Shakespeare Plays Available in Video Format
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All’s Well That Ends Well
Antony and Cleopatra
As You Like It
The Comedy of Errors
Coriolanus
Cymbeline
Hamlet
Henry IV, part 1
Henry IV, part 2
Henry V
Henry VI, part 1
Henry VI, part 2
Henry VI, part 3
Henry VIII
Julius Caesar
King John
King Lear
Love’s Labour’s Lost
Macbeth
Measure for Measure
The Merchant of Venice
The Merry Wives of Windsor
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Much Ado About Nothing
Othello
Pericles
Richard II
Richard III
Romeo and Juliet
The Taming of the Shrew
The Tempest
Timon of Athens
Titus Andronicus
Troilus and Cressida
Twelfth Night
Two Gentlemen of Verona
The Winter’s Tale
Shakespeareana

Available versions

1948: Laurence Olivier

1964: Philip Saville

1964: Bill Colleran, John Gielgud

1964: Grigori Kozintsev

1969: Tony Richardson

1976: Celestino Coronada

1980: Rodney Bennett

1990: Kevin Kline

1990: Franco Zeffirelli

1996: Kenneth Branagh

2000: Michael Almereyda

2000: Campbell Scott, Eric Simonson

2002: Peter Brook

2003: Michael Mundell

2007: Alexander Fodor

2009: Simon Bowler

2009: Gregory Doran

2011: Bruce Ramsay

2014: Adam Hall

2015: Sarah Frankcom, Margaret Williams

2015: Dick Douglass, Obie Dean

2016: Jennifer Nicole Stang

2016: Simon Godwin


Adaptations

1992: Natalya Orlova, Dave Edwards (animated)

2004: Hamlet (opera, Ambroise Thomas)


Production drama

2003: Slings and Arrows (Season 1)


Educational

1990: Discovering Hamlet

2010: This is Hamlet

2013: Shakespeare Uncovered (Season 1, Ep. 6)


Related

1990: Rosencrantz and Guildernstern are Dead

2008: Hamlet 2

2014: Hamlet A.D.D.


Hamlet
2016: Simon Godwin

This is a recent production of the Royal Shakespeare Company, filmed from a live performance on a thrust stage. Its thematic conceit seems to be that Hamlet is set somewhere in Africa; the preponderance of the cast is black, the costumes are a mix of European and African clothes, and much of the decor is overtly African, with odd little bits of Western symbolism superimposed (for example, the universal men’s room and women’s room symbols marking the thrones of the king and queen — one takes it, as an irony). The play is accompanied predominantly by drums as well.

I’m not persuaded that the conceit works especially well; the actors are still talking about Denmark, after all, and Fortinbras of Norway, which still isn’t in Africa. That being said, however, the transposition is only marginally intrusive. There are also a few gender swaps for minor roles. This always makes me a bit itchy, but they don’t get in the way seriously.

The acting is where this production really shines, to my way of thinking. Almost every part is played at least satisfactorily, and more than a few of the leading parts are real standouts. Having seen probably thirty different performances of Hamlet, I’m still surprised by the capacity of the play, in the hands of really good actors, to continue to afford new and insightful perspectives on the roles that have been done so many times over the centuries.

Chief among these here — as is probably inevitable in this play — is Hamlet himself. Paapa Essiedu, a young man and new on the scene, brings to the role an intense, manic behavior that capitalizes on the fun the play has to offer (and oddly enough, that’s quite a bit) and has the audience roaring with laughter; a moment or two later he’s plumbing the emotional depths of the character with the best of them, and more convincingly than most. His diction is excellent, but he’s also a very physical actor, creating moments of tension and amusement by seemingly random gestures like wagging his feet back and forth.

Opehelia’s performance is similarly arresting. She brings and edgy desperation to the role — entirely appropriate for it, especially toward the end — that defies easy analysis, but is, I think, as good as any Ophelia I’ve seen. I will want to watch this again.

The play runs for nearly three hours, and it even includes bits of the player’s speech and other things that are often cut. It’s not quite complete, which is always regrettable, but it does nevertheless provide enough time for the narrative to develop. The critical pieces of the play remain intact. If one is not likely to be overly distracted by the transposition of the play, this is a very compelling version to see.


Barnardo / Player King Kevin Golding

Claudius Clarence Smith

Cornelia Marième Diouf

Francisca / Gravedigger's AssistantTemi Wilkey

Gertrude Tanya Moodie

Ghost / Gravedigger Ewart James Walters

Guildenstern Bethan Cullinane

Hamlet Paapa Essiedu

Horatio Hiran Abeysekera

Laertes Marcus Griffiths

Marcellus / Fortinbras Theo Ogundipe

Ophelia Natalie Simpson

Osric Romayne Andrews

Player Queen Doreene Blackstock

Polonius Cyril Nri

Professor of Wittenberg / English Ambassador Byron Mondahl

Rosencrantz James Cooney

Voltemand Eke Chukwu