Hamlet @ Harold Pinter Theatre
Cast Includes Andrew Scott, Juliet Stevenson and Angus Wright
Running Time: 3 hours 30 mins, inc. Interval and ‘Pause’
Hamlet needs no introduction. As Shakespeare’s longest work, and yet one of those most appealing to actors, it has recently been frequently revived in the West End – the past few years have seen David Tennant and Benedict Cumberbatch both take on the part. It is Cumberbatch’s Sherlock co-star Andrew Scott who takes on the role in this production that has transferred from the Almeida with direction by Robert Icke.
One of the first and most major things to comment on is Scott’s central performance, which is truly amazing. He makes the verse sound fresh and spontaneous, giving the piece a true vitality throughout, with each major speech being made his own. He also manages to inject a lot of humour in the soliloquys, which is a long way from the earnest Hamlet of Olivier. Scott is in full command of the stage, and each gesture feels both carefully planned yet completely natural as well – it truly feels like Scott give one of the best Hamlet’s of recent times.
The other cast are also extremely strong – Angus Wright gives a very restrained performance as Claudius, and his chemistry with Juliet Stevenson is perfect – they actually feel like an actual couple, full of the passion of early married life, which makes her discovery of his betrayal of her old husband all the more amazing. Stevenson also brings a real passion to role – the anguish on her face as she is torn between husband and son is palpable and truly touching.
Robert Icke’s production also uses many of the techniques he has perfected in other productions at the Almeida – there are many similarities between this and 1984, with large use of video and projection being crucial to the plot. This is especially used in this production – the scene with Hamlet viewing the King whilst watching the dumb-show is broadcast to the audience, making a better use of this than the recent Tennant version. The set is also simple, which works in the pieces favour, focussing the attention onto the actors and their performances.
Summary: A stunning production of a timeless classic, with a fantastic lead casting. Most highly recommended *****