My Hamlet with Linda Marlowe
That’s the way to be or not to be
This article is from 2010.
This reinterpretation of Hamlet is interesting on several levels beyond the marketing tagline (‘Linda Marlowe does Hamlet! With puppets!). Yes, it’s essentially a one-person show, with Marlowe doing all the voices, but then perhaps there’s an argument to be made that Hamlet is essentially a one-man show anyway.
In boiling an unwieldy play down to a size that can comfortably be played by one actor, in an hour, it becomes more immediate and accessible, without losing too much of its impact. The elegant framing narrative, establishing the whole show as the final performance of Eastern European theatre-cleaner Sarah, riffs delicately off Shakespeare’s story, as well as tipping a hat to the best known immigrant female Hamlet, Ms Bernhardt.
Although she is, actually, a great Hamlet, as the other characters Marlowe’s performance can veer into hamminess at times (her take on Polonius, for example), but she’s reined in, strange as it might sound, by the extraordinary grace of her co-stars, created by Georgian puppet-masters Fingertips and so subtly manipulated that each flutter of a tiny wooden hand can convey great emotion.
Assembly Rooms, 623 3030 until 29 Aug (not 24), 5.20pm, £11 (£10).