Shakespeare’s Globe brings Hamlet to Lahore

Published 02 Apr, 2016 10:44am

Shakespeare’s Globe started its world tour in 2014, performing Hamlet across the world before coming to Pakistan

Naeem Hayat (right) played Hamlet in the performance yesterday
Naeem Hayat (right) played Hamlet in the performance yesterday

LAHORE: Shakespeare’s Globe started its world tour in 2014, performing Hamlet, the Bard’s most famous tragedy, across the world before coming to Pakistan -- its 197th country.

The touring company on Friday performed Hamlet at Kinnaird College’s amphitheatre that was packed to capacity.

The character of Hamlet, the chief protagonist, was played by Naeem Hayat, who, though London-born, but belongs to a Pakistani family, struck all the right chords with the audience. Ophelia, the love of Hamlet, was played by Amanda Wilkin who takes after her Jamaican mother. This made the main characters more relevant to Lahorites, who had been reading Hamlet for ages.

Hamlet is one the four most famous tragedies of Shakespeare. It is the story of a prince whose father is killed by his uncle Claudius, and his mother, Gertrude, marries the uncle. The young philosophical mind is lost in confusion and his behaviour appears to be of a madman as he attempts to find the truth of his father’s sudden death. In this pursuit of truth, he loses his friends and love.

Except the facility of a stage everything in the production was from the Shakespeare’s Globe and the audience responded well to the actors, who delivered every dialogue with clarity in British accent.

The long soliloquies of Hamlet, including the most famous “To be, or not to be, that is the question” and “O, that this too too sullied flesh would melt/thaw and resolve itself into a dew”, were delivered with immaculate precision, reminding the dialogue to the audience that mostly consisted of current and former students of Kinnaird. The background music given by the actors themselves, quick costume changes and the set were flawless.

The actors besides playing the roles also performed stock characters. Keith Bartlett, who played Claudius, the antagonist, played the ghost of Hamlet’s father as well as that of a stage actor. Hamlet’s friend Horatio, who became famous through a dialogue in the play -- “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio/than are dreamt of in your philosophy”, was played by Jennifer Leong.

A statement released by Shakespeare’ Globe stated: “In celebration of the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth on April 23, 2014, we have opened our Hamlet, which has gone on a brain-defying, logistics-confounding tour of every country in the world -- yes, all 197 (at the last count). It is part of continuing ambition to promote an open and joyous conversation across languages and borders through the medium of Shakespeare and theatre. We have travelled across northern Europe, North, Central and South America, North and East Africa, Australasia, The Pacific Islands, Asia before turning towards the Middle East.”


Originally published in Dawn, April 2nd, 2016