Ashton Hall, Edinburgh
2 August 2022 - 28 August 2022
As part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival
Directed and Choreographed by Peter Schaufuss
McKellen and Johan Christensen as Hamlet
Original press release (PDF, 30 March 2022)
Best Event Theatre at the Fringe: "Its unrivalled excellence will also secure its place in history as one of the finest re-tellings of the Bard's work" — Greg Stewart, Theatre Weekly
"The most brilliant, startling, life-changing 75mins happening this EdFringe" — Dan Lantell, GetYourCoatsOn.com
"What we have, then, are the bare bones of Hamlet. But what bones they are." — Susan Mansfield, The Scotsman
Ian McKellen is to play Hamlet for the third time in his career in a production this summer at the Edinburgh fringe. McKellen, who first took on the role in 1971 and starred last year in an "age-blind" staging in Windsor, will share the part with the Danish dancer Johan Christensen. The pair will perform with members of the Edinburgh Festival Ballet in the 75-minute production directed and choreographed by Peter Schaufuss.
McKellen said that, at a crucial moment in the play: "Shakespeare describes in detail a dance, performed by the actors touring through Elsinore. Hamlet says: 'What a piece of work is a man — how infinite in faculties, in form and moving, how express and admirable in action.' The same could be said of Peter Schaufuss and his company of wonderful dancers. It's inspiring to watch them and work with them."
Christensen has previously danced the role of Hamlet in a performance using audio recordings of John Gielgud as the title character. The new show — which also features Luke Schaufuss and British dancer Stefan Wise — will run for almost the entire month of August and is set to be one of the hottest tickets at this year's fringe, expected to be the biggest edition of the arts festival since the pandemic began.
Hamlet will be staged at the new 400-seat Ashton Hall, named after the choreographer Frederick Ashton, at St Stephen's theatre, formerly St Stephen's church. McKellen has performed at the Edinburgh festival several times in his career, including as Richard II and Edward II with Prospect Theatre Company in 1969. In 2019 he took his one-man show, comprising anecdotes and characters from across his career, to the Edinburgh international festival as part of his 80th-birthday tour.