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Review: Theatre

Ophelia

Ophelia

Oran Mor, Glasgow

Mary Brennan

In Shakespeare's Hamlet, Ophelia is the dutiful child who is crushed by circumstance - a bit pastel-pale in a world full of roaring men who call all the shots. In this Classic Cuts, however, writer Alan McKendrick does not just strip away most of the play, he puts Ophelia at the centre of events and lets her speak her own mind - one that is restless, self-willed and incisively perceptive in her character assassinations of those around her.

This Ophelia is a bored teenager, and when Adura Onashile in her little black frock and snazzy technicolour trainers describes Elsinore as 'dull, dull, DULL!' her voice and her body language create an instant thumbnail sketch of all the girls across time who were too intelligent, too feisty, too curious, to know their (insignificant) place in the scheme of things and just stay there.

Everything about this piece - provocatively staged by director/designer Stewart Laing on a long, narrow shelf of an unadorned catwalk - demands you rethink your ideas on Shakespeare's Hamlet.

The men, as witnessed by Ophelia, do not come out of it well. Laertes and Hamlet, both played with nicely differentiated oafishness by Scott Reid, reveal the insensitivity of young dudes who believe they are superior. Polonius (a business-suited Alison Peebles) is spot on as the bossy-boots jobsworth who fails to see his motherless daughter for who she really is.

And in Onashile's utterly compelling interpretation of this mighty text, where McKendrick's sharp humour and flights of fine grandiloquent prose are intercut with Shakespeare's speeches, we encounter a free spirit who could well have saved Hamlet from his demons, because she was so well acquainted with them herself.

So much brilliance, insight and revelation in one little hour. Go - and if you miss it, hope someone else gives it house room soon.

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