Ticketmaster Summer in Stages

Hamlet

William Shakespeare
Icarus Theatre Collective & Kings Theatre
Charter Theatre, Preston

Nicholas Limm in Hamlet Credit: George Riddell

Ancient mingles with modern drama effectively enough, even if there are some distracting “voices off” in this energetic and eventually rewarding production.

It professes to be designed for “the Game of Thrones generation” but it also borrows, a little too heavily, from the Greek origins of theatre with characters occasionally chorusing each other’s voices. It may well be suggestive of Hamlet’s inner demons but too often it sounds like a crowded conversation shared by the mobile 'phone generation.

The Prince of Denmark’s famous soliloquy becomes much less of a young man’s singular torment on whether To Be... than a bar-room buzz. At least Poor Yorick doesn’t get to speak from beyond the grave!

Fortunately the production eventually proves it can rise above director Max Lewendel’s choral concept and Nicholas Limm—when left to his own devices—is more than able to convey the growing agony of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, although he does begin from a level of over-wrought despair and dressed up to look like a caped crusader.

The rest of the cast of nine double up commendably, even if Ophelia (Kerry Gooderson) does have to dig her own grave, and the shared vitality of a largely young group of actors lifts the production considerably.

There’s certainly an authentic cut and thrust to their action sequences, while the royal thrones that dominate a soaring staircase design set the scene effectively.

It’s a joint production from Icarus Theatre Collective and Portsmouth’s Kings Theatre. When there are too few travelling companies willing to undertake a touring performance of such a demanding work to provincial theatres, they richly deserve the warm welcome they were given here.

Reviewer: David Upton