Catch It Before It's Gone: Hamlet In A West African Setting

Friday, 23 March 2018


It's been forever and a day since I saw a Shakespeare play but The Royal Shakespeare Company's current production of Hamlet did not disappointment as my first show back!

Re imagined in a West African setting and with Paapa Essiedu playing the lead, this version of hamlet has a younger and more modern feel then any I've seen before. The bright and colourful set teamed with traditional music really complete the overall vibe and I for one am a huge fan of Hamlet's awful graffiti skills. They are definitely in 'so bad it's good' territory and we were far from the only audience members enjoying them during the interval.

The words 'rising star' are thrown around carelessly these days but Paapa is more then deserving of the title. In a crowd where far too many people had a cough he was able to silence them every time he was alone on stage. His performance was truly captivating and he has the kind of stage presence that has you hunting him down on social media before you've even left the theatre. He's a vibe to put it simply and a fantastic choice for the role of Hamlet.

Also we need to take a moment to appreciate that his twitter bio is 'Actor. My name is Paapa. Don't tell me not to preach'.... if that's not bio goals right there I don't know what is. What a King.

Photo credit: RSC 
Whilst the whole cast were great I have to give a special shout out to Mimi Ndiweni who played Ophelia. She came saw and conquered the role with a fantastic emotional performance that literally stole the show. It was pure raw emotion on that stage and you could have heard a pin drop during her performance in the second half. 

To top it off this is all taking place at the Hackney Empire. One of London's prettiest theatres and a great opportunity for people to support local theatre rather then heading into the west end. There are plenty of bars and restaurants nearby for a pre theatre meal too, some of my personal favourites are Every Cloud, Tonkotsu and Oslo. It's also worth mentioning there's a Wetherspoons across the road and THAT vegan fried chicken shop (Temple of Hackney) is a stones throws away.



The production is showing until to end of the week, after that it's a month hiatus before a 5 day stint in Washington DC. I know I have American readers so if you are in the DC area in early May and love a bit of Shakespeare I suggest you check it out! To my fellow Londoners, tickets are available on the Hackney Empire website here.


Until next time, J xx


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