Why is the Hamlet so good?

We started to have rehearsals of Hamlet at the Örkény Theatre (in the heart of Budapest) in January 2014 and put on the new production to the audience in March. We were guests of the POSzT (the National Theatre Festival in Pécs) with the drama in the summer of 2015 and celebrated the 50th performance in May 2016. In this season, we enacted the piece on the 5th of November for the first time.

There are a lot of reasons why the house is full with curious people being all attention, perceiving the meaning, night after night. I heard and read many appropriate remarks and considerable reviews commenting on our play, highlighting the most varied parts and elements of László Bagossy’s direction from different aspects.

I would like to write about such stuffs that are observable only from inside, whereas I got here from out. My way of seeing and looking at things combines the sights of both edges, because I still don’t belong to the inner circle, but I’m not an outsider anymore. Perhaps I have never been. Theatre and play are surely the very essence of my life and nature ever since I can remember.

Hamletsilence
(Photo: László Simara)

Our Hamlet is therefore so good, because we love to play and can play it well.

It is beyond question that the starting materials were first-class for composing something splendid: William Shakespeare’s original English work proved to be extremely stable over time, the Hungarian translation by Ádám Nádasdy turned out brilliantly, the Norwegian words and sentences were compiled colourfully layered by Zsófia Domsa, and Árpi Kákonyi set to music everything that can be told by the means of tunes. To revitalize his vision, the director could choose from very talented actors and actresses as well as from very talented drama students of his own. However, no one would have known at the beginning if the players forming the crowd will forge the whole common work together or knock it into pieces.

I feel on every occasion that as far as Hamlet is lonely in the surrounding crowd which is also supposed to demonstrate, to magnify his lost, his loneliness and his increasing isolation, so secure is the position of Csabi Polgár shaping the title role, because we are there for him. We carry him on our shoulders, we help him to soar, for the reason that we love and respect him, and we find that he does his job very, very well. In the meantime, of course, I also feel that we don’t have to worry about anything, since he risks his life and limb, and he alone can let us all fly.

It is fascinating to see how Csabi perfected himself in this role. He is present as an actor and as the character at the same time. He is able to look at himself absolutely from the outside, while he completely lives within the figure. He is constantly aware of the fact that “it’s only a joke”, yet every word he utters sounds not like a prepared speech, but as his own thoughts crossing his mind. This makes it possible that to all changes, disturbing moments, disparities in conditions causing some actors to block, he can respond with the utmost ingenuity. He is not afraid of improvisations, thus playing partners don’t fear, either, and these types of “digressions” usually come off rather cool.

Our Hamlet is among other things therefore so good, because we love to play and can play it well. The first person plural refers not just to those who act on the stage, but also to those who work behind the scenes and to those who greet playgoers at the entrance and guide them farther in.

Gabriella Vid

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