Director: Lyndsey Turner
Writer: William Shakespeare
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Sian Brooke, Ciarán Hinds, Anastasia Hille, Jim Norton, Leo Bill, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, Matthew Steer, Rudi Dharmalingam
Seen on: 15.10.2015
Prince Hamlet (Benedict Cumberbatch) just returned to Denmark after his father’s death. His mother Gertrud (Anastasia Hille) has quickly remarried – and who else but Hamlet’s uncle Claudius (Ciarán Hinds)? But Hamlet’s father still haunts the castle grounds and he tells Hamlet that it was his own brother who killed him. Now it’s upon Hamlet to set things right again. But Hamlet’s grasp on sanity is slipping. Or maybe that is all a ruse?
I have seen Hamlet now in many iterations and just like Shakespeare’s historical plays aren’t for me, Hamlet isn’t for me either. This production certainly didn’t change my mind. (The only notable exception to that rule is Branagh’s Hamlet. And North’s To Be or Not To Be, which I have yet to read in its entirety/play through.)
The marketing campaign for this play is completely focused on Cumberbatch (which – judging by the local showings in my cinema that just keep on coming and keep on being sold out – is a solid strategy). But it also meant that I was completely surprised when Ciarán Hinds walked on stage (personally the much bigger draw). But I guess things can be worse than being surprised by Ciarán Hinds.
The cast wasn’t bad at all but I didn’t like some of the characters’ directions: Cumberbatch’s Hamlet was much too manic for my taste, Sian Brooke’s Ophelia was annoying in her eternal shakiness. Admittedly, Ophelia generally has a character problem that starts with Shakespeare and is hard to get out of, but here they really didn’t get very far.
The play could have also done with a lot more shortening – it honestly felt at least twice as long as it was (and it wasn’t short to begin with). But then I’m all for radically shortening Shakespeare, especially with his dramas. He does have a tendency to ramble.
In any case, the only thing I really liked without any buts was the stage design which was beautiful, just a tad surreal and used beautiful colors. I would have loved to see another play in such a wonderful setting.