entertainment

Review | Hamlet at the Harold Pinter Theatre, London

2017-06-30
It seems like only five minutes ago since Benedict Cumberbatch played the great Dane – and it was the hottest ticket in town. Now his Sherlock co-star Andrew Scott takes a turn in this transfer from the Almeida Theatre and he is nothing short of stunning. If Hamlet is a revenge thriller, the opening of Robert Icke’s production does not disappoint. The ghost of Hamlet’s father appears on huge CCTV screens amidst blasts of static while the characters look on aghast, desperately trying to communicate with the spirit via intercom. It is genuinely exciting and sets the scene perfectly for this high-octane family drama. At nearly four hours in length the production is not for the faint-hearted, however Icke lets the production breathe, develops new relationships, and finds new meanings in the text. Scott is the picture of sorrow and grief when we first see him, unable to make sense of the situation in which he finds himself. His pain is so real that anyone who has lost a parent or loved one will feel it too. This is an actor who can make you laugh through his self-deprecating humour and then break your heart. His soliloquies are completely conversational. We watch as he speaks the lines seemingly for the first time while making personal discoveries along the way. It’s incredibly intimate and we feel he is speaking to each and every one of us in turn. The rest of the cast are just as strong. In particular Juliet Stevenson as Gertrude undergoes a massive journey that is riveting. Peter Wight as Polonius is no bumbling fool but a loving and fiercely protective father with possible early-onset dementia. Jessica Brown Findlay as Ophelia is feisty and distressing in her madness, although it’s a wonder she hasn’t lost it earlier under the constant surveillance of Elsinore. Barry Aird as the Gravedigger is a revelation as he makes complete sense of a notoriously difficult scene. If it sounds like I’m gushing it’s because I am. This is that good. It’s a Hamlet for the House Of Cards generation and like any good Netflix series I binged on it for hours. I could do so all over again. Rating – 5/5 Words by Matthew Hyde Hamlet plays at the Harold Pinter Theatre until 2nd September For more great deals on tickets and shows visit tickets.attitude.co.uk.