18 October 2023
Writing: Sreeja Bhakta (Year 12)
Editing: Arran Dhanda (Year 12)
A palpable sense of anticipation hung in the air as we took our seats in the theatre, for tonight was a journey into the captivating world of "Hamnet," a play adaptation of the book by Maggie O’Farrell, that promised to transport us through time and emotion, crafting a story as intricate and mysterious as the man who inspired it - William Shakespeare's enigmatic son. The play adaptation, crafted by Lolita Chakrabarti, a playwright known for her work on ‘The Life of Pi,’ revolved around three essential storylines.
First, it delved into the enchanting tale of how William and Agnes met, exuding the nature of their romance and drawing us into the world of their budding relationship. The vivid portrayal swept the audience up in the intensity of their connection.
The second storyline explored the heartbreaking illness of their son, Hamnet. This part of the play evoked a profound sense of empathy and sorrow for their situation, intensely distressing.
The final narrative thread delved into the aftermath of grief that inspired Shakespeare to write the iconic play, ‘Hamlet.’ This portion of the play was thought-provoking and captivating, as it unravelled the creative process and emotional turmoil that led to the birth of a literary masterpiece.
The stage was designed with an innovative touch, resembling an embryonic wooden O, with an upper level that cleverly transformed into the Globe’s galleries for the final scenes. Props were brought in and out, creating a dynamic stage that was bathed in bright light, ensuring that every element of the action was visible.
The actors delivered strong performances, with Madeleine Mantock as Agnes standing out as the unconventional and independent spirit. While Tom Varey’s portrayal of Will felt consistent, it left room for exploration within the multifaceted dimensions of Shakespeare. Ajani Cabey’s portrayal of Hamnet was touching, and the scenes between him and his twin, played by Alex Jarrett, were genuinely moving. The supporting cast injected much vitality into the production.
In conclusion, our trip to see ‘Hamnet’ was certainly a rich and emotionally resonant experience. The play successfully brought the essence of O’Farrell’s novel to life, and the performances were commendable. It certainly left us with a deeper appreciation for the complexities of Shakespeare’s life and art.