reviews 1 2 3 4 5 | photo 1

Hamlet

Nigel Hunt

This 7.5 hour extravaganza began by plucking its audience members one by one from the lobby, confronting us in a back alley with sentinels, and flinging us into a manic environment peopled by fragments of Shakespeare, as well as such beings as: a Mistress of the Underworld, who sentenced each newly-dead character to twenty minutes of silence; a sword-swinging Japanese samurai; a notary who honked and whistled whenever a line of text met with her approval, duly writing it down; a stunning intense Ophelia (Kirsten Johnson) who demonstrated her madness by squashing fruit and vegetables against her body; a hilarious Polonius (Ed Fielding) who stretched pedantry to a breaking point with his amazingly slowed-down speeches; a tape of the director’s rehearsal advice broadcast on loud speakers; a chorus line of teacup dancers; and many other wonderfully imaginative things too numerous to remember.

 At the centre of all of this was some very clear and clever Hamlet, especially a bald-headed Andrew Scorer as the brooding prince - a truly amazing spectacle, considering its obscenely small budget. Where it failed, in places, was by leaving too much time and space between events and images, granting us freedom to move around, but sometimes providing precious little to explore (this may have been partly a product of seeing it on a poorly-attended day since, as with all of Liitoja’s work, the audience becomes part of the show), leaving me wishing it had been more tightly layered and compressed in time.

April/May 1989 
Theatrum