Year: 1958 / 1997

Title of the play: Hamlet

Author: William Shakespeare

DirectorLionel Hamilton / Matthew Warchus

Others in the Cast: Paul Freeman, Susannah York, Alex Jennings, Colin Hurley, William Houston, Derbhle Crotty, David Ryall. Full cast list here: 

Company/Event: Northampton Repertory Players (1958) / Royal Shakespeare Company (1997)

Theatre and location: Royal Theatre, Northampton (1958) / Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon; Theatre Royal, Newcastleupon-Tyne; Barbican Theatre, London.  (1997) 

Other productions of the same play: 1998 - Brooklyn Academy of Music, Opera House, New York

Plot summary: Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, is told by his father's ghost that his father was murdered by his uncle, now his stepfather. The thoughtful, intellectual Prince is caught between conflicting demands of duty and divided loyalties. 

Peth’s rolePlayer (Lucanius)/Priest / Ghost; Player King

Reviews: Welcome to Elsinore, the party capital of Northern Europe! Gertrude, the glamorous Queen of Denmark, has just gotten married again, to her late husband's brother, and the revels of these hard-living sophisticates are in full swing. The music is blaring, the balloons are afloat, the lights are bright. The recently crowned King is groping his bride in full view of the guests. And when a grumpy ghost shows up on the dance floor, he at least has the good taste to wear a smart set of evening clothes. - Ben Brantley, The New York Times, May 23, 1998


As Hamlet, Jennings looks like a sensitive Wall Street banker. The fact that he is wearing a black suit doesn't look much of a gesture of defiance as this is a black-tie evening. He wanders round taking the Polaroids with which he will later confront his mother in the sheet-sniffing scene. Into these wedding celebrations, amid champagne, fireworks, balloons and bridesmaids, walks the ghost of Hamlet's father (Edward Petherbridge). He doesn't clank around in heavy armour or boom out his news in stentorian tones. Petherbridge enters in a smoking jacket, speaks with quick authority, then drifts away, like a guest in search of some breakfast. - Robert Butler, The Independent, 11 May 1997


Edward Petherbridge is a super ghost, full of pathos, especially in his silk pyjamas and dressing gown in the bedroom scene! - Ann O'Bryan, CurtainUp

Pale, indeed, as death, the white-faced, white-haired, black-suited ghost of Hamlet's father (Edward Petherbridge) materializes suddenly at the fancy wedding party of Hamlet's mother and uncle, frightening his son -- who has just been mocking Horatio's account of a supernatural visitation -- nearly into a fit. Educated, ironic and high-strung, Alex Jennings's Hamlet is unprepared to find himself thrust into a bloody, paranoid ghost-story-cum-melodrama. Petherbridge's ghost is hushed and mournful, almost diffident, as if the dead father senses that what he is going to ask of his son is far, far too much. And it is. Oh, it is. - Lloyd Rose, The Washington Post, June 12, 1998

Warchus, whose acclaimed production of "Art" is a Broadway hit, has provided a cinematic sheen to this production. It begins and ends with "home movies" purporting to show the infant Hamlet cavorting with his father. There are expressionistic lighting and scenic effects and a moody, foreboding score. The text has been cut in some startling ways; the production begins not with the scene at the battlements but with the party at Elsinore, rendered so chicly that one expects Fred Astaire to appear. - Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter, May 28, 1998 

Production details: Here 

Related links:


Original pic here

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