JUN 12 - JUN 30
Sunday - Thursday, 7.30pm, 90 mins
Combining feminism, sex and objectification into his own take on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Howard Barker’s Gertrude is a complicated, challenging and utterly filthy play. Theatre N16 will be playing host to its first major London revival since its premiere in 2002, directed by renowned theatre publicist Chris Hislop and produced by LWL Investments and Entertainment Ltd, in association with Theatre N16.
Reinterpreting Shakespeare’s classic from the perspective of Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude – The Cry kicks out 9/10ths of the plot in favour of a brutal, poetic exploration of lust and sexuality. Complicit in her husband’s murder from the off, Gertrude begins a tempestuous and raw physical relationship with Claudius, much to the disgust of her prudish son Hamlet. Unable to recreate her “cry”, Gertrude tries to find what drives her lust – and in doing so, gains power over all of the men around her.
Chris Hislop says, “The play is a mass of dichotomies. Gertrude has all of the power, a woman in complete control of her choices and her body, but the script wilfully objectifies her at every turn. Lust is a vicious, cruel force that ruins many a character, but is also the only constant in this world that Barker has created. It’s going to be hard to pin this one down!”
While better known as a theatre publicist, Hislop now returns to his directing roots after a 3 year hiatus. He has directed a wide variety of theatre in London, Brighton and Edinburgh over the last 10 years, and Gertrude will be his third Shakespeare pastiche/parody after Snoo Wilson’s More Light (**** “excellent” What’s On Stage) at the Rose Bankside and Andrew Shepherd’s The Shakespeare Conspiracy (**** “funny, witty, intelligent” Remotegoat) at the Chelsea Theatre. He also co-wrote and directed the award-winning, critically acclaimed A Fistful of Snow at the Brighton and Edinburgh Festivals in 2009.
“No playwright knows better than Howard Barker of the intimate relationship of sex and death, sin and ecstasy” (Lyn Gardner, in the Guardian, on Gertrude)
***** "Chris Hislop directs a well-paced and tightly-managed production, enthusiastic in its humour yet showing the discipline needed to keep a free-wheeling script from running disastrously away” (Fringe Guru on More Light)