Hamlet, which dates from 1600-1601, is the first in Shakespeare's great series of four tragedies. In writing this extraordinary play, Shakespeare effectively re-invented tragedy after an interval of roughly 2,000 years - you would have to go back to the Greek dramatists of fifth century Athens to find anything of comparable depth and maturity.
This production features the voice of Anton Lesser as Hamlet along with a full cast.
(P)1997 NAXOS AudioBooks Ltd.; ©1997 NAXOS AudioBooks Ltd.
This is a first-rate production of the play. It's clean, complete, and well-acted. Music and sound-effects are tasteful. At times, it might be a little bit too quiet, say, for airplanes, but these moments are few and far between. Overal, I wanted an audible copy I could keep coming back to like the text, and that's precisely what they've delivered.
My chief criterion in evaluating a dramatized performance of Shakespeare is that none of the lines are left out, save a few words here and there. Secondly, I also appreciate accurate sound effects, and a subtle "soundtrack," and a good overall recording quality. By all of these measurements this Naxos production of Hamlet scores well. The main problem is that, in a couple of scenes, Hamlet himself starts speaking way too fast for one to take in the lines. One might argue that this play is soooo long that, since this company has - quite justifiably - decided to remain loyal to Shakespeare's script, it only makes sense that they would have to hurry it up a bit. A few reviewers have failed to take the validity of this argument into account. The BBC Shakespeare productions are invariably bad about leaving out large chunks of important dialog. Any geek like you or me who listens to audible dramatizations of Shakespeare will insist on every verse being spoken.
This is not directed at those who are already familiar with Hamlet and have read the play before. This audiobook was my first experience with Hamlet, however, and the action is very difficult to follow. I'm not familiar with Elizabethan English, and the actors generally speak very quickly with some exceptions, such as Claudius. (Hamlet himself, however, is not an exception.) I listen to books in my car, but even taking the background noise into account, the changes in volume were extreme. At several points I had to turn the volume up so high -- even to hear that anyone was speaking at all! -- that I worried that when some new character entered and the volume returned to normal, my ears would be hurt.
While those who have read the play may get a better appreciation for the work by hearing it dramatized, (and the use of sound and music is well-done, to be fair) I would not recommend that someone unfamiliar with the play use this production as a first exposure to Hamlet.
I have to admit that this audio book was probably the best that i have every heard. The narration and speaking made me feel as if i was in the time and watching them do all these actions live.
If you're not able to actually watch the play on stage or film, then this is perhaps the next best thing. Pretty well acted out with music and sound effects. Only real complaint is it isn't broken up into scenes and acts for easy skipping around (or if it is, I haven't figured out how to do it).
It was indicated that I could not download this to my I-pod mini because it was not compatible!
Why was I unable to download to my I-Pod Mini as I have several other titles?
This is a must listen version. The production quality and acting is just phenomenal. I can't think of a better production in the attention to detail. Just a terrific use of sound effects and music first off; they don't take anything away from the production, which is hard to do in audio only format.
Anton Lesser's Hamlet is just first rate. The way he communicates the character in such an understandable way. Rarely have I empathized with a character so well. Standing ovation.
This is perhaps the best audiobook I have read so far. The shortcoming of audiobooks are that if they are serious reading, then you would want to read the book, not listen to it. If it is light reading, then it's hard to pay attention and hard to care, as I am listening in the car.
What I have found is that listening to Shakespeare is perfect in audiobook form, as these are dramatic works and so you gain by listening instead of reading. And just listening is in some ways superior to watching the play because your imagination can, in most instances, do a better job of visualizing the scene.
In this particular audiobook, the sound quality is great. But more than anything else, it is very well acted. In particular, Anton Lesser does an excellent job of voicing Hamlet. He brings manic energy to the role and really gives a great personal interpretation of the Danish prince that made me rethink my interpretation of certain scenes.
Lesser did a superb job - perhaps THE best Hamlet I have enjoyed. Of course, this is the first audio-only Hamlet I have heard... but that is the point: there is a unique advantage to audio only, especially for the tragedies and histories.
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