The Hamlet Apocalypse is truly a production replete with equivocations! The audience is faced with a roller coaster ride with moments of the hilarity like the “invisible meal” then the morbid solemnity of the lament from old King Hamlet’s ghost. We were sometimes unsure whether to laugh or weep simultaneously, challenged by the ambiguity of deciding what was real or imagined.
As the apocalyptic clock counts down to oblivion, the performance reaches its cataclysmic crescendo matched only by the Shakespearian Hamlet’s on-stage madness. Surprisingly, the play seems to give the actors some sense normality in a situation that is far from that. We hear Thomas, in the role of King Claudius say, “we all agreed to do this” and continue calmly to coach the players who peevishly utter “Thank you Thomas” to his interjections until he also magnificently descends into lunacy in the final seconds of life.
Put simply, the meshing of the personal identities of the actors with their personas as characters in this artistic endeavour and their on-stage Shakespearian characters means that nothing seems certain. Are the words spoken reflective of those characters or the actors? Yet there is no uncertainty about the finality of the end of life. This is true either on-stage or for real for both the actors and audience alike. Perhaps that is the real message of the play? But ultimately that is up to you to decide!
In any case, it is so refreshing yet exhausting to see a genuinely avant-garde production that pushes the boundaries of what we, as audiences, perceive as art and our expectations of what we will see performed on stage. Accolades to all members of The Danger Ensemble, Steven Mitchell Wright, co-designer and director of the play, and especially those seven extraordinary thespians bravely bringing this energetic yet sometimes gruelling exposé of all our joys and fears to the stage in Melbourne.
Melbourne audiences are exhorted to go along to a performance of The Hamlet Apocalypse and experience for themselves a remarkable theatrical event!
Dates: 7 - 18 November 2018
Location: Theatre Works (14 Acland St, St Kilda)
Times: Tues - Sat 8pm, Sun 5pm
Cost: $47.50 Full, $39.50 Concession, $35.50 Preview (booking fees included)
Theatre Works Website
Bookings: (03) 9534 3388 or book online