Review: Dickie Beau – Re-Member Me (Hampstead Theatre)

With a video screen and parts of mannequins and costumes strewn across the stage as we enter, Dickie Beau’s Re-Member Me promises to be an exploration of both Hamlet anf those who have played the Dane.

From lip-syncing talking heads to shadowy pantomimes, Re-Member Me has a lot of insight into the craft of the player and the utilisation of both text and lived experience. It also looks deep into the LGBTQ space, which is also often about seeming what you are not, taking risks, and living in life’s dark corners.

While taking spoken testimony from the likes of Ian McKellen, John Wood, and Richard Eyre, Beau assumes a range of persona as he both deconstructs the text, and what we might think of the text, and pays tribute to one great and lost Hamlet, Ian Charleson (1949-1990).

Production photo for Re:Member Me

We only hear Charleson’s voice once, in song, in his rendition of Robert Burns’s poem My Love is Like a Red Red Rose – but as the bulk of Beau’s show focuses on Charleson’s adversity and mortality, he is neither silenced nor sidelined.

ReMember Me starts with some humour, as an awakening Beau rehearses Hamlet’s lines to that classic of gay disco Y.M.C.A. – however, as befits a tough and gloomy play which has murder, suicide, madness, and more at its heart, it is not an easy watch as it progresses.

There are moments where we, as audience, are invited to reflect on how writer, director and actor mix to create a performance. O’Toole’s early Dane, Pryce’s dual Prince-Ghost metamorphosis, and Charleson’s stillness at the mouth of death are all given as examples.

Physically, Beau becomes every character in his show, whether as a videographed talking head or as a reclining athlete, emphasising the fragility of a once virile body. He is very expressive at all times.

Production photo of Re:Member Me

You may well leave reflecting on how Hamlet works, or not, as an action play or with interpretations that can be recalled as soporific, slow, or still. It is about observing the moment, and being in the moment.

Re-Member Me is essentially a beautiful tribute to an actor who is still remembered as a dynamic stage performer. As Beau had not really heard of Charleson before planning the show, his empathy and interest in his subject is laudable, and his execution of the progressing scenes is very moving.

This may not be the exploration of Hamlet you came to see, but Beau and director/co-devisor Jan van den Bosch have created an experience that may well intrigue open-minded Shakespeare nuts and theatre fans with long memories.

Re-Member Me is on at Hampstead Theatre’s main house until 17 Jun: tickets here.


Image credit: Robin Fisher