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Did the critics go mad for Andrew Scott's Hamlet?

Andrew Scott takes on the Dane in Robert Icke's latest production at the Almeida


Sarah Crompton, WhatsOnStage


"[...] a thrilling production directed by Robert Icke that is so bold it just takes the breath away. It is profoundly thoughtful, and yes, [Andrew] Scott is wonderful – but he is the heart of a rich and radical interpretation of the play."

"In scene after scene Icke and his cast intelligently rethink the play. In the process they very much make it a play for today not just because Bob Dylan and Laura Marling provide a soundtrack, or because cameras and newsreels form such a part of the action, but because they are prepared to answer the questions Shakespeare sets with a kind of bravura energy and courage."

"Juliet Stevenson is a wonderfully subtle Gertrude, and her delivery of the news of Ophelia's death has a resonant simplicity; Angus Wright is an urbane Claudius, David Rintoul a regal ghost and a dignified Player King, and Peter Wight an irritating and over-protective Polonius. "

"In mining all the shifts of Hamlet's character with compassionate understanding [Scott] reveals a truly sweet Prince. An outstanding performance on a truly memorable night."

Michael Billington, The Guardian


"Robert Icke's version at the Almeida is cool, clever, chic and has some good ideas, but also some that strike me as eccentrically wrong-headed."

"With "To be or not to be", you feel Scott is engaging us individually in his own moral dilemma about the pros and cons of self-slaughter."

"But one or two of Icke's ideas strike me as dotty. I cannot fathom why Claudius should make his confession of murder not to an unseen divinity but to Hamlet standing in front of him holding a pistol. Why, if the king came clean, wouldn't his nephew shoot him?"

"It's a long, four-hour production and one that mixes insight and occasional absurdity, but it is Scott's sweet prince I shall remember best."

Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph


"How does the Irishman, at 40, fare in this Bardic stage debut? Well enough. We expected intelligence – we get that. Clad simply in black, at times barefoot, this Hamlet's forte is a quivering, quavering emotionality."

"What Scott lacks, though, except in rare moments of flare-up rage and petulance, is full-throttle passion. He's lyrical but low-key, and at times gropes for the words, hands sawing the air, with the studied tentativeness of someone unwrapping a gift the contents of which they already know."

"Aside from a seductive sense of ongoing nuptial celebrations, spilling from a chic interior out through a double-set of wall-length windows, this is more Elsi-snore than Elsinore."

"[...] was I fully persuaded after three hours that I'd sat through a Hamlet for our times? Alack and fie for shame, no."

Ann Treneman, The Times


"Ben Whishaw gave us the ultimate angsty teen, David Tennant excelled as the neurotic and Cumberbatch mastered the cerebral. In some ways, you do feel that Moriarty has at least sent Scott a memo here."

"At times, [Scott] is mesmerising but there are times when he seems to lose his impetus and we just don't care about him. Indeed, the entire production, at almost four hours long, is uneven and sometimes the stage seems almost becalmed, especially towards the end when the TV screen is used to record a fencing match (more Bob Dylan)."

"Icke has gathered a gathered a mini-reunion of stars from his past production. Juliet Stevenson (who was just on stage here in Mary Stuart) is Gertrude. Claudius is played by Angus Wright and Ophelia by Jessica Brown Findlay, both of whom starred in Oresteia."

"But it is only Scott and Stevenson who really work here and Wright, in particular, never seemed believable."

Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard


"At first [Scott's] Danish prince appears contemplative, a natural outsider whose key traits are hushed melancholy and delicate intelligence. Yet later in moments of outrage or passion he howls, his frenzied words bursting from him like bullets."

"Chemistry fizzes between Juliet Stevenson as his mother Gertrude and Angus Wright as her new and discreetly malign husband Claudius. Jessica Brown Findlay is a memorably raw and wounded Ophelia..."

"Not all the modern touches work, and there are scenes when the deliberately leisurely pace means the production loses some of its grip. But mostly it's rich and beautiful — with Scott delivering a career-defining performance that's charismatic and surprising."

Andrzej Lukowski, Time Out


"It sounds like [Scott] is saying everything for the very first time, that these timeless soliloquies are his unfiltered stream of consciousness, that almost anything might happen. One moment he is calm and morose; suddenly he is in a genuinely frightening rage. It is livewire, edge-of-the-seat stuff."

"Icke's production is stripped back and unhurried - a watch is a recurring motif, but the only person in a hurry is Hamlet, desperate to do something – anything – to make sense of his dad's death."

"The fireworks come from Scott, but he's a long way from Moriarty ham mode – he is playing a bright, brilliant, sensitive young man suffering indescribably. Though Icke avoids the whizbang conceptualising of so many productions of this play, his empathetic production consistently and brilliantly wrong-foots us."

Click here to read our five-star review of Hamlet

Hamlet runs at the Almeida Theatre until 8 April.