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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Audiobook Review: Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Hamlet by William Shakespeare
Unabridged, 3 hr. 30 min.
BBC Audiobooks Ltd
Ensemble Cast (Narrators)
September 6, 1999
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Genre: Classic

Source: Downloaded audio from local library website
“A radio dramatization of Shakespeare's "Hamlet, Prince of Denmark". The play is introduced by Richard Eyre, former Director of The Royal National Theatre.

The play, set in the Kingdom of Denmark, recounts how Prince Hamlet exacts revenge on his uncle Claudius for murdering the old King Hamlet, Claudius's brother and Prince Hamlet's father, and then succeeding to the throne and marrying Gertrude, the King Hamlet's widow and mother of Prince Hamlet. The play vividly portrays real and feigned madness—from overwhelming grief to seething rage—and explores themes of treachery, revenge, incest, and moral corruption..”
I always feel a little inadequate when I read/review classics. That being said, my review of the work itself is going to be brief, but I will spend more time critiquing the audio version I listened to.

I have to say that I really didn’t even know the premise of this play before I read it. Of course I knew a couple of the most famous lines from Shakespeare came from this play and I have read several of his tragedies, but this one I had missed. The play itself follows Hamlet as he strives to take revenge out on his Uncle for the crime he committed but at the same time leads people to believe he, himself, is crazy. The play really does make you question when is he faking it and/or is he really crazy. I felt that the one weak spot in the play was the character of Ophelia. She was the one character that I knew most about coming into reading this, so I was really surprised to see that her impact on the story is marginal. I found myself not really caring what happened to her because I didn’t feel a connection to her.


I chose to listen to the BBC Radio version of this play because I have always been happy with watching BBC productions. This production was not like a boring narrated book, but it was as if I was watching the play and had shut my eyes and was just taking it all in through my ears. You could hear people walking around on stage, there were sword fights, and there was singing and music. Each character was voiced by a different person. I thought that this was one of the best audio books that I have had the pleasure of listening to. I would absolutely recommend the other Shakespeare plays by this production.  The only part where it got a little tricky to figure out what was going on was the final scene where there is a lot of action happening – I began to lose track of what was happening to whom. Otherwise it was a great production!

You can listen to a sample of the production (links to Audible):
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Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court


  1. Great! I'm glad you enjoyed the story and that the audio version was gpod. It must have been great to listen to.

    I know, Ophelia is really quite a marginal character, but I did feel sorry for her. She was just a tool, poor girl. But Hamlet is a great play; hope to see it on stage one day.

    You reviewed this classic well!

  2. Irena - I would enjoy seeing it on stage too. I watched the movie version featuring Patrick Stewart - and even though it was slightly modern it was pretty good. I wasn't really sure how to review this, thanks for the comments.


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