Went to watch Hamlet last night. It was a NTlive screening of Benedict Cumberbatch as Hamlet, and this is the first time that I have been to one of these type of screenings.
I have watched Hamlet a few times, and I have always enjoyed the performances, but sometimes they have been a bit over acted. A bit like, this is the most important role I am going to play, and therefore I shall overdo everything. Everything will be shouted, movements will be over exaggerated. I didn't know what to expect, people had be raving about it, but I like to judge things for myself!
Apart from a few sound issues, I really enjoyed the NTlive experience. I had booked a "posh" seat at the cinema (extra leg room really!) and a shiver of excitement went down my spine as the performance started.
Now I am not a fan of Benedict Cumberbatch in the traditional sense of the word. I have watched him in Sherlock, which I enjoyed (although I wasn't as captivated by the last series I must admit), and I found his portrayal of James in Third Star soul breaking. I also thought he played Alan Turing brilliantly in The Imitation Game, and felt somewhat upset that he was pitched against Eddie Redmayne in the awards, because both parties were so deserved in their portrayal of important "historical" figures. But I have to admit, from start to finish I was blown away by his portrayal of Hamlet.
The role was so physical, I'm not surprised that he said by the end of the performance he would be starving! Aside from Benedict the rest of the casting was superb. I hadn't realised that Karl Johnson was in the production. I've said in an earlier post that he had a great cameo in Third Star, well in tonight's performance he made the role of the Ghost of Hamlet, and the gravedigger his own. He also added some much needed humour as the gravedigger, to lift us a little before transcending again to the despair and madness of Hamlet.
Sian Brooke who played Ophelia should also be given a mention. I have only seen her in a comedy with Rik Mayall called All About George before, although I note from some of the plays I've been reading she has performed opposite Tom Burke (Reasons to be Pretty). She was amazing as Ophelia showing her decline into madness/grief once her father, Polonius, has been killed, the scene of her bending over a trunk was particularly moving.
Aside from the acting, the staging was done incredibly well, and as Act 1 finished and a wind howled across the stage littering it with dirt, another shudder went down my spine and I was glad of the interval! The use of music, and the manner of the staging contributed enormously to the success of the production. The music stirred emotions, and I was almost in tears as Ophelia was singing and handing out herbs before her dramatic exit.
All in all, a wonderful night, and I must look to book some more NTlive productions. I can't afford to watch the shows down in London, so I'm glad that London can come visit me!