Review Round Up: Hamlet, Young Vic Theatre

Discover what critics had to say about Greg Hersov’s production now playing at the Young Vic Theatre.

(c)Helen Murray

The Guardian: **** “The production makes it abundantly clear that this is a play about family grief, from Ophelia’s unravelling to Laertes’s helplessness at her death, giving us much more than the traditional focus on Hamlet’s mourning alone. The play’s humour is eked out at every availability, from Hamlet’s “madness” (never mannered, full of subtle tics and flecks) to the sparkly-eyed pedantry in Joseph Marcell’s Polonius and there is a freshness to even the most familiar japes and jokes.”

The Independent: ** “Her Hamlet is a man out of time: smart, lean and cool, occasionally whipped into feverish excitement, haunted by his task to kill his uncle, and with flashes of blackly comic timing. It is unfortunate, then, that these glimmers of excellence are let down by a production that can feel so curiously muddled, so lacking in rigorous directorial vision, that it almost completely undoes itself.”

WhatsOnStage: *** “What a curious production this is! It has moments of utter brilliance, a compelling Hamlet and one of the best Ophelias I have ever seen. It also has its problems. Perhaps the fairest summary I can offer is that in three hours I wasn’t bored. Though I was sometimes reeling.”

Evening Standard: **** “Jumbo gets to let loose physically, and she is terribly moving in the final scene. Hers is a performance completely lacking in vanity, that ranks amongst the finest Hamlets I’ve seen.”

iNews: **** “Hersov’s production doesn’t scrabble for modern parallels – to the contrary, I’m not exactly sure what it teaches us about modern masculinity or today’s political landscape. But it is nevertheless an affecting, polished and potently atmospheric Hamlet – and one that confirms Jumbo as a blazing, prodigious talent.”

The Arts Desk: *** “In Cush Jumbo, working here with Greg Hersov, who successfully directed her in As You Like It and A Doll’s House at the Royal Exchange, Manchester, we have an accomplished actor of wit and intelligence, relishing Shakespeare’s language and expressing the complex emotions and intellectual challenges of Hamlet, sometimes street-cool, sometimes febrile, always modern.”

Culture Whisper: **** “Jumbo’s performance is the wings of the production (and the only gender-blind bit of casting in an otherwise traditional take on the story). She seems to luxuriate in the rhythm of the text as if it’s bottled up within her and we witness her evolve visibly from a traumatised, moping prince in act one to a guarded, scheming, hyper-observant loose cannon by the end.”

Time Out: *** “Hersov’s production is slick, watchable and amusing, with big, charismatic turns from Jumbo, Dunbar, Lopez Holden, Marcell and Fitzgerald. Anna Fleischle’s set of three tarnished glass monoliths is very cool. It’s a fine production in many, many ways, and certainly unusually zippy and accessible. But ultimately it’s not very tragic and that’s a problem with a tragedy: this is a thrilling three-hour ride, but ultimately a shallow one.”

London *** “Not that every new Shakespeare production needs an ostentatious “concept”. But director Greg Hersov makes some choices here, such as the modern-dress setting, that need follow-through; what, exactly, is his Hamlet trying to convey? Individual moments place the action in an accessible contemporary context, like Hamlet sarcastically quoting Closer magazine to Polonius, or Rosencrantz and Guildenstern taking giggling selfies in the palace, but it doesn’t otherwise feel like a particular indictment of our society – nor of the family, even though there’s more intention paid to that with the international military action excised.”

The Upcoming: **** “Even if one has never experienced the tragedy of Hamlet before, there is plenty to latch onto here, including set design by Anna Fleischle. The striking statement of the set, the pillars, seem to go through character development themselves, morphing into stone, the gold of the palace, fire – whatever they need to be. A layer of smoke hangs in the air, reminding viewers of the ominous, unreal setting.”

Broadway World: *** “Greg Hersov‘s staging benefits from some commendable performances and a good grip on the play’s flow (with some sly cuts), but these strengths are often compromised by the production’s hesitant capaciousness.”

The Stage: *** “Cush Jumbo is electrifying in an otherwise underpowered production.”

The Telegraph: *** “At the Young Vic, Jumbo offers a Danish prince who is transfixingly ambiguous – but elsewhere, the production is a little ponderous.”

The Understudy: *** “It is a confident, well-rounded performance from Jumbo that sometimes hints at greatness, even if it doesn’t quite reach the regal heights it aspires to. She is fluid and expressive, sometimes overly so, and the big soliloquies tick all the boxes, despite lacking the revelatory quality of a ‘great’ Hamlet.”

The FT: “To Elsinore first, where Cush Jumbo’s Hamlet is clenched tightly in the grip of loss. The Young Vic’s staging has long been anticipated and Jumbo doesn’t disappoint. Her prince of Denmark is electric: a shaven-headed, androgynous figure whose world has been upended by the loss of his father, by a gathering sense of being trapped in a nightmare and by the urge to escape his inherited history without knowing how.”

Hamlet continues to play at the Young Vic Theatre until the 13th November.

%d bloggers like this: