Lockdown reviews: Waiting for Hamlet

“The death of Old King Hamlet, told by one old fool to another.”

“Your rule is over. And you’re over-ruled.”

A really enjoyable mix of Beckett’s absurdist style with the tale of Hamlet (or at least, his father, old King Hamlet, who is now trapped in a place which is “nowhere and nowhen” with the court jester, Yorick).

With nowhere to go and nothing to do, the two old friends spar verbally in their purgatory, musing on their long friendship, the nature of kingship, the state of the kingdom, and the words themselves.

As an audio recording, this play needs to conjure up images as well as entertain with the clarity of its writing: David Visick’s text plays with the idea of words, rhymes, and meaning in a way that often surprises.

I found Waiting for Hamlet amusing, profound, and clever in its use of textual motifs from both Hamlet and Waiting for Godot. There’s even a nod to the wordplay of the Carry On series at one stage which was especially delightful.

Old Hamlet (Tim Marriott) and Yorick (Nicholas Collett) are both crotchety old men who have long needled each other, but been each other’s “strength and stay” (to quote our own Queen on her diamond jubilee).

Like Lear’s Fool, the jester can call out the King, and does so, mocking him gently (“don’t try to act”) and trying to excuse his wife’s behaviour (“widowed, wooed and wed in weeks”).

Running at forty-five minutes, Waiting for Hamlet is edited and directed by Trevor Datson, who also wrote the atmospheric music.

You can listen from Friday at 8pm – follow Waiting for Hamlet on Twitter for details, and to make a donation to support the artists if you wish.