Maxine Peake As Hamlet

Art & Culture

I once spent an entire day watching a friend re-work and perform Hamlet as a one man play. To this day, it remains to be one of the best pieces of theatre I have ever seen. I mean, it wasn't great theatre but it was ruddy entertaining. Still, as memorable as his performance may have been he doesn't quite match up to Maxine Peake when it comes to taking command of the title role.

I found the opening scene utterly painful to watch, however, the blend of Shakespeare's language was being delivered well enough yet the combination of ye olde language-e with modern outfits is a bit of a bugbear of mine. It just begins to look a bit ridiculous when trying to recreate a modern scene whilst characters speak so unnaturally for the 21st century. In (what I imagine to be) the words of Bobby George "Go hard or go home". That being said, the soundscaping of these opening moments was truly brilliant and the music covered the scene transition rather well indeed.

There's a lot of coughing from the audience which, if you've got a bit of a short fuse, will no doubt have you feeling similar rage to that which Peake's Hamlet suffers – though there may be a slight difference between the ills you have undertaken. Peake is absolutely perfect when left to her own devices, she's managed to wrap herself from head to toe in the character and there's a part of me longing to believe that she actually went through the turmoil of Shakespeare's title character. There is no doubting that she is the star of this piece and throughout the performance there is not even the slightest hint of wavering.

If you're able to sit through three hours of theatre on any occasion, this should go by in a breeze. Whilst many of us are familiar with the subject matter we'll have never come across such a complete performance of the titular role as this before. 

Also, Horatio used the word 'yesternight' which is something that I'm going to have to start using in conversation. I apologise in advance.

Find out where you can see screenings of Maxine Peake as Hamlet here.