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Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Richmond Shakespeare Society

Mary Wallace Theatre - 02 November 2019

Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Review by Louis Mazzini

Though it is billed as a “radical Scandi-noir production”, Richmond Shakespeare Society’s latest version of Shakespeare’s most famous play is on surprisingly traditional lines other than the gender reversal of several characters including the eponymous prince – there was a time when that might have been regarded as radical but it is not so unusual these days as explained in a fascinating programme note by Dr John Buckingham. 

As the Princess Hamlet, Francesca Ellis brings to the role an edgy charisma and a near acrobatic athleticism while, in the opening scenes, her phobic reaction to Claudius, played with seedy power by Chris Mounsey, hints that something even darker than suspicions of murder might also lie behind Hamlet’s aversion to her uncle.

While Ellis is immediately credible in the most famous male role in theatre, some of the other switches are less effective, in particular the characters of Hamlet’s friend Laertes and his doomed sister Ophelia. As Laerta, Nicola Doble is initially compelling but her performance becomes less plausible in the second half, while Hamlet’s feelings for Laerta’s brother simply do not ring true when so many of the lines – even subtly reworded – were plainly written with a sister in mind. For the same reason, Jamie Barker struggles to convince as Orpheus. On the other hand, Susan Reoch brings dignity and gravitas to Polonia, the siblings’ mother, without compromising the essence of Shakespeare’s Polonius and as Horatio, Rosencrantz and Guildernstern, Emily O’Mahony, Jessica Warrior and Pete Messum make more believable friends for Hamlet than is sometimes the case.For Full review https://markaspen.com/2019/10/28/hamlet-19/ 

by markaspen on 28 October 2019 What a Piece of Wo

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