7-11 June 2016
Reviewed by Ann Durrell
Arguably the most famous of Shakespeare’s plays and certainly the longest, this production is lengthy at nearly three hours including a 20 minute interval. The Lowry play host to this co-production between Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory and Tobacco Factory Theatres. Hamlet tells the tale of a young Danish prince, who after seeing his father’s ghost sets out for vengeance against those who caused his untimely death.
Staged in the smaller Quays venue, the set was out in the middle of the theatre in a T shape. Along with the standard layout, additional seating was placed on what is usually the stage. This meant that the audience are within touching distance of the actors. My own seat was so close to the stage and walk way I was worried stretching my legs may lead to my accidentally tripping someone up! Being so close to the action is something I really enjoy at the theatre, it really adds to your enjoyment I feel. Props were kept simple, a few benches and chairs were brought in for different acts, this minimalist staging meant that the audience could really concentrate on the action. The production stays true to the original script along with period costumes.
So to the acting, the play is performed by a cast of just 15. One of the first characters we meet is Horatio played by Alan Coveney, I really connected with Horatio’s character everything from his deliverance of lines to his facial expressions was on point We meet the ghost of Hamlet early on, played by Chris Bianchi, from his stance, his body language, to his breathing there was an aura of eeriness and did give me shivers, I think I actually recalled when he approached my seat. Ian Barritt’s Polonius was another stand out performance, his projection was superb and he injected a little comedic value at points, a welcome relief from what can be quite a heavy play. I really felt for Ophelia played by Isabella Marshall which shows the strength of her performance, especially during the second half where her delivery of Ophelia’s entry into madness brought on by grief was simply outstanding in every way. Alan Mahon as Hamlet gives an enthusiastic performance as a young prince touched by madness, torn in his desire to avenge his father’s death. Was he believable? In parts yes, however his deep tan was confusing in the role of a prince living in what I assumed is a bitterly cold wilderness. The rigour in which he grabbed his mother when passionately pleading with her to spurn his uncles advances left me wondering if she escaped without bruising.
The dual scene was expertly delivered, I found myself ducking to avoid the clinking rapiers. The final death scene I found a little over the top, a touch over the top but it didn’t take
I will be the first to admit that Hamlet is not my favourite Shakespeare play, I prefer the light-hearted comedies however I thoroughly enjoyed this performance and if you get the chance to catch it, either at the Lowry or whilst it’s touring then please do, it’s well worth it.
Tickets cost from £20 to £24 (includes £2 booking fee).
Hamlet is at The Lowry until 11 June 2016. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0843 208 6000.
The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays, Manchester, M50 3AZ | 0843 208 6000