Secret Theatre London is making its EdFringe début with a new take on the troubled Dane, Hamlet.
Set in the swinging ’60s and inspired by Mick Jagger, Jackie Kennedy, Bob Dylan, Edie Sedgwick and The Factory, the play opens tonight and runs until August 25.
Secret Theatre founderRichard Crawford directs the production along with Brooke Johnston. It was previewed at London’s Drayton Theatre before making its way north to the arts festival.
Raphael Verrion plays the title role following his portrayal as Dominic Datchio in Crawford’s sellout success, Freakazoid.
Edinburgh born Richard decided to take his not-for-profit company to his home town with a production unlike any other on offer at the historic arts festival.
He said: “Our adaptation of Hamlet is set in the swinging ’60s, complete with the costumes of this culturally evocative era.
“Portraying the more hedonistic times of the decade we address sex, drugs and rock and roll – areas the audience perhaps aren’t likely to associate with this Shakespeare classic.”
Richard and Brooke have explored themes relevant to the setting including young people rebelling against the establishment, the sexual revolution, drug use, women’s changing place in society, Magdalene Asylums and the 27 Club.
Brooke explained: “This is a really exciting interpretation of Hamlet which we wanted to share with the public and show that Shakespeare doesn’t have to be an uptight production.
“For many it does seem sacrilegious to change the original play, and while there are a few big changes we have stayed loyal to the text.
“The script has been edited to around 95 minutes and accommodating this has been the removal of the Fortinbras sub-plot.
“The approach to the famous ‘To be or not to be’ soliloquy may surprise audiences as it certainly flies in the face of the traditional approach.
“And there has been the inclusion of a sub-plot that has been completely overlooked in every production of Hamlet I have ever seen and yet it is clear as day in the script.
“It adds a completely new level to the tragedy and is certainly a change from how the story is traditionally played by modern companies.”
Richard said: “The preview performances of Hamlet were extremely well received and we’re hoping both the Edinburgh audience and the visiting crowds to the festival will enjoy it just as much.
“We’re lucky enough to be located at the C Too venue, St Columba’s by the Castle, right in the heart of both the city and the festival.
“While the format of the festival doesn’t allow us to fully embrace the secret nature of previous productions and venues we hope audiences will be surprised and delighted by the unexpected and fresh approach we have taken with this production.”