Saturday 12 May 2012

The Rest is Silence

Each year Brighton's 'Dreamthinkspeak' company seems to achieve new surprises and scale new heights of artistic ingenuity, and this year's production of Hamlet at the Malthouse Estate, Shoreham, is no exception.

The audience assembles first in a temporary bar and at the appointed time files down a long dark passageway and enters a large black-painted, square chamber with walls of large rectangular, reflective panels. There is no seating and the audience can circulate at will. As the performance is 90 minutes long many ended up on the floor.

Suddenly one whole wall lights up with a back-projected video of Hamlet's father wandering through a wood. This finishes and, equally suddenly, on another wall we find ourselves viewing live-action in a brightly-lit bedroom, with Gertrude making up in front of a dressing table. So the play progresses with a mixture of live-action, revealed in a series of different rooms around the chamber, video projections and music. The ceiling is not neglected, with Ophelia's drowned body floating above the audience and earth raining down on her coffin. The acting was excellent and the acoustics far exceeded anything one experiences in a normal theatre. Truly theatre-in-the-round par excellence.

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