But the Cumberb**ches will ruin it for sophisticated theatre-goers with their cries of "I love you Benedict!", they said. The Sherlock fans will talk over the soliloquies, they said.
Judging by the first set of reviews from Hamlet at London's Barbican theatre, the audience was "impeccably behaved", even if critiques of Benedict Cumberbatch were mixed, with The Times awarding the Oscar-nominated actor just two stars.
While the play is not officially open to press reviews for three weeks yet, here's what the papers, and Twitter, have to say about the hottest ticket in town:
Critic Serena Davies reveals that Cumberbatch delivers Hamlet's famous "To Be or Not to Be" soliloquy in the very first minutes of the play, but stops short of analysing performances too early. Cumberbatch "commands and surprises", she writes, while director Lyndsey Turner and designer Es Devlin have created a "lavish, epic Hamlet".
It was going to take more to impress Katie Maltby, who gave Hamlet a paltry two stars, began her review "Alas, poor Benedict", and harshly dubbed it "a production aimed squarely at those Cumber-fans". She praises Cumberbatch's energy but bemoans his lack of subtlety and loathed the opening more than Hamlet loathes himself. It's "pure theatrical self-indulgence", apparently. Ouch.
Theatre highlights of 2015
Theatre highlights of 2015
1/7 Hamlet - Barbican
The advance sales broke records, but there will be 100 £10 tickets held back for each day’s performance of the most hotly anticipated classical production of the year: Benedict Cumberbatch as Shakespeare’s brainiest hero, directed by Lyndsey (Chimerica) Turner.
2/7 Bend it Like Beckham - Phoenix Theatre
Gurinder Chadha directs a musical adaptation of her film about a Sikh girl who defies her family for football, scored by Howard Goodall. We’re promised a celebratory state-of-the-nation comedy.
3/7 Hard Problem - National Theatre
The Hard Problem is consciousness in Tom Stoppard’s first new play for nine years. It’s set in a brain science institute and directed by Nicholas Hytner, who steps down at the National Theatre after a glorious reign, in April.
4/7 The Hook - Royal & Derngate
To celebrate the Arthur Miller centenary, James Dacre directs a world premiere, adapted by Ron Hutchinson from Miller’s FBI-suppressed screenplay about mobsters in the dockyards of 1950s Brooklyn.
5/7 Farinelli and the King - Sam Wanamaker Playhouse
Mark Rylance stars in this fascinating real-life story, dramatised by his wife Claire van Kampen, about Philippe V of Spain and the castrato whose voice cured him of insomnia and despair.
6/7 Antigone - Barbican and King's Theatre
The visionary Flemish director Ivo van Hove brings us Sophocles’s great tragedy in a modern version starring Juliette Binoche.
7/7 The Vote -Donmar Warehouse
James Graham aims for a media coup with his drama set in a fictional London polling booth in the last 90 minutes of Election Day 2015. The run culminates in a live broadcast on More4 on the day.
Jan Moir loves the play, writing that Cumberbatch's "Hamlet in a hoodie was electrifying" in a performance that "veered from moments of genuinely hilarious comedy to plunge down to the very depths of throat-scalding tragedy". Five stars. Who to believe?
Cumberbatch's real strength comes from "finding laughs in unexpected places", says Jonathan Holmes, who describes the play as "the funniest version of the tragedy you'll ever see". Is that a good thing? Hmm, we're not convinced.
Lucky members of the public who bagged a ticket for the first night posted their reactions on social media, with most people loving the show. Criticisms involved the choreography needing work and Cumberbatch "overacting" in what seemed to be a bid to live up to the great actors before him.
So glad that was good. Solid concept. Stunning set. Benedict was amazing. Choreography needs work but all in all, very very good! #Hamlet— Lady (@Lady_C_M) August 5, 2015
So, aside from Benedict over-acting & trying too hard to be a classic Olivier-esque Hamlet, the show was phenomenal!! Gorgeous & splendid— elise (@_dreadfort) August 5, 2015
Hamlet runs until 31 October, with Sian Brooke playing Ophelia and Ciaran Hinds as Claudius.Reuse content