Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Yes - it's another Hamlet

So, time for another Hamlet.

This one was booked over twelve months ago
 {which really must be a record for advance booking}
and has been all over the press for the last month,

Yes - a day centered around the long awaited 
Benedict Cumberbatch Hamlet at the Barbican.

It was a typical family day trip -
with an early start so that we could meet Jonathan, Karen and Katharine at ten o'clock
and by chance - walking to Euston Square for the tube - 
we bumped in to Kathie, Iain and Eleanor - our Hamlet buddies for the day.
 They'd caught an earlier train from Wigan and had had breakfast at Speedy's Cafe 
{the Sherlock Cafe with the famous canopy.}

Plan A for us was Coram Fields so Katharine could run off some energy -
but there was unexpected rain.
Plan B was the Museum of London -
which proved a good alternative.

There was a bit of space for running -
as well as interesting displays
{Katharine loves reading the information labels - 
well, she does sometimes.}

And we could eat our picnics in the education lunch room
{just like on a school trip}

After lunch and coffee we all walked round to the Barbican Centre,
there were lots of hugs before we parted company
{Jonathan, Karen and Katharine headed off to try out the Emirates Air Line - 
the cable car over the Thames.}

We met  Kathie, Iain and Eleanor for the second time - the girls got their programmes -
and we settled down for the big performance.

After all the hyperbole - it was a very mixed bag.

Cumberbatch was very, very good. His verse was exquisite and and  lucid.

His presence magnetic - and it was just as well - 
because the domineering set swamped the rest of the cast.
It was huge, and beautiful - but goodness me,
entries and exits required a lot of running for little effect -
and the sheer distance between the actors had deadening effect
 on all but Cumberbatch himself.

The balance between the naturalistic set and costuming and the effect laden movement during the soliloquies felt rather odd.
Kathie thought it "quite bonkers" - I felt that it wasn't really mad enough.

Certainly Cumberbatch's Hamlet was a prince who was definitely just playing a game -
no insanity there.

After the interval the text had massive cuts, and rushed to it's tragic conclusion,
but instead of carrying us with a sense of the inevitable,
it sadly just led to Hamlet's death washing over. 

Bizarrely the most moving part was the Ophelia, 
climbing the debris that filled Elsinore's halls and heading to her suicide.
{crying for Ophelia- that's a first for me.}

Worth a viewing - certainly - and I'm pretty sure that I will watch the NT Live screening -
 just to see how different it is on film - 
I rather feel that the staging might well come over better with close ups on the performers.

Afterwards we had our traditional "poster selfies"
before navigating some deserted city streets to find the GBK at St Pauls
{Megs discovered this during her Pembroke North weekend at Easter}

Post tea Kathie, Iain and Eleanor headed back to Euston to catch their train,
 while we wandered over the millennium bridge to to catch a bit of Bankside atmosphere.

When we finally reached the station -
  Megs chanced on her old friend Clara who had been at a Uni open day.
That resulted in the girls chatting loudly and excitedly for the whole trip home.

The RSC have announced that they are staging Hamlet in their 2016 summer season.....
will we see it - of course!

{A few other Hamlets - funny, bitter, mad, fragile and young!

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