Revenge of the relatives

10th February 1995 at 00:00
Hamlet, Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich

Antony Tuckey's programme note may suggest that Hamlet is always full of surprises: his production springs relatively few - and for this relief much thanks. As it gathers pace after a comparatively early interval, the plot shines through. The result is a gripping "double" revenge play as Laertes and Hamlet compete to avenge their murdered relatives.

This particular Elsinore is a late 19th century Baltic state, concerned about its neighbours' military manoeuvres and civil unrest at home. The guards on the battlements are there for very good reasons: Claudius is not popular with his people. Ambassadors stand stiffly in their tight-fitting court uniforms and the travelling players might as readily perform Chekhov as The Mousetrap. Only the ghost seems out of place - an escapee from another play rather than another world.

If the production lacks fireworks, there are still some fine performances. Constance Barrie as Ophelia is heartrending in her mad scenes; David Timson gives us a Polonius who is as convincing as he is bumbling and Leslie Tuckey doubles Laertes and Rosencrantz, playing the former with fire and the latter with a chilling mixture of charm, guile and bewilderment.

Martin Marquez (fresh from television's The Bill) seems intent on making sure we like Hamlet. His "Get thee to a nunnery" seems as if it really is the kindest course of action he can suggest; and, while some may feel his soliloquies sound too mundane, it is an intelligent reading of the role. Above all, this is a Hamlet that honours the text (despite cutting 900 lines) and will not give examination candidates wayward ideas about what Shakespeare "really" meant.

Until February 25. Box office: 01473 253725. Running time 3 hrs 5 mins.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now