CRITICAL ROUND-UP / He's back and this time it's personal: Kenneth Branagh, the RSC's Hamlet, has played the role before. But how do the two performances measure up?
Wednesday 23 December 1992
Daily Mail, Jack Tinker:
1988: 'Hamlet is a role which succeeds by insinuation. The mercurial changes of mood must be flashed from within, not signalled from outside. At this Mr Branagh is least comfortable and so are we. We can understand his Hamlet, but seldom feel for him.'
1992: 'The muffin face of his youth now has a commanding gravitas. The voice can soar the verse to the heavens or draw us into his innermost thoughts by its quiet confiding. The marvellous set speeches come as newly-invented; the dangerous mood-swings between the wintery grief of his earliest scenes to the tightrope journey he hazards between feigned madness, careful cunning and deeply felt wounds are expertly charted . . . I cannot recommend its brave authority or emotional dexterity too highly or applaud it too loudly.'
1988 (Charles Osborne): 'This is a sympathetic Hamlet as far as it goes, and in time it will no doubt go further in the direction of poetry and intellect. At present, Branagh gives one the impression that he would have been capable of killing his uncle within five minutes of having been commanded to do so.'
1992 (Charles Spencer): 'Kenneth Branagh gives the finest performance of his career as Hamlet . . . Branagh beautifully captures sudden moments of soul- sick sadness, but there is a wonderful warmth and humour here, as well as shafts of cruelty, sardonic wit and emotional violence. Yet even in his darkest moments this Hamlet never forfeits the audience's sympathy.'
Guardian, Michael Billington:
1988: 'At its Birmingham premiere, Branagh's Hamlet was headstrong, frenetic and intemperate but lacking in spiritual grace: there was, I suggested, a lot of Olivier in his reading but not much Gielgud. Now, however, he is much closer to the ideal Hamlet who, as Agate said, 'must make us cry one minute and shudder the next' '.
1992: 'Kenneth Branagh's new Hamlet is an infinitely richer, more mature performance than he gave four years ago for Renaissance. But that is because it grows out of a highly original production by Adrian Noble.'
Independent, Paul Taylor:
1988: 'Kenneth Branagh's compelling Hamlet impresses us as a man whose nature is ferociously divided against itself, and whose co-operation with the creaky convention of revenge-tragedy is painfully ambivalent.'
1992: 'When he last tackled the part in 1988, he drew an impressive portrait of reckless, self-divided impetuousity. This would-be revenger came across, at times, as a sort of Errol Flynn with a PhD, his swashbuckling actionman pose fated to buckle under the complex burden of consciousness. There's still a strong physical charge to the performance he gives in Adrian Noble's new, uncut, arresting (if over-interpreted) production at the Barbican and a wonderful sense of dangerous, goading levity in the scenes of feigned madness.'
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto buy a stake in Reddit as A-list invests $50m
- 2 Prince held a Facebook Q&A and this is the only question he answered...
- 3 'F*ck it, I quit': KTVA reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
- 4 35,000 walrus gather on north-west Alaska beach 'for a rest'
- 5 Brad Pitt, on the moment he completely lost his temper with Clint Eastwood's son
Ed Sheeran dedicates song to David Cameron
Thrill of the chaste: The truth about Gandhi's sex life
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon
Great British Bake Off semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
Former Tory donor Arron Banks ups his Ukip donation to £1million following William Hague 'nobody' comment
The Osborne Ultimatum: Chancellor’s benefits freeze bombshell will affect ten million households
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
- < Previous
- Next >