by William Shakespeare.
The Rose 56 Park Street Bankside SE1 9AS To 3 March 2013.
Tue–Sat 7.30pm Mat Sun 3pm.
Runs 1hr 30min No interval.
TICKETS: 0207 261 9565
Review: William Russell 7 February.
Something far from rotten in the state of Denmark.
With a cast of four and a running time of 90 minutes one could be forgiven for expecting the worst. At the best of times Hamlet is so full of famous lines that it can sound, when things are going wrong, a bit like a recitation from a dictionary of quotations. Cut down to 90 minutes from three hours or so with a cast consisting only of Hamlet, Claudius, Gertrude, Polonius, Ophelia, Laertes, Rosencrantz and the Gravedigger played by a company of four, one could be in trouble.
But trouble has been avoided. The players – only Jonathan Broadbent as Hamlet does not have to double as someone else – deliver the lines well and director Martin Parr has created an intriguing chamber play from the original. While the action is taking place on the walkway of the Rose – the theatre in which it was originally performed – all is well, but when he expands it into the larger areas of the archaeological site things get less claustrophobic and therefore less effective.
Broadbent, in a Danish woolly of course, handles the soliloquies skilfully and is at his best when addressing them intimately to the audience, less satisfactory when required to shout. Suzanne Marie is an impressive Gertrude, Liam McKenna transforms himself from a thuggish Claudius to a bumbling Polonius with skill and a pair of spectacles, and Jamie Sheasby – Laertes, Rosencrantz and the Gravedigger – is every bit as good.
The duel at the end between Hamlet and Laertes – a game of cards and poisoned glasses of something like vodka – is a bit odd, but a sword fight was clearly out of the question. This Hamlet is an oddity, but none the worse for that – just wrap up well.
Hamlet: Jonathan Broadbent.
Claudius/Polonius: Liam McKenna.
Ophelia/Gertrude: Suzanne Marie.
Laertes/Rosencrantz/Gravedigger: Jamie Sheasby.
Director: Martin Parr.
Designer: Rebecca Brower.
Costume: Charlotte Espiner.