Theatre and William Shakespeare of course are both very conservative, traditional and old fashioned. Obviously nothing a broad audience can fall for.
Till Benedict Cumberbatch came around.
When it was confirmed that the actor who is not only known for bringing a modern Sherlock Holmes to life on telly, was about to play Hamlet in William Shakespeare’s play at London’s Barbican, the tickets where sold out in almost an heartbeat. A fact his fans were soon blamed for by some media and considered to be the outcome of their irrational, silly behaviour culminating in screaming whenever and wherever their beloved actor pops up. If those authors had done their work, they would have found out that the Cumbercollective isn’t silly or weird. But most of the authors didn’t.
How disappointed they must be right now, with the „Hamlet“ performance in full flow – and no crying, screaming female fans around throwing their bras on the stage. But with an audience of people of all ages, all levels and obviously from all over the world.
The audience I had the pleasure of watching „Hamlet“ yesterday afternoon with was well behaved and clearly as excited as I was for an performance I had been looking forward so much for for about a year.
And what a performance it was. Without spoiling anything and without trying to be as educated as other critics, I think that this version of Hamlet is modern without being too modern, traditional without being too traditional and all in all a play that was written for entertaining people, for making them laugh and cry within a few seconds. Of course this only works when you have an actor that is present in every single moment, an actor that dominates the stage even without saying a word.
Benedict Cumberbatch always is outstanding. Watching the best actor of his generation live on stage, rocking the stage, is a privilege and a mind blowing experience that is worth flying around the world for.
[Update 16th October: Saw a live screening of Barbican’s Hamlet in cinema and was even more impressed. The camera shows you every tiny expression you simply can’t get in the theatre. So, if National Theatre does an encore screening, go and see it.