Last Sunday I went to a cinema to see a theatre play. Yes, that’s a thing, I’m not crazy. It was a broadcast of Hamlet from the London National Theatre with Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role.
At first I thought it was live, because of what I read on the website of National Theater Live, but the cinema’s site said it was the recording of a live broadcast. Still, we were both mesmerized with my friend who joined me.
Watching a teathre play in a cinema offers the best from both sides: there is the unique feeling of the theatre with the exaggerated gestures and theatrical speeches (really, I didn’t find another word to describe it, there’s a reason why it’s called theatrical) but you can see the most important moments in a close up, like in a movie and it can add a lot to the story. Of course it has a magical feeling when you’re sitting there, breathing the same air as the actors but this combination has its charms, too.
The cut was great, I never had the feeling that I’d rather look at something else on the stage. You had the chance to see the tears in the eyes of the actors as well as the grand total picture of the whole stage. Which was huge by the way, I have never seen such enormous theatre and stage. The setting even had another floor with a staircase.
With the setting and the costume, they didn’t keep the style of the Shakespearean time, it rather seemed like what you would see in a conservative royal househols nowadays… if they let you in, of course. But the younger characters had modern clothes, Hamlet even wore a shirt with David Bowie on it. (I loved this coat, too.)
As for what else I loved, I have to admit that my inner 15-year-old-fangirl was sitting there with a sheepish smile, totally stunned from seeing Benedict Cumberbatch on the stage. (Yes, some girls have inner goddesses, I have an inner fangirl.*) By the way, he was brilliant (what else would you expect) and it was amazing how he could switch in a minute from the suffering, grief-stricken, bellowing figure to a comedian in the rare moments when the play was easing the tension with showing a funny side of Hamlet’s madness.
I’ve seen him in a number of movies, and Ciarán Hinds in some TV shows, too (who played Claudius, the evil uncle). But it was quite unusual to see them on stage, because is a different style with grand gestures and different kind of speech that the theatre requires. I’m glad I had the chance to see them in these roles, too, besides movies and TV shows.
Speaking of speech, it’s been so long that I heard Elizabethan English and I kind of missed that, even though it’s so hard to understand when the actors are talking fast. I had a small revelation because of this. I’ve never read Hamlet in English (I know, shame on me), so it was a surprise to hear a familiar line in the end. I’ve always loved the words Claudia said to Lestat in Interview with the Vampire when she (thought she had) killed him: “Goodnight sweet prince, may flights of devils wing you to your rest”. And I had to see Hamlet in English to realize this line was inspired by Horatio’s last words to Hamlet: “Good night sweet prince: And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!”
And now at the end I’m gonna leave you here with the official trailer. Check out the website of NT live and see if you can watch a show like this, they broadcast to 1100 cinemas around the world and it’s really worth seeing. (We watched it in Uránia.) Sheepish smiles for everybody!
PS: I truly hope you didn’t expect a real theatre review from me. 🙂 I am sad to inform you that I’m not that kind of a girl and this is not that kind of a place.
*This was a 50 Shades of Grey reference, and if you didn’t get it without the explanation, I love you, please be my friend if you aren’t already.