Hamlet – Smock Alley – Review


Hamlet at Smock Alley. Review by Helen O’Leary.

This production of Hamlet currently running marks the 450th birthday of Shakespeare and is directed by Aisling Smith. This is a fairly modern interpretation of Hamlet, with some surprises in store for those who are familiar with the play; it still remains faithful to the essence of the tale. The dress style is modern and the scene changes blend in to one another without much ado. The text is a little pared back in places but the plot doesn’t suffer for it.

The production utilises the tiered balconies of the Smock Alley space innovatively. The drama unfolds high above our heads with King Hamlet’s ghost appearing in the ramparts to the night watch men opposite. It’s pleasing to feel that you are literally in the centre of the action, so often with Shakespeare you feel held at arms length. The only drawback to lines drifting down from lofty heights is the difficulty in catching every word of speech especially when sound effects are layered on top.

Rory Doherty plays Hamlet, The Prince of Denmark and he has the hard task of making the often-quoted lines his own. He presents a melancholic, introverted interpretation of the Danish prince. His performance is understated but at times lacking in the full force of passion, despair and turmoil we would expect from this man on a quest for vengeance.

The play boasts a large supporting cast, too many to mention. Prince Hamlet’s mother Gertrude is well cast and despite her hasty marriage to her deceased husbands brother Emma Lowe gives a poised and stately performance. Barney Gadd is a pleasure to watch as the playful and eager Polonius. The beautiful Ophelia is well portrayed as vulnerable and tormented by Rachel Roche.

Aisling Smith set out to produce a version of Hamlet that is “accessible and wholly engaging” and with the Just Friends Theatre Collective she accomplishes this. To anyone going to watch Hamlet for the first time this can be recommended as a good first encounter.

Hamlet at Smock Alley – Tue 9th – Sat 13th December at 8pm in The Boys’ School.


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