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HAMNET, An Unforgettable Experience

HAMNET, An Unforgettable Experience Even though his father may have forgotten him, we certainly haven't. Hamnet died on the 11 August 1596 and was forgotten. Until now. Presented by Dead Centre, Hamnet is a contemporary work which explores the notion of grief, the selfish nature of an artist, the significance of the relationship between father and child, the idea of greatness, the need to do something with our lives and the very definition of love, with childhood at its heart. The innocence of children, their playful nature, their trust in others, their need for heroes and, most importantly, their need for affection.

Bush Moukarzel and Ben Kidd have crafted such an innovative, thought-provoking, confronting show that made me experience a kaleidoscope of emotions. It made me feel anger, hurt and sadness that a child's life got taken away too soon. It also made me ask a lot of questions: are all great men truly great? Does it matter if we do something with our lives? Is that the only way that we are remembered? It also made me question the story of Hamlet and wonder whether it is truly the story of his son in a different world, a different realm... That's food for thought isn't it?

I still find it hard to believe that an eleven year old did that all practically on his own. Not many could have pulled off doing an hour-long show with hardly any set, a limited amount of props and practically no time off stage. But Aran Murphy did it, and I commend him for it.

The stylistic choice of having the use of a projection at the heart of the work, an infinite mirror of both the dead and the living, was such a powerful symbol. When Shakespeare's ghost appears on the screen, Hamnet interacts with it as if it were on stage and in those moments, you can see in Murphy's eyes his desire for his Dad to be real; his desire to be loved. By having the silhouette of Shakespeare's ghost on screen (and I don't want to begin to imagine how many hours that took to create), it isolated the audience from Hamnet's world and made the audience feel as if we were somewhere we shouldn't be, even if Hamnet invited us in.

Some highlights of the performance was when Murphy pulled an audience member on stage and made them read the lines of the Ghost in Hamlet, after which he had to fall to his death, it had the audience in choruses of laughter and felt like a light-hearted touch to ease us into the darkness of the narrative, but should we really have laughed? The game an eleven-year-old pretending to be 'dead' on stage.... A bit of a morbid game for a child to play. The addition of Google and Wikipedia was a funny touch, and made me ponder whether the environment and 'heavens' where the dead rest are at an equilibrium to our adapting modern world. But is that too much food for thought? Is there such thing?

Hamnet asks us a lot of questions but he doesn't expect us to answer, but he encourages us to find an answer to it. In his lifetime, I don't think he ever stopped asking questions. It's a tragedy that his father never answered them. It's a tragedy that he was voiceless. But now finally, he has a voice.

Hamnet

Presented by Dead Centre

Directed by Bush Moukarzel and Ben Kidd

Performed by Aran Murphy


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