IT MAY have been below freezing outside, but on stage this short and punchy, ‘Blue Orange Theatre’ version of Shakespeare’s tragedy ‘Hamlet’ positively bubbled with energy and creativity.
Setting the play in a modern day psychiatric hospital makes it easier to accept a female actor playing one of theatre’s leading male roles as it is in her ‘medicated dreams’.
Had it just been today’s trend of thrusting gender blindness in the audience’s face for the sake of doing it I would have been less comfortable. Putting that debate to one side, local actress Ashleigh Aston gives an energetic, infectious and accomplished performance as the mad Prince with a pleasing delivery of the Bard’s famous lines as conversation not rant.
Indeed energy is the main attraction of this production coupled with being ‘inclusive’ not exclusive’.
We are not ‘acted at’ but ‘brought in’ to share the experience.
This Hamlet is an ideal introduction for Shakespeare avoiders, newcomers and students to both enjoy and understand the plays’ complexities.
In its full version Hamlet can last anywhere between three and a half to five hours whilst this Blue Orange company version lasts less than two, leaving us wanting more – not screaming for mercy.
Another Bromsgrovian actor Edward Lobola performs an admirable young and old double as Polonius and Laetes, Hayley Grainger not only purrs as Hamlet’s beloved Ophelia but also crosses the gender line as Rosencrantz and Hortatio.
Alex Nikitas plays multiple parts, including the King and the highly talented Bryony Tebbutt is extremely watchable as Gertrude and other roles. The ‘intelligent’ direction is by Oliver Hume and Ellie Goodall.
This Hamlet is well worth venturing out for and if you have not been to the Blue Orange Theatre on Great Hampton Street in Birmingham before then you’ll discover quite a unique and friendly venue.
The final performances take place tomorrow (Saturday) at 3pm and 7.45pm.