(Susannah Clapp’s article appeared in the Observer, 3/5.)

Robert Icke is one of the most important forces in today’s theatre. He blew the dust from Oresteia and made 1984 newly penetrating. Now he and Andrew Scott give us a terrific modern-dress Hamlet. Full of ideas but not manacled to a concept. The originality is a question of pitch and pace and breath. It is as if the lungs of the play are different. Every moment of the text rings with significance.

Scott is convulsed with emotion on a small stage. From the beginning he is emphatic, tipping easily from fury into tears, a windmill of small gestures, pointing to his eyes when he talks of weeping. He is on the brink of being too much. But then Hamlet is too much – for himself. Scott, spilling over with emotion, continually moves in unexpected directions. Away from lucidity, towards illusion, and suddenly dipping into laconic humour. In an inspired moment, on the eve of his death he sends up the idea of his fitness as a fencer.

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Photo: The Arts Desk.

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