Tuesday, 22 February 2022

REVIEW: Hamlet by Guildford Shakespeare Company at the Holy Trinity Church, Guildford

Guildford Shakespeare Company returns to Holy Trinity Church – a beautiful setting for this new production of Hamlet directed by Tom Littler and starring award-winning actor Freddie Fox, who most recently won acclaim for his TV roles in The Crown and White House Farm.

The venue was an eerie and atmospheric home for Shakespeare’s masterpiece about a man trapped in a life he’s keen to leave behind. Mystery and tragedy combine, together with some flashes of modernity and comedy, in this great retelling in which Fox shines as the lead, Hamlet.

The small but perfectly formed company of ten combine brilliantly, with some multi-rolling to bring this story to life. The production has a slick and fast pace to it with the action moving seamlessly from one scene to the next. 

Freddie Fox has rightly won the plaudits for his very impressive performance; he starts brightly and keeps getting better and better the more he relaxes into the role and allows the character to envelop him. You really believe he becomes consumed by Hamlet and the audience feel his every emotion and hang off his every word. 

He oozes confidence and swagger throughout and works effortlessly with his co-stars, particularly Pepter Lunkuse (Horatio) and Karen Ascoe (Hamlet’s mother Gertrude). Rosalind Ford performed in a couple of roles (Ophelia amongst others) but also played the Cello live throughout which really added to the atmosphere and kept up the pace of the show. There wasn’t a weak member of the cast –all performed their roles faithfully and with great skill and craft. 

The sound and lighting were relatively simple but highly effective and the design utilised the surroundings of the church well. It’s hard to imagine this production being as powerful in a traditional theatre space. Projection and voice-over were used cleverly to bring the Ghost of Hamlet’s father to life and the use of handheld torches was great in building suspense and intrigue in early scenes. 

This was my first time watching a Guildford Shakespeare Company production but will certainly not be my last. This production of Hamlet has sold very well but beg, borrow or steal for a ticket if you can to see a fantastic production with a wonderful cast led by Freddie Fox whose stock will only rise further after this performance. 

Review by Andy Edmeads 

Rating: ★★★★★
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