Eddie Izzard’s solo Hamlet officially opened last night, February 11th, at the Greenwich House Theater. The production is adapted by Mark Izzard and directed by Selina Cadell.
Performances continue through Sunday, March 10th.
Eddie returns to New York following last year’s sold-out run of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, which played to rave reviews at Greenwich House and in London’s West End. Hamlet reunites Eddie with Selina and Mark who collaborated on Great Expectations. It is produced by WestBeth Entertainment, Mick Perrin Worldwide, and John Gore.
Read the reviews for Hamlet below!
Raven Snook, TimeOut: Eddie Izzard’s experience as a marathon runner comes in handy in Hamlet, her one-woman workout of Shakespeare’s classic. In addition to playing 23 different parts, she sprints around the theater, even up to the balcony, and fights herself in the climactic duel. It’s an ambitious undertaking, and her passion for the play is evident. But it’s not so much a triumph as a tour de forced.
Sara Holdren, Vulture: Though Izzard is far from a tedious host—she is, as she always has been, a uniquely enjoyable human being to spend time with—Cadell hasn’t followed through on her premise. Tyler Elich’s lights keep the audience conventionally in the dark, and Eliza Thompson’s original music—a dismal blend of low strings and horns that comes off as royalty-free “medieval”—gives us the feeling of listening to a live book-on-tape rather than engaging in a full theatrical event. Most discouraging of all, Izzard doesn’t connect with us all that much. Of course she looks out through the footlights during the soliloquies, but her Hamlet doesn’t really need us. She could get to the end of “To be or not to be” without seeking the answer in our eyes. Our presence—and thus the whole project we’re embarked upon together—lacks urgency. Izzard isn’t soaring to the text’s dizzying heights or dropping to its gutting psychophysical depths: She’s making her way steadily through.
Deb Miller, DC Theater Arts: In the director’s program notes, Cadell observed the importance of a cast’s fundamental connection to the audience in the shared experience of theater, both in Shakespeare’s time and today. Izzard makes that connection. For those not well-versed in Hamlet, keeping up with the changing characters and locales of the story could be challenging (so read at least a synopsis before you go), but everyone will surely appreciate Izzard’s singular talent, individualized portrayals, and engaging performance.
Diane Snyder, The Telegraphy: HHamlet is a daunting role for any actor, even if that’s the only part you have
David Finkle, New York Stage Review: A few final questions about a production trimmed but not extensively by Mark Izzard: Might Eddie Izzard’s impressive achievement now as well as Cumming’s nine years back trigger a trend? For over four centuries, actors (male and females) have sought to prove themselves by putting on some version of Hamlet’s doublet. Is it possible that in the future actors will decide that electrifying as Hamlet only isn’t sufficient? Will playing Hamlet and everyone else become the supreme acting test?
Sandy MacDonald, New York Stage Review: She’s moving fast, typically switching roles with a sidestep, jump, or spin (movement direction by Didi Hopkins). The audience comes bearing great expectations, of course: We think we have the story down cold and can anticipate the high points. At best, this condensed rendering (adapted by Eddie’s brother, Mark Izzard) allows us to ponder subtext and quirks that can go unnoticed amid a full staging.
Hadeel Hashem, BNN Breaking: Izzard’s performance was a whirlwind, as she played 23 different parts. Despite her experience as a marathon runner, the task of distinguishing between characters proved challenging. This blurring of roles diluted the power of the tragedy, leaving the audience yearning for a deeper connection with the characters.