Bakehouse Theatre
Until 03 Mar 2017

Review by Tony Busch

It’s always interesting to see any Shakespearean play through new eyes and this is certainly a very different vision of “Hamlet”.

Billed as a feminist rock musical, it uses excerpts from the play to concentrate on the character of Ophelia and pose the question of whether her suicide was the response of a damaged and manipulated soul or a demonstration of refusal to submit to masculine control.

As the doomed Opehlia, Miriam Slater is mesmerising committing fully to the action. Luke Middlebrook makes a dashing Hamlet and their scenes together have a chemistry that is unmistakeable.

However, if you’re going to do the Bard justice, even in an abridged version, you need to treat the lines with respect. Shakespeare’s choice of iambic pentameter was no idle idea. He has crafted the rhythm and metre of the lines so that they fall easily from the tongue. Indeed, quite often, the audience’s ability to comprehend is enabled by the rhythm. Play around with it and you lose clarity and meaning.

Too often, lines were rattled off with such speed and such poor diction there was no clarity at all. Attempts to turn dialogue or monologue into rock songs also did not take into account the inherent rhythm of the words as they were trimmed and repeated to suit the melody line.

I’m certainly not against any new idea that might bring Shakespeare to a wider audience but such productions need to be faithful to the original writing. Either that or paraphrase the whole thing into modern speech.

Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)