Hedingham Castle, Essex
Sunday 29th July 2012
This production has been around the country meeting with wind and rain at every turn, and unfortunately Essex was no exception. The beautiful backdrop of Hedingham Castle was awash with an early downpour, but if it dampened the spirits of the enthusiastic cast they did not let on.
The young Hamlet was excellently played by Michael Benz. Leaving no ambiguity as to his mental state, he was entirely absorbing as the revenge-seeking prince. Welcomingly fast-paced, his cerebral performance did not see him dwelling over long soliloquies but also never felt rushed, and was superbly accessible and full of intent.
In this small touring company all other actors doubled as the many other characters, and were a delight. Carlyss Peer was a tender Ophelia, innocent and refreshing her performance was a stand-out highlight among a consummate cast. Noteworthy too was Tom Lawrence, as a strong Horatio. The gravedigger's scene was also particularly good.
With the addition of live music played by the performers, and a compact but versatile set, the production was a perfect accomplishment of high class touring theatre.
Ending with a dance upon the graves of the many fallen, we were left to jig off the raindrops on the long walk through the pitch black forest back to the car park - a feat of bad planning by the venue - perhaps a warning to bring torches and to leave umbrellas at home would have made for a more comfortable evening all round.