Fans disappointed not to catch David Tennant playing Hamlet in the West End last Christmas will get another chance to see him in the role when the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) production is filmed for BBC Two.
Gregory Doran’s stage production, also starring Patrick Stewart, Penny Downie and Mariah Gale, sold out its five-week London run at the Novello theatre in advance of its first performance last December. However, few of those ticket holders saw Tennant in the production as a back injury forced him to withdraw just a few days into the run. Understudy Edward Bennett stepped up to play Hamlet – to standing ovations – on press night and for the majority of the run.
Bennett will return to his original role of Laertes for the screen version of the production, which will be filmed on location by production company Illuminations, which previously worked with director Doran on the television film of his Macbeth, with Antony Sher and Harriet Walter in 2001.
Key members of Hamlet’s creative team, including designer Robert Jones and composer Paul Englishby, are also signed up to work on the film, which aims “to retain the quality and the tone” of the stage production, according to a statement.
RSC Artistic Director Michael Boyd commented: “We are very pleased that this RSC production will be seen by so many people when broadcast. As the show was sold out for its entire run, this is a really great opportunity for our work to be seen by so many who could not come to the theatre and see it on stage.”
Doran added: “Contrary to press reports at the time, the RSC always had plans to make a recording of this production but had the inevitable long journey in getting the cast together again and securing funding for this project. The Hamlet cast and the RSC are all really delighted that we now have the chance to share this show with audiences around the world, and I would like to thank all those involved in making this plan a reality at last.”
Filming on Hamlet begins in June, with a BBC Two premiere scheduled for later this year.