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Jude's Hamlet is a thriller

PUBLISHED: 12:22 23 June 2009 | UPDATED: 14:36 24 August 2010

by Sarah Brubeck Jude Law could teach his surrounding cast of Hamlet a few things after delivering an exhausting but thrilling performance. From the moment the curtains ride up and the glowing light falls on Law s back in the opening scen

by Sarah Brubeck

Jude Law could teach his surrounding cast of Hamlet a few things after delivering an exhausting but thrilling performance.

From the moment the curtains ride up and the glowing light falls on Law's back in the opening scene, the audience is aware of his anger and frustration.

Though his jerky movements and over pronunciation of every word is a little overbearing, it adds to the passion and crazy manoeuvres that are recognised in the character.

However, Law's performance does not make up for the rest of the cast.

There were a few spotlight moments for other characters as for Penelope Wilton as Gertrude when her death was particularly entertaining.

Guru Mbatha-Raw as Ophelia was more convincing when she acted sane, but failed to deliver the lewd characteristics the character is known for in the second half. Ron Cook's Polonius is a poor excuse for casting with his monotonous voice, however, the audience roared when he delivered jokes.

Alex Waldmann's Laertes is overplayed and he acts more like an angry teenager than a man who recently lost his father and sister.

Matt Ryan's Horatio is a calming character among a cast gone mad, but he plays his terrified role well, especially at the end when Hamlet dies in his arms, acting like a mother losing her son.

I found myself more intrigued when Law was on stage, using his darting eyes and sharp speech to keep the audience on their toes.

Though his Hamlet is not a funny Hamlet, he uses sarcasm to prevail the quick wit audiences are accustomed to in the character.

Despite the rest of his performance, the sword fighting between Laertes and Hamlet looked more like two boys in a school yard than two rehearsed actors.

I was worried when I heard the play is in modern dress and I had my reasons. Ms Wilton's dress looked like a casual business woman about to catch the tube for work, not a powerful queen.

Kevin McNally's Claudius resembles the fittings of a priest and Claudius' usual powerful but paranoid character was undersold.

The only relief from an all black wardrobe is the play within a play in which all white is worn and the dismal lighting is lifted off the actors.

But in the end, the audience provided thunderous applause to Shakespeare's classic, unable to dispute a profound performance by Law. I give the overall performance three stars.


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