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The play's the thing ...

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: June 21, 2012

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WHAT could be the highlight of the theatrical calendar in Penwith comes to St Ives next week.

Hamlet by Shakespeare's Globe Theatre comes to the beautiful setting of The Island, St Ives above Porthgwidden Beach on June 30 and July 1 for four performances only.

Artistic director of the Globe Dominic Dromgoole and Globe regular Bill Buckhurst will co-direct Hamlet, which is widely considered to be Shakespeare's masterpiece.

Hamlet encompasses political intrigue and sexual obsession, philosophical reflection and violent action, tragic depth and wild humour.

Taking on the role of Hamlet is RADA graduate, Michael Benz. Since graduating, Michael has performed in Trevor Nunn's productions of Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead and The Tempest, with Ralph Fiennes at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in 2011. He made his Globe debut in 2009 in A New World directed by Dominic Dromgoole and As You Like It directed by Thea Sharrock.

He told me: "We're all excited about this tour, but in particular, we can't wait for the St Ives dates as it's going to be such a dramatic setting."

Michael might not be the obvious choice for playing what is arguably theatre's juiciest role for a young actor, as he admits when he was a teenager he was far more interested in TV acting and hated Shakespeare."When I was younger I was in a series on CITV for six years called Mike And Angelo, and I had no interest in the theatre. In fact, when I was 16 I saw a production of Macbeth and didn't understand it at all."

However, after a few more television roles including starring in a 1995 series of Little Lord Fauntleroy, the half-American actor left for university in Washington.

He added: "When I was there I started getting involved in theatre and realised it was much more fun than television, so I enrolled at RADA."

His first job after leaving drama school was in a production of The Winter's Tale.

"I was going around dressed as a woman in the fields of Yorkshire – it was an interesting introduction to Shakespeare."

Now he is playing the biggest role of his life.

"I'm trying to block out the spectres of those actors who have played it before. I think what I might bring to it is youth.

"I understood that Hamlet is a young man consumed by grief, so I perform it through the prism of that loss."

Michael added: "This is a traditional production with a cast of eight playing all the characters. Like all Globe productions there are no artificial sound effects, this is just a group of players travelling around the country as they would have done 400 years ago."

Michael is joined by Carlyss Peer as Ophelia – she performed in Sir Peter Hall's production of The Rivals both in Bath and London.

Using an Elizabethan-inspired stage – influenced by paintings and etchings from Shakespeare's time – this scaled-down production is not to be missed.

The Globe's Hamlet comes to The Island, St Ives, on June 30 and July 1 for performances at 2pm and 7.30pm. Tickets can be bought through Shakespeare's Globe on 020 7401 9919 / shakespearesglobe.com and the Cornish Riviera Box Office on 0845 0940428 / crbo.co.uk

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