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PRESS: Janni Younge's adaptation of William Shakespeare's HAMLET at The Baxter

Baxter Theatre Centre


Janni Younge’s highly acclaimed adaptation of the William Shakespeare’s literary classic, Hamlet, is brought to life through puppetry and physical performance at The Baxter this February.

From 22 February to 11 March 2023, Janni Younge’s powerful new interpretation of William Shakespeare’s classic, Hamlet, is brought to life through puppetry and physical performance in the Pam Golding Theatre at The Baxter, at 7.30pm nightly, with matinee school performances on Tuesdays and Thursdays.


First staged at the National Arts Festival in 2022, Janni Younge’s contemporary version of Hamlet, received significant praise, described by The Critter as “skilfully innovative” and “visually immersive” and by The Cape Robyn as, ”brilliant” while The Herald called it, “ … a spellbinding take on Hamlet … a quintessential piece of stage performance.”  Daily Dispatch agreed, saying, “Mesmerising puppetry unleashes power of ‘Hamlet’” and “… extraordinary puppet work” from Talk of the Town.


The ensemble cast consists of Mongi Mtombeni and Siyamthanda Sinani as Hamlet, Timothy Redpath as Claudius, Roshina Ratnam as Queen Gertrude, as well as Samkelo Zihlangu, Tshiamo Moretlwe and Beviol Swartz, who bring the full cast of characters to life through larger-than-life puppets.


Directed and designed by Janni Younge, with Roshina Ratman as assistant director, dramaturgy by Janni Younge and Roshina Ratnam, lighting design by  Lize-Marie van Rooyen and sound design and original music by Daniel Eppel.


The production has just returned from a hugely successful run at the Chicago International Puppet Festival in January, with standing ovations and rapturous applause from audiences.


The poetry and emotional weight of Shakespeare’s words are echoed in the scale and energy of the puppets. Non-verbal, evocative and ‘visually immersive’ figures blend and reconfigure themselves as characters grapple with the depths of passion and grief. Hamlets internal struggles play visibly in the puppetry, as each puppet is a ‘physical being’ supported by the ‘emotional being’ of the performers.


Commanded by the ghost of his father to avenge his death, Hamlet must grapple with the value of life and what it means to ‘set things right’. Caught between love and anger, immediate revenge and ultimate retribution, Hamlet fights to right his world shattered by murder. The storyline is brought to into the contemporary landscape with more accessible language use and the state of Denmark reflected in South Africa: when there is a dysfunctional royal family, this is reflected in the state of the state.

Janni Younge, of Janni Younge Productions, is a multi-award-winning puppet creator, designer and director. Her works include the creation and direction of The Bluest Eye (with Margaret Kemp) in California and Chicago; The Firebird that toured South Africa and the USA to venues including Ravinia and the Hollywood Bowl. Her creations in Europe: Take Flight, Momo, The Neverending Story and Wild Heart and the collaborative creation Solus Amour run in repertory in Poland, Germany and Hungary. With Handspring, Janni directed revivals of William Kentridge’s Woyzeck on the Highveld and Ubu and the Truth Commission and, Ouroboros (which toured extensively in South Africa, Europe and India). She created and directed puppetry for The Baxter and Royal Shakespeare Company’s The Tempest.


This intense, high-energy production which focusses on the heart of Hamlet’s personal conflict is on at the Baxter from 22 February to 11 March 2023 at 7.30pm nightly with 11am matinees on Tuesdays and Thursdays for school groups.


Booking is through Webtickets online or at Pick n Pay stores. Ticket prices are R120 for the preview and R150 throughout with an Early Bird Special of R120 for the first week. For block bookings of 10 or more, contact Leon van Zyl on email or Carmen Kearns on

There is no age restriction and the production, appropriate for all ages, is made possible through funding from the City of Cape Town. 


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