Royal Conservatoire Scotland
15th March – 18th March
Script: Stagecraft: Performance:
A good sized stage and various accoutrements such as hanging frames, a desk, a comfy chair and more. Lights dimmed and an actor stood at the stage right. Eerie music was coupled with very little light which set the scene. Lighting designer Simon Hayes helped to create a grey serious place for the play to commence.
Hamlet (Samantha McLaughlin) was dressed in 19th century clothing as were all the costumes. Hamlet’s official status as lord and prince was highlighted when two soldiers in period uniform recalled a ghastly scene with him about war.
Music and light were used to create minute changes with subtle chiaroscuro reflecting the mood. Lofty, American accented Polonius, (Chris Ginesi) had great stage presence throughout. Such a pivotal character managed to convey solitude as he set about his various duties. His touching relationship with Hamlet provided the milk of human kindness that was much needed amidst such treachery. Victorian military and royal costumes replaced the much worn out tights of Shakespeare’s era
Every detail was carefully crafted by the creative team; Gertrude’s character, the Queen of Denmark (Lisa VillaMil) was larger than life in her fluid red dress. King Claudius’s care and consideration for her was evidenced in his choice of vessel silverware when pouring her a drink. Hamlet draws us into his emotions and then kicks us back out.
Scenes flew by without unnecessary costumes changes. Drawn in by poetry and philosophy, dialogue switched from public speaking to intimate and damning conversation. Bright colour touches on the actors costumes enhanced the visual atmosphere amid a plethora of grey and white. Ophelia’s immaculate white dress struck a chord complimenting the luxuriant red dress of Gertrude.
Through many speeches the plot revealed some great scenes of theosophical outcries from Hamlet as he mourns his father’s premature passing. Delving into scenes of his solitude and darkness that Hamlet saw clearly sharpened his wit and brought irony to his sense of humor. Hamlet’s conversations in the play helped him work through his grief addressing both actor and audience. He becomes more surer of the course he must take to appease himself of the death of his father Claudius.
Hamlet’s anger and determination is a clear theme for director by Gordon Barr’s who takes the story of Hamlet more and more into his own hands in a steady development. Ophelia and Hamlets clarifying conversation on the impossibility of their love is a prequel to leading to her tragic demise. This and Hamlets prophetic nightmares send Hamlet over the edge.
Fight director Marc Silberschatz turned this old story into a Tarantinoesque contemporary drama. I’m glad I saw this exciting play.
Reviewer: Daniel Donnelly