Hamlet at the Almeida (moriarty!)

I bloody love Andrew Scott. As Moriarty, he was – is – the perfect villain. You only have to see the @moriartyenterto Twitter account (not even the whole show) to see that he exudes sass. If he asked me to do anything – strip, give him a kidney, sell my soul – I’d do it. Personally, I’d love it if Scott narrated audiobooks. Perhaps nothing so painfully racy as Fifty Shades, but maybe an A-Level History textbook, or maybe my as yet non-existent revision notes. But Hamlet!

Despite my fangirling over Scott, I was actually there because Robert Icke (director) is the current Midas of the theatre world. Everything he touches – 1984, Oresteia, Mary Stuart, Hamlet – turns to gold. Lovely, Olivier-award coloured gold. I also really bloody like Shakespeare. On the other hand, my friend was there because of Andrew Scott, and the fact that I’d got free tickets.

Before this, I’d never seen Hamlet. I read it over a year ago, and was planning to read it before I went to see this version, but then other books (well, book – Sinclair Lewis, I’m looking at you) got in the way. Only having a vague remembrance of the plot – i.e. Hamlet goes a little bat-shit and quite a lot of people die – didn’t hinder me, thankfully. This was accessible Shakespeare, thank Christ. Not accessible in the sense that it had been ‘dumbed down’ or ‘teenager-fied’, but the fact that the language was able to speak for itself. No ‘yes-I’ve-been-to-RADA-and-sound-like-I’ve-got-a-stick-rammed-up-my-pretentious-backside’ acting. No ‘we-must-worship-the-Bard-and-act-like-this-dahling’ gestures. It was raw – my cremated heart even shed a little tear – and pretty bloody good.

This was an ‘updated’ version, with the ghost appearing on CCTV screens and some fancy video bits going on. I take a particular fancy to productions with live video – Complicite’s Beware of Pity at the Barbican earlier this year blew me away – and this Hamlet was no exception. It was intriguing and a cliche-less production, that put the language at the heart of its story.

I can’t fault the acting. I’m trying to pick faults, but I can’t. I was so close to the stage that I could smell the scent of the actors’ perfume, aftershave, fabric softener. The tickets were free. Andrew Scott. Great sound, lighting and set. For my first Hamlet, this was a damn good start.

Hamlet at the Almeida has now finished, sorry folks. I just wanted to note down my thoughts, because this was part of an incredible few days that I spent in London legging it round various theatres. The Almeida, the National, and the Royal Court (which now holds a very special place in my heart). Do you have any other Hamlets to recommend? 



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