Hamlet Takes Broadway Critics By Storm
BROADWAY MAGAZINE- Last night, William Shakespeare’s Hamlet
returned to Broadway with Jude Law starring in a production that earned strong reviews in London at the Donmar Warehouse. Today, Broadway critics have published their reviews. Actually one paper even jumped the embargo and published a review before the curtain went up (tsk,tsk Newsday, you are now at the back of the line).
A close reading of 16 opening night reviews of Hamlet starring Jude Law produces some interesting results. The majority of critics are positive about the performance by Jude Law, consistently noting his physicality in the role, vocal strength, and energetic interpretation of the part. Reviewers are mixed on the supporting cast, with both enthusiastic supporters and detractors among the critics. There is agreement that this production will appeal to those who are not regular fans of Shakespeare, and that Michael Grandage’s direction is free from extreme interpretation. The word “chic” was used more than once to describe the setting, costumes and lights.
Three Key Take Aways from Opening Night Reviews of Hamlet
- Energetic: Most critics commented on Jude Laws vigorous physicality in portraying Hamlet. This Hamlet has energy and intensity. While some critics felt the physicality was too much gesturing, others welcomed the aggressive portrayal.
- Pure Shakespeare: Universally, it was recognized that his production does not cloud Shakespeare’s play with concepts. Also, numerous critics noted how accessible the story of Hamlet is in this production.
- Accessible: You don’t need to be a Shakespeare scholar to enjoy this production. There is also unanimity that there is a vocal clarity to this production, which brings accessibility to Shakespeare’s greatest play. You will understand the play, even if you’ve never seen a Shakespeare production before.
Should You See Hamlet With Jude Law On Broadway?
Yes, particularly if you like Jude Law, celebrities, Danish princes, gesturing, chic costumes, Shakespeare, tragedy, comedy, drama, Donmar Warehouse, madness, snow, ape-ing, gymnastics, drowning, ghosts, sword fights, action, plays-within-plays, classics, yoga, and overwhelmingly enthusiastic reviews.
Critic’s Opening Night Reviews of Broadway’s Hamlet With Jude Law
“If Hamlet talks about his mind, you can bet that Mr. Law will point to his forehead; when he mentions the heavens, his arm shoots straight up; and when the guy says his gorge rises, rest assured that he clutches at his stomach.” Ben Brantley, New York Times
“So we get a jack-in-the-box Hamlet, often violently restrained by others from rash action, or lifted up by them and swung like a human pendulum; or yet one who, if the text contains the word “ape,” lustily replicates the gait of a baboon.” –John Simon, Bloomberg
“Jude Law is an exciting and valuable actor. He brings a tremendous vital energy to the role of Hamlet, his choppy speech rhythms engaging in what sometimes seems like hand-to-hand combat with Shakespeare’s metrics.” –Michael Feingold, Village Voice
“Thankfully, Grandage does not attempt to rewrite Shakespeare’s tragedy. Instead, he provides a lean, mean staging that burns with intensity, urgency and clarity.” –Matt Windman, am New York
“The actor’s turbocharged performance as the anguished Danish prince is not particularly subtle, but it’s well-spoken and clear. And eminently watchable.” –AP
“Making his first New York stage appearance since 1995’s “Indiscretions” (before he was “Jude Law”), the British actor delivers a stirring, beautifully spoken performance that is as intelligent as it is dynamic.” –Frank Scheck, Reuters
“But while many Hamlets are clearly ditherers from the top, Law’s seething rage seems like it could erupt into violence at any moment and shorten the play by a few acts. The veins pop out on his neck and his face flushes red.” –J. Kelly Nestruck, Globe and Mail
“His physical fluidity, though, is marvellous. He is head boy in his swagger, gymnastically using Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s shoulders for support, and scuttling dexterously in reverse during his “if like a crab you could go backward” remark to Polonius.” –Brendan Lemon, Financial Times
“His take on the sweet prince of Denmark leans toward the “tortured but forceful” school, as opposed to the “wishy-washy romantic” one, and he pulls it off with panache.” –Elisabeth Vincentelli, New York Post
“While Law gives a muscular, intelligent performance in the most challenging role in world literature, the supporting cast and the director’s concept barely register.” –David Sheward, Backstage
“Yet we listen closely to him, and he holds court at the center of his scenes with an intensity, intelligence and awestruck wonder that puts most Hamlets I’ve seen to shame.” –David Cote, Time Out New York
“Of course, every “Hamlet” rises or falls with its leading man, and Law holds you rapt in this new production. He may have been nude in his first Broadway show, back in 1995 in “Indiscretions,” but he couldn’t have been as revealing as he is now.” –Joe Dziemianowicz, New York Daily News
“This earthy eloquence is especially striking in Law’s performance. His Hamlet is no brooding philosopher/prince; he’s an angry young man, a bundle of nerves forever threatening to explode.” –Elysa Gardner, USA Today
“The portrayal Law limns is in no way radical. It’s basically a straightforward, fashionably modern-dress approach, which has the added publicity factor of a two-time-Oscar-nominated movie star (”The Talented Mr. Ripley,” “Cold Mountain”) in the ultimate test of his stage mettle.” –Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times
“The famous “to be or not to be” soliloquy, delivered on his knees beneath a flurry of fake snow, is as powerful a moment as one can only envision it to be. It’s pretty spectacular, even to someone sitting in the second-to-last row of the mezzanine.” –Josh Cabrido, NYU News
“He has a focused, varied voice to go with his delicately chiseled fox-face features, and a lithe physical power that propels him from spotlight to spotlight with the effortless virtuosity of a Shakespearean action hero.” –Linda Winer, Newsday