The National Theatre has a particularly strong archive and recently announced that it was looking at ways of streaming them. National Theatre Live has been sharing productions to UK cinemas for over ten years. Filmed shows include Benedict Cumberbatch's Hamlet in 2015 as well as Danny Boyle's 2011 of Frankenstein was broadcast in two different versions, allowing audiences to see the leads Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller alternate both roles. Other highlights include Daniel Radcliffe in Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead and Lily James in All About Eve.
Directors Lyndsey Turner and Robin Lough intelligently aid Cumberbatch’s portrayal of a truly devastated and incredibly vulnerable Hamlet from the moment the play starts through the use of costume and set. A clear example of this is when the piece opens, a bereft Hamlet is shown listening to an old vinyl while packing up his deceased father’s belongings. Here, Cumberbatch illustrates a somewhat recognisable state of grief as he heartbreakingly sniffs his father’s jacket before wearing it to his mother’s wedding. This jacket goes on not only to represent the grief that drives Hamlet’s entire narrative, but is also used as a tool to visually isolate him from the rest of the cast and almost becomes an omen for his own inevitable end.
The use of the infamous phone-box red soldier outfit also helps portray just how far down the rabbit hole of grief and revenge Hamlet truly is and contributes to a large sense of dramatic irony which is laced throughout the piece from start to finish; the more energetic and (in essence) childish Cumberbatch becomes in his physicality, for example pretending to be a soldier running around a play castle, the more Hamlet is emotionally deteriorating. This is supported through Cumberbatch’s soliloquy-style confessionals whereby he truthfully (and often tearfully) reveals his feelings to the audience.