You'd be hard-pressed to find a play
which has so embedded itself into the anglophone consciousness as
Hamlet. We quote it almost without thinking,
parallel its characters and situations in all manner of ways and
relate this drama – first staged as the Tudor 16th century
gave place to the Stuart 17th century – without trouble into
every century, every decade which has happened since then.
stash="" kirkbride="" and="" peter="" beck="" have="" done="" with=""
So it's a bold man who decides that there's a sequel to be written. Bold men, in fact, because that's precisely
what Stash Kirkbride and Peter Beck have done withstash="" kirkbride="" and="" peter="" beck="" have="" done="" with="" Hamlet: The Undiscovered Country. What's more, its
production in this year's Norwich Hostry Festival is preceded by a
mime, movement and music gloss on the play of Hamlet
itself performed by the inclusive community theatre group Total
makes for a long evening. The script for Hamlet: The
Undiscovered Country itself merges phrases from other
Shakespeare plays with a sort of heightened prose teetering on the
brink of blank verse but never quite succumbing; it could do with
pruning. Kirkbride and Beck (who plays Claudius) plunge us into the
final scene of Hamlet before presenting its
characters in an afterlife which, in theological terms, is part Purgatory, part Limbo.
also meet some of the people who died before Act Five Scene Two of
the original, as well as an assortment of their friends and families,
some of whom turn out to have quite surprising stories to tell. Nor
are Gertrude, Claudius, the old King Hamlet, Laertes and Hamlet
himself altogether the personalities with whom we think ourselves
familiar. It is one of the strengths of this script that we do find
ourselves in agreement with all these mirror images.
the acting is good. Beck, David Newham as Hamlet's father, Peter
Barrow as Yorick, Etta Geras as Mrs Yorick, Evan Ryder as
Laertes, Neville Miller as Rank Sedges and Tom Harper as Hamlet
all give committed and convincing interpretations of their roles.
David Banks is the grizzled Chorus who opens and closes the play.
He leaves us with much to think about. But then, undiscovered
countries always have aspects which are strange to those who come