A variation on the preview disclaimer: This is a touring production with only a week's run in Greenwich so I don't think there's a preview period as such, but apparently this was only the second public performance so bear that in mind.
There's been two very high-profile Hamlets in the last 18 months so nothing wrong with a lo-fi one before the next biggie arrives this summer. Andy had a spare ticket for a production right here in Greenwich, which is the rather odd choice of place to launch a Glaswegian take on the play. Michael Emans' modern-dress production is supposedly set among a set of Glasgow mobsters, but apart from David Tarkenter's rather good Claudius there's hardly any real hint of this in the production. Certainly not in Grant O'Rourke as Hamlet; he actually gives a pretty good performance as a somewhat geeky, excitable prince, but by no means one who's been raised by hardened criminals and is expected to take over the business some day. O'Rourke's also overwhelmed by the most famous speech, but these things aside I liked him, a rather cuddlier Hamlet than the recent skinny ones, and I really enjoyed him turning into a giggly fanboy when the Player King turns up. Mostly the actors aren't bad but the direction lets them down: Making cuts to Hamlet's text is nothing new, but some of Emans' edits seem downright eccentric, and especially at the start seem to slow the action down rather than speed it up (largely by cutting some long scenes into smaller ones and moving the order around, meaning more set changes - Andy in particular found the abrupt set changes took him right out of the action.) But if they're still making changes, what the company should most look at is the sound design (no sound designer is credited.) While the actors are full of professionalism, the sound effects that abruptly start and stop, or the scene changes that have the same song played over them time and time again, are horribly amateurish and reflect on the whole production. In a lot of ways this is a group of talented actors doing well in the face of a low budget, but having a harder job up against a lack of attention to detail in many areas.
Hamlet by William Shakespeare is booking until the 13th of February at the Greenwich Theatre, with plans to tour after that.