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Hamlet

Citizens Theatre, Glasgow
Four stars
It is the ghosts who are left standing at the end of Dominic Hill's
brooding new production of Shakespeare's tragedy, which puts a
bespectacled Brian Ferguson centre-stage as the Danish Prince in angry
search for closure following his father's murder. With the back of the
battleship grey stage lined with reel to reel tape recorders in what
appears to be an abandoned and possibly haunted house where the party
never stops, Hamlet and his pals attempt to capture the voice of his
father's spirit by way of a BBC Radiophonic Workshop style soundtrack
worthy of 1970s horror thriller, The Legend of Hell House.

Leading the charge in all this is Ferguson, who plays Hamlet as a
dour-faced pistol-packing wind-up merchant trying out different
versions of himself. One minute he has an old-school cassette deck
slung across his shoulder, interviewing Peter Guinness' Claudius and
Roberta Taylor's Gertrude like an on-the-spot reporter, the next he's
in the stalls directing the visiting theatrical troupe with a silent
movie megaphone. When he tries to play the hard-man, however, it goes
badly wrong, for Meghan Tyler's increasingly booze-soaked Ophelia as
much as himself. Where Hamlet's response to the death of a father is to
look inwards, she lets rip on a more primal path to self-destruction.

With a cast of nine playing Nikola Kodjabashia's discordant score on an
array of broken-down pianos, strings and electronic noises off, Hill's
production uses many of the stylistic accoutrements of his similarly
open-plan take on Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment. Here things are
even darker in a version that simmers with an edgy intensity that
brings all of Hamlet's demons home to roost.

The Herald, September 26th 2014


ends

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