Mini Monday Review #3

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Hamlet : The Book and The Play


“I must be cruel only to be kind;
Thus bad begins, and worse remains behind.”


Shakespeare plays – being Shakespearean – are vastly different to modern day plays and general language. The lexical and mere word order can seem quite alien at first glance and understandably so. After you manage to hurl yourself over that first hurdle you can begin to admire the beautifully crafted dialogue. Shakespeare is just incredible at weaving imagery into dialogue, for example the flowers handed out by Ophelia. And you have to respect how the iambic pentameter helps create the sound of speech and how through the use of soliloquies you get to read the characters -Hamlet’s more often than not- trail of thought. These are the times when the themes and symbols are developed; particularly that of death both natural and unnatural. The thing I love most about Hamlet is the fact nothing is canon; almost everything can be questioned. Whilst feigning madness does Hamlet allow himself to fall into insanity? Did Gertrude conspire with Claudius in the murder of the King? This in itself is a subtle reference back to what the play was written to explore: nature of the mind, madness vs sanity.

With some of the most breathtaking imagery I’ve ever read and subtle yet powerful motifs – which are not unlike some in his other works – Hamlet has joined Macbeth as my favourite Shakespeare play!


After almost a years wait I finally got to see Hamlet at the Barbican Centre for my birthday. I sat in my seat with a beaming smile – I was very excited! I don’t think I’ll ever forget what it was like when the lights dimmed and we were left in total darkness. Suddenly the eerie Nature Boy by Nat King Cole (which was fabulously creepy and a wonderful hint at how Lyndsey Turner envisioned the play to be) began to play and a faint light began to illuminate Benedict Cumberbatch’s Hamlet on the stage flicking through a book sat aside a red record player. At last he looks up to the audience and whispers the opening lines of the play.  My review for it? Beautiful set, outstanding cast, impeccable performances and a damn right fantastic treatment of the script – with some lines being moved around, removed entirely or entirely new! I thought it was flawless. Please can sombody take me again?


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