Benedict Cumberbatch’s first preview performance of ‘Hamlet’ has caused controversy after a spate of reviews were published two weeks ahead of the production’s official press night.
In a break with accepted tradition, a critic from The Times attended Wednesday night’s performance to write a review for the publication’s website.
And in what appears to be a response, other papers have followed suit and published write ups too.
As the preview phase of a production is meant to iron out teething problems and perfect the performance, it’s perhaps little surprise that The Times found plenty to criticise.
And while the other reviews of Wednesday’s show were highly complementary, Twitter has been alight with upset fans, actors, journalists and theatre producers, all upset with how Cumberbatch has been treated.
His loyal fans were not pleased.
So, press were bitching that fans wouldn't know how to behave at the theatre...then they've gone & reviewed FIRST PREVIEW?! #HamletBarbican— Michelle S (@WhimsicalMiaow) August 6, 2015
Even I know THAT'S the real bad form, that's the whole POINT of press night! I'll say it again...twats! #HamletBarbican— Michelle S (@WhimsicalMiaow) August 6, 2015
Dear press, pls stop patronizing BC fans, instead: marvel at the fab fact that #hamletbarbican's introducing Shakespeare to a new audience!— Nicolina (@lilla_ninni) August 6, 2015
It seems the only people in need of educating about theatre etiquette is the press.August 6, 2015
Actors and theatre producers were particularly unhappy.
Kate Maltby at the Times, in same spirit as your review of Benedict's Hamlet 3 weeks early, let us see & judge 1st drafts of your articles.— Eddie Marsan (@eddiemarsan) August 6, 2015
Really shoddy journalism for the Times to review the first preview of Hamlet. Breaks all boundaries of protocol, taste and art. Bad form.— Samuel West (@exitthelemming) August 6, 2015
Shame on You theatre critic at #The Times previews are for exploration and development of a piece not for a below the belt slamming ,cheap— Lesley Molony (@LesleyMolony) August 6, 2015
First preview review?!?! Shame on you... That's not how theatre works. #hamletbarbican— Will Bowden (@William_Bowden_) August 6, 2015
The media weren’t impressed either.
However we will NOT be running an early review of #hamletbarbican barbican because 1. we're not dicks— Time Out Theatre (@TimeOutTheatre) August 6, 2015
2. we're quite afraid of #hamletbarbican's PR— Time Out Theatre (@TimeOutTheatre) August 6, 2015
3. we want to obnoxiously take the moral high ground next time we see The Times's lead theatre critic— Time Out Theatre (@TimeOutTheatre) August 6, 2015
But perhaps the audience are the best critics after all.
Hamlet was brilliant last night! All of the cast were just fantastic and the acting was complete flawless. Amazing. #hamletbarbican— hannah Brazier (@HanBraiz) August 6, 2015
#hamletbarbican one of my best theatre experiences, no sweet wrappers rustling, no phones going off, just admiration for what was on stage— Liz Baines (@LizzyBeans53) August 6, 2015
Also - dear media: the audience was SUPER respectful. But I'm guessing that won't make for enticing headlines, right? #HamletBarbican ;)— Yasammez (@Yassammez) August 5, 2015
Hamlet was utterly brilliant. Cumberbatch superb as usual. It was like Sherlock & Smaug a la Shakespeare and so much yes #HamletBarbican— Maia Stepanova (@maiparedes) August 5, 2015