Hamlet Review – by students Emily Pickering, Eve Murray and Anna Holton.

On 10th November we watched The Royal Shakespeare Company’s live stream of Hamlet. Throughout the production we were engaged with the actors’ energy and how they successfully portrayed a Shakespearean play in a modern setting. The RSC brought the complicated language into the 21st century. We felt that the actors effectively varied the tone and pitch of their voices and this helped the audience understand the emotion of the character, even if the viewer was unfamiliar with the language.

Pappa Essiedu stole the show with his believable interpretation of the troubled, heartbroken Hamlet. You could see that every part of his body was fully committed to the character, helping the audience not only believe in his pain but also sympathize with him. Essiedu made his breakdown to insanity believable by using humour and immature behaviour. This made us believe that Hamlet was wishing for a simpler time and needed reassurance from a father figure, causing his character to revert back to childish manners.

Natalie Simpson (Ophelia) portrayed a vulnerable and broken character so realistically, that we felt great empathy for her. In the penultimate scene before her death, she sung a simple nursery rhyme which contrasted with her anger, successfully showing how her insane thoughts were the driving force behind her suicidal actions. This linked to Hamlet’s insanity because they both acted childishly. The whole company gave us so many emotions and feelings that it made us really think about the characters’ personalities and their struggles. Even the characters who didn’t have any lines were fully engaged with what was going on around them which supported the lead roles in their performance.

The whole company wore modern day costumes in order to make the characters relatable to a modern audience. At the beginning of the play, Essiedu wore an all black outfit showing how he was mourning his father and that his life was ordinary. However, at the start of the part two this changed to an all white suit, and as his mental decline progressed more splats of coloured paint were added to his costume. This represented the chaotic thoughts which were the catalysts to his insanity.

To conclude, we thought the Royal Shakespeare company produced a master class in naturalistic acting which was supported by non naturalistic elements (such as the set and the symbolism of the play) to create a production that attracted a younger audience. An overall inspiration to us as drama students.