Bard on the Beach

“Something’s rotten in Denmark . . .”
A barefoot young man with close cropped and spiked hair and wearing slim jeans lies on the marble floor at the front of the stage, smartphone within reach. Has a stage hand fallen? Has an audience member crept up and slipped?  Hamlet
No, it’s Hamlet, consumed by melancholy following the untimely and suspicious death of his beloved father King Hamlet and the immediate marriage of his mother to his father’s brother.
It’s 2013, the setting is moderately opulent in white: walls, woodwork, sofas and side tables,  marble floor, drapes at the rear windows. The enshrouded furniture sets the tone. Hamlet’s agony is palpable. He uses his smartphone to remotely turn on solemn music while the leitmotif of his father’s ghost introduces a tall specter enveloped in an eerie cloud of smoke.
Bard EntranceSo begins the excellent production of Hamlet at Bard on the Beach in Vancouver BC, a collection of large and small white, red-trimmed tents at False Creek’s edge in Vanier Park. The padded seats are comfortable, the uncurtained stage visible from every seat; each actor miked and audible. The audience is rapt, following every Shakespearean word. They are familiar with Hamlet; they feel his pain; they know the plot.  This crowd is generous with applause but not with standing ovations. When Hamlet takes a bow, the audience leaps to its collective feet, clapping, cheering and whistling.
Bard on BeachI’ve seen Hamlet many times–in period costumes, 20th century dress, unidentifiable dress, and now 2013 clothing. Unsmiling security stand guard in dark suits and sunglasses at the doors.  The drapes are opened and closed with the click of a hand-held remote, messages texted. How can this be? Hamlet? I’m stunned to say that it worked for me, and I, originally a Shakespeare purist, applauded this modern day production with relevant rock and hip hop music, smartphones, and blinking computer monitor. Shakespeare is timeless. This sinister tragedy could take place in any monarchy today where power and poison can define the plot and players.
I know the ending, but once again, I am moved when the stage is eventually strewn with bodies, and anguished Horatio (played by a female) utters his/her famous words “Good night, sweet Prince . . .”

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About writersandy

Writer, Gardener, Crafter
This entry was posted in Play Review, Theater and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Bard on the Beach

  1. Sounds fabulous! I wish I were there . . . but I wasn’t. “Aye, there’s the rub.”

  2. You would have loved it, Jeanne.

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