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Editorial Reviews

William Shakespeare’s Hamlet is reimagined and brought back to life for the modern audience in the brilliant audiobook Hamlet: Shakespeare Appreciated, composed by Simon Potter, Phil and Jools Viner with a commendable narration by Joan Walker, Stephen Elder and Paul Clayton. Part of the Shakespeare Appreciated collection, this unabridged reading of Shakespeare’s famous play is gripping. Listeners have the option to download with or without commentary. The commentary is recommended as it gives a full historical background to the play and Shakespeare himself. This is truly a brilliant experience of one of the most notable plays ever written. Available now from Audible.

Publisher's Summary

Experience Hamlet as a powerful full-cast drama with entertaining and enlightening commentary that explains what's what and who's who as the plot unfolds. To help you get the most out of Shakespeare, the narrator offers historical insights and background information, so you can enjoy the jokes, appreciate the references, and get a real sense of Shakespeare's world.

The unabridged drama is also presented without commentary. If school turned you off Shakespeare, find out what you've been missing all these years with this beautifully crafted audio presentation.

From the creators of SmartPass audio education study guides, voted third in a national poll to find the UK's favourite audibook (2008). Winners of three Spoken Word Awards for Best Drama (2004), Best Original Audio, and Best Publishing Initiative (2005).

©2009 SmartPass Ltd (P)2009 SmartPass Ltd

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Shaun
  • Tolar, TX, United States
  • 09-23-10

Performance great; commentary lacking

This is the second "Shakespeare Appreciated" recording I have listened to. The first was "Julius Caesar". The performance was just as good but the commentary was almost non-existent. Pretty much "Hamlet enters..." or "Hamlet exits...” If you have no concern for the commentary you will enjoy this.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Commentary Appreciated

This is an excellent narration of Hamlet. The performance keeps the story moving. The version with commentary gives great insight into the play. I enjoyed listening to both versions of the play. Great for students reading Hamlet for the first time as well as for those who have read it many times over. A must buy for your collection.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Shakespeare revealed!

While I have loved the poetry of Hamlet, it wasn't until I listened to this performance of the play - powerfully well done - with commentary that I was able to transcend 21st century culture and immerse myself in the depths of Hamlet. The program unveiled my brain to the beauty which had been previously obscure.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

What a great way to "read" Shakespeare

Let's admit it, Shakespeare is daunting! I have a goal to read all of the plays, and then perhaps the sonnets, etc., but sometimes I don't know where to start. When I found this audio book that includes a commentary, I snapped it up. I could listen to and enjoy the fabulous play, but when I got lost or just didn't understand something, the commentator was there to help. She helped me understand word usage of the time, symbolism, and other useful things that are jam-packed in this play and make it the classic that it is. For me it was perfect. You can listen without the commentary as well, for people who would rather not have those comments going on but want to hear some great readers performing this play. I will definitely pick up other titles in this series.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Love this series

Any additional comments?

Listen to the version with commentary, then the one without, for a fantastic experience, as you will then understand every utterance! This would have been time-consuming in print, but it goes by quickly with Audible. Thanks for a great series. The actors are very professional and do the master justice.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Carole T.
  • Shepherdstown, WV, United States
  • 06-13-12

Good Introduction, with Reservations

This could be helpful for an introductory student of Shakespeare and "Hamlet". There is some dramatization (carefully and rightfully described as being "speculative", as are all details of Shakespeare's life and literary motives) of Shakespeare's possible thinking when he wrote "Hamlet". Then there's a complete version of the play, done very well, but with extensive commentary. Anyone interested in getting to know Shakespeare but unfamiliar with the language of the time could find all this interruption helpful.
My reservation is that it can also be somewhat confusing. I believe this might be better done (and perhaps has been done) in a video format. This is a noble effort, and I hope it might bring more people to an appreciation of "Hamlet".

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Very Comprehensive and Engaging

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would recommend this book to any students who may be studying Hamlet, both for the insight into how it is performed and the integrated commentary which fills in an enormous amount of background detail without slowing down the story too much.

What did you like best about this story?

The most outstanding feature was the research and insight that went into the commentary. This is not a cheap cash in on a famous title.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

The book is very dense and may give you a bit of indigestion if listened to quickly. That said, I was in a hurry and used the 2x speed on the iPhone and was still able to follow it well.

Any additional comments?

An important note: if you just want to listen to the dramatized reading of the play, just play Part 2. It doesn't have any commentary.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great for a Shakespeare beginner!

Any additional comments?

I have always been afraid of Shakespeare because the language and meanings are so different. I didn't think I would be able to understand what the "true" meaning was. This audio was set up perfectly. The first part the narrator interrupts and explains the back story or the particular meaning of a phrase. Once I listened to that I was able to listen to just the dramatized play and I got so much more out of it than I would have listening on my own.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Great way to listen to the play

Plays are a visual thing for us, even for those who went to "hear a play" back in Shakespeare's time - they at least looked at people occasionally to sort everyone out (if they were paying attention). Reading a play is easier as well compared to having to listen to an audio version.

I was preparing to direct Hamlet and wanted to drown myself in the play as much as possibel so I got this to listen to while in the car. Wonderful attempt at performing the play tho as a fan of Shakespeare, the commentary did get in the way a bit. It's great for beginners and those who have issues with Shakespeare's language!

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great Production

Where does Hamlet rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I always enjoy dramatizations, and this is a good one. I use it to help my students hear Shakespeare as they find it very hard to read. The kids enjoy the production and find it easy to follow and interesting. Keep in mind, however, that the dramatized version WITHOUT commentary doesn't start until chapter 27. I find this backwards, but either way, I guess it works.

Any additional comments?

I do appreciate the commentary, but it's not really in depth. For someone trying to learn Hamlet or understand it a first or second time around, it is probably very useful, but I didn't hear any truly thought provoking comments.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-29-14

Learn to appreciate and understand this classic!

What did you like most about Hamlet?

Being from India, where English is a second language, I found new appreciation for this Shakespeare classic via the excellent commentary.

What did you like best about this story?

Hamlet is a complex character and it was difficult for me to earlier understand his psychology. I found new ways to understand and appreciate the grey, uneven texture of the human condition.

What does the narrators bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

I was born and brought up in a traditional Hindu household in India where I was exposed more to dramatisation of the Hindu myths and legends. So, it was exciting to feel like a fly on the wall in a time when Europe was ruled by monarchy.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The scene where Hamlet spurns Olivia to make her hate him was particularly moving. So is the emotional and philosophical charge of the grave digger's scene when they unearth a skull of an old courtier and Hamlet realises aloud the futility of vanity and desire for material things.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Ron
  • 04-01-17

Education and Entertainment

Excellent audio play of Hamlet intersected with historical notes and explanations of the dialogue. I will certainly look out for more of these as I found to combination very attractive, of course if you don't want this option, you can simply listen to the play without the additional commentary.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • bhavna
  • 11-08-11

This book is good one

this book is good one and worth reading it as it is one of the books which deals with all types of characters.

0 of 14 people found this review helpful