Hamlet takes to the stage at the United Nations

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - A special performance of Shakespeare's Hamlet takes to the stage on Monday at a venue that often seeks to address human tragedy worldwide - the United Nations.

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre brought its world tour to the UN's New York headquarters for performance on a specially constructed stage inside one of the General Assembly's many committee chambers.

Hamlet also kicked off the month-long British presidency of the 15-member Security Council, the UN's top decision-making body, with conflict in Gaza, Syria, Iraq, Libya and east Ukraine set to be major bones of contention.

"It's a play that deals with the human condition, essentially, so that's shared with every nation in the world," said Miranda Foster, who plays Hamlet's shadowy mother, Gertrude.

"At the heart of the play is a dysfunctional family and you could look at some parts of the world and see a dysfunctional family, where brothers and cousins are at each others' teeth," said Rawiri Paratene, who plays Claudius.

The touring company of 12 actors has so far been to 28 countries as part of a pledge to bring Shakespeare to every country in the world, to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the playwright's birth.

The performance comes as the United Nations is facing mounting criticism over the ongoing violence in Gaza that has left more than 1,800 Palestinians dead in less than a month.

Globe Theatre performers however steered clear of the controversy on whether the powers at the Security Council should be asking themselves "to be or not to be" as Hamlet does in a moment of despair.

"It would be very hard to extend from that a critique of the UN," said the Globe Theatre's artistic director Dominic Dromgoole.

"Hamlet has a restless sense of modernity, a restless sense of wanting a new world to be born," said Dromgoole.

"Hamlet is the great apostle of new thought and thinking and everybody has to listen."

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