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Hamlet – The Helix – Review

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Hamlet – The Helix – Review by Frank L.

Directed by Paul Meade

There are two day time performances each day of this very famous play. Given the scheduling, it is obviously aimed at the Leaving Certificate students as the play is one of the set texts this year. For those students who have the good fortune to see this production their performance in the examination ought to be greatly enhanced as Second Age Theatre Company in association with Verdant Productions have created a revival of some considerable style and depth. From the very beginning with Osgar Dukes’ sound and Mark Galione’s lighting on the almost vacant stage with a  translucent backdrop created by Maree Kearns, it is clear that this is a production into which considerable care and attention to detail has been given by the director Paul Meade. Throughout the stage remains noticeably uncluttered so the obligation is on the actors to display their skills with Shakespeare’s daunting text. It is an obligation which is discharged as an ensemble who know precisely what it is doing and enjoys greatly the pursuit.

The eponymous role of Hamlet is played by Mark Fitzgerald. He is lithe and moves easily on stage. He is also blessed with hair of a slightly reddish hue which naturally physically differentiates him from the other cast members. His delivery of the words was done with a relaxed and easy authority. He had the complexities of the character assimilated into his own very existence. In short he was an impressive Hamlet.

Throughout he is ably supported by a strong cast. His nemesis King Claudius (Simon O’Gorman) has all the necessary outward show of a person who knows that his prestige is based on a false premise. His flash suit when he first appears captures well his flawed background.  Polonius (Michael Glenn Murphy) plays the courtier with elan and at times his smallest gestures bring fine fleeting moments of comedy into this tragedy. Gertrude (Karen Ardiff) is suitably two-faced given her alacrity in marrying her brother-in-law King Claudius after the murder of her husband, the King. Ophelia (Clodagh Mooney Duggan) is waif like and vulnerable as she distributes a variety of herbs when she has lost her senses following the murder of her father Polonius. Paul Meade’s confident direction ensured that the other members of the cast in a myriad of roles added a confident base to the entire. My only minor quibble is the somewhat wacky attire of the player Queen and Luciano in the play within a play but that is a minor grouse.

The Leaving Certificate candidates who see this production ought to produce far better answers than they otherwise would have achieved. Even if they do not, they will have experienced a very good production which with luck they will retain for the rest of their lives. They are now equipped with an excellent standard to compare any future productions of this great play which they may see. A fine introduction to Hamlet.

 

Categories: Header, Theatre, Theatre Review

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