Theresa Rebeck’s new play rollicks with high comedy and human drama, set against the lavish Shakespearean production that could make or break Sarah Bernhardt’s career. Starring Tony winner Janet McTeer. More…
Mark Twain wrote: “There are five kinds of actresses: bad actresses, fair actresses, good actresses, great actresses. And then there is Sarah Bernhardt.” In 1899, the international stage celebrity sets out to tackle her most ambitious role yet: Hamlet.
"Plain history can be academic (read: boring), and inserting identifiable people as principals in pure fiction can be presumptuous, or a copout. 'Bernhardt/Hamlet' straddles the extremes brilliantly...What makes this display so smart – and so funny –is that we’re dealing here with, arguably, the greatest play ever written...McTeer’s tour de force performance lays bare the flaws, foibles and fortunes of the premiere actress of her day...A perfect partnership between playwright and actor." Full Review
“Thanks to the imaginative playwriting of Rebeck and the astute staging of Von Stuelpnagel, the remarkable McTeer has brought...the electric thrill of witnessing Bernhardt’s moments of undoubted brilliance in assaying the role of Hamlet...McTeer is fully up to that thorny task at hand is reason enough, avid theatergoer, to march, walk, RUN...to witness this paean to an immortal actress...A play that resonates today with the overview of women and power.” Full Review
"Rebeck’s new play is so clever it uplifts, so timely it hurts...As Bernhardt locates the heart of Hamlet, Ms. McTeer the comedian becomes a riveting Shakespearean...But in the second act, after the big decision, the play loses some of its internal logic...'Bernhardt/Hamlet,' directed with wit and verve by Moritz von Stuelpnagel, is a deep-inside love letter to the theater as a kind of laboratory in which experiments in both art and equality are possible. " Full Review
“Rebeck’s compelling new play...Janet McTeer, Dylan Baker, and Jason Butler Harner deliver towering performances under Moritz von Stuelpnagel’s exacting direction. Together with the rest of the ensemble cast, they find the delicious layers in Theresa Rebeck’s script and expose them to the audience with conviction and grace...An important dramatic exploration of the life and passion of Sarah Bernhardt and a celebration of women and power." Full Review
"Ever-agile playwright Theresa Rebeck has fashioned a highly entertaining portrayal of the struggle Bernhardt faced in bringing her Hamlet to life. Rebeck illuminates why a woman is an ideal choice to play the role, while also giving us insight into the artistic challenges facing Bernhardt in particular in making the role align with her decidedly majestic approach to acting...As Bernhardt, McTeer is scintillating and mesmerizing, just like you would want 'The Divine Sarah' to be." Full Review
"'Bernhardt/Hamlet' couldn’t be more timely as Sarah fights for the right to be not just an independent woman, but a person who will answer to no one. The sexual politics from 1899 make you realize we haven’t gotten that far at all some 119 years later. Janet McTeer is a treasure, commanding the stage like few others these days. It’s time for her to be celebrated." Full Review
“McTeer proves to be a woman not only for all seasons, but particularly and triumphantly for this one...The part gives McTeer not only a potentially career-defining star turn, but one that is uncannily tuned in to the current zeitgeist of traditional gender power dynamics that continue to challenge newly empowered women...Von Stuelpnagel keeps the action moving smoothly and helps illuminate the humor in this deftly constructed and idea-rich play.” Full Review
“Bernhardt’s story is filled to the brim with exciting and bizarre facts, many of which find their way into ‘Bernhardt/Hamlet’, the intricate and charming new play...Gorgeously portrayed...McTeer relishes every word and breath that comes out of Sarah...The play fails to end with a bang, like it does within the final moments before intermission, but it signifies a historical moment and its meaning to the profession...McTeer’s portrayal...is as great and grand as the dame herself.” Full Review
"A terrifically theatrical and entertaining but not quite airtight new Broadway comedy...Makes you laugh and think about gender, power and theater. The play speaks to today, but, happily, never hammers its relevance. Rebeck is a smart writer. She trusts the intelligence of her audience. The play gets a lift each time Sarah goes through scenes of Hamlet with fellow actors...But at times things go slack...McTeer elevates everything with her stirring voice and striking physicality." Full Review
“McTeer is luminous...Two of 'Bernhardt/Hamlet''s themes, the challenges of performing Hamlet and women's constant battle against a sexist society, are well presented...The story of the great romance between Bernhardt and Rostand, that is underwritten. And while the play is not entirely successful at juggling what amounts to three themes, it is eminently entertaining, chock full of humor, heart, and smart and snappy dialog, with fine acting and strong production values." Full Review
"As enjoyable as the play is, the thunderous ovation at the end of these 2 ½ hours is primarily for the dazzlingly brilliant Janet McTeer. Guided by the savvy director Moritz von Stuelpnagel, the Tony-winning star makes not just a meal but an entire tasting menu out of the central role of the celebrated French actress Sarah Bernhardt. Egotistical, self-deprecating, romantic, self-reliant, foolish, super-smart, McTeer's Bernhardt literally contains multitudes." Full Review
"Very funny and intellectually stimulating...McTeer bristles with a larger-than-life personality defined by ego, theatrical flamboyance, sexuality, and, especially fitting for an interpretation today, the determination to break away from stereotypical visions of a woman’s place in the world and the theater....There are moments when Rebeck’s witty play gets somewhat too talky, but the humor, performances and colorful direction by Moritz von Stuelpnagel come to the rescue." Full Review
‘Under Von Stuelpnagel’s sumptuous direction, Rebeck/McTeer’s approach the material ultimately delivers despite some problems in the first act...Rebeck never fails to put great wit into her character’s mouth, making sure that Bernhardt wins every argument, but she risks turning Bernhardt’s audacious endeavor into a mere caprice...Something wonderful happens to McTeer’s performance in the second act. She grows the soul that Shaw found lacking in the real Bernhardt." Full Review
"It takes a good amount of meandering through Act 1 to see where exactly this plane is headed, but director von Stuelpnagel guides it along playfully...Act 2 is where the story finally gathers its momentum and the meticulously placed pieces from Act 1 realign in ways that offer insight into questions both broadly about the timeless conflicts between men and women and narrowly about the passionate relationship between Rostand and Bernhardt.” Full Review
"Rebeck’s play is truly a fictional documentary, at least in its long first act, for its story does not advance much until the second act begins...There is much in this first act to delight us...In the second act...there is much conflict; and the sparks do fly...Rebeck has proved to be prolific, and continues to write plays of substance; sometimes provocative, always entertaining. Here she is writing about sacrifice to achieve change, and the courage to fight tradition." Full Review
"McTeer, commanding in high black boots and tights, brings out the intense fierceness and sensuality of one of the primary divas in theater history. At the same time, McTeer reveals the undercurrent of bittersweet...Under von Stuelpnagel's taut direction, who could not believe McTeer as the grand diva of French theater?...Rebeck's book is wordy and wavers, playing light and loose with facts, yet the playwright offers McTeer a chance to showcase a theatrical legend." Full Review
"There’s simply no one better suited to embody Bernhardt than Janet McTeer...As much as Rebeck’s drama deifies ‘Hamlet’—'It’s prayer; it’s incantation. It’s enchantment. It’s a hymn. It’s grace itself,' sighs Rostand dreamily—'Bernhardt/Hamlet’ is less about a great actress playing the Dane than it is about a woman forging her legacy in, put plainly, a man’s world. It may not be the 19th century anymore, but some things never change.” Full Review
"McTeer gives a powerful, electric performance as Bernhardt. It is a rich and colored canvas with depth, conflict, ego, and insecurity...It’s Bernhardt’s inability to work with the character of Hamlet the way he is written that is compelling about 'Bernhardt/Hamlet' and makes me believe that Rebeck’s motives are not nearly as surface-level...She has created an exceptional piece of feminist theater by making a woman not only powerful for her time." Full Review
“The play’s not really the thing in Theresa Rebeck’s bright, lushly executed showpiece. It’s the first half of her slashed equation: Sarah Bernhardt...Von Steulpnagel keeps the action moving with brisk, chamber-piece choreography...The glue in it all is McTeer...She’s a natural force beneath her leonine pile of gold curls - by turns anxious and imperious, vulnerable and funny and fierce. She’s also the best, most vivid thing in nearly every scene.” Full Review
“McTeer is quite, quite wonderful. Period. She is mercurial and thoughtful. She conveys the feeling that she is looking for just the right word to say, and that she herself is not certain what that might be. She keeps you on alert...Less satisfying is the play...What is lacking is a strong plot, a reason to move forward, something that raises the stakes. This is not easy in a biographical drama...And because of this McTeer never makes the leap into the Bernhardt that everyone is discussing.” Full Review
"Ironically, so fluent is McTeer's work, she threatens to undermine the premise of Theresa Rebeck's feminist high comedy...In scene after scene of Hamlet rehearsals, McTeer's handling of the verse is so supple, so intelligent, so like everyday speech that one cannot possibly imagine what the problem is supposed to be...Still, Rebeck's portrait of this unleashed force of nature, spreading enchantment and havoc in equal measure, thoroughly convinces." Full Review
"Only partly satisfying…Rebeck's dialogue is smart and engaging but the plot lumbers along…without much dramatic thrust and laden with lots of talk and numerous emotion-wrought moments…McTeer gives a tour de force performance of Bernhardt, whom she resembles not in the least, including the fact that she's 6'1" and the Divine Sarah was 5'2". But she has the fire, the gumption, the humor, and the fury, not to mention the voice, the energy, the presence, and the intelligence." Full Review
"There's some damn good, expressive and provocative writing in 'Bernhardt/Hamlet,' and the opportunity to see an exceptional artist like McTeer draw every complex nuance out Rebeck's best words is an experience worthy of any Broadway season. The frustrating part of 'Bernhardt/Hamlet' is what comes between the playwright's best moments, specifically when interesting themes are introduced but barely explored." Full Review
“Rebeck's new play...captures the star power of both its main character and her interpreter...However, while McTeer is 100% successful in capturing Bernhardt's powerful persona, this history-a-la-Rebeck is clever but doesn't score as high...Though this is very definitely Sarah Bernhardt's story to tell, and Janet McTeer's to turn into a must-see experience, 'Bernhardt/Hamlet' is also enriched and enlivened by the actors who are part of her effort." Full Review
“McTeer commands the stage from the start...Von Stuelpnagel allows the words to fly at such a torrential pace that it's often difficult to keep up...Rebeck is enamored with Bernhardt's history, which allows for fascinating glimpses of the hangers-on who inhabit her world...But it's the intimate, almost reverential look at this actress and all her eccentricities that allows us to forgive the flaws in the work and makes it so stimulating." Full Review
See it if You love janet mcteer with a fabulous cast, great staging and great playwriting- and hamlet!
Don't see it if Youre not interested in hamlet and sarah bernhardt playing herself and hamlet.
See it if You enjoy history, comedy, behind-the-scenes drama, Shakespeare, romance, love triangles, feminism, or just the theatre in general.
Don't see it if You must laugh for hours on end in order to enjoy a play. If it must be a musical.
See it if You want to see the finest acting on Broadway. A brilliant Janet McTeer! She portrays the actress Sara Bernhardt and shows us every
Don't see it if The play is more argument than action about how to approach Hamlet. There is a clear feminist message.
See it if You want to see a tour de force portrayal of two strong complex characters played by one incredible actor. This show is smart and funny.
Don't see it if You don’t like amazing production values and wonderful acting.
See it if You like your drama served up with generous portions of truth, humor, and uplift. The acting is superb.
Don't see it if You don’t like historical dramas or plays that reference the classics. There are highlights of Hamlet and Cyrano de Bergerac throughout.
See it if You enjoy great acting. Wonderful cast supporting the incomparable Janet McTeer as legendary actress Sarah Bernhardt.
Don't see it if You dislike shows with strong empowered woman as subject.
See it if you love or have never seen Janet McTeer! Fencing, witdueling, charming pants off men, Hamletizing, and just fascinating us.
Don't see it if you want a musical. or you hate the idea of a backstage show. the shakespeare quotient is not very highbrow so some snobs may not like this.
See it if you love plays about theater, biographical stories with meat, wit, Hamlet, star turns, or debates about the roles of the sexes
Don't see it if you prefer substantive supporting characters, modest protagonists, shorter women, or mindless entertainment
See it if you want to see a brilliant performance by J. McTeer along with an equally talented supporting cast. Masterful production in every sense.
Don't see it if you are not interested in Shakespeare, Bernhardt as a theatrical force and if you are looking for light theater.
See it if you like intelligent Broadway. Janet McTeer was amazing as was the entire cast. The play itself really touched my heart as a woman.
Don't see it if you don't want to see something really worth seeing!
See it if a play about actress Sarah Bernhardt playing Hamlet in 1899, amid personal ambition, affairs, & human fears that impede her focus, appeals.
Don't see it if expecting a bio-play about Sarah Bernhardt or a full production of Hamlet. This is an intelligent work about creativity and creating.
See it if See it if you want to se wonderful acting , great writing, smart humor. The 2 hours and Twenty minutes flew by. A thoughtful piece of writin
Don't see it if Don’t see it if you know knowcabsolutely nothing about Hamlet. Otherwise, run to see it.
See it if you enjoy a wonderfully written, staged and especially acted original play! Historical, funny, well-written, relevant and a great evening!
Don't see it if you don't enjoy a wonderfully written play with amazing and compelling Actors!
See it if If you love great acting, stories based on powerful, demanding women, are interested in theatrical history and appreciate wonderful staging
Don't see it if you dislike Shakespeare, , don't care about great historical figures of the theater, are threatened/bored/repelled by powerful women
See it if Eschewing ingenue roles, Bernhardt must play Hamlet despite obstacles. McAteer commandingly matches Bernhardt's and The Bard's passions.
Don't see it if For dramaturgs. For feminists. For feminist dramaturgs.
See it if you want to see some STELLAR acting and a dynamic and fun look at how plays can be illuminating, smart and profound and also entertaining.
Don't see it if you don't like Shakespeare references or want something easy with no thinking involved.
See it if You want to see Not to be missed performance by McTeer, entertaining, we'll written and relevant
Don't see it if If you do not like the message of gender equality and plays with speeches are not your thing.
See it if You are interested in the role of women in theater, and the obstacles to be surpassed; great acting and writing; period pieces.
Don't see it if You are not interested in women’s issues or struggles for equality and a voice
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