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The Tragedy of Hamlet the Prince of Denmark by William Shakespeare.
Demi Paradise Productions in association with Lancaster Castle.
19th February 2008
 
Demi Paradise Productions was founded in 2000 by Steven Tomlin for the performance of indoor promenade plays in the authentic setting of Lancaster Castle.  Previous productions have included Richard II, Measure for Measure, Alls Well That Ends Well,and Macbeth.  The company's latest production is Hamlet which opened on Tuesday.

This first performance was a 'pay what you can' night (cash only, first come first served). This is a new move by Demi Paradise productions obviously aimed at those whose purses can't stretch to the full £20 ticket price and perhaps to persuade others to give Shakespeare a chance. This really is a bargain and I advise people to look out for these performances in future. Numbers are limited to 60 per show and about 45 attended on Tuesday.

Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark is visited by the ghost of his recently deceased father (and former ruler) who confirms Hamlet's suspicions that his father had been killed by Hamlet's uncle Claudius who has since married Hamlet's mother the Queen. Claudius is now king.  Complicated and cunning plot and sub plot then unfold in which Hamlet attempts to prove his uncle's guilt and to exact his revenge ... or maybe he won't.
 
As can be expected from a professional company, all the acting was of a very high standard with stand out performances from Damien Warren-Smith (Hamlet), Claire Disley (Ophelia), and Thomas K. Lappin (Rozencrantz/Bernado/Priest/Osric).

For a first night the production appeared to go quite seamlessly which is surprising given how much the performance moves around Lancaster Castle.  Beginning outside on the cold ramparts, the play then moves into the Shire Hall.  At various times the action moves to the Crown Court, the ramparts, the stone staircases and Hadrian's Tower. Lancaster Castle is an ideal venue for this type of performance adding atmosphere and authenticity. The choral singing during the movement from one scene to the next echoes around the stone passages to great effect.

At times the players are very close and move through the audience.  Close eye contact is made with the audience  which adds to the experience for the audience and (I'm sure) the actors. Damien Warren-Smith (Hamlet) makes excellent use of this aspect of the promenade and it adds intensity to Hamlet's solliloques and asides.

This was a smaller audience than the maximum 60, but it was no less appreciative of the fine work  on display. The play runs until March 15 and it is selling out fast.

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