Review: The Rest is Silence, Riverside Studios ★★

Dreamthinkspeak’s proposition is intriguing: confronting the implicit voyeurism of theatre head on, they offer windows onto Hamlet’s world, trapping the audience within the space of Shakespeare’s play by literally confining them in an enclosed, dark room bordered on all sides by vast perspex screens. Left in this empty space, we are free to roam at will, to turn from window to window, directing our gaze as our curiosity guides us. The only problem is that any true curiosity excited by this production is minimal.

As the title recognises, this is not Hamlet as we know it. Dreamthinkspeak have taken considerable liberties with Shakespeare’s text, roughly chopping and intersecting scenes, a scissor-happy approach that would not necessarily be a problem if it achieved some new illumination. Instead the famous “to be or not to be” soliloquy, robbed from Edward Hogg’s brooding emo Hamlet, is butchered to questionable ends, while new juxtapositions add little to our understanding of the scenes.

Despite some visually arresting projections and a few pleasing moments that emerge from the playful attitude to the text, the physical barriers erected by dreamthinkspeak ultimately become barriers to engagement; what sets out to allow its audience to interact with the texture of the piece in fact ends up inhibiting interactivity.

** (2 stars)
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