Hamlet – Horatio's Tale

While making Shakespeare accessible is a commendable effort, this attempt to do so may alienate more than it encourages

Review by Dominic Corr | 03 Sep 2018
  • Hamlet - Haratio's Tale

Seeing the court from another view, taking Hamlet's best bud Horatio from the background and re-telling the narrative from his perspective is what is suggested by adaptor Nick Hennegan. The real tragedy here is what should have been. Presented as a one-woman show, performed staggeringly professionally by Kizzy Dunn, it is certainly adventurous if not successful.

Merit is due for its purpose to encourage an easier grasp of Shakespeare's Hamlet but in its condensed state this ideology is lost. The crushed format of the show makes it difficult at times to watch. Utterly bombastic, even the staunchest lover of Shakespeare would find it difficult to keep track of Hamlet – Horatio's Tale. Many of the sequences are too flippant, the character direction too similar from one to the next. It all begins to jumble. 

Dunn impressively takes on each and every role outside of ol' Hamlet, whose voice is provided by performing legend Sir Derek Jacobi. Her range is diverse, intense and unique, though there are moments where it becomes difficult to know which character she is portraying, only recognisable by their lines to those familiar with the text. When it works, she ensnares the audience in her pathos; as it fails we become completely disenchanted. It cannot be stressed enough that while directed intention seems to fail, Dunn's performance is what saves the production. 

What is lost, though, is its intent. This isn't Hamlet from Horatio's perspective: it's a one-woman show of Hamlet. While Dunn carries it well, this wasn't the intended narrative and the result is a disconnected audience.

Hamlet - Horatio's Tale, Assembly Rooms, Until Aug 26, £10-£8

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