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William Shakespeare

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Dostoevsky's Heaven & Berkoff's Hell
Graft - Tales of an Actor
Stunning the Punters
The Gospel of Matthew
The Gospel of Matthew by Candlelight
The Man Who Was Hamlet
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Against the Odds
Dostoevsky's Dream of a Ridiculous Man
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Hell & Other Tales
The Remembrance of Edgar Allan Poe
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Photos by David Usill & Charlie Baker
George Dillon as Hamlet, photo by Charlie Baker Denise Evans as Gertrude and George Dillon as Hamlet, photo by Charlie Baker Simon Merrells as Horatio, Ross Gurney-Randall as Marcellus and George Dillon as Hamlet, photo by David Usill Beth Fitzgerald as Ophelia and George Dillon as Hamlet, photo by Charlie Baker Colin Fisher as Polonius and George Dillon as Hamlet, photo by David Usill


by William Shakespeare

Shakespeare's greatest tragedy stripped bare. Two hours of sex, comedy, murder & madness!

An incredible Hamlet.  George Dillon's production brilliantly taps into the headlong madness of the play... It's fast, physical and frequently hilarious. Unmissable. 

This is a bizarre production that will infuriate as many as it inspires.  You can only go and make up your own mind. 

An ensemble of seven performers, two musicians and a talking dog use minimal settings and maximum imagination to create a players' Hamlet; a feast of raw acting power.  Hamlet, often misconceived as a delicate melancholic, is here revealed as Shakespearean audiences saw him - the assured and angry avenger, disguising his true intentions behind the mask of insanity - a classic Man of Action.  

A fusion of theatrical traditions - European and Japanese, classical and modern - and a diverse range of music both live and recorded, ranging from Noh-inspired flute & drum, via Jazz saxophone and minimalist violin to the mock heroics of Sergio Leone and even Pulp Fiction!  This Hamlet is, paradoxically, both uniquely original but also studiously faithful to Shakespeare and makes for a highly accessible, entertaining, and provocative theatrical experience. 

I thought I knew Hamlet - until George Dillon got hold of it!  His version starts with one of the most audacious decisions in theatrical history.  I was deeply curious to see what Dillon would do with Hamlet, and now see what all his previous adulatory reviewers were on about.  He is physical, intense, a chameleon of an actor.  One moment he is tearing your heart out, the next he is clowning around.  His unusual face can transform itself from tragic melancholy to malignant imp in a flash.  Hamlet needs a dangerous actor to play him, and George Dillon is one such, with both the physical and vocal discipline to carry the whole thing off. I recommend it highly.
Scintillatingly Shakespearean, feverish and compelling, the production draws its inspiration, in terms of courtly hierarchy from Japan; the company come kitted out in vaguely Samurai costume, Hamlet and Laertes fling themselves into kendo combat, and impassive musicians sit at either side of an otherwise bare stage.  In terms of acting, it is full throttle School of Berkoff; swift and brutal, the seven actors posturing, scuttling, roaring and whispering, snatching each moment for instant effect.  Hurling aside the less-is-more style of acting, Dillon frequently gives us the exact reverse.  His Hamlet, already hyperactive, is, when feigning madness, absolutely barking.  Behind all this simmers a restless, constrained maverick, a natural fighter contemptuous of his fellow man and finally brought low by cool, malign authority. You can't take your eyes off it for a second.  Dillon's performance bursts with swaggering vitality.  It is never less than idiosyncratic, and alternately perverse, virile, willful, illuminating and extravagant, and sometimes all five at once.  His vocal control is astonishing. 
I can honestly say George Dillon's Hamlet is one of the most entertaining productions I've seen.  It's full of innovations. George is an exceptional talent and the role could have been written for him. Few productions of this play hold the attention as much as this because you never know quite what to expect. 
As director Dillon has drawn on the notion of Hamlet as a potential Everyman by treating the play as a meeting point of theatre traditions, (Hamlet as samurai) while comic buffoonery surrounds Guildenstern and Rosencrantz, the one a camp figure, the other a gruff glove puppet dog - palace poodles the pair. Unsurprisingly for someone who has worked closely with Steven Berkoff, Dillon provides a strongly physical theatre, often to thrilling effect.  No, not the complete Hamlet but as vital and alive as you'll find.

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(as of Sunday, 16 May 2021)

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[Updated - 19 March 2006]
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