Sam West's Hamlet, which has enjoyed rave reviews at Stratford on Avon, opened at the Barbican, the RSC's London home, on Dec. 11.
Stephen Pimlott's minimalist, modern staging of Shakespeare's best known play is the latest in a number of Hamlets to be seen in London this year.
However often the play has been performed — and there seems to have been almost an obsession with it in recent years — directors, actors and audiences always find something new, something worthwhile in it.
2001 has seen the productions via proscenium arch at the Barbican, in the round at the Olivier, and thrust stages at the Young Vic and at the little Rose and Crown fringe theatre: however grand or modest the performance space, it can be adapted to suit the production of the play.
Simon Russell Beale's Hamlet has so far been the most successful in years, not least because it had the full resources of the National Theatre behind it, and has toured worldwide. Adrian Lester's, however, had both the authority and aura of Peter Brook, its director, behind it, and combined the glamor of a Parisian opening with the chic of the Young Vic — one of London's most interesting off-West End venues.
Now Sam West, son of two of Britain's best known actors, Timothy West and Prunella Scales, has brought the RSC back into the artistic spotlight. Spotlights are used to great effect in Pimlott's production - Barnardo and Francisco, the sentries we see at the beginning of the play, rake the audience with searchlights as they keep watch on the battlements.
—by Paul Webb Theatrenow