Friday, 22 November 2019

AMATEUR THEATRE REVIEW: Hamlet - Theatr Clwyd, Mold.

Shakespeare’s most tragic play was a bold and ambitious choice for Suitcase Theatre to undertake. With a cast of community actors, this evening’s production was a valiant exploration of a piece that isn’t the most easy to penetrate.

Tackling the eponymous role is Ally Goodman, who settles comfortably into the part as the play progresses. He has a lovely jovial nature, particularly during his scenes with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, and it is quite disturbing to see him unravel as the play reaches its tragic conclusion. Goodman doesn’t fear the more dark and sinister side of Hamlet’s character and portrays this with impressive grit. It is clear Goodman is relishing playing the part and he should be commended for being brave enough to undertake such an iconic role.

Conor Medlock is striking as Hamlet’s ally, Horatio, and is it clear he is committed to every beat of his time on stage. His friendship with Hamlet is lovely to watch and it is genuinely moving to see Medlock so bereft at the death of his friend. There’s something about Medlock which would be quite at home in Shakespeare’s Globe.

Andy Jordan is commanding as the sly Claudius, whilst it is hard not to be sympathetic towards Ruth Huish’s tormented Gertrude. Esme Sallnow adds an uncomfortable darkness to the role of Ophelia, switching from na├»ve and innocent, to troubled and anguished.

The strip-backed set is most effective when the use of levels (scaffolds, ladders, trapdoors etc.) is fully implemented. The spotlights during soliloquys also provide handy indicators as to what is going on inside the minds of our protagonists.

This is Hamlet on a shoestring. The set is bare, sometimes consisting of nothing more than a single flat, hastily draped with material, which doesn’t always read well. Some of the staging, such as the decision to have the puppet show positioned so half of the audience can’t see what is happening, jars a little. (Although the puppets, well-crafted by Phillip Main, were very cute and were performed delightfully, clearly expressing the narrative of Hamlet’s father’s demise).

Though not the most polished of productions, Suitcase Theatre are developing a reputation for tackling tough plays and their latest outing should certainly be commended. One thing that shines through is the dedication and commitment of the community cast. Despite its gloomy plotlines, it’s clear they are finding some joy in Shakespeare’s classic .

Reviewer - Gavin Hayes
on - 20/11/19

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