by William Shakespeare.
Shakespeare’s Globe Tour to 8 August 2011.
Runs 2hr 55min One interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 3 May at Shakespeare’s Globe.
Clarity of action and speech make this a tour-friendly Hamlet.
Reckoning touring companies have always gone for shorter, quicker versions of plays, Shakespeare’s Globe Artistic Director Dominic Dromgoole opts for speed and lightness in this long-haul Hamlet, with its overseas dates besides the English ones listed below, ending up at ‘home’ in Elsinore.
A touring cast limited to eight demands ingenuity. Which is plentiful in a version that never over-simplifies – hearing Joshua McGuire’s Hamlet recite a favourite speech to the players touring to Elsinore in the play, his sudden silence before the word “mother” speaks loudly what’s in his mind.
Such lively intelligence starts in the opening scene, with its realistic detail that guard-duty on the battlements means carrying your own toilet facilities, and the student enthusiasm of Ian Midlane’s Horatio, who moves towards the Ghost, nervous yet keen to discover more.
There’s a clear mismatch – as there might well have been – between Amanda Hadingue’s innocent Gertrude and Simon Armstrong’s imposing Claudius, energetic and forceful when pushing his own agenda, but soon impatient of others, and moving on once he’s achieved his aim.
Though he knows his place and can be tedious if not brief, John Bett’s Polonius has a genuine affection when counselling the departing Laertes. He’s clearly concerned for his son, following his advice with a purse of money, in contrast to Claudius’ show over Hamlet.
Polonius’ daughter Ophelia might not receive such paternal attention but Jade Anouka makes her a quietly intelligent young woman, her mind over-stressed by the prince’s treatment of her, something far more believable than the showily ‘mad-girl’ the character can become.
The compositing of three early versions emphasises plot over deliberation, and the soliloquies become part of the action rather than reasons for delay. Only the closeness of “To be or not to be” after “The play’s the thing” seems strange – why is Hamlet contemplating suicide within stage moments of deciding on his purposeful action of using the players’ performance to ‘out’ his uncle as murderer?
Dromgoole handles the limited cast numbers inventively around the play scene and, with his production’s clarity and consideration, shows this play really is the thing.
Ophelia/Voltemand: Jade Anouka.
Claudius/Ghost/1st Player/Player King: Simon Armstrong.
Polonius/Francisco/Player/1st Gravedigger/Priest: John Bett.
Gertrude/2nd Player/PlayerQueen/2nd Gravedigger: Amanda Hadingue.
Rosencrantz/Marcellus/Fortinbras/Osric: Tom Lawrence.
Hamlet: Joshua McGuire.
Horatio/Reynaldo/Captain: Ian Midlane.
Laertes/Bernardo/Guildenstern/Lucianus: Alex Warren.
Director: Dominic Dropmgoole.
Designer: Jonathan Fensom.
Composer/Musical Director: Laura Forrest-Hay.
Choreographer: Sian Williams.
Fight director: Kevin McCurdy.
Globe associate – Text: Giles Block.
Globe associate – Movement: Glynn MacDonald.
Assistant director: Caitlin McLeod.
Assistant text work: Christine Schmidle.