Hamlet – Almeida, London

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For my birthday, I went to see Hamlet in London, starring Andrew Scott. This is the fifth time that I see this play and the fourth different production. I think this is “my Shakespeare play” because I have seen it so many times. There are other of his plays I’ve seen but for an unexplainable reason, I keep going back to this tragic story.  I had been waiting patiently to get tickets, and at the moment they were released I had multiple sessions open to get tickets that would be on my birthday.  The main reason for me to get tickets is that Andrew Scott is portraying the tragic Dane and after seeing him in Sherlock I think he will do this brilliantly.

I have been going to the theatre in London now for about 10 years. This is the smallest theatre room I’ve ever been in.  We sat on the circle level and this did have some restricted view but the way the set was made meant that we could see the actors moving around below through the mirrored glass.

This is the first time I saw a performance of Hamlet in this way. It was kind of modern with the use of camera and screens.  This was used in the beginning to show the funeral of Hamlet Sr. as a news feed. And just after that as surveillance cameras on the ruins where the ghost appears.

This is also is the first time that Hamlet is played this mental (or the first time that I see it this way). Other times I have seen it, the mental state was more subdued, here is was more aggression.  What I mean here is that most of the times there are internal monologues where the mental state is feelable, and in the past, I did have issues distinguishing them as internal.  Here I did have issues too because there was such an anger coming through and the other actors reacting to it.

Like I predicted Andrew Scott was a fantastic mental Dane, a little more so than I had really expected. I sometimes thought, Hamlet your Moriaty is showing. But also the mental state of Opheilia was a little more over the top. As this was such a modern adaptation, in the top of her mental breakdown after the death of her father, she is rolled on stage strapped into a wheelchair.

I really enjoyed seeing this take on the play since it was different from any other version I have seen (that would be the ones with David Tennant, Jude Law or Benedict Cumberbatch). The cast was also stunning, besides Andrew Scott there was Jessica Brown Findlay (of Downton Abbey and Jamaica Inn fame), Juliet Stevenson (of Mona Lisa Smile and Bend it like Beckham fame) and Peter Wight (for me personally of The Paradise fame). This really means that there were big names in this play and that it seems weird that this play is performed in such a small theatre.

Sidenote, this not to the play but the theatre, as the seats on the circle were very close together and getting a very comfortable pose to watch this play is scarce, sitting through a play like Hamlet with its long playtime is not always that great an idea! I personally hope next time I see Hamlet (and I will)  that the seats will be that little bit more comfy.

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