Tuesday 23 January 2018

Blood and guts in Elsinore

A new production of Hamlet will run at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre for five performances from Tuesday week. Presented by Icarus Theatre Collective in the UK , it's billed as "sexy, bloody, fast-paced and cut to a sensible two hours and 30 minutes". It might be sensible, but will it be Hamlet?

It will combine "traditional" theatre with "physical theatre" and will have a new musical score, all of which will make it "muscular''.

It has to be acknowledged that for theatre professionals, both actors and directors, it can seem as though they're in a frustrating artistic straitjacket if they have to present a 400-year-old classic as "same old, same old". For directors in particular, the determination to put their own stamp on a work must seem irresistible. More often than not, the temptation should be resisted.

Dedicated theatregoers over the age of 40 will always have seen many versions of the classics - particularly of Shakespeare. But when productions are aimed at young audiences in particular, it has to be suggested that maybe, just maybe, youngsters getting their first taste of the Master might be hooked on him far more easily by seeing faithful/traditional representations.

But it is possible to get it right for both audiences. Garry Hynes, with her Druid Shakespeare two years ago, had a storming, almost immersive version of the Henriad plays that was electrifying. It was left to the audience to find Irish resonances…if they wished. But the plays, even though edited down, were an utterly faithful rendition.

And with luck, particularly for young audiences unfamiliar with the Bard, Icarus might achieve something similar.

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