Review – Hamlet at the Barbican Theatre
When there are 10,000 people in front of you in an online queue for tickets for a show that doesn’t begin until a year later, you know it is going to be something special. And you probably wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the performance in question is Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Benedict Cumberbatch is taking on the leading role.
With a starter kit like this you are bound to have some pretty big expectations, and they were very much fulfilled. Benedict Cumberbatch proved to be the perfect casting choice, bringing his signature charm to the Danish prince’s multi-faceted persona. I couldn’t help but be reminded of Cumberbatch’s prominent Sherlock, who is similarly intelligent, witty, a bit out of this world, yet somewhat warm and likable.
The entire cast was very worthy of attention but it did feel like they were a bit outshone by Cumberbatch. And the decision to make Horatio look like a wandering backpacker didn’t appeal to me as much.
Running for almost three hours, the play never lets you go and its fast pace keeps you on the edge of your seat. Although it could have been broken down into more or less equal time intervals instead of an almost 2 hour-long first half, and a short 55-minute second. The first half ended with an impressive scene of Elsinore being filled with rubble and Claudius watching it as his rule crumbles. The second half was even more fast-paced: we saw Ophelia walk barefoot on rubble heaps towards her demise,Laertes’s fury and the final showdown between him and Hamlet.
All in all, a vivid show with fantastic visuals and a captivating lead performance.