Performed at the Norwich Theatre Royal as part of the Glyndebourne Tour, Brett Dean’s adaptation of Hamlet has been greatly praised since it was launched last June at the Glyndebourne festival. The adaptation brings to life Shakespeare’s play, with a great cast and a great rhythmic in the way it has been produced.
Vigorously performing an “ideal” Hamlet, David Butt Phillip did an impressive job, successfully handling demanding vocal lines. The rest of the cast, playing the characters of Ophelia, Gertrude, Laertes and Polonius, also carried the audience away to another world, which they felt were fully part of, not just observers.
From the beginning of the play, the overwhelming music, lights and frantic action took over the theatre. The chorus played an essential role, performing not only on stage but also amongst the audience’s seats, including it thus in the action and bringing the play closer to the audience’s feelings.
The brilliant live orchestra, lead by Jonathan Tynnell, also brought the play to life accompanying the actors and bringing rhythm to the action. Throughout the different twists and turns of the play, together with the chorus, it not only accompanied, illustrated and potentiated the characters’ emotions, but also stimulated and managed to represent the emotions felt amongst the audience.
The most marking scene was the duel between Laertes and Hamlet leading to the deaths of Laertes, followed by Gertrude, Rosencrantz, Guildensterna, Claudius and finally, Hamlet. Lights and music conveyed a flood of emotions that perfectly illustrated the Shakespearean tragedy.
Although the singing became wearing at times – being played for three hours – the beauty and brilliance of the production’s music brought Shakespeare’s story to life through its moving theatre of sound.