Printable CopyHAMLET
The Raw Shakespeare Project
Until 18 Feb 2017

Review by Janice Bailey

Raw Shakespeare Project created an exceptional marketing opportunity by casting a female as the title role in their Adelaide Fringe production of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”.

As I expect did many other patrons, I went along with high expectations that this production would be edgy and innovative to match their brave choice of a female lead. This was a great opportunity to bring Shakespeare into the 21st century by modernising the setting and costumes and making it more accessible to a wider audience. I was disappointed that the innovation stopped with the casting of Leah Anderson as Hamlet who, on the whole, created a believable Hamlet.

While the addition of modern costumes and setting would have, for me, created a more exciting experience, the language should never be tampered with – which, fortunately, it wasn‘t. It should be remembered that Shakespeare wrote for the ‘masses’ as well as for royalty. If they were not entertained with some ribald language and physicality within the play, the actors would have been subjected to derisive comments and possible injury from rotten fruit and vegetables and other rubbish being thrown at them. “Hamlet” is probably one of the few of Shakespeare’s plays which has less of this type of language, containing arguably one of the best of his soliloquies but also making it quite sombre and at times static.

The cast of local actors, under the direction of Russell Slater, have risen to the challenge and should be commended for their efforts. While each of the cast members admirably play multiple roles, Aarod Vawser’s Guildenstern impressed most. The venue is cute and quirky but the low ceiling created some problems with sound reaching the back of the room.

Unfortunately the seating which was a mix of chairs and stools meant that some audience members had an uncomfortable experience. Audience seated at the back also had the constant procession of actors making entrances and exits, which at times was quite distracting. While I personally was disappointed that the innovation did not go further, this production is worthwhile if you enjoy Shakespeare, and the company should be rewarded for their hard work.

Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)