Review: Hamlet, Manor Gardens, Bexhill, Saturday, July 30 by Lynda Turner

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HAMLET may well be one of Shakespeare’s longest tragedies but there was nothing tragic about Bexhill Amateur Theatrical Society’s (BATS) take on the play as it pulled out all the stops to perform an outstanding abridged version at the Manor Gardens.

Director Lawry Rhodes expertly edited what was originally around a whopping four- hour play into a little over two hours. Cleverly maintaining the comedic element to the performance while keeping the best known speeches intact ensured the core elements of treachery, revenge and retribution, ambition, indecision, moral corruption, along with real and feigned madness, were perfectly depicted.

Superbly cast with outstanding performances from both young and older actors, including many familiar faces, ensured the characters they portrayed were bought to life.

Appearing in a Shakespeare production does not require an actor to merely eloquently speak and remember all the lines but to evoke the depth and emotion that the bard’s words impart while maintaining the energy and gusto throughout the entire play and BATS’ performers gave it their all in this production.

Following in the footsteps of many a fine actor to tread the boards in the title role, including Sir John Geilgud, Richard Burton and Jude Law, Max Mayher gave an outstanding performance as Hamlet. Word perfect despite many long speeches, he positively mesmerised the audience.

Clever lighting, a brilliantly choreographed duel, and an excellent musical score added to the magic of the evening. Occasionally the timing of some of the music meant the actors were battling to make themselves heard, and there may have been a ‘nipping and eager air’ in the grounds of the Manor Barn but the lack of a balmy summer evening did not detract from another successful BATS open air production.