Jude Law’s a fine Hamlet, but he’s in a production that, aside from his passionate and crystal clear performance, is undistinguished. Yes, it’s great to see an actor as smart and energetic as Law in the role, but that alone is not reason enough to do Hamlet.
In this, Shakespeare’s most accomplished tragedy, the King of Denmark is dead. His tortured ghost visits his son Prince Hamlet, goading him to avenge his death. Peter Eyre mumbles, rumbles and rushes through the small role of the dead king’s ghost, giving little sense of supernatural dread. That’s left to Christopher Oram’s hammer handed yet drab set, which fairly screams “This is tragedy!” in case you somehow missed it (To give Oram his due, the enormous upstage pocket doors which shift with each passing scene are pretty fabulous).
I’m not saying that this is a substandard production of Hamlet. It’s clear that the cast and creative team understand the play and do their level best to communicate it to the audience, which is more than you can say for a lot of Shakespearean stagings. It’s just not a very insightful or accomplished production either.
Director Michael Grandage has simply put up more or less the usual production of Hamlet, which is a disservice to a play this great. I’m not saying he should have done some wacky concept — that would have been a greater disservice. He just didn’t dig deep enough.
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