Over the past years we have grown accustomed to big names, such as Jude Law and David Tennant, taking the title role in the play Hamlet. This time round the RSC gave the role to the lesser known Jonathan Slinger but all credit goes to the company for doing so.
Slightly older than 40, Slinger does not look like the young, student that Hamlet is meant the be. Infact he, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern all could not pass for this. However this aside Slinger captures the complexity and changeability of Hamlet's character perfectly. He truly is a brilliant actor and had the whole audience captured in the palm of his hands, reacting to him how he wanted. He is not the only actor to be praised; a special mention must go to Pippa Nixon who perfectly encompassed Ophelia's passion and melancholy throughout her performance. The cast as a whole should be praised as they carried the play through the some what confusing direction.
David Farr's direction was at times genius but at other times confusing with his over fixation on fencing; then at the last minute this is all brushed away with the gymnasium floorboards overturned to reveal earth and skulls for the infamous Yorik scene. The play is ultimately set in the 1980s which is a modern take on what is normally a play directed in traditional Shakespearean times, but still it was slightly confusing. It was what Farr touched on that was genius rather than through the staging. Although personally I'm sad to see that Farr did not play upon the important Oedipal feelings between Hamlet and Gertrude, I loved his attention to ghosts and spirituality in the play; the ghost scene where Hamlet is curled up at his father's knee is terrifying yet touching!
Despite the cluttered direction at times, at its core and through the magnificent acting it is a thrilling version of one of Shakespeare's greatest tragedies and my favourite play and is definitely worth a visit!
The play is in rep until September 28, 2013 at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre at the RSC, Stratford.