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Hamlet, Almeida Theatre | Review


Hamlet
Almeida Theatre
Reviewed on Saturday 4th March 2017 by Olivia Mitchell
★★

Shamefully, most of my Shakespeare knowledge has come from school English lessons so I'm not the most educated on the Bard but I jumped at the chance to see this highly anticipated production of the great tragedy Hamlet. At almost four hours long you might think you'll lag towards the end but this production is so well done that you'll be gripped and wide awake throughout!

Andrew Scott of Sherlock fame takes on the mammoth feat of playing the iconic, Hamlet. You  need skill, stamina and sincerity to carry this very long play and Scott has all of these in spades. He holds the play up and commands every moment, showing a thousand different emotions and really taking the audience on a crazy, dramatic journey. Each word he speaks is filled with emotion. From quiet whispered moments to loud shouts and screams, he manages to involve the audience and create a real sense of intimacy. His performance is absolutely outstanding.

Peter Wight is brilliant as Polonius; nosy and sneaky but still likeable. Jessica Brown-Findlay as Ophelia transforms from joyful innocence to grief-stricken craziness wonderfully and gives a truly moving performance in her final scenes. Juliet Stevenson's Queen and relationship with Angus Wright's Claudius are very convincing and just shocking enough. They work very well together, showing a lot of character development throughout and using the text in new and exciting ways.

Hildegard Bechtler's set is simple but crazily effective. It seems to become more opaque as the play moves on, with the clever use of curtains and screens becoming ingrained in and crucial to the performance throughout. Along with Tom Gibbons' sparse and overwhelming score a sense of drama and being trapped/followed is ever present.

Robert Icke has created a truly brilliant production. From explosive moments to moments of silence, the audience are kept gripped and the four hours goes by in a tick. The performance is humorous and shocking at the same time whilst embodying the eerie intensity that Shakespeare is so well known for. Every crevice of the play has been fully thought through and the character work from rehearsals is clear in every moment on stage.

This is an impeccable production from a stupendously talented and well rounded cast. The show has been brought into the modern world perfectly and effectively. There's light and shade, humour and sadness, love and hate and so much more. Truly brilliant!

Hamlet runs at the Almeida Theatre until April 15th. The production is currently sold out but it's well worth queuing for a return ticket!

Photo by: Manuel Harlan
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