The discipline of stripping a work down to its basics and re-inventing it in numerous very different locations night after night recaptures the spirit of repertory tradition that was the foundation of core value and strength of so much of British Theatre, and gives potential lessons from which the grandest of directors and opera houses might benefit. This production could transform the way you think about opera as an art form!
There is no ghost, effectively no gravedigger scene, and the first two acts of the play have been telescoped so as to remove much of Hamlet’s delays and equivocations. Hamlet learns of his father’s murder by letter rather than a walk on the wilder side of the ramparts. What remains is a play of action rather than reflection, in effect a ‘Revenge Tragedy’, but one driven by adolescent angst and resentment of all forms of authority rather than by political or strategic calculations.
Constant eruptions of anger, sexual frustration, discrimination of town against country and English against Irish, and hostilities of son against father, servant against master and mistress run as a guiding set of threads through every scene; and assorted categories of gendered vanity, both misogynist and misanthropic, provide the root of much of the humour, some of it still unsettlingly cruel and mocking