Yes. Amazing. Jonathan Goad. Let me just say that Cumberbatch will have a hard time to top this performance.
Goad just has it all and it seems to be his part from the start. The man is young enough to pull the scholar off, mature enough to be a leader amongst friends and to see the political consequences of his actions, talented enough to pull off madness without overacting and finally fit enough to add a lot of physical comedy to his performance without even breaking into a sweat. Accompanied by a great cast (Geraint Wyn Davies as both the ghost and the new king, Tom Rooney as Ophelia’s father, Mike Shara as his son) this was a win from the start. Set in a non specified present where guns unapologetically replace rapiers until the last sword fight and in modern dress, it is Shakespeare’s beautiful language that brings it all together when Elizabethan English starts to sound like current English thanks to the talented actors on stage.
Yes I was/am that impressed.
Things that stood out for me: Goad mimicking a crab complete with crabwalking backwards and using his hands for its shears, then looking at his right hand still opening and closing as if it wasn’t attached to his mind or body. The one time Hamlet lets his affection for Ophelia shine through in their scene with her father watching and that almost kiss that made the air sizzle. The sheer skill with which Shara and Goad pull off their final fight scene. Damn their fight director John Stead is good! The exchange of the blades was so fast and fluid it was amazing. And finally the death scene of Hamlet – always difficult because there’s still so much text left for the actor which can lead to me thinking ‘oh die already, everyone else is gone’. Not this time. When Hamlet finally says ‘the rest is silence’ it is with almost child-like surprise. Then his body just lets go. No dramatic falling back, just … over. When six combat clad soldiers carry him out (how did Goad manage his body tension for that scene….) his head falls back – a perfect last glimpse at an unlikely hero and his finished quest.
Damn, Goad owned it.😉