Remember Me: Horatio's Hamlet

Mon 15th – Sat 27th August 2016

reviews

Anna Livesey

at 10:32 on 20th Aug 2016

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It is hard to articulate my feelings on ‘Remember Me: Horatio’s Hamlet’. I did sit through the entire hour of the play, but I am still wondering what exactly it was that I experienced. I was by turns bored, amused, and embarrassed, but at no point did I feel either engaged or educated.

The play sets out to solve all the old problems, or in the words of the Somesuch Theatre, to “unlock the mysteries” of Hamlet: is Hamlet mad, does he love Ophelia, what is his obsession with incestuous sheets. Unfortunately, it has few profound answers, coming closer to GCSE devised than form-defying theatre.

Perhaps the play would be improved with better emphasis on its comedic moments. There is a refreshingly pacey reenactment of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, which draws a fair few laughs from the audience. This was a short-lived instance, though, and elsewhere the play is sober and serious. Somesuch seem to lend themselves more to grave theatrical staging and probing philosophical questions, which is a shame because it fails in both respects.

If I were to salvage a redeeming factor, it would be that the Somesuch team do clearly know their stuff. They understand how to work with iambic pentameter, and I like the selection of passages filtered through Meehan and Caird. But in a play that professes to be challenging the text, I wonder why production falls so readily into default Shakespeare: upright stance, arm outstretched, furrowed brows roaming upwards. There is just too much pacing and not enough acting. Rather than experimenting with either voices or positioning, the pair simply speak the lines with gravity, and hope that their own expressions of interest might eventually transfer onto us.

The play is weakest when it lapses into repeated platitudes on the enduring nature of Shakespeare, Hamlet and storytelling. And this is how it closes. In two minutes we move from “there is nothing to be known”, through “the tragedy of Hamlet is everybody’s tragedy”, and finally to “we are all Hamlet”. Unfortunately, these phrases infuriate rather than inspire me, and I leave the Greenside theatre feeling only baffled.

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Serena Basra

at 16:31 on 20th Aug 2016

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Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ is a cornerstone of the English literary tradition, and as such it is a weighty story to tackle. Somesuch Theatre Company provide an interesting spin on this classic, continuing the story from where Shakespeare leaves us.

‘Remember Me: Horatio’s Hamlet’ concerns a grieving Horatio, haunted by the ghost of Hamlet who desires an actor to tell his story to the world. Despite this intriguing plot line, the show never seems quite sure exactly how to define itself; whilst the opening offers us analysis of Hamlet’s character in a manner reminiscent of a GCSE teacher, the close is equipped with sweeping and throwaway comments such as "We are all Hamlet". When placed alongside moments of quick-witted verse from the Bard himself, a stark contrast is drawn and it is this disjointed and choppy production which reflects the poor direction it suffers from.

The acting in this piece is uninspiring, and as a result the vast stage appears to swamp the actors. Visual aids replace nuanced characterisations - individual characters are each aligned with a different coloured scarf - yet the quirks and mannerisms of each individual appear strikingly similar regardless of the colour of the scarf. Consequently, in a two-man show that claims to present to us ‘a stage full of characters’, one must truly stretch the imagination in order to picture anyone other than Edmund Caird and Lorna Meehan on the stage.

There are a few redemptive moments throughout the show: it seems that the duo’s talent lies in comedy. Their depiction of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern is well-received by the audience, chuckles ripple through the seats, and performing 'To be or not to be’ whilst faux-drunk shines a surreal, comedic light on the serious speech. Additionally, it must be acknowledged that the duo possess wonderful singing voices. The lyrics within ‘Hamlet’s Song’ have the potential to be much more intricate and innovative, yet the rich aural tapestry they weave is well worth a listen.

Overall, despite the instruction in the show’s title this production is eminently forgettable. Somesuch Theatre Company have perhaps taken on too great a task with this piece, however if they devote time to honing the script, it has the potential to provide us with a new approach to ‘Hamlet’ that is truly interesting.

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