Last year, Joshua McGuire played Hamlet in Dominic Dromgoole's production; Bill Buckhurst now restages it with Michael Benz taking over the title role. A troupe of eight actors tells the story of the Prince of Denmark, whose father's ghost informs him he was murdered and demands revenge; but Hamlet's racked by doubts that keep him from taking action against his villainous uncle.
There's an underused wooden frame at the back of Jonathan Fensom's set design but for the most part scene changes are done by placing a number of planks and steps in different configurations which, like the rest of the staging, makes a point of ingeniously stretching the production's bare resources. This is a comparatively short Hamlet (the edit takes its structure, if not its text, from the First "Bad" Quarto) that hits all the major story points and is as clear as it could conceivably be with so few actors doubling up so many roles, and doing a nice job of distinguishing between them. It does still have a bit of the feel of an experiment though, of seeing just how few actors you can get away with using to tell this epic story.
Hamlet by William Shakespeare is booking in repertory until the 1st of September at Shakespeare's Globe; then continuing on tour to Washington DC, New York, Boston, UC Davis, Santa Barbara, Arcata and Santa Monica.
Running time: 2 hours 45 minutes including interval.