Surely “Hamlet” is the second most recognizable of Shakespeare’s plays, after “Romeo and Juliet”, probably. Most of us read it, or had it thrust upon us, in high school or university and we all may remember just enough to feel clever tossing out occasionally mangled quotes such as ‘To be, or not to be: that is the question’, ‘Frailty, thy name is woman, ‘ ‘The lady doth protest too much’, or ‘Get thee to a nunnery.’ Hmm, a bit of an opinion about women there, Bill, methinks.
But right now, off of the top of your head, or your dead father’s skull, can you remember what exactly happens in this famous play? Something about parents, yeah, and Denmark?
Perhaps a trip to the theatre is in order.
Hamlet West End
Following critically acclaimed and sell-out shows at London’s Almeida Theatre, a fresh production of “Hamlet”, starring BAFTA winning Andrew Scott, is transferring to the Harold Pinter Theatre for a limited run, from June 9th through September 2nd.
Olivier Award-winning director, Robert Icke, who scared the pants off of anyone lucky enough to see his version of Orwell’s “1984” last autumn, is breaking ground again in this fresh, electrifying production.
You could say the success of this play depends on the tormented Prince of Denmark himself, and here we have Andrew Scott, known to American audiences from his work in Sherlock or the 2014 film Pride. Icke says “It has been such a thrill to work with Andrew and the extraordinary company of “Hamlet” on this play so far, and I’m delighted we’re going to continue our work on this play in the West End this summer.” No surprise that Scott threw the love back, saying “I’m so thrilled and honoured to be playing this extraordinary role with these brilliant actors in Rob’s stunning production. We have been overwhelmed with the reaction to our interpretation of “Hamlet” and I’m so happy that we can share it with a larger audience.”
The larger audience doesn’t only refer to the Pinter Theatre’s capacity; there will be 300 tickets for under £30 for every performance to allow a wide variety of we lapsed scholars a chance to renew our knowledge of the play.
Hamlet is really old though?
Much is made of some theatre’s attempts to contemporize these over 400 year old classics with modern settings, and depending on the play and the attempt, it can work. If this transfer of locations holds true, audiences can expect not only contemporary garb, but staging involving traditionally off-scene characters seated with the audience, use of CCTV to highlight Hamlet’s paranoia, and a bit of Bob Dylan. No, that’s not an obscure Elizabethan minstrel – music by the Bob Dylan.
A lot of highly acclaimed talent is involved behind stage and upon, and one of the standouts surely will be the always fantastic Juliet Stevenson, as Gertrude. Errr, that would be Hamlet’s mother– it is all coming back to you now, right? Hamlet, you know, he has a less than healthy relationship with the parental units, has a girlfriend called Ophelia, may be seeing ghosts… it is a good, nay, great, nay, dare I go out on a limb and say a timeless story. Schools will probably be teaching this five, even ten years from now, even.
Kidding aside, Shakespeare is monumentally better when it’s not being interpreted by your 10th grade class. The Ambassador Theatre Group has gathered the best of the best talent to impress Shakespeare aficionados and indoctrinate Hamlet newbies, and whichever you may be, get thee to the show.
Photographs taken at the Almeida by Manuel Harlan
Harold Pinter Theatre, Panton Street, London, SW1Y 4DN
Fri 9 Jun – Sat 2 Sep
Mon – Sat evening 7pm, Sat matinees 1.30pm
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A former ABC National, Dallas and Atlanta radio personality, Martina O'Boyle is now making movies and covering culture in London, Dublin, and as far in Europe as the cheapie flights will take her, for Pop Culture Beast.