Left – Polly Sará, Mitch Wood, Thomas Hutchins. Cover – Polly Sará, Mitch Wood, Nicole Harvey. Photos – Morgan Roberts
Hamlet is not an easy play to watch. The constant questioning of mortality and ultimate death toll makes Shakespeare’s masterpiece a harrowing experience. Which is why Brisbane founded and newly Melbourne based company The Danger Ensemble have found the perfect play to stage on the eve of the apocalypse.
Seven actors introduce themselves in a scene reminiscent of “A Chorus Line,” don’t worry, there’s no musical numbers in this performance, however Dane Alexander’s score sets the ominous tone for the production.
There is a lot happening within The Hamlet Apocalypse and as the narrative moves along, the staging of Hamlet becomes less and less prevalent as the physical world around the actors crumbles while the inevitable end approaches.
There are some fantastic performances, namely by Mitch Wood as the earnest Hamlet, who is beautifully sincere in his delivery making his ending all the more bittersweet. Joined by Nicole Harvey as Ophelia, Harvey finds the delicate nature of Ophelia without her falling into the trap of playing the victim. Thomas Hutchins is delightful as the overbearing Claudius whilst also running the show as it’s pompous director, the words “Thank you Thomas” and the passive aggressive undertones will be far too familiar to any performers in the audience.
The Hamlet Apocalypse treads the line between drama, over the top theatrics and comic relief very carefully. For all its messy physical displays, this is a slick production by a well-rehearsed troupe of actors. At times, it tries a little to hard to be edgy and to be different and as such loses some of its soul in the process.
The stunning steampunk-esque costuming by Oscar Clark which shows a mish-mash of items that are still somehow unmistakably Shakespearean is absolute genius, and the nerve racking countdown to the end of the world keeps the audience on the edge of their seats till the final moments.
The Hamlet Apocalypse has its faults; it is at times indulgent and isolating of the audience. It is loud, abrasive and at times confronting, and with a few less unnecessary theatrics (flour and wine throwing) has the capacity to be a moving comment on humanity, morality, and how none of our pre-conceived ideas matter anymore at the very end.
The Hamlet Apocalypse is a curious event that is visually and aurally over the top and will keep your heart in your throat for the entire performance.
Danger Theatre Ensemble presents
The Hamlet Apocalypse
Director Steven Mitchell Wright
Venue: Theatre Works | 14 Acland St, St Kilda VIC
Dates: 7 – 18 November 2018
Tickets: $47.50 – $39.50
Bookings: (03) 9534 3388 | www.theatreworks.org.au