Hamlet is one of the most produced plays in the world and indeed the new King's Shakespeare Company production was haunted by the famous renditions of the last ten years. From the common gender swap of Horatio to the modern costuming to the bro-ish relationship of Hamlet’s friends, the directing seemed in places unoriginal when compared to a tradition of modern Shakespeare adaptations.
That being said, when the directors chose to be novel, the play sparked with life. Faisal Shaker played one of the strongest Polonius I have ever seen, running around in a dressing gown clutching his copy of Portrait Of The Artist (a book sure to give English students the creeps if no one else), bringing out the often ignored humour and fatherliness of Polonius' character. Hamlet making a YouTube video and writing over his arms, and Ophelia pulling out her own hair instead of flowers, were all brilliant touches. Doug Deer’s acting was also terrific turning Claudius into a Game-Of-Thrones-esque villain that breathed new understanding into a stale character.
Ultimately, however, the play lacked confidence. Whilst the lighting was occasionally powerful, it could have been utilised more. The score, written by Owen Smith, was fantastic; however, it needed to be used more to add drama. Tutu’s was an exciting and intriguing space to host the production, however the actors often stayed rooted to the spot and did not fill the stage. This was especially true in Hamlet’s monologues, which fell flat without the backing of a score or lighting or even movement around the stage. In avoiding over egging the play, the directors made it too stayed and missed out on the opportunity to drag the audience through the dark corridors of Denmark – instead we seemed to take a leisurely stroll.
Overall, this is a charming production that will enchant anyone who has yet to see a modern production of Hamlet. However, this rendition does not make any great contribution to a well-worn tradition of Hamlet productions and I would like to see the directors grow more confident in pushing their original interpretations in the future.
Edited by Evangeline Stanford, Digital Editor and DImitrina Dyakova, Deputy