REVIEW: Hamlet

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Marcel Meyer as HAMLET, Callum Tilbury as GERTRUDE, and Michael Richard as CLAUDIUS
Marcel Meyer as HAMLET, Callum Tilbury as GERTRUDE, and Michael Richard as CLAUDIUS

Friday evening saw the opening of Abrahamse & Meyer’s production of Hamlet at Pieter Toerin’s Montecasino Theatre. I should state up front that Hamlet is my favourite work by Shakespeare, so I was either going to love or hate this production.

Callum Tilbury as GERTRUDE and Michael Richard as CLAUDIUS
Callum Tilbury as GERTRUDE and Michael Richard as CLAUDIUS

The production could easily be described as minimalist but that would not do justice to the costume design, or the simple but effective lighting and set both certainly features of this presentation. This particular production is presented “as performed by the crew aboard the Red Dragon, off the East Coast of South Africa, 31 March 1608.”
The set comprised a wooden deck, set in a pool of water with three long plastic sheets / sails set as a backdrop. The play opens with the sailors on deck collecting their costumes and heading ‘backstage’ to present their production of Hamlet.

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Hamlet, written between 1599 and 1602 is set in Denmark, and dramatises the revenge Prince Hamlet is called to wreak upon his uncle, Claudius, by the ghost of his father, King Hamlet. Claudius had murdered his brother, the king, seized his throne, and married his deceased brother’s widow.

Jeremy Richard as ROSENCRANTZ, Marcel Meyer as HAMLET and Matthew Baldwin as GUILDENSTERN
Jeremy Richard as ROSENCRANTZ, Marcel Meyer as HAMLET and Matthew Baldwin as GUILDENSTERN

Many recent productions of Shakespeare’s works rely heavily on elaborate sets, costumes and props. Abrahamse & Meyer’s production focused on the acting abilities of the cast and Shakespeare’s text to bring the story to life. Hamlet, being Shakespeare’s longest play if not well produced can drag, but I was drawn right into the story from beginning to end and the time flew by.

Callum Tilbury as GERTRUDE and Matthew Baldwin as OPHELIA
Callum Tilbury as GERTRUDE and Matthew Baldwin as OPHELIA

This production is a must see, and if you have even the slightest desire to see any Shakespeare this year, my recommendation is to choose this one. Before I forget … buy the programme, it is every bit as good as the show.

Hamlet runs at Pieter Toerin’s Montecasino Theatre until 21 May 2017 after which it travels to La MaMa in New York City for a run in September.

 

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