Hamlet

Hamlet Production Photos Photo Credit : The Other Richard

 

Opening Night Verdict

Often described as Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy, Director David Thacker’s Hamlet is relocated to a gently suggested Soviet Block with it’s marbled walls and leaders portraits, a nod also perhaps to the troubled political times we find ourselves living today.

Upon entering the theatre James Cotterill and Ciaran Bagnall’s impressive set and lighting design looms large; making use of the full height of the Octagon it is dominant, multi-levelled and imposing. In the opening scenes at the funeral of Hamlet’s father we quickly get an idea of the style of this production, beautifully and dramatically lit, scenes change at a pace from bright and bold to soft and brooding.

Hamlet Production PhotosPhoto Credit : The Other Richard

Hamlet Production Photos Photo Credit : The Other Richard

Taking on the title role is the hugely impressive David Ricardo-Pearce, the tragic Prince, torn away from his studies abroad to a kingdom in turmoil, his Uncle taking not only the throne from Hamlet’s dead father but also Hamlet’s own mother to be his new bride. Overcome with confusion and grief the haunting sight of his dead father’s ghost sends Hamlet further into the depths of despair as he strives to find clarity in a world he feels increasingly uncertain.

Ricardo-Pearce delivers the multi-layered prince with conviction, playful yet proud, intense and sardonic. He takes of the task of avenging his father’s murder with fervour as he struggles to find an outlet for his grief, he is unflinching in his quest for retribution. At times addressing the audience directly, Ricardo-Pearce’s commitment to the role is exceptional as he questions, considers and confirms his plans.

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The supporting cast are equally as impressive. Jessica Baglow captivates entirely as the broken and grief-stricken Ophelia, singing gently as she weeps for the loss of her love Hamlet and her father, her mind turns to madness. Eric Potts injects great humour amidst the intensity as the trusted Polonius while Brian Protheroe is impressive as the cold and composed Claudius. Marc Small makes for a loyal and committed Horatio while Michael Peavoy is a charismatic and dignified Laertes.

Thacker’s emphasis on the family tragedy of Hamlet reaps dramatic rewards, with the delivery of the script some of the clearest I’ve seen, this Hamlet is accessible and gripping, it feels fresh and inspired with the cast working together perfectly to deliver and engaging and enormously entertaining piece of theatre.

Hamlet Production Photos

Photo Credit : The Other Richard

A great Hamlet of course rests enormously on the lead, Ricardo –Pearce succeeds entirely in involving the audience in his journey as we experience and feel not only Hamlet’s broken and disillusioned heart but his manic and mesmerising mind. Fast-paced, gripping and utterly compelling.

On at the Octagon Theatre until Saturday 10th March tickets available here.

RSC | Hamlet

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Opening Night Verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

From it’s opening scenes showing Hamlet receiving his degree at Wittenberg University, it’s clear that the RSC are offering something very different, director Simon Godwin has painted this version of Hamlet with glorious technicolour and focuses firmly on a Prince who feels displaced, an outcast amongst his own people.

Making history back in 2016 when Paapa Essiedu became the first black actor to play Hamlet at the RSC he is undoubtedly the heart of this production with director Simon Godwin very much shaping it around him. Essiedu is of Ghanaian descent which has been used to influence the piece and shifted the coordinates offering a rich and absorbing West African flavour. Ripped away from his overseas education due to the death of his Father, Hamlet is struggling not only with his grief but also with a feeling of dislocation from his people as well as a confusion at the swiftness in which his mother has remarried. Seeing the haunting ghost of his dead father impacts him enormously, from here he begins a powerful psychological unravelling as he bids to seek revenge upon his uncle Claudius who murdered his father before stealing not only the throne but also Hamlet’s own mother for his wife. In Hamlet’s bid to expose the truth, lives and loves are lost as almighty tragedies unfold.

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Essiedu is a revelation as Hamlet, sardonic and unpredictable, charismatic and incredibly witty; he devours Shakespeare’s words and delivers them as if they were his own. His commanding presence fills the Lowry’s expansive Lyric theatre entirely, this riveting and contemporary Prince of Denmark is playful and beguiling with a unsettling element of danger that’s fascinating to watch. He questions, dissects, flips the expected on it’s head and offers an entirely new Hamlet.

This critically-acclaimed RSC production feels incredibly fresh, unlike any Hamlet I’ve seen before. The cultural richness and sheer brilliance of the ensemble brings an entirely new spin on this Shakespeare classic while playful, exuberant choreography casts light on the shade on Shakespeare’s most famous tragedy. While there is intensity there is also great humour with sharp performances from gossipy chief counsellor to the King, Polonius (Joseph Mydell) and matter of fact, take-each-day-as-it comes Gravedigger, Ewart James Walters. Mimi Ndiweni makes for a heartbreakingly tragic Ophelia partnered beautifully with a touching and honest performance from brother Laertes (Buom Tihngang).

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The vibrancy of designer Paul Wills staging breathes further life into this ground-breaking production, the staging reflecting the state of Hamlets grieving and maddening mind. Lighting designer Paul Anderson succeeds magnificently, from the hauntingly atmospheric to the blisteringly bold every scene lit to perfection and recreated for this tour by Matt Peel.

Part tragedy, park dark comedy Hamlet is a drum-thumping, high-energy, intoxicating triumph of theatre. The contemporary twist, perfectly paced & honest performances ensure the RSC succeed in delivering Shakespeare in an accessible and wholly captivating way. Paapa Essiedu captures not only the heart and soul of the character but makes the text seem new and original. I struggled to find any fault in this daring & dynamic production which will stay with me for some time. Inspired and inspiring theatre at its finest.

On at The Lowry until Saturday 3rd February tickets available here.

MOAT

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Manchester Open Air Theatre returns this summer with something for everyone in the form of five classic tales; Macbeth, The Jungle Book, The Importance of Being Earnest, Peter Pan and Hamlet.

Presented by Northern Rep, Manchester Open Air Theatre (MOAT) will bring each production to life in a pop-up 500 seater outdoor theatre in Manchester’s beautiful Chorlton Park between Monday 31st July and Saturday 2nd September.

Incredibly the 5 very different productions will be presented over the 5 weeks by the same core company of actors, stage managers, designers and director, an exciting challenge no doubt for the hugely talented Northern Rep Company, (who are currently performing The Hound of the Baskervilles at The Reading Room, Great Northern, tickets available here www.northernrep.co.uk/thebaskervilles )

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Thomas Moore, artistic director said “Following last year’s hit summer season; Plays in the Park, we can’t wait to bring Manchester Open Air Theatre to Chorlton Park this summer. This season has something for everyone. The Jungle Book and Peter Pan are going to be a treat for both little and big kids. We have two of the greatest dramas of all time; Macbeth & Hamlet. And to top it off we have the hilariously outrageous The Importance of Being Earnest. Don’t miss what is going to be a brilliant summer.” Listings are as follows;

Macbeth – Mon 31 Jul – Sat 5 Aug. Recommended for ages 13+

The Jungle Book – Mon 7 – Sat 12 Aug. Recommended for ages 3+

The Importance of Being Earnest – Mon 14 – Sat 19 Aug. Recommended for ages 13+

Peter Pan – Mon 21 – Sat 26 Aug. Recommended for ages 5+

Hamlet – Mon 28 Aug – Sat 2 Sep. Recommended for ages 13+

Tickets for all productions are £20

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In addition to the great theatre on offer, the MOAT season will run alongside the inaugural Manchester Wine Festival, which Northern Rep is thrilled to be bringing to Chorlton Park . Offering the opportunity to try around 80 wines from old favourites to new kids on the block Manchester Wine Festival 17 is the perfect event for both newbies and experts. With Chorlton Park easily accessible via the Metrolink (St Weburgh’s Road and Barlow Moor Road stations are a 3 minute walk away) MOAT is a great opportunity to enjoy some quality theatre accompanied by quality wine in the beautiful and unique setting of Chorlton Park.

For more information and to book tickets head to www.manchesteropenairtheatre.com