Tuesday 21st January, 2020.
Shakespeare isn’t sacrosanct, and his plays are not Holy Writ. Anyone can do what they want with the plays, and that won’t affect the idea of “Hamlet” or “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in the slightest. Which said, 6FootStories are a three-member acting troupe, Will Bridges, Amy Fleming and Jake Hassam, with performer/director Nigel Munson. They approach Hamlet with much the same vigour as the Rude Mechanicals approached Pyramus and Thisbe, and employ similar acting chops, particularly Will Bridges’ interpretation of Hamlet’s death scene. That was very Bottom. They notionally represent the troupe of players employed to entertain the Danish court, but that notion is barely sketched in and doesn’t really survive beyond a brief scene where they are met and tutored in acting styles by Prince Hamlet, after which they all cheerfully ignore his advice and proceed with a mash-up of the story, including a segmenting and re-arrangement of the famous soliloquies, which they share between them. Most of the words are Shakespeare’s, most of the ideas are 6FootStories’.
I have no problem with performers stealing from, mangling, re-stating Shakespeare. I do sometimes wonder why they bother. There is a lurking fear that what I’m enjoying is a superior sense of recognising the quotes, knowing where in the play the re-contexted speech should go. It isn’t ultimately a good enjoyment, and there isn’t a lot else. The playing was energetic and lively, the rehearsal-room set had lots of interesting stuff to look at, the sound design was powerful, and while drum’n’bass leaves me fairly cold, lots of people like it a lot. I did leave after the hour-long romp with no increased understanding of Hamlet, and a lurking disappointment that all that energy and acting brio didn’t produce something more substantial.
Tel: 07860 682703