Review: Hamlet, Southwark Playhouse: Slimmed down version has lost context and depth
This slimmed-down production of Hamlet by Lazarus Theatre Company at the Southwark Playhouse clocks in at just 95 minutes. It focuses primarily on the younger characters - Hamlet, Horatio, Laertes, Ophelia, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
The story is framed as a sort of therapy session, there is a circle of chairs, and a voice over a tannoy proclaims it is a 'safe space'. The tannoy is a device used for the 'adults' communicating throughout the play - on the few occasions they feature.
I'm definitely not a Shakespeare purist, I like the idea of trimmed-down Shakespeare. There are chunks of his plays that were appropriate for the time they were written that can be easily cut for modern audiences without impact on the story.
Too many cuts
But too much has been removed in this production. If you aren't familiar with the story, I'm not sure you'd get much from it.
It's a play I've seen plenty of times (and studied), so I could easily fill in the gaps. What was lost for me was the context, the layers and the nuance.
If you never see Hamlet (Michael Hawkey) interacting with Claudius and Gertrude or see the adults plotting and manipulating, you lose part of what is driving him and what he is up against. You miss the politics of family and succession.
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