Park Theatre (venue)
08 September 2017 (released)
10 September 2017
For those who know the text of Hamlet well, the Brandreth families three-handed production is a genuinely exciting experiment with much to admire. At a pacey 90 minutes, there’s little time to draw breath as the cast slip from one character to the next, truncated scenes aliding seamlessly. For newcomers to Shakespeare, I suspect the experience would be quite baffling.
Benet Brandreth gets the easy part of Hamlet (not often you can say that) while his real life wife, Kosha Engler plays Gertrude, Horatio, Rosencrantz, Ophelia. She also plays her brother Laertes who is rather intriguingly now a delusion persona she assumes in her madness after her fathers death. Gyles Brandreth, likely to be a draw for audience members who wouldn’t usually watch Shakespeare (and may never return) plays Hamlet’s father (ghost), Claudius, Polonius and the Player King.
Engler, and both Brandreth’s give intelligent, lucid performances and the awareness of their real life relationships does add an extra buzz. There are some enlightening moments as a result of the many roles each actor takes and fresh readings of the text which remains thrilling despite the heavy cuts. Adventurous in some ways, it seemed oddly limited in others. The whole play is set in a middle class kitchen with the obligatory huge wooden table dominating the central space. The Brandreth’s themselves could live in a house with a kitchen like that, I thought to myself. Well – maybe that was the point. An intimate Hamlet in a familiar setting, performed by a real life family. But did that bring the play closer to home?
It was fun to predict and then watch the many problems that had to be solved for Hamlet to be turned into a three-handed, one act play in a single location. The downside was that the cognitive brain took over and it was hard to really invest in the heart of the play.
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