16/04/2013 - 21/04/2013
Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. A royal prince is missing, the media are having a field day and the music of the Thieves of Mercy has been banned.
Thus the madness starts in this deconstructed production of Hamlet in which the audience travel through the highways and byways of Puzzling World to figure out what has happened to the errant prince. Given the option to follow either “To be” or “Not to be” you’ll encounter the characters and best bits of Shakespeare’s play, up close on a personal journey.
On offer are the Players, suitably Elizabethan with plenty of foolery, along with live baroque music. In contrast, an underground gig will feature the original sounds of the Thieves of Mercy. Walk into the Great Maze by moonlight as you head towards a climactic conclusion in what promises to be an unparalleled encounter with Hamlet.
A Wanaka original featuring local artists, performance students from Mount Aspiring High School, and the internationally acclaimed Puzzling World – this could happen nowhere else. New Zealand’s leading director Sara Brodie comes back to Wanaka for this unique take on Shakespeare.
Admission: $25 adults/$10 students
This is an outdoor processional show that involves walking and standing. Please wear flat shoes and warm clothing
Venue: Puzzling World, Wanaka
Stimulating theatre in a labyrinthine setting
Review by Sue Wards 17th Apr 2013
Director Sara Brodie does it again for Wanaka’s Festival of Colour, wrangling a large cast of mixed experience and talent to produce an action-packed and intellectually stimulating theatre experience.
The adventure begins on arrival as you are assigned either To Be or Not To Be, before each group moves off in a different direction. In the deconstructed scenes which follow (edited to 80 minutes), familiar and expected phrases and scenes occur in unexpected places, often delivered by unexpected characters.
Not only are audience members required to work their brains (in my case feverishly) aligning the action to Hamlet’s plot, we also work physically as we move from scene to scene via the corridors, stairways, walkways and exhibition rooms of Wanaka’s Puzzling World.
The venue lends itself well to the processional approach, with scenes viewed from above, below, around corners and through windows, or more intimately, directly in front of you. It works a treat (although I hear the occasional mutter of “I have no idea what’s going on” as well as the excited “Off we go again!”).
As a “Not to be”, we are well through the play before I begin to doubt Hamlet himself will make an appearance, then he does: larger than life via a Skype screen. It’s a great device which highlights Mattias Inwood as a tousled Gen Y Hamlet. It’s also an example of the pleasing juxtaposition of modern and Elizabethan (echoed in the venue, where holograms rub shoulders with historic figures), along with a jester in Doc Martens, courtiers with cell phones and Ophelia in fishnet stockings.
The rock band Thieves of Mercy is a stand-out example, providing contrast between resplendent royals and rock chicks. What’s more, the band, comprised of local high school students singing their original songs, absolutely rocks, and the diverse audience seems to appreciate them. As we leave the Thieves of Mercy gig for the next scene, I overhear an elderly man tell his wife, “It was perfect with my hearing aid turned down – I heard all the words.”
Later, a beautifully pitched (in more ways than one) scene where the Thieves of Mercy singers face off against the icily elegant Queen Gertrude provides some of the loveliest moments in the play.
To Bes and Not To Bes come together for the final scene, which doesn’t deviate from the approach so far: in this fascinating mash-up, Hamlet’s famous soliloquy is delivered by the whole cast, and the final moments could give Guy Ritchie some ideas.
Labyrinthine in setting and nature, Tracing Hamlet is an engrossing piece of theatre which satisfies my senses and keeps my brain whirring for the rest of the evening.
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