Riverside Studios (Studio 2) Crisp Road W6 9RL To 23 June 2012.
Tue-Sat 4pm & 8pm.
Runs 1hr 40min No interval.

TICKETS: 020 8237 1111.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 15 June.

Live and onscreen, a world of secrecy surrounded by death-infected nature.
Brighton-based dreamthinkspeak put the audience at the centre of their ‘meditation on Hamlet’. In a glistening black chamber, we’re surrounded by raised cubicles behind perspex. One side forms a panoramic space, where a quiet pastoral scene becomes the filmed death-scene for Hamlet’s father, his poisoned ear oozing blood. The scene returns at the end, as the dead king’s image overwhelms both murderer and son. Elsewhere, this area becomes the setting for a modern-day Polonius, amid techno-modernity, arranging a televised statement from new king Claudius.

On other sides smaller cubicles show, singly or in counterpoint, fragments from the play. Or, not quite from it. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern leaf through their notes of Hamlet’s words, mangling and mocking them, meddling with the most universal of the Prince’s speeches. “To be or not to be” overlaps from voices round the room. The two nonentities rearrange its words for a laugh, then sail unknowingly towards their deaths.

Multiple screens make a point; when Hamlet makes his mother look at pictures of her two husbands, they appear in compartments across the space. Elsewhere, often wordlessly, privacy shows individual angsts. Claudius is viewed through the plughole as he practises his public speech in the bathroom. Ophelia, in her tiny room, grows distracted, alone with Hamlet’s letters.

Characters seem to move between locations with amazing speed, taking their knowledge of the situation with them (it could be interesting to see what story someone unfamiliar with Hamlet might deduce from the show). Close inspection of the books he throws around shows it’s not just the inky black of his clothes, or his bedsheets, as he broods, but of his reading-matter, mixing Jo Nesbo and Dostoyevsky, that reflects Hamlet’s mind.

Some performances might not shine in a straight staging, but there’s confident handling of dialogue from Ruth Lass as Gertrude, and Richard Clews’ Polonius, while Philip Edgerley’s Claudius shows a constant plausibility that several moments reveal as covering guilty fear – his prayer ends in a maniacal laugh. And the filmed Ophelia’s body floating underwater, around and over us, has a quiet tragedy neither stage nor celluloid might achieve alone.

Rosencrantz: Michael Bryher.
Polonius: Richard Clews.
Ophelia: Bethan Cullinane.
Claudius: Philip Edgerley.
Guildenstern: Stewart Heffernan.
Hamlet: Edward Hogg.
Laertes: Ben Ingles.
Gertrude: Ruth Lass.
Ghost: Thorston Manderlay.

Director: Tristan Sharps.
Designers: Robin Don, Tristan Sharps.
Sound/Composer: Pendle Poucher.
Underwater film: Emma Critchley.
Film editor: Kevin Clarke.
Costume: Berthe Fortin.
Make-up: Osman Mos.
Fight director: Kev McCurdy.
Assistant director: Hannah Rowlands.

2012-06-17 14:27:10

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