3 stars ***
Assembly Roxy (Venue 39)
IT’S A DIFFICULT thing, to review a show in which you’ve ended up performing yourself. In ATC’s Blind Hamlet, written by Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour and directed by Ramin Gray, six members of the audience – almost a third of the crowd – are invited to become part of the show; and it’s also not easy to review a piece of theatre that promises to explore aspects of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, but then develops into a completely non-Shakespearean party game, a kind of Cluedo or blind man’s buff in which those on stage have to guess which of their number are murderers, and which are innocent.
The strongest aspect of the show, by a long way, is the monologue text spoken by an imaginary playwright going blind in Moscow, without ever having really read Hamlet; the monologue is delivered via a recording on a tiny mobile phone, which lies centre stage, inches from a microphone.
The party-game sequence, though, goes nowhere near delivering on the promise of this strange and thoughtful monologue. And despite the ingenuity of the games Soleimanpour plays with theatre and culture, and with his own absence and presence in western theatre, for most of this brief event Shakespeare’s great text is absent without leave; replaced by the embarrassed gigglings of onstage audience members who – understandably enough – have very little idea of what’s happening, and even less to say about it.