HAMLET – Creation and The Factory

Being a person whom is terrified that I might be missing out on something…last Saturday evening found my boys and I heading off (very excitedly in the pouring rain) armed with props, to the Blackwell’s Bookshop on Broad Street.  An engrossing destination in itself, with over ‘160,000’ titles available, situated neatly on approximately ‘three miles’ of shelving. Though even more alluring, when you have tickets to see Hamlet being staged in such an environment.

Going with my usual ignorance is bliss approach to selecting our theatre viewing pleasures (aside from a vague recollection of the plot in this case), you can imagine our surprise when the Assistant Director came onto the very simple rectangular (or was it square) stage to fill us in on the process of selecting the cast. For it was going to be members of the audience who’d be in control of this component of the production…

Hmmm, you may ponder…how does that work?  Strangely enough, quite easily and the cast once chosen appeared pretty pleased with the line-up.  I shan’t leave you there guessing though, rather I’ll try and briefly explain. A candidate (read actor) selects someone in the audience to be their champion.  This role obviously carries great responsibility, for you must beat another member of the audience (a champion of another actor) at a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. You win – your actor gets the part up for grabs.

So the casting complete, one minute later the play begins.

Though I’ve only seen Hamlet once before, I’ve never seen it like this or any other play for that matter. For the adaptation is less structured (though the text remains the same) and I guess you’d say the delivery is impromptu or improvised, but by no means is this a negative thing, far from it.  Rather an intriguing interpretation of the material. And this is where my earlier mention of props comes in.  Imagine the ghost of Hamlet’s father being in the guise of a teddy bear, a child’s plastic hand drill taking on the equally important role of a sword or even a tweeting yellow chick toy masquerading as an important letter.  So comfortably and believably did the actors incorporate these into their performance. I can only put it down to the fact that they are such a terrific and talented cast.

The Factory Theatre Company players I’m so pleased I found you. I just have to manage (read downplay) my enthusiasm levels until next month and your pending interpretation of The Odyssey.

And finally, thank you also to the Creation Theatre Company – I’m a confirmed groupie!

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