The Prince Hamlet

Theatre in Toronto can, at times, become stagnated with old ideas from even older plays. The city desperately needs directors that will take some risks and attempt to infuse their own concepts and forms on the works they are putting up. That way theatre here has a chance to transcend itself. Thus we have The Prince Hamlet, written and directed by Ravi Jain with the members of Why Not Theatre.

The production fuses movement and text in an exciting way to keep the story interesting and more importantly, clear for audiences. Visual imagery helps to fill in gaps that sometimes can get confusing when passions speed through moments. Another important point is Jain's obvious attempt to connect to his audience and give them a new understanding of Shakespeare's classic piece.

"Theatre is something for everyone", Jain says, "..it is about stories and imagination. It should be able to include everyone, and provoke our imaginations, thoughts and ideas. It should also be fun, like a magic show. Theatre is a dialogue, a conversation."

Hamlet is a fairly simple story to tell, much harder to convey and far more complex to comprehend. The Prince has recently returned from Wittenberg (University) to find that his father, the king, is dead and that his uncle has usurped not only the crown but the queen his mother as well. All this in a matter of months. Things come to a head when Hamlet realizes that it was his uncle who murdered his father. Thus begins the story of Hamlet's journey through self torture and anguish as he tries to decide what to do. To, perhaps, take his own life (To Be or Not to Be) or to kill the king.

"The story is about a young man who is trying to understand how to be in his time, and how to do the thing he must do. He is trying to understand what his purpose is and how does he deal with loss, pain and suffering and still move on."

But how does one move on? Jain attempts to explore these psychological characters so craftily invented by the Bard. When written in poetic verse there does sometimes become a difficulty in audiences understanding what is being said. In Shakespeare's work what is most important to understand are the argument's each character is making. If that is clear to the actor than the audiences will get it.

"I want to get to know the audience here in Toronto. I want to see what their response is so that we can start a dialogue. I also wanted to find a link between the classical audiences and the avant garde, to try and make something for everyone, young and old. So far i think we
have succeeded, but there is still a long way to go."

Very true. But an intriguing and passionate start so far.

The Prince Hamlet, brought to you Why Not Theatre, runs until October 21st at the Winchester Street Theatre.


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