Saturday, 19 March 2016

A Pinoy @ The Theater: Benedict Cumberbatch as HAMLET

              (From across the street, 
          Benedict Cumberbatch and 
             Tom Hiddleston's posters)

When I was in Grade 6, Miss Maroma, our English teacher, introduced my classmates and me to the works of William Shakespeare, including Merchant of Venice, where Portia successfully defended Antonio from being butchered by Shylock. 
         (Cumberbatch fans ascending 
       the steps of the National Theater)

But during the other weekend, I was no longer in a classroom; I was at the National Theater of Korea. And it wasn't Merchant of Venice; I was watching NTLive's Hamlet! With Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role, no less!

Just like Coriolanus, the National Theater Live was also featuring Hamlet. NTLive is a live performance filmed and then later shown to audiences around the world. And this time, the lucky audiences were in the National Theater of Korea in Seoul!

Although it was chilly that day, the audience braved freezing temperatures. Why? Everyone didn't want to miss Benedict Cumberbatch's performance!

I watched him on TV as Sherlock Holmes, and a couple of years back, he was impressive as Alan Turing in Imitation Game. Definitely, nobody wanted to miss this award-winning actor's performance as Hamlet!
                  (My Hamlet ticket)

Even though it was freezing and snowing outside, the intensity of the cast's performance was sizzling inside the theater, especially with Benedict's signature deep voice that resonated across the hall and his emotions that were commanding from all angles. Since most audience members were non-English speaking, there were subtitles at the bottom of the screen. 

Benedict Cumberbatch was the voice of Smaug in The Hobbit, and he was emotionless and superhuman as Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness. Here was an actor with a special kind of presence, and that day, I was a witness to his amazing gift of acting: voice, emotions and all!

Although the play lasted three hours, there was nary a dull moment. After all, instead of flying to London to watch Shakespeare, we were all lucky that NTLive brought Shakespeare and Benedict over to Seoul! And even though it was all a videoed performance, the local audience still showed their appreciation and applauded like the whole cast was just right there within hearing distance.
           (Huge posters at the lobby of 
                 the National Theater)

After the performance, everyone headed home to a snowed Seoul with paths a little bit slippery, but nobody complained. We were treated, not just to this unique NTLive's staging of William Shakespeare's longest play, but also to Benedict Cumberbatch's sublime performance.

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