The most appalling attempt i have ever seen - this is Jude Law introspective not Hamlet and he is so one dimensional!
Only the female fan base I think allowed this to happen. Not all screen actors can make it on the stage - he bored me most of the time -sorry Jude! - Dave J
11 Feb 11
This is a very good Hamlet with real pace, facilitated by a relatively small stage and a simple but elegant design. Having seen Jude Law several times (albeit most of them some time back) I knew he was a good stage actor, but I have to say that here he is hugely impressive and gives the role his all. His pivotal scene with the ever wonderful Dame-in-waiting Penelope Wilton is particularly electrifying. So the Donmar West End season ends on a high. This audience comprised the usual suspects, with additional rich kids (the girls in front of me felt they'd done enough star spotting by the interval so they left!), so I genuinely don't feel the accessibility policy hasn't really worked - but it's still good to see 'house full' signs for classic drama whilst weak programming that patronises the theatre-going public closes. - Gareth James
12 Aug 09
An interesting and mostly enjoyable production ith Jude Law playing Hamlet as very angry. Whilst the beauty of the writing was made harsher by the anger, this was a fine performance. Of the others, Penelope Wilton, Kevin McNally and Ron Cook all turned in good performances. I found it interesting that Gertrude and Claudius' relationship notcieably soured with Gertrude refusing his hand and signally her discontent. I was less convinced by Matt Ryan's Horatio with the opening scenes in particular almost out of control and just loud and hysterical. Alex Waldmann's Laertes and Gugu Mbatha-Raw's Ophelia failed to convince. One of the great successes was the staging. I loved the modern costumes and the use of greys and blacks as predominant colours. Also the lighting was excellent. I especially loved the opening with Hamlet sitting alone, looking imprisoned. Not a great Hamlet but certainly worth the effort. - Paul Wallis
07 Aug 09
One of the great nights in the theatre, Jude more than thrilled, he is very good stage actor, so glad I went.
Some great support from McNally, Penny Wilton and the excellent Peter Eyre. BUT also some very poor casting, sorry to say.
R&G and in Act One Ophelia, plus a few others. Ron Cooke Cook made a very diffrent Polonius.
Loved the staging of his death - clever.
Liked the Laertes a lot, would not mind seeing him when on for Hamlet.
The lighting on that simple set was fab and the sound scape (which I am sure many did not even notice) was excellent through out the 3 hours plus, gave every scene a sense of place and really enhanced the 'mood'.
So for me no reason why not up there with the David Tenant and Old Vic Ben W Hamlet's, all for very diffrent reasons - fantasic. - jamie tate
07 Aug 09
Sorry Jude but you just didnt cut it for me! Infact the production on a whole was a very 'safe' if not slightly boring version of what is one of my fave Shakespeare plays.
I'll start with Jude- Now I dont care whether he's a famous film star or just some guy off the street as long as his Hamlet is engaging (and he really should be considering he spends so much time onstage)thats fine with me.
To begin with he looked slightly too old to be playing Hamlet, again not a problem if he made his Hamlet a slightly older, wiser or even world weary Hamlet. However instead of doing any of this he played him as an angry hormonal 21 year old...something a 35+ with a receeding hairline really cant pull off. Perhaps if he'd done this role 10 years ago this would have been a fair and believable interpretation, but certainly not at his present age. His speeches were perfectly adequete but he brought *no* humour at all to his overall performance. I've seen Hamlet about 3 times previously and know that Hamlet can be witty, funny and really have the audience rooting for him throughout. After over 3 hours of watching Jude stomp around the stage basically yelling at everyone I couldnt have cared a less whether Hamlet lived or died! I think this was the overall problem, I could never quite figure out what his Hamlet's reasons were for acting the way he did, yes he was angry at his mother marrying his uncle but theres more to Hamlet than just this. Jude Law basically just seemed to say the words (or should I say shout them?) in what many would deem an acceptable manner, but there was very little meaning behind them. For a character to be onstage so much the audience, espeically in the case of Hamlet, has to care about what happens to them not just be proud of them for getting through god knows how many soliloquies.
In some ways (and I may be un-popular for saying this) Mr Law might have made a more interesting choice for a young Claudius. He could have brought the anger that he displayed as Hamlet, the slightly aging good looks and perhaps something a little different to a well known character which he sadly failed to do this time as the lead.
Back to the other actors - Ophelia was a complete waste of space, there was nothing between her and Hamlet which made his supposedly impassioned "I loved Ophelia!" line later on in the play completely wasted. Again, the actress playing Ophelia portrayed her a very young and innocent adolescent girl but was quite obviously not that young herself making her decisions as that character a bit confusing. I'd like to point out that I'm not ageist at all, but I also believe that if you're quite clearly playing a character as very very young you need to be very young yourself for it to make sense.
The Ghost was terrible, no tension and I didnt believe anyone was actually scared of him, they all just looked like they were over-reacting to an old man in a dusty grey trench coat.
I quite liked Rosencratz and Guildenstern but again think more could have been done with their characters and their relationship with Hamlet.
The only scene that really stood out for me was the killing of Polonius (a rare bit of creative initiative!) and the following bedroom scene between Hamlet and Gertrude - the only part of the production where Jude Law's angry Hamlet actually made sense and had impact.
Set was boring boring boring, it looked liked they'd done it as an after thought and I didnt like the "mood music" that played whilst characters were talking to imply what "mood" the audience should be feeling.
Overall a bit of a wasted opportunity, its almost like they knew theyd get the audience numbers no matter what because of Jude Laws presence so the pressure to actually make this production more than just average wasn't there. - Kate M
06 Aug 09
Jude Law (Branagh's genius influence obvious in his performance) and the older cast members, especially Penelope Wilton, were superb but badly let down by the kids. One seemed to have been cast for a singing voice alone. The Donmar 'look' is getting a bit hackneyed and would even a madman sit in the snow in his bare feet and jim jams? (by the way what is a "depressing pansy" g - three paragraphs down?) Dire threats along with the turn off mobiles announcement are needed as the whole show was nearly ruined by the groups of moronic girls shrieking and squirming and one who coughed unsuppressed and relentlessly for three hours. - joesmith
06 Jul 09
I forgot to mention the wonderful Peter
Eyre as the ghost of Hamlet's father.
His voice is a national treasure!
04 Jul 09
Jude Law makes a stunning Hamlet. He captures the very essence of Shakespeare's tortured Dane and brings with it a vitality that's been lost in many other interpretations of late. The usual brooding Dane has been replaced with Law's exuberant performance. I didn't see David Tennant, as he was off with back problems, but I did see, unfortunately, Toby Stephen's pathetic attempt at the part a few years back. Jude Law owes it to theatre goers to make the stage a bigger part of his working life than he has done up until now. I'd love to see him tackle more Shakespearian roles and modern classics too. The rest of the cast complemented his performance, Ron Cook was a fine Polonius as was Kevin McNally's devious Claudius. David Burke rang every drop of humour from the gravedigger and Gugu Mbatha-Raw (imagine that up in lights!) was very affecting as Ophelia. The divine Penelope Wilton, that woman can do no wrong (here I take some of that back) made a good stab at Gertrude, but somehow left me somewhat cold and not for the right reasons either - that's my only criticism of the play. Jude Law is a Hamlet for today and has acquitted himself well in the part. Taken together with Christopher Oram's fine staging and Michael Grandage's clear direction it is a winner and I would not be at all surprised to see this production crossing the pond in the very near future. - rds
04 Jul 09
We had the cheapest seats, which weren't even seats, standing for the entire three hours high up in the balconey where it's extremely hard to make out the actors' faces. Yet even from our 'Mt Olympus', Jude Law's performance was amazing and extremely engaging - and after all these years of thinking Hamlet as being a depressed pansy, he finally made me see how enjoyable the character really is. - g
25 Jun 09
I think its completly unfair that all the reviews for Law's production are focussing on how good Tennant was in the role compared to Law. It is unjustified. Law was much better than I was expecting (having read the reviews before hand), but I thought he was brilliant and he hasn't got the credit he deserves. The best Hamlet I have seen, he captured each aspect of the character, the different emotions he goes through. The rest of the cast were very good also, notably Ron Cook's Polonius, though I thought Laertes was a bit forced. Aside from that, excellent production, with a great (as always) minimalistic and yet majestic set from Christopher Oram. Another top Grandage production and one which I am now very greatful that I went to see! And at £32 for the most expensive seats for over 3 hours of running time, its well worth getting tickets for!!! - Ellie
21 Jun 09
Much to my disappointment I found This Hamlet to be clunky and one-dimensional. The beauty of the play shone through, hence a not entirely wasted evening and Jude Law was perfectly acceptable. The majority of the supporting cast were terrible though and the worst Laertes I have ever seen made me literally cringe. The audience seemed somewhat sycophantic with regard to Law but I hope that their enthusiasm had a degree of appreciation for the beautiful language of this masterpiece of a play. I think it did and therefore all was not lost. - JJE
12 Jun 09
Firstly I have to express my contempt for Ron Crow and his cronies who made the journey to and from the West End so difficult. £46K to "drive" a tube train, a 5% increase and a guaranteed job for life - what planet do those morons think they're on?
It is inevitable that this production will be compared to that of the RSC so recently. Michael Grandage has chosen to make this the most Donmaresque of the Wyndham's season and has made excellent decisions with the text making this version more cohesive and exciting than Greg Doran's. The only weakness is with some of the supporting performances; Kevin Mcnally, Ron Cook and the actor playing Laertes are not a patch on Patrick Stewart and Oliver Ford Davies. Converesely Penelope Wilton is a powerful, guilt ridden Gertrude and Gugu Mbatha-Raw is a profoundly affecting Ophelia. David Tennant was off so I didn't see his Hamlet but Jude Law exceeded my expectations. I have never rated him as a film actor but here he gives a Hamlet by turns consumed by grief, depression, madness and a desperate need for vengence. This is a performance and a production which fully captures the full genius of Shakespeare's greatest tragedy. - David Baxter
10 Jun 09
Couldn't agree more - a performance of power, passion and conviction from Jude Law. But he's not the only one - McNally and Cook are at their finest too, and the ever-reliable Penelope Wilton brings great emotion to Act 2. And that lighting - beautiful - it enhances the sombre and majestic set so that the actor's the thing and we catch every expression and gesture. The time fairly races by. No comparisons necessary, even for those with a lifetime's collection of Hamlets. - Mikey
08 Jun 09
I was hugely impressed with this production - so going with the general views here.
Jude Law is a revelation (even when I saw him in Dr Faustus) - the sheer rawness of Hamlet's grief and anger is very moving. He handles the soliloquys well and really connects with the audience. I personally think some of the critics have been harsh (with 2-3 star reviews) and referring to the coldness of his performance, but that's their view.
Penelope Wilton is also excellent (as nearly always) - even when observing (as Getrude does quite a lot), she brings something new to her role, particularly in the closing scenes. Most of the roles were well played - particularly Kevin McNally as Claudius, though I also kept on thinking of Bond villain Blofeld though minus the white cat (!). A minor quibble about Alex Waldmann who plays Laertes almost like a nervous young schoolboy (probably reflecting his overemphatic performance) - he was OK in comedic Twelth Night but is somewhat lost here.
The staging is very precise, very focused and thrilling. The clastrophobia of the dark prison-like Elsinore oppressively evoked - especially in the lighting and dark costumes. The soundscape is a bit intrusive at times (a lot of "signalling") but works.
Trying to avoid comparisons, but I enjoyed this much more than last year's RSC Hamlet (with the understudy Ed Bennett). This production runs at 3hours 15 (or 3 hours 5 according to the publicity) and did seem a little rushed in parts (particularly the Getrude closet scene). However, whatever is lost in minutes is made up for by the sheer intensity and focus that is brought to the story. I was left breathless and emotionally exhausted by it all.
It is very "Donmar" with the black brick wall, side profiles and lighting - a worthy end to the West End season. - stevemar
08 Jun 09
I agree with the above posting and I was pleased to see that the Telegraph, Guardian, Standard and others this morning all celebrate a wonderful performance in the central role. I was at a preview and saw a Hamlet full of dark brooding anger and grief with an auidience who were gripped from start to finish. This is not a 3 star evening in the theatre but at least Maxwell Cooter doesn't spend his time comparing it to David Tennant (probably beacuse like so many of us, he nver actually got to see it).Bravo Jude! - TE
04 Jun 09
Opening night and the critics are sharpening their knives against the former golden boy. Wyndham's audience is definitely younger than usual, with many A level students clutching their texts for last minute revision and insight. It's all about Jude Law, really - and that could be his downfall. You can see it in his face over 3 hours later when he takes his curtain call and the enthusiastic audience reaction finally causes a huge smile (of relief and gratitude?) to break across his face. We know it was a brave decision, we want him to know that we recognise that bravery and acnowledge the real talent that has been wasted and spread so thin by the world of film. Jude Law is a very fine actor indeed.
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