Hamlet Globe to Globe is a compulsively readable, intensely personal chronicle of performances in places as various as Djibouti and Gdansk, Taipei and Bogotá. The book is in large part a tribute to the perils and pleasures of touring...they would fly in, hastily assemble their set, unpack their props and costumes, shake hands with officials, give interviews to the local press, and mount the stage for two and a half hours of ghostly haunting, brooding soliloquies, madcap humor, impulsive stabbing, feigned and real madness, graveside grappling, swordplay and the final orgy of murder.
...[a] irresistible new book ... He covers the triumphs and the low points, shares some gossip, airs grievances against those who criticized the project (the company’s unsuccessful effort to perform in North Korea generated controversy), and every now and then has an epiphany about the meaning of it all ... [Dromgoole] delves into the play’s history, grapples with its themes, and offers a passionate case for its enduring relevance ... The logistics of the world tour are themselves fascinating, from the difficulty of procuring visas to the caprices of air travel to the pressure of creating a portable production that could be mounted and taken down within a couple of hours.
For all its excitements, the journey must have been a slog, and the book has something of that feel, too. Dromgoole joined the travellers only intermittently, and his descriptions, while atmospheric, often have a scrambled, straight-off-the-plane quality, with every after-show drink or impromptu chat ransacked for significance ... Dromgoole is at his best on home turf, roaming around the vastnesses of Shakespeare’s longest script. There’s good nitty-gritty on the practicalities of staging, and some battle-hardened textual insights ... There is no doubting their courage, but why are his actors visiting all these countries? As with so many questions in Hamlet, this one doesn’t really find an answer.
[Dromgoole] relates each [vignette] with colour and candour. Yet his book also charts a deeper, personal quest for insight and meaning. Whether he is in Mexico with a dose of diarrhoea or Ukraine with President Petro Poroshenko, we find Dromgoole churning over the great imponderables — war, love, liberty — in the context of Hamlet ... Somehow, Dromgoole is almost never irritating. There is something pleasantly unguarded and uncouth about the way he writes. His tone is modest and frank. He is able to give the final word on human existence without sounding pretentious ... Dromgoole and his company belong in the ancient tradition of strolling players — quick-witted and wise, generous, hard-drinking and open. His book is written in that spirit. It is bold and excited, hopeful, dashing and just a little bit ragged. By the time we reach the final show back on London’s Southbank, it is a wrench to part his company.
[Dromgoole] has no tidy scholastic thesis; academics and tidiness irritate him. He is not pushing a new interpretation of the play or the playwright. Instead, like any good memoirist, he bounces unpredictably from revenge and the Islamic State to Istanbul and an ode to scaffolding ... Dromgoole the marketing impresario sometimes wanders into pompous cliches of Shakes-praise, but he is always saved by his directorial gift for particularity ... This Hamlet is not a tragedy about a doomed genius bounded in a nutshell, but a comic epic about company management. I’m not complaining. You will enjoy this book if, like me, you would rather reread Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy than Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa.”
In this thoughtful and often eloquent account of that world-busting tour, Dromgoole reminds us that Hamlet is intensely political as well as deeply psychological, a study of power and a disturber of the status quo ... Dromgoole, an excellent dramaturge, draws the curtains aside to reveal the play's lore and history.
With candor, humor, and erudition, English theater director Dromgoole tells the incredible story ... Dromgoole is wise and witty; thoughtful, self-assured, even cocky; and, at times, verbose and esoteric. But he is never dull. His mission was to bring Hamlet to the world to show that Hamlet is the world, and he succeeded admirably. A wide readership, not just Shakespeare buffs and scholars, can enjoy this book.
This is a dog’s dinner of a book, poorly written, often banal, a hundred pages too long, and marked by a peculiar, regrettable absence of the actors and stage hands. They are referenced, lauded, but voiceless ... Yet this is nevertheless a winning book. 'It is perfectly possible to be garrulous and to conceal,' Mr. Dromgoole says of Hamlet. It could be his own mantra.