Technical Crew Details:
Reviewed by Donald Madgwick for The Croydon Advertiser
It is a brave undertaking by any amateur company to tackle the Mount Everest of English tragedy. Those who do should bear in mind Hamlet’s own words about rash, intruding fools and the engineer being hoist with his own petard. Pitfalls are everywhere, as big as bear traps.
The director is Luke Argles, the company’s Guildenstern, who has trimmed the text to an acceptable two and half hours which, by and large, succeeds in keeping in place all the main elements of the story, though not without some sacrifice to the shape. Original music by Mark Taylor has moments of dark grandeur, and on stage there are at least two outstanding performances. Unfortunately, the Prince is not one of them.
With a romantically gloomy look, Paul Breden has the physical requirements, but in the presentation and delivery of his huge part he lacks, at every stage, the firm guidance of a wise and experienced director. With such guidance, he could be a promising actor. But the lines are taken much too fast, smothering the verse’s meaning, and his ranting style is that of Rudolf Hess introducing the Fuehrer at a Nuremburg rally. Words are recklessly omitted or added, fracturing the lines and even making nonsense of them, as in his first soliloquy, where he gives us the sentence: “O most wicked speed, to post” but omits the following words “….with such dexterity to incestuous sheets”.
So it’s back to the drawing board for the Prince, who is given an object lesson in clarity of diction and creation of character by Richard Lloyd’s Claudius. Bold and king-like, he is supported by a strong Polonius in Chris Argles, who presents the remains of a shrewd counsellor now trembling on the brink of senility. Tanya Allison speaks well but is rather slow to react as Gertrude, “letting I dare not wait upon I will”. Amy Coates is a sweet, pliant Ophelia, distracted in her mad scene but having the amorphous character of an unwitting decoy. The cast in general discharge their roles with varying degrees of competence, Mark Taylor providing a welcome touch of comedy and an assured ease of style as the First Gravedigger.