Review: Hamlet (An Experience)

5*
Edinburgh Fringe
Sweet Novotel (188), 15:00. Until 26th Aug (Not 22nd)

When you walk into Hamlet: An Experience, you are given a role. From Ophelia and Laertes to a Player or a mourner, Hamlet invites you to take a script and to read a short description of your character, and your key cues.

Usually, this kind of audience interaction is off-putting to me, mind immediately pre-occupied 1) by being given a gendered role that I am not, and 2) not putting too much or too little effort into the role.

While it’s fairly obvious who among the group are actors visiting the show during their day off, I think I actually got more enjoyment from those of us not trained and performance ready. The feeling of fumbling with roles, of being dropped in to a role you weren’t expecting, of wanting to do good – it’s all really method acting. It was also nice to be surrounded by strangers – that’s often key to letting yourself unleash your inner desire to perform, especially when there’s no consequences to shoddy acting.

Everything is consensual and guided, and there is no pressure to do anything you do not want. Content warnings for the roles are given, and a safe space is created from the outset. While certain roles (Gertrude, Ophelia, Laertes) went to those who ‘looked’ appropriate, Horatio was not, and I have heard from other audiences that roles are fairly random. I was wearing masc-clothing and was given a masc role.

Carding’s Hamlet is a one-person whirlwind, and the quick snaps between Hamlet-solo and Hamlet-as-guide are perfectly suited to this interactive form. The metafictional breaks in the fourth wall are a clean use of the pre-built play text (Hamlet’s addressing the Players performing before the King) and the piece itself was an excellently condensed version of Hamlet. Maintaining key shifts in plot and emotion, Hamlet (An Experience) is sure to more than satisfy both those who’ve seen the play a million, or none times.
©Nemo Martin 2018
Screen Shot 2018-08-21 at 10.23.23
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