When I heard mid way through 2014 that Benedict Cumberbatch would be playing Hamlet at the Barbican Theatre, I thought it a dream come true, my favourite Shakespeare play, and an amazing actor (lets be honest I’ve watched 80% of the films he’s in and I died while gibbering about Sherlock and Khan and Hawking and … ok i’ll stop). There was just one, small, totally negligible point of interest… I lived in Sydney, Australia and certainly couldn’t afford to fly all the way to London to see it. In addition to that, I wouldn’t be sure of my acceptance to Imperial College until AFTER tickets went on sale, and if anything was guaranteed to sell out? It was this. My dreams shattered, I didn’t really think much more about it.
Come July 2015, acceptance letter in hand, I truly started plotting how to get tickets to the show. I’d conquered the geographic obstacle, I wasn’t going to let the minor fact that I didn’t have a ticket stop me from admiring Benedict on stage. I found out that the Barbican sold 30 £10 tickets for each show and all you had to do to get them was queue up outside the ticket office in the morning. Who doesn’t want to wake up 3am and stand in the freezing cold for theatre tickets. These tickets had 2 benefits, they were cheap and they were still available every single day of the show’s run. YAY. But when on earth was I going to find the time to queue? I was arriving in London just in time for university commencement and I was expecting it to be hella busy. I would do it if it was my only option, but with no friends in a new country, 3am queueing seemed a bleak prospect.
Octoboer 2015, I landed in Heathrow, moved in to halls and got a sim card… and discovered £35 tickets to special ‘student matinees’ of Hamlet. These could be booked and there were 2 of them still to come, surely these would have sold out too, its not as though cumberbatch fans were 100% teenage girls at all. I rang up the Barbican and to my surprise they were still available! OMG THE JOY. I walk into the kitchen, and with one ‘who wants to go see Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet?’ I had 2 theatre buddies.
The show was the most amazing thing I’d every seen. I love theatre with a giant throbbing heart, and while I’d turned up at the show to see Benedict Cumberbatch, I loved everything from the lights, to the stage design. It was just such a cool interpretation, with slow motion, fantastically lit dream sequences, seamlessly innovative scene transitions… I was on the edge of my seat the whole time, soaking up every second. When you see a show for one actor, often you get bored when they’re not on stage, but in this case, I loved every moment, benedict or no benedict. Some people say that the effects were perhaps to extravagant for a theatre production, that it got in the way of the actors performance, and sure maybe at times, it was a bit much, but it was ambitious, dramatic and spectacular. For Shakespeare, maybe that was what kept us awake through the difficult dialogue :P, if only classrooms could have such awesome live performances, instead of boring readings.
Going to see this play, was my first true appreciation of the fact that I had moved to London. One of the coolest cities in the world. It reminded me to take advantage of the all the opportunities that afforded me, to absorb the culture of theatre and art that was at times lacking in Sydney. It really was a dream come true. Its easy to take it for granted when you’re here, but I don’t intend to waste a moment of it. Sure I’m here to study, read Computing and earn a degree, but while I’m in London I’m damn well sure I also want to have fun.