Royal Shakespeare Company

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Winner of the Ian Charleson Award for best classical performance, Paapa Essiedu (I May Destroy You, Black Mirror), aged twenty-five at the time of this production, triumphs as The Royal Shakespeare Company’s first black Hamlet.

Appearing one night in a ghostly dream, Hamlet’s father encourages the young Prince to avenge his murder and kill his Uncle who has seized the throne and married his mother.

Filmed at The Swan Theater in Stratford-Upon-Avon in 2016, the energetic backdrop of an imploding African military state adds an eerie sense of urgency and contemporary relevance to this production.

Exploring themes of family, friendship, madness, and revenge, Essiedu’s paint-splattered graffiti-loving Prince, whose work is reminiscent of American artists Jackson Pollock and Jean-Michel Basquiat, overrides royal protocol with the insanity of his paintbrush in a whip-smart and emotionally charged performance which has been described as “dazzling” and “immensely likable.” The modern production, also starring Natalie Simpson as Ophelia (Outlander, North Sea Connection, and Trigger Point) and Tanya Moodie (Motherland) as Gertrude, won praise for its vivid technicolor brightness and original interpretation.

Black magic and spirituality reign supreme under Simon Godwin’s powerful direction and Sola Akingbola’s heart-thumping musical score.

Cast & Crew

Paapa Essiedu (Hamlet), Marcus Griffiths (Laertes), Cyril Nri (Polonius), Natalie Simpson (Ophelia), Clarence Smith (Claudius), Tanya Moodie (Gertrude), Hiran Abeysekera (Horatio), (Writer), (Director)

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