REMEMBER ME: Old Joint Stock, Birmingham

Birmingham
REMEMBER ME: William Shakespeare, Deirdre Burton, Tom Davis
Somesuch theatre: www.strangeshadows.co.uk
Old Joint Stock (0121 200 0946): till 19th June, 2h 35m, one interval

Review: Rod Dungate, 18 June

Intriguing concept but fails in its execution
REMEMBER ME is an exploration of the question: Who was Hamlet?

Somesuch theatre plays with the idea of a theatre company on the run from Elsinore after their unwelcome playing out of the murder of Hamlet’s father; the company is approached by, post everyone’s deaths, Horatio. He, distraught at Hamlet’s death, encourages the company, through their performance skills, to see if they can discover the true Hamlet.

The play (REMEMBER ME) is a clever, and at times witty, weave of best-bits-of-HAMLET and modern thinking and ironic comment.

It’s an interesting mix. However, although there’s food for thought here, the play ultimately fails to hold our attention for a whole evening.

The writing is sometimes self-consciously mystical– about Ophelia and Hamlet, for instance: ‘She went mad so he didn’t have to.’ Sounds great in passing – but what does it actually mean? The directors and performers too often fail to play lines simply and allow the context to carry meaning; they opt instead to act (or overlay) the meaning so that delivery is portentous.

Jennifer Maris has an engaging manner throughout and Neil Jackson sustains some good emotional moments as Horatio – though somewhat unfocused.

Ultimately, while we may be intrigued by the ideas, at two and a half hours this play is too long – because we don’t care very much about the characters.

Angie Barnbrook: Angie / Gertrude / Hamlet
Geoff Barnbrook: Geoffrey / Claudius / Hamlet
Elmina Fergusson: Elmina / Ophelia / Rosencrantz / Hamlet
Neil Jackson: Horatio
Ramesh Krishnamurthy: Ramesh / Osric / Polonius / Ghost / Hamlet
Jennifer Maris: Jen / Ophelia / Gravedigger / Hamlet
Annabel Smith: Annabel / Laertes / Ophelia / Hamlet
Polly Tisdall: Polly: Laertes / Guildenstern / Hamlet

Directed by: Deirdre Burton, Tom Davis
Lighting / Sound Desk: Antonio Roberts
Lighting / Set: Ian Craddock

2010-06-19 11:50:06

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