Hamlet post-show Q&A at Southwark Playhouse. © Anthony Kelly

Hamlet post-show Q&A at Southwark Playhouse. © Anthony Kelly

How central are Gertrude, Claudius and Polonius to the story of Hamlet? If you remove those adult characters – the prince’s mother, uncle/stepfather and the father of his one-time girlfriend, respectively – and the scenes that revolve around them, what are you left with?

The answer in Lazarus Theatre’s case is a swift and consciously youthful 90-minute version of Shakespeare’s longest play, which, in full, usually runs over three hours.

Lazarus has made its name reimagining classics for modern audiences, which it has been doing since 2007. But, while artistic director Ricky Dukes, who adapts and directs, has tackled some plays multiple times during the past 15 years, he always steered clear of Hamlet.

This Hamlet was borne of his time teaching drama at St Mary’s University where he decided the notion of a student taking on the octogenarian role of Polonius would stretch credulity. The need to keep the production at no more than an hour-and-a-half so it could run in rep made the decision to dump all adult scenes even easier.

It was also at St Mary’s that Dukes found his titular prince, Michael Hawkey. And, when recasting for Southwark Playhouse, he made a conscious decision to cast younger, as fitting with Hamlet having just returned from university. The production marks the professional debut for five of the ensemble cast, including Hawkey and his Ophelia, Lexine Lee.

At the post-show Q&A at Southwark Playhouse on 25 January 2023, I was joined by Ricky Dukes and the full cast (left-to-right): Michael Hawkey, Sam Morris, Raj Swamy, Alex Zur, Amber Mendez-Martin, Lexine Lee, Keira Murray, Kalifa Taylor and Juan Hernandez.

Also check out @LazarusTheatre’s live-tweeting of the discussion.

Hamlet continues at Southwark Playhouse until 4 February 2023.

Q&A photos

Event photography by Anthony Kelly.


Q&A video (abridged!)

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