RADA's Hamlet (l-r): Eleanor de Rohan, Caroline Martin, Tom Hiddleston and Ayesha Antoine. Credit Johan Persson
A spotlight picks out Tom Hiddleston's Hamlet sat at an upright piano. He plays and sings; the lyrics are familiar and it takes a second or two to place them - these are Ophelia's words taken from when she is lamenting the death of her father. Giving these words to Hamlet is interesting not least because opening the play with the Prince mourning his father death reminded me of how Tom Hiddleston's friend Benedict Cumberbatch opened his Hamlet with a similar display of melancholy.
It is not the last we see of Tom Hiddleston's many talents, later he will dance with 'Rosacrantz' (Ayesha Antoine) and 'Guildastern' (Eleanor de Rohan), picking up Rosacrantz and spinning her around and later throwing her onto the sofa for 'japes'. He's a lively Hamlet and a huggy Hamlet, throwing his arms around Horatia (Caroline Martin) and his friends when they arrive, then later Ophelia (Kathryn Wilder) and hugging tightly his mother (Lolita Chakrabarti) in the closet scene - he even hugs Laertes before the start of the duel. There is a lot of passion in those hugs.
And, in his skinny black jeans with black pea coat collar turned up - or hoodie or tight t-shirt - he cuts a dashing figure, his lean, muscular frame combined with his energy to present an alter to health and vitality. He maybe wearing black but you can picture him still going for long runs or to the gym to work out.
But, and this is where the Tom Hiddleston fans may want to turn away, there is otherwise little sign of what is going on beneath the surface of this Hamlet. There are sparks of affection - a lovely tender moment between him and Ophelia for example - but I didn't feel him. Yes he shouts and gets angry but he gives little in his performance that would tell you what is really going on in his head. Likewise with the soliloquies; they are technically flawless but I didn't feel like the tears or sentiment came from anywhere deep. I've laugh, cried, been frustrated by, been afraid of and afraid for Hamlet in past productions but for Tom Hiddleston's I didn't feel anything. The blame for this, I think partly lays in the direction.