The 2009 Broadway Production of Hamlet, Starring Jude Law
This was the official website for the 2009 Broadway production of Hamlet, starring Jude Law.
Content is from the site's 2009 archived pages as well as from other outside sources.
Show Clip - Hamlet - Jude Law
HAMLET CONCLUDED ITS RECORD-BREAKING BROADWAY RUN ON DEC. 6, 2009.
THANK YOU TO OUR AMAZING AUDIENCES
The Strength of Jude Law’s Performance is Impossible to Deny.
Michael Grandage’s Stunningly Accomplished Production is a Magnificent and Timely Piece of Theatre.
Jude Law is Excellent and Explosive.
A Captivating, Modern Production. Jude Law’s Scintillating Portrayal Goes Right to the Marrow.
A Gripping, Thrilling, and Deeply Felt Production. Jude Law is Spellbinding.
London Daily Telegraph
! Jude Law Joins the Pantheon of Modern Hamlets.
London Daily Telegraph
A Captivating, Modern Production. Jude Law’s Scintillating Portrayal Goes Right to the Marrow.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Ophelia) and Jude Law (Hamlet)
Photo by Johan Persson
HAMLET COMES TO BROADWAY
In Shakespeare’s definitive tragedy, the King of Denmark is dead. Consumed with grief, Prince Hamlet (Jude Law) determines to avenge his father’s death with devastating consequences for his family and the kingdom.
Hamlet comes to Broadway following sold out engagements in London’s West End and at Elsinore Castle in Denmark.
Producer Arielle Tepper Madover and the Donmar Warehouse are pleased to announce William Shakespeare’s Hamlet on Broadway, with Jude Law in the title role, directed by Michael Grandage. The production will begin performances at the Broadhurst Theatre (235 West 44th Street) on Saturday, September 12 for a strictly limited run of twelve weeks only. Opening night is Tuesday, October 6.
Award-winning actor Jude Law returns to Broadway for the first time since 1995 when he made his Tony Award-nominated debut in Jean Cocteau's Indiscretions (Les Parents Terribles). Michael Grandage, Artistic Director of the Donmar Warehouse, made his Broadway debut with the Tony Award-winning production of Frost/Nixon. He originally staged Hamlet for the Donmar’s West End season at Wyndham’s Theatre.
An aside: I find it entertaining to see the headlines of reviews by critics of movies and theatrical productions. Take for example this 2009 Broadway production of Hamlet with Jude Law. Jude Law gets mixed reviews as Broadway "Hamlet" with some reviewers declaring his performance “electrifying” and others describing it as “highly disappointing. On Critic0o-meter, one gets to see many critics comments in one blog spot. Critics agree that Jude Law makes a vigorous, mercurial Hamlet rather than a broodingly inactive one, Jude Law's portrayal of the melancholy Dane...isn't just one of the best ever committed to the stage, it's also not your usual interpretation...Law's Hamlet is hardly the brooding, vacillating and intermittently crazed figure ticket buyers may expect to see. , As brave, beautiful and robustly exciting a reading of this play as you're likely to see...Grandage mines the accessible motives and emotions of the Bard's characters and the visceral power of his language. In doing so, he appeals to younger fans and casual theatergoers likely to be drawn by Law's presence without patronizing them.., A brilliant star surrounded by bleak nothingness. While Law gives a muscular, intelligent performance in the most challenging role in world literature, the supporting cast and the director's concept barely register. That's a shame, because Law is a Hamlet to remember, bringing exciting physical life to each line and gesture., to So let's put it this way about Jude Law's performance in the much-anticipated -- and highly disappointing -- new "Hamlet" on Broadway: He's a most handsome and polished indicator...Invariably there is a concrete basis for what he's doing in Shakespeare's text, but the portrayal is consistently so literal, it's as if he's working out a character for a culture with only a tangential knowledge of English or Law’s interpretation, in accord with director Michael Grandage’s intent, is aimed at neophyte audiences lured to the play not only by the star but with the added promise of a thriller liberally sprinkled with yucks. This predicates frantic nonstop action as flashy, frequently jocular and unsubtle as possible, and the devil, or the more sophisticated theatergoer, take the hindmost.
Such a contrast in comments can really be confounding to theater goers. I try to ignore the reviews when they result in two extremes and just experience the performance from my lowly perspective. However for this play I did bring my two nieces who are in high school. It was fun experiencing the show via their observations. They were excited to go to a Broadway show and to see Jude Law up close ( we had center orchestra seventh row seats). During the intermission, however, instead of commenting about the production, the two of them showed me on their cell phone the stylish dog bedding their mother had just bought for the family dogs and how hilarious it is when their friends plop down on them, mistaking it for a large floor pillow. The two round dog beds, covered in a designer fabric that coordinated perfectly with the rest of the formal living room did look like large floor pillows. Apparently the dogs are very proprietary towards their new beds, much to the confusion of the person occupying it. I had to laugh and made a mental note to to sit on one of the dog beds if I go over to my sister's place. We often sit on the floor and play cards at a low table in the living room.
After the performance I asked the girls their opinion of Hamlet.They were both very positive. One said it was absolutely stunning and most engaging with its stark yet dramatic staging. The other thought it was rather long, but loved Jude Law's emotional, calculating, quick-witted, and short-fused performance. He's so beautiful...sigh, sigh!
I had a great time because I really enjoy being with my nieces. As far as the play, I tend to agree with David Finkle's observation that "Jude Law's portrayal of the melancholy Dane isn't just one of the best ever committed to the stage, it's also not your usual interpretation. The entire enterprise, as Grandage has planned it, is also a piece of exhilarating work, speeding along as if jet-propelled...The director also has made a point of scaling the sinister proceedings to Law's explosive performance and to the grandeur of Shakespeare's language...Not one of the well-spoken cast falls short of delivering the text with impassioned lucidity"
Complete Casting Announced For Broadway's HAMLET With Jude Law; Previews 9/12, Opening 10/6
by BWW News Desk Jul. 30, 2009 /www.broadwayworld.com
Producer Arielle Tepper Madover and the Donmar Warehouse are pleased to announce the complete Broadway cast for William Shakespeare's HAMLET, with Jude Law in the title role, directed by Michael Grandage. The production will begin performances at the Broadhurst Theatre (235 West 44th Street) on Saturday, September 12 for a strictly limited run of twelve weeks only. Opening night is Tuesday, October 6.
HAMLET comes to Broadway following sold out engagements in London's West End and at Elsinore in Denmark.
Law will be joined by the Donmar Theatre company of actors from London and Elsinore: Ross Armstrong (Cornelius), Harry Attwell (Guildenstern), Ron Cook (Polonius, 1st Gravedigger), Ian Drysdale (Osric), Peter Eyre (Ghost of Hamlet's Father, Player King), Jenny Funnell (Player Queen), Michael Hadley (Barnardo, Priest, Captain), Colin Haigh (Member of the Court), Sean Jackson (Reynaldo), Geraldine James (Gertrude), Gwilym Lee (Laertes), James Le Feuvre (Member of the Court), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Ophelia), John MacMillan (Rosencrantz), Kevin R. McNally (Claudius), Henry Pettigrew (Marcellus, 3rd Player, 2nd Gravedigger,), Matt Ryan (Horatio), Alan Turkington (Francisco, Fortinbras, 4th Player) and Faye Winter (Member of the Court).
As part of the Donmar's commitment to greater accessibility, producer Arielle Tepper Madover has announced that more than 100 tickets priced at $25 will be available at every performance through Telecharge.com and the Broadhurst Theatre box office.
Award-winning actor Jude Law returns to Broadway for the first time since 1995 when he made his Tony Award-nominated debut in Jean Cocteau's Indiscretions (Les Parents Terribles). Other theatre credits include Les Parents Terribles (National Theatre), Dr. Faustus, ‘Tis Pity She's a Whore (Young Vic) and Death of a Salesman (West Yorkshire Playhouse). Upcoming films include Dr. Watson in Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes, being released on December 25 and Tony in Terry Gilliam's The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, being released on September 24 and Repossession Mambo. Other films include The Talented Mr Ripley (BAFTA Film Award), Wilde (Evening Standard British Film Award), Cold Mountain, Road to Perdition, Closer, Alfie, The Aviator and Sleuth, among others.
Michael Grandage, Artistic Director of the Donmar Warehouse, made his Broadway debut with the Tony Award-winning production of Frost/Nixon. He originally staged HAMLET for the Donmar's West End season at Wyndham's Theatre, where his credits also include Madame De Sade, Twelfth Night and Ivanov (Evening Standard and Critics' Circle Awards for Best Director for Ivanov). Other Donmar credits include The Chalk Garden (Evening Standard and Critics' Circle Awards for Best Director), Othello, John Gabriel Borkman, Don Juan in Soho, Frost/Nixon (also West End), The Cut, The Wild Duck (Critics' Circle Award for Best Director), Guys and Dolls (Donmar in the West End - Olivier Award for Outstanding Musical Production), Grand Hotel (Evening Standard Award for Best Director, Olivier Award for Outstanding Musical Production), Henry IV, After Miss Julie, Caligula (Olivier Award for Best Director) and Passion by Peter Nichols. Other West End work includes Evita. In the fall, he directs the world premiere of John Logan's Red at the Donmar.
Previous Donmar Warehouse shows in New York include Mary Stuart, Frost/Nixon, Cabaret, Electra, The Blue Room, The Real Thing, True West, Nine and The Public Theater and Donmar collaboration of Take Me Out.
London critics embraced Law's performance and Grandage's production. "Law's performance is detailed and powerful and vividly personal," raved Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard. "Jude Law is excellent," agreed Quentin Letts, Daily Mail. "A swift, clear well-staged version of Shakespeare's most exciting play," proclaimed Michael Billington, Guardian. "Jude Law's Hamlet is vivid, lucid and impassioned. A feverish energy seems to surge from his fingertips," cheered Kate Bassett, Independent on Sunday. "It's a pleasure to report that Law is more than equal to the role; he has the physical and vocal range for its operatic demands and brings vulnerability, honesty and charisma to Hamlet's soul-searching," claimed Caroline McGinn, Time Out London. "Law's Hamlet is deeply moving, lucidly spoken," hailed Charles Spencer, Telegraph. "Grandage's gripping, thrilling, deeply-felt accessible production seizes on the fact that Hamlet is an absolutely crackling psychological thriller."
The company of HAMLET is appearing with the permission of Actors' Equity Association. The producers gratefully acknowledge Actors' Equity Association for its assistance to this production.
HAMLET is currently playing at Wyndham's Theatre in London's West End, where it completes its sold out run on August 22. It then travels to Kronberg Castle, Elsinore, for a sold out run from August 25-30, prior to Broadway.
In Shakespeare's definitive tragedy, the King of Denmark is dead. Consumed with grief, Prince Hamlet (Jude Law) determines to avenge his father's death with devastating consequences for his family and the kingdom.
The production is designed by Christopher Oram, with lighting design by Neil Austin. Composer and sound designer is Adam Cork.
Michael Grandage, artistic director of the Donmar, said today, "Following our recent productions of Frost/Nixon and Mary Stuart, I am delighted we have been invited to bring another of our productions to Broadway. We feel very privileged to be part of such a vibrant theatre community and it is exciting to think that so many people will get to engage with our work and to witness Jude Law's extraordinary performance."
Performances are Tuesday at 7:00 PM, Wednesday at 2:00 PM and 7:30 PM, Thursday and Friday at 7:30 PM, Saturday at 2:00 and 8:00 PM, Sunday at 3:00 PM. Tickets ($116.50 - $25) are available through Telecharge.com at 212-239-6200 or www.telecharge.com.
Ross Armstrong (Cornelius) Trained: RADA. Theatre: includes Cyrano de Bergerac (Chichester Festival), The White Devil (Menier Chocolate Factory), Hapgood (Birmingham Rep), Henry V (Manchester Royal Exchange). Film: includes Invisible Eyes.
Harry Attwell (Guildenstern) For the Donmar: Twelfth Night. Theatre: includes Hamlet (Orange Tree), Three Sisters (Lion and Unicorn), Much Ado About Nothing (Young Shakespeare Company), Henry IV pt 1&2 (Forty Hall), Pippin- The Musical (Union).
Ron Cook (Polonius, 1st Gravedigger) For the Donmar: Twelfth Night, Helpless, Juno and the Paycock, Glengarry GLen Ross. Theatre: includes The Seafarer, Howard Katz, Machine Wreckers, Black Snow (NT), On the Ceiling (Garrick), Singer (Tricycle), Insignificance (Chichester Festival), Vassa (Almeida), Art (Wyndham's). Film includes: Hot Fuzz, Confetti, On a Clear Day, The Merchant of Venice, Thunderbirds, 24 Hour Party People. Television includes: "Red Riding," "Little Dorrit," "The Diary of Anne Frank," "Doctor Who," "Silent Witness," "10 Days to War," "Burn Up".
Ian Drysdale (Osric) For the Donmar: Twelfth Night, Ivanov. Theatre includes: On the Waterfront (Nottingham Playhouse), Rough Crossings (Headlong), Pilate, Sejanus; His Fall, Believe What You Will, Thomas More, Hamlet, Macbeth, Brand, Much Ado About Nothing, Antony & Cleopatra (RSC). Film includes: Time's Up, Size Matters. Television includes: "The Verdict," "Pulling," "Time Gentleman Please".
Peter Eyre (Ghost of Hamlet's Father, Player King) For the Donmar: Murder in The cathedral (part of the TS Eliot Festival), The Wild Duck. Theatre includes: Waste, Camera Obscura (Almeida), Ring Round the Moon (Playhouse), The Cherry Orchard (Sheffield Crucible), Terre Haute (New York/Trafalgar Studios /Edinburgh), Richard II (Old Vic), Don Carlos (Sheffield Crucible/Gielgud). Film includes: Shadows in the Sun, The Situation, The Affair of the Necklace, From Hell, The Golden Bowl, Surviving Picasso, Remains of the Day, Orlando and Let Him Have It. Television includes: "Midsomer Murders," "Question of God," "Cambridge Spies," "Bertie & Elizabeth," "Alice in Wonderland".
Jenny Funnell (Player Queen) Theatre includes: The White Devil (Pavilion Brighton), Tom Dick and Harry (Theatre Royal, Windsor), Mother Goose (Theatre Royal, Brighton). Television includes: "The Bill," "As Time Goes By," "Love Soup," "Doctors," "Monster Television," "Casualty," "Taking Issue," "Drop the Dead Donkey".
Michael Hadley (Barnardo, Priest, Captain) For the Donmar: Piaf, Othello, The Vortex, Little Foxes.
Theatre: includes Coriolanus, Canterbury Tales, Richard III, As You Like It (RSC), The Seagull (Mercury), As You Like It, Don Carlos, (Sheffield /West End), Love's Work, Intimate Death, Une Tempête (Gate), The Jew of Malta (Almeida), Waiting for Godot, Endgame, Measure for Measure, Mrs Warren's Profession, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Saint Joan (Birmingham Rep). Film: includes The Boat That Rocked, Unrelated, Three Blind Mice, The Best Pair of Legs in the Business, All Coppers Are.
Colin Haigh (Member of the Court) For the Donmar: A Voyage Round My Father (Wyndham's).
Theatre: includes Burnt by the Sun, Afterlife, The Hothouse, Playing with Fire, Battle Royal (NT), Girl with a Pearl Earring (Theatre Royal Haymarket), Pinter Double Bill (Comedy), Equus, The Graduate (Gielgud), The Philadelphia Story, The Tempest (Old Vic), The History Boys (NT/International tour/New York). Film: includes The History Boys, Jack Brown and the Curse of the Crown. Television: includes "Ashes to Ashes," "Tales from the Tower," "The Broker's Man," "The Bill".
Sean Jackson (Reynaldo) For the Donmar: The Wild Duck. Theatre: includes Waves (NT/tour/New York), Henry V (Manchester Royal Exchange), The Jewish Wife (Young Vic), The Seagull, A Dream Play, The Mandate, Iphigenia at Aulis, The Talking Cure, Ivanov, Love on the Dole, Sgt. Musgrave's Dance, Juno & The Paycock (NT). Television: includes "Waking the Dead," "Dispatches," "Your Own Back Yard," "Soldier Soldier," "No Bananas," "Bishop's Gate".
Geraldine James (Gertrude) Theatre: includes Victory (Arcola), The U.N. Inspector, Cymbeline (NT), Home, The Cherry Orchard (Oxford Stage Co), Hedda Gabler (Manchester Royal Exchange), Lysistrata (Old Vic/Wyndham's), Death and the Maiden (Duke of York's), Merchant of Venice (Phoenix/New York), The Faith Healer (Almeida). Film: includes Dagenham Girls, Sherlock Holmes, Alice in Wonderland, The Fever, Calendar Girls, The Luzhin Defence, The Testimony of Taliesin Jones, Prince of Shadows, The Bridge, She's Been Away (Golden Lion Award, Venice), The Tall Guy, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, Gandhi. Television: includes "Caught In A Trap," "The Last Enemy," "The Time of Your Life," "The Amazing Mrs Pritchard," "Little Britain," "He Knew He Was Right," "State of Play," "Hearts of Gold," "Hound of the Baskervilles," "Crime and Punishment," "White Teeth," "Band of Gold," "A Doll's House," "Blott on the Landscape," "Jewel in The Crown". Geraldine James was awarded an OBE in 2003.
Jude Law (Hamlet) Theatre work includes Dr Faustus and ‘Tis Pity She's a Whore (Young Vic), Les Parents Terribles (National Theatre and Broadway) and Death of a Salesman (West Yorkshire Playhouse). His film work includes Sherlock Holmes, The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus, The Repossession Mambo, Sleuth, My Blueberry Nights, The Holiday, Closer, Alfie, The Aviator, Cold Mountain, Road to Perdition, The Talented Mr Ripley and Wilde.
Gwilym Lee (Laertes) Theatre: includes Oedipus (NT), Richard III (RSC), About Tommy (Southwark Playhouse). Television: includes "Ashes to Ashes," "Waterloo Road," "Lewis," "Mutual Friends," "Animal Ark".
James Le Feuvre (Member of the Court) Theatre: includes Deadly Games (Vienna's English Theatre), Our Country's Good (New York), The Producers (Theatre Royal, Drury Lane), The Bet (Criterion). Film: includes Anaphylaxis, God Hates Fags, Cognitive, Don't Go There.
John MacMillan (Rosencrantz) Theatre includes: In the Red and Brown Water, The Member of the Wedding (Young Vic), Piranha Heights (Soho), The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (Almeida), Cymbeline (Cheek by Jowl).
Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Ophelia) Theatre: includes Gethsemane (NT), Big White Fog (Almeida), Romeo & Juliet, Antony and Cleopatra (Manchester Royal Exchange), Car Thieves (Birmingham Rep), As You Like It (Exeter Northcott). Film: includes Straightheads, Act of God. Television: includes "Fallout," "Bonekickers," "Lost in Austen," "Trial & Retribution," "Miss Marple," "Doctor Who," "Dead Clever," "Spooks," "Vital Signs".
Kevin R. McNally (Claudius) For the Donmar: Ivanov, World Music. Theatre includes: Boeing Boeing (Comedy), The Lady in the Van (Queen's), Naked (Almeida/Playhouse). Film includes: Valkyrie, Scoop, Pirates of the Caribbean I, II & III, Johnny English, Entrapment, Sliding Doors, Enigma, Cry Freedom. Television includes: "Law & Order," "The Last Van Helsing," "The Murder of Princess Diana," "Life on Mars," "Bloodlines," "Dunkirk," "Bedtime," "Spooks".
Henry Pettigrew (Marcellus, 2nd Gravedigger, 3rd Player) Theatre: includes Black Watch (National Theatre of Scotland/New York/LA), The Bevellers (Citizens, Glasgow), Troilus & Cressida (Edinburgh Festival/RSC). Film: Next of Kin. Television: includes "The Belsen Redemption".
Matt Ryan (Horatio) For the Donmar: Small Change. Theatre: Lovely and Misfit (Trafalgar Studios), Sejanus: His Fall, A New Way to Please You, Believe What You Will, Speaking Like Magpies, Tamar's Revenge, Pedro the Great Pretender, Dog in the Manger (RSC). Film: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, Red Light Runners, Layer Cake, Pocket Money, Wild Decembers, With These Hands. Television: "Collision," "Torchwood," "Consenting Adults," "The Tudors," "Mine all Mine".
Alan Turkington (Fortinbras, Francisco, 4th Player) Theatre: includes Sweet Bird of Youth (Dundee Rep), Gates of Gold (Finborough), Inflame (Jermyn St), John Bull's Other Island (Tricycle), A Winter's Tale, Tempest (RSC), A View From The Bridge (Harrogate/tour). Film: includes Pure, Love. Television: includes "Countdown to War," "Holby City".
Faye Winter (Member of the Court) Theatre: includes The Beggar's Opera (Gilt & Grime), Hung Up (Pikku Peikko), The Country Wife (Haymarket), Uncommon Women (New Player's), Making Echoes, Mother's Song (Edinburgh Fringe).
Michael Grandage (Director) is Artistic Director of the Donmar Warehouse. Previous work for the Donmar includes Madame De Sade, Twelfth Night and Ivanov (Donmar West End at the Wyndham's Theatre - Evening Standard and Critics' Circle Awards for Best Director for Ivanov), The Chalk Garden (Evening Standard and Critics' Circle Awards for Best Director), Othello, John Gabriel Borkman, Don Juan in Soho, Frost/Nixon (also West End and Broadway), The Cut, The Wild Duck (Critics' Circle Award for Best Director), Guys and Dolls (Donmar in the West End - Olivier Award for Outstanding Musical Production), Grand Hotel (Evening Standard Award for Best Director, Olivier Award for Outstanding Musical Production), Henry IV, After Miss Julie, Caligula (Olivier Award for Best Director) and Passion by Peter Nichols. Other West End work includes Evita. He was the Artistic Director of Sheffield Theatres 1999 - 2005, where his work included Don Carlos (Evening Standard Award for Best Director). In the fall, he directs the world premiere of John Logan's Red at the Donmar.
Christopher Oram (Designer) For the Donmar: Madame de Sade, Twelfth Night, Ivanov, Othello, Parade, Frost/Nixon (also Gielgud/New York/US tour), Guys and Dolls (Piccadilly), Don Juan in Soho, Grand Hotel - The Musical, Henry IV, World Music, Caligula -Evening Standard Award, The Vortex, Privates on Parade, Merrily We Roll Along, Passion Play, Good, The Bullet. Theatre includes: A View from the Bridge (Duke of York's), King Lear/The Seagull (RSC), Evita (Adelphi), Macbeth, The Jew of Malta, The Embalmer (Almeida), Stuff Happens, Marriage Play/Finding the Sun.
The Donmar Warehouse is one of London's leading producing theatres and has garnered critical acclaim at home and abroad for its unparalleled catalogue of work. Since 1992, Donmar-generated productions have received 35 Olivier Awards, 20 Critics' Circle Awards, 19 Evening Standard Awards and 14 Tony Awards. The Donmar has a long and successful history of presenting its work outside of its home in Covent Garden. Productions in the West End include Piaf, Mary Stuart, Frost/Nixon, A Voyage Round My Father, Guys and Dolls, Design for Living, The Glass Menagerie, Company, The Real Thing, Passion Play, Ivanov, Twelfth Night, Madame de Sade and Hamlet. Productions on Broadway include Mary Stuart, Frost/Nixon, Cabaret, Electra, The Blue Room, The Real Thing, True West, Nine and The Public Theater and Donmar collaboration of Take Me Out.
Ready, Set, Emote: A Race to His Doom
HAMLET Broadway, Drama, Shakespeare
Closing Date: December 6, 2009
Broadhurst Theater, 235 W 44th St. 212-239-6200
By BEN BRANTLEYOCT. 6, 2009
If vigor were all in acting Shakespeare, Jude Law would be a gold medal Hamlet. Playing the doomed Prince of Denmark in the barnstorming production that opened on Tuesday night at the Broadhurst Theater, directed by Michael Grandage, Mr. Law approaches his role with the focus, determination and adrenaline level of an Olympic track competitor staring down an endless line of hurdles.
Hold your breath, sports fans! Here’s Mr. Law, lithe and taut, bracing himself for that first tricky soliloquy, “O that this too too solid flesh would melt.” No melting here. Mr. Law, gesturing and enunciating violently, nails the speech with the attack of an electric hammer. But can he keep it up for “O what a rogue and peasant slave am I” and “To be or not to be” and “Alas, poor Yorick”? Yes, he can, bringing the same athletic gusto and no trace of fatigue (or modulation) to each and every one.
People who ask for a little introspection from the man whose name is a byword for that activity may find it perplexing that this Hamlet never seems to look inward, which means that he never grows up — or grows, period. When Mr. Law’s hyperkinetic Dane announces early that “I have that within which passeth show,” it is a promise that will not be fulfilled.
Mr. Law, a rakish leading man of film, doesn’t disappear onstage the way some screen stars do. Though small-boned and delicately featured, he fills the theater to the saturation point. But the finer shades of feeling that a movie camera has been known to extract from his face — most notably in his Oscar-nominated performance in “The Talented Mr. Ripley” (1999) — are rarely in evidence here.
His Hamlet — which has only increased in intensity, if not in depth, since I saw it in London last summer — is, above all, an externalizer, never shy about acting out his inner conflicts and acting on his instincts. It is hard to understand the distress of Hamlet’s friends and family when he feigns madness, since the prince, in this case, appears to be as he always was: sarcastic, contemptuous, quick-witted and mad only in the sense of being really, really angry.
"Hamlet": Jude Law plays the Danish prince at the Broadhurst Theater. Credit Sara Krulwich/The New York Times
Mr. Law conveys these traits with a grandstanding bravado and annotative clarity that is often pitched full throttle into the audience. The much-quoted instructions that Hamlet delivers to a troupe of visiting players apparently do not apply to princes in mourning. This one mouths his words like a town crier and saws the air with his hands.
He does follow his own advice in suiting “the action to the word, the word to the action.” If Hamlet talks about his mind, you can bet that Mr. Law will point to his forehead; when he mentions the heavens, his arm shoots straight up; and when the guy says his gorge rises, rest assured that he clutches at his stomach. If every actor were like Mr. Law, signed performances for the hard of hearing would be unnecessary.
Most of the supporting cast members have chosen to follow Mr. Law’s semaphore style, though in a scaled-down manner that befits a team that knows its raison d’être is to avoid obstructing the view of the name above the title. (As Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother, Geraldine James goes for a more impassive effect, and as a consequence, vanishes before your eyes.) Though the look of Christopher Oram’s black-on-black set (exquisitely lighted by Neil Austin) is very of the moment, the overall effect is what you imagine a 19th-century touring production of “Hamlet” might have been like, with a crowd magnet like Edwin Booth or Henry Irving.
Such histrionic bluster, enhanced by Adam Cork’s scary-movie music and sound effects, is not without its advantages. This is one production in which I could understand every word, and you feel the heat of energy from the stage. In the sequence in which Hamlet and the Player King (the resonant-voiced Peter Eyre, who doubles memorably as the weary, tortured ghost of Hamlet’s father) swap favorite memorized speeches from hoary old tragedies, you sense the pleasure the characters and the men playing them derive from the ripe theatricality of it all.
But that’s one of the few times you are viscerally connected to the people onstage. As the artistic director of the Donmar Warehouse, Mr. Grandage has been responsible for some of the most emotionally engaging shows I’ve seen in London in recent years, including marvelous revivals of “Passion Play,” “The Wild Duck” and “Caligula.” (He was nominated for a Tony for his ingenious staging of Peter Morgan’s “Frost/Nixon.”)
Jude Law in the title role of a kinetic “Hamlet.” CreditSara Krulwich/The New York Times
His “Hamlet” generates little psychological tension, though. And it is remarkably lacking in the vivid, specific characterizations you expect of Shakespeare in performance. If the actors playing the villainous Claudius (Kevin R. McNally) and the pompous Polonius (Ron Cook) — or the stalwart Horatio (Matt Ryan) and the aggrieved Laertes (Gwilym Lee) — changed parts midway, I doubt anyone would care much. It’s as if they were all Rosencrantzes and Guildensterns (played here, for the record, by John MacMillan and Harry Attwell).
Granted, Mr. Law doesn’t give his fellow actors much in the way of interpersonal connection. When Polonius tells his daughter, Ophelia (the beautiful, unconvincing Gugu Mbatha-Raw), that Hamlet is “out of thy star,” he could be speaking to anyone. This Hamlet occupies — nay, is — his own constellation, and his radiance is bestowed almost exclusively upon the audience.
Still, Mr. Law’s undeniable charisma and gender-crossing sex appeal may captivate Broadway theatergoers who wouldn’t normally attend productions of Shakespeare. (When I caught the show in London I was heartened by the sizable presence of teenagers who seemed truly enthralled by the performance.) And, by the way, the sleeves on which Hamlet wears his feelings are seriously chic.
Mr. Oram has created an array of Pradaesque costumes — in shades of black, gray and navy — that could step right into the windows of Barneys. Hamlet’s cardigan, short raincoat and pea jacket are all must-have items for fall. If Mr. Law’s Prince seems way too active for a hero known for inaction, no one is going to argue when Ophelia calls him “the glass of fashion.”
By William Shakespeare; directed by Michael Grandage; sets and costumes by Christopher Oram; lighting by Neil Austin; music and sound by Adam Cork; technical supervisors, Aurora Productions and Patrick Molony. A Donmar Warehouse production, presented by Arielle Tepper Madover, the Donmar Warehouse, Matthew Byam Shaw, Scott M. Delman, Stephanie P. McClelland, Neal Street Productions/Carl Moellenberg, Ruth Hendel/Barbara Whitman and Philip Morgaman/Frankie J. Grande. At the Broadhurst Theater, 235 West 44th Street, Manhattan; (212) 239-6200. Through Dec. 6. Running time: 3 hours 15 minutes.
WITH: Ross Armstrong (Cornelius), Harry Attwell (Guildenstern), Ron Cook (Polonius/First Gravedigger), Ian Drysdale (Osric), Peter Eyre (Ghost/Player King), Sean Jackson (Reynaldo), Geraldine James (Gertrude), Jude Law(Hamlet), Gwilym Lee (Laertes), John MacMillan (Rosencrantz), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Ophelia), Kevin R. McNally (Claudius) and Matt Ryan (Horatio).
What to say about ... Jude Law's Hamlet
To book or not to book? That is the question with the Donmar's West End Hamlet, starring Jude Law. Save yourself the scramble for tickets and simply crib from the critics instead
Leo Benedictus | Fri 5 Jun 2009 | www.theguardian.com
Is handsome film star Jude Law up to the task of playing Hamlet? Public interest is apparently so high that even the BBC is doing theatre reviews. "Law delivered the play's big lines with ease, despite being made to shiver in a snowstorm for his 'To be or not to be' speech," writes Caroline Briggs approvingly, as if remembering one's words in cold weather was the challenge. "[He] was filled with ferocious anger, snarling and squaring up during the soliloquies." "Filled with squaring up" anyone? Your licence fee paid for that.
Anyway, most of the old guard agree with Briggs. "[Law] joins the modern pantheon of spellbinding sweet princes with a performance of rare vulnerability and emotional openness," says Charles Spencer in the Telegraph, showing Briggs how it's done. Henry Hitchings of the Standard is with him all the way. "Detailed and powerful," he reckons. "He brings a rumpled charisma to the role ... The soliloquies, though they offer larger reflections on the human condition, seem in Law's hands vividly personal." And although the Times's Benedict Nightingale also liked Law, he manages to do so for perfectly opposite reasons. "His strength is that he's robust and tough," thinks Nightingale. "However, his limitation is that he's, well, robust and tough and playing the ditherer Hamlet, not a decisive Henry V."
There is nothing very radical in the production, the critics agree, but then as Michael Billington reminds us, surely the most important thing is that it will trick thousands of yobbos into watching Shakespeare. "It is heartening to find Wyndham's teeming with young people," he twinkles, in a cardigan, surely. "And, even if they are drawn by the star power of Jude Law they will get to see a swift, clear, well-staged version of Shakespeare's most exciting play."
Which is surely no bad thing – unless you don't like Jude Law, of course, as the Spectator's editor Matthew d'Ancona clearly doesn't. "Jude Law is too delighted to be Jude Law to ask the question 'To be or not to be' with any conviction," he sneers. "You feel that what he really means is – 'To be fabulous, or to be even more fabulous.'" And he can gossip with Michael Coveney, as the Independent's critic follows up a remark about the Law hairline with the damning assessment that the star's performance is "not all that interesting".
Nevertheless, if you're going to leap on to the Law bandwagon, you'll need to bring a bit of erudition with you. Drop some extra names to show you didn't just go to gawp at a movie star. The director Michael Grandage will do, or Penelope Wilton, who did Gertrude. But don't attempt any judgment on Ophelia unless you're confident about saying "Gugu Mbatha-Raw" and taking questions at the end.
Comparisons with other Hamlets would be helpful, too, because you need to show you've seen some. For the record, Nightingale, Billington and Michael Coveney preferred David Tennant's, while Spencer and Quentin Letts thought Law a definite improvement. Bonus points are available if you can hint authoritatively at your views on the way the text has been edited to reduce the running time and give a bit of pace to the play's climax. Just don't forget what the climax is. Oh, for God's sake: everybody dies, slapstick poison mix-up.
Do say: I like what they did with Act IV, scene two – don't you think?
Don't say: This play's full of cliches!
Reviews reviewed: Great play, good performance, but Doctor Who was better.
Jude Law in 'Hamlet' in New York: What a Piece of Work
By Peter Marks
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 8, 2009
NEW YORK --
"Indicating" is a major no-no in the theater, the word acting teachers often use to admonish students who are not so much playing a role as telegraphing to an audience what it is they intend to play.
So let's put it this way about Jude Law's performance in the much-anticipated -- and highly disappointing -- new "Hamlet" on Broadway: He's a most handsome and polished indicator.
The approach he's been encouraged to pursue in this modern-dress production, which opened Tuesday night at the Broadhurst Theatre, is to assemble his Hamlet as one would a puzzle, out of a million isolated acting pieces. Invariably there is a concrete basis for what he's doing in Shakespeare's text, but the portrayal is consistently so literal, it's as if he's working out a character for a culture with only a tangential knowledge of English. (Shakespeare enthusiasts: no jokes, please.)
If the verse includes an allusion to heaven, you can bet Law will point to the sky. If Hamlet makes a reference to a jungle animal, sure as shootin' Law turns into one. For every action of any other actor on the stage, he supplies four, and he never stops gesticulating. Is the idea here that Law's Hamlet thinks all the world's a college stage?
If Hamlet's instructions to the visiting Players -- whom he famously enlists to catch the conscience of the king -- is to "not saw the air too much with your hand," Hamlet should on this occasion practice what he preaches.
It's not at all clear that audiences that have paid to see a well-spoken star perform prettily will come away from this lucid if lackluster staging dissatisfied. Law has matinee-idol magnetism to spare. As with the flawed "A Steady Rain" that is playing a block away with Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig, movie wattage may be radiance enough. And on some superficial level, director Michael Grandage's production successfully conveys the mechanics of the tragedy, while Christopher Oram's sleek black-on-black sets and costumes apply a suitably ominous varnish to all that's rotten in Denmark.
But if you're looking for an evening that provides anything close to a fresh perspective on the play, you're likely to have your hopes dashed but good. For here is a "Hamlet" without invigorating insight. Rarely, for example, do a Claudius and Gertrude -- Hamlet's usurping uncle and inconstant mother -- register so ineffectually. Kevin R. McNally seems to have been coached to deprive Claudius of any fight or even guile; even more surprising is the wan turn by the usually inspiring Geraldine James, whose shrinking violet of a Gertrude fades into the scenery. It doesn't help that the interlude Grandage chooses for unconventional presentation is the bedroom scene between Hamlet and Gertrude, here viewed through the sheer drapes Polonius hides behind. The effect is to muddy the focus and reduce one of the play's tensest confrontations to mere overheard agitated exchange.
The dynamic among Polonius (Ron Cook) and his children, the equally doomed Laertes (Gwilym Lee) and Ophelia (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), plays out just as dully; you experience neither Polonius's foolishness nor Ophelia's daughterly devotion -- after the murder of her father, one of the ostensible causes of her madness. Matt Ryan's impassioned Horatio makes a far more favorable impression, especially in the production's best sequences, the early scenes in which the Ghost of Hamlet's father (Peter Eyre) materializes to set the machinery of revenge in motion.
These also seem Law's most accomplished scenes, maybe because we're not yet aware of what's in store. So much of the celebrated soliloquizing to come fails to bind us to the predicament of this Hamlet, or to help us understand what's at stake for this young man, as he wrestles with the meaning of his actions, contemplates the possibly horrific consequences and the bleak intimations of death.
At the performance I attended, Law appeared to drop two words in Hamlet's most famous line; my seatmate heard the same thing. "To be or not . . ." we heard him say. Whether we both had heard correctly is immaterial. The moment stood for all in this production that felt absent.
Hamlet, by William Shakespeare. Directed by Michael Grandage. Lighting, Neil Austin; composer and sound, Adam Cork. With Henry Pettigrew, Ian Drysdale, Sean Jackson, John MacMillian, Harry Atwell, Jenny Funnell. About 3 hours 15 minutes. Through Dec. 6 at Broadhurst Theatre, 235 W. 44th St., New York.