Hamlet ★★★★ Guildford Shakespeare Company | Jan 29 - Feb 23, 2022


Hamlet is like a Chinese puzzle which seems to mirror every age, especially in times of doubt. The eponymous Prince trembles on the edge of maturity and Freddie Fox interprets this superbly: he's not as funny as some but he delivers the lines – and the thinking behind the lines – beautifully. The acoustic in this huge and handsome church can be difficult but Fox overcomes the problem and we hear every mellifluous word. The great soliloquies are delivered as if freshly minted. Hamlet is too complex a play to simplify; it can be in danger of imploding. Happily, virtually all the trimming needed to reduce the immense play to a manageable length works here. Tom Littler's fine direction is helped by Mark Dymock's subtle, yet frequently dramatic lighting – they allow the play to breathe. Philip d'Orléans' staging of the climactic fight is exciting and stylish. Claudius could perhaps be a more powerful and charismatic orator and Gertrude could exude more animal sexuality, but Noel White and Karen Ascoe put in sterling performances. Not unlike certain leaders of today, Polonius seems to be a buffoon, but this presentation masks a shrewd politician. Stefan Bednarczyk, playing him as a Bishop, is very effective. Good as Rosalind Ford's Ophelia is, she seems rather sidelined. With a lesser Prince the evening would still be good, but Fox raises things to an infinitely higher level. His portrayal is astute enough to make us realise that while politicians lie and cheat, life goes on even in the face of tragedy. This is a cynical and visceral dissection of life with Fox's mercurial Hamlet at its heart. Let's hope he will play the role many more times.

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by D.S.J.
Photo by Matt Pereira.

Want to save on tickets? See our Tips page.

When, Where, Getting there:

Most Popular

St. Martin in-the-fields: Lunchtime Concerts ★★★★ FREE

Naked Boys Singing, The Garden Theatre at The Eagle - ★★★★ - Until October 25, 2020

London Tide ★★★ National Theatre | Apr 10 - Jun 22, 2024

The Last Caravaggio ★★★★ The National Gallery | Apr 18 - Jul 21, 2024 (Free Entry)

Calendar Girls ★★★ The Mill at Sonning | Apr 11 - Jun 1, 2024

Howerd's End, Golden Goose Theatre - ★★★★★ - Until October 31, 2020

Player Kings ★★★★★ Noël Coward Theatre | Apr 1 - Jun 22, 2024

Your Lie In April – The Musical in Concert ★★★★★ Theatre Royal Drury Lane | April 8 & 9, 2024

Foam ★★★★ Finborough Theatre | Mar 19 - Apr 13, 2024

The Comeuppance ★★★★★ Almeida Theatre | Apr 6 - May 18, 2024

The City Life Magazine | Reviews & Ratings