HAMLET: William Shakespeare
RSC, RST, Stratford Upon Avon
Runs: 3h 45m, one interval, to 28 09 13
Review: Alexander Ray Edser, 26 03 13
Flawed, but not fatally.
There’s a lot of thought in this production, but, as yet, director David Farr hasn’t managed to get the whole to gel – the production lacks the feeling of a coherent whole. And, at 3h 45m, it feels terribly long. Interestingly the last HAMLET at Stratford – Doran/Tennant/ Stewart – was 3h 35 and didn’t feel long . . .
Farr’s production is exploring Hamlet’s mental state – the idea of melancholy, or perhaps, as we might say it now, bi-polar.
Jonathan Slinger creates an enormously troubled young man with all the terrible unpredictability of bi-polar episodes. Hamlet is shocking, frightening, and dislikeable. We also have sympathy for him – and I don’t mean empathy. Yet Slinger, in his desire to explore to the full this unpredictability, appears not totally to have merged these into a single (unpredictable) character. Frequently we feel he is playing effects; there are just too many and it looks as if this accomplished actor is trying too hard.
Supporting this notion of darkness, Jon Bausor’s designs favour black and Jon Clark’s lighting designs favour gloom.
The whole production is, therefore, a great strain to watch.
There is much good within, though. When Slinger relaxes and trusts himself, he is excellent – when he settles into some of the great monologues, for instance. An early highlight is Polonius’ scene with Ophelia (Robin Soans and Pippa Nixon).
Greg Hicks and Charlotte Cornwall (Claudius and Gertrude) are both outstanding – as actors at ease and confident in their characters and their context in a production that keeps them rather in the background.
This is a hard-going HAMLET, but not without its moments.
Karen Archer – Player Queen
Cliff Burnett – Player King
Charlotte Cornwell – Gertrude
Kiza Deen – Courtier
Daniel Easton – Reynaldo
David Fielder – First Gravedigger/Voltemand
Dave Fishley – Barnardo
Michael Grady-Hall – Osric
Greg Hicks – Claudius/Ghost
Rosie Hilal – Second Gravedigger
Mark Holgate – Francisco
Chris Jared – Fortinbras
Natalie Klamar – Courtier/Student/Player
Pippa Nixon – Ophelia
Luke Norris – Laertes
Oliver Ryan – Rosencrantz
Jonathan Slinger – Hamlet
Robin Soans – Polonius
John Stahl – Priest/Player
Samuel Taylor – Marcellus
Nicolas Tennant – Guildenstern
Alex Waldmann – Horatio
Director – David Farr
Designer – Jon Bausor
Lighting – Jon Clark
Music – David Sawer
Sound – Gareth Fry
Movement – Joseph Alford and Carolina Valdés
Fights – Kate Waters