Hamlet (Globe on Tour), Bungay Castle, August 2012
After a break of two months I was more than ready to go to the theatre again and so I'd been looking forward to seeing this production a lot.
The chance to see a play from the Globe that I'd missed in London was a real bonus and the setting for this was lovely - in the grounds of Bungay Castle. Picnics with wine were positively encouraged and all that was needed was some nice weather...
...the drive from Norwich was not looking hopeful with torrential downpours. Stopping to pick up a friend and the picnic gave the weather a chance to improve and by the time we got to the venue the sun was out - hurrah!
I think that it has become clear that I am very fond of Shakespeare as performed by the Globe and this was no exception. The whole production really had the feeling of coming from Shakespeare's time - all of the props, costumes and staging could have fitted on to a couple of waggons and travelled around the country. The actors were also all talented musicians and I could imagine them earning their bread and board in Tudor England.
I'd not seen any version of Hamlet before this and I liked the staging and 'take' a lot. While not in conspicuously period costume it seemed to me (and my theatre companions) that the clothes did have a definite 1940s feel and whilst not stating anything overtly this version was drawing parallels with wartime events in Scandinavia .
The cast was tiny and most of the cast played two roles at the very least, there was no time for costume changes and sometimes the two roles were even appearing in the same scene but thanks to clever use of body language and accessories you could always tell who was being portrayed.
The take on Hamlet was interesting and a lot of the time he came across as a very spoiled, petulant teenager, but as the play developed this worked wonderfully in his descent into confusion/madness. I recognised a lot of the famous lines in the play but in my ignorance hadn't realised that they came from Hamlet - the line 'Alas poor Yorrick' was a real treat to hear in context.
This was a really lovely evening - even with the torrential rain in the interval - and I am so pleased that the first play I saw after a break was so good. One worry before the start was how would we hear the actors, they had no amplification and the stage was a distance away in open country. With only a couple of exceptions there were no issues at all - hats off to the actors who projected so well, even when competing with a flock of geese and an attention seeking pigeon.
My only (small) regret is that I saw Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead before Hamlet, I think I would have got so much more out of the former having seen the original first.
I already can't wait to see if The Globe brings a play to Bungay next year!