Ends Sep 03

Hamlet (Public Theater)

Members say: Great acting, Ambitious, Absorbing, Disappointing, Intelligent
35 reviews
74 reviews

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

... Read more

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.


Cast & Creatives (16)

Reviews (109)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
Avg Score

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


"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


"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." 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

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


"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

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

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

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 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

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

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

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


"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


"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

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

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


"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

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


"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." 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

Off Off Online

"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." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
Avg Score

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting

See it if Oliver Issac and company. Intimate setting. Shakespeare.

Don't see it if Modern production is unnerving

Funny, Riveting, Entertaining

See it if you want to see a modern , quirky, funny take on the dark prince of Denmark

Don't see it if want to adhere to a 'stay in the lines' interpretation of Hamlet

Also I was taken with the inventiveness of this production. The first act f... Read more Read less

Intense, Quirky, Confusing, Disappointing, Overrated

See it if you want to see Sam Gold's interpretation of Shakespeare. Anti-tragic, anti-poetic except in moments when Isaac connects with the character

Don't see it if you love Hamlet the play or the troubled interesting character. Energy replaces tension, "laughs" fill the holes where drama should carry

Funny, Clever, Great acting, Must see

See it if You would like to see an amazing actor playing Hamlet, with two other great actors in an unusual and funny production.

Don't see it if You don't want to see an excellent creative Hamlet.

Ambitious, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Great writing, Great staging

See it if you enjoy the 'Sam Gold' treatment to classic revivals, especially this adventurous take on Shakespeare's most famous work led by Issac.

Don't see it if you do not enjoy Sam Gold's work, or need more grandeur in your epic classics.

Funny, Ambitious, Intelligent, Indulgent, Disappointing

See it if You want to see some killer performances in a production of The Big Play that is heavy on concept.

Don't see it if You haven't read Hamlet a zillion times and you can't stand conceptual staging.

Also There are some killer ideas and setpieces in this production, but over... Read more Read less

Quirky, Indulgent, Great writing, Banal, Disappointing

See it if You like your Shakespeare edgy, antic, confusing and weird.

Don't see it if You like Shakespeare that emphasizes the words and the story.

Disappointing, Uneven, Disjointed, Creative staging, Modern adaptation

See it if you want to see Oscar Isaac or Keegan-Michael Key in person (though both are underused).

Don't see it if you want a production that makes you really care about what happens onstage. You prefer traditional or shorter stagings (it's 3.5hrs).

Also The Good: Isaac was great at moments. Key had the whole audience in st... Read more Read less

Great acting, Intense, Great staging

See it if You appreciate Sam Gold as director, like modern-dress Shakespeare beautifully acted and imaginatively staged, sounding fresh and new.

Don't see it if You only like traditional Shakespeare, can't bear still another production of Hamlet, would think hypodermic needles as weapons bizarre,

Absorbing, Ambitious, Exquisite

See it if you like Shakespeare, intimate family dramas, and a fresh take on a classic play.

Don't see it if you cannot handle a four hour and twenty five minute play (even with two intermissions)

Intelligent, Compelling, Innovative, Well-directed, Accessible

See it if You want a Hamlet you can follow, relate to, empathize with. Not done in tights, at times not even done in pants! Well acted.

Don't see it if You like your Hamlets traditional, in doublets with flowery orations, scenery, big casts and lots of English accents.

Also Overall a pretty good Hamlet. Different but definitely worth watching.... Read more Read less

Funny, Great acting, Intense, Masterful, Riveting

See it if You want to see Shakespeare made fresh and accessible without dumbing it down; acting master class from Oscar Isaac in an intimate setting

Don't see it if You can't sit through almost 4 hours of Shakespeare; you don't like experimental staging

Also I've never been so engaged by a production of Hamlet! Everything is so... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Epic, Intelligent

See it if you like Shakespeare and want to see a classic performed intelligently and with great acting and originality.

Don't see it if you don't have 3.5 hours to spare or you don't like Shakespeare.

Ambitious, Indulgent, Confusing, Disappointing

See it if You're an Oscar Isaac fan. And want to see him try his best to do insane Hamlet in underpants. Also,Peter Friedman funny as grave digger.

Don't see it if you expect to see an understandable Hamlet. Or, if you've never seen Hamlet. For me neither moving nor involving.

Ambitious, Great acting, Confusing

See it if You are very familiar with Hamlet. If you are not, you will be very confused due to actors playing multiple roles. The acting is terrific

Don't see it if You like classic Shakespeare.

Great acting, Confusing, Disappointing, Inconsistent tone

See it if you want to see an excellent performance by Peter Friedman. Oscar Isaac is excellent, of course, but Friedman stands out.

Don't see it if you are considering paying scalper prices.

Indulgent, Confusing, Disappointing, Overrated

See it if You want a challenging but misdirected interpretation of a classic.

Don't see it if You love Hamlet as written.

Also Also A strange conception. Some wonderful acting and some dreadful. Op... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Clever, Intelligent, Disappointing, Overrated

See it if you enjoy Oscar. Gold's approach to staging was very interesting and nuanced, but lacked some clarity.

Don't see it if you want clarity the entire time. The audience is just as muddled as Hamlet's thoughts.

Great acting, Indulgent, Confusing, Disappointing

See it if You are a fan of Sam Gold (Director) -- mostly, Oscar Isaac (Hamlet),or believe in the work of the Public Theater.

Don't see it if you like your Hamlet to look more like Elsinore than a rehearsal room.

Funny, Ambitious, Delightful, Great acting, Intense

See it if You love Sam Gold's brand of humanist, exciting, cutting edge theatre, you love avant-garde theatre, and if you deeply appreciate the Bard.

Don't see it if You take the Bard too seriously, hate amazing acting, dislike intelligence, aren't a fan of humor.

Ambitious, Clever, Intelligent, Profound, Entertaining

See it if You want to be challenged.

Don't see it if You lack an understanding of the play Hamlet.

Great acting, Intense, Masterful, Must see

See it if Shakespeare is your thing! My favorite!

Don't see it if n/a

Absorbing, Great acting, Quirky, Refreshing, Entertaining

See it if you want to see a contemporary take on Shakespeare, prefer intimate venues, want a few well-placed laughs, and want to see an A-list cast

Don't see it if you are looking for a classic, by the book production, or you cannot handle the four+ hours

Absorbing, Ambitious, Edgy, Great acting, Great writing

See it if You love "Hamlet" performed very well by talented actors comfortable with Shakespeare's language and fluent in the text.

Don't see it if You have a problem with a more modern, deconstructed approach to the play.

Also It's important where you sit. You miss a lot of the action sitting on ... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Clever, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Indulgent

See it if You're open to the unevenness that comes with a a near-genius take on Shakespeare

Don't see it if You're looking for a traditional take on Hamlet or haven't seen it before.