Hamlet review – Ian McKellen holds court in a dumb-ballet take on the Bard | Edinburgh festival 2022

Might we be missing some of Hamlet’s advice to the players? Did Shakespeare’s words of wisdom get lost over the years? Perhaps, for example, there was a bit that went: “Whatever you do, don’t try this as narrative ballet – even when you’ve got a knight of the realm in the cast.”

Such a tip would have spared us this eccentric staging by director and choreographer Peter Schaufuss, whose Edinburgh Festival Ballet has taken residence in a freshly kitted-out St Stephens. His big draw, of course, is Sir Ian McKellen, who first played Hamlet at the Edinburgh King’s in 1971.

Now at 83, he is a little on the old side for the student prince, despite his recent starring role in an age-blind production at the Theatre Royal, Windsor. He would make an even less likely classical dancer. Instead, he gamely turns up to deliver a greatest-hits mix of Hamlet’s speeches, while dancer Johan Christensen, in matching costume, mimes his way…

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