Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Review of the Best Hamlet Adaptation Ever!!

Share it Please
I have seen quite a few versions of the play Hamlet but this version is definitely my new favorite! I felt like it was extremely well casted with Benedict Cumberbatch as Hamlet, Ciaran Hinds as Claudius, Anastasia Hille as Gertrude, and Sian Brooke as Ophelia. But what was the most interesting to me was a lot of the staging, effects, and lighting.

Hamlet has quite a few asides throughout the play and instead of simply having him speak to the audience in real time, they artistically chose to slow down time and have the rest of the actors move through the scene in slow motion while Hamlet delivers his asides. This was very fascinating because it makes it seem more like the lines he gives are the thoughts in his mind and he is fighting with himself.

The transitions between scenes are then frequently depicted as time sped up and we see people moving very quickly to change scenery or speed through different actions. This gave some idea of the passing of time or the change of a scene without actually closing a curtain. This was usually accompanied by dissonant music and flashing lights.

One of the most interesting staging differences that I saw was right after Act III, just before the intermission. As Claudius delivers his final lines of the scene as a flurry of dirt and dust fills the stage. The rest of the play then is enacted on top of piles of dirt that fill the palace. At first it seemed like an odd choice. But as Ophelia wanders in her madness and grief then commits suicide, as they all attend her burial, as Laertes and Hamlet fight, the mounds of dirt actually lend an important feeling to the play. I felt like it symbolized the turmoil and filth that had penetrated the royal house after this point in the play. It makes the final scene where everyone lays in their own blood even more devastating.

These were just a few of the items of artistic staging and style that really intrigued me and made it feel like a very unique adaptation of the traditional play.


  1. Leah, I couldn't agree more! I was super impressed with the stage production of this show. I too noticed Hamlet's soliloquies/asides. While Hamlet was struggling with his inner emotions and thoughts, the world around him seemed to fade away. And while we could still see the other people (it wasn't completely dark) and we could see their sloth-like movement, all the attention was on Hamlet. It definitely added to the effect of Hamlet's inner struggles.

  2. Second the notion! I also found the scene changes and dissonant music very powerful. It really lent itself to the passage of the time. As for the dirt I had a similar thought, I thought it represented the decay of a kingdom that was so smeared with vile acts and treachery. I loved it!

  3. The music was my favorite part of the play, along with select performances. It emphasized the modern tumult despite the play's classical roots. During scene transitions, the flashing lights and sped-up movements helped demonstrate passage of time, like you said, in a very interesting way.

  4. I'm glad you brought up time! It's so interesting to me that it slows during Hamlet's soliloquies. Because Hamlet is moving so slow to act, it's natural that his inner meditations take time. Then it slows down when he kills Laertes, but not the King. Ultimately, killing the King was the whole point of the play, yet the focus is on Laertes. This must be to show how far Hamlet has been poisoned by the ghost's plea for revenge. It has led him to basically destroy an entire family (Polonius, Ophelia, Laertes). To me, that's worse than Claudius's murder of Hamlet sr, simply because Hamlet didn't mean to be a murderer but that is who he has become. "To be or not to be" is a judgment Hamlet passes on many characters.