The Tragedy of the Prince of Denmark, SEDOS – C
*** (3 stars)
The celebrated story of Hamlet is retold with use of cassette and video tapes in this new SEDOS adaptation. There is a huge challenge in staging any reimagining of Shakespeare’s work; finding new angles and focal points for the most performed play in Western theatre has preoccupied directors for centuries. This production hones in on Hamlet’s final instruction to Horatio that he should ‘draw thy breath in pain, To tell my story’. However, the conceits of telling the tale in retrospect becomes confused in this hit and miss production.
This is a well performed abridgement of the infamous tragedy. In particular Craig Karpel is striking as the villainously charming Claudius. Carolina Main also turns in a strong performance as the ill-fated Ophelia, although many of the character’s most powerful moments have either been cut, or are lost in a confusion of simultaneous dialogue. Some of the characters are a less well defined; the decision to cast a woman as Polonia, as opposed to the patriarch Polonius, is not made with sufficient conviction. The cross gender casting itself is not the problem, rather it is the intention behind it seems lacking. Adam Moulder’s Hamlet suffers more from frustration than torment. At times he appears as a stroppy teenager rather than a young man in the depths of despair.
The big disappointment in this production is the missed opportunity the multi-media set-up affords. There is a lack of production quality on the VT which detracts from rather than contributing to the action. Most of the soliloquies are delivered from an audio tape, which goes a long way towards draining their power. There is a lack of clarity in the reasoning behind these sequences and they do not feel fully integrated into the narrative. Strangely, for an adaptation which claims to put Horatio at the centre, Hamlet’s confidant does not show any great insight into his friend’s demise.
There are moments when we are given a glimpse of what Andy Marchant’s production could have been, but ultimately it feels like a good Hamlet with some unnecessary additions. It is performed with confidence and in some cases, with great skill, however, there is a lack of coherence which leaves the audience largely unsatisfied.
C, running until 28th August, 12.10pm. £8.50/£7.50