Hundreds of Cambodians lined up outside the auditorium of the Royal University of Phnom Penh Wednesday night, awaiting the premiere of “Hamlet.”
William Shakespeare’s classic tragedy, in which Prince Hamlet of Denmark seeks revenge against a usurper uncle who has murdered his father and married his mother, remains a beautiful story, and one with wide appeal, the performance’s artistic director, Dominic Dromgoole, told VOA Khmer.
And even though the English play might be hard to fully understand, he said, “I hope that people will enjoy the story.”
The story begins with a tormented Hamlet, contemplating suicide, infamously asking, “to be, or not to be?” but determining instead to take revenge on a murder most foul, setting in motion a tragic chain of events. It ends in his death, his noble heart cracked by poison, and “the rest is silence.”
At least 1,000 people attended Wednesday’s performance, crowding into the hot theater hall and proving the timelessness and universality of the Bard’s storytelling.
Seng Virakbuth, a freshman at the Institute of Foreign Languages, said the performance “opened my eyes.” He was impressed by the performers, he said, who took on various roles during the play.
Cheam Kokhor, a sophomore from the institute, took away something more. “Revenge is nothing, in the end,” he said. “It only causes us trouble and wastes our time. However, understanding and forgiveness are the priceless things that we need to have in society.”