Travels With JB

Travels With JB

Travel news and reviews

Having never seen a theatrical production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet I wasn’t sure what to expect at the National Theatre Live’s broadcast of the latest London production.

The play has been the major talking point of the English theatrical scene this year as a result of its lead actor – movie and television heartthrob Benedict Cumberbatch (BBC’s Sherlock, The Imitation Game).
It was the fastest selling London theatrical show ever – tickets selling out almost immediately as everyone wanted to see what kind of Hamlet Cumberbatch would make.

10. Gertrude (Anastasia Hille) and Hamlet (Benedict Cumberbatch). Photo by Johan Persson.
The performance currently being shown in Australian cinemas by National Theatre Live and Sharmil Films was filmed at the Barbican Theatre on October 15.
The direction of Lyndsey Turner and the performance of all the cast have divided critics.
Some love Cumberbatch’s performance as the Prince of Denmark whose father’s ghost tells him to avenge his murder. Others are not as impressed.
I don’t have anything to compare his performance with, but I have to say I thought it was very good. The three hour production left me satisfied but also exhausted.
The National Theatre Live production includes an interview with the actor in which he discusses how hungry he gets during the performance. It’s easy to see why – he does extend a great deal of energy!

Apart from Cumberbatch’s performance those critical of the play cite the manipulation of the text and the downgrading of roles played by some of the Shakespeare’s main characters. Not being a Hamlet aficionado I can’t say any of this affected my enjoyment of the production. I did struggle with some of the dialogue but then it was pretty evident most of the time what was going on! And it’s easy to recognise those lines that are associated with Hamlet- lines such as `To Be or Not To Be’, `The lady doth protest too much, methinks’, `Something is rotten in the state of Denmark’ and `That it should come to this!’

As with all National Live offerings attending this screening provides the chance to see what all the fuss has been about and make up your own mind about the merits of the production.
Hamlet is screening at selected theatres around Australia. Visit Sharmill Films for more information.
Jenny Burns attended a preview of Hamlet at Cinema Nova on June 4 as a guest of Sharmill Films.

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