We round up the reviews for the first indoor production of Shakespeare’s play at the Shakespeare’s Globe.

(c)Johan Persson

WhatsOnStage: **** “It’s an interesting time to be staging Hamlet, with its themes of corruption and denial of guilt. And this playful production – fans of Holmes’ work with Filter will find much to enjoy – highlights just how much levity there is alongside the tragedy. Fouracres is a Dane who shows, much like Morrissey, that genius and madness are wholly entwined.”

The Guardian: ** “But it feels like confection because the things that make Hamlet a tragedy and give it emotional intensity are not there – or not for long enough – and we never get beyond the novelty value of the central “comic” idea, which hangs like an ill-fitting coat.”

London Theatre.co.uk: *** “A mad production of a play about madness, Sean Holmes’s new Hamlet marks the first time for this most oft-performed tragedy at the Globe’s indoor playhouse. Say what you will about a sweary, unbridled staging that is likely to divide opinion, Holmes’s take on a text sometimes undertaken as an act of duty certainly isn’t dull.”

Mind the Blog: ***** “All in all, for me this production is a hit (“a very palpable hit”). There is quite a bit going on, but it balances perfectly well with Hamlet’s soliloquies and moments of reflection – and truly shows the play in a new light.”

iNews: ** “There are brighter spots. Rachel Hannah Clarke’s Ophelia, Nadi Kemp-Sayfi’s Laertes and especially John Lightbody’s unusually dignified, compassionate Polonius forge a tender familial bond. And Polly Frame’s Gertrude generates some tormented passion, even if she eventually subsides into hysterical over-emoting. That’s hardly her fault in a production that aims for enlivening irreverence and just turns out try-hard. Not big, not funny, not clever.”

The Reviews Hub: **** “At 3 hours and 15-minutes, this does start to drag and while the Gravedigger makes a few jokes about the running time it’s hard not to wish some of the extraneous material had been excised. There is innovation here and while it’s not always clear why the company have made its decisions, they have clearly thought hard about a different kind of Hamlet.”

Broadway World: **** “Enviably cunning and admirably witty, Fouracres’s portrayal is exceptionally self-aware. His mind works faster than his tongue can follow and he keeps his wits about him as he is slain by grief. Holmes doesn’t play it safe, opting for a challenge to the status quo with his production and responds to the evergreen question, “Is Hamlet really mad?”. On this occasion, he is definitely not. A grieving, depressed, cocky, slightly pretentious mess of a man – sure. But not mad. Fouracres shines as a Prince whose personality goes beyond his mourning.”

The Telegraph: ** “Sean Holmes’s new production at the Globe’s Sam Wanamaker Playhouse seems to strive hard for yoof-appeal, but misses by a mile.”

London Theatre1: **** “For a unique and spectacular experience that is profoundly entertaining and accessible, this production of Hamlet delivers. But without fully grasping the poetry or fullest dynamic emotional range afforded by the text, this production is just short of transcendental.”

Evening Standard: ** “I unashamedly love the Globe for its boldness and irreverence, but this is one of the occasions when the creative team seem to be lobbing concepts at the script willy-nilly. Again, a shame, as Fouracres’ performance has depth and texture as well as novelty. It deserves a better setting.”

The Stage: ** “Coldly contemplative and occasionally incoherent production of Shakespeare’s quintessential tragedy.”

The Understudy.co.uk: **** “It is difficult, then, to succinctly sum up Holmes’s production. Much in the way that Polonius recites the Players’ talents for ‘tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, tragical-comical-historical-pastoral’, I too could recite this productions talents for tragedy, comedy, drama, melodrama, tragic-comedy, comedy-melodrama, etc, etc. But it is not quite one of them and not quite all of them – it is a mix of everything, and so too is life. Some might argue that more matter with less art next time might work better, but regardless, there are moments and performances here that make this production worth seeing. George Fouracres’s Hamlet is the best of the season.”

Time Out: **** “This ‘Hamlet’ is a wild, wild ride, that shows Fouracres to be a major star in the making and Holmes to finally be hitting the form at the Globe that he did at the Lyric. It’s ‘Hamlet’, but funnier, scarier and more daring than you’ve seen it before.”

Hamlet continues to play at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse until the 9th April. You can book your tickets here.


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