'Hamlet' in Ely – Reviewed
By elypeople | Sunday, February 24, 2013, 15:36
A cold February evening in the main school hall of Ely College is not the most welcoming of environments in which to sit through Shakespeare's notoriously long Danish saga, Hamlet, but the company assembled by Mike Holland for Ely ADS managed not only to transport their audience to the state of Denmark but to capture the intensity and emotional turmoil this play examines.
As the curtains opened, the tableau of cast members set this play on the right note. Like figures on a chessboard, the cast stood with a striking but simple set behind them, the huge pendants and flags of Denmark creating a royal tone.
Chris Hudson made a fantastic and likeable Hamlet. His performance was measured and yet he conveyed the turmoil of a man unable to take action, tormented by his own doubts and weakness. Richard Dodd played 'Claudius' and his powerful performance was impressive. Fiona Gilbert was 'Gertrude' and the relationship between the king and 'wretched queen' was superbly conveyed.
Lisa Bushell was a haunting 'Ophelia' descending into madness with aplomb. Anthony Sully, ably conveyed the verbose Polonius. Ely ADS stalwart Tony Ransome popped up in a variety of roles and did a splendid job in them all.
It was interesting to see the ghost, played by David Palmer, only ever heard but never seen on stage and this worked very well.
It would have been nice to see the lighting perhaps used to more effect and sound effects were few and far between. The 'play within the play' would have been enhanced by some music and the solitary drummer was a little ineffective. However, this was a production that never faltered in conveying the drama of events and with a company of actors who were so clear in their characterisations it was a production worth braving the cold of a February evening.
This is Ely ADS's 125th Anniversary year and they could not have got off to a better start in a production which showcased the talents of the group and with a director so clear in his purpose of bringing great dramas to the stage.