Alas, Dear Benedict. You Hit Me Well – My Review of Sonia Friedman Productions Hamlet

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.

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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.

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Heart-to-Heart Friday – Love Yourself and Others

“So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.”

William Shakespeare, Sonnet 18

Waiting For A Rainbow – 30th April – Part II

Note: This entry is a day late; this was due to Internet problems last night. I’m really sorry about that, but I hope you enjoy reading Part II. 🙂

‘Happy Birthday’.

‘“Happy Birthday”?’ I was confused; what on earth was she talking about?

‘You better ring your parents and tell them you’re coming home late, Georgina’.

‘What? Why?’

‘You’re going to see “Disney on Ice” for your birthday’.

I was so shocked; I couldn’t believe it. Ann said she kept the show as a secret since Christmas and I knew nothing about it. We went to see the last show and loved every second of it; there was brilliant ice-skating, dancing and tons of visual effects including fireworks and glow lights. What’s more, the show was inclusive as the audience were allowed to sing along, dance and have fun. I won’t give too much away, expect the movies that were featured were The Little Mermaid, Tangled, Beauty and the Beast and Frozen. Ann and I had a blast and we didn’t want the show to end; there’s no such thing as being too old for Disney!

Songs #4 & #5: I See the Light from ‘Tangled’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLSrOijxFKQ and Let It Go from Frozen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-EZNWeei9Q

 

These songs were in the ‘Disney On Ice’ Show, but I think these songs have a special meaning to me; I See the Light explains positive outcomes and hopes for the future, as I am coming towards, seeing the light. Let It Go was one of the songs that helped me get through my heartbreak a year ago and it helped me become a stronger person. And I sang along to it, because I wanted to! 🙂    

 

Yesterday, I had a small gathering with my close friends at Drama school. After our afternoon lesson (which was Home Education), I brought out cake, chocolate and sweets. We all had a bite and a chat and sang S Club 7 songs. The small party lasted until the early evening and we all had a wonderful time; there weren’t many people around and two of my friends were angry that most of our peers couldn’t be bothered to celebrate or wish me a ‘happy birthday’. But I didn’t care; I learned that I didn’t need a big party to be liked or admired. All I needed was to invite those who were close to me and show everyone that I was having a good time. It’s a wonderful life lesson, one which I will never, ever forget and treasure forever.

Song #6: Reach For the Stars by S Club 7: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SxSnjL3nZ0

This is one of the songs I played and sang along to, while talking to my friends, but this a favourite song of mine because I love it sooo much! 🙂

Today, I had a father and daughter outing with my Dad; we spend the day in London and as a birthday treat, we went to see Romeo and Juliet at the Globe Theatre! It was pretty spectacular; we saw the show in Bay K (the Middle Gallery) and had front row seats. We saw everything! The actors were amazing, the music was amazing, and the action and the romance were amazing. In the interval, I saw (from the corner of my eye) a woman, who was taking pictures of a Lego man, dressed as William Shakespeare standing on the oak rail and in front of the stage, near our seats. After she’d finished, the lady noticed my interest in her Lego figure; I kindly asked her how she made it.

‘I didn’t’, she said. ‘I bought him’.

The lady explained to me that she is currently travelling around the world and she takes pictures of the figure, wherever they go. Then, she lifted the Lego Will’s hair and revealed his baldness. ‘Look; he’s bald’, she laughed. I laughed with her. When Dad came back, I explained to him what the lady was doing and said to me. He was pretty interested too. Before she left, the lady told us that she had published a book, based on Juliet’s Nurse and it is a prequel; the story begins fourteen years prior to the play.

When we got home, I decided to research the book and the lady’s name. First, I discovered that the lady who I spoke to was American author Lois M. Leveen and the book she mentioned was Juliet’s Nurse. It was a complete surprise speaking to her; to be honest, I have never heard of Lois before, nor have I read her books but I now I have, I’m really, really keen to read Juliet’s Nurse which I’ll definitely read sometime soon.

Well, this it. I’m nearly coming to the end of my one year journey and tomorrow, I’ll reach my twenty-first birthday. I hardly can believe it; normally, I wouldn’t finish a task but I’m proud to say that this is my first. Yay! Soon, I’ll be taking a new path into my life – one that (I hope) will be full of new discoveries, new thrilling adventures, positive outcomes and tons of happy memories, full of smiles and uplifting hearts. I’m sure it will (*TOUCH WOOD*) because I can feel it in my heart. (*TOUCH WOOD, AGAIN*).

A Woman, or Not a Woman? – My Review on Hamlet, starring Maxine Peake

Today, I went on an outing to the cinema. Earlier in the week, my cousin suggested that we should see William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Having some information but never seen the play before, I agreed to come. What the audience would normally see is a traditional Shakespearean show, set in the seventeenth century with actors, dressed in Stuart costumes and belting out Shakespeare’s wonderful, yet sometimes confusing, dialogue. However, this wasn’t the case.

Indeed, this production of the show, live from the Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre did stick to the lines. However, there have been a lot of changes. For instance, the setting for the play is in 21st century Denmark, all the actors have different British accents; Scottish, cockney, etc. The massive difference however is some of the characters are portrayed by women. These include Polonius (renamed as Polonia), Rosencrantz and Hamlet, who is played by the wonderful Maxine Peake.

Peake delivered a gripping, intense and funny portrayal of Hamlet. I was hooked into her character; I was unsure if the director and/or producers were trying to show the main character as a young adolescent. If they did, then Peake was right person for the role. As the Prince of Denmark, I could easily see her emotions and feelings, being brought to life on her own and with the cast. Also, I give her top marks for the famous To Be or Not to Be monologue; it was spoken to true perfection.

I also give credit for Gillian Bevan and Katie West for their wonderful portrayals’ as Polonia and Ophelia. Both women were equally wonderful. One, who gave out the most comical laughs. The other, who gave me tears when it came to the important bits in the play. They, like Peake, had me on the edge of my seat. One minute, I’ll be laughing, the next crying. I must confess, I had more heart for Ophelia, with all the trouble she had to go through Hamlet’s ordeal.

The set is incredible – they had light bulbs, which lit up when the Ghost is contacting Hamlet from the dead and they had a graveyard, full of clothes. They even had Ophelia’s dress (which West wears in the show) buried in the pile, representing the character and had a few jumper’s crafted into skulls. This is genius; you would never expect any of this in a Shakespeare play. The music gives me the chills in my spine. It’s kind of like composing a detective story; you hairs get spiked up and it makes your body freeze, like you are outside on a cold, December evening. They are instrumental pieces done right.

Overall, this modern re-telling of Hamlet is excellent. If it comes out in cinemas again or on stage, I would recommend it. Although it’s one of the world’s most filmed story, I guarantee that you’ll never look at Shakespeare’s play the same way again.