Stoppard's 1967 play was a delicious and profound theatrical conceit, a pastiche which turned Shakespeare's famous flunkies from Hamlet into pathetic, confused victims. It seems odd that we should be treated to a cinematic version of what is essentially a very theatrical experience, while other more obviously filmable Stoppard works remain unadapted. Stoppard opens up the narrative, turning the pair from passive clowns into a restless duo, a costumed Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid, constantly turning up in the wrong place at the wrong time. Every piece of stage business, from pirate siege to coin toss to verbal banter in a tennis court, is aimed at needlessly fleshing out the original; while, as Ros and Guildy, both Oldman and Roth turn in flat and uninspiring performances. Only Sumpter as a youthful Claudius, and Richardson's splendid Polonius give life to the Hamlet scenes. Disappointing.
Cast and crew