FRINGE REVIEW – The Man Who Was Hamlet


5 – 30 Aug (not 10, 17, 24) 1910 (2040) @ Hill Street Theatre

By Danielle Farrow

George Dillon’s solo piece, The Man Who Was Hamlet, offers us Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford – a candidate for the man who wrote Shakespeare’s work, if William Shakespeare didn’t. In Dillon’s highly talented hands, de Vere is an enigmatic, engaging, self-absorbed, arrogant, brave and witty gentleman of Elizabeth’s court, one whose life and skills fit him for the creation of Hamlet – on that, of course, we must make up our own minds, and Dillon’s de Vere never stakes a direct claim on the Bard’s works even while excellently making use of his words.
Lighting changes, both subtle and dramatic, create settings and atmosphere for this one-man, three-propped (skull, book and rapier) show in shades of black and white, with fine use made of shadows cast. Dillon explores his character’s own shades and shadows in a performance as intriguing as it is riveting. He seems to send his voice forth first into whichever new scene or character is arriving and then draw the rest of him through to inhabit the new creation. Occasionally, this vocal usage starts out as rather extreme, but every time he manages to bring it into believable and engaging truth shortly thereafter.
From his initial display of sword technique, through teasing verbal thrusts and emotional tumult, to the audience’s final sense of something profound having been witnessed, George Dillon – in The Man Who Was Hamlet – performs an engrossing solo show well worth one’s time and attention.

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