Page last updated at 09:12 GMT, Wednesday, 7 October 2009 10:12 UK

US press reviews: Jude Law's Hamlet

Jude Law and Gugu Mbatha-Raw in Hamlet
Jude Law plays opposite actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Ophelia in the production

US critics have given their verdicts on actor Jude Law's portrayal of Hamlet as the Donmar Warehouse production of the Shakespeare play begins its run on Broadway.

Law heads a largely British cast which has been transplanted to New York's Broadhurst Theater for a two-month season.

Theatre reviewers inevitably focussed their attentions on the film star as they came to their conclusions.


If vigour were all in acting Shakespeare, Jude Law would be a gold medal Hamlet.

Playing the doomed Prince of Denmark in a barnstorming production, Law approaches his role with the focus, determination and adrenaline level of an Olympic track competitor staring down an endless line of hurdles.

Law, a rakish leading man of film, doesn't disappear on stage the way some screen stars do. Though small-boned and delicately featured, he fills the theatre to saturation point.


Wags in the audience could nickname Jude Law's rendition 'Yoga Hamlet', seeing as how the lean movie star pads about the stage barefoot in stretchy pants and a clingy t-shirt, often squatting and lunging with the sinewy ease of a Bikram vet.

But for all the surface glamour of Law's portrayal, his vocal delivery is solidly plugged into Hamlet's rage and anguish

He holds court at the centre of his scenes with an intensity, intelligence and awestruck wonder that puts most Hamlets I've seen to shame.


Working with most of his original UK cast, led by an electrifying Jude Law, director Michael Grandage mines the accessible motives and emotions of the Bard's characters and the visceral power of his language.

Jude Law as Hamlet
Law has been praised by US critics

In doing so, he appeals to younger fans and casual theatregoers likely to be drawn by Law's presence without patronising them.

His Hamlet is no brooding philosopher/prince - he's an angry young man, a bundle of nerves forever threatening to explode.

But Law also captures the more tender feelings and contradictions that make this tortured hero at once elusive and essentially human.


Jude Law may not be the most emotionally piercing or philosophically profound Hamlet, but he brings an admirable balance to this most challenging of Shakespearean roles.

Law, as you can imagine, cuts quite a princely figure, but the handsomeness of his interpretation is more than skin deep. He succeeds at catching what the Romantic-era critic William Hazlitt described as the protagonist's "high enthusiasm and quick sensibility".

It's a very well-spoken production all around, and Law's fluency in handling both the rhythms and meanings of Shakespeare's poetry is impressive.

Yet his "To be or not to be" and "O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!" aren't the selling points here. The chief source of excellence is the way the tragic hero's connections have been revitalised.

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