The bright lights of Dramsoc illuminate the battlements of Elsinore once more.
Though offered for the leaving Cert students, try this production directed by Keith Thompson appealed to a wider audience. With a present day setting this production of Hamlet’s stage design was simple yet effective. Unencumbered with a minimal amount of props the atmosphere is both contemporary and believable. The long translucent abattoir curtains hints to the final blood bath. Whilst the lighting accentuates the mood.
The costumes are modern with Hamlet himself changing from dark poet to sports fan to a red shirt and black waistcoat à la Saturday Night Fever. The play within a play sequence was well produced; as the main cast looked on. At either side of the stage the players raised grotesque distorted shadows behind white sheets accompanied by erratic stabs of the double bass. Throughout there was a splattering of atmospheric sounds, see raising the pulse at key moments.
Caitriona Ennis’ Ophelia gives an unnerving performance traveling from boisterous and idealistic maiden to spluttering basket case, thrown from the cliff by events beyond her control. Polonius is played by Paul Fox whose jet black hair betrayed his aged and hunched demeanor however the performance spoke for itself with an undeniable accuracy. Molly Mahony plays the calculating Queen Gertrude faking ignorance and unwilling to listen her son and upset her life with Claudius. Claudius played by Colm Kenny-Vaughan is convincing as a cool and circumspect politician easily concealing his corruption. Sam McGovern with gusto and finesse steals the show as the troubled and indecisive Prince of Denmark offering a powerful and nuanced performance. The young cast overall offered mature performances that betrayed their years.
The humour, which is present in this production, allows the audience to get some lighthearted breaks from the dense plot. Eimear Keating breaks the tension as the gravedigger shamelessly playing for laughs singing ’Girls just wanna have fun’ as she fools around with a couple of skulls and munches on Chipsticks retrieved her ‘Hello Kitty’ handbag. More laughs come when a soccer jersey clad Hamlet feigns idiocy by plummeting Polonius with soft toys from a children’s pull cart and he later delivers ‘what a piece of work is a man’ speech to a stuffed chimpanzee.
Dramsoc’s Leaving Cert play encompasses some interesting set choices, a strong committed cast (and crew). This production offered a few solid hours of entertainment in Astra Hall. Bravo!