Thursday, 20 October 2011

The Rehearsal, Playing the Dane, Pan Pan Theatre, OCt 18, 2011 ****

The Rehearsal, Playing the Dane

By Pan Pan Theatre, Dublin, Ireland
Melbourne Festival, Merlyn Theatre, Malthouse,  Oct 18 - 22, 2011
Reviewed by: Kate Herbert on Oct 18, 2011

Published in Herald Sun on Oct 21, 2011 and on line at
Hamlet may be mad but The Rehearsal, Playing the Dane, is bonkers. It takes Shakespeare’s tragedy, Hamlet Prince of Denmark, by the neck, shakes it roughly then dumps it into a rubbish bin.

The production by Irish company Pan Pan Theatre is both remarkable and frustrating, alternately engaging then alienating the audience with its cheerful parody of an actors’ audition for the role of Hamlet and its dark interpretation of monologues and scenes from the play.

It is an absurd collision of styles and content, a deconstruction that is both hilarious and puzzling, particularly to an audience that does not know Hamlet well.

It begins with an academic (Sue Tweg), accompanied by a glossy, well-behaved Great Dane (Yes, the dog), reading literary criticism about Hamlet, its language and various versions.

A dour director (Gavin Quinn, the actual director of the production) sitting grimly behind a large table with his team, punishingly auditions three actors.

After performing various scenes and Hamlet’s monologues, the audience then votes for the Hamlet they want to see in the role after interval.

The acting is impeccable from the cast of seven from this Irish company. Derrick Devine plays a scruffy auditionee, Conor Madden a manic actor with an eye patch and Bashir Moukarzel a tentative, likeable actor who seems to be the on-stage director’s favourite Hamlet.

In the second half, we see a dislocated version of Hamlet and, although one actor is cast as Hamlet, the other two auditionees echo his dialogue and reflect his movements.

The Players scene merges comically and tragically with Ophelia’s funeral and the gravedigger’s antics – performed by local school students – and Ophelia’s mad scene follows, performed heart-breakingly by Judith Roddy.

Andrew Bennett is a powerful Claudius and gives a compelling and innovative rendition of Old Hamlet’s ghost. He walks in darkness, lit only by a hand-held lamp and reflected in a mirror, his voice fading as he disappears behind the audience and out the theatre doors.

Daniel Reardon’s Polonius, is frail and dithering and Gina Moxley as Gertrude is feisty and sassy.

A quirky design by Aedin Cosgrove and the audacious vision of director, Gavin Quinn, incorporating contemporary theatrical techniques with classical text and make this a startling, if somewhat bewildering production that is both hilarious and poignant.


Bashir Moukarzel– Hamlet
Derrick Devine - Hamlet
Conor Madden – Hamlet – Chosen Hamlet on Opening nIght
Gina Moxley           Gertrude
Daniel Reardon Polonius
Judith Roddy  Ophelia
Andrew Bennett - Claudius

Creative Team
Directed by Gavin Quinn
Text Hamlet by William Shakespeare
Designer Aedín Cosgrove
Costume & Prop Design Sarah Bacon
Dramaturg Simon Doyle

Local Players and special thanks to
The Casting Director Kylie McCormack
The Academic Sue Tweg

The Great Dane
Absolute Dane My Gentleman (Santi) and Owner The Ven. Eden-Elizabeth Nicholls
The Great Dane 2 Monteral Full Circle (Gertie) and Owner Frances Hammer

Trinity Grammar School, Kew –Drama Students
Player 1 / Queen Tim Dennett
Player 2 / Understudy Fred Hiskens
Player 3 / Gravedigger 2 William Lodge
Gravedigger 1 Alex Hatzikostas
Hamlet Thomas Little
Horatio Andrew Kondopoulos
Laertes Liam McCoppin
Priest Atticus Lyon
King Nick Wood


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