Friday, October 02, 2009
photo: Tristam Kenton
A note to Michael Grandage, artistic director of The Donmar Warehouse and director of its production of Hamlet, currently playing a limited engagement at the Broadhurst Theatre: just because you have Jude Law in your cast doesn't mean that you can skimp on the rest of the ensemble. Though far from perfect, Law acquits himself nicely as the Danish prince, commanding the attention of the audience throughout the role's myriad soliloquies (his delivery of "What a piece of work is a man..." is particularly good). However, there's hardly anyone else in the cast that's up to his--or, for that matter, any professional--level. Especially horrific is Gugu Mbartha-Raw, who reads Ophelia's lines as if they were being fed to her through an earpiece. The great Geraldine James is no better as Gertrude--she announces Ophelia's death as casually as one would order a glass of wine at a bar--and Ron Cook's dual performance as Polonius and the 1st Gravedigger is hammier than an Oscar Mayer delivery truck. Grandage's overall production is overwhelmingly grey and dull, and adds no dimension to the hollow performances on stage. His intention was probably to spotlight the text through the absence of scenery, but the sight of the Broadhurst's brick stage wall simply made me miss Mary Stuart more than ever.