This ‘essential’ adaptation aims to make William Shakespeare’s Hamlet easily accessible. Language is pared back and subplots are largely removed. A version of the adaptation was produced at Newton St Loe campus of Bath Spa University in March 2005, outdoors, at night. This campus is set in a Capability Brown landscape garden, which includes a lake, in which Ophelia “drowned”. The production was performed promenade style, the audience brought to a different location for each of the scenes by torchlight. The performance began with an outdoor party featuring a live band ahead of the wedding of Claudius and Gertrude. The adaptation was also performed at the famous Minack Theatre in Cornwall, where the sea is permanent backdrop.
Hamlet, played outdoors at Bath Spa University campus (March) and Minack Theatre (June). Performed by BA Performing Arts students alongside guest professional actors Jeremy Spriggs (Claudius), Clare Maguire (Gertrude), Kevin Pugsley (Gravedigger), Kitty Randle (Ophelia), Pat Welsh (Polonius), Heather Johansen (Player Queen). Original music by Katherine Hembury. Director: Emma Gersch. A Full Tilt Theatre Company production, Artistic Director GJ Kalic.
Shakespeare as it was meant to be played
It was with some trepidation that I drove up the long driveway of Bath Spa University’s Newton St. Loe Campus on what has been an extremely wet and wintery day, still secretly hoping that this outdoor performance might be called off. My fears subsided as I was led through the grounds, cautioned to avoid the mating swans and given a cup of hot wine. I began to wonder whether I had actually been transported to the castle grounds of some remote Danish province. This is a daring and dramatic adaptation which maintains the spirit of the original script while adding a vigour and sense of the narrative that cannot be relayed by a conventional indoor theatre. Shakespeare was written for the outdoors…
Promenading through the beautiful grounds provides not only the action in a natural and realistic setting, but also to journey with Hamlet on his emotional rollercoaster. We can appreciate first hand his turmoil of love and revenge, guilt and duty. Hamlet is often considered an elusive play in terms of its many sub-texts and unyielding prose, but here the cast has battled valiantly achieving some magical victories. There is an electrical chemistry between Gertrude and Claudius from the very beginning which combined with Ophelia’s spine-chilling descent into madness, is truly compelling. This is Shakespeare at its best and not to be missed - Nicky Wilkins Bath Chronicle, Friday 10th March 2005