The first time I met Paapa Essiedu was at an OpenDoor Q&A: he’s a buddy to one of the other participants and I thought I’d approach him to ask for advice on my Hamlet speech. He gave me great advice and from then I was interested in watching his Hamlet. I met him again at a Black Panther screening at Peckham Plex for young people where he was on the Q&A panel. I found out that he is an east London boy, raised in Walthamstow and at this point my interest had peaked because I too am an East Londoner. As I walked home, I started to notice Hamlet posters plastered all over the shop windows and at this point I was completely sold, I HAD TO WATCH THIS SHOW! Luckily, a few days later I received a letter from OpenDoor telling me they had comp tickets for the show… I was ecstatic and really hoped the seats would be in the stalls.
The day arrived and sadly we were not sat in the stalls, I was gutted because I feel like to really see and understand a show you have to have a good view of the actors acting. My philosophy is, if I can’t even see the actors faces clearly… then what’s the point in going!
That being said, I’m pleasantly surprised to report that even though I was far away and had to squint throughout… I was impressed with the production quality because I could still enjoy it and feel included with the action on stage.
The show itself had a african setting which was an nice touch and made the world more believable, it’s also nice to see more shows adopt a multicultural setting especially in this day and age where diversity is becoming a game changer in the arts.
Paapa’s performance was quality; he commanded the space, spoke clearly and most of all I believed his approach to Hamlet. It didn’t feel forced at all. Hamlet has so many famous speech’s throughout and has been played by so many different players over the decades but he really made it his own. Hamlet was a normal guy who comes across abnormal happenings and has to deal with his own madness. So massive congratulations to him and all the other cast involved, the ensemble also did a great job creating the world.
In conclusion I had a ball and would love to go see it again, but this time… in the stalls! If you’ve got some spare cash and want something to do, I’d recommend this 100%. Also, If you’re under 25, Hackney Empire are selling £10 tickets: show up to the theatre with your ID to book. Hurry, the run is only for a few weeks and once its gone.. its gone!