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July 29, 2008

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DIANAHAMPSHIRE

HI MY NAME IS DIANA HAMPSHIRE I WOULD LIKE TO SPEAK TO DAVID TENNANT IF I MAY

michael

I saw the Sept 1st evening performance and it was superb, and as good as Patrick Stewart was it was Tennant's Hamlet that was rivetting. We went with some Canadian friends who come over every year and include the RSC productions in their itinerary each visit. Unlike us who whose only reservations were about Tennant's few "Dr Who-ish" tics, our friends knew nothing about Tennant and had actually come mostly expecting to enjoy Patrick Stewart's performance and hadn't any preconceptions as to how Tennant might do. They were utterly blown away by his Hamlet, and what we saw as a few Doctor Who mannerisms creeping in they saw as perfect nuances in the performance.

In some places there have been snipes at the RSC and Tennant, as if he hasn't earned his place in the production and because he is "only there to attract the masses". Well thank God he is because from what I heard in excited conversations from young first-timers afterwards the production - and not just Tennant - really has introduced a new generation to Shakespeare's genius in a huge way.

Nancy G

I will never see Tennant's Hamlet (or possibly any live performance of Hamlet, alas), but I've been closely following what everyone has been saying.

I think you've possibly given the most honest and forthright review that I've yet to read. I am a Tennant fan (but never a fanatic or a fan-girl), and a fan of the theatre as well.

It's refreshing to hear an honest appraisal of Tennant's acting, and not someone rattling on (and on) about Dr Who, or gushing about his hairstyle.

I too, get the feeling--just from watching Dr Who--that the man hasn't quite found his depth yet...tho' I think he certainly has the potential to do so, as he ages.

From all I hear, it is an excellent performance for newcomers and novices alike, and an entertaining Hamlet in this day and age, isn't a bad thing, in my opinion.

However, I can envision where Tennant's cavorting and (sorry fan girls) clownishness might lessen a serious theatre-goer's enjoyment. Thanks for posting your review, enjoyed it thoroughly.

Sarah, Nottingham

I saw the evening performance on 24/8/08. Much as I have enjoyed David Tennant's performance in Casanova and Dr Who, I am no groupie. I have always enjoyed Shakespeare, seeing several RSC productions each year. This was, beoynd doubt, the most enjoyable, surpassing even the superlative Midsummer Night's Dream a couple of years ago. I have seen several previous live performances of Hamlet, but not ones that brought out the humour in the earlier stages. Tennant was eminently believable, but leaving with the doubts inherent in the part. Was he manic depressive (with psychotic elements)? Was he personality disordered? Was it all a knowing act? Or some bizarre combination...for people fit so poorly into neat pigeon holes. I laughed until it hurt. I cried. What more could you ask? Though, in fairness, the play within a play seemed incongruous in manner...but was it meant to represent the warped reality of a descent into insanity? Or merely by its on surreality to make the main play more real?

Sarah, Nottingham

I saw the evening performance on 24/8/08. Much as I have enjoyed David Tennant's performance in Casanova and Dr Who, I am no groupie. I have always enjoyed Shakespeare, seeing several RSC productions each year. This was, beoynd doubt, the most enjoyable, surpassing even the superlative Midsummer Night's Dream a couple of years ago. I have seen several previous live performances of Hamlet, but not ones that brought out the humour in the earlier stages. Tennant was eminently believable, but leaving with the doubts inherent in the part. Was he manic depressive (with psychotic elements)? Was he personality disordered? Was it all a knowing act? Or some bizarre combination...for people fit so poorly into neat pigeon holes. I laughed until it hurt. I cried. What more could you ask? Though, in fairness, the play within a play seemed incongruous in manner...but was it meant to represent the warped reality of a descent into insanity? Or merely by its on surreality to make the main play more real?

Rebecca B

I saw the 15/8/08 show & was very impressed by Tennant's performance. He got stronger as the play continued & I found the playing of his madness one of the most convincing readings I have seen. Interestingly he got a lot of mileage out of the comic aspects & I also enjoyed his "get thee to a nunnery scene" with Mariah Gale's Ophelia. In fact I found his playing of the role & the impact his behaviour has on Polonius' family shocking in that once he was set on revenge he seemed to have no awareness of how his behaviour was affecting those around him.

Any reservations about David's approach to the role may be down to severe cutting of the text by the director. Horatio seems to have suffered with reduced lines & therefore their relationship & the elimination of the political subplot impacted noticably (for me) & made the ending slightly anti-climatic & confusing. I would have preferred an extra 15 minutes on the run time to fully explore the text.

Other Hamlets I've seen recently are Simon Russell Beale, Toby Stephens & Ben Whisaw & Tennant is easily on par with them. He does have sound theatrical credentials (I saw him do Black Comedy & The Real Inspector Hound - a Stoppard / Shaffer double bill in the westend a few years back & he was ace).

For me though the star of the show was Patrick Stewart, that voice & his natural presence just works beautifully & I'm gagging to see him do King Lear as he could be sensational.

I also thought Oliver Ford Davies as Polonius was ideally cast & Mariah Gale & Penny Downie were equally strong links in the cast.

Also liked the spareness of the design resulting in fast scene changes which kept the pace up. I'd recommend this show to those thinking of trying to get tickets to the London show as its well worth it & Tennant's interpretation will have had time to mature & develop.

Heather

I'm going to take a stand somewhere in the middle on this one. I thought David Tennant's Hamlet was great, but I do understand what you mean about his being a little "one-dimensional" as you put it.

I've been studying the play for my AS level English course this year and am a massive Shakespeare fan. I would say I know the text quite well now and think it is fantastic. Admittedly, this is the first live production I've seen, although I have watched several film versions, all of which I've found a complete disappointment bar one, which also featured Patrick Stewart as Claudius, with Derek Jacobi in the lead role. I do feel that there is a lot of pretentiousness wrapped up in Shakespearean acting generally. The actors who play it are very often flat and boring, behaving like they're simply reading out some epic poem or something and forgetting that they're actually there to create a believeable portrayal of a character. And they can get away with it because the over-critical masses won't watch it - Shakespeare is reserved for the intellctuals. I personally think that revered actors like Laurence Olivier are particularly guilty of this. What Tennant brought to the role (although perhaps excessively manic and over-the-top at times) was real emotion and energy that kept the audience interested and excited, albeit evidently not always suitably awed or impressed. I know that there are numerous different takes that you can have on the play, and perhaps a truly great actor will be multi-dimensional, and attempt to incorporate elements of all or at least some of these. However, maybe it's just my bias, being a teen myself, but the moody, naughty Hamlet with the mind of an adolescent was always the one that I found standing out most in the text, so much so that I always felt it was a mistake on Shakespeare's part (if it's not too bold of me to say so) to have made him as old as 30. Hamlet was clever and cutting, but immature and self-obsessed, and, though we don't like to admit it, that's something we can all relate to; and surely an audience's/reader's empathy is what makes a character great?

Perhaps I am as yet underqualified to have such strong opinions. I haven't had years of experience and I'm not a theatre buff yet - although I'm fast getting there (it'd be criminal not to with RSC tickets being a shocking £5 for people my age), and The Courtyard is now one of my favourite places to be. Although there may have been some element of the bums-on-seats factor in the decision to cast David Tennant, I really don't think this is such a bad thing. My little brother (15) hates classic literature with a passion, yet he came with me to see this play AND enjoyed it! There are numerous people who have posted here who otherwise wouldn't have gone, and hopefully, for at least some of them, it will open the doors to something new. That's got to be worth something. And for all the snobbery attached to Shakespeare (one of my pet hates) he actually wrote for the masses, peasants and nobility alike.

So, overall, Tennant's Hamlet satisfied me, and far surpassed all the others I've seen except for Derek Jacobi, who in fairness has had considerably more time to develop as an actor. I thought the whole production was riveting, and despite the fact that I'd decided to sit in an awkward position which made my legs go dead, I didn't notice the length of it at all. This, for me, is how Shakespeare should be done.

See, I didn't even mention Doctor Who once!
Oh.

PS: For the record, Doctor Who is the series; the character is called The Doctor. : P

Janet

I have to totally disagree with this review on David Tennant's role.
Did John Morrison see the same play as I did, I wonder?
I went expecting the play to be good - but I was bowled over by just HOW good it was.
I never imagined that anyone could inject so much humour into a Shakespearian tragedy - David Tennant managed it admirably. Patrick Stewart & Oliver Ford Davies were also excellent in their roles and the modern production was superb! Shakespeare's longest play? - I wanted it to go on for longer! As for the amount of energy brought to the stage (no wonder David is so damn skinny!) - that blew me away! The fight scene was so covincing that I thought someone was REALLY going to get hurt any minute.
I just wish I could get hold of a ticket and go & see it again.
Comparisons with Laurence Oliver's Hamlet? The king is dead - long live the king!

Caitlin

I saw him on the 25th July, and I have to say, he blew me away!
I'll admit, I've never seen a Shakespeare play, and this was my first one. And what an experience! Everyone was excellent, and David held my attention threw the whole 3 hours 30 minutes. He really brought it to life.
So I have to disagree with your review, but each to their own.

Scholes

I'm sorry to have to write this but having found myself here via a link sent to me by a friend who went to watch this play staged by the RSC I read with keen interest as to how other people viewed the performance of the actors that were displaying both their acting talents and also a modicum of their soul in one of Shakespeare greatest Hamlet. As far as I can ascertain the job of the RSC is not only to find acting talent that can grace the boards and deliver a performance but also to deliver in the stalls, this has always been the case in any form of the entertainment industry. Would any of William Shakespeare’s works have been as popular in the day they were wrote if he did not employ the finest actors and dare I say it the most popular of the time. Had they not have taken hold with the greater populace then would so many have been saved for our enjoyment today.
Actors such as David Tennant are employed first and foremost because of their talent not because of the “bums on seats” factor. Did the author of this critique also comment on a certain Patrick Stewart in earlier days when he probably could be comparable to the young Hamlet of this day?
The reason for the question is clear in that praise is lavished on Patrick (and don’t get me wrong I am a fan of Patrick’s work) for this role but he has had time to grow into such powerful performances. I say give David such time and he could be one hell of a Shakespearean actor.

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