By Michelle Barker
This production of Hamlet can be described as: postmodern, dark, sexual, violent, and using five hundred other adjectives that could never give you a clear picture of how unique this show really is. Using a rearranged and condensed version of the text written by Shakespeare, director Graham McLaren recreates Hamlet in a world not unlike our own. The performance is a fresh exploration of the text through improvisation and very simple set pieces.
So, here’s the back story to my experience with Hamlet. I’ve been transitioning my show partner, Sean (a film student), into the world of theatre gradually for the last year. In retrospect, a modernization of Shakespeare full of intense violence and nudity might have been considered ‘throwing him into the deep end’, but what’s done is done.
As the lights came up after the final climactic scene, all I could get out of him as we exited was “it’s… a strange thing, theatre.” This pretty much encapsulated how overwhelmed we were by the show as a whole. For me, it was a great feeling and I left incredibly satisfied. For Sean, someone not terribly familiar with Shakespeare or theatre, it was just a lot of yelling and confusing dialogue.
Hamlet has a lot going for it; obviously the script is rich with fantastic characters and this production certainly had the talent to support it. I thoroughly enjoyed the performances of Gord Rand as a young volatile Hamlet, and Robert Persichini as the ghost of his father. The cast worked together bravely and without restraint to explode the world of Hamlet that we have come to know throughout the years. I can’t say I fully grasped the reasoning behind every artistic choice, but it was interesting to see such a drastically different interpretation. Sean and I agreed that the moments of comedic relief provided by the character Hamlet were a much-needed break from the intense darkness that made up the rest of the production.
Here’s what I suggest. See Hamlet (unless you’re highly opposed to nudity), but don’t go into it expecting the Hamlet that your grade 11 teacher taught you.
– Hamlet plays at Enwave Theatre (231 Queens Quay West) until November 29th
– Show times are Tuesday – Saturday at 8 p.m. with 2:00 p.m. matinees on Saturdays and 4:00 p.m. matinees on Sundays
– Tickets are $40
– The Box Office can be reached at 416-973-4000
Photo of Laura de Carteret and Tom McCamus by Michael Cooper