7 reasons why you MUST SEE Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet

Hamlet has now closed at the Barbican. See other shows at the Barbican here.

The Play

Hamlet is considered to be Shakespeare's masterpiece, and one of the greatest tragedies ever written. Some may be familiar with it from school, others from the numerous celebrity-led productions that have gone before, but be rest assured this production is already set to be be unlike any other.

True, at 3834 lines – it's the Bard's longest play, but don't let that put you off! For those who wish to brush up their Shakespeare before hand, it may be worth having a read of a few key scenes or having a scan of the synopsis online, but fear not – we're sure this astonishing production will prove to be accessible to everyone, with or without prior knowledge of the play. 

“To Be, or Not to Be, That is the Question”

There can be few people who haven't heard Shakespeare's most famous lines. Uttered by Hamlet as the opening of his soliloquy in the Nunnery scene,  the phrase is one of the most widely known and quoted lines in modern English. In the speech, the young Prince weighs up his options, contemplating death and suicide, explaining his hesitation to avenge his father's murder by plotting fatal revenge on his uncle and the new King Claudius.

Even if you don't have a great knowledge of Shakespeare – this is one section you will immediately recognise. The real question is – how with Benedict deliver it...?

The Director

This production is helmed by celebrated stage director and Olivier Award-winner Lyndsey Turner. Having worked for the Royal Shakespeare Company, Royal Court and the National Theatre, there is no better person to breathe new life into this classic text. Turner's work has been seen on the West End as well as Broadway and she is experienced in handling star-led productions.

Not much has been released about how the production will look or feel, but we're confident that under her watchful eye this will be an exciting reinvention.

The Venue

The Barbican is one of London's most underrated venues. Towering over east London, the iconic architecture invites audiences to its multiple auditoria, cinemas and concert spaces to catch some of the finest performances from all over the world. The main theatre space which plays host to Hamlet seats over 1160 people across multiple levels, but has the advantage of being a modern purpose build space, meaning views from across the house are generally excellent.

Whilst many Cumberbatch fans will be looking to sit close enough to breathe the same air, the production will be appreciated from anywhere in the house – so snap up any ticket you can get a hold of!  

The Supporting Cast

No show would be complete without its supporting cast, and it's fair to say that in this production it's not all about Mr Cumberbatch. The production team have assembled a full cast of the finest performers, many of whom are familiar names in their own right. Irish actor Ciarán Hinds will play Claudius – Hamlet's uncle who obtains the throne by murdering his own brother and marrying his late widow, Gertrude. Hinds is familiar to fans of the 'Harry Potter' series, 'Game of Thrones' and films such as 'The Woman in Black' and 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy'. Sian Brooke plays Ophelia, alongside Anastasia Hille as Gertrude, and a 23 person cast.

The Celebrity

Without a doubt, audiences are flocking to the production thanks to the celebrity status of leading man, Benedict Cumberbatch. Familiar to film and TV fans the world over, the actor shot to fame thanks to the 'Sherlock' series and recent films such as 'The Imitation Game' which saw him nominated for an Academy Award.

Despite his international fame, Cumberbatch is no stranger to the London stage and began his career in the familiar territories of the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre and the National Theatre. His most famous recent stage role was in Danny Boyle's 2010 production of Frankenstein at the National, which saw him alternate the role of Dr Frankenstein and his Creature, for which he was nominated for both the Olivier and Evening Standard Award for best actor.

Earlier this year he was appointed  Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2015 Birthday Honours for services to the performing arts and to charity.

The Sensation

This production was the fastest selling theatrical event of all time. The combination of cast, director and production team made this an instant hit with tickets becoming unobtainable on the day of release.