Shakespeare’s Hamlet: Great production, but...

BY RICHARD JOHNSON Observer senior reporter

Thursday, August 28, 2014

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THE Little Theatre in St Andrew buzzed with excitement and an expectant air hovered inside the performance space on Wednesday as patrons awaited the start of the Globe Theatre's presentation of Shakespeare's Hamlet.

The theatre was filled to capacity as lovers of the art doled out $5,000 a ticket to see one of the writer's great tragedies performed by actors from Shakespeare's Globe from London.

The performance formed part of the company's world tour in commemoration of the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare's birth.

What would unfold over the near three-hour production was a treat and a chance to see the work of one of the literary masters.

From the outset, it was clear that the actors are well-trained as the audience was greeted with a "What a gwaan, Kingston?" from cast member Tom Lawrence, who would introduce the play and set the scene, but not before closing with: "This evening a go slap weh!"

Hamlet follows a path of revenge by the young Prince Hamlet, who vows to avenge the death of his father who is bitterly opposed to his mother marrying his uncle so soon after his father's death.

A string of events unravels as the young prince hatches his plans that involve madness and untimely death.

The production made great use of the Little Theatre stage in a demonstration of a form of experimental theatre, which by no means diminished the core of the classic.

Actor Naeem Hyatt must be commended for his brilliant portrayal of Prince Hamlet. His ease and comfort with the language and space made his character real and believable. The neuroses associated with the character were brilliantly portrayed by the actor. His fidgeting and rapid speech showed perfect dramatic timing.

Miranda Foster was another treat. The sharp wit of her dialogue made for some of the tragedy's comedic moments — "The lady doth protest too much, methinks," — was one of the lines which has become popularised and seeing it played out on stage brought it sharply into context.

In keeping with the spirit of Shakespeare's Globe, the house lights were kept on during the performance and the actors did not use microphones.

The latter posed a challenge to patrons depending on where one sat in the theatre. Many a line went unheard. And some of the actors were unable to throw their voices to the back of the theatre.

During the curtain call it was announced that actress Amanda Wilkin is of Jamaican stock. Applause filled the house and patrons celebrated one of their own.

Wilkin would however leave a bad taste in the mouths of the local media when she declined requests for interviews following the performance.




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