Closed 2h 20m
Bernhardt/Hamlet (Broadway)
Midtown W
79

Bernhardt/Hamlet (Broadway) NYC Reviews and Tickets

79%
(417 Reviews)
Positive
80%
Mixed
19%
Negative
1%
Members say
Great acting, Clever, Intelligent, Entertaining, Great staging

About the Show

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.

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Member Reviews (417)

81
Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant, Entertaining, Funny

See it if You want to see one of the greats...Janet McTeer...just own the stage in this smart, funny well written show.

Don't see it if You’re looking for fluff. There are a lot of laughs here but come on...it’s Hamlet...there’s a butt load of dialogue too.

80
Entertaining, Great acting, Slow, Resonant, Indulgent

See it if Rebeck's serio-comic backstage drama gets a big lift via excellent ensemble led by the devine Janet McTeer as the Devine Sarah Bernhardt

Don't see it if Better than usual Rebeck due to subject matter (esp Hamlet deconstruction) Comic instincts go south as Act II slides into gender politics

Critic Reviews (48)

September 25th, 2018

"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. "
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September 25th, 2018

“What ‘Bernhardt/Hamlet’ perversely refuses to give us is a coherent sense of Bernhardt’s performance in the role...Perhaps Rebeck is afraid that Bernhardt’s take on Hamlet would look dated or worse to a modern audience...While it is sometimes ungainly, the play is amusing on its own inside-theater terms. Moritz von Stuelpnagel’s staging...has a handsome rotating set...and capable performances not only by McTeer, who is incapable of being dull, but a strong supporting cast.”
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September 25th, 2018

“'Bernhardt/Hamlet’ falls into the gaping trap of the bio-play. Full of period frills and actorly flourishes, it fails to convey either astonishing mythos or full, authentic humanity. Instead, it fills its protagonist’s mouth with passé sentiments, ideas whose risqué gloss has faded, packaged as relevant and revelatory. The badass British actor Janet McTeer, for all her innate playfulness and power, can’t save this reincarnation of the Divine Sarah."
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September 25th, 2018

“Despite many tantalizing elements and historical material ripe for exploration from a contemporary feminist perspective, Rebeck’s 'Bernhardt/Hamlet' doesn’t add up to a play. At least not a satisfying one...Rebeck is definitely stronger on dialogue than structure, but Von Stuelpnagel does what he can to keep the play moving...The play in most respects is a missed opportunity, despite the pleasure of watching the willowy, silver-tongued McTeer careen from high camp into righteous hauteur."
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September 25th, 2018

“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.”
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September 25th, 2018

“The sublime McTeer plays the divine Sarah Bernhardt, who plays the immortal Hamlet...This is all interesting, even provocative, but what’s missing is some reasonable dramatic conflict...Under Von Stuelpnagel’s tightly choreographed direction, this solid cast of characters encircle Bernhardt like planets following their star. And blazing stars they certainly are, both McTeer and Bernhardt, yoked in a dynamic character study that, for all its shining moments, is no play.”
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September 26th, 2018

“Rebeck’s premise is promising, but ‘Bernhardt/Hamlet’ fails to deliver...‘Bernhardt/Hamlet’ never manages to decide whether it’s a comedy...or a dead-serious play...The result is the worst of both worlds, a preachy backstage farce...McTeer isn’t interesting...You never get the feeling that she has anything particularly original to say about the role, which can’t help but undercut the whole premise...Would that set, director and cast had been used instead for another, better play.”
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September 25th, 2018

“Brimming with ideas and saucy banter, it’s lively but exhausting, manic and overstuffed...Rebeck opts for a grand, multi-layered affair with lots of exposition, ginned-up histrionics, and florid speechifying. But there’s not enough narrative...Scene after scene blows by...some of it witty and deft—but the drama itself hardly rolls forward...On the plus side, it’s a bouncy, handsome production, and the actors a merry bunch...McTeer struts and frets to swashbuckling perfection.”
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September 25th, 2018

“Rebeck’s spirited, funny new play...As ‘Bernhardt/Hamlet’ widens its scope to examine the very nature of art itself...things get talky. Very talky. There are witticisms galore, and a good amount of genuine laughs, but points are made and remade...Rebeck is too good at her craft, though, to let the play slip away. An Act II surprise introduces another strand of theatrical history, bringing plots together, refocusing ideas into new shapes and, finally, pointing to a new world fast approaching.”
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September 25th, 2018

“Rebeck’s lively, weaponized, often confusing and richly caustic new Broadway play...When the play sticks to the words that reside on the marquee...the work is a fascinating reminder that before any social change becomes mainstream, someone has to be a pioneer...McTeer mostly makes mincemeat of her pliant co-stars...The problem there is that everyone seems so cowed by Bernhardt/McTeer that this works against the main theme of the play."
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September 25th, 2018

“McTeer’s Bernhardt is an imposing diva, but she is also jovial, eccentric, unsure and vulnerable...Directed in an overly aggressive manner...While the play contains many witty lines and delves into important topics, it is too discursive for its own good, leading to minimal and muddled plot development...By the second act, the play becomes tiresome and feels long-winded...An inspired, timely and interesting idea for a play — if only it had been better executed.”
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September 25th, 2018

“Rebeck is a gutsy playwright. In writing about Sarah Bernhardt's quest to play Hamlet...Rebeck did get lucky, casting the incomparable McTeer, but while topically resonant, 'Bernhardt/Hamlet' is dramatically inert...While the conflict opens up a host of intriguing issues, Rebeck offers something more of a dialectic rather than a cohesive drama. She raises a lot of interesting threads...but it's overlong and muddled...A better play about Bernhardt will have to wait.”
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September 25th, 2018

"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.”
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September 27th, 2018

"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."
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October 1st, 2018

"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."
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September 25th, 2018

“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."
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September 25th, 2018

“Vastly overwritten. What it needed before being put into production was someone like its director, Moritz von Stuelpnagel, or a strong dramaturge to work more closely with Rebeck at maximizing its potential...Rebeck does distinguish herself with dialogue that frequently zings by...At the moment, her major asset is McTeer, who moves around the stage with the grace and steadfastness...The supporting cast are strong.”
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September 25th, 2018

"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.”
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September 27th, 2018

"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."
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September 25th, 2018

“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.”
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October 3rd, 2018

“The play's limitation it is that is both light comedy and mainly chitchat. We see Bernhardt rehearse snippets of ‘Hamlet,’ but they are continually interrupted by visitors, Rostand, Mucha, Maurice. Most of these are the soliloquies, a great deal of poetry that she finds difficult, and she assigns poor Rostand the job of rewriting Shakespeare's play to take out the iambic pentameter and put the verse into prose. There is much talk of Parisian theater, Sarah's hits and misses, and rival actors.”
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October 3rd, 2018

“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."
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October 2nd, 2018

“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.”
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October 5th, 2018

“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.”
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September 25th, 2018

“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."
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September 25th, 2018

"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."
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September 28th, 2018

"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."
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September 29th, 2018

"It would be too harsh to say...that the audience invests it with importance only because of the two familiar and automatically revered names in the title. Too harsh...because Rebeck’s play is being given a first-rate production, with a winning cast...But we don’t leave the theater with any clearer understanding than when we entered of whether or not Hamlet is 'the greatest part ever written' or Sarah Bernhardt 'the greatest actress ever born' – and if so, what makes them so."
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September 27th, 2018

"The 'Hamlet' production seems to get lost...The final scene has a clever coup de théatre that unfortunately offers too little too late. McTeer makes a convincing Bernhardt, but when she portrays Hamlet, her speech becomes too quiet and rapid...The pace set by Moritz von Stuelpnagel’s direction often seems rushed. All in all, it was a disappointment."
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September 25th, 2018

‘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."
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September 28th, 2018

"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."
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October 6th, 2018

"This is an opportunity to see one of the greatest actresses of her generation playing one of the greatest actresses of all time...She makes every line of dialogue seem as if it is being spoken for the very first time...The play itself provides numerous pleasures including several entertaining backstage hijinks staged with wit. But it doesn’t hold together...The playwright sabotages her own message of female empowerment by building the arc of her plot around Bernhardt’s romance."
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October 1st, 2018

"In attempting to explore all of these varied things in one play, 'Bernhardt/Hamlet' ends up doing none of them well...As we live amid a potential tectonic shift in female power and representation in government and media, the play, despite its foundation and the history it recounts, has nothing particularly interesting or illuminating to say to us about this subject...If your idea of fun is watching a rehearsal, this is the play for you. For my money, I’d much rather see Ms. McTeer play Hamlet."
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October 8th, 2018

"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."
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September 30th, 2018

"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."
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October 1st, 2018

"McTeer’s Bernhardt is impetuous, sardonic, and assertive in captivating ways, and she makes no secret of loathing her rival, Eleanora Duse, who she feels experiences no emotions onstage but her own...The play meanders into some dullness and has some heavy-handed dialogue ('You are Sarah Bernhard…'), but also a lot of witty banter—and the actress reveals at one point that she was infatuated with a female sculptor. I bet she had a hard time molding Sarah."
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September 25th, 2018

“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."
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September 25th, 2018

“Rebeck’s play juggles a lot — women on stage, gender and power, love and ambition. Yet a lot of this gets bogged down in speechifying. Though McTeer gives a magnetic, precise performance, the play itself meanders...While the subject is fascinating, the level of inquiry does not deepen...Von Stuelpnagel brings a breeziness to the comedy and gives McTeer ample space. Her performance is shaded and nuanced. She gives the audience an insight into Bernhardt’s character."
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September 25th, 2018

“Theater nerds will be gratified by the extended backstage wrangling over how Shakespeare's lines should be delivered. And everyone will likely find pleasure in Borritt's detailed sets, including Edison bulb footlights, and Leslie-James' eloquent costumes. But most are likely to be frustrated with the drama's muddy story and emphasis on low-hanging fruit. And yet, the play is saved — by the stunning actor Janet McTeer.”
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September 28th, 2018

"It is McTeer’s impossible task to come up with a creditable interpretation of the fire that was Bernhardt...It’s a full-throttle performance that, while enthusiastic, never varies much...Part of the problem is with Von Stuelpnagel...He has derailed the proceedings without imbuing any seamless shadings or editing. In this case, it is a free-for-all of the preposterous with no reining in of the rough edges that are way over-the-top for his leading lady and the plotline.”
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October 8th, 2018

"With very little real conflict or drama going on, Rebeck resorts to giving McTeer a huge amount of stage time in which Bernhardt analyzes the role she is about to inhabit, something the famously melodramatic actress in pre-Stanislavski times would hardly undertake. Nevertheless, McTeer is magnificent as she struts back and forth, giving Bernhardt youth and vitality, if not very much depth...One cannot argue with Rebeck’s premise. One can only wish she’d written a better play."
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October 1st, 2018

"When you base a new play off of a lengthy, brooding, melancholic, overly poetic play, your are bound to bore the audience with too many 'words words words'...The most upsetting structural element, however, is the fact the after over two hours of rehearsal and debate, we are never given a glimpse of Sarah’s actual performance as Hamlet. Despite all the plays problems, there is certainly a great deal to praise to be given, almost entirely to the extraordinary Janet McTeer."
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October 6th, 2018

"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."
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September 26th, 2018

"A search for an absent father and finding solace on the stage are both captured beautifully in Theresa Rebeck’s new play 'Bernhardt/Hamlet.' The problem is, there’s more to the play...The strengths of this production, finely staged by Moritz von Stuelpnagel, center on scenes in which Bernhardt makes choices in rehearsal about her performance and demonstrates her generosity...It is a very busy backstage world, but it’s finally one with a few too many male voices."
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September 30th, 2018

"'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."
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October 5th, 2018

"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."
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October 6th, 2018

"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."
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September 27th, 2018

“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.”
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