It’s really funny how an actor can be bobbling along nicely, earning a living, playing roles that don’t get them particularly noticed and then – bam! That role happens…the one that makes everyone sit up and take notice. That’s what has happened to Benedict Cumberbatch. When he was cast as Sherlock in the modern reimagining a few years ago, it was his total big break. He is absolutely brilliant in the part, which is so well written, because actually Sherlock Holmes isn’t a particularly nice character, but we all engage with his enraging quirkiness, his Aspergers- like qualities, his total lack of empathy with people – even those he calls his friends. The part has made a completely unfathomable sex object of him.
From this role he has had the opportunity to be THE villain in the Star Trek movie franchise, again brilliant, but this time inherently evil.
Off screen, when interviewed, he is witty, charming and self deprecating, and a pretty good dancer too, if truth be told. This just made his fans even more enamoured.
To capitalise on his success, he has recently been on stage at The Barbican in London playing Hamlet. All good British actors would relish the idea of a Shakespeare part I’m sure, especially in their home town. I must admit that when they first said the tickets were available, I wasn’t sure I was bothered. However, a couple of weeks ago one of my Twitter buddies was saying that she had a spare ticket if anyone fancied it, so I thought I might as well. A nice way to meet and bond over one of our favourite actors.
It’s a funny place, the Barbican, a mass of grey concrete, with not many redeeming qualities.
I am pretty sure that I haven’t been to see anything except a Star Wars Exhibition in the centre before, so it was interesting to see what it had going for it.
Our seats weren’t bad at all, right at the back of the first circle, but the theatre is quite a small, intimate space, the seats were comfortable and the stage was enormous! Twice as wide as it was deep and every inch was used! The staging was – erm – interesting. There were many doorways to get on and off the stage, different levels too by having a stairway up to a 2nd level all the way along the left hand side of the set. The actors did the scenery changing – there was only one curtain at the one interval. I wasn’t sure from the costumes when it was supposed to be set, and they used Nature Boy in the very first scene which is a modern piece. The story is full of quite unappealing characters who mostly all get their come-uppance. It’s certainly not a happy tale!
There were many actors in the production whose faces I recognised from the small screen, and Benedict was wonderful as Hamlet. He is such a good actor, really grabbing every bit of your attention. He ran the gamut of emotions, playful, angry, cynical, and teetering on the edge of madness, grief and mental health issues. It was a very physical role too – a lot of running around and up and down the stairs. My only problem was that, in my eyes, he is too old to play Hamlet. I think of the character as mid- twenties. However, I am glad that I got to see it. I do like a bit of culture every now and then.