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24 July 2013 @ 06:48 pm
HAMLET - BARD ON THE BEACH (Jonathon Young)  
Hamlet stalked the stage tonight.

Collier's stripped down, modern, re-written version of the Shakespearean play is a testament to her talent for finding clarity in the heart of a script. You do not, for one minute, miss the hours of cut scenes - indeed the show is strengthened by their absence. Instead, characters are allowed their moments of pause, none more so than Hamlet (Jonathon Young) who begins the play strewn over the marble floor, wallowing in truth that he is alone in the world after the murder death of his father, the king.

My English teacher would be horrified by this admission but I always found Hamlet a difficult play to follow. This is not the case tonight. Jonathon finds the humour buried between the script's dense layers of melancholy and revenge. Often unspoken, it is Hamlet's physical quirks that sway the audience to his plight. He shows us that is the truth, which Hamlet can see so clearly, that throws him into discord with the world. His madness, though apparent to all the players on the stage, is not true madness like Ophelia's but rather an act - the only response he can give to a world that refuses to acknowledge the grievous crimes that have transpired. He broods like a moody teenager, pouts with the best of them, flares into cruelty and finally falls off the edge into frivolity.

Honourable mention must go to the props. Hamlet uses his phone to create a live playlist for us, doing what we all like to do when we get moody - blare an ironic tune. When his 'theme music' is interrupted by inconsiderate characters, he rightly scowls at them. Shakespeare would approve. The TV monitor and ipad pale in comparison to the smiley face paper drawn by Jonathon on stage. Its creepy little mad smile was a clever reminder of Hamlet's outward madness and how intentional that façade was.

There is nothing that can be said about Jonathon other than he is an immensely talented actor. It's not easy to carry a three hour tragedy but he lives it. His whole performance makes us feel like we are part of his subconscious with whom he chats frequently, justifying both his madness and revenge. It's a very physical performance. He leaps over things, unwisely walks along the backs of couches, flies off stairs ... still, the man could have been a dancer in another life for the ease with which he moves. Yes, to those who were wondering, he does briefly dance in this one - on two, very different occasions.

To the young male actor wearing the high heels - WELL DONE. You navigated those stairs like a receptionist.

Little highlight: the live puppet show that takes place during the performance is gorgeous! It reminded me of 'At Home with Dick and Jane' which some of you may have seen from the Electric Company Theatre's youtube page.

I did not expect to enjoy the roles of the 'London theatre actors' but damn they were funny, as were the two plebs dragged from Hamlet's university to pry him out of madness.

Finally, one thing that I particularly noticed in this version is that Hamlet's 'madness' changes distinctly depending which character he is with. He really drums up the full nut-bag notes for the king, his mother and Polonius - whom he took particular delight in traumatising. With the actors and Horatio (surprisingly well cast as a woman) Hamlet is troubled but certainly not mad. I do not know why but this constant shifting is compelling. You cannot help but feel for his fragile, tormented soul. It seems cruel that he is killed off after enduring three hours of demanding soliloquies but Shakespeare's a lot like George R. R. Martin - he will kill everything you love.

If you have the chance, I recommend you give Bard on the Beach a go. It's a beautiful way to spend the evening.

X-posted to lair_or_lab
Feeling...: jubilantjubilant
The Nikola Tesla Protégé: Jonathon: Eurekatardis_mafia on July 24th, 2013 11:00 am (UTC)
I've never been interested in Shakespeare, and I'm still not, but I am intrigued to see this and see what JY and Collier did to modernize it and make it enjoyable.

Sounds like you had a great time though, and given the tidbits you gave me on my own journal, sounds like a hot one too. LOL
death_ofme: Choose Smokingdeath_ofme on July 27th, 2013 10:32 pm (UTC)


Oh shit. I'm in Toronto and if you were at Bard on the Beach that means you're in Van. Oh, so close yet so far. I miss having Sanctuary buddies to squee with. :)
nikolat3sla: amusednikolat3sla on July 30th, 2013 12:00 am (UTC)
LOL I WAS!!!!! now i am sadly back in sydney. I went to see both Hamlet and Twelfth Night - it was amazing!!! you should seriously drag your ass up over the border and go see them! you're so close!