Latest production of Hamlet ‘pushes boundaries’ says A-Level student

 

During the Christmas holidays, English Literature A-Level students went to see the Flute Theatre’s production of Hamlet at Trafalgar Studios in London.

Year 13’s Sydney Evans reviews the experience.

Despite the tiny cast in the Flute Theatre’s adaptation of Hamlet, director Kelly Hunter does not hold back when it comes to reflecting the ‘problematic, multidimensional and uncontrollable’ (as described in the introduction to the Norton Critical Edition of Hamlet) tendencies of the play and its characters. In fact, the tight space of the studio leads to greater impact upon the audience as we feel as though we become part of the action. Lights dimmed, it is hard to judge the boundary between performance and audience.

Satirical Rogue

Sitting on the edge of the second row, I felt a rush of adrenaline as Hamlet hovered nearby, a gleaming sword hanging irresponsibly from his bloodstained hands having just murdered Polonius, while his madness consumes him.

Hamlet’s madness has constantly remained a topic of widespread debate amongst critics. However, Kelly Hunter’s approach to Hamlet’s madness proves particularly intriguing, presenting Hamlet and his madness as two separate entities.

Method in the Madness

Despite making considerable cuts to the play (both Rosencrantz and Guildenstern fail to make an appearance and Horatio is a no-show) Hunter retains five out of the original seven soliloquies in which we witness Hamlet in battle with his madness; it is difficult to draw our eyes away from the frail and often distraught Mark Quartley. Instead of doubting him, I grew to pity him.

What’s more, the complexity of Hamlet remains ever-present throughout, despite it running for only an hour and a half. There is an enthralling take on the Ghost; Hamlet is possessed by his ‘father’s spirit’. Such an interpretation is supported in Shakespeare’s play, specifically when we consider how Hamlet describes the Ghost to be wearing armour despite not having been murdered in such attire – is the Ghost a figment of Hamlet’s psyche? As the play goes on, we watch the Ghost grow increasingly physical, passionate and persuasive as Hamlet’s madness appears defiant.

To see or not to see?

Finally, it is exhilarating to watch an adaption of Hamlet directed by a female director. Kelly Hunter, as director and Gertrude appears the unapologetic woman Margaret Atwood gave her access too in Good Bones, a woman making decisions based on her own desires.

In short, I was wholly engaged by the intimacy of this production, and able to gain a deeper understanding of the human reaction to our boundaries being pushed, a concept that seems to have fascinated Shakespeare himself.