shhhh collective

Hamlet review (sort of) & SD experience

*Disclaimer stop reading now if you don’t want Hamlet spoilers and if reading about stage door is something you disapprove of or you don’t like. I totally understand if it’s not your thing. This was my trip and I was there for Hamlet. It all started with that but it grew into so much more. I did have a wonderful 11 days that I planned out, my days were pretty much packed with visiting but most of my evenings were reserved for Hamlet (not the 11 days obviously). I actually loved London (duh!) and the people so much that I need to go back. Meeting online friends and new people was also pretty incredible.

These are my thoughts, unorganized ramblings on doing stage door on September 25th and September 29th. I might go back and forth between both nights.

I was there on September 26th, Benedict didn’t come out but I got to meet some of the lovely cast again. I was with online friends (some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Why do you all live so far away, dammit!)  and we just had a fun night. I will not be naming names as I don’t want to put anyone on the spot.

I was also there on September 28th but I missed him since I was a bit further in the back. I did see Andy Serkis entering the Barbican. I would have gone to talk to him because that man is a genius but I was stuck in a sea of people.

Just to put things in perspective. I saw Hamlet on September 22nd, 24th, 26th, 28th. I did stage door on September 25th, 26th, 28th and 29th. There was no stage door on the 22nd (event), 23rd-24th (BBC trucks were there, NT Live Hamlet rehearsal during the afternoon on the 24th, 23rd was just some filming at the Barbican for other events).

September 25th, September 29th. (this is going to be a bit random and more of point by point)

The play start at 7:15 PM.

On both nights I arrived at around 8 pm. There were a few people already there, maybe 5.

Some actors come out of SD to smoke during the play. I’m not naming names here ;). They maybe have 10-20 minutes until their next scene. They are super friendly and sometimes they chat with the crowd. (29th)

Intermission is at around 9:20 pm so it gets a bit more crowded. I have no idea if people leave the play during intermission to do SD. I hope not, lol.

At around 10:20 pm, Hamlet ends. It gets pretty crowded (duh). Since I was in the front and I don’t like crowds, I didn’t really look often on how many people were there. I caught a glimpse and I would estimate the crowd at 100 maybe but I might be very generous in my estimate.

While waiting you get to talk to a lot of nice people. The atmosphere is pretty charged but in a good way. Everyone is very respectful. I didn’t really see anything out of place or fans acting insane. They just get a bit more excited but that is perfectly normal for that sort of thing.

At 10:30 a security person comes out. Very good idea on their part. Someone (very nice cute guy, no idea who he is but he’s brilliant) then comes out to make an announcement. He basically tells people to keep the noise level to a minimum because it is a residential area. I do think that people understand but it is a crowd so it does get a bit noisy but when it gets too noisy or you can hear a collective shhhh from the crowd. On the 29th , a friend said my name a little bit too loudly and everyone went shhhhhh!!!! I thought it was funny.  Again for this sort of thing, people are very well behaved. I don’t know what they were trying to show with the SD insanity stories but it’s all rubbish (stupid media).   It’s a crowd, it’s delusional to think they can keep absolutely quiet. People are also mostly good at not using flash photography.

10:40 actors start coming out.

Not everyone stops to sign which is understandable.

Here is a list of people that did stop to sign for me. In order of SD exit.

Ruairi Conaghan (Player King), seems to sign every night, very nice.

Morag Siller (Voltemand) She didn’t sign for me but I should have asked her. I get the feeling she is just shy. I heard people talking to her and she’s very nice.

Paul Ham (Fencing Official),  I don’t think he signs every night but he’s nice and he asked me my name (so I have to Lysianne written on my program), very handsome too ;)

Matthew Steer (Rosencrantz). He high fives everyone that wants too. He’s very energetic and he seems to be having an absolute blast. His cologne is Jean Paul Gaultier. Too much information, I know but I have a thing for perfumes and it’s one of my favourites for men.

Karl Johnson (Ghost, Gravedigger) He doesn’t sign but he pretends? to take pictures of everyone and he’s really funny. He’s adorable.

Kobna Holdbrook-Smith (Laertes) He doesn’t always sign but I was very lucky on the 29th. Very polite and handsome guy, a real gentleman. He is a bit shy. He apologized to me because someone interrupted him while he was signing for me.

Jim Norton (Polonius) He is just lovely. He signs every night. Very nice, very patient, takes selfies. I told him he was brilliant and that the play was amazing. He then asked me where I was from because of my accent, I think. I told him and we talked for a bit about how he had finished shooting a movie in Canada recently. Lovely man, I can’t say enough good about him.

On the 29th, people thought he wasn’t coming out and they said oh no, he said that he’d be out in a bit. He came out 5 minutes later and said you see I always keep my promises.

Ciaran Hinds (Claudius) I know there is an accent in there but I can’t figure out a way to put it.

Squeeee! Sorry, I was kind of a fan before so I was kind of star struck.

He is quite intense but lovely if that makes any sense. He signed for me then looked me in the eyes for a bit. Very intense gaze. I just don’t know how to describe that look. I still remember it but I can’t put it into words. He just exudes confidence. It’s the same with Jim Norton, they just have this presence.

I did manage to say something but I forgot what it was, he said thank you, that I remember.

Richard (stage door glasses man) comes out at some point, I forget. I think he usually does announcements if BC can’t come out or when he’s coming out. He kind of gives briefings and messages. He’s the one that usually says he can’t come out because….or he won’t be staying long because…

Benedict Cumberbatch(Hamlet)

You will be very disappointed because I remember practically nothing. It was a real blur, both times. He comes out and it gets a bit crazy. It’s not anything insane, people just get more excited and with reason ;). I just think it’s normal for this type of thing but that’s just me.

September 25th

I just kept staring and it really felt surreal. I could not believe that it was happening. He is very rushed because he’s trying to sign for as many people as he can. He looks happy to do it. I think that if he didn’t want to do it, he wouldn’t. (just my 2 cents) He’s also very, nice polite, kind, generous with his time, at times he seems overwhelmed but in a good way he seems a bit shy too.

On the 25th, I said nothing, I think my brain left my body. I just gave him my programme, he signed, then moved along. He has a really small waist. I was eye level to his chest. He had a gray shirt on, Addidas sneakers I think. He also has the most amazing eye colour I have ever seen. I remember his eyelashes for some reason. He smells clean, linen fresh.  I was being pushed from behind on the barricades so I got quite close. After that I just looked at him for a bit while he was signing and I tried to get away from the crowd. I met up with my friends after and we squeed like teenagers.

September 29th.

He came out really late on the 29th, almost 11 pm. We thought he wasn’t going to but he did. I do think that he didn’t sign for a lot though. I’m so glad that he did but if he hadn’t, it would have been a fun night anyway because of the 2 lovely persons that I met there. We just talked and had so much fun.

I managed to say something coherent when he was in front of me. It’s not much but it’s better than nothing. He took my program. I told him that he was great and that the play was just breathtaking. He said thank you very much, I’m so glad you enjoyed it (said enjoyed with his lisp).  I think I said thank you again. Someone shoved me from behind and I hit my program on his arm. I said I’m so sorry, he said that’s quite alright. He had white sneakers on, Converse?. I have no idea why I remember these details but here they are.

After that I was in pain actually because of the pushing but it only lasted for a few moments so no worries. Richard was in front of me and he looked concerned. I think I mouthed that I was fine. People moved away and I was able to break free, lol.

I then shared a cab with a Norwegian girl I met there. I also met a nice American girl. We have been talking on fb ever since.

So there you have it, my ramblings about stage door. I have rarely had so much fun in all my life. It has a lot to do with the people I met there or that I went with. If I hadn’t started to talk with these people, SD would have been a totally different experience. It would have been ok but not amazing.

Hamlet review (sort of)

I’ll just start off by saying that I’m very rusty when it comes to analyzing and reviewing texts or plays. I’ll just write what I remember, what I liked and what I didn’t like and why, very simple basic stuff.

I saw it 4 times (September 22nd, 24th, 26th, 28th). I am so glad that I did because I missed a lot during my first viewing. Also, English is a second language and it was kind of hard for me to take it all in. The text is so rich and beautiful but a bit complicated for me. It took a while before I understood all the nuances.

To me, a few performances stand out because the actors seemed to have good chemistry with each other. Karl Johnson (Ghost, Gravedigger), Benedict Cumberbatch (Hamlet), Jim Norton (Polonius), Ciaran Hinds (Claudius), Kobna Holdbrook-Smith (Laertes). The other performances were ok but they didn’t stand out to me. Sometimes, they seemed to be going through the motions. I do think they were capable of doing better. It seemed uneven at times.

I know that theatre is always a different experience and maybe I caught them on an off week. I do know that the 2 best performances I saw were on the 22nd and the 26th (matinee). They just were on fire. Everything clicked and seemed to be flowing. It was amazing to watch. I completely forgot where I was and was sucked in the story and I never thought for 1 second that I was watching a play.

The first night I was 3rd row theatre left and that was the best performance to me because I got to see Benedict act. I saw everything, his micro expressions, crying with tears and everything. I actually was overwhelmed. That man can act and it is something to see live.

Being so close though, I missed out on the amazing set. On the 28th I got last minute tickets theatre left stalls, row m near the middle, right before it gets insanely expensive. The production design, sets, just blew me away. It’s something, it’s just massive. The confetti cannon from that angle is very impressive. I’ve also sat in stalls theatre right one time. IMO, left is much better ;)


The massive set and art direction obviously.

The music!!!! I still want that toy soldier music (anyone?)

All the toy soldier bits.

Claudius with the confetti cannon before intermission.

Hamlet dancing with Rocencrantz.

The richness of the text.

The projections on the set walls?

The slow motion effects

Seeing amazing actors all together on one stage.

Nature boy at the beginning.

Gravedigger bit with all of me (Frank Sinatra) music.

To be or not to be.

Ophelia’s “suicide” music by Jon Hopkins-Abandon window

When I think about it, it almost felt like I was watching a musical at times.

Well, there you have it. I want to write so much more about Hamlet but I would have to do research and it already feels as if I wrote an essay. I’m not too familiar with the text either. I bought the play and I will read it.

I really wish that they would put this one on dvd (Frankenstein too) because I think that people can really gain from multiple viewings. If they can put it in cinemas, they can put it on dvd. Oh well, fingers crossed…

I was at the midnight premiere of Catching Fire and just before Finnick appears for the first time some guy yelled out “WHERE’S FINNICK?” and there was a collective shhhh from the rest of the cinema

but then a few seconds later Finnick appears and the guy goes “ODAIR HE IS” and I think everyone just choked on their popcorn