Never have I ever cried throughout an entire performance, because of an emotional attachment to a main character. And it’s not because I have a crush on an actor! That was, until I saw Hamlet at the Barbican Theatre.
I attended the show, with my Drama school, as part of our theatrical understanding of William Shakespeare. Before I went, I heard negative feedback from my peers – not just about Hamlet, but Shakespeare in general, as his writings [according to one] were excluding and difficult to understand. So, I went with high-hopes and I came out of the theatre, still recovering from my tears.
For those who haven’t heard of Hamlet, I’ll narrow the story down for you:
Hamlet’s father, the Old King of Denmark has been murdered by his jealous Uncle, Claudius. Not long after his death, Claudius marries Hamlet’s mother and sits upon his throne. Disgust by his Uncle and depressed by his loss, Hamlet then suddenly becomes addicted to revenge. By doing so, he loses everything and everyone he loves – his friends, fiancée, and even his own family.
Although the story is timeless, I noticed how Sonia Friedman, the producer of the show cleverly hinted some things about each character and situation in the story. For example, Hamlet playing with his castle and dressing up as soldier. What does it show the audience? Does it represent madness or simply the loss of a Prince’s childhood? They are cleverly delivered and shown in a way that the audience can understand perfectly, if they either have or haven’t seen a Shakespeare play before.
Benedict Cumberbatch as Hamlet, Prince of Denmark
The cast delivered a first class performance, especially Benedict Cumberbatch who made me cry for start to end. Even his version of Shakespeare’s famous “To Be or Not to Be” speech had me in floods of tears, as I mouthed the words along with him. Every time he cried, I cried with him. Somehow, Cumberbatch’s performance has taught me that a true actor must express his emotions. And he has done it well. If it must be, I believe Hamlet is Cumberbatch’s finest performance of his career.
And finally, I want to give a shout out to Es Devlin for his amazing work on the set. It is one of the finest of theatrical sets that you’ll ever see – it’s like an actual, beautiful dining room in a magnificent palace. The set is cleverly detailed, allowing the audience to understand the stability of the Royal family in the play from start to finish. It was breath-taking and very chilling, at the same time.
Overall, I give Hamlet a trillion out of ten. It is a wonderful, creative, well-thought out and emotional performance. I would highly recommend to see and book pretty quickly, because when I saw the show, it was a sold out event. Also, I recommend to bring plenty of tissues and leave them close to you.