Wednesday, July 1, 2009


For all the talk about film celebrities in theater this summer, Jude Law (pleasantly and surprisingly) rose to the occasion in Hamlet. Roles like this almost require a certain amount of arrogance to say yes, why of course I should play one of the biggest parts in the cannon of this language's theater, and, unlike Helen Mirren in the French equivalent of Phedre, Law had the presence to pull it off.

This production was very dark in costumes and in lighting, with eerie fog and snow constantly surrounding the characters in shadow. A very solid ensemble may have done themselves a disservice in the running time of the show- almost four hours is a long time to sit through anything, even if the acting and staging are great. Ophelia was strong and charismatic, and Polonius was conniving and still humorous. Hamlet was played (thankfully) not as meek and indecisive, but as a quick-witted individual determined and torn with a sense of intense urgency. His mocking of the other characters created several moments that were quite funny, sometimes because of the text and sometimes with what Law did with it physically.

This is the first really unpleasant experience I have had with a celebrity being in a show. Even though I thought he was great, there was a crowd of obnoxious people (and when I say people I mean young girls) there to see him that I am quite sure would never had attended (and therefore never decided it would be a good time to go to the bathroom during the To Be Or Not To Be speech, unwrap candy throughout the show, or shriek during the bows) to see an unknown talent in the role.

Minor annoyances aside, I will say this production also featured my two favorite aspects of theater in London:
1. Fabulous student discounts on great seats.
2. The theaters all sell ice cream at the intermission. It's like I've died and gone to heaven.

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