Hamlet at Park Theatre
Three actors perform Shakespeare’s Hamlet in just 90 minutes, an interesting experiment and certainly not without merit. This adaptation is mercilessly fast-paced, well performed and cleverly staged.
One of the Bard’s most brutal tragedies, Hamlet is the tale of a troubled Danish prince, overcome with grief for his father’s death and driven mad by thoughts of revenge. Though the story usually takes around four hours to play out, this production squeezes it all into just one and a half. This makes for an unusually brisk adaptation. This is a great feat by script editor Imogen Bond as she manages to keep every important line and every pivotal scene, very cleverly moving the words around to fit everything in. But naturally, the play does lose a little of its tension-building atmosphere.
The three actors, all real-life family members, jump between parts. Benet Brandreth takes on the titular role while his father, Gyles Brandreth, and wife, Kosha Engler, share the rest of the characters between them. Each performer acts each of their roles brilliantly.
With no costume changes and with cast members sometimes not even leaving the stage, one would be forgiven for thinking this character switching would become uncontrollably confusing. But, with the smart script and subtle changes in mannerisms, it actually works very well and it becomes easy to understand who is who. Having said that, a prior familiarity with the characters and narrative may be necessary to closely follow this production, and it is definitely necessary to understand and appreciate how this play has been adapted from the usual format.
This is a thoroughly solid and entertaining performance of Hamlet, and a very interesting one too. But anyone new to the tragedy may wish to see a more traditional production so that they may better follow and understand this one.
Photo: Francis Loney
Hamlet is at Park Theatre from 22nd August until 16th September 2017. For further information or to book visit here.