21.10.15 - Hamlet at the Barbican

Hamlet put on at the Barbican starring Benedict Cumberbatch was directed by Lyndsey Turner. A couple of friends and I really wanted to see this play as it had so many great reviews and people involved that I admire (like Es Devlin and Benedict Cumberbatch). However, being on a student budget we decided that we should try to get day tickets - we arrived at the theatre at 4am after a bit of wondering around trying to find the entrance. When were arrived there were already a fair amount of people queuing: we tried to count to see if we would still be able to get day tickets (if everybody got two, it was unlikely) however it was difficult to judge, so we sat on the floor: for about 5-6 cold hours. It was quite tiring, especially as we had not slept and the cold was really getting to us. 

Finally at 9:30/10am we were allowed inside and thus sad in the warmth awaiting our tickets with anticipation. When we finally got to the front of the queue we got the last two day tickets and had to get some standing tickets, because we needed more than two. It was quite a tiring experience, but as soon as the curtain lifted I was truly happy that we had done it. The first thing that hit me was the gorgeous set design (by Es Devlin). The play opened to a small ambient, darkish space with Hamlet and a record player which then opened up to this incredible large castle-like architecture with a beautifully designed dining room, decadent decorations and beautifully made blue walls and doors. Intricate chandeliers hung with pale flowers and the walls were ornate with grand paintings. 

"This set is so sumptuous, intricate and declamatory that it runs the risk of becoming an alternative show, of competing with the action rather than steering you into it" - The Guardian

At first the play seemed to be a period piece however soon I realised that the costumes were very much a mix of modern and old (hoodies, converse and watches with old fashioned dresses and jackets). I also really appreciated all of the details put into the set and props which did not make it feel so much like a production but rather a real place where real people lived. Overall when I left the theatre, this experience really allowed me to remember how much I love theatre and that I would like to study it further because I have always enjoyed being part of the cast, crew and audience of every performance I have participated in or watched. 

© Diane, all rights reserved