People are at their best when watching marvelous, beautiful things. They become thoughtful, entranced, enlivened. For my birthday I was glad to be part of the audience at the Broadhurst.
On the screen, Jude Law is movie-star handsome; on stage he is merely attractive, which is just as well, because his appearance does not detract from his brilliant acting. I've never seen a better Hamlet. Law's Hamlet is vulnerable, active, intelligent, and arrogant--an arrogant royal, who has good reason to think before he acts. Commanding the stage, Law uses his hands to good effect: embracing or touching friends, his ill-fated mother, the skull of Yorick. His enunciation is clear and natural sounding.
All the speeches we know so well were fresh!
I thought about the theme of obedience and loyalty, which Shakespeare, who lived as a subject of the Crown, knew inside and out. The ghost of Hamlet's father orders Hamlet to obey him and avenge his murder; Polonius asks his son and daughter to obey him; Claudius asks Laertes to be 'governed by him in all things'. They obey. Better not to obey. Obedience sets the engines of death in motion.
Geraldine James gives a fine performance as Gertrude; she plays Hamlet's mother as a gracefully mannered conventional woman completely out of her depth; and Kevin McNally as Claudius is the smoothest murderer, except when confessing his sin. Bravos for Jude Law. It was a pleasure to see this actor go all out to show us how powerfully a man can act when all the forces of destiny are against him.