Review: Hamlet, Cockpit Theatre

“Be all my sins remembered”

Sitting through English Repertory Theatre’s reconceived version of Hamlet, it struck me that the thing is reminded me of the most was an episode of Hollyoaks and I don’t mean that in terms of an outright dis, it really was where the resonance came. The courtroom of Elsinore becomes a private schoolroom in which privileged kids toy with questions of gender and sexuality and deliver overdramatic dramatics, the adult figures have to make do with paper-thin characterisations and there’s an abnormally high death-rate – maybe Shakespeare spent some time in Chester after all…

To fit this vision, Gavin Davis’ adaptation makes some rightfully bold decisions and it throws up some interesting new variations on a familiar theme. The Ghost and Guildenstern are stripped out, with Ophelia, Laertes and Rosencrantz being comparatively beefed up, meaning Hamlet discovers key details about his father’s death from notes being passed around the classroom and Nina Bright’s Ophelia is pleasingly fleshed out to become more of a true compatriot to her lover. And with Rachel Waring’s Hamlet gussied up as a boi, there’s added piquancy to the general ambivalence about their relationship. Continue reading “Review: Hamlet, Cockpit Theatre”