(Dominic Cavendish’s article appeared in the Telegraph, 8/5.)
The minutes are ticking down towards the first preview performance of Benedict Cumberbatch as Hamlet tonight at the Barbican. And in a sense, time is running out to reflect coolly, calmly and precisely on the part he’s playing – at least for the remainder of the summer. Over the next few weeks, the social media chatter will intensify and be joined soon enough by a vast chorus of critics. We can expect bragging, sobbing, perhaps even fainting. There will be earnest discussions. There may even be bad jokes: you can’t make a Hamlet without breaking eggs Benedict.
In bursting to know "How good?", however, we’re in danger of losing sight of “why?”. Why does an actor put himself (very occasionally it’s herself) through this most testing of Shakespearean roles, which contains the most lines of any part in the canon and can require a nerve, lung and sinew-testing work-out for at least three hours, depending on how much of the text the director (here Lyndsey Turner) decides to retail.
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