Sign in or
First Night for the English Ambassador
The situation was bizarre. The audience arrived to find actors pacing outside the theatre, throwing tennis balls, muttering quietly in corners, or laughing rather too loudly. The nervous energy was palpable.
At 7 30 exactly the games began. The theatre was set up with actors and audience intermingled surrounding a small space with a table in the middle of it and the collected props on top. Stomachs turned as the play was cast, Ifan leapt up as Barnado and there we were on the battlements.
Throughout the night, as actors threw themselves in, it was like watching chicks leaping from the nest. However, although (‘pity tis tis true’) chicks learn to fly without safety nets.. Anyway, we had two. The first being the text, which hopefully didn’t have any holes in, and the second being the support from the rest of the company, which definitely did not.
The play had really taken flight by the time we arrived on the battlements again, and as Hamlet made Marcellus and Horatio swear their allegiance with a bottle of wine, I realized just how rare it was to be so excited about the rest of a play. The set changed into traverse and we hurtled on. I don’t think many did take the proposed pee breaks between the acts, you didn't want to pee, you wanted to know what happened.
Ophelia then gave us such an urgent account of Hamlet in a frenzy that we were scared he would burst in and catch us. The stakes were high and Polonius, with his clothes peg and thus his status clipped firmly to him, went to tell the King and Queen that Hamlet was potty with the help of a feathery pen. Hamlet then covered the stage and most of the audience in coffee and goo, and although Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were convinced of madness, we had an eye of him. At that point in time there wasn’t a better way of playing the scene, I never realized a coffee pot could be so interesting. Then, as testament to the goodwill in the room, when ‘the players’ were announced all the factory members stood.
For the third act the stage was end on. One of my favorite images of the night was at this point. When knowledge and innocence appeared side by side as Hamlet questioned whether life was worth enduring and behind him, Ophelia sat playing with a doll. Both were completely occupied and unaware of the other and the contrast in the picture was so striking, so painful, and like a snapshot of life, so unplanned.
The play within the play was brilliantly puppeteered using a radio and a wine bottle. Headphones were used to receive messages, Hamlet’s letter was heard through the radio, the Captain was not speaking truthfully until he removed his eye mask, the grave was filled with buttons – which was somehow brilliant. The props were bravely and impressively used, however, I can’t remember them all because as clever as they were, they were not the main event. The main event was the story.
I had never been so compelled to watch, and so completely oblivious to any another distraction. For those few hours all that mattered was taking place in that moment, in that room. Proper theatre.
Latest page update: made by TimEvans
, Nov 29 2007, 8:38 AM EST
(about this update
About This Update
Moved from: The First Performances
No content added or deleted.
- complete history)
Keyword tags: review
More Info: links to this page
|Started By||Thread Subject||Replies||Last Post|
|SarahBedi||proper theatre||0||Sep 17 2007, 6:20 AM EDT by SarahBedi|
Showing 1 of 1 threads for this page