Theatre News

Barbican confirms Benedict Cumberbatch's Hamlet

The production, directed by Lyndsey Turner, will run from August to October 2015

Dane in waiting: Benedict Cumberbatch
Dane in waiting: Benedict Cumberbatch
© Dan Wooller
As previously rumoured, Benedict Cumberbatch will play Hamlet at the Barbican next summer.

The Barbican has confirmed that Cumberbatch will play Hamlet for 12 weeks from 5 August to 31 October 2015.

The production will be directed by Lyndsey Turner, who recently won plaudits for her stagings of Chimerica and Posh, and produced by Sonia Friedman.

Friedman said today: "I'm thrilled to be producing Hamlet with Lyndsey and Benedict, and we are all delighted that the magnificent Barbican has agreed to present the show… it is a real privilege to be working with one of the most gifted and exciting actors of his generation, Benedict Cumberbatch, in the title role."

Benedict Cumberbatch's previous stage credits include Frankenstein and After the Dance at the National, and Hedda Gabler, which transferred from the Almeida Theatre to the West End.

His Shakespeare credits include Romeo and Juliet, Love's Labour's Lost and A Midsummer Night's Dream at Regent's Park's Open Air Theatre.

On film Cumberbatch is best known for Star Trek, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and 12 Years a Slave, and he plays the title role in popular BBC series Sherlock.

His turn as the Dane is bound to be the subject of huge demand. According to the Barbican website, "Booking dates and further information will be announced in May 2014."

Cumberbatch will become the latest in a plethora of big names to tackle Shakespeare's biggest role in recent times. Others include Michael Sheen (Young Vic), Rory Kinnear (National), John Simm (Sheffield Theatres), David Tennant (RSC) and Jude Law (Donmar West End).

— Barbican Centre (@BarbicanCentre) March 26, 2014

Hamlet will mark the climax of a season celebrating Shakespeare at the Barbican, which also includes the transfer of the RSC's productions of Henry IV Parts I and II (29 November 2014 – 24 January 2015) starring Antony Sher as Falstaff, and a retelling of A Midsummer Night’s Dream from Russian director Dmitry Krymov (12-15 November).

Other highlights of the Barbican's newly announced 2014-15 season include 1914-2014: Barking Then and Now, a site-specific project seeking to understand how the events of World War One have impacted on communities today.

According to press material, the project will involve "thousands of people who have lived, worked or passed through Barking, collecting memories, conversations and images to develop a rich living archive capturing the legacy of 1914-1918."

The Barbican will also stage an international Ibsen season in October-November 2014, featuring Thomas Ostermeier’s adaptation of An Enemy of the People, a reimagining of The Wild Duck from Belvoir Sydney and Théâtre National de Nice's take on Peer Gynt, based on an original concept by Peter Brook's actress daughter Irina.

The Barbican's head of theatre Toni Racklin said: "This season, our bold programme of new theatre and daring adaptations from around the globe is driven by a desire to engage with important contemporary issues."