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The Globe Theater’s Hamlet version in Vietnam

by Kieu Giang16 July 2015 Last updated at 09:00 AM

Actors from The Globe Theater play Hamlet at the Gem Center in HCMC’s District 1 Monday night
Actors from The Globe Theater play Hamlet at the Gem Center in HCMC’s District 1 Monday night

VTV.vn - Hundreds of viewers on Monday night enjoyed Hamlet, a masterpiece of William Shakespeare, with different stage settings and acting styles.

The troupe of the England-based The Globe Theater is on their world tour with 12 actors and four stage managers to 205 countries over two years to celebrate the 450th birthday and 400th death anniversary of Shakespeare.

The one-night performance at the Gem Center in HCMC’s District 1 was organized by London-based Quintessentially, a luxury 24-hour concierge service, which has an office in HCMC.

It has been such a long time to have a foreign theater to play Shakespeare’s piece in town. Thus, expats and locals could not wait for the opening time. The show began 30 minutes late but audiences were keen to queue up to the main hall.

The seats of the hall of the Gem Center were set up in a half-round shape where spectators from behind could also enjoy the show on the high stand. The stage’s setting was quite simple with a green backdrop and some steamer trunks as both props and seats for actors to play music. This setting was obviously reasonable for a troupe which is on a world tour with limited members.

The actors actually wowed audiences for their skills of acting, singing, dancing and playing musical instruments. They opened the show by saying “Xin chao khan gia” in Vietnamese (Good evening) and started singing and dancing joyfully on stage. During the show, they cleverly changed clothes to transform into new characters.

It was quite surprising to see a tragedy of Hamlet in an accessible, fast-moving and quite funny style. However, the medieval English was what some spectators found it difficult to understand.

Naeem Hayat who played Hamlet left a deep impression to audiences. With a slender shape Hayat showed vulnerability and internal conflicts of Hamlet in a journey to take revenge of his uncle Claudius (Rawiri Paratene) who killed King Hamlet and married Gertrude (Amanda Wilkin), Hamlet’s mother.

There were moments audiences felt an intensely climax to witness Hamlet showing his madness over Ophelia (Jennifer Leong), his lover and in a sword battle with Laeters (Matthew Romain), Ophelia’s brother. Hamlet finally died of a poisoned rapier after killing Polonius (Keith Bartlett)- Ophelia’s father, Laeters and Claudius to fulfill his revenge.

The tragedy ended after nearly three hours in long applauses of audiences. The actors kept coming back to deliver a joyful music performance to wrap up the show in Saigon.

Huan Nguyen, a Vietnamese American, told the Daily, “After Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet is another well-known tragedy of Shakespeare. Watching this play makes me imagine its original play at Shakespeare’s The Globe Theater in London in the 17th century. I’m impressed to see the actors’ performance, their costumes and stage setting.”

Tuan Nguyen, a local viewer, said he was happy to watch a play performed in Vietnam by an international troupe for the first time. “What is amazing is that actors use different elements on stage creatively and flexibly to switch scenes. I feel as if I were living in the old days in Britain and watching this performance. Love, madness, greed, jealousy all welded together in this. Amazing!”

The Globe Theater headed for the next destination, Bangladesh, after leaving Saigon on July 14. They will also perform in North Korea in September. The tour will wrap up in 2016 after hitting the 204th and 205th stops in the Rift Valley in Kenya “where human life began on Earth” and Elsinore in Denmark, the castle where Shakespeare set his tragedy.

Located on the bank of the River Thames in Bankside’s Cultural Quarter, Shakespeare’s Globe welcomes thousands of visitors to experience world renowned productions of Shakespeare every day.

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