Home Entertainment Eddie Izzard's Hamlet Review: A successful and rather enjoyable one-woman adaptation

Eddie Izzard's Hamlet Review: A successful and rather enjoyable one-woman adaptation


At what point does ego overwhelm artistic enterprise? Andrew Scott dodged accusations of vanity with his one-man Vanya and Sarah Snook had technical resources at her command for Dorian Gray. Eddie Izzard has little more than a white set and a black jacket, tights and boots to play most of the characters in Shakespeare’s greatest play.

She is not the first actress to play Hamlet – Sarah Bernhardt, Asta Nielsen, Michelle Terry and Cush Jumbo are just some actors who identify as female to have put on the black tights and ruffled shirt of the Prince of Gloom.

The apparent androgyny of the character may be its appeal but Izzard goes one better by playing almost all the characters herself in this stripped down production directed by Selina Cadell.

So persuasive is she that the potential silliness of her role-switching antics is rarely less than watchable.

While her ability to establish characters quickly without resorting to vocal distortions – a slight croak for Polonius, a light register for Ophelia (including a beautifully rendered ‘mad’ song) and a very funny gravediggers’ scene – might not add up to a profound insight into the gloomy Dane, it is not without merit.

Izzard speaks the verse with natural ease, Tyler Elich’s lighting is supple and atmospheric and Tom Piper’s white walled set with arrow slit windows could double as a castle or a mental institution. I rather enjoyed it. 

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