Page last updated at 16:57 GMT, Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Ovation for Tennant's understudy

David Tennant as Hamlet
Tennant hopes to return "as quickly as possible," said Doran

Actor David Tennant's stand-in Edward Bennett received a standing ovation as the Doctor Who star missed a second West End performance of Hamlet.

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) went ahead with Tuesday's press night performance without its leading man, who is suffering from a back injury.

"We are in luck," director Gregory Doran told the audience before the show. "This is the RSC."

Tennant will also miss Wednesday night's show at the Novello Theatre.

It will be his third missed performance in as many nights.

The 37-year-old is due to play Hamlet until 10 January in the London transfer of the RSC's sold-out Stratford-upon-Avon production.

Earlier, Doran said Tennant was "gutted, not only at the thought of disappointing audiences, but also to be unable to perform a role he has worked on and developed throughout 60 performances in Stratford.

"Before this injury, he has only ever been off for one performance in his entire career to date, and is hoping that he will be able to return to the show as quickly as possible."


Bennett, who normally plays the role of Laertes, also received a standing ovation on Monday when he first stepped into Tennant's role.

"It is an indication of the RSC's investment in understudies that Ed Bennett can take over from David in one of Shakespeare's largest roles at such short notice," said Doran.

"As an ensemble company we feel it is important to go ahead with tonight's performance," said RSC artistic director Michael Boyd on Tuesday.

"While understanding that some people will be disappointed at not seeing David Tennant on stage, this production, like all our productions, is more than the sum of its parts."

Tickets for the London shows sold out within three hours when they went on sale in September.

Last week the RSC said it had been targeted by counterfeiters and warned around 800 people to arrive early to exchange their tickets.

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Telegraph David Tennant's replacement Hamlet at Novello Theatre review - 52 mins ago
Telegraph Tennant disappoints theatre-goers - 2 hrs ago
Telegraph David Tennant pulls out of Hamlet disappointing theatregoers - 4 hrs ago
ABC Online Injury forces Dr Who from Hamlet - 8 hrs ago
Guardian Unlimited Theatre review: Hamlet, Novello, London - 9 hrs ago

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