Awe inspiring and unforgettableDaily Mail

Produced by Cheek by Jowl

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Malcolm ScatesBarnardo / Guildernstern / Priest
Peter MoretonFrancisco / Reynalso / Player Queen / Fortinbras
Patrick MillerMarcellus / Rosencrantz
Horatio DuncanDuff
Daniel ThorndikeHamlet?s Ghost / Player King / 2nd Gravedigger
Scott CherryClaudius
Jason MorellVoltemand / Captain / Messenger / Osric
Peter de JersyLaertes
Peter NeedhamPolonius / 1st Gravedigger
Timothy WalkerHamlet
Natasha ParryGertrude
Cathryn BradshawOphelia

DirectorDeclan Donnellan
DesignerNick Ormerod
LightingRick Fisher and Judith Greenwood
MovementJane Gibson
MusicPaddy Cunneen
Fight DirectorJohn Waller
Company Stage ManagerLouise Yeomans
Deputy Stage ManagerMartin Lloyd Evans
Assistant Stage ManagerPaul Clay
Wardrobe ManagersBlossom Beale
Wardrobe SupervisorAngie Burns


Cheek by Jowl have done it again, producing a Hamlet distinguished in all respects but most notably in its clarity of meaning and purpose. Declan Donnellan's production overlaps and intercuts scenes with a fascinating dexterity that appears to move the play at breakneck speed. Yet it still runs for its allotted 3½ hours. The sleight of hand is achieved by the tremendous amount of consideration given to the support players, producing a marvellously differentiated Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (the first an anguished friend, the second Corporate Man incarnate) a set of players who arrive at course as anxious to please as if the lives depended on it, a pair of gravediggers jealously guarding Yorick's skull as one of the perks of the job. Then too, Scott Cherry's Claudius is a charmer, making cruel sense of the thrifty speed with which the funeral meats have been replaced by wedding feasts; Natasha Parry's Gertrude lends a million mother's nuances to the bedroom scene with her son (usually a frustratingly inhuman encounter) and Peter Needham's Polonius is more stern and possessive than the woolly-minded, likening clouds to weasels only to pander to the Prince and get on with business. Bus even all this intelligence would go for nothing without Timothy Walker's Hamlet, who, furiously, scribbling notes in his pocket book, perfectly combines scholar, artist and abandoned child. His anguish at the loss of his father is as fresh as if we had never witnessed it before, his soliloquies seem wrested from his conscience. I have seen very many Hamlets, but none who has given me as many new insights into the meaning of his soliloquies as this one. It's true there are a handful of jarring moments (Ophelia gets a disastrous laugh in the first act, although she recovers, if it's not too tasteless a phrase, for the mad scene) Osric suffers from the indisputable problems of playing the waterfly in a post camp ear, Horatio looks distinctly unsurprised to see a ghost on the ramparts and Mr and Mrs Polonius in the row behind me clearly couldn't stand so untraditional approach to the classics. Too bad for them; Shakespeare would have loved it. Ros Asquith, City Limits. 29 November 1990