Cumberbatch’s cinematic Dane

Hamlet, National Theatre Live, Vue Cinema, Preston

Wednesday, 21st October 2015, 12:42 pm
Benedict Cumberbatch as Hamlet  Photo: Johan Persson/PA Wire
Benedict Cumberbatch as Hamlet Photo: Johan Persson/PA Wire

I have not seen Laurence Olivier’s portrayal of Hamlet, but I am keen to compare his performance with Benedict Cumberbach’s title role.

His was the best acting I have seen, far surpassing Mel Gibson’s or that of the Shakesperian stalwart Kenneth Branagh.

Cumberbach was supremely emotive and displayed a range that only the most consumate actor/actress can aspire to.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Cirian Hinds, playing usurping uncle Cladius was the only actor that could hold a flame to Cumberbach’s and the delivery of his soliloquie laid claim to share the stage with one of the most versatile actors on the planet.

Most of us are familiar with ‘alas poor Yorrick’ and the centrality of the ‘to be or not to be’ speeches from out GCSEs.

It will be this audience, along with the more seasoned, that are discovering the genius of The Bard for the first time; their interest pricked by television and film:- namely Sherlock and Star Trek.

As Hamlet, Cumberbach realises the potential of the role, at once desperate, comical and playful and ultimately tragic; all of which was purported by Shakespeare in the best of his work in my opinion.

The stage crews deserve credit for sets ranging from dining hall to battlements. The fact that the London Theatre stage is deep adds to the depth of the play itself with a multi-layered plot.

Much more nuanced than Michael Fassbender’s Macbeth which is a posh Braveheart but has it’s own merits in the acting, especially Marion Couilltard as Lady Macbeth, and the excellent if not slightly depressing Othello.

The series of National Theatre Live theatre/cinema events has been a real treat for a Shakespeare fan like me and I would encourage anybody to sample the experience.

Sean Barnes