As I said before, on Friday I went to see Hamlet at the Almeida Theatre in London, starring Andrew Scott. (Moriarty from the BBC’s Sherlock – which also means that I’ve now seen Hamlet performed by Sherlock, and Moriarty)
Honestly, I’m still not sure what to make of it. I’m not even 100% sure of whether I liked it or not. I wouldn’t want to go and see it again – which is the usual final verdict one way or t’other – but I’m still glad I did see it.
In some ways, it’s very clever. It’s obviously been updated (or at least the staging has) with events being announced via a large screen, showing the coverage in a BBC News style. Additionally, rather than being guards on the battlements etc., the the ghost of Hamlet’s father initially appears on CCTV screens in the security office of the castle.
In other ways, it’s rather less clever – or perhaps I’m less clever, and just didn’t get the relevance of things. Ophelia’s madness and grief are just thrown in, with no real explanation or build-up. It’s handled almost an incidental, which seems odd when one considers how integral and essential it is to the final act.
Indeed, in a lot of ways there seemed to be the assumption that the audience were well versed in the ways of Hamlet – something I’ve found a couple of times over the last year or so, particularly with Shakespearean stuff.
I’m reliably informed that it stuck a lot closer to the original subject matter – I hadn’t appreciated how different some of it was in the Hamlet I saw with Benedict Cumberbatch last year – but that’s fine. I do feel that I really should probably actually read the bloody play as well, and get it fixed better in my brain.
For me, the final act is a stretch – I’m never overly comfortable with the hysteria and overwrought reactions of grief and betrayal, and find myself left cold by it as a result. That’s no criticism of the play, or of the actors therein, it’s just it doesn’t sit well with me.
So all told, it was a decent play and well done. I just still can’t quite put my finger on why I’m as ambivalent about it as a whole, though.