09 March 2017
Nordic noir in Elsinore
Almeida Theatre, London
As the Shakespeare role that actors most want to play conveniently appears in the play that audiences are keenest to see, theatregoers are never far from a Hamlet: Andrew Scott’s attempt on the title role follows those by Benedict Cumberbatch and Paapa Essiedu.
Cluster-productions can be a problem – I would pay good money never to see another A Midsummer Night’s Dream – but this never seems to arise with Hamlet. Even in a long play, there are so many gaps of plotting (how has Claudius prevented Hamlet inheriting?) and psychology (whether the prince’s pretence of psychosis becomes real) that huge interpretative space remains.
Although there have been modern-dress productions before, Robert Icke has the satisfying idea of staging the most famous drama set in Scandinavia in the style of Scandi noir TV dramas such as Borgen and The Killing. Footage of King Hamlet’s funeral and the invasion plans of Fortinbras play out on a Danish 24-hour news channel. The ghost of the old king is first spotted on Kamera 11 of Elsinore Castle’s CCTV, and Claudius talks to the ambassador from Norway via Skype.
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