To thin eo wn Cum­ber­batch be true

Pasatiempo - - RANDOM ACTS -

Five years ago, when the in­ter­na­tional broad­casts of Na­tional Theatre Live were rel­a­tively new, the se­ries dis­sem­i­nated a cap­ti­vat­ing pro­duc­tion of Shake­speare’s Ham­let that starred Rory Kin­n­ear in the ti­tle role, di­rect from the Na­tional Theatre in Lon­don’s South­bank Cen­tre. Now the tragedy comes up in the ro­ta­tion again, this time with Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch as the dole­ful Dane, in a pro­duc­tion di­rected by Lyn­d­sey Turner at the Bar­bican Theatre. The 12-week run of the new pro­duc­tion (which ends on Oct. 31) sold out all but in­stantly, tes­ti­mony to the mar­ket­ing ef­fect of celebrity cast­ing. Con­tro­versy has dogged the pro­duc­tion, but quite a few of Bri­tain’s theater crit­ics re­sponded warmly to the star at the cen­ter, in some cases to their ap­par­ent sur­prise. Wrote Do­minic Cavendish in The Tele­graph, “Cum­ber­batch ad­mir­ers can take heart, his fe­male devo­tees are en­ti­tled to swoon: in this trial of his act­ing strength, he emerges, un­ques­tion­ably, vic­to­ri­ous.” It’s a long sit, top­ping three hours (in­clud­ing a sin­gle in­ter­mis­sion), but, hey, it’s Ham­let! The NT Live broad­cast be­gins at 7 p.m. on Fri­day, Oct. 30, at the Len­sic Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter (211 W. San Fran­cisco St.). Tick­ets are $22, call 505-988-1234 for avail­abil­ity.

— J.M.K.

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