If you didn't see National Theatre Live's broadcast of Hamlet last night at the Barbican, what were you thinking?!
Since The Imitation Game last year, I had come to believe that Benedict Cumberbatch was one of the best living actors in terms of craft and connection. When I heard that he was going to have his rite of passage (play Hamlet), I knew I wasn't going to miss it.
And disappoint he did not. I read one review for the production when it first opened and it was quite negative. I decided not to read anything else about it until after I'd seen it for myself and I couldn't have been more pleased.
I enjoyed every last minute of this interpretation. It was approachable, thrilling, visually-stunning, devastating, and inspiring. Benedict took Hamlet to the highest highs and lowest lows the text could possibly allow. The miracle is that he did it all with a brutal honesty that was exhausting to watch. I cannot imagine what he has to do to recover and what he has to eat to recuperate every night.
The rest of the cast made me love and appreciate each of the characters in this story in a way I never had. I admired and respected Polonius. I despised, yet understood Claudius. I feared for Gertrude. I wanted to put Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in my pocket. And Ophelia destroyed me.
And so I continue to revere and look forward to Cumberbatch's work. And I continue to chase after Hamlet and the light he has to shed on my madness.
"I have heard
That guilty creatures sitting at a play
Have by the very cunning of the scene
Been struck so to the soul that presently
They have proclaim'd their malefactions"