Sunday, 17 June 2012

'Hamlet' at the Seymour Centre

The latest theatre production of Shakespeare's psycho-thriller Hamlet brings the familiar symbols and speech back to life with an intense and intimate approach. Director Damien Ryan led a passionately performed and yet refreshingly comprehensive performance - and the high standard of acting across the cast broke down barriers for any audience member. Hamlet deals with confronting themes but the family strife and self-destruction which culminates throughout the story seemed very tangible. There were a few stage tricks, which brought a movie-like quality to murder scenes, but overall the production returns to the natural roots of Shakespeare, the simplicity of the stage.

Lindsay Farris tackled his principal role as Hamlet with commendable zeal, delving into the dark disturbed elements of the character as well as commanding comic dialogue. The environment in which this boy lives in, and he does appear in this production as a young spiteful boy, is rich and regal yet his inner torment pierces through the illusions of the adults' comfortable lives. The circular stage allows for varying perspectives and brings the audience right into the action, and although some seats on the side have limited exposure to characters, nearly everyone in the house has a clear view of the storyline.

The dynamics of the script were acted out so naturally and the movement perfectly choreographed that Ryan's piece plunges the audience into the story. The play is not strictly in order but for the purposes of understanding it from a contemporary viewpoint and to exemplify the character's intentions, it worked well. The set was ever-changing and realistic, and a clever update of technology into the play further provoked questions on close relationships and inner turmoil. There was less soliloquising than in the original work but watching the interactions between the characters was mesmerising and Farris' Hamlet connected immediately with the audience.

A play for both adult and young audiences, Hamlet proves to bring a touch of contemporary stage practices to the traditional Shakespeare production and succeeds in telling a story of love and obsession.

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