Acting What is it like to play Hamlet

Pure theater

Hamlet in Bochum, Schauspielhaus

Life or death - that is the question.

by Antje van Bürck

Hamlet's father, the King of Denmark, has mysteriously passed away. The flowers on his grave have not yet faded when his widow, Queen Gertrud, marries his brother Claudius, who declares himself the new ruler. The dead king haunts his son as a ghost, reveals to him that he has been poisoned by Claudius and calls on him to remember him and to avenge him. From now on, Hamlet has to live with his father's assignment and decides to do his own research. The search for truth turns out to be difficult. Was Claudius acting alone or were there accomplices in this coup? What role did State Councilor Polonius, a close confidante of the new king, play? He tries to get to the bottom of Hamlet's condition using his daughter Ophelia. Are Hamlet's college friends Rosencrantz and Güldenstern as harmless as they seem?
Hamlet confronts his uncle with his guilt in a crazy theatrical performance. He then admits the act, but not in front of witnesses. Gertrud confronts her son. Polonius overhears the conversation and is mistakenly killed by a maddening Hamlet. Now this is to be sent to England, where he is to be killed. He sees through the plan, survives and returns to Denmark.

Johan Simons, director of the Bochumer Schauspielhaus, staged Hamlet with Sandra Hüller in the lead role. A wise choice. Seldom has one seen a more touching Hamlet. In advance, the actress commented on her difficulties with the role. He (Hamlet) is "a wet fish that keeps slipping out of your hand," she said in an interview. She does not see the avenging prince in the Danish prince: "He just wants everyone to look each other in the face, to acknowledge the truth, to admit their own mistakes." Difficult, if not impossible, at this court, where manipulation, lies and deception are a tradition. Sandra Hüller's Hamlet is often alone on stage, isolated, insecure. She observes the intrigues and actions that are going on before her eyes. At the beginning, the spirit of her father speaks not to her, but from her. We learn how he really died. Ophelia (Gina Haller) takes so much interest in Hamlet's insecurity that she writhes with him in grief.
The ensemble appears again and again from the first row in the auditorium and then takes a seat there again, following what is happening on the stage. It is extremely well cast right down to the supporting roles.
Stefan Hunstein convinces as Claudius (in a white fur coat). On the one hand as a self-confident ruler: “The madness at court must be under supervision.” Then again he writhes with remorse in prayer. Equal to him is Mercy Dorcas Otieno as Gertrud. Bernd Rademacher plays Polonius, the man of clever words and the sometimes quite comedic pun. Simons has occupied the gravedigger with Ann Göbel (she almost always laconically utters the words "He is alone") and Jing Xiang. The latter switches effortlessly between clownish play and serious words, which she exchanges with Hamlet at the grave. Also playing with: Dominik Dos-Reis as Laertes, son of Polonius, Konstatin Bühler as Rosencrantz, Ulvi Teke as Güldenstern and Mourade Zeguendi as Fortinbras.

Johannes Schütz designed the congenial stage design for this impressive production: a white, open rectangle, bordered by a dark edge on which numerous steel balls lie. Schütz: “There is something unencumbered about the white color. It leads to a clarity of the spoken language. ”A rust-brown metal wall and a large ball of light float over the play area and keep themselves in balance. According to Schütz, "the mobility of the two floating objects creates an invitation to construct references." There are no props on this evening. This gives the spoken word even more weight.

An exceptional evening that rightly received a lot of applause. A clever production with an outstanding ensemble - a theatrical delight.


William Shakespeare
14.06. 2019
Attended performance
19.06. 2019
Johan Simons
Johannes Schütz
Music, sound design
Mieko Suzuki
JU Bochum
Schauspielhaus Bochum

In a nutshell

An incredibly impressive evening of pictures with a fantastic ensemble