British Black and Asian Shakespeare Performance Database
Hamlet (1988): Everyman Theatre, Liverpool
PRINCIPAL CAST: Gillian Cally (Gertrude); Tommy Eytle (Polonius); David Hobbs (Claudius); Martin McKellan (Hamlet); Stephen Persaud (Laertes); Michael Starke (Horatio); Cathy Tyson (Ophelia).
This production ran from 4 February - 12 March 1988.
The programme also lists an understudy for Ophelia in the credits (no other understudies), Anne Marie Cavannah, who is white.
"Glen Walford's production at the Liverpool Everyman has a monochrome bleakness of setting, slate grey and black in twirling miasmas of stage smoke. The set is a Northern fastness, and the stage is used in the vertical as well as the horizontal. The lighting from below and above the set is extremely effective, achieving changes of scene with economy and speed. Still, such skill could not totally compensate for the economical use of the text, as Shakespeare's blockbuster was compressed into two and a half hours....Ophelia's time on stage is too brief for Cathy Tyson to develop the role, but she gives strong hints of the sensual ambiguity in the part which are missing in the virginity of the Victorian stereotypes." ~ Ian Williams, "Cold comfort farm", Independent, 10 February 1988
"...only nine players are employed in the production, and although Claire Lyth, the designer, has shown much imagination, it is not always easy to tell at once who is playing what....Ophelia is black Cathy Tyson, and because she is black we sensibly have a black Laertes (Stephen Persaud) and a black Polonius, Tommy Eytle - a very good Polonius whose jokes made the audience laugh...Miss Tyson made less of her madness than I expected, for she had her emotions very near the surface in the earlier scenes. Mad, she preferred to speak her verses, singing only a few lines, and she had no property herbs to distribute to the company, only make-believe." ~ B. A. Young, Financial Times, 9 February 1988
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