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Wednesday, 26 June 2019

REVIEW: Hamlet at St Paul’s Church in Covent Garden

Hamlet is in many people's view one of Shakespeare's greatest plays and is oft produced. The temptation of companies and directors is to find some new take on the story to freshen its appeal and differentiate itself from other versions. Last week I saw Sh*t faced Shakespeare's take on the show with a Hamlet drunk on two thirds of a bottle of Tequila in Leicester Square. A few days later in the glorious setting of the actors church in Covent Garden we are presented with Iris Theatre's version. It is an open air show in the heart of the West End and the actors compete with the noise and crowds of the Covent Garden street performers in front of the church as well as the occasional screech of seagulls. It is a massive distraction in the opening scenes as we strain to hear the unamplified actors early lines.

The Director, Daniel Winder, then layers on an excess of video images on multiple screens dotted around the acting spaces as if surveillance cameras are in operation all around the dystopian future world in which he sets the production. Sometime the footage seems relevant like the marriage of Gertrude and Claudius or secret meetings behind closed doors but at other times it is bizarre and unfathomable and completely distracts from the poor actors struggling to put across the lengthy speeches. Even the BBC seems to be exist in this world as news comes from Broadcasting house. 
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