Tardis-jumping Time Lord David Tennant hobbled triumphantly back into the limelight on 3rd January, returning as the Dane for the final run of a high-profile RSC production in Stratford-upon-Avon after several frustrating weeks on the sidelines following codpiece reallignment.
Emerging from behind those famous velvet curtains early in the first act, Tennant startled awake an audience of otherwise uninterested Trekkies who had been waiting patiently for Patrick Stewart (playing Captain Picard) to sign their endless mounds of Claudius memorabilia. With talented understudy Edward Bennett due to step up in his stead, Dr Who’s timely reappearance proved a welcome relief to the many feckless grazers baying for celebrity. As the Scot finally whipped out his Hamlet with all the tigerish tenacity of a young Olivier, the crowd went mild.
By all accounts, Tennant brought a puckish sense of adequacy to the melancholy prince, a certain indefinable, other-worldly competence not seen since Kenneth Branagh stepped into those most tragic of tights in 1996. Indeed, many legendary thespians have undertaken this great role (although it is more typically the provender of heterosexual males) and Tennant may one day be among them. The scene is which he is confronted by the ghost of his slain father is grandly long and just the wrong side of excellent. Stewart meanwhile is, as ever, reliably bald and loud. This experienced ham is clearly enjoying himself exploring the rich personal resonances to be found within his character, a murderous egomaniac. But for a wet Ophelia and the want of a happy ending, this Hamlet was certainly one to remember.
Or presumably would have been, had I actually seen it. Apparently the Equivalent’s budget wouldn’t stretch to a ticket. They wouldn’t even spring for a cheap seat to watch Mr Bean’s panto Fagin in the latest tawdry West End bastardisation of Dickens. Tight-fisted vulgarians. I’m supposed to be the bloody drama critic, for the love of Sir John Gielgud! Oh! How those callous beasts know nothing of the agony and the ecstasy! (Faints)