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Cumberbatch a bloody good Hamlet, say his parents

Published 26/08/2015

Benedict Cumberbatch as Hamlet
Benedict Cumberbatch as Hamlet
Benedict Cumberbatch's wife Sophie Hunter at the press night for Hamlet
Mark Gatiss said Benedict Cumberbatch's performance in Hamlet was 'flawless'

Benedict Cumberbatch's mother has described him as "a bloody good Hamlet" following his performance on the official press night.

The Sherlock star's parents, Timothy Carlton and Wanda Ventham, joined a host of celebrities, including his wife Sophie Hunter, in the audience.

Speaking after his performance at the Barbican theatre in London, Ms Ventham said they were "extraordinarily proud".

Commenting on the liveliness of his performance, she added: "He was quite lively growing up, but I thought that was phenomenal."

Downton Abbey stars Dan Stevens and Allen Leech were also among the celebrity guests. Sherlock writer Mark Gatiss, a close friend of Cumberbatch, said he was also "very proud".

Cumberbatch will be playing the lead role in the Shakespeare drama until the end of October, with the show becoming the fastest-selling play in British history.

He made his debut in the production earlier this month, and made headlines after pleading with fans not to film his performances, saying he found the experience "mortifying".

The show received mixed early reviews, with The Times giving it a mere two stars, branding it "Hamlet for kids raised on Moulin Rouge", while the Daily Mail hailed the performance with a five-star rating.

Gatiss said Cumberbatch delivered a flawless, energetic performance that embodied the light and dark moments of Shakespeare's tragedy.

While the first half belongs to the Sherlock star, the second half gives Sian Brooke (Ophelia) and Kobna Holdbrook-Smith (Laertes) their chance to shine.

Director Lyndsey Turner's version is contemporary and modern with the cast wearing trainers and Cumberbatch dressed-down in t-shirts.

Given the big-screen feel of some of the scenes it makes sense that from October 15 the play will be broadcast to cinemas around the world.

This is a play that may not appeal to hardcore fans of Shakespeare, who want to dissect every nuance and soliloquy.

But it will surely have the Cumberbatch fans flocking to try to get tickets. All in all, to be or not to be totally won over, that is the question...

Critics at last night's official opening were effusive about the Oscar-nominee's portrayal of Hamlet but many directed their critiques at the production itself.

The Guardian's Michael Billington called the production, directed by Lyndsey Turner, an "intellectual ragbag" and awarded only two stars.

"After all the hype and hysteria, the event itself comes as an anti-climax," he said.

Awarding four stars, Dominic Cavendish wrote in the Telegraph that Cumberbatch was " a blazing, five-star Hamlet trapped in a three-star show."

His performance also won international acclaim, with The New York Times' Ben Brantley calling the Imitation Game actor "superb".

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