1 thought on “Hamlet (Old Vic, 2004)”

  1. “Ben Whishaw’s Hamlet” is now a landmark production, a name to conjure with, the birth of a star. However, I didn’t see Whishaw’s Hamlet; at a period in my life when I was living in Leamington Spa, I happened to be in town on a Monday evening, so I saw (part of) Al Weaver’s Hamlet; doing 8 performances of Hamlet a week was, I guess, considered by Trevor Nunn to be a Herculean task, and Whishaw is many things, but he is not Hercules.

    It was also a date night for me. Peter, who I went to see the production with, wanted to see it because he had heard about the phenomenal central performance by Whishaw. I didn’t care so much about that (and, in some ways, still don’t), and really just wanted to see what kind of world it had been set in. The date was off to a bad start when Peter realised that Whishaw wasn’t on; I feigned ignorance about the vagaries of Monday night casting.

    It was a very “on trend” production, one might say “Blairite” (if I remember correctly). I can’t remember whether there actually was live video, but there was certainly the presence of modern media in I, ii; this would have completely failed to impress me, given that I had already “been there and done that” on a much grander and more original scale in 2000. I remember Imogen Stubbs (she must still have been married to Trevor Nunn at the time, pre-Nancy dell’Olio) being beautiful, and I remember Rory Kinnear (who had left Oxford the year before I arrived, leaving a legend behind him), being thoroughly energetic. Al Weaver was … well, to be honest, I can’t remember, other than channelling the ghost of David Warner in an undergrad Hamlet for the new millennium.

    However, my strongest memory is of an ice-cream van. I don’t think there was an ice-cream van. I think it must have been either a ludicrous music cue before the first scene with Ophelia or, slightly less likely, a ludicrous music cue for the entrance of the Players. I don’t think it was the latter, as I’m pretty sure we left before the interval, possibly straight after Al’s “To be, or not to be …”, which I seem to remember being delivered on a stone bench . It’s not that the production was awful, but Peter had wanted to see Ben, and I can’t stand ice-cream van music cues.

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