The Hamlet Apocalypse

The Hamlet Apocalypse
La Boite Indie and The Danger Ensemble. Roundhouse Theatre (Qld). 24 Aug – 10 Sept 2011.

I am not bound to please thee with my answers. William Shakespeare.

This quote from the show’s promotions informs my impressions here.

I cannot accept that theatre should be nihilist. What happened onstage reflected what we experienced in a 70s QTC actor/director training course that included Geoffrey Rush, Bille Brown and a nun in our class of 20 plus. Explorations were no-holds-barred but, while valuable to us participants, outcomes were not exposed to the public for their criticism.

Recently I defined my personal criteria for creative writing (with overlaps for drama): Engage me; Hold my attention; Involve me with interesting characters; Make me care; Leave me satisfied or provoked or surprised.

From the start, this show alienated me: I abhor cross-stage lighting patterns that illuminate only one side of an actor. (Invariably another actor stands in the light and puts them in the dark.) Then I discovered the concept here was breaking existing theatre conventions. OK. Then came all the dust: Interesting, but all I could think of was the actors’ health.

Trying to perform (the essence of) Hamlet before the apocalypse (including a countdown with bright flashes and savage explosions) didn’t fulfil many of my criteria.

Yet there were many positive points: inspired improvisations, energetic performances, commitment, and confidence of actors tapping into their gut reaction. They ‘believed’ even when I didn’t.

There are obviously audiences for this type of dig-deep theatre relevant to this modern generation. Go for it.

Jay McKee

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