I don’t know how this is going to work. Part of what I love about Hamlet is how beautiful the soliloquies sound when you say them out loud. Can this complex story translate to a workable ballet?
The setting has moved from Denmark to 1940s Paris. The story has changed quite a bit too. The play to catch out Claudius has gone, Ophelia is murdered by the SS instead of committing suicide, and not everyone dies by the same hand as in the play.
I’m always a little sceptical when my favourite books are transformed into another medium. It’s just never as good. But I have no qualms about saying this will be amazing. Over the past couple of years I’ve seen the Northern Ballet perform Romeo and Juliet and Wuthering Heights. Both times I was in awe. It’s not that they’re technically any better than other companies, but they always convey emotion so powerfully through both set designs and dancers. I feel like a loser for saying it, but the only time I’ve felt compelled to give a standing ovation was after their Wuthering Heights, and I don’t even like the novel.
Just as a disclaimer, I’m not a fan of traditional ballets like Giselle with long sequences with the corps de ballet (though I’m sure it’s technically very difficult). I love the passion of the pas de deux and strong storytelling and characters. I don’t know art but I know what I like.
If you’ve not been to a ballet before, I definitely recommend buying the programme (or borrowing someone else’s). Scan through the blurb about what’s going to happen in each act before it starts. That way you can just sit back and enjoy without trying to work out who’s who and what’s what. With the number of changes to the original story, I think it would be worth doing for this production.
I’m aware I’m recommending something I haven’t actually seen. But I’m already sure it will be brilliant. You can check out all the info and performance dates (Leeds, Sheffield, London) at http://www.northernballet.com/index.php?q=hamlet