After playing to 5 star reviews and standing ovations at the National Arts Festival and in Europe, Pieter Toerien proudly presents a limited season of Abrahamse & Meyer’s internationally acclaimed Hamlet at Theatre on the Bay in April.
The Abrahamse & Meyer production takes its inspiration from one of the earliest recorded performances of Hamlet during Shakespeare’s lifetime. In 1608, off the East Coast of South Africa, the crew of the East India Ship, Red Dragon performed Hamlet aboard their ship. In his log, on 31 March 1608, Captain Keeling noted: “I invited Captain Hawkins to a fish dinner, and had Hamlet acted aboard me, which I permit to keep my people from idleness and unlawful games or sleep.”
This production of Hamlet re-imagines Shakespeare’s most iconic play within the context of the historic 1608 performance aboard The Red Dragon as a play within a play, utilizing a cast of only 6 actors playing 6 Jacobean sailors who, in turn, play all the parts in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Critics have hailed it as a multi sensory experience…imbued with wonder and as daring, modern, exciting and topical.
The production stars Marcel Meyer in the title role, with veteran Shakespearean actor, Michael Richard taking the role of King Claudius. Dean Balie doubles as Polonius and Horatio with Jeremy Richard as Laertes, Matthew Baldwin as Ophelia and Callum Tilbury in the role of Queen Gertrude.
Hamlet is directed by Fred Abrahamse who has, over a 35 year career, directed over 150 productions in all genres, including classical theatre, opera, musical theatre and contemporary plays. One of Abrahamse’s most recent local successes was a sell-out season of Tennessee Williams’ The Hotel Plays at the Vineyard Hotel in Newlands. Over the last five years Abrahamse & Meyer Productions have produced some of the most successful Shakespeare productions in South Africa like the award-winning three-man Tragedy of Richard III [2010 & 2011], a four-man Romeo and Juliet  and the immensely popular Maynardville productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream  and Othello [2015 & 16] which have been presented in 20 different seasons on two continents, three provinces, six cities and have proved immensely popular with the public, critics, teachers and learners and have collectively garnered 13 Fleur du Cap Theatre Award Nominations over the years.
On Wednesday 12 April, Theatre on the Bay's first ever Cape Talk talk-back panel discussion will take place immediately after the first performance of Hamlet that will start earlier, at 7:30pm. This unique event will give attending patrons an exclusive opportunity to engage with a panel of leading Shakespeareans and gain rare insights into this most fascinating of Shakespeare’s plays. The Panel will be chaired by veteran Cape Talk presenter John Maytham who trained as an actor and has been working in radio for more than twenty years. Maytham is regarded as one of the most erudite personalities on air and is sure to bring his hallmark wit, intelligence and conversational flair to the proceedings. He will be joined by Fred Abrahamse, Marcel Meyer, Michael Richard and Dr Derrick Higginbotham from UCT.
Abrahamse, a leading Shakespearean director, is at the helm of this production of Hamlet. Michael Richard played the title role in Hamlet in 1978, Laertes in a 1983 SABC film version of the play and Claudius in this production, among his many Shakespeare credits. Dr Higginbotham lectures at the UCT English Department, his research interest includes Shakespeare and his contemporaries and Late Medieval and Early Modern English Theatre. Meyer has played several leading roles in Shakespeare including Rosencrantz in Dame Janet Suzman’s 2006 Baxter/RSC production of Hamlet.
Hamlet is at Theatre on the Bay from 12 to 29 April 2017, nightly at 7:30pm, with daytime performances on various days. Tickets cost R100 to R180 via Computicket or 08619158000. For group and school bookings please email email@example.com or call 0214383301. Follow the theatre on @theatreonthebay #HamletSA. The show runs 3-21 May at Pieter Toerien’s Theatre at Montecasino and at La MaMa in new York City in September 2017. 23 April marks the 401st anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth.