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A reviews round-up for Hamlet at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon.

The RSC’s much anticipated production of Hamlet starring Paapa Essiedu in the title role has now opened in Stratford-upon-Avon. It will probably surprise most people but this production is unique in that it is the first time in the RSC’s 55 year history that the title role will be played by a black actor.

Set in Africa and with a mainly black cast, director Simon Godwin’s production of Hamlet has given a dazzling new light to a well known play “that makes you feel, even if you are seeing Hamlet for the 50th time, that you are experiencing it anew.”

Essiedu’s has been commended by the critics with all agreeing a star is in the making. At 25, young to play Hamlet, his performance is mischievous, flirtatious, charismatic, sarcastic and full of vitality.

Hamlet plays until 13 August 2016 at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Read reviews of Hamlet from the The Guardian, The Independent, The Times, Evening Standard and The Stage.

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REVIEWS ROUND-UP

STAR RATING The Guardian

“With this heartening production, director Simon Godwin and a largely black ensemble make you feel like you are seeing the play anew.”

“Essiedu has a priceless vitality, speaks the verse intelligently and catches the contradictions of a prince who, even when knowing that his father is in spiritual limbo, heartlessly dispatches two fellow students,”

“a production that makes you feel, even if you are seeing Hamlet for the 50th time, that you are experiencing it anew.”

Michael Billington, The Guardian

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STAR RATING The Independent

“Essiedu radiates the impudent charisma, energy and wounded idealism of youth”

Paul Taylor, Independent

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STAR RATING Evening Standard

“Despite an uneven supporting cast and a few moments of crashing unsubtlety, this is an accessible, absorbing take on Shakespeare’s tragedy”

“Though the support is uneven, Cyril Nri is a fruitily unctuous Polonius, Tanya Moodie gives Gertrude a regal dignity, and Natalie Simpson brings agitated vulnerability to Ophelia. There are a few moments of crashing unsubtlety, but this is an accessible, absorbing take on Shakespeare’s tragedy that conveys its energy and its intense concern with lies, deceit and the complex politics of family life.”

Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard

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STAR RATING The Sunday Times

“A terrific Hamlet, a blazing new star standing at the heart of an intelligent and engrossing production.”

“If a production of Hamlet will always be judged on the calibre of the Prince, the strength of this one is that it also boasts exceptional thoughtfulness and a raft of good performances.

Natalie Simpson [Ophelia] brings to the mad scene an angry anguish that is utterly heartbreaking; her Ophelia is a pawn in a political game, her intelligence and warmth shrivelling under the cruel glare of the games men play. Tanya Moodie’s Gertrude is equally well drawn, a powerful queen whose composure is finally undermined by the realisation that the man she loves is a murderer. And Ewart James Walter is striking both as the Ghost, emerging like a tribal chieftan from a could of white smoke, and as a calypso-dancing Gravedigger, who turns Shakespeare’s words into an entirely convincing patois.”

“Godwin’s great gift is to reveal the play in all its glory – and in a dazzling new light.”

Sarah Crompton, The Times

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STAR RATING The Stage

“He’s got it. Paapa Essiedu has that quality that makes you sit up and pay attention. His Hamlet is mischievous and flirtatious, charismatic and sarcastic. He’s kind of obnoxious at times, true, but he also conveys the character’s pain – the mask falls and suddenly there are whole stanzas in his eyes.”

“Set in an African state, Godwin’s production takes a while to get going but when it does it has the zip of a thriller”

Natasha Tripney, The Stage

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