… draw thy breath in pain, To tell my story.
The history of Hamlet our brother
Whilst I was at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2009 with Second Skin Theatre’s production of Burn, I saw a young actor Bryan Kaplan perform in the other play which the company was producing at the festival, Knuckleball by William Whitehurst. Having always wanted to direct a production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet if I found the right actor for the lead role, I pitched my idea of creating a new one-man version of the play, titled hamlet redux, to Kaplan.
I then began a draft using only the soliloquies as a starting point but as other scenes from the play were incorporated, I retained the concept that I would use only Shakespeare’s text in this new version. Initially, the play was developed with Kaplan over a number of Skype sessions (as he was then based in New York) but then in a workshop in Los Angeles (where Kaplan had moved to) a new idea for the play formed. Rather than create a one-man Hamlet, I would tell the story from a different perspective – from the point of view of the character of Horatio. Familiar lines were newly interpreted and the journey of Horatio’s grief at the loss of Hamlet mirrored Hamlet’s grief at the loss of his father in Shakespeare’s play.
I returned from L.A. and continued adapting and eventually a draft, now titled Hamlet our brother, was ready for production. Wanting to produce the play in London as part of the 400th-anniversary celebrations of Shakespeare’s death and to see if the idea worked, the very talented Jeffrey Mundell who had been in Summer was cast and the production was premiered at the Jack Studio Theatre in April 2016.