Published on June 3rd, 2012 | by Adnan M.0
National Ballet’s Hamlet – A magical interpretation of an iconic story
Shakespeare; a name that is recognized around the world. A poet & playwright who’s writing truly changed society’s perception and interpretation of literature. He passed away nearly 400 years ago but his works still challenge the creative capacities of artists today. One of his most prominent works is Hamlet, written roughly in the early 1600′s. Set in the Kingdom of Denmark, the story follows young Prince Hamlet and his journey to exact revenge on his uncle Claudius for murdering his father, and Claudius’s brother, King Hamlet. The story is one of Shakespeare’s most powerful, one that redefines the depth a character can reach when displaying emotions. Hamlet has been adapted many times in various forms. Now, its magic comes in the form of a ballet.
The National Ballet presents the North American premiere of Hamlet, choreographed by Ballett Mannheim’s Artistic Director Kevin O’Day. Featuring Guillaume Côté as Hamlet and Heather Ogden as Ophelia on opening night, O’Day’s Hamlet takes Shakespeare’s iconic tragedy and transforms it into a visual masterpiece. O’Day uses the father-son relationship as a base to this production, stating that Hamlet’s thoughts and actions are influenced by his relationship to his father, no matter how much he tries to distance himself from him. The idea of relationships is clearly seen in this production, which puts a spotlight on Hamlet from the very beginning and then effectively constructs, piece-by-piece, the struggles that Hamlet faces, not just with himself, but with those around him.
Shakespeare’s Hamlet tests the emotional capacity of his characters and O’Day’s Hamlet not only delivers that but exceeds expectations. The dancers don’t just portray their respective characters, they embrace every fiber of their characters emotional state. Guillaume Côté lets his body simply shout-out out the inner conflict Hamlet struggles with, fighting between the need for action and the need to remain true to himself. Every movement of his body visualizes rage and hardship that allows the audience to feel Hamlet’s inner struggle. Heather Ogden’s portrayal of Ophelia is so powerful, you feel for her character. The moment that Ophelia loses her mind, Ogden’s performance captures every bit of that insanity to such a level, you are moved by her performance. Every dancer brings a unique characteristic to each of their characters via their performance, whilst still being able to complement each other’s performances. It truly is a beautiful sight on stage.
What O’Day and company have done is take something as iconic as Hamlet, a masterpiece by a legendary writer, and give it new meaning in a new form. When silence takes over and the lights shine down upon Côté, you feel drawn in, wanting to feel every moment, every inch of movement. You are presented with this simple set, designed by Tatyana van Walsum, that avoids being a distraction but still adds value to each dancer’s performance. The set, the magical soundscape by John King, and the brilliant choreography by O’Day come together to bring you Shakespeare’s Hamlet in a form that simply captivates you from start to finish. If Shakespeare were with us today, he would be proud.