I’ve been hankering to see the RSC’s Hamlet since it before it launched in Stratford, and my wonderful friend J took me for my birthday. Originally, this plan meant queuing from hideous o’clock in the morning to get 16-25 tickets, but due to many foolish people returning their tickets because they wanted to see The Doctor not Hamlet, we breezed up at 10 and got two resticted view seats for a fiver – which we upgraded to front row of the dress circle during the interval because there were spare seats. This is a almost more a tragedy than was played out so superbly on stage, especially as the 3rd of Jan when we saw it was actually the night of Tennant’s triumphant return (see the reviews section).
I kind of understand the impulse to go and see something purely because it has a celebrity in it – it would be hypocritical to claim total ignorance given that I currently have tickets for Twelfth Night with Derek Jacobi as Malvolio and Madame de Sade with Judy Dench – but there has to be more reason to want to go and see something. I paid a silly amount of money for tickets to Twelfth Night and Madame de Sade mainly because I think they’re going to be very very good, and a brilliant show is one of the things that makes me happiest. The famous names are an added bonus – they are famous for a reason, after all – but I won’t be sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for the first glimpse of Jacobi or Dench, and I’m going to see new plays and Cambridge student theatre, too. It’s the whole ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ philosophy, don’t judge a play by its celebrity, judge it by the whole cast and production – after you’ve seen it not before!