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Hamlet the Clown Prince (Tour - Newcastle)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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I wasn’t sure what to expect from this production, but having picked up the promotion material on my last visit to Northern stage, I was intrigued.

As I write this, I am delighted I have had the opportunity to see such a wonderful cast perform a really thought provoking ‘slant’ on a much performed classic.

Being told that no one dies in Hamlet at the beginning of the play, you wonder how they are going to re-tell the story, especially when you are also told that there will be tears at the end? What can be in store. Mind you, these are clowns in charge of the proceedings.

Their version of the Shakespearian masterpiece, the greatest play ever written some would say, is a delight from start to finish. A troupe of clowns, with personal issues and niggling jealousies, are performing their version of Hamlet. Although life’s trials and bitterness among the troupe overtake the playing of the great bard. Simmering underneath each scene of the play, Hamlet is the cast of clowns, and as we know, there is nothing sadder than a clown. Unfulfilled lives, drink problems, rejection and betrayal all come to a head as the story of the Crown Prince of Denmark unfolds. The ending is as promised is truly moving, and although there were no tears, it was a poignant moment in a high octane and frenetic show.

The production began in Mumbai in 2008 and has won numerous awards, including Best Play, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor and Best Costume Design, in this reviewers opinion, deservedly so.

The cast of seven work in unison playing the cast of clowns, who in turn take on the roles of Hamlet, Ophelia, Gertrude, Claudius, Leartes, and my favourite clown Nemo, played by – Namit Das, the dual roles of Horatio and Polonius.

For anyone who is a lover of the Bard, and who isn’t? this play is sparse in text of the great play, but for anyone who loves theatre for theatres’ sake, the sheer vibrancy, stunning and dare I say very European Commedia dell Arte, with British, French and Italian accents is a theatrical coup. This is one show you have to see.


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