Hamnet at the Garrick Theatre review: Emotional, engaging and enchanting

Thursday 19 October 2023

Garrick Theatre

Presented by the Royal Shakespeare Company, and based on Maggie O'Farrell's book of the same name, Hamnet is a truly remarkable production that's captivating, moving and ever so slightly whimsical.

The show's unique take on Shakespeare's life and the emotional journey it explores is nothing short of brilliant. The creative team, with adaptation by Lolita Chakrabarti and direction by Erica Whyman, manage to delve into the personal life of one of history's greatest playwrights, offering a fresh and emotionally charged perspective. The seamless blending of historical accuracy and artistic interpretation is commendable, making Hamnet a compelling experience for theatre enthusiasts and Shakespeare aficionados alike.

The performances are simply outstanding. The cast's commitment to their roles and the intensity of their portrayals completely transport you from pouring Charing Cross road to the world of Hamnet and his family. The emotional depth brought to the characters is both touching and thought-provoking. Madeleine Mantock gives an astoundingly moving performance as Agnes, showing amazing development and growth that has the audience really rooting for her and therefore feeling her pain to the nth degree in the second act. Tom Varey is witty but complex as William whilst Alex Jarrett really comes into her own and provides some of the most understated but emotionally impactful moments of the show. Universally the chemistry and energy among the actors is palpable, with the whole team creating an atmosphere of authenticity that draws the audience in, you couldn't ask for a stronger team of performers.

The set design (Tom Piper) and production values are top-notch. The stage design, lighting (Prema Mehta), and soundscapes (Oguz Kaplangi) add a layer of immersion that transports us to the Elizabethan era. The careful attention to detail in recreating this period is truly impressive, and contributes significantly to the overall atmosphere of the play.

The show is mostly paced well but there are a few moments which pull slightly. While the slower tempo is fitting for the introspective nature of the play, there are moments where a bit more dynamism would've helped. Nevertheless, this is a minor quibble in an otherwise exceptional production.

Hamnet is a theatrical triumph, offering a profound and emotional exploration of the Shakespearean legacy. With powerful performances, and a thought-provoking narrative, it is a must-see!

Reviewed on Wednesday 18th October 2023 by Olivia Mitchell
Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan

{AD PR Invite- tickets gifted in exchange for honest review}