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Published on September 11th, 2010 | by Andrew Reynolds

Mastering Hamlet

To actors, it is the ultimate test of one’s ability- to play the ‘Black Prince’ of Denmark.

To get inside the ‘conscious revenger’ and make Hamlet’s emotional and spiritual dilemma palatable to the cheap seats is something both legends and pretenders have tried.

You will recall how the Tenth Doctor actor David Tennant rejoined the RSC to critical and commercial acclaim as Shakespeare’s troubled soul – now it’s the turn of the Master, John Simm.

The actor is to play the Dane at The Crucible, Sheffield, from 16th September and its an opportunity he took with some relish:

“You’re 40 years of age and you get offered the chance of the best Shakespearean role, what are you going to say?”

The chance to bare his soul in one of Hamlets inclusive soliloquies clearly has affected the star of Life on Mars and State of Play:

“People say that he plays you, you don’t play him. I didn’t understand what they meant by that. I thought he’s the Prince of Denmark, I’m not the Prince of Denmark but now we are well into it I understand what they mean.

“You have to use yourself and be yourself in everything and that’s why different actors get asked to play it. To see what Hamlet looks like with your face and how it fits in this angry, mad role.”

Simm has gone back to treading the boards after reaching a watershed moment playing defective detective DI Sam Tyler in the brilliant Life on Mars- which left the actor, like Sam, wondering just who he was:

Life on Mars was exciting at first but there came a point where I wondered what I was doing there. I lost all feeling. I became Sam Tyler.

“I found myself really not feeling anything any more and I thought what can I do about it? The answer was to give myself a kick up the arse and take myself out of the comfort zone.”

This meant reuniting with director Paul Miller - who also directed Simm’s first stage appearance in Goldhawk Road (which was written by Simon Bent, who also wrote The Yellow House, which featured Simm as Vincent Van Gogh) in Elling, a dark comedy about two patients who live together after being released from a mental asylum.

Simm then joined his fried Miller for Hamlet.

Apart from Simm who played the Master during RTD’s reign as head writer on Who, the play also features Roderick Smith who played Cruikshank in K-9′s debut, the virus-a-thon Fourth Doctor serial: The Invisible Enemy.

Hamlet begins on 16th September until 23rd October at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield.

Tickets are from £12- £20

(via Sheffield Telegraph)

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About the Author

Everyone has a favourite Doctor and mine - just for his honesty, his fairness and his ability to not notice the Master's awful, awful disguises/anagrams (Sir Gilles Estram!?!) - has to be the Fifth Doctor, Peter Davison. The stories didn’t serve him as well as his acting served those stories.




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