This was my first visit to The Bussey Building, and once I found my way through the labyrinth to the theatre, I was totally charmed by the community atmosphere that surrounds it it and by the flexible playing space which would seem perfect for a fresh look at Shakespeare.
Unfortunately, the look isn’t all that fresh. The freshest thing about it is the casting: three actors play Hamlet. They were very different, this removing the usual problems of interpretation but the device managed to flatten the character, removing the variety and ambiguity that properly exist within one Prince. The actors, male and female, were young, attractive and spoke well, but the passion and tragedy of the play were lost. I don’t know what the company hoped to accomplish with this device in the way of enlightenment or discovery of the play. The question ‘what is the point of this?’ distracted me from the play itself. ‘Oh what a piece of work is man’ (one of my favourite Shakespearean speeches) clearly refers to the infinite possibilities in each individual. To split the character into three performances seriously spoils the play. The performances of the other actors were well spoken but conventional, which is not a bad thing, but added nothing to enrich or explain the central interpretation.
The physical production was plain, uncluttered and made an excellent setting for the actors. It is always a pleasure to listen to Hamlet and it was a particular pleasure to hear it spoken so clearly and intelligently. I just wish I hadn’t been distracted by the triple casting trick and that the production had interpreted the device in a way that would surprise, illuminate and delight instead of mystify and at moments, annoy.
Review by Kate Beswick
After the critically acclaimed and sold out Othello Peckham in 2013, Shakespeare Peckham return with their adaptations of Shakespeare at the Bussey Building, this time tackling Hamlet head-on.
With 3 actors (2 female and 1 male) playing Hamlet and a cast ranging from 22-77 years old of varied ethnicities and nationalities, this accessible and relevant production will challenge your perception of the Bard.
In this intimate and immersive staging, the ensemble perform various key roles, focusing on the actors’ individual talents as well as highlighting the various different stages and elements of the characters. After two very high profile stagings of Hamlet in London in 2015, this is a chance to engage with this classic in an alternative, intimate way.
Director Anthony Green held open online castings, with the breakdown for the title role simply reading: “Hamlet – Professional actor aged over 18” and no more. Green’s quest for inclusivity and desire to put talent first has resulted in the wide range of ages, backgrounds and nationalities – he watched over 2000 audition tapes to select his troupe! Past company members have gone on to work at some of London’s biggest theatres, including Shakespeare Peckham’s Othello Zack Momoh, who was Adrian Lester’s understudy as Othello at the National Theatre, and went on to perform the role.
Alongside the show, the company are also offering matinee performances and workshops to local schools to encourage further local arts engagement.
Hamlet Peckham Trailer. Feb 1st – 27th 2016
Director & Producer Anthony Green
Company Shakespeare Peckham
Co-producer & AD Rachel Creeger
Set Designer Michael Leopold
Costume Designer Olivia Ward
Lighting Designer Adam King
Music Jonathan Cook
Movement Director Marcello Marascalchi
Photography Ruth Bloch
Poster Design Ben King
Trailer Daniel Allen
Website Design Richard Wade
February 1st 2016 – February 27th
Monday – Saturday, 7:30pm (not February 4th or 18th)
Running Time 110 mins (not including interval)