Wednesday, July 25, 2012

'Hamlet' by William Shakespeare

25 July 2012

Rather than try to condense the whole play into one act, Studio Theatre from Salisbury, who won the All-England Theatre Festival/RSC Open Stages Final of the National Shakespeare Competition, presented a performance of one section of ‘Hamlet’ at the Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon as part of the RSC Open Stages National Showcase last Saturday. After a brief (and extremely effective) résumé of the early scenes of the play, they performed the central part in full, beginning with the arrival of the players and concluding with Hamlet’s departure for England. This was a stunning performance – some of the highest standard amateur acting I have ever seen. All of the cast were outstanding and the actor playing Hamlet gave an incredible performance which would bear favourable comparison with some of the highest profile professional Hamlets of recent years. His movement was compelling and you could see him thinking of and arriving at his lines rather than merely reciting them. Ophelia was an intelligent, thoughtful and believable performance. Claudius was powerful and determined whilst also vulnerable and surprisingly sympathetic. Polonius was serious and officious – more like Malvolio from ‘Twelfth Night’ than the buffoon he is sometime portrayed as. It’s hard to convey how thrilling the Studio Theatre performance was, played very straight without any tricks or gimmicks – just extremely well-acted. A wonderful example of the heights to which amateur theatre can climb.

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