Hamlet – Mill Theatre – Review


Hamlet – Mill Theatre – Review by Conor O’Carroll

Dates: Wednesday 5th October to Friday 28th October, Monday to Friday at 10am
Afternoon performances every Tuesday at 1.30pm – Extra date added – Monday 17th October at 1.30pm
Evening performances Weds 12th + Thurs 13th, Weds 19th + Thurs 20th at 7.30pm

This is the fourth of Shakespeare’s plays to be produced by Mill Productions after Macbeth, Othello and King Lear. This new production of Hamlet is directed by Geoff O’Keefe. They have cut some of the text to reduce the total running time but have remained faithful to the core theme of the play.

The setting is Elsinore castle in Denmark, the king is dead, his son Hamlet is in mourning and his mother the queen has remarried her brother in law.  The ghost of his father returns to tell Hamlet that he was murdered by his brother who has now taken his place as king. Urged to avenge his father’s murder, Hamlet pretends to be mad so he can plot revenge. However in doing so he alienates all around him except for his friend Horatio. His actions or lack thereof are highly destructive and lead to the death of those unconnected with his father’s murder.

The set is very simple, with dark grey walls which create a menacing atmosphere. Music and sound effects are used sparingly but are impressive when introduced. The multimedia effects are excellent in scene when Hamlet meets his father’s ghost.

This is in fact the longest of all Shakespeare’s plays and runs for 3 hours. This does put some pressure on the cast and stage management to move between scenes with little delay. Yet this is done seamlessly and the same setting changes from the castle battlements to the banqueting hall simply by changing the lighting and the demeanour of the cast; this is very effective right throughout the play. The costumes are in the main simple and austere but they fulfil their purpose of communicating each character’s role.

This is a challenging play as Hamlet really is the main character while all of the others act as his foil. This can make it difficult for them to stand out although Polonius does not play the fool, rather the caring father for both Ophelia and Laertes with a wry sense of humour. At times the difference in experience among the cast is evident. Some of the stronger accents can make it difficult to understand the lines.

For students preparing for the Leaving Certificate, this play really opens up the character of Hamlet, a difficult one at the best of times to understand. There is no doubt that Shane O’Regan really brings this character to life with great intensity and energy. Hamlet claims to feign madness so as to hide his true intent for revenge against his uncle but O’Regan shows an ability to make you think that he is actually mad and the ghost in his imagination.

For many students this may be their first experience of live theatre and this play should awaken their interest in theatre as an art form. The play runs at the Mill Theatre in Dundrum from Monday to Friday until 28 October. For a play as long as this, the morning shows at 10am are ideal for schools.

Director: Geoffrey O’Keeffe

Cast: Shane O’Regan (Hamlet), Clara Harte (Ophelia) Matthew O’Brien (Laertes)  Stephen O’Leary (Horatio) Neill Fleming (Claudius) Damien Devaney (Polonius) Claire O’Donovan (Gerturde) with Decaln Brennan, Brian Molloy, Graeme Coughlan and Paul Quinn Jr.





Categories: Header, Theatre, Theatre Review

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