Third Wall Theatre’s young company of actors presents Prince of Denmark, a prequel to Shakespeare’s Hamlet full of power struggles, politics, and passion.
Should you see it?
A prequel to Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark starts off a bit slow and takes some time to get in to. It is about Laertes’ attempt to keep young Prince Hamlet from marrying his (Laertes’) sister Ophelia and to bring some honour back to the throne of Denmark. (I will throw in that I think a familiarity with Shakespeare’s Hamlet will be a strong benefit going into this show.)
The play is produced by the Third Wall Academy, the younger arm of Third Wall Theatre. The actors are all teenagers and have limited stage experience. I’ve raved before about how impressed I was with Moonfleece two years ago and greatly enjoyed the depth of Danti-Dan last year. This year, though? Meh.
Don’t get me wrong, Prince of Denmark was fine. And there were definite strong points which I’ll get to. It’s just that unlike years prior, Prince of Denmark, overall, wasn’t much beyond what you’d expect from a typical high school production. Some of the staging was awkward (like the fencers behind curtains — which Hamlet charges at at one point that didn’t make any sense), some of the cast was ‘eh’, and the first half of the play kind of dragged on.
Prince of Denmark was staged to take place in some kind of prep school, which was interesting but not terribly creative. With one of Ottawa’s professional theatre companies guiding these young actors, I want to see TWA continue to push their actors and push boundaries like they did with Moonfleece but they seem to be playing it safe here.
That said, Prince of Denmark isn’t without it’s strong points. Thom Nyhuus’ Laertes and Alysa Touati’s Ophelia were wonderful to watch on stage. They had strong presence individually and strong chemistry together. And when we get to the climax of the show, it was well presented on all levels and had me completely interested and invested in the outcome.
Overall, I left the theatre happy enough with what Prince of Denmark was, but felt it could have been so much more.
But that’s just my opinion and I would love to know what you think? Should Prince of Denmark have been bigger and bolder in its presentation? Did you find this production on par with past years? Tell me in the comments below.