M.Am I missing some of Hamlet’s advice to players? Shakespeare’s Words of Wisdom lost over the years? Don’t try it as a narrative ballet, even if you have knights of the realm in the cast.”
Such a hint would have spared this offbeat staging by director and choreographer Peter Schaufus. Edinburgh Festival Ballet Lives in St Stephens just kitted out. His big draw, of course, is Sir Ian His McKellen, who played Hamlet for the first time in Edinburgh His Kings in 1971.
Now 83, he’s a little on the old side of being a student prince. at the Theater Royal in WindsorHe would make a classical dancer even less likely. Instead, he showed up to gamely deliver his mix of the best of Hamlet’s hits, while dancer Johann Christensen, dressed in matching costumes, performed his 75-minute version of the tragedy. to imitate
As you can imagine, McKellen gives this part the full Orotundo treatment. His echoing voice carries the weight of sullen old age rather than impulsive youth, with droopy-haired Christensen writhing about the big Thruststage. It’s good that you continue to treat the Fringe as a testing ground, but this is Shakespeare in a bag with all the nutrients sucked out.
Aside from McKellen’s speech, the rest, as we should have expected, is silence. His Schaufuss company at scale pantomimes everything, every emotion cued, every gesture emphasized. You get high-contrast plot points, but none of the textual subtlety, nor the sense of why you have to tell such a pantomimemic version.
Completely devoid of wit (and I’m counting prancing Rosencrantz and Guildenstern among them), it has an aesthetic straight out of the 1950s – all doublets and horses, brooding poses and pretentiousness. A solo with flowing arms, high kicks and fluttering skirts that could have been lifted from a Kate Bush video. The final battle is exhilarating and dynamic, but it comes too late to offset the Enterprise’s ignorance.