Thursday, 10 September 2015

How to catch a live performance of Hamlet. Plus the *best* piece of advice a sister ever gave in the history of theatre-going.

Hello hello.

If you're already tired of me talking about Hamlet then:
  • [a] imagine how James must feel and 
  • [b] feel free to unfollow me and remove me from your blog-reader 
... because it's probably going far easier for you to forget you ever heard of me than it will be for me to forget I ever saw the production of Hamlet that everyone is talking about!

I'm never normally in with the in-crowd and, trust me, I'd never have thought a love of Shakespeare would have put me there. So, all things considered I'm just going to string it out a bit longer ...

But, before you get even more annoyed with me, I'm not being entirely self-centred when it comes to yet again bringing up the subject of Hamlet - an entirely sold out production. I'm not trying to rub it in. To gloat.

In fact ... if you wanted to see it and missed out then, despite what you've been mumbling about me under you breath, I'm actually here to let you know there's a way you can catch a live performance! 

And this is it:
Image taken from National Theatre Live site
Three times this week I've directed three entirely unconnected people to the Hamlet page on the National Theatre Live site ... so I thought it was time I actually got round to sharing it here; because it's slightly quicker than telling everybody one at a time! So here we are.

**On THURSDAY 15TH OCTOBER 2015 [and then with encores from 22nd] a performance of the production will be broadcast LIVE into cinemas!!**

I know it's not entirely the same as being there in person for example:
  •  you won't get to breathe the same air as the Prince of Denmark / BC
  • and you won't get to plot the logistics of whether you could jump on him from the upper circle while still maintaining your dignity ... 
Image taken from National Theatre Live site
But, equally:
  • you won't get arrested!
  • and you won't get a mouthful of 'bits' following the big explosion at the end of the first half like the people in the first 5 rows must have had [you might still jump at it though!] 
  • and you most likely should get to see all the angles that my 'restricted view' seat didn't afford me! 
To find out where's your nearest participating cinema: 
As far as I can tell the broadcasts are worldwide and not just the UK but ...
  • please don't hate me if there isn't one near you!
  • and please don't hate me if there is one near you but it's already sold out ... keep an eye on those 'encore' showings. 
If you think it's not your kind of thing I'm not sure I can persuade you otherwise ... but maybe I'll give it one small go ...
  • Despite being over 400 years old it's a modern play. Even from day one it's been a modern twist on old 'revenge tragedies'. And it remains relevant today - anything with an overthinking, procrastinating, character at its centre will always speak to my heart! 
  • Plus the vast sets and wide-ranging [if inconsistent and slightly confusing] costumes in this production certainly go some way to keeping that aspect alive.
  • MOST IMPORTANTLY!!!! If you think you don't understand the language of Shakespeare then, for me, that's an actor's fault not yours. 
  • A good interpretation by a thoughtful actor, who understands what they're saying and who wants you to understand, will deliver the lines in such a way that allows you grasp the general idea even when you don't understand every word or phrase [I think of it as how babies understand what we say to them even though they don't yet speak the language].  
  • And, fortunately, this version has plenty of actors who can do just that, and not just Cumberbatch [you'd expect him to express himself clearly wouldn't you?] but I found Anastasia Hille as Gertrude very natural and Ciaran Hind actually managed at times to make me see things from Claudius's persepective ... which [considering he's a murderer at the heart of all Hamlet's problems] must be a first for me!
And if you need further convincing ... watching Cumberbatch step on to - perform on - and then step off this table, so beautifully effortlessly ... is almost worth the price of a ticket in itself! 
Image taken from National Theatre Live site
And finally, if you do go and see it, then allow me to pass on the key piece of advice my very wise big sister passed on to me before I went ... 

"Yes, make sure you eat something; just to line your stomach. You don't want to be sick on Benny."

And, not wishing to go all braggy again, but from where I was sitting, when I saw this in real life, when the curtain rose, and when Benedict Cumberbatch was sitting on the stage directly below me, if I hadn't heeded that advice and lined my stomach earlier that evening  ...

... I actually could have been sick on him. 

Admit it. You're jealous now aren't you?  


So to the Hamlet page on the National Theatre Live site now, yes? Good!

If you manage to get tickets then do keep me up to date, let me know what you thought of it! Even if we end up agreeing to disagree.

But if the excitement does makes you vomit ... maybe keep that part to yourself.



  1. Your enthusiasm is almost palpable! I'm glad you weren't sick, though :).

  2. I am still laughing at the thought of you jumping onto - or perhaps into the arms of - BC.

    When you said 'won't get a mouthful of bits' i thought you were going to admit you had accidentally dropped a tub of popcorn on the people in the stalls.... it must be your vivid descriptions getting my imagination racing!

  3. I'm just impressed that your family are so close to Benedict that you know him as Benny!

  4. Oh you. This post almost made up for me not being able to attend (I wanted to write 'witness').

  5. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I never would have heard about this here in Minnesota. Just waiting now to hear back from friends as to whether they want to join me.

    1. Ooh - that's great to know you found a showing! Enjoy!!!

  6. I envy you with plays being so available to see over there. Maybe next July/August when we're in London we'll actually get to see one. Here we basically have to go to Toronto, New York, Niagara on the Lake or Stratford (Ontario, Canada) and John's just not that keen on travelling to see a play.

    1. Maybe one of the cinemas is nearer to you Gail - it's worth having a look :-)

  7. Thank you for this post! I can't believe it's actually showing here....I'm all the way over in Seattle, WA. I got tickets and I'm really excited! Please don't block me from your blog when I say I've never even read Hamlet.... But between your rave reviews and Benedict Cumberbatch I have to take this opportunity to get a little culture in my life! =)

    1. Well, Hamlet virgins are just as welcome! I hope you enjoy it [bear in mind that I'm not an objective reviewer!!] - let me know how you found it! :-)


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