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3 September 2015 - Benedict Cumberbatch's Hamlet at the Barbican

Publié par Marion Coste le 09/03/2015

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Benedict Cumberbatch’s Hamlet Could Usher in an Era of Blockbuster Shakespeare
Scott Jordan Harris (Slate)

At times in Lyndsey Turner’s production of Hamlet, the hottest London theater ticket in at least a decade, Benedict Cumberbatch is suddenly spotlighted. The actors around him, now dimly lit, remain onstage but move in pronounced slow motion, choreographed by the show’s movement director, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. Cumberbatch turns to the audience and delivers one of Hamlet’s soliloquies. After he has finished, minutes have passed for us but only moments have passed for the characters onstage. What we have just heard is a flood of Hamlet’s thoughts—and Hamlet is a character saturated by thoughts—that occurred to him in an instant.

If you’re a fan of Cumberbatch and his TV show Sherlock—and, it’s clear from the response in the house, most of the audience members in the Barbican are—the onstage treatment of those monologues will sound very familiar. It’s a carefully choreographed theatrical re-creation of the trademark moments in Sherlock when he pauses and text flashes across the screen too fast to read. The other characters fall away as Sherlock’s eyes dart and his rapid mind assimilates and analyzes information at a speed beyond the “funny little brains” of those around him.

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Social Media
To tweet, or not to tweet? At Cumberbatch’s ‘Hamlet,’ there’s no question
Henry Chu (The Seattle Times)
LONDON — To plead or not to plead? After a “mortifying” moment during a preview performance of “Hamlet,” Benedict Cumberbatch decided it was time for a direct appeal.
He’d been onstage, delivering the Prince of Denmark’s most famous soliloquy, when the red light of an audience member’s cellphone camera flustered him so much that he had to start the scene over.
“There’s nothing less supportive or enjoyable as an actor being onstage experiencing that,” Cumberbatch told screaming fans lying in wait for him outside the stage door. “And I can’t give you what I want to give you, which is a live performance that you will remember hopefully in your minds and brains, whether it’s good, bad or indifferent, rather than on your phones.”
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The price of tickets

Something is rotten in this Hamlet production – and it’s not Benedict Cumberbatch
Wendy Bradley (The Guardian)
I like celebrity Hamlets. I went to Winnipeg in January 1995 to see Keanu Reeves in the role. And I’m quite keen on that Cumberbatch chap. So I didn’t mind forking out to see him at the Barbican in London.
The Barbican have been very clever with the tickets for Hamlet. To get your hands on them in the first place, the London arts institution encouraged fans to spend £100 on membership that would give you “enhanced priority booking”. It felt a bit like when a mate stiffs you for their share of the restaurant bill but they do it with such good humour and grace that, just this once, you don’t mind.
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Benedict Cumberbatch imprisoned in a dismal production
Michael Billington (The Guardian)
After all the hype and hysteria, the event itself comes as an anticlimax. My initial impression is that Benedict Cumberbatch is a good, personable Hamlet with a strong line in self-deflating irony, but that he is trapped inside an intellectual ragbag of a production by Lyndsey Turner that is full of half-baked ideas. Denmark, Hamlet tells us, is a prison. So too is this production.
What makes the evening so frustrating is that Cumberbatch has many of the qualities one looks for in a Hamlet. He has a lean, pensive countenance, a resonant voice, a gift for introspection. He is especially good in the soliloquies. “To be or not to be”, about which there has been so much kerfuffle, mercifully no longer opens the show: I still think it works better if placed after, rather than before, the arrival of the players, but Cumberbatch delivers it with a rapt intensity. He is also excellent in “What a piece of work is a man” and has the right air of self-doubt: in the midst of his advice to the First Player on how to act, he suddenly says “but let your own discretion be your tutor”, as if aware of his presumption in lecturing an old pro.
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"3 September 2015 - Benedict Cumberbatch's Hamlet at the Barbican", La Clé des Langues [en ligne], Lyon, ENS de LYON/DGESCO (ISSN 2107-7029), mars 2015. Consulté le 20/06/2024. URL: https://cle.ens-lyon.fr/anglais/key-story/archives-revue-de-presse-2015/3-september-2015-benedict-cumberbatch-s-hamlet-at-the-barbican