Presented by Independent Theatre
Reviewed 8 Apr 2016
Any of Shakespeare’s tragedies are a big ask, especially for the lead player, and Hamlet has been played by many big names, not always with great success. Will Cox has an impressive biography for someone so young, but even so I did not expect the depth and nuance to his performance that he gave. It is a massive role requiring a great range of emotions and physicality which he fulfilled well. Cox was, of course surrounded by a strong cast and had the ever-vigilant Rob Croser at the helm directing it all.
The sparse and unusually raked stage with minimal set pieces and props, designed by Rob Croser and David Roach, was used to great effect. Complemented by Susan Gray-Gardner’s sensitive lighting it was successful in creating a great atmosphere. The scenes moved efficiently from one to another, just as we have come to expect from an Independent production. The costumes were simple, unfussy and vaguely the right era, not distracting from the action.
Paul Rodda took on the challenge of Claudius and the King’s Ghost and delivered a fine performance, showing that his craft is developing. Bronwyn Ruciak played his Queen, Gertrude, with suitable strength and some depth of emotion. David Roach was magnificent as Polonius, eliciting all the right laughs in his advice speech to Laertes; he also gave us the Gravedigger. As Ophelia, Polonius’ daughter and Hamlet’s love interest, Madeleine Herd gave us the full range of emotions. Her ‘mad’ scene was compelling without overplaying the hysterics.
Playing both Laertes and Guildenstern Jett Zivkovic managed to define the characters well and his delivery of Laertes was strong and sensitive. The final sword fight between his character and Hamlet was well handled – kudos to the fight choreographer. Likewise Jordan Carling took on three parts, Rosencrantz, Osric and Barnardo but never confused us as to who he was at any given moment. Mark Mulders also played a variety of parts but was impressive as the Player Queen, easy to believe he could have been one of Shakespeare’s ‘ladies’. Shedrick Yarkpai was a strong Horatio, who played well against Cox’s Hamlet and showed good emotional response in the last scene.
The cast was completed by Allen Munn as the Player King and Priest, displaying his wealth of experience and Stephen Schofield in smaller roles that blended in. In all a fine ensemble who understood the language of the Bard and delivered it well.
This is a Hamlet not to be missed by anyone who loves their Shakespeare.
Reviewed by Fran Edwards
Venue: Goodwood Institute, Goodwood Road
Season: 8 – 16 Apr 2016
Duration: 2hr 40mins
Tickets: Adult $35, Conc $30, Student $18, Group $22
Bookings: http://www.independenttheatre.org or https://www.trybooking.com