Director Amy Leach breathes new life into a classic tale of murder and betrayal with her modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. This gender-swapping, intense and emotional performance shows us just how timeless the piece is; throwing it into the 21stcentury with stunning production elements, atmospheric lighting and adding an ever growing tension through its central relationship between its female Hamlet and her Ophelia.
Tessa Parr’s Hamlet is outstanding; this part has been played countless times over hundreds of years, and yet Parr is still able to give this eccentric character a brave new twist, with a witty personality and outright madness that presents the character in a whole new light. Although traditional Shakespearean tragedy is often over performed this is certainly not the case here; Parr commands the stage without overdramatising and does not disappoint with a poignant and heart wrenching performance that moves audiences to tears and reminds us why Shakespeare’s works are still just as popular today.
Leach’s decision to keep the traditional Shakespearean language worked beautifully; initially a little hard to get into due to the differences in language, the audience is soon swept into the incredible performances and the language becomes only secondary to what we witness on the stage. It is not often that a performance is powerful enough for language not to matter, but the entire cast play their parts so wonderfully that although famous monologues and poetic language is heartfelt and incredibly moving, they are carried by the atmosphere and emotion present on the stage.
Casting director Kay Magson CDG ensure that the gender reversals throughout the casting make for an interesting dynamic; a female Hamlet creates another level entirely to the relationship with Ophelia, and brings this forbidden love into the modern world with a political twist. Simona Bitmate’s Ophelia is remarkable, portraying beautifully the desperation of a young woman in love, driven to madness by the loss of her mother – this scene in particular creates a beautiful air of tension and discomfort that perfectly epitomises this classic tragedy.
Overall, it is refreshing to see such an original take on a production that is so familiar; the talented cast and imaginative director have created a beautiful piece of theatre that really has done the Bard proud. 5/5
Review written by Hazel Kaye.
Hamlet is currently showing at Leeds Playhouse until Saturday 30thMarch 2019. To find out more about the production, visit here…