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Review Round-Ups

Tom Hiddleston's Hamlet: a hit or not a hit?

The Night Manager star leads the cast of Kenneth Branagh's production at RADA


Kenneth Branagh's production of Shakespeare's Hamlet, with Tom Hiddleston in the title role, has opened at RADA's 160-seat Jerwood Vanbrugh Theatre.

The show, which runs until 23 September and has been mounted to raise funds for RADA's new capital project, sold out via a ballot, so for those not fortunate enough to bag a ticket, we round-up the reaction from audience and critics below.

Michael Billington, The Guardian


"If I had to pick out Hiddleston's key quality, it would be his ability to combine a sweet sadness with an incandescent fury. He suggests a fierce intellect gnawed by intense melancholy and yet subject to bouts of intemperate rage."

"Branagh, who has himself played Hamlet many times and also directed it for the movies, clearly understands the play inside out and gets a range of subtle performances."

"In one way, it is sad that this production will be seen by so few people. But its purpose is to raise money for a good cause rather than to embellish reputations."

"And, even if it rarely shocks one into new awareness, it has clarity, swiftness and, in the person of Hiddleston, a compelling Hamlet with a genuine nobility of soul."

Ann Treneman, The Times


"Hiddleston is a fine Prince from the get-go, when we see him sitting on a stage bare but for a piano, picking out the notes, singing a lament for his father (though, it must be said, he can't sing)."

"He makes the role completely his own, emotional, magnetic, canny, often frolicsome. The words seem natural, effortless. He bounds around the stage and his duelling is fierce (his swordplay, unlike his musicianship, is expert)."

"This is a stripped-down version, with modern dress, set in present-day Denmark. Branagh introduces as much mirth as it can take: as Hamlet begins to go mad, he takes to wearing hoodies, painting his face and reading a book titled Reasons to Stay Alive."

Nataliia Zhuk, The Telegraph


"This Hamlet hooks you in at once. With only three rows of seats... the audience is only ever a couple of meters away from the action, which lends this modern-dress production a special kind of claustrophobia."

"...It's [the production's] sense of humour that singles out this Hamlet from other recent productions; never have I laughed so much at an account of the Prince of Denmark's suffering."

"And as for the main event, Hiddleston? His Hamlet is proactive, masculine, edgy to the point of aggression - and definitely, absolutely sane."

"His take on the character is more in line with Cumberbatch's expressive Hamlet than, say, Andrew Scott's understated one."

Some of the reactions from Twitter...