THEATRE REVIEW: Maxine Peake as Hamlet by William Shakespeare, South Holland Centre, Spalding

Maxine Peake in Anne Beresford and Debbie Gray's production of Hamlet screened from the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester.
Maxine Peake in Anne Beresford and Debbie Gray's production of Hamlet screened from the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester.

Something rotten is the state of a top notch show

What can be said that hasn’t already been said about Maxine Peake’s spell-binding, spine-tingling, show-stopping performances as Hamlet.

Perhaps the most famous of all William Shakespeare’s plays, with quotes such as “brevity is the soul of wit”, “the lady doth protest too much, methinks” and, above all, “to be or not to be, that is the question”, ingrained in the English language.

The question was what could the star of Dinnerladies, Shameless and Little Dorrit, The Village, Silk (my personal favourite) and, most recently, The Theory of Everything, bring to a landmark character previously played by the likes of Mel Gibson, Sir John Gielgud and David Tennant?

In her interpretation, Peake drew upon her 2006 portrayal of notorious child killer Myra Hindley, mixed with the venom of Norman Bates’ mother, Winston Churchill’s oratory and Tony Benn’s sheer bloody-mindedness.

The supporting cast, particularly John Shrapnel (Claudius/Ghost) and Katie West (Orphelia) gave valiant support to the doomed Hamlet.

But in truth, this was Peake’s show, Peake’s peak of perfection and, in the words of the UK’s greatest ever Prime Minister, Peake’s “finest hour”.

Review Winston Brown