Members say: Great acting, Ambitious, Absorbing, Intelligent, Clever

About the show

Oscar Isaac ('Star Wars: The Force Awakens,' 'Inside Llewyn Davis') returns to The Public for this intimate new production of Shakespeare’s eternal drama.

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Hamlet is caught between thought and action, anger and anguish as his uncle assumes the throne left vacant by his murdered father. As the dead King calls to him from the grave, demanding to be avenged, Hamlet is forced to choose between bearing the oppressor’s wrong or taking arms against a sea of troubles. Tony Award winner Sam Gold ('Fun Home,' 'Othello') directs theater’s most famous tragedy about life and death, madness and conscience, and corruption—of the state and of the soul.

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See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

The New York Times

"A gloriously involving new production...The show’s intimidating four hours pass as quickly as a night at a bar with some of the best storytellers you’ve ever met...The troubled relationships of the extended family of Elsinore have rarely read so clearly or affectingly...The nine actors in the ensemble deliver such a completely inhabited performance that I didn’t feel restless, as I usually do, when Hamlet wasn’t around...Some interpolations give pause." Full Review


"Isaac’s Hamlet is to die for, but director Gold’s bizarre 'Hamlet' is to shoot on sight...Gold’s hammy as pointless as it is solipsistic...The Anspacher Theater is a beautiful, intimate theater with wonderful sight lines that allow you to overlook much of this directorial gimmickry and admire Isaac’s brilliant performance up close and personal...In Gold’s weirdly cast production, the rest of the performances are almost evenly divided among good, meh, and let-me-out-of-here." Full Review


"An extremely entertaining production that's full of cleverness (admittedly, sometimes too-cleverness) that whizzes by its running time of nearly four hours...Despite some unpredictably over-the-top ideas, the fine ensemble never loses touch with the serious emotions of Shakespeare's masterpiece. This may not be a 'Hamlet' for first-timers, but it's fun, daring and just a bit weird.” Full Review

Time Out New York

"Gold’s 'Hamlet' forsakes grandeur in favor of small moments of clarity. Its focus is on theatricality, comedy and language...'Hamlet' features some wonderfully vivid performances: from Isaac, who gives Hamlet a sometimes ruthless charm; but also from the superb Peter Friedman and Ritchie Coster...The production occasionally gets muddy...If this 'Hamlet' is rarely emotionally moving, it is never less than engaging." Full Review


"While there are some extremely clever touches on Gold's part for those well-versed in the play, the uninitiated may have no idea what's going on...But for those who know the text, these are ingenious, outside-the-box choices that do a thought-provoking job of deepening the material even further...As for Isaac himself, he's exactly what we could want out of a Hamlet...It's worth the character confusion, the odd comedic choices, and all four hours, just to watch Isaac's expert performance." Full Review


"Often frustrating, sometimes illuminating...This 'Hamlet' keeps breaking, right along the dotted line between broad-brush hipsterism and intelligent economy...Gold’s production runs the full spectrum from sophomoric to deft...Gold’s production solves each scene separately with little connectivity to what’s on either side, so while Isaac quakes with emotion in moments of crisis, the show winds up feeling like a series of set-pieces rather than a journey." Full Review

Theater News Online

"Deeply satisfying: coolly conceptual but grounded in palpable, messy passions, with Shakespeare’s miraculous text spoken with clarity and power...Gold’s 'Hamlet' is the most family-obsessed I can recall...As rendered with genuine fire and smoldering intelligence by Isaac, Hamlet comes across first and foremost as a grieving son...The language is front and center, spoken with admirable lucidity and clarity...A 'Hamlet' that engages the audience’s imagination and intellect." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"Before it collapses in a heap of mannerisms and conflicting acting styles, Gold's contemporary take on 'Hamlet' manages some remarkable effects...Isaac is frequently an inspired Hamlet...Yet for all of the production's very real accomplishments, so much is lost...This is ‘Hamlet’ as a contemporary dysfunctional family drama...Gold's approach is subtractive, and, surprisingly, he has little to add; this 'Hamlet' is filled with weird touches that, in sum, reveal a director with little to say." Full Review

The Guardian (UK)

"Isaac has a slow-burn smolder and a confident clarity with the verse...This 'Hamlet' is even further deconstructed than Gold’s recent recent 'Othello.' Like the varied performance styles, it rarely coheres into a cogent interpretation of the play...Frankly, there’s a lot here that resists explanation...You won’t feel foot-dragging here, even though the pacing can race and slack. Instead, you get a production that questions and dares, teases and deflects. That’s exciting, but also frustrating." Full Review

New York Theater

"Sam Gold aims to stir things up with this 'Hamlet,' and he’s using his playbook from past productions to do so...This is a production that values cleverness over emotional engagement. Yet, for all this fiddling around, and despite too many moments of director-engendered incoherence, Gold’s 'Hamlet' ultimately worked for me...Gold’s radical interpretation of the play did not for me undermine the power and clarity of Isaac’s Hamlet." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"Oscar Isaac is a sensational Hamlet...That his performance registers so effectively is an additional credit to Isaac, given how many obstacles director Sam Gold throws in his way in a gimmicky modern-dress production that often seems more WTF-perverse than audacious...I spent much of the first two acts admiring the actors but scratching my head about the director's intentions." Full Review

The Wall Street Journal

"If it isn’t exactly my kind of 'Hamlet,' it’s still exciting in its own up-close-and-personal way...Isaac's interpretation is singularly intelligent—every line reading is fresh and spontaneous—and to see and hear him in the close quarters of the Anspacher Theater is to be caught up anew in the burning immediacy of the moment...Mr. Gold’s staging, a few too-clever touches notwithstanding, serves the text rather than obscuring it...All in all, his 'Hamlet' is much more than satisfying." Full Review

AM New York

"This production of Shakespeare’s timeless revenge tragedy is stripped down and intimate...Isaac makes for a handsome and lyrical Hamlet...The production is almost always interesting, but it lacks a coherent vision and becomes too consumed by experimental tactics. Perhaps Gold and Isaac can continue developing it and bring it back in a year or so." Full Review

Front Row Center

"It’s a brilliant contemporary take on this classic, with a genuine star in the lead and a genius directing...Oscar Isaac is riveting in the title role...He inhabits and invigorates the troubled young prince...Gold gives Friedman a lot of room. I’ve never seen Polonius played more engagingly...In this version, tragic or not, we laugh a lot...Grim, to be sure, but genuine fun in this go ‘round...It is too long, to be sure, but too good to miss." Full Review

New York Daily News

"To flee or not to flee? That is the question that occurred to me during the confounding and enervating 'Hamlet'—a nearly four-hour endurance test that flops, even with a great Oscar Isaac persuasively pouring his heart out as the depressed Dane...Beyond strong work by Isaac and others in the cast, there’s so little takeaway in this staging by in-demand director Sam Gold...Alas, his 'Hamlet' goes nowhere." Full Review


"Several fine performances sparkling through a muddy and incomprehensibly vulgar reading...The performances evidence a cast at sea, compounded by doubling and tripling of roles that makes the plot confusing, not to say ridiculous. If that’s Gold’s intent, he has success, if not Shakespeare. But I kept waiting for an engaging, or at least interesting, point of view to emerge. I was still waiting when the time came for Fortinbras to appear as witness to the carnage at play’s end." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

"Gold has created something that draws us in and brings us close. It’s like we see something old through new eyes, and the intimacy created makes us believe we can feel their breath and hear their sighs...Gold’s tremendous ability to find a unique and challenging way to rethink the classics is what compels this strong cast to create something so intimate and powerfully engaging...An inventive director with a seemingly exacting eye on the thing that matters most: the text." Full Review


"Gold does indeed dish up plenty of decidedly newfangled ideas—some intriguing, others, far less so...The director's penchant for replacing all the trappings of a more fully furnished stage has its lowlights and highlights...Naturally, even the best and most interesting director's interpretation is only as good as the actors presenting them. Fortunately, this cast does very well indeed, even with Gold's more pretentious and controversial ideas." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"The gimmicky physical production seems to have gotten most of the attention, while Shakespeare's play gets lost in the shuffle, popping through only occasionally...There's precious little to be found here that contributes to our understanding of the play; every gimmick in use could be thrown at any production of any play, with the same nonsensical effect. It most certainly is a head-scratcher." Full Review

The Telegraph (UK)

"Isaac’s performance is the high point of this inventive, exhaustive production...This modern, minimalist staging runs for three hours and 45 minutes and rarely rarely lags. Call it the Grunge Hamlet...What’s remarkable is how successfully the play’s tragic elements coexist with clowning...At times Gold’s clever set pieces overwhelm Shakespeare’s words. But the pictures he creates are unforgettable...None of the experimental excesses can take away from the power of Isaac’s portrayal." Full Review

Wolf Entertainment Guide

"There are some good creative moments…On the other hand Gold indulges in some utterly gross approaches that severely undercut the play…Isaac's Hamlet is a very energetic, even aggressive one. If you accept that concept and tone, Isaac does brilliantly and creates an especially dynamic Hamlet. However, that approach strips away the idea of a melancholy Dane…Isaac’s performance is a major one to see this season." Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

"Despite his production’s mobbed-up look, Gold ultimately sticks to a traditional, textually focused reading of the play...Isaac acquits himself adequately in the part, but there’s nothing distinctive about his Hamlet...While the rest of the cast all deliver their lines with undoubted skill, only Friedman displays absolute command of Shakespeare’s language, using colloquial rhythms to make every word sound fresh and vital." Full Review


"This is a sometimes confusing, endlessly interesting staging that is full of color and scent...The vivid and fully inhabited performances—especially from Isaac—make for a stellar distraction from the challenging matters of staging...Viewed as a vehicle for memorable performances, this is an awesome 'Hamlet'—just note, it’s not a remotely 'classic' one." Full Review

Broadway & Me

"I liked almost nothing about this production...Everyone, with the exception of Isaac, has to take on double and even triple roles. It not only makes it hard to keep track of who is being whom but at times that casting decision really mucks up the storytelling...Sometimes the music drowns out the dialog. Other times, it's just annoying...Isaac gives an intense and intelligent performance but its power is often undercut by all the folderol...The rest of the cast is uneven." Full Review

The Washington Post

“'Hamlet' benefits from the wide berth Gold gives his well-spoken actors to explore the play’s rawest emotions and most confounding contradictions, however outrageous the exploration may become...Though the line here between polished work and mere scene work feels as if it’s being crossed and recrossed, the choices illuminate enough corners of the tragedy to make this an engagingly provocative stop on your own lifelong 'Hamlet' journey." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

Ambitious, Indulgent, Pretentious

See it if you love Shakespeare and/or Oscar Isaac. There was a lot of talent onstage.

Don't see it if you are tired of re-adapted Shakespeare where you better know EVERYTHING about a play going in so that the double casting doesn't bother.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Intense, Indulgent, Confusing

See it if You want to watch Oscar Isaac act up a storm for 3 hours.

Don't see it if You want a traditional production, or a cohesive one, for that matter.

Great acting, Intense, Masterful, Must see, Riveting

See it if You're looking for an amazing work performed to perfection.

Don't see it if You don't like Shakespeare???

Clever, Great acting, Great staging

See it if you want to see an interesting approach to a classic play and Oscar Isaac be amazing. Also, if you enjoy laughing during "tragedies".

Don't see it if you prefer your Shakespeare to always be "standard" or do not like Shakespeare plays to begin with. Also if you prefer shows with big sets.

Ambitious, Edgy, Great acting, Intelligent, Profound

See it if You like to see Shakespeare in a non-classical production. Oacar Isaac and Keegan-Michael Key add a new perspective to Hamlet.

Don't see it if You like your Shakespeare exactly as written, stage notes included.

Ambitious, Clever, Refreshing, Slow

See it if You've seen a lot of Hamlet productions and you're looking for something with a different perspective to spice it up.

Don't see it if You demand a neat and tidy performance.

Also This is quite literally the messiest production (read: physical mess) ... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Clever, Profound, Riveting, Entertaining

See it if Inventive and impressive, crackerjack cast start with a "lets put on a play" attitude and unleashes a touching funny and powerful production

Don't see it if with all the role switching its not the ideal first HAMLET to experience; removal of typical 3 hour time limit makes for a lengthy outing

Ambitious, Great acting, Quirky, Disappointing, Slow

See it if Acting consistently rises about the high concept hijinks of Gold's direction Issac's Hamlet veers from glib hipster to grieving avenger

Don't see it if Nothing really gels in Gold's deconstructed version hence nothing really moves one emotionally It's a series of intriguing set pieces

Intelligent, Confusing, Slow, Entertaining, Bizarre direction

See it if Oscar Isaac and Peter Friedman are the reasons this play is as good as it is.

Don't see it if you thought knowing this play would prevent confusion; costumes and set are uninteresting; direction is uninspired, strange and shotty.

Also Portions of the play are set in areas of the stage that are not visibl... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Masterful, Refreshing

See it if You're open to and can enjoy a modern approach to Hamlet. Want to be immersed , taken in, mermerized by Oscar Isaac's Hamlet. Worth the $$.

Don't see it if You can't sit for 4 hours. Can't get passed the modern clothes , and minimal staging. Need the classics undisturbed. No care 4 Shakespeare.

Also After Glass Menagerie , Sam Gold, fell off my list of preferred direct... Read more Read less

Funny, Absorbing, Great acting, Must see, Great staging

See it if You want a whole new take on Hamlet by an astounding, masterful cast. Oscar!!!! Wow!!!!

Don't see it if See it. It's only around a few more days...

Sam gold's naturalistic touch makes hamlet much more approachable

See it if Gold's stripped down & often very funny production humanizes characters as does Oscar's powerful performance of Hamlet as Everyman

Don't see it if Gold's naturalistic shtick drains this great tragedy of grandeur and pathos; key Claudius & Gertrude performances are meh

Also This version employs most of the full script, resulting in a 3-3/4 hou... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Great acting, Indulgent, Great writing, Confusing

See it if A high-concept, well-acted Hamlet with an ensemble of 9 is this year's shoestring hipster plaything. Isaac gets to rant in his underpants.

Don't see it if An overly humorous Hamlet that fails when it needs to be heroic isn't worth attending despite great acting. If only it lost all its mirth.

Great acting, Masterful, Must see, Profound, Great writing

See it if you love the play Hamlet and want to see it done beautifully with great actors. This was truly masterful.

Don't see it if you don't like Shakespeare or very long plays

Must see, Soul-less, Train wreck with extraordinarily uneven acting

See it if You want to see just how wrong a director's choices can go. 9 mostly good committed actors without cohesion or soul.

Don't see it if you dont want to watch Hamlet in his underwear. The words are there but the heart and meaning arent. Uneven tone, Key as comic relief.

Also Anything more I could say would "spoil" the odd choices which kept me ... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if You are interested in a unique staging of Hamlet by Sam Gold. The wonderful cast,performing in a semi-circle,are always in close contact.

Don't see it if You can't tolerate a play of 4 hours duration,including 2 ten minute intermissions. It is worth the trip to see Oscar Isaac and the cast.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Must see, Great staging

See it if you'd like a fresh, intense and intimate staging of one of the greatest English plays.

Don't see it if you think the Fortinbras scenes are the key to the play.

Ambitious, Great acting, Intelligent, Great staging

See it if you like Sam Gold's minimalist direction and quirky choices to a classic. Oscar Isaac's performance is not overrated—he was exceptional.

Don't see it if you find Shakespeare plays boring, dislike director making bold and modern choices, or if 4 hours is too long for you to endure.

Absorbing, Edgy, Great acting, Profound

See it if you want to see Oscar Issac's amazing performance.

Don't see it if you don't enjoy modern interpretations.

Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Quirky, Riveting, Indulgent

See it if you enjoy a contemporary staging of a great play.

Don't see it if you do not relish a contemporary vision of a great play.

Also I enjoyed the production as much as I disliked the vision. What it gai... Read more Read less

Epic, Great acting, Intense, Masterful, Riveting

See it if you want to see a brilliantly directed and acted production of one of the all-time great plays. Ingenious, exhausting and so satisfying.

Don't see it if you can't sit through 3.5-4 hours. Or can't get tickets (it's very sold out).

Also I've seen/read/studied Hamlet so many times and this production blew m... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Indulgent, Banal

See it if for Oscar Isaac alone, this production is worth it. He amazes. Some of the staging is inventive; it's minimalist and intimate.

Don't see it if the show is quirky in ways that are forced and unhelpful. The emphasis on humor is overdone: it isn't a comedy. Ophelia is very weak.

Absorbing, Exquisite, Great acting

See it if you love a modern take on a classic and appreciate blind casting. This does a beautiful job with both.

Don't see it if you're a traditionalist. This is presented a bit more modern than you may care for.

Many "bits" distract, Helpful to know the play, Definitely different, Gold is overrated, Isaac is great

See it if you can put up w/Gold's intrusive choices to see Isaac's intelligent, funny, comprehensible, well-spoken H. 4 hrs zoom by. Intimate setting.

Don't see it if meaningless, distracting flourishes annoy you. For every good Gold choice, 2 bad ones. Messiest stage ever. Double casting can confuse.

Also Can you simultaneously love a production and hate it? I think Sam Gold... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Great acting, Intense, Must see, Great staging

See it if An intimate, ingeniously staged, fearlessly acted version of probably the finest play ever written. Oscar Isaac + Sam Gold are a dream team.

Don't see it if It's very sold out so. That would be a reason. No period costumes, no epic set. Don't expect Elizabethan grandeur. It's Hamlet in a hoodie.

Cast & Creatives (16)