You are no doubt familiar with the story of Hamlet. A grieving young man is sent on a mission by his father’s ghost to expose his true killer, Hamlet’s Uncle. This escalates into a story of madness, revenge and murder.
Shakespeare is one of the greatest storytellers this world has ever seen. Twists, turns, comedy, tragedy and romance. A narrative genius. So why do so many people dislike his plays?
Well, most people are force fed Shakespeare at a young age. Badly I may add. It’s dry. The language is weird. You count down the hours until the school bell rings. Even as a Theatre graduate, I wasn’t a huge fan and I was meant to understand the works!
But don’t fret, as the Royal Shakespeare Company has saved the day. They have brought the text to life in the most unexpected way with their touring production of Hamlet. They have made Shakespeare exciting and Hamlet unmissable. Here are three reasons why you should see this production:
1. It is contemporary
The first thing to mention is that the RSC have jumped into the 21st century and cast a black actor as Hamlet. This shouldn’t be a big deal but unfortunately it still is. But it is exciting that they are pushing boundaries and in doing so finding some of the most enthralling Shakespearean actors. To align with this they set the drama a little further afield in West Africa, which allowed them to add colour and culture to the proceedings. They also focused on the psychological unravelling of Hamlet, which highlighted the mental health of the leading man. A subject that is finally being addressed and understood by society. The whole play felt relevant, vibrant and contemporary.
2. There is colour and song
The whole stage was bright and bold. The characters costumes included every colour of the rainbow. The set was splattered with graffiti, as was Hamlet’s suit. A Banksy wannabe. Music also played a key part in this production. Drums reverberated around the auditorium and at one point it seemed a carnival had broken out. A real highlight was the grave diggers reggae rendition. The music also added to the drama, especially the intense battle scene at the end. Their use of colour and song lifted the play to new heights, spiced up the narrative and added an exciting dynamic.
3. The language sounds current
This is no joke. They somehow, as if by magic, made Shakespeare sound, dare I say it, relevant? They didn’t change the words. No. That iconic language was still very much present. They just spoke it with such ease. It was clear, energetic and emotive. It was poetic with rhythm and rhyme. The cast projected with character and humour. In particular Hamlet, played by Paapa Essiedu, was electric on stage. I was stunned. He made the lines charming, funny and sarcastic. Traits I hadn’t applied to the language. I genuinely missed him when he was off stage.
Now, this play is still pretty long. There are no cuts. The first act runs for a mighty 1 hour 45 minutes and the second is over 1 hour. Yet I really felt like it flew by. However, you do need to be prepared for the length as it is a big commitment. But trust me it is worth it.
If you’ve never seen Hamlet, then you need to give this version a shot. If you’re a seasoned Shakespearean, then surprise yourself with the RSC touring production.
The Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Hamlet is refreshingly contemporary, cool and completely mind blowing. The definition of unmissable. Paapa Essiedu is the real Fresh Prince!
Have you seen this tour? What are your experiences with Shakespearen plays?
Make sure you catch Hamlet on tour near you https://www.rsc.org.uk/