Hamlet starring Eddie Izzard in London. Photo by Amanda Searle

Hamlet starring Eddie Izzard: Reviews Round-up

Reviews are coming in from London critics for Hamlet, the new solo show by Eddie Izzard, now playing at the Riverside Studios in London.

Eddie takes on all 23 characters from Shakespeare’s tragedy in this new production co-adapted by Eddie’s brother Mark Izzard and directed by Selina Cadell.

Izzard and Cadell also worked with each other on Eddie’s solo and acclaimed production of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations in 2022.

Joining Selina Cadell in the creative team are set design by Tom Piper, lighting design by Tyler Elich, costume stylists Piper and Libby DaCosta, and movement director Didi Hopkins.

Hamlet is now playing at the Riverside Studios in London to 30 June 2024.

Read reviews from the Financial Times, Evening Standard, TimeOut and more, with further reviews to be added.

Book tickets to Hamlet starring Eddie Izzard at the Riverside Studios London


Hamlet starring Eddie Izzard reviews

The Telegraph
★★★

"A rather average Eddie Izzard fits-all performance"

"Besides cheering on the admired trans pioneer in a daunting test of stamina, textual focus and gender-flipping, the dividends are minimal"

"Overall, it’s an impressive feat of memory, control and endurance. Still, something’s a bit rotten with the state of a production when the soliloquies - sane, sad and sincere though they be, with the odd hint of ham and whiff of James Mason - are less impactful than the incidentals: the funny business with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern – conveyed, literally, by bare handiwork – the eerie, chest-thumping account of Ophelia’s sorrowful sing-song, and the grave-digger’s cockney backchat, redolent of Cook and Moore."

"The enterprise comes full circle: Eddie’s nothing really like a Dane, a bit like a dame, and a lot like an old-fashioned trouper – a figure of some tragic capacity, yes, but a fellow, finally and most cherishably, of infinite jest."

Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph
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i News
★★

"Eddie Izzard’s shallow vanity project fails to impress"

"Izzard skips gamely about the stage playing all the characters, but Hamlet's grief, soul-searching and existential angst are entirely lacking"

"The vogue for audacious one-person renditions of classic drama continues. Last year saw Andrew Scott’s mesmerically fine one-man Vanya and now we are presented with the considerably lesser treat of Eddie Izzard doing Hamlet all by herself. Whereas Scott added depth, charisma and nuance to Chekhov’s masterpiece of ennui and dissatisfaction, Izzard offers only shallows.

"Right from the start, it is apparent that Izzard’s take is simply too frenetic, little more than a glossy vanity project, an impressive feat of line-learning. Izzard’s brother Mark, who has adapted and pruned the text, fatally appears to equate length with boredom and pace with clarity, but I doubt that any spectators not already familiar with Hamlet will emerge from the busy blur of these two hours plus interval much the wiser as to why this is the Mount Everest of canonical plays."

Fiona Mountford, i News
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The Times
★★

"This solo Shakespeare is virtuosic but dull"

"What possessed the actor to take on every character in this vanity project at Riverside Studios"

"Eddie Izzard is a world-class talker, but a world-class actor? You come away from this one-person vanity project thinking all sorts, but understanding what impelled Izzard to multi-task her way through one of the greatest plays is not among them. And though the trans comic, actor and would-be politician now prefers the pronouns she/her, when Hamlet starts it’s Izzard as we’ve always known Izzard: those quizzical but dulcet tones, holding the stage with casual aplomb in lipstick, heels and leather trousers. Whoever she is playing, whatever fronts those characters are putting on for each other, the voice is beyond distinctive."

Dominic Maxwell, The Times
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The Stage
★★

"Leaves us dizzy"

"Eddie Izzard’s take on Shakespeare’s tragedy is striking but inconsistent"

"Eddie Izzard is no stranger to tests of endurance. From marathon running to stand-up comedy, the performer’s dauntless energy stands her in good stead for a one-woman take on Shakespeare’s tragedy. But Selina Cadell’s production leaves us dizzy, with a pace that whisks the sensitivity of some of the language into incomprehension."

"Still, overall this is a slick affair. A white set, designed by Tom Piper, provides the sterile planes for affecting lighting by Tyler Elich that lands like thunderbolts. Meanwhile, elegant music composition by Eliza Thompson helps to structure the play and signal its switches between characters and scenes. Izzard’s fans will no doubt enjoy it. But if you like your Hamlet less harried, this may not be for you."

Georgia Luckhurst, The Stage
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The Financial Times
★★

"Eddie Izzard plays all the roles in a nimble but aimless production"

"London’s Riverside Studios hosts a feat of memory and variation that misses the depths of the tragedy"

"But what of the pain and profundity of this great play, pitched on the border between life and death and soaked in grief and longing? What of Hamlet himself? That’s where this production really falls down. Izzard delivers “To be or not to be” thoughtfully. But any reading of Hamlet is hard to fathom. There is little interiority, little sense of the agony or gravity of his predicament nor the huge issues at stake, while the emotions of the other characters barely register. The crucial duel at the end veers perilously close to slapstick."

"Izzard is a charismatic, smart, genial performer who can hold a huge room, but neither that nor the work behind this are enough to reach the depths, layers and magnitude of Shakespeare’s profound masterpiece."

Sarah Hemming, The Financial Times
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The Guardian

"One-woman juggling act exposes limits of Eddie Izzard’s acting ability"

"A marathon achievement for its feat of memory, this performance feels like avant garde cabaret at times"

"Directed by Selina Cadell and adapted by Izzard’s brother, Mark Izzard, the production is fresh from New York, where it was extended three times. It is perplexing to see why, even for this self-proclaimed Izzard fan. As a standup stalwart, Izzard knows how to hold a crowd. Stage presence is not the problem and she looks the part, starkly melancholy in black jacket and leggings with a blaze of red lipstick. Here, the play’s the thing, except it feels entirely eclipsed by the circus trick of Izzard’s endeavour."

Arifa Akbar, The Guardian
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The Evening Standard

"Eddie Izzard's Shakespeare is an act of colossal vanity and hubris"

"Shakespeare’s work is classic enough to withstand almost anything, but this is a disaster that diminishes both play and performer"

"I’ve seen a musical about pornographic wallpaper, and a play that a lone producer decided to perform when his cast failed to turn up. Those were, arguably, worse ideas than this solo tragedy from Eddie Izzard. Still, this one-person Hamlet is an act of colossal vanity and hubris, hung on the skimpiest artistic justification. It’s worse than Izzard’s awful solo Great Expectations last year, which at least had a framing first-person narrative."

"Here, Izzard musters barely any characterisation, emotion or grandeur as she canters through barely-differentiated characters in a script drastically edited by her older brother Mark, and sketchily directed by Selina Cadell."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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TimeOut

"A baffling folly from the comedy legend, who plays all 23 roles in ‘Hamlet’, badly"

"This ‘Hamlet’ truly is a real tragedy. Izzard is no stranger to marathon theatrical expedition – her previous foray, a solo ‘Great Expectations’ was largely, positively received. And yet, this sequel is more of an exercise in vanity than artistic purpose. Directed by Selina Cadell, Izzard, who started her career as a street performer, barely shows any skill as an actor at all."

"We’re in the age of the monologue reinterpretation with the likes of Sarah Snook’s ‘Dorian Gray’ and Andrew Scott’s ‘Vanya’. There is an argument for a one-person Hamlet to heighten the internal madness of it all. But here we see little more than egotism."

Anya Ryan, TimeOut
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Hamlet starring Eddie Izzard

Riverside Studios, London

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👤 📅29 May 2024
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📷 Main photo: Hamlet starring Eddie Izzard in London. Photo by Amanda Searle

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