Hamlet at the Globe online
Joining other theatres in their desire to bring entertainment to our homes during the coronavirus lockdown, the Globe is presenting one of Shakespeare’s finest on YouTube. Finding a new angle to bring the much-loved tragedy Hamlet to life can be a daunting task, given the long history of excellent performances throughout the decades. A production needs to be poignant, clear, fresh, and feature some stellar performances. The 2018 Globe production starring Michelle Terry is certainly passable – but it’s hardly an exceptional contemporary take on the play.
Certainly, many of the actors bring something interesting to the table – James Garnon is a refreshingly likeable Claudius, Bettrys Jones is strong as a hot-blooded Laertes, and Shubham Saraf as Ophelia has some genuinely moving moments. But aside from these occasional highlights, nothing else stands out; the entire production lacks focus and vision, from costumes which seem to have been selected at random (save for Hamlet’s clown costume when he’s mad) to a generally uninspired set design.
Terry is a strong actor, but her Hamlet, again, lacks some form of coherent whole. It is a difficult part to play, displaying profound grief while hiding behind a mask of madness, but it certainly needs to be more than this – a teenager shouting and throwing a tantrum half the time, rather than a downtrodden tragic hero close to giving up on life. It’s a good sign of missing direction, especially since some of her quieter moments – such as when she’s mourning at the beginning of the play, or her final words to Horatio – are really powerful and ooze potential. Alas, it signifies what could have been.
Indeed, that seems to be the main problem here. This is a mediocre production with some good actors, but through a lack of good directing it fades into an obscure mess which doesn’t quite know what it wants to be, and as a result just feels like an OK Hamlet – and given the history of the play, and the enormous potential of what can be made of it, that’s a bit disappointing.
Photo: Tristram Kenton