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Theatre Review: Hamlet @ Harold Pinter Theatre


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Robert Icke’s take on Shakespeare’s Hamlet is a stunning production that breathes new life into a well-known story, with Andrew Scott as the driving force in the title role.

The current production of Hamlet running at the Harold Pinter Theatre, directed by Robert Icke, does just about everything right. It presents the tragedy of Hamlet through a modern lens in a concept that acts as a perfect setting for the story to fit into, without taking over the plot.

While all of the technical aspects of the production are flawless as well, the real strength lies within the actors and the direction from Icke. The stage blocking and the use of physicality of the actors takes what is left up for interpretation from in between the lines of the script and adds content that helps to define the overall portrait being painted.

This can be seen through Hamlet’s tumultuous relationship with Ophelia. Their words are not always straightforward - Hamlet goes from saying he never loved her to jumping in her grave and declaring just how much he did indeed love her - but their actions make it clear to the audience where they stand with each other at any given moment. 

Additionally, the giddy, can’t-keep-their-hands-off-each-other way that Gertrude and Claudius interact presents a different perspective on their relationship; they seem genuinely in love, making the dynamic much more complicated.

Every single actor gives a strong performance, resulting in an incredible dynamic on stage, with everyone integrating together into the scenes. Angus Wright provides a version of Claudius that is stoic and seemingly unwavering, acting as a great foil to Hamlet’s unsteady progression to his eventual death. Jessica Brown Findlay brings a complexity and likeability to Ophelia that makes her harder to figure out, more interesting to watch, and, ultimately, more heartbreaking to see descend into madness.

The strength of the supporting characters just further highlights the phenomena of Andrew Scott as Hamlet. Scott fully embodies the character, with a strong grasp on the total complexity that makes up the character. There are so many intricacies to Hamlet and Scott manages to expertly convey every single one. Most notably, he captures the full essence of Hamlet’s humour, which is so often pushed aside by actors in favour of Hamlet’s angst and madness. But Scott grabs onto the humour of the character and uses that to propel his character forward, while still having complete control of Hamlet’s darker qualities.

His soliloquies are completely captivating. He commands the stage, yet never leaves one spot. He delivers the speeches of Hamlet’s thoughts in a way that makes you feel as if you are in Hamlet’s mind, listening to his stream of consciousness. These moments of Scott acting alone on stage are arguably some of the strongest of the whole production.

Hamlet is a play rich in content, with distinct, well-rounded characters and an intricate, captivating plot that continues to be brought to life, again and again, centuries after it was written. It is hard to do it justice, but this production does just that and more. Do yourself a favour and check it out.

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