Hamlet

William Shakespeare
Shakespeare's Globe on tour
The Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond, N. Yorks
(2011)

Hamlet production photo

A handful of lively Elizabethan musicians create the atmosphere with a fabulous percussive pace for Globe Theatre’s engrossing production of Hamlet. Lasting just two and a half hours and using all available versions, director Dominic Dromgoole must have spent some time in dramatic cut and paste to make this production so seamless and incredibly lucid.

Designer Jonathan Fensom’s set of wooden scaffold and planks lends simplicity, his costumes skillfully assembled from what appear to be charity shop finds. Casting an energetic boy-like Joshua McGuire as Hamlet is a masterstroke giving Hamlet vitality and innocence; his ready smile and thoughtful delivery makes it very easy to follow the story. His father, the king, is dead and when Hamlet arrives home he finds his uncle married to his mother and installed on the Danish throne. Later that night, a ghostly apparition of the old king demands that Hamlet avenge his ‘foul and most unnatural murder’. A steel-eyed Simon Armstrong is in perfect dramatic control of ghost, husband, king and suspected murderer, Claudius.

Grief befriends Ophelia over the death of her father, Polonius, a commanding John Bett, who finds a hidden humour in Polonius and gives us a great comic performance as a west-country gravedigger. Jade Anouka’s Ophelia is delightfully deranged and Hamlet’s mother, Queen Gertrude (Amanda Hadingue), precise and complicit, even as she drinks the poison cup intended for her son.

Tragedy and madness make easy bedfellows and a seam of instability runs through this production like the beat of an invisible drum in perfect time to the rhythm of Shakespeare's best known play.

To be this good is priceless, not to be there to see it, almost outrageous.

Philip Fisher reviewed this production at the Globe prior to the start of the tour

Reviewer: Helen Brown