This hymn of praise for Benedict’s Hamlet deserves it’s own post.
The critic of SÜDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG hates the hype, the production (too bombastic) and the stage (like Die Fledermaus in the 1950s), criticizing it in a respectful way, liking all the actors except Ophelia, also he had a strange encounter with a fan (I won’t translate it, but if it’s true, it’s rather embarrassing) - but he ADORES Cumberbatch. This is the kind of praise I was waiting and hoping for….I try a translation, but I’m really bad at these…
“Everytime one of the great soliliquies is about to start, everything else comes to a hold. Not only onstage where the other actors stop with their acting or slow it down to slow motion, but also the entire audience holds their breath in anticipation. It’s like the star tenor preparing for his bravura. The star doesn’t disappoint in these moments: When Benedict Cumberbatch’s Hamlet climbs the banquet table of Helsingör and wishes that his too solid flesh would melt, he does it with wistful urgency, which really isn’t easy to do with this soliloquy that has already been spoken by other actors in every possible way. When he looks at Yoricks skull, his “I knew him Horatio” sounds like a childhood’s memory he digged up with the skeleton.
The evening escapes the danger of failing only because of his main protagonist. Because, all the madness and bombast aside, you can’t overlook what an outstanding actor this Benedict Cumberbatch is. And when the stage gets cleared every now and then, at least they have an actor who knows how to fill it. Even the silliness of the fake madness, dressing up as a toy soldier and entrenching in his toy castle, are evidence for Cumberbatch’s exploration of the character which is far and away superior to that of his director.
Despite the laggard cliche, Hamlet is a restless doer. This forward pressing without ever reaching the goal is embodied by a sinewy Cumberbatch full of devotion. Him running after the ghost of his father, running away after murdering his father, that’s pure desperation, turned into muscle and energy. When it comes to the decision “To be or not to be”, Cumberbatch shows us the rapid disruption of a reason-guided mind through grief.
The introspective caesurae of his soliloquies give the audience what they expect from the best Hamlets: masterful interpretations, central texts of world literature, spoken like it’s the very first time. Majesty that never comes across as leaden. Intelligence that can’t escape it’s self fulfilling doom. Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance deserves so much more than this event machine of a production.“
I’m so proud of "central lines of world literature, spoken like it’s the very first time”. That’s exactly what he intended to do.