Back to 2015
This is a play I liked a lot, posponed in modern time halfway between the IXX and XX Centuries. Is also my second favorite play Shakespeare wrote.
Never happened that I booked for a play one year in advance, but when the news about Cumberbatch chosen to play Hamlet came out on Twitter, it was too juicy not to take the chance to see him on stage! And tickets went away very fast. I got one in the front row, but it was quite satisfying.
I wanted to write some #intervaltweets during the interval, but the staff of the Barbican was very severe and they barely allowed even to breath.
For sure the Barbican wanted us to immerse in the story because it freezing inside it, so when the ghost of Hamlet’s father came out, I got shivers already!
The play started with music, then there was Hamlet in ‘800 clothes sitting near a record player reading a book. We immediately see he’s a sensitive, proud young man who feels betrayed by his own mother and uncle. In the next scene there was a banquet with noble guests, which looked much like “The Last Supper” Leonardo painted, Hamlet was not happy and started to be sarcastic.
During the dinner, a couple of actors played two lovers in the act of killing her husband, just like Hamlet thought really happened, making his uncle upset.
The firt part ends with the uncle monlogue and explosions with sequins from two opposite doors.
I liked that Ophelia was portrayed as a photographer, loved Sian Brooke playing her.
Scenes in the palace showed burocracy, there was a map of Europe on the wall, secretaries came and went in and out. In several scenes they play in slow motion.
Cumberbatch was totally taken by the role. He’s an actor with comic skilss, but dramatic, as well. When he was pretending to be mad, he layed with big toys, like a castle and tin soldiers. Pity from my seat I couldn’t see his legs while he was entering the hall, but looked like he was making goosestep.
One of my favorite scenes is when Karl Johnson played a hodman who was digging a hole with skeletons inside and pretended to play music with a bone and threw away bones and a skull, making the audience laughing. It was in that scene that Hamlet got a skull in his hand, not during the famous speech “To be or not to be”.
Hamlet even got a modern gun, but the duel between Laertes and him is fought with swords, like in the original version.
The cast was terrific, I particulalry loved Karl Johnson playing the father, an actor who can play one dramatic scene and the moment after a very funny sketch.
(………….still updating this report………………………)
Notes on the set design
Very rich set design that reproduce a palace in ‘800 stile, with a grand chandelier and branches of flowers hanging from the ceiling, lot of candels on the walls, a trunk full of photos, the cast moves forniture on stage in and out. During Hamlet’s monologues and each time the ghost of his father appears, something is screened on the walls making them appear like very ancient walls.
Here the cast& crew list with Twitter accounts:
Barry Aird Soldier
Eddie Arnold Danish Captain, Servant
Leo Bill Horatio
Siân Brooke Ophelia
Nigel Carrington Servant, Cornelius
Ruairi Conaghan Player King
Benedict Cumberbatch Hamlet
Rudi Dharmalingam Guildenstern
Colin Haigh Priest, Messenger
Paul Ham Official
Diveen Henry Player Queen, Messenger
Anastasia Hille Gertrude
Ciarán Hinds Claudius
Kobna Holdbrook-Smith Laertes
Karl Johnson Ghost of Hamlet’s father
Jim Norton Polonius
Amaka Okafor Official
Dan Parr Barnardo
Jan Shepherd Courtier
Morag Siller Voltemand
Matthew Steer Rosencrantz
Sergo Vares Fortinbras
Dwane Walcott Marcellus
Directed by Lyndsey Turner
Set design by Es Devlin
Costume design Katrina Lindsay
Video by Luke Halls
Lighting by Jane Cox
Sound by Christopher Shutt
Music by Jon Hopkins
Movement by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui
Hamlet Barbican Fans @HamletBrbcnFns