IT is unlikely William Shakespeare ever perceived his most celebrated piece being performed as a modern ballet.
But it is likely he will have been encouraged to hear Yorkshire’s revered Northern Ballet Theatre had taken Hamlet to task.
Created by artistic director David Nixon OBE and co-directed by recently-appointed associate artist Patricia Doyle, NBT has set the classic in the early 1940s in Nazi-occupied Paris, where Hamlet’s mind unravels against the backdrop of one of the most awful and defining periods in modern history.
It is performed to a specially-commissioned score from celebrated British composer Philip Feeney and follows a young man who arrives back from the front to find his home and world not as it was when he left.
His father is dead, his mother has married his uncle and the enemy occupies his city.
As Hamlet’s world descends into chaos the boundaries between truth and deception, sanity and insanity become distorted.
“Hamlet is a young man who starts out with everything but loses it all,” Nixon says of the production that will be staged at Sheffield’s Lyceum Theatre September 20-24.
“It is a story people immediately identify with and there is much about it that has resonance in our darker corners.
“Maybe that’s why Hamlet is so popular, because somewhere deep inside of us, at some time, we all debate whether ‘to be or not to be’.”