(Photo by Manuel Harlan)
Andrew Scott is seemingly born to play the Danish prince, displaying the God like fury the character possesses which can at times look instead like mere childish tantrum, and rightly so. There are also times when he utters so quietly, so softly, that you need to lean in – but in their contrast these words are just as powerful. The intense outbursts of volume add a thrilling dynamic that leads us on Hamlet’s descent into madness. His silence is also unspeakably powerful. No moment is wasted with Scott, and it hitches your breath in your throat. Dare you breathe you might miss a syllable that we’re all so desperately hanging onto.
So when I see Andrew Scott, an actor whose intelligence and originality illuminate everything he does, take on the part, I know in advance that whatever his performance is like, it will embed itself in a new layer of theatrical experience and memory. It will become part of how I view the world. It’s an astonishing play that can provide such memories and such resonance. Every time I watch it, I do indeed feel lucky.
The Hamlet that he has created here is something else, combining many elements of his own skill-set and some of his previous stage roles into a performance of bracing intensity and astonishing intimacy. The hook with the character is of course the feigned madness to lure his murderous uncle, but as we had possibly hoped, Andrew’s Hamlet is one where the mania is incredibly strong, leading you to think that maybe this Prince is indeed quite mad. Aside from the ferocious raging though, the greatest asset that Robert Icke’s production has is Andrew’s ability to hold an audience’s attention when he is alone on stage. The soliloquies in particular, where the auditorium is essentially pin-drop quiet throughout Hamlet’s speech, recalls Andrew’s performance in the shattering one-man Sea Wall. Speaking so quietly, and in such a distressed and broken manner lets him bring an incredible vulnerability to the role, which then explodes into furious and shaking rage. All this said, there are moments of levity and comedy here too, with flashes of his most famous role breaking through at times. If you are expecting the manic Moriarty though, you don’t get him, and the play is much richer for it.
Ultimately, Andrew Scott’s Hamlet is one for the ages – realistic, broken, funny and altogether remarkable.
Andrew Scott was truly mesmerising last night as Hamlet, clawing at his face, fingers tapping together as if playing a silent symphony at breakneck speed, twitching and slapping himself full in the face as his descent into madness speeded along like an unstoppable train wreck. Capricious and preening, exploding with rage and bellowing his anger, his performance also had great moments of stillness and even laugh out loud comedy… Reviews will be mixed, I think, but Andrew gets ★★★★★ from me!
It will come as no surprise that a man best known for playing vicious psychopath Moriarty weights the role on the side of true rather than feigned insanity and it needs no major imaginative leap to believe Andrew Scott’s Danish prince capable of drinking hot blood. But what is unexpected is his vulnerability, conveyed through agonisingly understated diction as well as the occasional searing rant. The shockwaves of his grief at his father’s death and his mother’s betrayal rip through the audience in this intimate production.
Scott captivates the audience, bringing an energy and ferocity to the production that means the question of Hamlet’s madness remains ambiguous. He clearly gives the role everything he has in a mammoth performance, and when he delivers all the big soliloquies, choosing to engage directly with the audience rather than as dialogues within his own mind, you could hear a pin drop so expertly has he drawn the viewer into the debates, building each speech from frustrated philosophising to rating rages against Claudius, the court and his own ‘blunted purpose’. This Hamlet, wired and on the edge, changes on his return from England but rather than the beatific man we often see, Scott’s Hamlet is resigned to his fate, knowing what will come and letting it play out, as if he has lost whatever fight he had and finally decided ‘not to be’.
Robert Icke’s version at the Almeida is cool, clever, chic and has some good ideas, but also some that strike me as eccentrically wrong-headed.
Scott’s performance fits the quiet, non-declamatory tone of the production. He is, for the most part, soft-spoken and gently ironic with a perceptible Irish lilt.
There are flashes of genuine rage as when, observing his mother cuddling up to Claudius, he roars: “Frailty, thy name is woman.”
Confronting Laertes over Ophelia’s grave, he also goes into ranting mode. But I shall remember Scott’s Hamlet for its charm, self-mockery and ability to speak directly to the audience.
With “To be or not to be”, you feel Scott is engaging us individually in his own moral dilemma about the pros and cons of self-slaughter.
Scott’s Hamlet also has the ability to send himself up. I’ve always been puzzled by Hamlet’s clearly bogus assertion that he has been in “continual practice” at fencing: here it becomes a conscious joke about his own palpable unfitness and secret death-wish.
In short, this is a good performance. Icke’s production also has some highly intelligent touches.
It’s a long, four-hour production and one that mixes insight and occasional absurdity, but it is Scott’s sweet prince I shall remember best.
In Andrew Scott he has an actor capable of making the verse feel like tip-of-the-tongue stuff, the words clean and new. Scott is a moving and human Hamlet. In the beginning he glitters with grief, he radiates pain, and his reactions on encountering the ghost of his dead father and his uncle’s murder plot are as normal as it’s possible for them to be. He is bewildered, suspicious, angry and bereft. He greets all the twists of the play in a similar way, living them, unpicking them. He splits open the lines and gets at the sweet, ripe stuff inside. It is a performance of wit, delicacy and clarity, with silences that are equally as eloquent.
A production of clarity and precision featuring a rich and captivating performance by Andrew Scott.
It is profoundly thoughtful, and yes, Scott is wonderful – but he is the heart of a rich and radical interpretation of the play.
For all the brilliance around him, it is Scott’s night – and he dazzles. His most amazing feat is to make the famous soliloquies acts of intimacy with the audience; you can hear a pin drop as he takes us into his confidence, his thoughts sometimes slow, sometimes racing.
He brings humour and bite to the role, too, turning his advice to the players – its instruction to mimic nature – into a guide for the effect of the production as a whole. In mining all the shifts of Hamlet’s character with compassionate understanding he reveals a truly sweet Prince. An outstanding performance on a truly memorable night.
He is a mercurial Hamlet, sometimes quiet and brooding, occasionally explosive, often intense. His hands constantly flutter, his eyes flick this way, his lip curls in perpetual scorn.
At times, he is mesmerising but there are times when he seems to lose his impetus and we just don’t care about him. Indeed, the entire production, at almost four hours long, is uneven and sometimes the stage seems almost becalmed, especially towards the end when the TV screen is used to record a fencing match (more Bob Dylan). The play’s highpoint comes right before the first interval (there are two) as Hamlet seeks to unmask the villain. The play within a play, which is recorded by TV cameras on stage, is fascinating.
Scott ‘s Hamlet is supremely emotionally and intellectually engaged and perching on the brink of tears – it must be an exhausting performance to give. His voice, mostly hushed in the intimate space, will suddenly hit the pedal and roar. The present feels febrile and jittery, the past too concrete – especially as this production develops an unusually heightened sense of the backstory of each relationship. Scott’s performance and Robert Icke’s production are a blanket of revelation. I arrived dog-tired, I left emotional. I’d love to go back.
When we meet the superb Andrew Scott’s Hamlet he is confused and miserable, blinking back tears and barely functional as he tries and fails to rationalise the recent death of his father and the rapid remarriage of his mother Gertrude (Juliet Stevenson) to his uncle Claudius (Angus Wright). But when he apparently sees his father’s ghost, who tells him he was murdered by his brother, the morose, directionless young man starts to drift in a dangerous direction.
Scott, then, speaks the verse beautifully, conversationally. It sounds like he is saying everything for the very first time, that these timeless soliloquies are his unfiltered stream of consciousness, that almost anything might happen. One moment he is calm and morose; suddenly he is in a genuinely frightening rage. It is livewire, edge-of-the-seat stuff. Clearly this Hamlet is not in his right mind, but as the play wears on you sense a terrible anxiety propelling his actions, a fear he isn’t right about Claudius, the tragic sense that his eloquent existential dread has nowhere legitimate to ground itself.
The fireworks come from Scott, but he’s a long ways from Moriarty ham mode – he is playing a bright, brilliant, sensitive young man suffering indescribably.
How does the Irishman, at 40, fare in this Bardic stage debut? Well enough. We expected intelligence – we get that. Clad simply in black, at times barefoot, this Hamlet’s forte is a quivering, quavering emotionality. At the start, he’s so full of grief for his father he can hardly get the words out, rubs his eyes as if pressing back the tears, has a coltish vulnerability combined with the right measure of world-weary disgust. “To be or not to be” comes relatively early, with expressive melancholy, and works a treat.
What Scott lacks, though, except in rare moments of flare-up rage and petulance, is full-throttle passion. He’s lyrical but low-key, and at times gropes for the words, hands sawing the air, with the studied tentativeness of someone unwrapping a gift the contents of which they already know.
Andrew Scott, predictably unpredictable, is subject to Robert Icke’s slow-burn clarity. Scott will not disappoint either his huge fan club or Hamlet hunters. His Prince’s rages are terrifying, triggered by the conjuration of his father’s ghost from close-circuit security screens – a very real father allowing the bereaved son to express physical affection; there’s no ambiguity about his appearances, however much Hamlet might doubt their provenance. I fear slightly for Scott’s vocal self-preservation in extremis; his range is higher than usual, embracing a spooky falsetto that must be unique among leading men, but also throat-ripping just below the break. There’s a long way to go in the run, though selfishly I’m glad he pushed it so far last night.
Andrew Scott’s Hamlet is engaging and accessible, but also strange and dangerous. It’s a performance that combines fragility, charm, biting humour and predatory desperation. At first his Danish prince appears contemplative, a natural outsider whose key traits are hushed melancholy and delicate intelligence. Yet later in moments of outrage or passion he howls, his frenzied words bursting from him like bullets. Scott finds new paths through Hamlet’s soliloquies, dwelling on certain words as if caressing their edges. He makes the most famous speeches feel fresh and unpredictable, and his silences are no less eloquent.
Not all the modern touches work, and there are scenes when the deliberately leisurely pace means the production loses some of its grip. But mostly it’s rich and beautiful — with Scott delivering a career-defining performance that’s charismatic and surprising.
I have been waiting for him to tackle Hamlet for years and he is superb. He is such a versatile actor and this is a performance that covers the entire spectrum of human emotion; one moment his Hamlet is filled with [frenetic energy], exploding with anger, frustration and grief, the next fragile and broken, seemingly utterly adrift in the world. He is also both hugely vulnerable and frighteningly dangerous, which was thrilling to watch. You believe Hamlet to be capable of anything, which provides the production of this 400 year-old play with a fresh tension and energy.
Scott’s ability with the text is also fantastic. He may occasionally be a little too loud, but he found emphasis and humour in lines that I’ve never seen before (and in one particular case regarding Hamlet’s continual fencing practice, addressed a line that has always annoyed me, with perfect comedy). I have always found him to be a truly soulful actor in every role (especially on stage) and every soliloquy was so full of raw emotion that he held the whole audience under his spell. I found his delivery of the “readiness is all” lines particularly heartbreaking. His is absolutely a Hamlet you will never forget.
Scott is a wonderfully moving Hamlet who first sees the Ghost on the CCTV screens of the Danish security guardsand becomes possessed with pain. His Irish lilt is perfect for the part as is that strange elfin quality that makes him both sensitive and wiry, delicate and a bit demonic. I’ve never heard a Hamlet that takes us from the tissue-rustling of quiet despair (the line about “quintessence of dust” trailing off into an impossibly soft pianissimo) to the tantrum-throwing of sardonic scorn and self-mockery. I mean it as a compliment to all three of them when I report that I got flashes of Graham Norton and Fiona Shaw. Scott creates a faint, tantalising sense of the former’s “Scandalised? Nous?” in his rapport with the audience and, rather more loudly, he shares the latter’s genius for end-of-the-tether irony and temple-slapping incredulity. You feel soul-to-soul with him. The production gives him bits of business that made me fascinated with his hands. When expressing disgust at the “too, too solid flesh”, he stretches his arms out and gazes at them with a terrible alienated fellow-feeling, so-speak. And when he shakes on his deal with the Player King (played as a double with his father’s ghost) about the extra speech he learn for the “Mousetrap”, there’s a mysterious private warmth about the gesture that suggests a sly, subliminal Wizard of Oz-style recognition.
It’s Scott’s softly-spoken, vulnerable and charming Dubliner Dane that holds your gaze and speaks the famous lines completely afresh, and as if to only you. Andrew Scott is vulnerable and charming Hamlet.
Hồi #Hamlet2015 của Ben lúc nhìn những bức ảnh đầu tiên trên sân khấu mình đã từng shock một chút vì tạo hình hiện đại và đơn giản, nhưng thiết kế sân khấu rất đẹp, hoành tráng và đậm chất cổ điển. Đến #Hamlet2017 thì cũng đoán là sẽ mang màu sắc hiện đại nhiều hơn vì đạo diễn Robert Icke nổi tiếng về việc làm mới các vở kịch kinh điển rồi, còn thêm Andrew trước giờ thích kịch hiện đại nhiều hơn, mình cá là trước khi nhận lời đóng Hamlet anh còn chẳng nhớ có những nhân vật nào trong vở này. Nhưng đến lúc nhìn thấy tạo hình cuối cùng thì vẫn cứ buồn cười vì còn đơn giản tiết kiệm hơn cả version của Ben, cách đây 2 tuần mình có nghe nói việc đạo diễn sử dụng CCTV trên sân khấu thì đã nghĩ để làm gì vậy trời… Thật lòng thì mình vẫn muốn một lần được nhìn Ben hay Andrew trong tạo hình cổ điển trên sân khấu thử… nhưng mà mấy “hoàng tử” của tui cứ quần jeans áo thun lên sân khấu thì biết làm thế nào. Vẫn biết sân khấu ở Almeida khá nhỏ, sức chứa chỉ khoảng hơn 300, nhỏ hơn rất nhiều so với Barbican, nên sân khấu sẽ không thiết kế theo kiểu hoàng cung tráng lệ được, nhưng mà phải nói lựa chọn CCTV thật sự là một cách táo bạo, và khi được xem bộ ảnh được công bố sau Press Night thì mình rất ấn tượng. Chưa được xem nên cũng rất khó để nói, nhưng đọc những bài reviews trên báo chí, các blog của những khán giả yêu kịch Shakespeare thì mình rất vui, phải nói là cực kì hài lòng, Andrew đã làm rất tốt, một tác phẩm đáng để anh tự hào. Tuần trước mình có email cho Almeida hỏi về chuyện đưa Hamlet lần này lên NT Live như hồi Hamlet của Ben, dù biết chuyện này hơi khó, vì Almeida không có truyền thống này, họ có trả lời là sẽ cân nhắc và update chuyện này sau, nói chung hỏi để hỏi thôi chứ cũng không hi vọng mấy… Nên thôi đành ngồi đọc các bài reviews cảm nhận đánh giá của các nhà phê bình vậy. Nhưng có một điểm là lần này đạo diễn để diễn viên như nói chuyện trực tiếp với khán giả ngồi dưới, chứ không phải chỉ đơn thuần độc thoại trên sân khấu trong thế giới riêng của mình, ai đã từng xem vở Sea Wall của Andrew sẽ thấy chắc chắn những đoạn này sẽ rất hay và cuốn hút, hồi mới biết Andrew mình có mua vid vở đó để xem thử, dù lần đầu xem mình chả hiểu nội dung của nó là cái gì đâu nhưng mà hơn nửa tiếng ngồi nghe anh nói trước màn hình vẫn không thể rời mắt, dù chỉ có nói và nói, không có bất cứ đạo cụ, bạn diễn hay hiệu ứng gì cả, nên khi khán giả khen Andrew ở những đoạn độc khiến toàn bộ khán phòng tập trung đến mức ‘pin drop silence’ – một cái đinh rơi còn nghe được tiếng, thì mình có thể tượng tượng ra được không khí lúc đó. Sáng nay thì #Hamlet2017 nhận được 5* trên The Stage, What’s on Stage, Time Out rồi. Andrew chẳng mấy khi đọc reviews cả đâu nhưng hi vọng anh biết có rất nhiều khán giả thích Hamlet của anh.