Chale resident Elaine Fisher offered us her thoughts on the production of Hamlet at Chale Church, and sent us some of her pictures, too. Thanks Elaine!
Original Theatre’s Production Of Hamlet
A full audience in St Andrew’s Church, Chale enjoyed a gripping and innovative performance of Hamlet on Friday 23rd August.
As the play states, ‘brevity is the soul of wit’ and this production which is reduced from the original three hours to ninety minutes, was extremely successful in capturing the essence of what is considered by many to be Shakespeare’s greatest work. The original language was retained and the cast proved adept as they interpreted the rhythms and cadences of the Elizabethan style. Some considerable talent was on display as the cast expressed the wit, ironic humour, angst, and sheer pain of the characters with great skill.
The audience entered the church to the sound of the bells of St. Andrew’s Church and a hush gradually descended as a single bell tolled and the play opened with Marcellus (Nick Weightman) and Barnardo (David Jowitt) discussing with Horatio (Michael Mullin) the appearance of a ghostly figure with a strong resemblance to the late king Hamlet as they stood their watch on the castle battlements in the hours before dawn. They agreed that Hamlet must be told of this portentous appearance.
The setting of the church blended subtly into the play; in the second scene Claudius (Kevin Wilson) and his Queen, Gertrude (Jane Moore) progressed up the aisle followed by Polonius (Patrick Barry) and Laertes (Emily Scotcher) parodying the wedding procession of Claudius and Gertrude. Making use of the pulpit from which he gave his speech he added a sermon like quality to the words as Claudius justified his marriage and distanced himself from the death of King Hamlet.
Hamlet, (Josh Pointing), already doubtful and angry about his father’s death, and confused about his relationship with the much maligned Ophelia (Imogen May) met the ghost and had his suspicions confirmed. From here on Hamlet took his revenge with fierce determination. His plan to use travelling players to provoke the King into an admission of guilt was played with a nicely ironic humour as the ‘actors’ mimed their play. The king’s reaction proved to Hamlet that his suspicions were correct. His hesitation and doubts were discussed intimately with the audience, their proximity added to the interpretation of Shakespeare’s lines. An attempt to send Hamlet to England with Rosencratz (Lorna Wilson) and Guildenstern (Jan Hickman) resulted in the deaths of these false friends of Hamlet. The accidental death of Polonius who spies on Hamlet as he visits Gertrude in her chamber, leads to a desire for revenge on the part of Laertes and the eventual suicide of Ophelia. Poisonings and duels bring about the revenge and final closure desired by Hamlet.
The play was adapted and directed sensitively and with considerable dramatic skill by Hannah Brewer, ably assisted by Nick Weightman who also took the part of Marcellus. His fellow officer, Barnardo was played by David Jowitt who also took the part of the Gravedigger. Hannah said that she is passionate about Shakespeare and when she saw the church, realized it would be an ideal setting for Hamlet. Indeed the simplicity of the setting negated the need for any special sets or effects. Any drama and a true tragedy, according to Aristotle in his ‘Mighty Line For the Drama’ depends upon ‘the willing suspension of disbelief, and a complete catharsis of the emotions.’ This production certainly fulfilled these requirements and the whole cast certainly deserved the final applause. There may have been ‘something rotten in the state of Denmark’ but everything in Chale was fine.
Kevin Wilson of Original Theatre said, “I, and the whole cast, loved performing at Chale Church. It has so much history and atmosphere, and was the perfect setting for much of the soul searching that is integral to Hamlet- especially that scene where the king finds he cannot pray for forgiveness!”
We look forward to many more fine productions from this talented group.