Running to Hamlet !

Saturday 1250  –  13.08.2016

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hamlet-rsc-2016-2 (1)

Photo: Manuel Harlan

I know it’s a bit of a shock ,for my regular readers, that I am posting 2 Saturdays in a row because it’s been quite a while since I did that! ( though this one is, in fact, a week late – ho hum )

This Saturday I set off in the morning for Stratford-upon-Avon to attend a matinee performance of Hamlet at the famous Royal Shakespeare Theatre. It’s about 1 hr 45 mins drive and I allowed myself about 3 hrs just in case.  

It turned out the “just in case” was much needed.  

First there were problems on the infamous A14 road; about 25 mins of the extra time was lost there.

Then there were horrendous queues trying to get into Stratford-Upon-Avon, well it was a Saturday so I should have guessed that might happen and it is a huge Tourist destination being the birthplace of William Shakespeare. Another 20 mins lost there.  I hit the centre of Stratford with about 30 mins to go.. the theatre is right in the centre of the town so I was thinking I should be okay, although I was supposed to be there 15 mins before to collect my ticket.

But…… yes there’s so often a “But”.

Could I get parked? Nope! Even though I know, what I thought, were a couple of less well known parking places. Not today they weren’t.  I eventually got parked quite a long way from the theatre and now had just 15 mins left before curtain up. It was hot and I cannot run because of my “fixed” ankle.. I must have looked a sorry sight; red-faced and doing the equivalent speed of an Olympic walk, but without any degree of athleticism!

I arrived with just 5 mins to spare, thankfully they hadn’t sold on my ticket and I even had time to visit the ladies before sinking into my seat with 1 min to spare; noting that I was still wearing my prescription sunglasses, having left my glasses in my car!! Nothing for it but to watch through them. Unfortunately you are not allowed to take any photos during the performance so I have just included a few from around the theatre and the header from another source. 

The performance was utterly stunning; being full of passion, colour, drumming and brilliant lighting. Simon Godwin’s interpretation of the play is set in a present day? militaristic African state and the majority of the actors are black; sadly this is still considered to be unusual and a talking point.

The role of Hamlet was played by Paapa Essiedu, the first black actor to do so at the RSC. It was surely long overdue.  Paapa was outstanding – madness, pathos, indecision – a very fine and physical performance. He handles Hamlet’s descent into madness with eloquence and brilliance.  The staging was clever, as you would expect from The Royal Shakespeare Company, every inch of the stage used, with smoke, rising stages, entrances from between the audience and even a rope descent, but at the same time with very minimal, if sumptuous, props.

I could not fault any of the cast, all played their parts with gusto.. gusto is a good word for this piece of beautiful, fierce, oddness.  The howl from Horatio near the end is utterly memorable for it’s powerful, haunting and blood curdling nature.

Class all round and as it was so dazzling, my wearing sunglasses was instantly forgotten 😉  

Click on any of the photos to increase size.

Who knew that so many of the notable phrases, still use in almost everyday speech, came from Hamlet and were written almost 6 centuries ago. Here are just a few of them :-

Frailty, thy name is woman!

Neither a borrower nor a lender be

This above all: to thine own self be true

Murder most foul

There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so

What a piece of work is man

To be or not to be: that is the question

Get thee to a nunnery 

O, woe is me 

The lady doth protest too much 

Hoist with his own petard

There are lots more, as there are from every Shakespeare play.  Isn’t it wonderful that he still has such an influence on our language.

Your thoughts are very welcome as ever. 

Saturday Girl signing off.. 

Oh, and back in 2012 I wrote about one of Stratford-upon-Avon’s other attractions, The MAD museum. You can read about this fascinating place by clicking HERE  


If you’s like to you can take a look at my photography blog Photomania by clicking on the word.

6 comments on “Running to Hamlet !

  1. Mary says:

    I would call that a theatrical experience
    What a day 😀

  2. scillagrace says:

    I was trying to leave a comment on your last shot, but I couldn’t scroll to the bottom to submit it for some reason. I really like that shot…very warm, atmospheric, and well-framed. The African Hamlet is an interesting concept.

    • Helen Cherry says:

      If you click to enlarge a photo you can leave a comment then, I think Priscilla..
      The interpretation made me think I want to see the play again and again with many different interpretations .

  3. Caroline Warnes says:

    So glad you made it so you could tell us about it. Sounds a great production. I haven’t been to see Shakespeare at Stratford since I was at school: thinking I ought to remedy that!.

    • Helen Cherry says:

      Oh yes do Caroline.. It is the most wonderful experience. You need to book early to get good seats ( expensive) pretty essential in my eyes to really be a part of it.

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