04/09/2019 - 08/09/2019
Theatre Royal, 78 Rutherford Street, Nelson
03/07/2019 - 07/07/2019
20/08/2019 - 24/08/2019
31/07/2019 - 04/08/2019
Isaac Theatre Royal, Christchurch
12/07/2019 - 20/07/2019
Clarence Street Theatre, Hamilton
27/08/2019 - 31/08/2019
Regent Theatre, The Octagon, Dunedin
25/06/2019 - 29/06/2019
Devastated after the death of his father, the melancholy Prince of Denmark finds himself propelled from grief into action when a supernatural visitation suggests that his new step-father may have been responsible for his father’s murder. Sworn to revenge but unable to trust his mother, his girlfriend or his closest friends, can Hamlet outwit and expose the villainous King without it costing him his soul?
The most towering achievement in the dramatic canon, Hamlet combines all the swashbuckling action of a revenge tragedy with profound and poetic questions about the nature of life and death. Pop-up Globe’s Nottingham’s Company present Shakespeare’s most iconic character in his most famous play.
Played in repertoire with Measure for Measure
25-29 June 2019
BUY TICKETS DUNEDIN
3-7 July 2019
BUY TICKETS NELSON
Isaac Theatre Royal
12-20 July 2019
BUY TICKETS CHRISTCHURCH
31 July-4 August 2019
BUY TICKETS WELLINGTON
20-24 August 2019
BUY TICKETS NAPIER
Clarence St Theatre
27-31 August 2019
BUY TICKETS HAMILTON
4-8 September 2019
BUY TICKETS NEW PLYMOUTH
EXTRAORDINARY STYLE OF SHAKESPEARE HITS THEATRES AROUND THE COUNTRY THIS WINTER
7 venues nationwide
It’s sold over half-a-million tickets, performed over 1000 shows, and wowed audiences across Australasia with its performances. Now, for the first time ever, the magic of Shakespeare performed in a style for which the Pop-up Globe Theatre Company has become famous is coming to a theatre near you!
The multi-award-winning Auckland-based company today announces it is taking its extraordinary critically-acclaimed productions of the most famous play ever written Hamlet, and wild comedy Measure for Measure, to seven New Zealand cities this year.
Through the genius of its trademark set design, audiences in Dunedin, Nelson, Christchurch, Wellington, Napier, Hamilton and New Plymouth will be transported to the 17th century, treated to a playful and fun style of theatre they’re unlikely to have experienced before.
Don’t just take our word for it. Come see for yourself what over 500,000 people are raving about.
Hamlet audiences will feel the Prince of Denmark’s pain, and perhaps be splashed with his blood, as this swashbuckling tragedy swings into action culminating in a breathtaking duel, while those attending Measure for Measure can expect a wild romp through the seedy streets of 17th century Vienna for a night of Moulin Rouge, Shakespeare-style.
The shows feature a specially designed touring set that recreates the incredible scenic design of Pop-up Globe Auckland, the beautiful bespoke Jacobean costumes that have become a hallmark of Pop-up Globe performances, and the extraordinary lively performances of Shakespeare’s masterworks that have won the company awards across Australasia, including eight theatre awards in Sydney last year.
Pop-up Globe’s founder and artistic director Dr Miles Gregory says the tour is in response to the huge number of requests the company has received from throughout New Zealand.
“Now, for the first time, we’ve created a touring set and shows that bring all the magic of Pop-up Globe performances – the blood, the incredible audience connection, the dances and song, and above all the remarkable art of Shakespeare done well – to existing theatres, meaning that we can share the extraordinary experience of Pop-up Globe with people all over New Zealand. We can’t wait to pop up in your local theatre and show you why the Pop-up Globe theatre experience is so popular.”
Audiences and critics on both sides of the Tasman have raved about Pop-up Globe with the New Zealand Herald stating Pop-up Globe is “world-class” and Broadway World NZ describing their production of Hamlet as a “theatrical triumph.”
The Melbourne Age described their 2017/18 Melbourne Season as “the best night of theatre ever”, selling 146,000 tickets in a season that lasted over 17 weeks in Australia’s arts capital. The company’s shorter Sydney season was close to sold out, with some 105,000 Sydney-siders attending in their droves, eager to discover the Pop-up Globe experience for themselves with Australian Stage calling it “a remarkable achievement in out-of-the-box theatre making”.
Dr Gregory is confident the touring model will allow audiences to share in the magic that audiences of Pop-up Globe theatre itself have been raving about.
“There are many important elements to the Pop-up Globe experience – and the theatre surroundings are just one of them,” Dr Gregory explains. “What’s most important is the performance on stage and our actors’ relationship to the audience. Pop-up Globe shows are fast-paced, beautifully costumed, funny, and make a very strong connection with our audiences. We have designed an extraordinary set that recreates the atmosphere of our Auckland home theatre, including seating for some lucky audience members on stage, in the heart of the action.”
The two touring productions, Hamlet and Measure for Measure, transfer from the company’s Auckland season, where they’ve won critical acclaim and played to sell-out houses.
About Pop-up Globe
Pop-up Globe aims to rediscover and bring back to life the extraordinary experience of Shakespeare’s own audiences through his own work performed in the space and style his own company did.
Pop-up Globe is a three-storey, 16-sided, 700-person capacity theatre. It unites cutting-edge scaffold technology with a 400-year-old design to transport audiences back in time. No matter where they sit or stand in the theatre, audience members are never more than 15 metres from the heart of the action on stage. Sometimes they’ll even find themselves in the play.
Pop-up Globe features all the spectacular theatrical trickery of the Jacobean era, including cannons, flaming arrows, hundreds of litres of fake blood, and hundreds of beautiful bespoke period costume pieces specially constructed by the Pop-up Globe in-house wardrobe department.
Adrian Hooke – Hamlet
Amber Blease – Cornelius
Asalemo Tofete – Polonius
Barry de Lore – Horatio
Bryony Skillington – Guildenstern
Clementine Mills – Player Queen
Frith Horan – Marcellus
Hugh Sexton – Ghost / Player King / Fortinbras
John Bayne – Swing
Jonathan Tynan-Moss – Laertes
Lydia Raynes – Reynaldo
Max Loban – Claudius
Salesi Le'ota – Rosencrantz
Serena Cotton – Gertrude
Summer Millet – Ophelia
Artistic & Production
Malcom Dale – Prop & Set Designer
Brigid Costello – Director of Movement
Miles Gregory – Founder & Artistic Director / Director (Measure for Measure)
Alexander James Holloway – Head of Stage Combat & Special Effects
David Lawrence – Associate Artistic Director / Director (Hamlet)
Hannah Lobelson – Costume Designer
Paul McLaney – Director of Music
Kirstie O'Sullivan – Voice Consultant
Alice Pearce – Producer
Malcom Dale – Head of Scenic Workshop
Imogen Davies – Scenic Intern
Duncan Milne – Lead Construction
Antonio Te Maioha – Scenic Construction
Sophie Alexandra – Stage Manager
Elise Baker – Stage Manager
Cat Creighton – Dresser
Rose Miles-Watson – Head of Touring Wardrobe
Duncan Milne – Tour Technical Manager / Lighting Design
Chanelle Muirhead – Company Manager / Stage Manager
Louise Paterson – Wigs & Maintenance
Ashley Salter – Dresser
Rachel Watkinson – Tour Assistant
Jonathan Wilce – Rehearsal Stage Manager
Slick production plays at a cracking pace
Review by Lisa Simpson 07th Sep 2019
How weary, stale and flat seems the world to Hamlet in Act 1 of Shakespeare’s tragedy; not so this production of the play which is full of life and energy. This is the first time Pop up Globe has visited New Plymouth and they are rewarded with a good crowd who are brushing up on their quotes as they enter the theatre.
Pop up Globe without the structure? Are we just going to get the play on a stage? No fear Shakespeare! The Globe stage is represented with a box-style set that surrounds the acting space and certainly gives the feel of the original stage with its pillars and balcony. An apron is added to achieve a modest thrust stage which is put to good use by all performers to connect with the audience. The curved balconies of the Showplace lend themselves well to the sense of the circular theatre space of the Globe and if you squint a bit, you were there.
House lights remain up for the performances which adds to the sense of being taken back to a different style of performance. The play begin with Barnardo on the battlements waiting for the changing of the guard while the crowd chats and gradually settles. This is a charmingly natural beginning and is echoed after the interval with the ‘players’ warming up and interacting with the crowd as a seasoned travelling troupe would have. The lack of electronic amplification of voice is also welcome as the actors need to use the power of their natural voices which gives the performance a humanity which is lost at times in a world of wireless mics and LED curtains on stage. Please keep this up Pop up Globe!
The performers deliver the text at a cracking pace. Entrances and exits are swift and the sense of the royal court is created with appropriate pageantry by the company.
Adrian Hooke plays an agitated Hamlet. Not for him a moping introspective youth but rather a feverish mind and restless body; this lends credibility to the indecision that dogs his duty to avenge his father’s death. At times though, a slowing of the pace would have better marked moments of poignancy. Hooke shows that he has this in him, creating stillness in the audience as he pins us to our seats with piercing questions; perhaps the driver just needs to give the reins a bit more slack?
The impetus for Hamlet’s actions comes from an armour-clad Ghost, who urges his son to vengence powerfully with a repeated motif of a stabbing action. The clacking of the joints of his gloves remind us of the bones we are all to become. The physically of the Ghost contrasts with a slightly foppish Claudius (Max Loban) who is all curls, smiles and white satins – no wonder he gets up Hamlet’s nose! I would have liked more of the manipulative nature he shows when he convinces Laertes that Hamlet is responsible for the death of his father and sister, and sets him up to get rid of his problematic step-son. I want self-doubt and fear to be left to Hamlet and would have preferred an all-out baddie to hate on.
As Gertrude, Selena Cotton is a commanding presence. It is she who sits on the throne with Claudius on a stool beside her. No weak woman her. Summer Millett’s Ophelia is likewise a strongly played role. She displays spunk when first challenged by Hamlet and her descent into madness is dexterous, fluid and compelling.
The bustling, self-important bureaucrat of a Lord Chamberlain, Polonius, is delightfully played with a suitably bombastic performance by Asalemo Tofete. He is a crowd favourite. The use of his cell phone is jarringly effective in a theatre where all of ours are diligently muted or turned off. Several anachronistic gags are used in the performance that might curl the toes of purists, but Shakespeare knew that you needed to keep it fresh for those in the cheap seats.
Further comic relief is injected by Bryony Skillington who was a wonderfully bawdy Guildenstern and Salesi Le’ota who shines as the Gravedigger.
Bravo to the adept musicians, encased on the balcony above the stage, who enhance the action with both melody and atmospheric soundscapes. And full marks to the ensemble who relish every part they are given and play all with verve and vitality.
Pop Up Globe’s Hamlet is a fine performance and it was a pleasure to see a slick, professional production of the play.
Copyright © belongs to the reviewer
Triumphant revelling in challenges
Review by Gail Pittaway 28th Aug 2019
The Pop-Up Globe tour has finally come to Hamilton. Considerably more complex than a troupe of travelling players, they’ve brought a replica of their Auckland stage set – tall flats with a balcony for the fine acoustic musicians – a company of outstanding performers and two magnificent productions: Hamlet and Measure for Measure. I can honestly say that last night’s Hamlet is the finest production of this play I have ever seen.
David Lawrence’s direction runs a pared-back script at a phenomenal pace, through a 2½ hour traffic of the stage, but yet with space and breath for moments of reflection and respite. The brilliantly choreographed dance and fight scenes, the crisp scene interchanges and mostly youthful cast keep performance energy high, and one of the world’s best-known plays is given a vigorous treatment.
It’s touching to sit in the audience and feel a ripple of recognition as so many of these great lines are given context. It’s as if people are saying “Aha, so this is where ‘Neither a borrower nor a lender be’ and ‘To thine own self be true’ come from” – the lips of pompous old Polonius, played by a crowd-pleasing Asalemo Tofete, with cell phone and its distinctive ring, in hand. Or Ophelia saying, “Here’s rosemary for remembrance,” in a mad scene which brings tears to my eyes.
Presented in a week where New Zealand’s suicide rates are reported at an all-time high, the excessive grief, youthful impatience and desperation of the two young protagonists, deprived of fathers, unable to realise their love for each other, reaches deeper resonances in our time. Summer Miller as Ophelia gives a unique reading of the part: ebullient; extravagant joy flipped on its head and over the edge.
Adrian Hooke’s Hamlet is a revelation. I’d forgotten how often he is on stage and then, after all that range of emotion – from encounters with the supernatural, again brilliantly displayed, confrontations with the subtle yet steely evil of his uncle/ stepfather and beguiled mother, playful bantering with Polonius and his old friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and the laid-back gravedigger, to shared confessions with Horatio, his one true friend … After all that, in the last act, to deliver a fabulous stage fight with Jonathan Tynan Moss’s Laertes, is an extraordinary achievement! Alexander Holloway, the fight sequence designer and trainer, must also be complimented for an outstanding and breath-taking scene.
The dance and movement choreography by Brigid Costello is also a huge factor in the stage energy of the piece, culminating in the Players scene, re-enacting the murder of Hamlet’s father by his brother in swirls of action. I’ve never seen this scene given such wings before.
Claudius (Max Loban) and Gertrude (Serena Cotton) are also well cast and, in this reading, give a cross-over of motivation, where she seems too late to realise her new husband’s treachery, while his villainy is a slow burning exposition, not the slimy villain of many productions where there is no credible arc of evil rising.
Bravo to Pop-Up Globe too for exploring the challenges of the Clarence Street Theatre stage and revelling in its depth and space while working the downstage area and including the audience as often and amusingly as possible. A triumphant tour which deserves full houses.
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Deeply, poignantly relevant to our world today
Review by Kate Tarrant 24th Aug 2019
With the Pop-up Globe comes the expectation of quality and quality is what you get. How fortunate we are to have the opportunity to see Shakespeare of this calibre performed right here in Napier.
The set is an opulent replica of the Globe stage with the key features such as the pillars, audience seats on the actual stage and an inner stage where the live musicians are housed. The house lights stay on during the performance, true to Shakespeare’s day but also to include the magnificent Municipal theatre canopy in the “brave o’hanging firmament” and to set the tone, right from the get go, that the audience are very much part of this performance.
This production strikes a stunning balance between reaching out to a modern audience in innovative ways while at the same time remaining absolutely true to the Shakespearian style and intent. There are plenty of ‘low tech’ special effects and stage magic such as fire, blood, smoke and music to keep the audience engaged and remind us what live theatre is all about. The costume design is exquisite. There are petticoats and tights, belts, buckles and bows, vibrant colours and a range of luscious fabrics. This production delivers on the ‘wow’ factor you would expect to see at the London Globe.
Hamlet has been cast with diversity in mind. The actors range in size, age, gender and race and all this adds to the richness of the production. The inclusion of eclectic details such as Polonius’ mobile phone is a risky one with so much attention to authentic detail but it does, I think work.
This is an outstanding cast of capable professional actors. The verse is delivered at pace and with clarity and understanding. The actors show a mastery of Elizabethan stage techniques such as direct address while still maintaining an exceptional level of emotional integrity. There are many striking individual performances but their real achievement is the strength and physically of the entire cast as an ensemble. One delightful surprise of this production is the comic relief. The characters of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern keep us entertained with seamlessly anachronistic gags and downright smutty physical comedy. This is real grown up humour and I suspect Shakespeare would have approved.
Hamlet is like that comfort food you just keep coming back to, long after you stopped questioning the nutritional value of it. The programme proclaims Hamlet as “the most famous play ever written”. As such the question of relevance is a big one: why are we still telling this story?
As the play draws to an end I brace myself, for what I know is coming – the swordfight: an unlikely chain of events leading to a series of dramatic deaths. This scene is almost the definition of Shakespearian cliché. And yet the moment when peace has been restored and the entire cast performs their highly ritualised blessing gesture is for me deeply moving. They peacefully reach out to each other and to us in the wider world. They connect as community. They cleanse the space. All the while trying to respond to a baffling and pointless event of violence which has lead to a room full of dead bodies.
Deeply, poignantly relevant to our world today.
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Does the Pop-up Globe’s ‘house style’ work against giving the tragedies their due?
Review by John Smythe 03rd Aug 2019
My first encounter with a David Lawrence-directed Hamlet was 17 years ago, of which I wrote (in the National Business Review, 1 March 2002): “Helmed by passionate and opinionated director David Lawrence, The Bacchanals’ characteristic intelligent, energetic and enthusiastic commitment to poor but accessible theatre has produced a four-hour Hamlet. Staged in four spaces on three different levels, the audience is asked to stand, move and re-settle some 15 times. But don’t be put off.”
Next came The Bacchanals’ ‘free, no frills, no budget’ production which toured suburban halls in 2006 (full disclosure: I was in it) of which Mary-Anne Bourke wrote: “Call me a raver, but I do not expect to see a more enjoyable production of Hamlet as long as I live.”
Now Associate Artistic Director of the Pop-up Globe, Lawrence got to direct Hamlet last year with vastly more resources: a full complement of fully-professional actors; impeccably designed costumes and props; a purpose-built theatre that replicates the circumstances in which Shakespearean performance conventions evolved. The unchanging setting and lighting state (suggesting daylight and including the audience) was also a Bacchanals convention but whereas they rationalised that modern dress was consistent with Shakespeare’s players doing everything in Elizabethan clothes, the Pop-up Globe opts for exquisitely crafted 17th century costumes (with the odd exception – see Measure for Measure’s Elbow).
The touring set reflects the Globe’s unchanging set-up but has to be placed on the proscenium-arch stages of our cities’ larger theatres so much of the intimacy is lost. A year ago the PuG’s questionable practice of all-male casting for some productions, in the interests of Shakespearean authenticity, thankfully gave way to a commitment to cast equal numbers of male and female actors in every new season. (The Bachannals, by the way, often cast women in male roles.) So all things considered, expectations are high for this production of Hamlet.
The Shakespearean device of ‘playing to the pit’ with contemporary references and gags pops up with Polonius fiddling with a beeping cellphone – setting up Hamlet’s realisation that he is being spied on in the “get thee to a nunnery” scene – and with a mention of Brexit in the Gravedigger’s observation of how mad the English are.
Offsetting the bright light, including chandeliers, that illuminates all, hazer is used in a vain attempt to make the opening scene, at midnight outside the castle at Elsinore, spooky. Loud and clear exposition is preferred over any attempt to evoke a credible sense of fear and trepidation in the wake of visitations by Old Hamlet’s ghost.
Indeed the whole first half proceeds this way with countless opportunities missed to register key moments-of-change at a psycho-emotional level. Perhaps this is seen as ‘true to convention’ too, except in the second ‘sentinels’ scene where the Ghost of Hamlet’s Father reveals to his son that he was murdered by his crown- and wife-usurping brother, it is he (as played by Hugh Sexton) who is wracked with emotion while Hamlet just verbalises his response. A blazing sword blade adds spectacle to the scene, however (in place of the usual solemn vows on the cross formed by the hilt, guard and blade).
Adrian Hooke is a highly articulate and physically active Hamlet. He expresses good anger but I yearn to connect with his solar plexus; to empathise with his grief, distress, shock, feelings for Ophelia – and to be toyed-with over whether his “antic disposition” becomes real madness or not, and if so when and why. Emotional depth does become more apparent in the second half but a lot of opportunities to discover what really makes him tick have been missed by then.
Max Loban is every bit the precocious younger brother as Claudius and Serena Cotton’s Gertrude is consistently strong and sure of herself throughout, avoiding any opportunity to doubt herself and her choices, until it’s too late. The ‘closet scene’ reveals nothing of a once-tender mother-son relationship and she reports Ophelia’s death without hinting at any vulnerability.
Summer Millett’s strength as a confident Ophelia works well, given she punctuates it with unspoken dismay at Hamlet’s ignoring of her. Her relationship with Jonathan Tynan-Moss’s man-about-Europe Laertes is clearly stated, as is the father-daughter relationship with Asalemo Tofete’s Polonius. But she pitches her reaction to Hamlet’s demand she get herself to a nunnery, and her genuine emotional collapse at his witless murder of her father, at the same strong level, which denies us the chance to see more gradations in her humanity.
A commitment to slash the running time (to 2 hours 50 minutes including interval) has led, among many judicious abbreviations, to dispensing with Hamlet’s advice to the players (fair enough) and Polonius dispatching Reynaldo to Paris to spy on Laertes. While the latter is common, it is a shame since it adds to the ever-topical ‘surveillance’ theme. I note Lydia Raynes is credited as Reynaldo so this cut must have been recent – and with it has gone the rest of Act 2 Scene 1, where Ophelia tells her father of Hamlet’s disturbing intrusion into her bed-chamber, causing Polonius to thrill to the idea that his daughter may marry the prince. Instead her report is dropped into the next scene, so declared in front of the King and Queen. That’s quite clever except it blurs the comedy of Polonius flipping from his earlier dismissal of any idea that the prince could be interested in his daughter to being super-convinced that love of Ophelia is clearly the cause of Hamlet’s madness. So Tofete just gets to pitch Polonius at much the same level throughout.
The cuts and pacing of this production seem to have stripped the play of the insidious jeopardy inherent in the presence of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, played for inconsequential laughs in the first half, then with more credibility in the second by Salesi Le’ota and Bryony Skillington. Likewise there is little sense of risk in the evolving plan to employ the travelling Players to “catch the conscience of the king”.
Everything just belts along with no dramatised awareness that there is downward pressure on Denmark from Norway let alone a rising threat to the reign of Claudius as Hamlet formulates his plan, then to Hamlet himself as Claudius realises what is afoot and conspires accordingly.
For the first time ever in the many productions of Hamlet I’ve seen or been involved with, I get no sense that the Players are travelling troubadours who live their lives on the road and ply their trade to survive. They just look like a bunch of actors who have changed costumes backstage and come on to play these other scenes, albeit in a lively way but disconnected from the underlying plot, let alone a wider world.
Nor do I get any sense of a special friendship between Hamlet and his fellow student Horatio (forged in a mutual love of philosophy?), not least because Barry de Lore tends to shout all his lines to the front instead of engaging with the good friend who will soon make him his trusted confidante in an increasingly hostile world.
The afore-mentioned graveyard scene – with Le’ota as the Gravedigger and Skillington as the Priest – gets lots of laughs. I can’t say I am emotionally invested enough to suspend my disbelief and prior knowledge of the play enough to believe that Hamlet’s reconciliation speech to Laertes will lead to a ‘happy ending’. But the sword fight is spectacular, even if the fact that the swords get swapped is not as crystal clear as it could be, and the deaths and blood are convincing.
I am bewildered that this production touches me not when so much talent has been assembled to present it. I cannot help but wonder if fidelity to what has become the Pop-up Globe’s ‘house style’ – clearly popular with the comedies – has worked against giving the tragedies their due. As a thriller Hamlet rates high in the popular genre stakes. What a shame this production does not honour that.
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The stage bristles with action, response and counter-response
Review by Lindsay Clark 15th Jul 2019
After 400 years, legions of directorial interpretations in numerous languages and countless critical essays, not to mention baggage from personal encounters with text and productions of one sort or another, it could be supposed that an audience has little fresh to experience from an evening with Hamlet.
The miracle of the play is that it offers again and again insights into the basic business of life, death and memory, seen now, inevitably, through the lens of our own time and place.
The current production from the Pop-up Globe Nottingham’s Company, dedicated to accessibility, brings a little of the Jacobean playhouse to our experience too, with a purposefully crisp and active plot arrangement which eliminates any lingering shadowy notions about Shakespearean text. It would be hard not to anticipate the immortalised words of this play, but to the credit of director David Lawrence and his team, the vigour of this production allows no time for killer expectations to set in.
In the interests of playing time, the play has been artfully shortened. What we miss in political background and territorial skirmishes between Denmark and Norway, we gain in direct focus on filial relationships, and though the sacred vow Hamlet takes to avenge his royal father’s murder still fuels the action, the ultimate futility of human struggles, whether in war or love or duty, is the prevailing idea we explore most tellingly.
Nevertheless, this is no catalogue of moody encounters. A hallmark of the production is its vitality and every opportunity available or created to engage the audience directly is taken. There is no avoiding the contact of direct address, with multiple open invitations to enjoy the irony of many a situation, response or pause. The stage bristles with action, response and counter-response, so that the familiar text is lived to an extreme degree.
Indeed, for me, the mobility of hand and arms in particular seems irritatingly over-expressive in the early part of the play, as if words themselves could not be trusted with the significance of what is happening. Open-mouthed reactions to stage business for example, charge it with unjustified intensity, but by the time the perilous implications of Hamlet’s position are established, the immediacy of speech and action binds us in its spell.
The whole creative team contributes to this extraordinary experience. Malcolm Dale’s set design works beautifully for the larger purpose of the event, enclosing us in a single space with actors and musicians. More localised scenes such as the freezing battlements of Elsinore, are harder to believe, with hazing not quite compensating for the warmly lit space all around and the notoriously difficult appearances of old King Hamlet’s spectre are saved only by the utter conviction and vocal impact of the character (Hugh Sexton) and some very clever movement. We did not need the pyrotechnics of his sword.
Costume from Hannah Lobelson brilliantly underscores the robust treatment of character and situation by this expansive company. Generously detailed outfits inform us effortlessly as to rank and personality. There are challenges here, where gender blind casting has women in roles written for men, but as with the Ghost, their conviction takes us a long way towards acceptance. The sheer size of the cast, with doubled roles into the bargain, makes the achievement all the more creditable.
The blighted world of Elsinore then, is peopled by characters at once familiar and refreshed by the artistic visions at play. As the usurper king Claudius, Max Loban crafts a nuanced villain whose descent from bravado and pomp to wretched despair and terror is nicely calibrated. Serena Cotton’s Gertrude in her stiff brocade plays the status neatly, with glimpses of the desperate mother beneath, and some tender moments.
The other family drawn relentlessly into the revenge quicksands is established effectively by Asalemo Tofete as a well-intentioned but miserably blundering Polonius and Jonathan Tynan-Moss as his spirited son Laertes, who brings the intensity of youth to many a scene. In this he is matched by his sister, Ophelia, no longer the pastel victim of some productions but, from Summer Millet, an energised, frank young woman whose playing of her mad scene is one of the best I can remember.
At the tragic centre of it all is Adrian Hooke’s Hamlet. Advantaged by his height and easy physicality, he creates a sensitive, multifaceted character working passionately through events and relationships, facing ultimately the conclusion that the mystery at the heart of things cannot be expressed, let alone understood. On the way, he allows us to follow his innermost thoughts with the transparency of a fine actor.
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Dynamic, fast-paced, fun-filled
Review by Ruth Allison 06th Jul 2019
Hamlet is the ultimate tragedy: betrayal, madness, doubt and grief. At the end of the play four main characters lie dead on the stage, three very bloodied, and another four are already dead. The challenge is how to keep the unruly crowd in the pits entertained while at the same time deliver a powerful message about the consequences of taking revenge.
Ask the Pop-Up Globe Nottingham’s Company. Brandishing a mobile phone and getting a laugh every time it rings, even when the owner is dead, is one sure way. Holding a plastic coke bottle above a grave dug for Hamlet’s former girlfriend is another. To say nothing of the numerous asides ranging from TV adverts to Brexit. Whether this is completely successful will be up to the individual audience member. For example, asking us to believe that Ophelia sporting a garish pile of paperbacks is better than a ribbon wrapped collection of love letters is almost impossible.
For someone who remembers a gloomy, brooding Laurence Olivier and more recently a jeans and t-shirted David Tennant in the starring role, Adrian Hooke brings a more capricious Hamlet to life, at once excitable, wanton, vicious and inconsistent. Ably supported by boisterous, interchangeable characters, he definitely captures the crowds but his interpretation of the role of haunted and indecisive son is unconvincing at times.
Having said that, any theatre company – especially a New Zealand one – who can fill the house in Nelson deserves unstinting praise. The stage set (lighting aside as there didn’t seem to be any, probably in an attempt to re-create the outdoors of Shakespeare’s theatre), costumes and especially the first-rate musical accompaniment, from Louie McGlashan and Oscar West, provides serious visual and auditory stimulus.
As directed by David Lawrence this dynamic production drives swiftly through two-and-a-half-hours in a seamless presentation of changing scenes and characters – from a foppish Claudius (Max Loban) and the bawdy duo of Rosencrantz (Salesi Le’ota) and Guildenstern (Guildenstern) to a feminist Ophelia (Summer Millet).
There is never a moment when the cast does not look like it is enjoying itself and the audience response only promotes further back-chat.
A glossy, photo-packed programme recognises the innumerable people involved and the cost of such an endeavour. This is a fast-paced, fun-filled production. Long may the Company continue.
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Retains impact while being amusingly self-referential
Review by Barbara Frame 02nd Jul 2019
The Pop-up Globe’s Hamlet provides an interestingly multi-layered experience.
First, there’s the play itself – well presented, with acting that isn’t always extraordinary, but is highly competent throughout. Adrian Hooke demonstrates Hamlet’s pain, rage and confusion, Summer Millett’s Ophelia goes believably from appealing awkwardness to madness and death, and the corpse-strewn ending is as tragic as ever. Stage combat is well-choreographed and expertly performed.
Simultaneously, the audience is watching a closer-than-usual approximation of a performance in Shakespeare’s day. The detailed replica set is complemented by sumptuous costumes and live, authentic-sounding music. The dozen or so audience members lucky enough to have been assigned seats on the stage are guided to their seats by actors, who also lead the audience in clapping and cheering, and warm up on-stage during the interval. There is live, authentic-sounding music.
Yet this illusion, while seeming to take itself seriously, is cheerfully punctured by comic additions such as anachronistic outfits (those worn by the Players recall those of 20th century touring ensembles, bringing to mind J.B. Priestley’s Good Companions, and perhaps the Pop-up Globe ensemble themselves). At one point Ophelia carries what looks like stack of modern paperbacks; now and then a phone seems to ring offstage; a gravedigger drinks from a plastic water bottle. The set, so faithful in its details, also looks like a page opening in a pop-up book. Snatches of 21st century dialogue somehow find their way into the text.
All of this adds up to a Hamlet which retains its conventional impact, but is also amusingly self-referential. Director David Lawrence finds a balance between a grim tale and an exuberant production, and between Shakespeare’s day and our own, retaining the play’s essence while making the most of the script’s playful elements and finding opportunities to inject more.
It’s not the best, but certainly the most entertaining Hamlet I’ve seen. A good-sized audience clearly thought so too.
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A huge passion for Shakespeare is apparent in every moment
Review by Reuben Hilder 30th Jun 2019
The Pop-up Globe’s Hamlet is a visually stunning production. The costumes are detailed and have flair, the set is grand and there are some phenomenal effects throughout. In addition, live music is provided by Louie McGlashan and Oscar West who showcase their talents on a versatile array of instruments to fill in diegetic sound as well as constructing dramatic soundscapes to heighten the mood in some of the play’s pivotal moments. When this all comes together it gives a sense of richness to the scenes that makes them truly captivating to watch.
Two scenes in particular jump out here. The first is Hamlet’s confrontation with the ghost. Sound, special effects and one ingenious piece of costuming combine to make it a striking, tense and highly memorable interpretation of the scene. The second is the first appearance of the players and the rendition of the Hecuba speech. Here there is less reliance on special effects. Instead the players themselves work with a few props to produce an array of clever effects. Between this, the lively music and the heightened theatricality of it all, the scene feels so full of life and energy I cannot not help but be enthralled. Particular credit should be given to a common denominator between the two, Hugh Sexton, who commands fantastic presence first as the ghost, and then as the player king.
There are, however, a few points where this does not come together as well. The Regent is an unfortunately large venue and without microphones there were a few points where I struggle to hear what is being said on stage, particularly when the actors are faced away from the audience. This is also a way in which having live music sometimes works against the production as there are a few points where the music drowns out the lines. This is particularly tragic because when contrasted with the vibrancy of everything surrounding them, I find that these moments make their scenes feel a little flat, at least until I have adjusted to the new baseline.
Setting the volume aside, the acting is generally of very high calibre, although I do have some quibbles with the broader interpretation. Adrian Hooke, who plays Hamlet, says of the role in an interview published in the programme that “for the Pop-up Globe you need clearer lines. Your villains are villains, and your heroes are heroes.” This attitude seems in part to be guiding the direction of the play and results in it having less of the contemplative aura that I love about it, although that’s an entirely subjective gripe.
The cuts made to the play are also pretty ruthless, which I can imagine rubbing some people the wrong way. I can, however, see their necessity under the broader goal of keeping the play to an easily digestible two-and-a-half hour running time. Looking at the wider picture, I cannot deny the dramatic grandeur of the finished product, so I’m happy to accept these all as trade-offs rather than losses, especially when considering that the production was originally intended for a very different venue.
A huge passion for Shakespeare is apparent in every moment and it is definitely not one to miss.
Copyright © belongs to the reviewer
Editor July 3rd, 2019
Here is the link to Terry MacTavish's chat with Jesse Mulligan about the PopUp Globe tour of HAMLET and MEASURE FOR MEASURE, on RNZ Afternoons.