Monday, 24 August 2009


On Saturday we went to see the last performance of Hamlet, which brings to a close the year-long residency of the Donmar at the Wyndhams (Donmar West End).

We *really* enjoyed this show. Jude Law is staggeringly good as Hamlet. I've not been overwhelmed with some of his film work; but it's clear that he's an outstandingly good actor. Interestingly I read his interview with Michael Grandage where he mentioned his love of ballet. I have to say that this really comes across in his performance. It's full of graceful movement - especially with his arms and hands. He's a physical actor!

For such a long and brilliant play, there are so many great moments but let me mention my three favourite:
  1. The "To be or not to be" scene. This was the best I have ever seen. Visually it was breathtaking: Hamlet flattened against a huge brick wall, framed by two collosal doors, behind a film of gently falling snow, and intensely lit echoing the introspection of the words. Moreover, I loved Jude's restrained delivery, which really made you listen to the words carefully (a good thing for such a well-known speech).
  2. The "play within the play" scene. Again, visually superb: the players were in all-white, standing on a white carpet, and bathed in intense white light. This really helped to pull you into the scene, to watch for the King's reaction and to observe Hamlet's emotion and provocation from the side.
  3. The "king's confession" scene. The simplest of scenes: the King kneeling on an empty stage, hands together, praying for forgiveness; but one of the most powerful. I thought Kevin McNally as Claudius was superb.

Now the play transfers to the actual Elsinor Castle in Denmark for a brief run (how cool is that?!), and then on to Broadway. If you have a chance to see it, you should as I think this is a sensational production.

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