Hamlet, Barbican Oct. 16th, ’15

london west end

This Hamlet is a mixed blessing –  I thought it was a good show that suffered from some very poor directing choices, the hype over cumberbatch and one overly huge ego (BC’s if you need the explanation).
Cumberbatch. . .so much hype. .. I think no one could live up to that.

I really think that hype took away a notch from the performance. For me the “madness ” was too much. He was very good but … on the whole. .. I don’t know, I felt it lacked a bit. Plus his plea for money at the end took away the “afterglow”

He’s a very … agitated hamlet. Even when softness would be required. He was sweating buckets thus blinking his eyes constantly. I know it’s petty but it was quite annoying. They still meddled with the placement of the monologues which was okay but forced his “madness” a bit fast – it’s a director’s decision that can work but doesn’t necessarily have to. The rest of the cast was a mixed blessing. Horatio (leo bill); was amazing as was Claudius (ciaran hinds) – his prayer scene was a huge highlight. Damn ,he was good. Ophelia suffered from  weakest part of the play syndrome. The poor girl was forced to run around cocking her head like a clucking chicken before her suicide. Yeah, that’s madness… not. the fighting scene between laertes (kobna holdbrook-smith) and Hamlet was very masculine and well choreographed, both showing off their skills with a rapier. But hamlet’s  death scene … was … Sorry just meh. Screeching “the rest is silence” and then perishing on the floor doesn’t a good death scene make. All in all it was a good production, not a great one, mostly down to some weird directing choices (Hamlet in a nutcracker’s costume parading in a children’s fort and on the table of the war room, Ophelia clucking away.) What I liked was the use of freeze frame for hamlet’s monologues. Everyone around him froze to slow slow motion while he opened up about his inner most feelings.

It also didn’t help that poor Fortinbras was barely understandable and rather left alone in the midst of all those dead bodies and that he had most of his lines cut. Again, it’s a decision a director makes and it can work.

I wasn’t too overwhelmed by the use of the set design, which was actually gorgeous and depicted a lavish great hall in a castle which at the end of part one was flooded dramatically by a storm of black snow, heralding the demise of a great bloodline of kings. But in part two it also served as a field and as the graveyard. Mhh.
And then after the bows Hamlet cumberbatch droned on about the refugee crisis and that they’d already collected 200.000 £ . good for them. Oh well. It was a good show, but it didn’t live up to the hype around it, which is kind of a shame. But as long as there are throngs of cumberbitches at the stage door, no one will probably notice.

My Hamlet is still Jonathan Goad.


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