Starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Sian Brooke
Hamlet is one of those roles that most great actors strive to take on at some point in their career. Recently it was the turn of Benedict Cumberbatch, Academy award nominee and star of Sherlock, with the performance being shown on cinema screens around the world. Going to see the preview which really pushed the leading man, I was unsure what to expect, Cumberbatch is a fantastic actor; anyone can see that, but I was intrigued as to how the whole production would fit around its star. My answer: pretty seamlessly. With a spectacular set, the scene changes were rehearsed down to a tee, the cast bouncing and gliding from one side of the stage to the other, creating a both energetic and enigmatic spectacle. which really shines on the screen. Though some critics have noted Cumberbatch’s tendency to outshine the rest of the cast, it is not his fellow actors that drag this production down. What I found occasionally tedious was the tendency to dwell on quirky humour. The play itself begins with Hamlet sitting onstage with an old record player, listening to music and going through his dead father’s possessions with Cumberbatch being six-feet-whateverheis, this all seemed a bit twee. We later get an instance of Hamlet playing dress-up, him prancing around on a table set for dinner, dressed like a toy soldier. While I can see that this allows Cumberbatch to bring out the sassy flamboyance we sometimes
see from him in Sherlock, I was not entirely convinced by its appearance in Hamlet. The frequent use of childish humour made Hamlet likeable, but somewhat detracted from the introspective element of Hamlet’s character, with an actor like Cumberbatch, Hamlet could have been explored so much further psychologically. That being said, Cumberbatch is radiant in every scene he graces. Some of the best scenes are the Nunnery scene, with Hamlet and Ophelia (a superb Sian Brooke) bringing both the best and worst out of each other, and the scene of Polonious’ death, Anastasia Hille’s Queen Gertrude suddenly coming to life in the presence of Cumberbatch’s slowly maddening prince. It is, however, during the titular character’s signature soliloquies that Cumberbatch comes into his own. Elevated by the camera’s ability to take close up shots of those piercing blue eyes, his drawn-out performance oozes concentrated introspection, you really feel it. Cumberbatch’s Hamlet slides seamlessly between personas, one of the most multi-dimensional performances of the character I have seen. Running 3hours 30 minutes this production is most definitely worth a watch.
Rated MA 8 out of 10 Win one of two double passes to see a movie of your choice at Regent Cinemas.
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