Hamlet at the New Theatre Royal

Ria Jones in Sunset Boulevard

REVIEW: Sunset Boulevard at Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

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For the second time Portsmouth and the New Theatre Royal have been blessed with a Globe Theatre On Tour premier performance.

And this Hamlet is, frankly, brilliant.

It zings along at a rollicking pace and there’s enough power coming off the stage to light a small village.

Most of that power comes from Michael Benz as Hamlet. This is the longest role in the Shakespearean canon and you can only doff your theatrical hat to Benz for never letting the pace drop. From Hamlet the Mad to Hamlet the Light Comedian, Benz towers over the part. I saw Brannagh give a sublime Hamlet in Stratford many years ago, but the slight, seemingly fragile, almost transparent figure of Mr Benz manhandles Mr Brannagh from the stage and makes this part his very own.

And what blazing support he has from every one of the actor-musicians around him, with Tom Lawrence, Carlyss Peer, Christopher Saul and Dickon Tyrrell particularly worthy of note.

Inventive direction from Dominic Dromgoole and Bill Buckhurst (particularly the play-within-a-play - the most creatively satisfying version I’ve ever seen) played on Jonathan Fensom’s wonderful two-layered set make this a Hamlet that really shouldn’t be missed.

Until Saturday.