On April 11th, 2018 Matric students from schools all over the Western Cape streamed into the Artscape theatre where a Hamlet production by Abrahamse Meyer Productions left an excellent impression. Although some students felt the need to take a little doze halfway through the lengthy three hour Shakespearean play, the commotion put up by the six lively actors who, without a doubt, impersonated the intended buoyancy of the famous Hamlet excellently woke them up and soon had them sitting at the edges of their seats.
Hamlet at Artscape:
The interesting twist on the original play brought to the audience was designed to awe. We watched a play of a play within a play as a performance of Hamlet on a large exploration ship, the Red Dragon, in the early 1600`s as it moored off the southern coast of South Africa. Abrahamse puts us on deck, with billowing sheets as sails and the eerie creaking and groaning of a ship in the dead of night.
The performance had exceptional sound effects of a traditional exploration ship during the era of discovery groaning and slashing through the Atlantic sea. Albeit that one or two female characters had been played by men only, the actors proved themselves more than capable of cross dressing and exceptionally impersonating influential characters Queen Gertrude and fair Ophelia.
To most, Elizabethan plays are a bit of a challenge to understand especially when it comes to language. Shakespearean plays are especially famous for their unique use of old-timer-English phrases and words most of which had been invented by Shakespeare himself. The compact nature of the performance made it relatively easy to follow, even for second language students. The key to a great story is the way its plot unfolds in front of its audience and this interpretation of Hamlet embraces the plot and main themes beautifully.
Matrics of 2018:
Since the play has been a vital part of the grade twelves` English syllabus for 2018, having seen the play for sure made them more confident for the arrival of the final exams, as confirmed by 12E1 students Curtley Christians and Lisa Nolte respectively; “it was an amazing experience to see a intricate tragedy such as Hamlet being performed on stage at Artscape. It helped me understand the story so much better. The Hamlet essay will be a breeze.”
“Watching Hamlet live was a whole new experience. It helped me better understand the play and gain a greater appreciation for the work of Shakespeare.”
For the next few weeks we could be sure that our matrics would be reciting the famous soliloquy “to be, or not to be” as a result of the great show imprinting its script in our minds.