Shakespeare Shorts – Hamlet

Shakespeare Shorts: Hamlet - Shakespeare’s Hamlet condensed into an hour by kids, for kids. Performed by eleven kids from Shakespeare at Traquair, this was a very entertaining piece with the script reduced and simplified to make it more accessible to youngsters.

As a fun show to take the kids to, it is a pretty safe bet.​

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Hamlet’s two best friends, stole the show. Dressed in Laurel and Hardy apparel that was also reminiscent of Beckett’s Gogo and Didi from Waiting for Godot, the double act created a great rapport with the audience, testing them on their mental ‘arithmictic’ and doubling up as the comedic gravediggers. Deviations from the plot and their heightened role were also acknowledged, with references to Stoppard’s play, Guildenstern and Rosencrantz Are Dead.

The two female characters, Ophelia and Gertrude, were trivialised a bit too much. Ophelia seemed oblivious to Hamlet, reading Harry Potter in the famous ‘To be or not to be’ speech, and it is therefore not obvious why she commits suicide as all tragic aspects of the character are removed. Gertrude, meanwhile, goes through the entire play inexplicably plastered, making her utterly oblivious to anything going on. This, too, greatly oversimplifies her character and neither of the women are portrayed particularly favourably.

Furthermore, the musical choices, comedic as they are, further reduce the tragedy. The adaptation itself is weak, lacking any real vision and was too jovial to represent the tragedy. The cast, however, worked incredibly well with the material with some well-delivered jokes in the script - laughter could be heard from the audience throughout. The very talented young actress who plays Hamlet in particular manages to tackle some of the complexities of the role and does it justice. The entire cast is full of enthusiasm, with some very talented young people involved.

Shakespeare Shorts:Hamlet was a nice effort; jovial and often entertaining but lacked any real profundity which the capable cast could have tackled. However, as a fun show to take the kids to, it is a pretty safe bet.

Reviews by Fiona Russell

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Hamlet’s got the hump. His Uncle Claudius has bumped off his dad and married his mum, who’s a bit too fond of "ginger beer". Girlfriend Ophelia won’t listen to a word he says and his best mate, Horatio, keeps seeing ghosts. No wonder Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are confused. Mysteries, murders and magical music in this intriguing take on Shakespeare’s longest play, specially adapted for a young audience. 'Fun, frolics and lots of noise' (Peeblesshire News). 'Accessible Shakespeare at its best' (Southern Reporter).