Hamlet (A One Man Play)

Even the most seasoned audience member has to concentrate to grasp every line of a Shakespeare play. It is easy to lag behind the complex language, gleaning a basic idea of what’s going on from a lazy memory of a past BBC adaptation. The form isn’t ‘easy’ watching: you have to invest, and the cast have to earn your attention through clear delivery and an understanding of their own script.

His Claudius carries some strength, and the presence of the late King’s ghost is poised and enhanced by atmospheric lighting

Hamlet (A One Man Play), serves as testament to these challenges. Firstly, the script suffers greatly from the thick accent of Spanish actor Alfredo Padilla, which hinders the intention of each line. However, since Padilla has had success with this show in Spain, I was willing to focus on Padilla’s acting rather than enunciation. Unfortunately, the second downfall of the show is that the characters are as two dimensional as a paper doll chain. An interesting format; poorly executed, and not recommended.

Padilla portrays Hamlet with woeful sentimentality. His speeches rarely climb above a whisper; you only catch the most famous lines, whilst heightened temper is delivered through indiscernible mumbling. I could barely see past the performance to find empathy for this weak and irritating protagonist. Padilla gives Polonius the form of a hunchback; a tool for visual differentiation that somewhat ridicules the character, whilst Ophelia embodies the voice and physicality of a coy drag queen. Her *spoiler alert* suicide scene is tragic for all the wrong reasons.

To Padilla’s credit, his Claudius carries some strength, and the presence of the late King’s ghost is poised and enhanced by atmospheric lighting. There are also some swift scene changes, and the clever use of props to represent characters that didn’t make the cut. Regretfully, these positives are outweighed by Alfredo Padilla’s poor command of the English text, and the peculiar delivery of certain lines made me question his understanding of the play.

I don’t doubt that a one-man performance of Hamlet could work, but for this production, a successful run is not to be. 

Reviews by Jessica Sydney-Leigh

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The Blurb

Hamlet (A One Man Play) is a work of theatrical research where the only limit is the text. The actor explores all the possibilities, restructuring the original order of the fable. ‘There was truth in every character he played’ (Carla Capeáns, TeatroGalego.com). ‘Alfredo Padilla is giving to us a real art lesson on the stage inspired by Thalia’ (Alfredo Conde, Spanish National literature Award). ‘In one naked scenario Alfredo keeps the flight so high. Each and every feeling on the stage’ (Fernando Llorente, Diario Montañés). Winner of Best Actor at Carabanchel Festival, Madrid. www.alfredopadilla.es