Review by Lucy Eyre

****.5 stars

Pop-up Globe is in Perth for a limited season and is proving to be warmly and eagerly welcomed by Perth audiences. The replica of London’s Globe Theatre is breathtaking: displaying the Bard’s words and image on the outside; and a spectacular stage and auditorium on the inside. The experience of entering the theatre is worth the price of a ticket, but then to be treated to the lively and intelligent performances of some of Shakespeare’s most loved and respected plays is a joy not to be missed.

The idea that only Shakespeare’s comedies can succeed in popular forums was debunked when opening night of the tragic masterpiece, Hamlet, had a full house. The audience was instantly mesmerised by this production, which continued throughout.

Three of the four plays showing at Pop-up Globe are directed by Dr Miles Gregory, therefore, Hamlet is the only play of the season to be directed by David Lawrence. When the ghost of Hamlet’s father appears and discloses that he was murdered by his brother, Hamlet’s uncle, who is now married to his mother, the subsequent plot of Hamlet portrays the struggle of this young man to come to terms with the revelation.

Lawrence’s direction skilfully highlights the trajectory of Hamlet’s struggle by emphasising how it is exacerbated by the realisation that those around him, those who he thought he could rely on, and trust, are either indifferent to his plight, or are colluding with his uncle. Adrian Hooke’s remarkable performance as Hamlet portrays the intricacies of his shifting mindset, and the disappointment and hurt toward those he feels are betraying him.

Hugh Sexton’s stage presence is captivating. As The Ghost (even masked) he exudes a physical and vocal intensity that, quite rightly, received a round of applause. He is equally magnetic as Player King, displaying, in both roles, a seemingly natural aptitude to deliver Shakespeare’s text with emotion and clarity.

Summer Millett’s performance as Ophelia felt too understated at first, however, the scenes when we witness her descend into madness were fascinating, disturbingly so. Millett showed a powerful connection to the core of this character.

Other notable performances were by Barry de Lore as Horatio and Frith Horan as Marcellus who set the tone for the play. Max Loban finds subtleties in the conniving King Claudius, while Madeleine Lynch is suitably stoic as Queen Gertrude. Jonathan Tynan-Moss brings a quiet sincerity to the shell-shocked and distraught Laertes, and Asalemo Tofete had fun with the audience as the very busy and popular Polonius, Lord Chamberlain.

Costume designs by Bob Capocci are extraordinary, and Head of Wardrobe, Chantelle Gerrard, and the wardrobe team have certainly excelled. The score by musical director Paul McLaney adds to the atmosphere of the play, from the discordant sounds when The Ghost appears, to the beautiful solo flute during Ophelia’s scenes. Alexander Holloway’s stage combat sequences feel naturally inserted into the action, and movement direction by Brigid Costello is precise and emotive. The hand motif that was repeated throughout the performance developed into a full-scale hypnotic ritual that brought the play to a powerful close.

Special mention to Malcolm Dale (Head of Scenic Workshop) and scenic construction crew Andrew Brown and Anatonio Te Maioha for the magnificent set and attention to detail.

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to experience Pop-up Globe. Twelfth Night, Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Measure for Measure make up the repertoire for this limited season until 24th November 2019.

Tickets from $10 to $160. Available at https://www.ticketmaster.com.au/popupglobe

Average running time for each play is 2 hours 30 minutes (including a 15 minute interval).

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