Only in this case, it was not. We went to see the London's Nation Theaters production of Shakespeare's Hamlet tonight, in one of the Fathom event shows , like the Met Operas that we go to. And in this case, with no offense to The Bard - the play was not the thing the actor was.
Benidect Cumberbatch is a new Hamlet, more goth than gothic , more a 21st century advertismenet for anti psychotics than the booding Dane of old. This is not your fathers Hamlet, but the words are the same wonderful 400 poetry . Just pulled into a dark and shadowy Elsinor , full of the same intrigues and dangers that any production of Hamlet is, just with more David Bowie,
There is no set time here - it is all over the 20th Century, which fits the manic production perfectly. Cumberbatch is the lost college boy Prince, all mopey listening to his records in his room, all " YOU ARE NOT MY REAL DAD "then one skipped dosage later in full wacko costume - feeding you a desperate " to be , or not to be ". Plagued by the ever rotting ghost of his murdered King father, Hamlet sets off like they all have to do in his usuper uncle and what ? save / condemn his mother..Hamlet is funny and crass, and dangerous and sad . A much more... energetic Prince of Denmark than I had seen before.
The first thing I said to Neil when the lights game up a good three and a half hours after going down was" its a 400 year old play that you know the story and you were still on the edge of your seat. And its true. If this one is repeated , and they often are - GO SEE IT.
It would be a very good first Shakespeare experience for a younger person , with a little bit of study. Dont drop them off the deep end into unchartered Iambic Pentameter . But this production goes at the speed of sound , no time at all to get bored or want to check your iPhone.Im not going to say it is for everyone - it is a dark brooding ( ..... ) production, with light used very minimally at times to convey the emotion - you have to know the players because , well sometimes they are hard to see. But just a wonderful high energy retelling of what many call Shakespeare's best.