Image copyright PA Media
When William Shakespeare wrote Hamlet, the main character was around 30 years old, so he was still bound to spark interest when stage and film veteran Sir Ian McKellen was chosen for the role.
The play's age-blind new production officially opened at the Theater Royal Windsor this week, barely 50 years since the actor 82-year-old played the role for the first time.
Critics called him "daring ", "convincing " and "a dicerandom order ".
The Guardian awarded him three stars.
Her writer Arifa Akbar said Sir Ian brought" brilliant undertones and daring "to his role as Prince of Denmark in the production of director Sean Mathias.
"If it 's madness - and it sometimes feels like it - there is method, and McKellen slows down for lesser-known speeches, drawing the play away from blockbuster soliloquies and focusing on the beauty and depth of those meditative moments, "Akbar wrote.
'A Prince of all time and of all ages '
The ratings were drafted however for the game being "marred by eccentric decisions ", she noted.
"Eccentric decisions include cutting of Hamlet 's burning first soliloquy: McKellen begins it, only to leave the stage and revisitenir to collect thoughts while spinning on a stationary exercise bike. To be or not to be is later delivered to a barber. If the point is that we have the deepest thoughts in the most mundane places, those scenes always feel tense and withdrawn from the rest of the room. "
Still, she concluded: " The salvation of the production, ultimately, is the play itself whose power rests so much on the shoulders of its lead role. McKellen's low-key artistry makes Hamlet a prince of all - and all times and ages. "
Image copyright PA Media image caption Actress Frances Barber stars alongside Sir Ian McKellen in Hamlet at the Theater Royal Windsor
The Telegraph was, however, less enthusiastic in the title of its review, stating: "Ian McKellen's Blind Prince Can't not fool the public - whatever their stamina. "
The article is now unavailable online, but the same newspaper reviewed one of the previews from last month more favorably.
"This Hamlet lights up when the 'players ' arrive in town and the main point is that, throughout, he doesn't just believe in the role, he is committed to the value of the theater itself - it's inspiring. "
Many young actors, it must be said, have played older Shakespeare roles, like King Lear,over the years.
media legend Sir Ian McKellen on the role of 'young prince ' Hamlet at 81
Speaking to former Hfrance.fr art editor Will Gompertz in April, the Lord of the Rings star joked: "I played Gandalf who was over 7,000 years old. No one said I was too young! "
" I can't pretend I'm 20, no one is going to believe it ", a- he explained. "But I can feel I'm 20 ".
The Independent , which awarded four stars, was so engrossed in Hamlet 's latest " electrically brave "production that the gap in 'age between its star and its main character has simply melted away.
"The celebrity at theScreen gave McKellen a degree of leeway he didn't have when he was just a phenomenal stage actor, and now he has the freedom, one might say, to put on the rollers and let out her inner Ena Sharples, "Taylor wrote.
Age and sex blind
" The miracle here - and it's a great feat - is that McKellen subsumes himself entirely into an interpretation of the game that makes you, for long periods of time, completely forget the difference between his calendar age and the hero's official age (which, at the end of the play, is probably 31 years old). He does this by being totally true to his fresh and totally lived-in take on the play. "
In addition to being blind in age, the play - which has been previously performed by a all-female cast - is also totally gender blind.
Last weekend, a few days before the opening night, two of its key players, Steven Berkoff, who was scheduled to play Polonius, and actress Emmanuella Cole, who was to play her son Laertes, both stepped down.
Ashley D Gayle took over from Cole, while Frances Barber took over from Berkoff
The Independent 's old brother newspaper, i News - which is now owned by JPIMedia Publications , which publishes The Daily Mail and Metro - however, was not as impressed as The Independent, distributing only two stars.
Despite Sir Ian's obvious charms, critic Sam Marlowe found the room to be "inconsistent " and "a random mess ".
image copyright PA image caption > Sir Ian McKellen played Hamlet 50 years ago, before starring in The Lord of the Rings and X-Men figcaption>
"Gender swapping is a routine of nowadays, "noted Marlowe. " A Hamlet played by an 82-year-old veteran, however, is daring, and Sir Ian, for all his skill and charisma, never persuades us to forget his age. He also doesn't access an elusive essence or a new idea - although he's too good an actor for his performance to be uninspiring. "
She added: The silky and sleek Polonius of "Frances Barber " offers a slight relief, and the passionate Laertes of Ashley D Gayle shines. But despite all the talent involved,it's a random mess that leaves you wondering what the hell you want. 've just witnessed - and what were they thinking. "
' A fascinating new perspective '
Sir Ian, clearly indifferent to the age difference , also recently told Radio 4's Front Row that he portrayed Hamlet as bisexual - referring to the character's childhood friend and, according to him, a possible former lover Rosencrantz.
Review your efforts in the Mail Online , Patrick Marmion called the veteran 's reshuffle of Hamlet "mesmerizing ".
"Once you suspend your disbelief, it's a fascinating new perspective on the Prince of Denmark, "he wrote.
“ You can see more polished productions than that - it can be rough and spy on the edges, ”he added. I doubt that we will see him again. "
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