Elsinore is smart, grey and under constant surveillance in Nicholas Hytner’s thoughtful modern dress production.

Patrick Malahide’s usurping Claudius seizes every photo opportunity, accompanied by Claire Higgins’ Gertrude (his sister-in-law turned wife) tottering in heels and tight dress, a drink never far from her royal lips.

David Calder’s serious Polonius plays down the old windbag’s humour, and James Laurenson’s quiet, dusty ghost materialises eerily from the battlements, a powerful supernatural presence seeking justice from beyond the grave.

But it’s Rory Kinnear’s eponymous Prince of Denmark who commands attention. Less high profile than recent predecessors (David Tennant, Jude Law) he gives a remarkably intelligent and compelling performance, his feigned madness turned on and off at will, but the threat of debilitating depression lurking just beneath the bewildered anger that torments him.


Lyttelton at the National, South Bank, SE1 9PX
020 7452 3000
Tube: Waterloo
Until at least 9th January
£10 – £30.00

– Louise Kingsley