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Hamlet at The Rose Playhouse Bankside – Review

HamletHaving attended hyped up, but anticlimactic production of ‘Hamlet’ at the Barbican only 16 weeks ago starring Benedict Cumberbatch, I wasn’t going to get as hyped up this time around for fear of disappointment. Yet Diana Vucane’s unique and innovative take on Shakespeare’s classic Hamlet certainly kicked off the 2016 run at The Rose Playhouse, Bankside in style with high hopes of a successful season ahead.

With The Rose Playhouse essentially being an excavation site dating back 400 years ago, what first impacts the audience as they entered the distinctive, cavernous space was the cold, harsh temperature. Additionally, a nice touch was the comfort of a blanket handed to me as I entered the dark and gloomy cave-like space.

As I tightly wrapped the blanket around me I teeth-shatteringly counted only 36 audience members (with room to squeeze in at least another 9) it goes without saying that this space is intimate, which in turn only added to the mood of the piece. A truly unique space.

I have to mention the sound was somewhat disappointing with unrelated and abstract music choices such as “Send in the Clowns” and “Lonely Goatherd” that were ruined by the sudden and abrupt cuts. This ultimately added nothing to the renowned Shakespearean piece; maybe these rushed edits were on purpose?

Special mention must go to ‘Hamlet’ played by Chris Clynes whose piercing eyes enhanced the emotions and moments of madness. You could tell that Vucane had picked up on this detail, which in turn added to the intense spectacle. This is Clynes’ second association with Vucane with the first being Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler at the King’s Head Theatre, 2014. Clynes’ portrayal of ‘Hamlet’ is one not to be missed.

The use of the space was used outstandingly well with actors miraculously appearing from across the depths of the water (that is used to preserve the foundations of the original Rose Theatre) and projecting and bellowing the famous text from across the cavern. Adding to this, the reflections from the water of the cast and lighting were visually stunning.

Whether you wish to experience a unique piece of Shakespeare, be it your first play or more, at only 90 minutes long, Diana Vucane’s Hamlet is an accessible and very reasonably priced piece of professional theatre.

Three and a half gold stars


Benjamin Wainwright

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
A treacherous fratricide has torn the veil that separates this world from the next, and the only place that seems to be even more disturbed than the haunted grounds of Elsinore is the inexplicably transformed mind of the grieving prince who sets out on a lingering vendetta.

This production seeks to journey through Shakespeare’s well-known play, focusing on the perspective of a disturbed mind, thus defying the reality-based structure of time and space, recognizing solely the inconceivable logic of a dream.

To sleep, perchance to dream…
Good night, sweet prince!

Chris Clynes (Hamlet), Suzanne Marie (Ophelia), Luke Jasztal (Horatio), Ross McNamara (Laertes), Nigel (Fyfe Claudius), Louise Templeton (Gertrude), Ross Mcnamara (Laertes), Dermot Dolan (Polonius), Hamlet’s Ghost (Rory Mccallum)

By William Shakespeare
2nd to 26th February 2016 at The Rose Playhouse, Bankside
Presented by The Rose Playhouse, Bankside

The Rose Playhouse, Bankside (56 Park Street, London SE1 9AR)
Dates: 2nd – 26th February 2016, Tues – Sat 7.30pm, Sun 3pm only
Box office: 020 7261 9565, boxoffice@roseplayhouse.org.uk
Tickets: £ 12 (£ 10 Concessions) Online: www.wegottickets.com

Twitter: @RoseTheatreSE1, @HamletatTheRose
Diana Vucane (Director), Shannon Martin (Stage Manager)
Producer: The Rose Playhouse


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