Performed by The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Directed by Hugh Hodgart/Katya Kamotskaia,
5-7 June 2014
Reviewed by Nicola Flynn
The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark by William Shakespeare has been produced on numerous occasions over the years since it was written circa 1599, each with its own unique take on the themes of melancholy, insanity and revenge. Not many however could claim to be (or not to be!) portrayed by three Hamlets and two Ophelia’s. The Royal Conservatoire originally decided upon this inimitable casting to allow their young actors to share the opportunities of playing the few characters in Hamlet, however the trio really added to sense that Hamlet was in constant conflict with himself about his thoughts and actions. I must admit, that it did take me at least 30 minutes into the production to realise Francesca Tomlinson, Rhys Warrington and Andreas Munoz were all playing Hamlet simultaneously!
To summarise the tale, recently deceased King Hamlet, returns as a ghost (played brilliantly by Martin Donaghy) and informs Hamlet of his murder (most foul!) by none other than his own brother, Claudius; Claudius is driven by greed and desire to steal his brother’s crown and claim his widow, Queen Gertrude. Hamlet agrees to take revenge on his uncle Claudius (also played by Donaghy), but decides on a facade of madness to avert suspicion of his plot. “Though this be madness, yet there is method in ‘t”. The Hamlet trilogy at this point in the production, really do portray madness aptly. It’s also refreshing to hear Shakespeare spoken with a strong Scottish accent!
As Hamlet is not completely convinced the ghost is truthful, he decides to put on a play (a common Shakespeare plot – a play within a play) for the new King and his mother, and study his reaction as one of the characters murders another in a similar fashion to that of his father. Claudius is agitated (O! My offence is rank, it smells to heaven) and leaves the scene after the actors portray a murder of the king by poison in the ear. Claudius’ actions catapult The Hamlets into a quest for revenge which ultimately leads to the death of Polonius, The Ophelia’s, Laertes, The Queen and Hamlet himself.
Hamlet is one of Shakespeare’s longest works; it’s reported some productions have lasted over 4 hours! The trilogy of Hamlets did help to set the pace of the play; those who were twitching in their seats towards the end of the 1hr 45 minute first act, were on the edge of their seats during the 45 minute final set towards the spiralling tragedy that led to Hamlets’ untimely death.
My friend and I really enjoyed the play and were really impressed at the talented young cast with a really unique take on the classic tragedy.
The Tron Theatre was only a short walk away from the High Street train Station in Glasgow and just on the border with the Merchant City; a popular area, packed with trendy restaurants and bars. Within the Tron itself is a lovely cafe/bar in which we sampled a glass of Pinot Noir as we contemplated a consistent theme of The Royal Conservatoires June Productions; They F**k you up, your mum and dad, they may not mean to, but they do (From This Be The Verse, by Philip Larkin).
Tron Theatre, 63 Trongate, Glasgow, G1 5HB | 0141 552 4267