Monday, 22 February 2021

REVIEW: Hamlet - The Radio Play by The Melbourne Shakespeare Company in collaboration with The Victorian Theatre Companies

The world has seen and will see countless adaptations of Shakespear's catalogue of timeless plays. From traditional Elizabethan style productions to futuristic, technological or physical theatre interpretations, I am in constant awe of the new ideas artists can extract from the texts. However, the solely auditory experience of Melbourne Shakespeare Company in collaboration with The Victorian Theatre Companies radio production of Hamlet offers something more fundamental than a new interpretation of the play. Like a warm hug, be it one engrossed by blood and tragedy, it is a return to the purity of Shakespeare’s poetry. 

Set in medieval Denmark where the king has died, Hamlet Prince of Denmark is emphatic that his father has been murdered and shall, therefore, be revenged. A tale of paranoia, revenge and man's existence, Hamlet is considered by many to be Shakespeare's most powerful work. Being jam-packed with dark and atmospheric imagery also makes it perfect for a radio play. 

Under the direction of Kurtis Lowden and featuring a robust fabric of Melbourne performers, the entire ensemble understand the clarity, nuance and pacing required for the medium they have chosen to work with and offer a commanding performance. 

Prince Hamlet, son of the deceased king and poster child for existentialism, is played by Matthew Connell. He manages to capture an engrossing naivety in the titular character and his slightly withheld delivery of the text draws the audience into the mental anguish of the young prince. His voice, however, sits slightly under the energy of what's required at times. Emily Goddard as Ophelia finds the juxtaposition between her youthful vibrance and descent into grief and madness with ease to instil a strong sense of pathos into the role. I found myself completely entranced by Robert Menzies as he hypnotically conjured the disembodied king into the metaphysical space the play also inhabits.

The composition, audio production and recording by Thomas Kunz is faultless. It is subtle enough so as not to overpower the performance of the actors yet is wonderfully evocative as it haunts and drives the narrative.

Diminishing attention spans are an unfortunate reality of our fast-paced world. Considering this at around two hours and twenty minutes long, it requires endurance to make it through the entire play in one sitting. I would advise taking a self-guided interval in silence to recalibrate and to avoid fatigue. However, there is something quite magical about immersing oneself as completely as possible in this auditory experience. What's more, if you have access to a decent set of headphones, you can take the play with you wherever you chose. I chose my local park on a mild London afternoon which added another sensory level, making the play a truly individual experience.

Somethings rotten might be in the state of Denmark but something wonderful is on the wireless.

To listen to Hamlet A New Radio Play by Melbourne Shakespeare Company and The Victorian Theatre Company visit

Available For Immediate Download from February 15th - April 15th 2021

Review by Stephanie Osztreicher

Rating: ★★★★

Seat: Online | Price of Ticket: $19.99
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