It was a case of to be in Sheffield or not to be in Sheffield last night (22 September 2010), as John Simm's Hamlet at the the Crucible Theatre went head-to-head with the opening of the West End transfer of Krapp’s Last Tape, starring Michael Gambon.

Simm is the latest in a glut of big name actors to tackle the Bard's most famous role, and stage heavyweights including Ian McKellen, Richard Wilson, Samantha Spiro and Frances Barber were among those who made the journey to Sheffield to see how he fared (don't forget to check our review round-up later today).

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Simm is joined in the principal cast by fellow TV favourite John Nettles – who was an RSC veteran before the likes of Midsomer Murders brought him wider fame – as Claudius/Ghost, alongside Michelle Dockery (as Ophelia), Barbara Flynn (Gertrude), Colin Tierney (Horatio) and Hugh Ross (Polonius).

Directed by Paul Miller, Hamlet continues to 23 October 2010. It will overlap with the National Theatre production, starring Rory Kinnear in the title role, which opens next month (7 October, previews from 30 September).


Speaking of acting heavyweights, they don’t come bigger than Michael Gambon, who has made a welcome return to the London stage in the transfer of the Gate Theatre, Dublin revival of Samuel Beckett’s Krapp's Last Tape, which runs at the Duchess Theatre until 20 November.

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The play, originally performed at the Royal Court in 1958, features Krapp who, each year on his birthday records a tape reflecting on the events in his life. Now an old man, he replays passages from his tapes of the previous 30 years and recalls his past loves, disappointments and fascinations.

The last major London outing for Krapp was in 2006, when the late Harold Pinter made a rare stage appearance in it at the Royal Court as part of the theatre’s 50th birthday celebrations.