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Andrew Scott's Hamlet is in the press but not in the way Cumberham was during previews

Hamlet_1470x690_version_3This article by the Telegraph about Andrew Scott's Hamlet at the Almeida is interesting for two reasons. Firstly because it picks up on some of the issues of long running times and secondly because it both quotes and links to reviews by bloggers who've seen previews.

My regular readers will know that long running times are a personal bug bear - this production of Hamlet rocks in at 4 hours, or it did the night I saw it. It is not very practical for those who don't live locally and have regular jobs to get up for. I luckily don't have too far to get home but it was still 11.45pm before I walked through the door and my usual alarm is 6.30am. Go at the weekend? It's not always possible, beside when you book way in advance as I do there is no way of knowing just how long the running time is.

I remember going to see Michael Sheen's Hamlet at the Young Vic with a friend who lived in Shoreham and he had to leave at the interval because he was worried about missing the last train home. It doesn't make for a relaxing evening if you are constantly worried about when its going to finish.

Now while I think Robert Icke's production and Andrew Scott's performance are both excellent (full thoughts coming soon) I'm sure there is stuff that could be trimmed, indeed the expectation is it will lose around 15 minutes before press night.  And as the run is pretty much sold out the running time doesn't seem to be putting off sufficient numbers to worry box office revenue but it will be publicity I'm sure the Almeida would rather not have.

And now to the second point: Bloggers' reviews. Last year I got criticised by the director of a play at the Almeida for an unfavourable review I wrote of his production prior to press night (one day I'll write a post about the entire exchange) so there is a teeny bit of me basking in the irony of a national newspaper linking to several bloggers preview reviews.

Of course The Telegraph has highlighted bloggers' reviews to illustrate one side of the argument in its story; if there hadn't been reports of walk outs, they probably wouldn't have gone looking for reviews. However, I do take the exposure of theatre bloggers in a larger arena as a small victory and hope that it puts us a step closer to being accepted as part of the theatre criticism club.