“How shall I hold back my soul that it doesn’t touch yours?” This question from arises in a worried tone, here. Hamlet is the emotional highlight this year’s RSC productions. This production by ‘s Love SongDavid Farr hits the audience’s nerve where it is raw.
Elsinore in the paltry and dismal atmosphere of an old gym, soulless courtiers, phrases and masks as default mode… Hamlet, the son of a murdered father can’t make up his mind to perform the promised revenge, and by his not-acting destroys the lives of practically everybody involved. Traditionally, he is a hesitator-too-much-thinker, maybe weak of character, overly cautious.
Jonathan Slinger opens up an abyss of depression, the symptoms of which have an effect that is as much self-destructive as family-destructive. Slinger’s Hamlet hits deep, and he does so over 3.5 hours.
Ophelia (Pippa Nixon) has no chance to distance herself. She invests her entire, innocent love and burns herself, body and soul, on her feelings. Pippa’s state of being lost, when her reason is bowled over, and her saved solitude in her grave, that remains visible through to the end, are truly breathtaking.
Father’s ghost and Uncle Claudius are taken to new dimensions. Claudius comes over as one of these self-justifying offenders who keep convincing themselves that all their evil deeds happened for the common good. Hick’s body language enriches Shakespeare’s Hamlet by a full chapter of cues for spectators.
A brilliant scene of distance from emotional horror and a relaxed view is due to David Fielder as the gravedigger.
It’s an ensemble in which each individual would deserve a mention, not least Robin Soans as Polonius, Charlotte Cornwell as Gertrude …
the all surpassing impression, however, that’s Jonathan Slinger’s masterpiece – Hamlet, my Hamlet.
Photos by Keith Pattison
This post was first published in German on 13/08/2013 here