Last night my friend, Laura, and I went to the press night of Hamlet at the National Theatre. It was Rory Kinnear's turn to take on the line-heavy task. Predecessors were John Simms and Jude Law. This morning's national newspapers have sung its praises, with five stars from The Times, four from The Guardian The Daily Telegraph and The Independent. (Shame The Mirror and The Sun didn't have anyone to send!) It was a brilliant and confident performance from Rory Kinnear, from Patrick Malahide as Claudius, David Calder as Polonius and James Laurenson as the ghost of Hamlet's father/player king and Alex Lanipekun as Laertes. I felt that Giles Terera as Horatio didn't have enough opportunity to reveal himself. But as loathe as I am to say it, Ruth Negga as Ophelia and Clare Higgins as Gertrude just didn't do it for me. With Negga it may just have been that she wasn't what I had expected - she was described as 'feisty' in one review, which I didn't see at all - and I don't want to see Ophelia as 'fesity' anyway. This Ophelia just failed to make the significant impression. Clare Higgins would have performed better in Abigail's Party! Her voice sounded a bit strained and mangled - gin-soaked! But for all of that it was the second act that had me on the edge of my seat - the sword fight between Laertes and Hamlet fizzed. This wonderful play with its profound truths about grieving and disillusionment in the world and the depths of depression! A must see.
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