Hamlet – Bord Gais Theatre – Review
31 Jan 2017 – 4 Feb 2017
Icarus Theatre Company bring their production of Hamlet to the Bord Gais Theatre for one week only. With Hamlet on the leaving cert course this year, there is a ready made audience already in place. This production is billed as ‘Shakespeare for the Games of Thrones generation’ which is something of a mix of worlds. Could we expect dragons? Thankfully not and in truth there was very little of the HBO series on display, other than a few bare chested sword fights. This production does take a few liberties with the play, with varied success.
Hamlet tells the tale of the young prince of Denmark and was written by Shakespeare between 1599 and 1602. We meet Hamlet when he is still grieving the loss of his father, the King. His mother has remarried the old king’s brother. The prince has a visit from the ghost of his dead father which sets in motion this tale of revenge and deceit.
The set is modest by the standards of the Bord Gais Theatre. A number of Danish flags adorn the back drop and there are two thrones and some battlements that remain in place throughout. There is an expectation of revolving stages or projected images in this theatre but this is a much more straight forward affair.
There are a number of changes to the genders of the characters, with both Horatio (Camille Marmie) and Rosencrantz (Virginia Hartmann) being played by women. This is a small change that actually does not vary the structure of the play and Camille was one of the stronger actors on stage. The production did not amplify the voices of the actors and initially it was difficult to hear them, although it did improve once the audience settled. One usual choice by the director was to alter the soliloquies, breaking them up and having a number of actors speak the lines instead of just one. It was an interesting idea but sadly did not work, as it altered the flow and made them feel disjointed.
The main positive in this production was the performance of Nicholas Limm as Hamlet. He has a strong stage presence and a natural ability to hold an audience. Andrew Venning also did a good job as Laertes, although with a relatively small part. The production has an explosive ending with a sword fight that is worth the wait. Although flawed, this production does have some style and a number of strong performances.