In Gertrude- The Cry, Barker explores Gertrude's motives all the while painting other characters in a new light and creating new figures in Hamlet's world. Gertrude takes on a new persona as the puppet master, manipulating Claudius and going toe to toe against her mother-in-law Isola. Is it possible that Gertrude is a power hungry menace who manipulates her way to the top? Barker’s Gertrude seems to have shades of Lady Macbeth. By pulling focus on Gertrude and discovering her deeper side, Barker offers a new perspective to the source material. Sure, previous knowledge of the Bard's classic is helpful, Gertrude still has the ability to stand on its own. While some of the liberties Barker takes may confusion Hamlet aficionados, it's still an intriguing script, sexy and provocative and never afraid to shock.
|photo courtesy of Stan Barouh|
Howard Barker's extensive catalogue of work is known for its vulgar language and themes, yet Gertude- the Cry may be one of his more accessible works. For fans of adaptations with a touch of intellect, this play is for you. I guarantee you will never see Hamlet's Gertrude the same ever again.