Roger Rees was a noble and refined Prince of Denmark in our 1984 production of Hamlet directed by Ron Daniels.

Poster showing a painting of a bare-chested man clutching a skull
Poster for Hamlet, 1985, at the Barbican Theatre
Directed by Ron Daniels © RSC Browse and license our images


Ron Daniels' production of Hamlet opened at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in 1984 before transferring to the Barbican a year later. The romantic setting was epitomized by Hamlet (Roger Rees) and Gertrude (Virginia McKenna), who belonged to an older, more refined world, which contrasted strongly with the boisterous court of the new Danish king, Claudius (Brian Blessed).


Maria Bjornson designed both the sets and the costumes for the production "... the court assembles in Maria Bjornson's echoing brick court of Jacobian courtiers in grey costumes underneath black draped chandeliers which fly in with two great Perspex-ballustraded stairways set at right angles to the audience." Michael Coveney, Financial Times,  6 September 1984.

One reviewer described the effect as "labyrinthine gloom" emphasized by "Chris Ellis's Rembrandtesque lighting and Nigel Hess's defunctive wedding bells" Irving Wardle, The Times, 18 April 1985.


Inhabiting this setting, Roger Rees's noble Hamlet had a strong sense of irony, which contrasted with Kenneth Branagh's memorably passionate Laertes.


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