Hamlet – New Theatre – Review
Hamlet by William Shakespeare – AC Productions
Apr 11th – Apr 23rd @ 7.30pm Tickets: €16 (€12.50 conc.)
This new production of Hamlet coincides with the 400th anniversary of his death, with the final performance on the actual anniversary; April 23rd. Hamlet is almost too well known to summarise, but for those who missed that day in school, it is the story of the Prince of Denmark and was written somewhere between 1599 and 1602. Hamlet is the son of the recently deceased King. The throne has been seized by Hamlet’s Uncle Claudius, who has also married Hamlet’s mother. This newly formed family and royal structure is put at further risk when Hamlet sees the ghost of his dead father who demands vengeance!
It is possibly the best known of Shakespeare’s works and one of the most difficult to stage. In recent years, the play has served as a launch point for a variety of meta theatre productions, such as Schaubühne’s Hamlet, in which Hamlet breaks from character and talks directly to the audience. These productions split critics down the middle with some viewing it as sacrilege. This version takes a more traditional approach with a couple of exceptions. The cast appear in modern dress with Hamlet wearing a hoodie in some scenes. The set is quite simple with a curtain and chairs at the back of the stage and some books, swords and skulls at the front. Possibly the most unusual thing about the production is that Rex Ryan plays Hamlet with a Dublin accent. The small stage of the New Theatre does create some limitations for the production company but the cast make up for them. The production is over two and a half hours including the interval, and while they have cut several scenes it is not substantially altered. The opening scene plunges us straight into the action with Hamlet meeting the ghost of his dead father.
Rex Ryan is known for the one man show Pilgrim which was part of the Dublin Tiger Fringe Festival in 2014. He is the son of the late Gerry Ryan, the RTE broadcaster. He plays Hamlet with a ferocity bubbling just under the surface, occasionally exploding outward. With ten members in the cast of this relatively small production, some of the actors take on two or three roles to further complicate matters. The cast are of mixed ability but the lead roles are impressive with young actors Killian Coyle, Shane O’Regan and Rex Ryan holding the attention of the audience. Grace Fitzgerald plays Ophelia and her subtle descent into madness is one of the more captivating scenes in the play. It is an enjoyable version of the classic that serves to introduce some new acting talent to a wider audience.
Cast: Paul Kealyn, Grace Fitzgerald, Kathleen Warner Yeates, Daniel Costello, Katie O’Kelly, Killian Coyle, Finbarr Doyle, Ethan Dillon and Shane O’Regan.
The Ghost of Hamlet’s Father voiced by legendary actor Tom Hickey.
Directed by Peter Reid.