A clumsy sacrifice

Luminous blue is the colour of 2022 Hamlet for the Guildford Shakespeare Company staged at Holy Trinity Church. Fluorescent in the touch of dusty air, polished in the impact with the aureate chancel, it turns at times into an unclouded red, altering the presence of the cross. Quite literally, as a spirit, an apparition, a ghost is where the plot comes to be.

Checkered stage set up in front of the altar, audience accommodated along the nave, this familiar non-theatrical venue, vouches for the site-responsive character of the company. GSC — founded by Matt Pinches and Sarah Gobran in 2006, has a solid community oriented nature, nourishing numerous educational projects.

Tom Littler`s production relies on some sort of common, everyday hardship, to build upon the Elsinore clan, beginning with the new regime`s Security Guards — dressed up in blue and retroreflective jacket, requesting Horatio to collect a paramount piece of evidence. Coming from behind the audience, the blue light of Old Hamlet (voiced by Edward Fox, father in real life of the leading actor), soon pierces the fourth wall, rounding it up.

Commonly tragic ordinary couple, despite wealthiness and manners, Claudius and Gertrude — middle-rank oligarchs?, consume their champagne around a coffin that will `uncommonly`, quite never, leave the stage, almost a `bar-like` board, around which to party. Satinized fabric wraps it up, echoing costumes — designed by Neil Irish. Royal adviser, and bishop, Polonius wears a collar with his common grey suit.

Freddie Fox`s Hamlet is pleasant, with his `overtones` and well-directed merry nuances, — when wearing a mitra to lead the `fishmonger` `s speech from a pulpit, when fist-bumping the (one and only) travelling player (a splendid Noel White). `Gigolo-like` in guise and attitude, this latter is captivating while `playing in the play` for the other `actors` who sit on the ground in front of him, turning backs to the audience, `audience in the audience`.

Ophelia (exquisite in eloquence Rosalind Ford) brings the `sober solemnity` of the holy locus in the flesh of the musical insertions — she performs Bach on a `floating` cello, and then transitions into the chapter of her madness with grace and virtuosity. So that when holding Yorick`s skull sudden comes his adulthood, the Prince`s infuriating incapacity gives way to a clumsy sacrifice in the heart of an ordinary tragedy. 

Seen on Vimeo on March 5 2022

`We’re no-when…`

Disjointed times call for disjointed measures. Disarticulated in its best recognitions, this `beauty` joints me back to `Shakespeare AF` at sunrise via headphones. David Visick`s Waiting for Hamlet — winner of the Windsor Fringe Kenneth Branagh Award for New Drama Writing in 2018, is now available as a `radio theatre` encounter on Soundcloud

Due to be touring around the kingdom up to Edimburgh, `locked down` for the notorious reasons, this production preferred the aural dimension to the visual one to reach its audience. Hence, built up a net of efforts on the distance between actors — a couple of `hug-you-I-would`, Nicholas Collett, as Yorick, and Tim Marriott, as the King, and sound engineer/director Trevor Datson

Dead, interacting into an absurdist inspired Limbo on paper, mirroring duvets-made sound booths in real life, the fool, in a mournful, yet jolly manner is bound to discourage his `lost-in-majesty` companion `to go out`, or `back`, to instruct his son, Hamlet. The conversation is mesmerising, if this can be said of ears with no eyes participating to the theatrical adventure.

Yet, this is where the `beauty` stands. And the `why` of an audio-only alternative in these strange days. In Visick`s words, their venture meant to: `Let [people] create their own magic`. Imagination activating a personalised scenario. Sealed eyes, headspace on task to: `Build their own sets and backdrops, dress and age the characters and direct their gestures and facial expressions`. 

Too much of screen these days, in work time, so that entertainment could use some detox and go another way. Welcome to this reviewer, the script does what it is meant to do. Guide `by voices` into a realm of `visualisation of the story`. Help to get lost arising a `unique personal interpretation`, which somehow anticipates a strong desire `to see`, later, in the times to come. 

Some minor amends needed to adapt it for a `non-stage` (waiting for a space to become available and filled in), Visick`s writing captures for its deep understanding of `Hamlet`, in a dense yet limber 45 minutes, `comedy` rooted prompting and questioning about a number of matters, in and out the Shakespearean lines. Renaissance flutes and drums welcome the `listener` and the dialogue nails immediately. 

That`s right. `Dramaturgical` in expression, `philosophical` in essence, it is the tale of a `meta-hierarchical` friendship liaising opposite hats bearers. A jester `speaking the Truth` to a king in denial. A `wise`, patient, yet sharp tone of voice, he discloses reasons beyond `actions` — Gertrude’s for instance. As a professional in `acting`, though, he cannot but give up, and train the ghost, setting up the first `act`.

This is a battle of words, no one left alone, followed through an unearthly breeze — fatefully power side winning. Flutes and drums metamorphose into rock sounds in the end, tearing the thin curtain isolating the `no-where` from the `some-where`, leading from the `no-when` of a Time free zone to the `some-when` of the quite possibly…

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