Gertrude, Howard Barker’s take on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, combines feminism, sex and objectification – it is also a complicated, challenging and utterly filthy play.
Theatre N16 will be playing host to the first major London revival since its première in 2002, directed by Chris Hislop and produced by LWL Investments and Entertainment Ltd, in association with Theatre N16.
Reinterpreting Shakespeare’s classic from the perspective of Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude – The Cry kicks out 90 per cent of the plot in favour of a brutal, poetic exploration of lust and sexuality.
Complicit in her husband’s murder, Gertrude begins a tempestuous and raw physical relationship with Claudius, much to the disgust of her devastated son Hamlet. Unable to recreate her “cry”, Gertrude tries to find what drives her lust – and in doing so, gains power over all of the men around her.
Hislop says: “The play is a mass of dichotomies. Gertrude has all of the power, a woman in complete control of her choices and her body, but the script wilfully objectifies her at every turn.
“Lust is a vicious, cruel force that ruins many a character, but is also the only constant in this world that Barker has created. It’s going to be hard to pin this one down!”
While better known as a theatre publicist, Hislop returns to his directing roots after a three year hiatus. He has directed a wide variety of theatre in London, Brighton and Edinburgh over the last 10 years, and Gertrude will be his third Shakespeare pastiche/parody after Snoo Wilson’s More Light at the Rose Bankside and Andrew Shepherd’s The Shakespeare Conspiracy at the Chelsea Theatre.
He also co-wrote and directed the award-winning, critically acclaimed A Fistful of Snow at the Brighton and Edinburgh Festivals in 2009.
Gertrude runs at Theatre N16 from June 12-30.