RSC Hamlet at the Royal & Derngate, Northampton Review

27 February to 3 March 2018

Reviewed by Janine Rumble

Last night (27 February 2018) I went to the Royal & Derngate in Northampton to watch the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Hamlet as part of its national tour. This was my first time seeing a Shakespeare play and it certainly will not be my last. I urge you, whether you are a first timer to witness the greatness of a Shakespeare play, or a seasoned veteran of many plays of Shakespeare’s work to go to see this play, I promise that you will be greatly entertained from beginning to end.

Hamlet, is the well-known story of murder and revenge, but this incredible production is a contemporary adaptation of the original play, directed by Simon Godwin. It follows Hamlet, a student at university, who returns home when his father is murdered and his mother’s speedily remarries, to his uncle no less. Upon seeing the ghost of his murdered father, Hamlet seeks to avenge the murder of his father. ‘Hamlet’s mission to expose the truth is a perilous journey of madness, murder and lost love.’ The play tells the story of how he tricks his family and friends into thinking he is made, whilst biding his time and plotting to bring about the exposure and fall of his father’s murderer.

Paapa Essiedu was truly amazing as Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark. He played the role with great passion and emotion. Through his brilliant acting, I was taken along on his journey and experienced the emotions he brought out through his acting. He was completely believable in his role and the pain and range of emotions he exhibited throughout the play was amazing to witness.

Mimi Ndiweni was brilliant as Ophelia. Her acting as Ophelia descended into madness was superb. The wrought emotions she expressed as she laid the character of Ophelia bare were amazing and very emotional.

Clarence Smith and Lorna Brown as Claudius, the new King of Denmark and Gertrude, the Queen of Denmark and Hamlet’s mother, were brilliant too. Lorna was poised and stately, whilst Clarence portrayed Claudius in a similar fashion to a politician, all smiles and charm on the outside, full of cunning and darkness on the inside.

Ewart James Walters as the Ghost of Hamlet’s father was very good. As were Romayne Andrews and Eleanor Wyld as Rosencrantz and Guidenstern and Joseph Mydel and Buom Tihngang as Polonius and Laertes, his son.

I was amazed by the talented cast, who not only could remember all of Shakespeare’s lines, but who could act in such a way that even a Shakespeare novice, such as myself, could easily understand what was being said and what was happening on the stage. The depth of emotion, pain and madness that was portrayed was breath taking and impressive.

The sets were simple and effective. I especially liked how the aisles of the theatre were used throughout the play, making the audience feel as though they were a part of the action.

RSC Hamlet is on at Northampton until the 3rd of March before going to the London Hackney Empire for a run from the 6th to the 31st March. I would highly recommend that you go to watch it if you can and I give it a 4/5 rating.

Rating: 4/5

Tickets cost from £15 to £33 (booking fees may apply).

Hamlet is at the Royal & Derngate in Northampton from 27 February to 3 March 2018, for more information or to book tickets visit www.royalandderngate.co.uk or call the box office on 01604 624811.

Royal & Derngate, Guildhall Road, Northampton, NN1 1DP | 01604 624811

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