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Benedict Cumberbatch in "Hamlet"


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A friend and I went, we had a great time, theater was sold out, luxurious seating, all in all a worthwhile experience. Like Sitty, I never really connected with any of the characters until the very end, but I never have ... it's not my favorite play. But as always I just enjoy watching Benedict perform, he's so good. I liked the characterization of Ophelia, too.

 

That's about all that's sunk in right now, and I keep nodding off, so ... laterz!

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Considering how much I had looked forward to this - one of my favorite actors in one of my favorite plays and to my mind perfect for the role - I really did have a fantastic time. The only downside is that I will never be able to enjoy another production.

 

They really made the play accessible. The convoluted plot was nicely cleared up and all the characters seemed surprisingly human. It all made sense to me, even Hamlet himself. For the first time, I have some idea what's really going on with him.

 

Also, they really brought out the humor. I have never laughed so much during a tragedy. During intermission, I got popcorn - it just felt like the right thing to do.

 

My personal comic highlight was Hamlet killing Polonius. "Oh, shit, I just stabbed that old guy to death. Of well, he was annoying. Anyway, mom: Stop having sex with my uncle!"

 

It just never occurred to me before how absurd that scene is. Almost like something from Monty Python.

 

So yeah, I think they made the play more human, more touching and at the same time a lot more fun. And Mr C was just as perfect for the role as I had imagined.

 

In all: A deep sigh of contentment from me and high admiration for all who were involved in the production.

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The convoluted plot was nicely cleared up and all the characters seemed surprisingly human. It all made sense to me, even Hamlet himself. For the first time, I have some idea what's really going on with him.

 

Also, they really brought out the humor. I have never laughed so much during a tragedy. During intermission, I got popcorn - it just felt like the right thing to do.

 

My personal comic highlight was Hamlet killing Polonius....

 

 

Sounds like I definitely need to get the DVD.  Meaning, of course, that they definitely need to issue this on DVD.  But if that has gotten anywhere past the hopes-and-rumors stage, Amazon (UK) doesn't know about it yet.  :(

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The convoluted plot was nicely cleared up and all the characters seemed surprisingly human. It all made sense to me, even Hamlet himself. For the first time, I have some idea what's really going on with him.

 

Also, they really brought out the humor. I have never laughed so much during a tragedy. During intermission, I got popcorn - it just felt like the right thing to do.

 

My personal comic highlight was Hamlet killing Polonius....

 

 

Sounds like I definitely need to get the DVD.  Meaning, of course, that they definitely need to issue this on DVD.  But if that has gotten anywhere past the hopes-and-rumors stage, Amazon (UK) doesn't know about it yet.  :(

 

Carol, is it not in a theater anywhere near you?

 

I was thinking about what Boswell said in the MF thread and there really is something about the way BC moves and carries himself. An odd, eccentric manner of moving... but it's hypnotizing, like watching a dancer.

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I assume it's in at least a few theaters within an hour's drive, but Alex and I are more DVD people.  For no more money (and often less) than the price of two tickets, we get to watch the DVD as many times as we want, and without driving all the way to wherever and staying up till whenever (on a weeknight to boot).  Same reasons we decided to skip the extended-Hobbit showings.

 

Though I will say that if I ever have the opportunity to see Martin Freeman in a big-screen stage performance, that might be a different matter!  ;)

 

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I have to agree with Toby, one of the best things about this play was, for the first time I was able to follow the plot. I think most of that was due to BC's delivery; a couple of the other actors just seemed to be quoting Shakespeare, but BC made the words seem like real language, if you get what I mean. Even when I didn't get every word, I got the gist of the scene.  And I don't remember EVER laughing at Shakespeare before.

 

I thought the modern dress would bother me, but I barely noticed. Really, the only thing I didn't care much for was the story itself; all those deaths at end are almost laughable by today's standards.

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That's because you lot probably never had to pass a Jacobean revenge drama course! Hamlet pales by comparison to the Duchess of Malfi and similar atrocities carried out on stage!

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... a couple of the other actors just seemed to be quoting Shakespeare, but BC made the words seem like real language, if you get what I mean.

 

I definitely get what you mean, even without seeing Hamlet last night.  I think that's one thing that's generally turned me off about what few Shakespeare productions I have seen -- the actors mostly seem to be reciting their lines rather than saying them.  How to kill a play -- gaaahh!

 

The only one I can offhand recall enjoying was an Indiana State University production of Taming of the Shrew.  That had a definite sense of fun about it.  For example, Petruchio first entered carrying an umbrella with a big "P" on it -- for "Petruchio," obviously!  (But it just happened to be in the colors of Purdue University, about seventy miles away, which got a big laugh.)

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I'm guessing the difficulty with Shakespeare, and not sounding like you're reciting your lines, is that we're far enough removed linguistically from English that sounds like that.   The hell I'd want to try and sell that kinda language.    :wacko:

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Yes, I'm sure it's difficult.  But some actors manage it, presumably because they don't just memorize the lines, they study the meaning of them.  As J.P. pointed out a while back, there are translations available!  :D

 

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Benedict Cumberbatch's Hamlet from London breaks a telecast record with 225,000 viewers

 

http://www.usnews.com/news/entertainment/articles/2015/10/16/benedict-cumberbatchs-hamlet-breaks-a-telecast-record

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Interesting that when I click on the link, it brings up the article about Sherlock, but when I go to quote it, it gives me the full link to the correct article about Hamlet.

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Extra-review from me: It's been 2 days and now I can fully say, it was epic. When I see the pressphotos now I relate a lot more to them, and he did SUCH a good job. So handsome. And some of you mention, yes, his way of saying the lines was fantastic job, especially for me, because english is not my native language. I would by the DVD IF there is one. I miss looking at him in his "king" jacket.

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I love Benedict as the toy soldier.  That video clip makes me want to see the play again.

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Now for my review:

 

Loved the production.  It was modern without being too modern.  The toy soldier bit was hilarious & done superbly and when Hamlet was in his toy castle... :lol5: (me somewhat quietly in my seat).  The acting was brilliant with the lines presented for the most part as a play should be.  The ambassador to Norway seemed to present her lines a little rigid/stiff like.  I liked Ophelia's hobby.  It would have been fun to be in that role with a camera that was actually digital & take a shot or 2 of the table and at the end of the night after everything, do a quick edit and create a timeline of photos from day 1 of previews Aug. 5 to the last show Oct. 31.  I want to see it again.  I 2nd Carol that NTLive needs to create a DVD version of this as well as their other plays that have been broadcast worldwide.

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Okay, first of all - I am absolutely incompatible to the old English. Despite watching two other versions and reading Hamlet in 3 languages (Shakespeare, English and Polish) I had problems to follow, which - IMO - is a big drawback in enjoying the play and acting. I also cannot help a thought: if Hamlet was written today it would be torn apart by the first proofreader long before it was ever printed or staged. Totally over-talked, whole scenes and passages that bring nothing to the storyline, which itself is so over stretched, that suspension of disbelief is impossible. Deus ex machina moments (the pirates(!), exchanging the weapons at the final fight...), and above all, the very weak ending. After all those words, words, words... about the "prince that cannot make his mind", the final feels like a side note and Hamlet getting his revenge happens almost besides. I'm really sorry of the actors memorizing this blabber...

 

thhelmet2-1.gif <- Now you can throw things on me.

And now to the production. Still cannot put a finger on this strange feeling I had watching Ben. But it might be just because I was seeing Ben himself playing Hamlet all the time, which was different than watching him transformed into his film characters. Not the Red Carpet Ben, but the Casual one, the one who talked to the interviewer or to the kids in this little feature they'd shown before the play started. Maybe that's why it felt odd seeing him going through all the extreme emotions and that on a huuuuge screen, while the biggest Ben I saw so far, was the one sitting at the same table in real ;) But his acting was great, he can be scary and fierce, and funny and vulnerable.

Is it only me who felt his stare in the stomach as he looked directly into the camera?



The production:
I loved, loved, loved the stage, the light and the sound. Don't know how often it happens that actors rebuild the stage decoration, but it worked pretty well. And until there are two identical decoration sets interchanging between the first and the second part - I'm in awe of people who have to remove the trash from the stage on a daily basis, or even twice a day on Saturdays. Must be a hell of a job to get the black confetti removed - so it wouldn't stick to actors during the play :) All the decorations were fantastic. And the light... the light... the changing mood and effects.

I think it was when in the duel Hamlet hit Laertes - I'm not sure because my mind stopped frozen for several seconds - I wonder how it worked directly on the stage, but on the screen it looked like the whole set and actors fell apart - turned into a flock of birds that literally exploded into the air. I just couldn't believe it was happening - something like that is normally made by sophisticated CGI in movies but not on a stage! Definitely THE moment for me.

It's hard to say how the slow motion worked on the stage, the cameras have shown not much of it.

The other's performances:
I expected Ciaran Hinds to have a deeper voice (the disadvantage of dubbed films on TV). Definitely didn't like the Ghost (too old and rickety for the person Hamlet was describing as his glorious father). Didn't like Ophelia at the beginning - it might have worked if she was much younger, but I have seen a grown up person acting as a naive childish girl, which felt dissonant to me. But the mad Ophelia was fantastic. I wish they hadn't cut her lines... 

her body language, the ticks and movements of a puppet led by a poor puppeteer, her voice - and most heartbreaking - the patch of ripped out hair. I loved using the box with her photographs and her camera left behind as the foreboding of death.

Definitely better than in in the Branagh and Tennant productions.

Was Ben wearing the David Bowie T-shirt before? I found it hugely distracting, first I was busy to find out what it actually was, then it was "looking at me" all the time, drawing attention from Ben's face.

I was disappointed with the actors troupe. Again, after seeing Charlton Heston stealing the show from Branagh, this version felt really weak. (maybe it was intended that way - to prevent stealing the show again ;))

Also I didn't like Hamlet taking part in the Gonzago play.



The Grave Digger and the Ghost was the same actor* - which makes me wonder about the director's decision. As much as the Ghost was weak, the Grave Digger was outstanding and utterly hilarious, him singing to the bone was fantastic. Sadly, the Yoric monologue felt weak after that.



As predicted, Kobna is much better fencer than Ben - could be because Laertes is much better than Hamlet. I only wish the fencing, as well as the whole dueling/death scene, was longer to add more weight to the ending and correct the bad writing. :P

Sherlock moments - the popped P and running on the table. My inner fangirl just couldn't help but grin, but it was also a bit distracting.
And during the feast scene I was wondering all the time what the hell is that polyp on Ophelia's head. It was even worse than Molly's monstrous yellow ribbon.

Ben's refugee speech... well, as much as I understand his passion for the cause, it does destroy the mood. Especially because Ben silenced the audience after a very short time, so I had an impression that the people weren't given a chance to show their admiration properly. It felt like someone stopped you in half of the sentence while you were thanking him/her. I also wondered why they left the stage so quickly. Now I know that the haste was because the cast run to the Barbican cinema where the play was shown too and surely the viewers there ware more than happy.

BTW, there were empty seats in the theatre - why didn't they invited people from the cinema to see the play live? Barbican had nothing to lose.

I do wish the play comes on a DVD. I would love to re-watch it, but not as a whole. It's just too much information to digest in one piece, if you need a help of translation.

PS: Just an observation: I've seen Ben and (I think) Kobna wearing agent-like earphones, with the wires running down their necks. Others seemed to have none.

 

 

* I can quite well trust my I've-seen-this-actor-before feeling: Karl Johnson, who plays the Ghost and the Grave Digger, was also the guy in the ferry pay kiosk in Third Star. :D

 

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I just can't get over the "King" jacket. That was priceless. I want those to be sold in stores.

 

Where the heck does Benedict Cumberbatch get all that energy from? Hamlet seemed on fire, he moved furniture during the stage changes and at the end he just ran off. What is he on? I was exhausted from just watching.

 

Sigh... I wish I could turn back time and see it again.

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Okay, first of all - I am absolutely incompatible to the old English. Despite watching two other versions and reading Hamlet in 3 languages (Shakespeare, English and Polish) I had problems to follow, which - IMO - is a big drawback in enjoying the play and acting.

 

I realize that you did not say "Old English" (which is a technical term), merely "old English" (which could apply to anything up to and including last month's slang), but it pushed one of my buttons anyhow, presumably because people (on the forum and elsewhere) keep saying "Old English" or "Olde English" (or "old English") when referring to the language used by Shakespeare -- and even Conan Doyle.

 

Conan Doyle wrote (circa 1900) in Victorian English (a form of Modern English).

 

Shakespeare wrote (circa 1600) in Elizabethan English (a form of Early Modern English).

 

Chaucer wrote (circa 1400) in Middle English -- which isn't a whole lot harder to read than Shakespeare but nearly unintelligible to us when spoken, because English pronunciation changed considerably right after that (in what's called the Great Vowel Shift).

 

Nobody whose name you'd recognize wrote (circa 600) in Old English, which is also known as Anglo-Saxon, but that hardly matters because you wouldn't be able to read it anyhow (though knowing German or Dutch might help).

 

There.  I feel better now!

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