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Brighton Festival: The Rest is Silence review at Malthouse Estate Warehouse Brighton

It takes a while for your eyes to adjust to the dark. Following its ambitious and inventive rethinking of The Cherry Orchard in Brighton’s old Co-op Building, dreamthinkspeak has turned its attention to Hamlet. This time the company has converted a warehouse on a desolate stretch of coast road into a stark black cube. The walls of this space – designed by director Tristan Sharps and Robin Don – are lined with a series of windows behind which scenes from the play unfold, while the audience pivot and sidestep in order to keep track of the action. Filmed sequences are seamlessly incorporated into the mix and a screen has been set into the ceiling, enfolding the audience further into the world of the play.

Sharps has reorganised the text in a genuinely thought-provoking way, syncing scenes together, removing others, condensing the play into a taut 90 minutes. Edward Hogg’s Dane becomes less central to the narrative, one player among many, a man driven not just by revenge but by more elemental forces. Often he just sits and seethes while his key speeches are reported by other characters. In this way his words take on a different weight, his lines refracted, fractured and fragmented.

The production also uses the screens themselves in a variety of interesting ways. They have a reflective quality, which often comes into play, but they also act as barriers, emphasising the distance between the characters. There are some problematic elements to the staging, particularly with the final fatal grapple between Laertes and Hamlet – after they tumble to the ground much of what follows is obscured behind people’s craning heads – but for the most part this is a truly exciting production, a way of looking at the play afresh.

Production Information

Malthouse Estate Warehouse, Brighton, May 2-June 8

Author
William Shakespeare
Director
Tristan Sharps
Producer
dreamthinkspeak
Cast includes
Edward Hogg, Ruth Lass, Philip Edgerley, Bethan Cullinane, Richard Clews, Thorston Manderlay, Ben Ingles
Running time
1hr 30mins
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