can read that review here. To have a director who trusts his actors is something one cannot explain to non-actors. Well, I will give it a shot another time. Watch this space.

Look, as far as I’m concerned, if you must direct or act a bold and sure-to-be-shocking thing then just make it bold and shocking! Make sure you’re ready for it and follow through. Do it to shock me. Really do it. And do it well. This brings me to: for the life of me, I fail to understand why such things are still so SHOCKING in the theatre. Is not the theatre the place for shocking? Many of you will remember, that the old La Boite (that’s right, kids, the precious, delapidated, much loved space at Hale St) once played host to The Shock of the New festival. It wasn’t a program full of nakedness and debauchery but suffice to say, La Boite has always tried to be a bit brave, bold, new and shocking. Thank God somebody is doing shocking again!

As for school bookings, I know that many school leaders will take issue with full frontal nudity and simulated masterbation in any show, particulalry when it appears in a “classic” (“Oh my! How dare they mess with Shakespeare! What an insult! We can’t possibly expose our students to that! And, more importantly, we just don’t have time to respond to parents’ questions!”). I believe that if teachers and parents are unwilling to discuss the more confronting aspects of a production or they are going to continue to prevent young people from experiencing great theatre, then that is the real shock. I applaud the teachers and principals who continue to support the Performing Arts and the rich education of their students. And so if there is a school requiring a good drama teacher who strongly supports this premise and is not afraid to say so, do call me. I need a real job, having done myself out of several in the last 2 years, due to my strongly stated beliefs that do not necessarily weigh in with those of the particular schools in a certain area that we know well and love very much despite their continual contradictions and miscommunications *smiles sweetly, hands over resume and decides that honesty really is usually not the best policy*

So let’s keep it real, folks. Hate to be the one to tell you but…your students are still sexting and lying about their age on Facebook and seeing far more graphic violence and simulated sexual acts, far more often, on their screens. And by screens, I mean cinema, plasma, PC, Mac and iPhone. Any perceived damage done will be because nothing is said in the debrief. Or because the student misses out on the experience altogether because somebody else has deemed it “inappropriate”. This is how misconception, fear and hype about normal, real, actual things pervade our society. Warning: the following statement may offend some readers due to its blasphemous tone. For God’s sake, people, let the arts change our lives! The whole issue reminds me of a parochial Brisbane type blog post from some time ago…..sigh.

So. Into the Roundhouse via the top doors. Tricky. I noticed the floor. Nice. But ruined. The house lights dimmed and…disappeared completely! We were plunged into total darkness for what seemed like an eternity, well, at least a full minute longer than one would anticipate, in terms of establishing mood and seducing the audience, making us feel comfortable (or not, as the case may be) and drawing us into the sacred space and all that stuff. I would have timed it but I thought the light from my iPhone may incite physical violence from another audience member…

What I got, from those first few moments of blackness and Tibetan prayerness was a sense of DREAD. To the audiences’ credit, had it not been for the oddly dreadful-peaceful opening soundscape of that Tibetan horn we would have heard a pin drop (was it a rkang gling? I’m guessing. I don’t actually know. But I’m not making it up entirely; I googled “tibetan horns” and…voila)!

In the pitch black, Steve Toulmin’s dread-inducing soundscape actually prepared me, more than any other mechanism could have, for the heavy content of the play. I know, I know, some of you think they skipped over the heavy bits. But this production had other merits. To the actors’ credit, they found their first marks in that blackout! I’m afraid this occupied a relatively large space in my head for more than a couple of minutes. It’s not that I’m that easily impressed but more that I appreciate good craft and something as simple as lights up and the play begins can be a disaster! Or magic. Just say those words aloud. Go on, in a mysterious whisper: lights up and the play begins…magic! That was great! It is just always such a relief to me, when I find within the first couple of minutes of a performance that I actually want to STAY and see the WHOLE SHOW. This is important, I think, especially in light of the fact that we just don’t have the time or space here to discuss the shows I would have preferred not to suffer sit through. I’m sure you feel the same. It’s just that some of us are silly honest enough to blog about it. Sometimes. After a scotch. Or two. Just kidding, kids. Don’t drink and blog. As I mentioned I think, in my original post for this blog; generous audience member, harsh critic. This time it seems I have not been so harsh! This reminds me to tell some of you, lay off the other bloggers and reviewers about having a drink before the show! Judgment much? Save it.

So anyway, once I’d suddenly tuned into the language (it takes a moment, a line, a phrase, a Tibetan foghorn to remind you to be ready to focus, this is Shakespeare; it’s different for everybody)…I thought of Pearl Harbor. I’m so sorry, Greg Clarke and David Walters but I did. In the back of my mind, I was thinking that the sparse set, with its towering interior wall (and security cameras) and its hospital bed and its lifting and cracking, once elegant floor under, looked a bit like the interior shots of that (add preferred adjective) film. Not that they had security cameras at Pearl Harbor either. Now that I think about it, it was nothing like it, was it? But these are the images you see in your head and try to separate, as you’re laughing at the sudden hilarity of Toby’s inflection/facial expression/gesture/kinda-funky-without-getting-the-follow-through dance move, the useful from the rubbish. Useful? The hundreds of Hamlets who have only delved as deep as “angst-ridden”, “sullen” and “oedipal” in their character studies and realising within the opening minutes of a performance that this is not one of them. Rubbish? The Pearl Harbor reference, of course. This is embaressing. CAN WE PLEASE MOVE ON NOW?

Toby Schmitz’s Hamlet, with his rock-star-morning-after voice is intelligent, super cool, a little bit cruel and quirky. I liked the Emo/Edward Cullen thing. I loved that his Hamlet was recoiled and delighted by the Hedwig-inspired rock-musical-within-a-play (New concept? Maybe not. Absolute genius version of it and thoroughly entertaining? YES)! I loved that Toby the actor obviously has a wonderful sense of comedy and that he was encouraged to use that to show us his own interpretation of Hamlet the character, after we have seen so many others. I thought he was crush-worthy and I hope the school girls and boys attending with their enlightened and inspiring staff members go away giggling and sighing over him. I just wonder if everything he takes out on Ophelia will become clear before the end of the season…

I’ve been trying to resist but I have to add that it seems to me, from various comments attached to blogs and facebook updates, that it is the local performing arts community who – again – are less than satisfied with this production. The general public want more of the same. So. two things: everybody in Independent Theatre quit griping and criticising and go see a show, produced, designed, performed and directed by your peers, for what it is. Great theatre for the masses. After all, isn’t that how this theatre business began?