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 première 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 Ensemble.

This 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.

We 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.

Overall, 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 across them.