PREVIEW: ‘Hamlet’ – Ad Lib Theatre

Ad Lib theatre are bringing Shakespeare to the grounds of Northwood House this June in an open-air production of Hamlet that is sure to delight Shakespeare enthusiasts and newcomers alike!

The recently-widowed Queen Gertrude is marrying her dead husband’s brother, Claudius, while her son, Hamlet, looks on with melancholy, powerless – or so he thinks. The arrival of Hamlet’s best friend, Horatio, with news about his father, soon sets our prince on a journey of revenge, love, madness, piracy, betrayal and wonder, with far-reaching consequences for all.

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark…

Simon Lynch, Director of Hamlet, says: “It’s a big play with a big reputation. How does one put on a play everyone knows – or thinks they know? For this production, we took another look at the words. The genius of Shakespeare is that the words can be read and performed in a hundred different ways, and each puts a different spin on the tale of the tragic Dane.

“Whilst extraordinarily careful not to turn the play into a comedy, there are genuine moments of humour:  at its heart, it is a harrowing tragedy, but Ad Lib Theatre have looked at it with a Tudor eye. After all, 3,000 baying groundlings would arguably not be game for an intense 4 hours of tragedy alone!

“Stalwart of Island theatre, Emily Scotcher, picks up the mantle – and skull! – as Hamlet, supported by fine actors from an array of backgrounds, from combat re-enactment, panto, comedy, musical theatre, high drama and education.”

Simon Dabell, Chair of Ad Lib Theatre Company, says: “Ad Lib Theatre, founded by a few friends over 25 years ago, has become synonymous with unique outdoor productions, held in such iconic Island locations as Appuldurcombe House, Carisbrooke Castle, and more recently in the wonderful grounds of Northwood House in Cowes. As Lib provides quality community theatre and often showcases the cream of our local acting talent.

“This summer, the group have chosen to undertake one of the greatest Shakespeare tragedies –Hamlet – but as with many of their past triumphs, the team have given the production some unusual twists, including setting the story in the 1930s and a fresh look at the well-known characters!”

Unexpectedly funny, undeniably heart-wrenching, and packed with action and wit, this is an incarnation of Shakespeare’s most famous tragedy not to be missed.

The play is being performed on June 23, 24 and 25, with the gates opening at 5:30pm and the show starting at 6:30pm each evening. Tickets are £8 for entry alone, or £12.50 for entry and a drink, and are available from Northwood House on 01983293642 or at

So bring a chair, pack a picnic, and join Ad Lib theatre at the Court of Elsinore this summer!


Photography: Kelly Hole

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