The casting of a particularly young Hamlet, played by Joshua McGuire, embodies the obvious priority of the director to accentuate Hamlet’s overlooked comedic scenes. Sadly, this decision is at the cost of pathos, for which this production pays heavily. Be sure to watch out for the gratuitous one-liner in the final scene.
Unsurprisingly, the comedy scenes were well executed and highly effectual. John Bett’s fastidious, Scottish Polonius (who later transforms into the philosophical gravedigger) is a particular highlight, as well as Simon Armstrong’s fantastic portrayal of the ‘bloat king.’
…this particular Hamlet was inactive in his inaction.
However, these strengths are undermined by Joshua McGuire (as Hamlet), predominantly for his inability to convey the intense trauma of the title character. The famous soliloquies were rushed and failed to deliver the nuances behind some of the most thought-provoking lines in Shakespeare’s writing. In addition, McGuire’s frequent flashes of a grin at the audience distracted from the inner turmoil of Hamlet and generally lacked the passion necessary for such an intense role. Ironically, this particular Hamlet was inactive in his inaction.
Praise must be given to the cast, which is made up of only eight individuals. The actors’ versatility ensures clarity, as well as allowing subtle visual gags such as Ophelia (sweetly played by Jade Anouka) carrying her own ‘body’ offstage.
…little more than an ‘unweeded garden’…
This production is fun and does guarantee a laugh or two. However, it abandons the tender and emotional elements by doing so. From what should have been a wonderful and moving experience was little more than an ‘unweeded garden:’ perhaps a little pruning of shameless gags would have been prudent.
Hamlet runs until the 9th July
Tickets from £5
Image by John Haynes of courtesy of The Globe