THEATRE REVIEW: Hamlet – NT Dorfman Theatre  

This pared down Hamlet (65 mins – who needs Horatio or Gravediggers?) for young audiences has some of the clearest story telling I’ve ever seen. Sticking closely to Shakespeare’s play and using a fair bit of his language, Jude Christian’s version ensures that every child in the audience is fully involved but none is patronised: quite an achievement for director Tinuke Craig and her cast.

Very much an intimate family drama rather than a big political play, this take on Hamlet wittily paraphrases one of Hamlet’s soliloquies with comments about lying leaders who party on while the rest of us cannot. Even the children chuckled knowingly. 

I liked the opening at the old king’s funeral – one big tribute spells KING and another reads DAD and there’s singing. Then Claudius (Vedi Roy) proposes to Gertrude (Claire Redcliffe) literally on top of his brother’s grave and we’re into a noisy party with dancing. We also get a splendid ghost scene with a scary, echoey voice. The imposing tall ghost, like every character who dies, is covered in a gauzy veil so the status is obvious. And what a good idea to get the audience to provide sound effects for the play within a play which Hamlet directs getting his family to take parts.

Kiren Kebaili-Dwyer is warm and convincing as Hamlet although he is inclined to chop the lines into two or three-word sound bites – presumably in the interests of accessibility, but to anyone used to feeling the rhythm it’s an irritant.

It’s a colourful production with Gertrude and Claudius in bright green and Rosencrantz (Efé Agwele) and Guildenstern in scarlet. The set (Frankie Bradshaw) is simple – mostly a single screen because it also has to work in primary school halls.

Review by Susan Elkin

Photo:  Ellie Kurttz