As part of its Autumn/Winter season, The Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield hosted the Northern Ballet’s Production of Hamlet.
Directed by David Nixon this enchanting production cut straight to the heart of Hamlet’s pain after the loss of his father.
As the second outing of Nixon’s production, the ballet still felt fresh as it took to the Sheffield stage.
The story opens in a gloomy, steam-filled Gare de L’est, followed by our first view of Ashley Dixon’s Hamlet.
Dixon plays a cold and creepy Hamlet, yet the audience remained compassionate and after the final downfall of Hamlet there was a shocked silence that filled the auditorium, showing obvious fondness for the character.
As a relative new comer to Hamlet, it is credit to all members of the creative team and the dancers that a tragedy with so any twists and turns, translates into pure movement on the stage.
Those familiar of Hamlet would be surprised to see this new adaptation is set in
Nazi occupied Paris. The use of Nazi uniforms, not only adds impact to the piece, but also helps a Shakespeare novice to distinguish between characters.
Being set in 1940, the costumes have to be taken from the time. For the male dancers, the military jackets and boots must have been uncomfortable and it is credit to a strong technique that they danced unfazed.
A key relationship of the play is translated into dance during the second act with the relationship between Hamlet and his mother Gertrude being defined by their pas-de-deux in the second act.
In the throws of passion and anger, Hamlet attempts to rape his mother. It is during this pas-de-deux that Gertrude finally understands the full extent of Hamlet’s anger.
The highlight of the production for me was Ophelia descending into madness, played in this production by Pippa Moore. As a key love interest, Ophelia helps us to see a lighter side of Hamlet.
The disappointment of this production was that Ophelia was murdered and did not drown, as depicted in one of my favourite paintings: Millais’ ‘Ophelia’.
The Northern Ballet tour of Hamlet continues.