By Charles Way
Slings and Arrows is a play designed to introduce young people to the story and major themes of Hamlet. It is also very much a play in its own right and is concerned with the relationship between state and individual. What is the individual’s responsibility if he or she believes that there truly is something rotten in the state of Denmark? It was commissioned by Gwent Theatre and toured schools in 2010.
A pair of actors are on their way to Elsinore to perform for the new King and Queen of Denmark. Down on their luck, they are hopeful that a royal performance will stimulate their careers – but then they are joined by the young Prince Hamlet who has ridden out to greet them. He tells them that the King murdered his father and he knows it’s true because his ghost told him so. Is Hamlet lying? Is he mad? Or is he just pretending to be mad? What should they do? Eventually they decide to perform a play the prince recommends in which a murder is acted out – before the new King Claudius. If the new king is guilty he will see his actions mirrored on stage and know that he has been discovered as a murderer and flee the scene. On the night of the performance this is exactly what happens and the actors, fearing for their lives, flee the castle of Elsinore, unaware that two of the King’s hired men are in pursuit. The actors pay the ultimate price for their involvement in the political life of their country but what choice did they have?
4 (3M 1F)
“Gary Meredith’s imaginative production displays real panache- this exploration
of Shakespeare’s greatest play will encourage young audiences to want to
know more. It’s an excellent starting point.”
Jon Holliday, The Stage
Suitable for the whole family.