OKT's Hamlet is back with its touches of genius

By Raymond Zhou ( China Daily ) Updated: 2016-03-09 09:06:08

OKT's Hamlet is back with its touches of genius

Lithuanian troupe OKT stages Hamlet in China, presenting five performances each in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Few in China had heard of Oskaras Korsunovas Theater, or OKT in short, when the Lithuanian troupe first presented Hamlet as part of the mammoth Theater Olympics festival in late 2014 in Beijing.

Few went to see it. But those who did were so awestruck that word of mouth turned it into a breakout hit.

Now, OKT's Hamlet is back, presenting five performances each in Beijing (concluded on Sunday), Shanghai (March 10-13) and Guangzhou (March 17-20).

Suffice it to say, this is not a Hamlet for the uninitiated. While it's the opposite of complacency, the brilliance and flair of its directorial treatment are most evident to those who are well versed in this much-beloved and often-staged classic.

The biggest touch of genius, to this reviewer, is the stage setup, for which nine dressing tables form endlessly changeable geometric patterns. It also adds another layer of meaning-that of theater-to the story. So, the characters' questions are interwoven with the actors' own existential angst.

This brings us to the opening line, which is "Who's there?" in the original play and "Who are you?" in the OKT production. While "Who's there" can indeed be translated into "Who are you" in this context, the change does not bring out as much as invent a new dimension that was not there in the first place. I do not think it is totally subversive, but definitely director-oriented, offering one unique interpretation that can be ingeniously revelatory at its best or maddeningly confounding at worst.

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