Writer: William Shakespeare
Director: Thomas Ostermeier
Reviewer: Bryan Hogan
The 55th Dublin Theatre Festival began with the Irish Premiere of Schaubühne Berlin’s Hamlet at The Bord Gais Energy Theatre. This is the first time for the Dublin Theatre festival to use this space and long may it continue.
Director Thomas Ostermeier takes Hamlet by the throat and strips it of any pompousness, grinding that naked sweating pulsating corpse into your face and Eidinger in the title rôle beckons you to join him, which everyone did, willing.Ostermeier brings you on a journey and in a production that took so many risks; there was trust among not just the tight-knit ensemble but with the audience.
From the opening scene to the climactic finale the stage space bore witness to the horrors of this familiar story as did the actors bodies. Two sequences that stood out were Hamlet’s stand-up routine; here Eidinger heckled the audience and used up to date, though some obscure, pop culture references. The second sequence, The Mousetrap, really played on the ambiguity of Hamlet’s sexuality teasing at the relationship he shared with Horatio. The Mousetrap was presented like a ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ Cabaret, confrontational and provocative.
The setting was simple, a banquet table and an ever-moving projection screen sitting atop the mound of earth under which Hamlet’s father is buried. This is one giant grave in which the characters are trapped till their grizzly end. The pop references, costumes and music all jarred to give a disjointed sense of place. Locations were changed and different cultures and religious rituals were suggested adding to the fragmented sense of time and space.
Eidinger’s Hamlet had the audience onside, he never wallowed in his grief and seemed focused on getting the revenge he so desperately required. This was a romp through a very familiar story. Punched and bruised Shakespeare’s Hamlet came back to life like the dancing corpses on stage. Visceral, subversive, chaotic and all the rest is silence.
Photo courtesy of the Dublin Theatre Festival.Runs until September 27th