My husband, knowing I am a Hamlet virgin, and upon hearing I was reviewing William Shakespeare’s work, offered the following advice: “It’s a story about a baby pig.”

Well-meaning friends suggested I take my knitting to the theatre; plug in my headphones during the performance and even take a book to read. Mention Shakespeare and this seemed to be the common reaction.

So it was with some trepidation I found myself in a fairly packed Hull New Theatre on Tuesday night, waiting for the curtain to rise on the Bard’s longest play.

I needn’t have worried. Thanks to some superb acting, the tale was not too hard to follow.

Set in Elsinore, Denmark, Old Hamlet, the country’s King, dies and his brother, Claudius (Clarence Smith) quickly moves in on the Queen, Gertrude (Lorna Brown), and marries her to gain the throne. The old King and Gertrude’s son, Prince Hamlet (Paapa Essiedu), has a visit from his dad’s ghost (Ewart James Walters), revealing Claudius murdered him. Infuriated by the lovey-dovey behaviour of the newlyweds, Hamlet feigns madness in order to avenge his dad’s death.

Meanwhile, the King’s chief adviser, Polonius (Joseph Mydell), believes Hamlet’s “madness” is the result of his repressed love for his daughter, Ophelia (Mimi Ndiweni). Encouraging Ophelia to declare her love for the Prince, he earwigs on the encounter, only to hear Hamlet violently shun her.

After Hamlet accidentally shoots Polonius dead, Claudius packs him off to England on a ship, accompanied by his old school-friends, Rosencrantz (Romayne Andrews) and Guildenstern (Eleanor Wyld), who are under orders from Claudius to pass a sealed letter to the King of England, entreating him to have Hamlet killed immediately. Their plot fails and Hamlet, after making a deal with some pirates, finds himself back in England, reunited with his best friend, Horatio (James Cooney).

The pair come across a funeral procession, and when Hamlet realises Ophelia is the one being buried, after drowning herself, he confesses his love for her. Bit late.

Her brother, Laertes (Buom Tihngang) demanding revenge for the death of his father, Polonius, challenges Hamlet to a sword fight. An unfair fight as it happens, as Claudius, has poisoned the tip of Laertes’ sword. Next thing you know, the stage is littered with dead bodies. For other Hamlet virgins out there, I won’t give the game away by revealing who popped their clogs, and how.

Give Hull folk their due; whenever anything cultural appears at the city’s theatres, they flock there in their droves.  And so it was on Tuesday when this tale of madness, murder and lost love came to town.

And, although the script is Shakespearean, the actors wear modern gear (Hamlet in skinny jeans) with not a codpiece in sight; the props are comical (a huge ghetto blaster and a red telephone box teapot, to name but two); the music lively and the stage setting atmospheric.

I couldn’t fault the acting on the night; everyone was amazing. And Paapa Essiedu in the lead role was unbelievably talented. However, I tried to enjoy it, I really did, but Shakespeare is just not my cup of tea. I also struggled to hear clearly a lot of the dialogue. I was obviously in the minority, though, as members of the audience showed their appreciation with prolonged applause, several standing as they shouted for more.

Hamlet continues at Hull New Theatre until Saturday 17th February - https://www.hulltheatres.co.uk/events/hamlet

 

Reviewer: Jackie Foottit

Reviewed: 13th February 2018

 

North West End Rating: ★★★

My husband, knowing I am a Hamlet virgin, and upon hearing I was reviewing William Shakespeare’s work, offered the following advice: “It’s a story about a baby pig.”

Well-meaning friends suggested I take my knitting to the theatre; plug in my headphones during the performance and even take a book to read. Mention Shakespeare and this seemed to be the common reaction.

So it was with some trepidation I found myself in a fairly packed Hull New Theatre on Tuesday night, waiting for the curtain to rise on the Bard’s longest play.

I needn’t have worried. Thanks to some superb acting, the tale was not too hard to follow.

Set in Elsinore, Denmark, Old Hamlet, the country’s King, dies and his brother, Claudius (Clarence Smith) quickly moves in on the Queen, Gertrude (Lorna Brown), and marries her to gain the throne.

The old King and Gertrude’s son, Prince Hamlet (Paapa Essiedu), has a visit from his dad’s ghost (Ewart James Walters), revealing Claudius murdered him.

Infuriated by the lovey-dovey behaviour of the newlyweds, Hamlet feigns madness in order to avenge his dad’s death.

Meanwhile, the King’s chief adviser, Polonius (Joseph Mydell), believes Hamlet’s “madness” is the result of his repressed love for his daughter, Ophelia (Mimi Ndiweni). Encouraging Ophelia to declare her love for the Prince, he earwigs on the encounter, only to hear Hamlet violently shun her.

After Hamlet accidentally shoots Polonius dead, Claudius packs him off to England on a ship, accompanied by his old school-friends, Rosencrantz (Romayne Andrews) and Guildenstern (Eleanor Wyld), who are under orders from Claudius to pass a sealed letter to the King of England, entreating him to have Hamlet killed immediately.

Their plot fails and Hamlet, after making a deal with some pirates, finds himself back in England, reunited with his best friend, Horatio (James Cooney).

The pair come across a funeral procession, and when Hamlet realises Ophelia is the one being buried, after drowning herself, he confesses his love for her. Bit late.

Her brother, Laertes (Buom Tihngang) demanding revenge for the death of his father, Polonius, challenges Hamlet to a sword fight. An unfair fight as it happens, as Claudius, has poisoned the tip of Laertes’ sword.

Next thing you know, the stage is littered with dead bodies. For other Hamlet virgins out there, I won’t give the game away by revealing who popped their clogs, and how.

Give Hull folk their due; whenever anything cultural appears at the city’s theatres, they flock there in their droves.  And so it was on Tuesday when this tale of madness, murder and lost love came to town.

And, although the script is Shakespearean, the actors wear modern gear (Hamlet in skinny jeans) with not a codpiece in sight; the props are comical (a huge ghetto blaster and a red telephone box teapot, to name but two); the music lively and the stage setting atmospheric.

I couldn’t fault the acting on the night; everyone was amazing. And Paapa Essiedu in the lead role was unbelievably talented.

However, I tried to enjoy it, I really did, but Shakespeare is just not my cup of tea. I also struggled to hear clearly a lot of the dialogue.

I was obviously in the minority, though, as members of the audience showed their appreciation with prolonged applause, several standing as they shouted for more.

 

Hamlet continues at Hull New Theatre until Saturday 17th February - https://www.hulltheatres.co.uk/events/hamlet

 

Reviewer: Jackie Foottit

Reviewed: 13th February 2018

North West End Rating: ★★★

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