by William Shakespeare.
Clwyd Theatr Cymru (Anthony Hopkins Theatre) Mold CH7 1YA To 7 March.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat 2.30pm
Audio-described 7 March 2.30pm.
Post-show Discussion 5 March.
TICKETS: 0845 330 3565.
then New Theatre Park Place CF10 3LN 10-14 March.
Tue-Sat 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm.
TICKETS: 029 2087 8889.
then Grand Theatre Swansea Singleton Street SA1 3QJ 17-21 March 2015.
Tue-Sat 7.30pm Mat Thu 12pm Sat 2pm.
TICKETS: 01792 475715.
Runs: 2hr 45min One interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 20 February.
The plays’ the thing, and the director’s its match.
It’s quite a short journey from Liverpool to Mold, yet these are end-points for Terry Hands’ epic career as Artistic Director. A founder of Merseyside’s Everyman Theatre, a continuing force in the land, he was Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company in one of its glowing periods, and now finishes 17 distinguished years running Clwyd Theatr Cymru (formerly Theatre Clwyd). It must be least in the spotlight of any post-RSC chief’s direction, but arguably the most artistically productive.
And it ends with – what else? – Hamlet. If not perfect throughout, the production reveals Hands’ deep knowledge of Shakespeare, and his subtlety of interpretation. Any imbalance comes from individual performances. Lee Haven-Jones is an energetic, in his way remorseless, Prince, but the actor seems to be pursuing the role, arms out to catch and embrace it, rather than already shaping it. Emotion often leads the words, rather than the sense determining the degree of feeling.
So with Caryl Morgan’s Ophelia, in a performance that’s technically efficient but doesn’t suggest the character from which these words come. It’s not her fault entirely. Ophelia is a character who exists through provocation, and she rarely receives it here.
But there’s a lot to provoke interest and excitement in a production that approaches the play freshly. As usual, Hands designs his own lighting, and again offers Shakespeare in visual black-and-white, creating many shades in interpretation. Generally, the more mature actors seem best-placed to respond to this. Polonius can be tediously bumbling or ineffectually sinister, but Roger Delves-Broughton is neither. Instead, formally jacketed to his death, he is the consummate courtier, his mind set on discreetly supporting the king, reacting as loyalty demands. Conventionality is his way of life, making his sudden death a sign of a disrupted society, truly out of joint.
Simon Dutton’s sleekly silver-haired Claudius is the model of suavity as his energetic cheer keeps knowledge of his one necessary crime at bay. Carol Royle’s Gertrude, though, has worked it out as she raises the poisoned drink, almost as a leaving ceremony from a world out of joint for her as well.
Osric: Wayne Cater.
Polonius: Roger Delves-Broughton.
Claudius: Simon Dutton.
Horatio: Richard Elfyn.
Fortinbras: Owain Gwynn.
Hamlet: Lee Haven-Jones.
Guildenstern: Guy Lewis.
Laertes: Daniel Llewelyn-Williams.
Ophelia: Caryl Morgan.
Rosencrantz: Sion Pritchard.
Player/Graver Digger: Simon Holland Roberts.
Gertrude: Carol Royle.
Captain: Liam Tobin.
Director/Lighting: Terry Hands.
Designer: Mark Bailey.
Sound: Matthew Williams.
Composer: Colin Towns.
Fight director: Daniel Llewelyn-Williams.
Fight captain: Owain Gwynn.
Assistant director: Rupert Hands.