To go or not to go, that is the question.
On the evidence of the performances here then the answer is without doubt in the affirmative and Lode Star should be congratulated wholeheartedly on their achievement.
Every actor feels born to play The Prince Of Denmark and - in this production which forms one half of this year’s Liverpool Shakespeare Festival - Stephen Fletcher must be pleased at his decision to take the role on. Filled with wit and guile, anger, madness and not a little venom, Fletcher’s representation is one to savour as he prowls the gloriously adorned, semi-circular space with gusto and further enhances his reputation to take any part and make it his own.
Superb too is Ruth Alexander as Gertrude, whose performance is filled with equal measures of self-serving “love” for her new husband that is soon offset by mannerisms of supreme indifference before finally being topped by despair when told of the full extent of his actions in order to seize the throne.
Ian Hayles’s Polonius holds just the right amount of bluff and bluster that the part demands, whereas Tom Latham’s Horatio is equally as notable in delivering a performance that slightly exceeds, possibly, what the author intended with regards to charm.
Yet it’s Liam Tobin’s triple-handed roles of Old Hamlet for its powerful representation, First Player in its delicious tone and delivery and, most notably perhaps, as The First Gravedigger for its warmth, humour and ignorance of feeling that must take the plaudits overall. Tobin’s is a textbook copy of all three parts and takes the production to new heights.
Yes there were problems. The acoustics in the hall are not best served when the company have their backs to the audience, as an echo renders some of the dialogue incomprehensible, especially as much of it is delivered at speed. Yet this complaint is more than adequately set right by the action highlighted during a fight scene superbly choreographed by Renny Krupinski, who also plays Claudius with a certain amount of mid-war spiv that at once enthrals and repulses in equal measure.
Setting one of The Bard’s most popular plays in a mid-war, near contemporary setting might appear to some to be a little risky. Yet for this production of Hamlet the choice works remarkably well and serves to emphasise the timelessness of the story.
- Chris High