CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Review: Hamlet, Park Theatre

Gyles Brandreth and son Benet star in 'intensely intimate portrayal familial entanglements'

07 September, 2017 — By Adam Solomons

Gyles Brandreth in Hamlet  [PIC: Francis Loney]

SIMON Evans and David Aula’s concise production of Hamlet is an intensely intimate portrayal of familial entanglements, with a cast that mirrors it brilliantly. This is the most important aspect of this particular Hamlet.

Benet Brandreth’s stellar portrayal of the Danish prince is no doubt advanced by the fact that his father, the well-known Gyles, plays Claudius and the Ghost, among others.

Gertrude, Horatio and others are played by Kosha Engler, an American actress best known for her performance in The Wire. As if to pile on the misfortune, she’s also Benet’s wife. Gyles jokes in his programme notes that the trio have been reading up on Dissociative Identity Disorder in rehearsal, but in truth the overspill from their personal lives would only make the play more entertaining, were it necessary.

Tonally this adaptation feels domesticated, or about as suburban as Hamlet can get, the most enduring images gardening gloves and bags for life and the saucepans hanging above the stage. Not what you might expect from a play about a Danish prince returning from Germany after the death of his king father, but in its own way it cuts through like the knife into Hamlet Senior’s back.

In this 90-minute performance, some dialogue does, alas, feel rushed. Engler rattles through a speech toward the end of the play, as some in the audience looked on in confusion and awe that someone could speak so quickly. Evans and Aula’s version of Hamlet will be unlike any other you’ve seen, mostly for the better.

UNTIL SEPTEMBER 16
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