I chanced to see English Repertory Theatre‘s Hamlet the other evening in The Fringe. It was really good, with an excellent central performance from Rachel Waring as Hamlet.
I think it’s always a bit gimmicky having a female Hamlet and was disappointed by the highly rated Maxine Peake’s shot at The Dane; but we live in an age where we are about to see black actors playing Othello and Iago in the same production, where we have the excellent Smooth Faced Gentlemen all female Shakespeare company back in Edinburgh with Titus and Othello and where a couple of weeks ago I saw Macbeth performed in mime by a Japanese clown (as interesting as you would think.)
Waring plays Hamlet as I’ve never seen before, a hyperactive, manic, mouthy Molesworth, full of energy and invention. She’s magnetic.
The rest of the players and the production are equally impressive, the staging is marvellous and there was lots of exciting business.
I’d like to see this again before the end of the Edinburgh run; the evening we went, their Gertrude had had to pull out due to illness and a (very fine) dep had arrived in Edinburgh that day to take the part. She was working from the book, so it would be interesting to see the production again when she has bedded in with Hamlet and Claudius (arf, arf…)
English Repertory Theatre seem pretty interesting anyway from what I see on their website (if you can stomach meaningless guff like “Hamlet is Shakespeare’s most iconic work.”) They are committed to reviving the repertory system in theatre, which has all but vanished (I’ve just been reading Simon Callow’s Being an Actor, where he goes into great detail about his fears for the future of the profession should this vine be allowed to wither) so it’s good to see that someone is doing it.
Full marks as well for the subtle use of this brilliant Billy Joel song.
Hamlet is on at Spotlites in Hanover Street until 31 August at 7.30pm.