Hamlet: Benedict Cumberbatch no longer opening with 'to be or not to be' after uproar

Shakespeare's most famous soliloquy is back in its traditional Act III place

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The Independent Culture

Benedict Cumberbatch is no longer opening Hamlet with the play’s most famous lines after an uproar erupted over producers’ re-structuring.

The “To be or not to be” soliloquy is traditionally delivered in the third act as Shakespeare intended, but the Barbican decided juggle it up, much to the dismay of critics and audiences.

Kate Maltby of The Times branded the decision “indefensible” in her two-star review, but others praised the cast’s performance and criticised Maltby for publishing her article before official press night when changes have often been made and problems ironed out.

Audience members have confirmed that the soliloquy is now being performed in Act III.


Hamlet became the fastest-selling play in Britain when tickets sold out in minutes last year, many to Sherlock fans desperate to see Oscar nominee Cumberbatch tread the boards.

Cumberbatch was forced to make a personal plea to theatregoers asking them to stop filming him on their phones, after he was left “mortified” by distracting red lights.

"I can see cameras in the auditorium. It may not be any of you here but it's blindingly obvious," he told fans outside the stage door. "There's nothing less supportive or enjoyable as an actor on stage experiencing that."