Picoreview: Hamlet

Last Monday evening I found out at the last minute that the Lighthouse Cinema was doing a showing of Benedict Cumberbatch’s 2014 #Hamlet & I decided I was going to make a terrible mistake, and go.

I did not make a mistake.

Ciaran Hinds is the best Claudius I’ve ever seen. Ophelia’s death is the best staging I’ve ever seen. Cumberbatch is excellent throughout, and gets to show off his considerable acting range, which almost nothing he does in film allows him to. Everyone was very good, although I thought Horatio and perhaps Laertes were a bit of weak links, and I wish…man. I don’t know if Gertrude is just impossible to play, or if I’ve never seen her played well enough. I’ve never seen her played by anybody who was less than good, but no one ever quite reaches…whatever it is I’m looking for. I suppose I’ll know it if I see it, if I ever do.

The final scene didn’t hold a candle to the staging of the same scene with Ruth Negga at the Gate Theatre last year, which I don’t think can be topped. Nor was I as convinced of Hamlet’s love for Ophelia in this as I was in that production, which was the most–the first–heartbreakingly believable playing of it that I’ve ever seen. Neither were badly done at all; if I hadn’t seen Negga, I’d have said this was the most convincing love story I’d ever seen in Hamlet, so in fact it was very, very good. It just wasn’t quite *that* good.

I fucking H A T E D the costuming and would like to know the rationale behind it. Like. I grew up in the theatre, with a costumer for a mother. I generally can figure out what the costuming is doing, and why, even if I don’t like it, but in this case I could neither figure it out nor like it. H A T E. OMG. H A T E.

Some–most–of the set work was genuinely inspired in conception and I generally loved it. The gravedigger was brilliant, as he should be, and poor old Polonius was terrific. Overall, I am very, very glad I went.