Hamlet (Public Theater)
Closed 3h 30m
Hamlet (Public Theater)
83

Hamlet (Public Theater) NYC Reviews and Tickets

83%
(134 Reviews)
Positive
87%
Mixed
11%
Negative
2%
Members say
Great acting, Ambitious, Absorbing, Clever, Intelligent

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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Member Reviews (134)

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75
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. Read more

77
Great acting, Slow, Quirky, Ambitious, Disappointing

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

Critic Reviews (37)

The New York Times
July 13th, 2017

"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."
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Time Out New York
July 13th, 2017

"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."
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New York Magazine / Vulture
July 17th, 2017

“Disarmingly brilliant…This ‘Hamlet’ engages us in a game that makes us contemplate the very nature of performing…The heart of Gold’s production — and its genius — lies in its obsession with the paradox of the Honest Performance…Isaac, at once mischievous and deeply soulful, is exceedingly good…It is the mark of a deeply intelligent production when it makes you hear anew a work encrusted with so many barnacles of historical, literary, and theatrical precedent.”
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The Hollywood Reporter
July 13th, 2017

"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."
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Entertainment Weekly
July 13th, 2017

"An audacious, highly stylized production that is technically faithful to the text, but flaunts tradition in almost every other respect...If any version can ever be called a definitive 'Hamlet,' this one isn’t really in the running; Gold’s staging is too cheeky, and his tone careens too wildly between farce and tragedy...But there’s a method to his madness, too, and enough eternal magic in the material to make four hours feel fully, smartly spent."
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Variety
July 13th, 2017

"Isaac’s Hamlet is to die for, but director Gold’s bizarre 'Hamlet' is to shoot on sight...Gold’s hammy production...is 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."
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The Wall Street Journal
July 13th, 2017

"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."
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Deadline
July 13th, 2017

"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."
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The Washington Post
July 13th, 2017

“'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."
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New York Daily News
July 13th, 2017

"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."
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AM New York
July 13th, 2017

"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."
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Theatermania
July 13th, 2017

"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."
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BroadwayWorld
July 20th, 2017

"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.”
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Lighting & Sound America
July 13th, 2017

"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."
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Talkin' Broadway
July 13th, 2017

"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."
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Theater News Online
July 21st, 2017

"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."
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CurtainUp
July 13th, 2017

"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."
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Front Row Center
July 14th, 2017

"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."
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Front Mezz Junkies
July 14th, 2017

"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."
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New York Theater
July 13th, 2017

"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."
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4Columns
July 21st, 2017

"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."
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The Guardian (UK)
July 14th, 2017

"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."
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Wolf Entertainment Guide
July 15th, 2017

"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."
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Broadway & Me
August 19th, 2017

"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."
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Daily Beast
July 13th, 2017

"This production is distinguished by a bracing tour-de-force performance of Isaac...How challenging it is to find something new and resonant in these well-known lines for both actors and director, yet this 'Hamlet' does it...There are some odd gaps in the production...But Isaac’s arresting performance means that we stay rapt until Hamlet’s very last breath, and Shakespeare’s very last word. It is a long evening for sure, but also a beguilingly off-kilter, rewardingly rich one."
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Financial Times (UK)
July 14th, 2017

"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."
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WNBC
July 13th, 2017

"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."
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Off Off Online
July 13th, 2017

"Gold is exorcising demons of cliché and supposition from Shakespeare’s most frequently staged tragedy...The physical environment suggests a rehearsal space. That approach...discourages the audience from engaging with the performance on a level that’s more emotional than intellectual...The important news is that none of Gold’s cheeky innovations get in the way of his fine actors performing this familiar yet ever-challenging Shakespearean text with urgency, clarity, and insight."
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NJ.com
July 16th, 2017

"A stripped-down, ultra-modern take...Whether this sort of thing is your thing depends, ultimately, on your taste for willful eccentricity and 'edginess.' Personally I found considerable aspects of it arresting, especially Isaac's jittery, live-wire take on the title role...On the other hand, at nearly four hours -- and with so little variation in the visual design -- this 'Hamlet' eventually turns tiresome. Too many of Gold's directorial flourishes feel like shtick."
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The Telegraph (UK)
July 14th, 2017

"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."
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The Wrap
July 13th, 2017

"An intriguing, if not always riveting, four hours. The evening unfolds in fits and starts, and the best way to approach this 'Hamlet' is to sit back and enjoy the outrageousness. When Gold’s imagination fails him during most of the Bard’s soliloquies, you can listen to the poetry and simply wait for the director’s invention to return. It does, and gathers force in the second half."
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Village Voice
July 27th, 2017

"Gold can’t decide what he most wants his production to do...Each of Gold’s tactics has its reasons...The problem is that Gold’s many devices don’t mix well together; their diversity of effects gives the evening a jumble, or at best a sort of tasting menu, of concepts, instead of a unified approach...This directorial mix-and-match has unhelpful effects on Isaac’s performance, which might, in a better-sustained context, have been genuinely exciting."
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BSonArts
July 13th, 2017

"Mr. Gold’s 'Hamlet' is filled with competent actors. They make sense of the lines; they reflect emotion; they put emphasis where emphasis is required. But you never feel they are living their characters’ lives...Without a riveting Hamlet, there is little the other actors can do to make this any more than a competent but insignificant production."
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Theater Time
July 25th, 2017

"As terrific as Isaac is and almost worth the endurance test of a 'Hamlet' which runs close to four hours, Gold, whom I normally have a fondness for with his originality, flounders badly here...He has turned what is considered one of the finest pieces of literature into a silly, convoluted mess…Some of the other performers do not match up to the superiority of Isaac…If you are well acquainted with the play you might find yourself shaking your head."
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The Modernist Beat
August 25th, 2017

"Burton’s ghost is happy...What Isaac and Gold have crafted here is the closest we are ever going to get in the 21st century to that landmark production...Gold just focuses on the language, the narrative, and forming an ensemble that will fully inhabit the world of the play. He succeeds...Isaac's is fully as realized a performance as we are likely to get...He is surrounded by a cast equal to his talents...This is a celebration of 'Hamlet'...It needs to be seen."
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Edge New York
July 13th, 2017

"Director Sam Gold is offering up a very intimate take on the tragedy...Isaac's Hamlet is more relatable and contemporary; he seems like someone you could have known at college or who works in the office down the hall...Together this excellent cast, under Gold's direction, takes Shakespeare's grand tragedy and makes it more casual, more personal, and still powerful as ever."
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V
July 14th, 2017

"Gold’s ‘Hamlet’ has a simple, tactile charge, one that truly, in the least corny of senses, brings Shakespeare to life. The production is given extra, invaluable electricity by its star, whose crisply legible, fiercely intelligent performance confirms for me what I’ve long suspected: Oscar Isaac is the best dang actor of his generation...Gold’s production leaves us room to think, to really contemplate this revered play in unexpected ways...An invigorating approach to Shakespeare."
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