Friday, April 01, 2016

'Hamlet' by William Shakespeare

1 April 2016

Regular readers may remember that I am a fan of the theatre director Simon Godwin – having enjoyed his productions of 'Two Gentlemen of Verona' (reviewed here in July 2014) 'Man and Superman' (reviewed here in May 2015) and 'The Beaux' Stratagem' (reviewed here in September 2015). Last Tuesday we were at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon to see Simon Godwin's new RSC production of 'Hamlet' starring Paapa Essiedu. Setting the play in a nameless West African dictatorship showed parallels between Hamlet's return from university in Wittenburg and those African leaders who studied in Europe. It was a refreshing reversal to see a cast with only a handful of white actors in minor parts. 25-year-old Paapa Essiedu was very impressive – a young, impetuous and very believable Hamlet. Natalie Simpson also gave Ophelia a poignant realism. Clarence Smith's Claudius was very much the soldier and Tanya Moodie emphasised Gertrude's ambiguous role in the events that precede the play. Every time you see 'Hamlet' you remember aspects of previous productions but every new version also shows you something new in the play. This was a fresh, bright, colourful and highly entertaining production and Paapa Essiedu is clearly a name to watch.

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