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Tuesday, 9 July 2013

tragedy worn lightly....

Photo by Ariel Tarpey.

The other night I took my 14-year-old daughter to see Hamlet at Vancouver's Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival. On our way there, I gave her a quick verbal plot summary. "Oh, like The Lion King?" she asked. Yes. Very much so.

I saw my first Hamlet when I was 12, with my mom and the girl who was then and remains to this day my best friend. It was a contemporary rock musical version of the play, then called Kronborg: 1582. (Later called Rockabye Hamlet.) It was campy, and larger than life, and what I remember most clearly about it is the set, and the scene in which Ophelia went mad. "A flower for you, a flower for you...."

It was young and contemporary and fun; and happily, so is this summer's version of Hamlet in Vancouver. Although spoken in the original Elizabethan English, the sets, props, costumes and technologies are up-to-the-minute. And it works. The energy, the physicality, and the passion of the acting carry the considerable weight of this aged tragedy hurtling into the now, and wear it lightly. 

Jonathon Young is brilliant as Hamlet, but sometimes it is Naomi Wright who really owns the stage. In the role of a servant she generates real tears for the dead Ophelia, wiping her reddened and running nose. 

I wonder what my girl will remember of this Hamlet, when she takes her children to their first version of it?

Scenes from the 2013 production of Hamlet,
by Vancouver's Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival.

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