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The Tragedy Of Hamlet

Written by William Shakespeare, adapted by Peter Brook
Director: Peter Brook
Producer: Young Vic / Theatre des Bouffes du Nord
Starring: Scott Handy (Horatio), Jeffery Kissoon Claudiu (The Ghost) Adrian Lester (Hamlet), Bruce Myers Polonius (Grave Digger), Natasha Parry (Gertrude), Asil Rais Rosencrantz, (First Player), Shantala Shivalingappa (Ophelia), Rohan Siva Guildenstern, (Second Player, Laertes).
Synopsis: 'Hamlet is inexhaustible, limitless. Each decade brings with it new explanations, fresh interpretations. Yet Hamlet remains intact, a fascinating enigma. But our task is not one of finding new ways of staging an old play. This adaptation seeks to prune away the inessential, for beneath the surface lies a myth. This is the mystery that we will attempt to explore.' Peter Brook

This production has received a mixed response from the popular press...... BENEDICT NIGHTGALE for THE TIMES says, "Peter Brook's chopped, changed and truncated Hamlet is not quite as sharp as it should be." He goes on to say, "Nimble and pacy: the more so since many lines, some of them very familiar, have been sacrificed to the narrative flow. Osric becomes a characterless messenger. Fortinbras doesn't appear..." CHARLES SPENCER for THE DAILY TELEGRAPH says, "Brook makes a travesty of a tragedy." He goes on to say, "Most of the great opening scene has gone, and so has Fortinbras and the play's entire political dimension. Laertes doesn't make his entrance until near the end of the play, and Hamlet's advice to the players has been excised. There are countless other examples of cutting and re-ordering.....Far from clarifying the play, they actually serve to diminish and confuse it." MICHAEL BILLINGTON for THE GUARDIAN says, " A production that demolishes the crazy idea that there is any such thing as a definitive Hamlet. What Brook shows is that there are simply provisional explorations of a limitless play." PATRICK MARMION for THE EVENING STANDARD says, "For all the ambivalence which Brook's production creates, Lester's performance does describe a strong and moving journey towards personal enlightenment." SHERIDAN MORLEY for TELETEXT says, "The problem is the players never really get time to establish their characters or the motives that propel them." ROBERT HEWISON for THE SUNDAY TIMES says, "Forget Shakespeare," says Peter Brook. What he means, and brilliantly demonstrates in this engrossing production, is: "Forget what you think you know, and sit down and listen." By putting the legacy to one side, Brook has freed himself radically to cut and alter what can be a four-hour play into an intense, 2-hour uninterrupted distillation, using eight actors to play 13 parts."

Links to full reviews from newspapers...

Daily Telegraph
The Times
The Guardian
Sunday Times

Originally published on

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