Archiv der Kategorie: Almeida Theatre

Under Watchful Eyes

William Shakespeare: Hamlet, Almeida Theatre / Harold Pinter Theatre, London (Director: Robert Icke)

By Sascha Krieger

Oh, yes, there surely is something wrong in the state of Denmark. When Robert Icke’s celebrated production of Hamlet opens, we see: screens. TV footage from the late king’s funeral, later the new king smiling into the cameras, a multitude of CCTV images. Whether security or media: surveillance is everwhere in this production – as it is in the play. For, isn’t Hamlet a long succession of people spying on each other, hasn’t the royal court at Elsinore always been a surveillance state? So, transporting the story of the grieving prince, trying but failing to revenge his slain father, into an age in which the camera eye is always present, in which fear and attention are the twin driving forces leading to a society in which everyone is transparent as glass, feels rather logical. And Angus Wright’s nonchalantly plain Claudius is a perfect present-day ruler: agreeable enough, not a sore sight when smiling into the cameras, he’s an accomplished politician, slick, charming, an astute user of the media, a fine political instinct, a ruthless opportunist who knows how to play the fear card. He hardly ever gets loud, he doesn’t have to. He has the power to pull the strings and he does so in a chillingly efficient way.

The Harold Pinter Theatre (Image: Sascha Krieger)



Land of the Faceless

Martin Crimp: The Treatment, Almeida Theatre, London (Director: Lyndsey Turner)

By Sascha Krieger

A woman tells her story to a couple (a married one, by the way) of film producers. They are interested, but see room for clarification here, a little tightening of the story there. More people come on board, a writer, the film’s potential star, everyone with their own agenda, their own desire to control the story. So the woman loses hers and she won’t be the only one. Trying to regain control, she gives it up completely. This, admittedly, is a rather rough summary of Martin Crimp’s play The Treatment, an ambivalent title, of course, primarily referring to the term the film industry gives a short project summary used to pitch it, but also evoking the treatment reality and those who live it receive at the hands of a machine that cares about box office numbers and little else. Reality has a difficult position in this play which – while starting out in the false security of a realistic scene – soon drifts off. Into the abstract, the metatheatrical, the thriller and horror spaces. The way people lose control over there lives, the way outside forces appear and take over, the slow building up of a threatening, claustrophobic, stifling atmosphere are reminiscent of the plays of Harold Pinter, even though, unlike in the works of the Nobel Laureate, there is a distinct and recognisable reality The Treatment plays off.

The Almeida Theatre (Image: Sascha Krieger)