*IMPORTANT UPDATE: SEE BOTTOM OF PAGE
If you’re thinking “Could Ify be referring to actual theatre and not cinema?”, you would be right. If you’re also thinking “Ify might have just seen a play”, you would be right again. You’re on a roll today. Now before you ask: Yes, I did go to see a play on purpoe; No, I wasn’t trying to impress a lady; Yes, it was a live stream at cineworld, not in the actual theatre (unfortunately, but my cineworld card shall not be wasted).
So last week I went to see Hamlet starring Benedict Cumberbatch as part of the National Theatre Live screenings all around the Uk and the world… AND I LOVED IT. I will most likely be going to see it again at the final screening on the 25th but I need to share the experience with at least another pair of eyes (HINT HINT ladies 😉 ) or even a group of people. The more the merrier. This is not my first forray into the world of stage acting. I acted in a few plays myself back in my “jack-of-all-trades” high school days (shoutout Mr. Jerome) and studied abridged versions of Shakespeare’s work (shoutout Mr. Akinwunmi).
So I was familiar with modern theatre going into the cinema auditorium… OR SO I THOUGHT. What I experienced was an engrossing dive into the tragic world of the titular character as portrayed by the brilliant Benedict Cumberbatch. I have seen Sherlock, The Hobbit Trilogy, The Imitation Game… but nothing like this. Without the luxury of numerous takes, video editing or cameras in place of an audience, this is a whole different performance to those on film. His ability to make you forget he is an actor and not an Elizabethan speaking prince only magnifies the intensity of an already awesome piece of literature. And he’s not the only one, a stellar performance by the devoted supporting cast made this work of fiction as real as my ever growing afro. Add the casting of Ciarán Hinds (Mance Rayder, Game of Thrones) as the antagonist, King Claudius and my diminished passion for theatre just might have been reignited.
I forgot what it was like to exercise true willing suspension of disbelief and become truly engrossed in a performance rather than lazily allow special effects and camera angles do all the work for you. I forgot about the use of creative transitions from one scene to another as a narrative tool as opposed to the “short attention span” inducing shot-to-shot transitions of film and television. I forgot how much respect I have for anyone with the physical ability and mental capacity to remember scripted lines, word for word, while running around a stage for over an hour. Roughly 2 hours in this case, intermission included. It’s no wonder most of the iconic Hollywood actors of the last few decades have a background in theatre: From the likes Ian Mckellen, Al Pacino, Sean Connery and Helen Mirren to Tom Hardy, Catherine Zeta Jonea, Emily Blunt and of course, Benedict Cumberbatch, to name but a few. In fact, I would not be surprised if the current British invasion of Hollywood has a direct correlation to the rich theatre culture present in the country.
The whole experience was also a much better alternative to my usual Youtube, Facebook and Netflix binging till all manners of ungodly hours. Due in no small part to the fact that I could actually feel additional brain cells forming and growing the more I watched… ok, fine, maybe not actually but it was easily a much more intellectualy stimulating and gratifying experience than my more common choices of entertainment (Football Manager, I’m looking at you).
Added bonus, Cineworld cinemas (well at least my local) are rather quite wheelchair friendly, especially since they added the option to book your own seat when pre-booking your ticket. That way I can avoided having to sit half way across the auditorium from whoever I go with. On top of that, no queues. WINNING!
When all is said and done, this portrayal of Hamlet is a prime example of the beauty of our capacity as human beings for arts and entertainment, a faithful portrayal from the genius that is William Shakespeare and a true to form master class in acting from Benedict Cumberbatch. I definitely recommend you watch this either on the 25th or get your hands on a digital copy one way or another. Theatre is being added to my list of favorite passed times.
For information on how to book tickets for a screening of the live stream on the 25th near you, check out the link below
*!IMPORTANT UPDATE! The dates for the encore screenings are NOT all on the 25th. They are from the 22nd onwards depending on your chosen venue. It just so happens MY LOCAL CINEMA (Middlesbrough) has their screenings on the 23rd and 25th of October. Apologies for my mistake.