Young Vic, London
Greg Hersov’s sleek production focuses on familial grief, unfolds with the pace of a thriller and is full of fresh humour and chemistry
We have been promised a “new kind of Hamlet” with Cush Jumbo’s melancholy prince. While Ian McKellen steered an uneven age-blind version of the play earlier this year, Jumbo’s gender-blind casting in Greg Hersov’s sleek production contains real fireworks and the “blind” casting is all but irrelevant. She cuts an androgynous figure when she first appears in a black suit and mourning band, and is a magnetic force from thereon in. Jumbo’s Hamlet is not so much a hand-wringing antihero as a clear-eyed son, indignant with righteous rage for his murdered father.
She brings teenage energy to Hamlet’s strops, intelligent wit to his feigned madness and shows a shining clarity in the soliloquies, which are delivered with grand, pure power. She sobs as she speaks of her dead father and runs into her mother’s arms, suddenly childlike, with none of the incestuous undertones we often see between Hamlet and Gertrude.