Actor Samuel West and playwright Roy Williams are among those who have hit out at The Times and the Daily Mail for running reviews of Hamlet, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, after its first preview.
However, The Times and the Daily Mail have both posted reviews based on the first preview.
The Times’ critic Kate Maltby called it “Hamlet for kids raised on Moulin Rouge”. She acknowledged that her review was ahead of the play’s press night but wrote: “The Times is, as ever, in at the action early”.
Playwright Williams said it was “not fair” for the review to be run based on the first preview.
In a tweet to Matlby, he said:
— Roy Williams (@royboywilliams) August 6, 2015
Meanwhile, actor West described it as “shoddy journalism”.
Really shoddy journalism for the Times to review the first preview of Hamlet. Breaks all boundaries of protocol, taste and art. Bad form. — Samuel West (@exitthelemming) August 6, 2015
Actor Eddie Marsan wrote on Twitter that people should be able to read early drafts of Maltby’s reviews.
Kate Maltby at the Times, in same spirit as your review of Benedict’s Hamlet 3 weeks early, let us see & judge 1st drafts of your articles.
— Eddie Marsan (@eddiemarsan) August 6, 2015
Writer and comic David Baddiel wrote on Twitter that previews are designed to allow actors a “safe try-out space”.
— David Baddiel (@Baddiel) August 6, 2015
The Daily Mail sent columnist Jan Moir to review the show. She gave it five stars, but her review drew criticism for including pictures taken of the performer on stage.
Ben Hewis, features editor at Whatsonstage, wrote on Twitter:
— Ben Hewis (@benhewis) August 6, 2015
The Radio Times has also reviewed the production, while The Telegraph has published a “first look” at Cumberbatch in the show.
The Stage lead critic Mark Shenton said that it was not the “job of theatre critics to enter the fray just yet, and certainly not to review the very first public preview”.
“A lot will change between first preview and first night. As critics, it is our job to respect the artistic process; and part of the process is an acknowledgement that they need previews to work on their show before we pass judgement,” he said.
Shenton described it as “particularly surprising and shocking” that a “quality newspaper” (The Times) was behaving like a tabloid and “sending in a young reviewer to compromise herself and her reputation by being forced to take the public flack she is now getting by doing so”.
“The Daily Mail, by contrast, merely sent one of its columnists, whose gushing schoolgirl report hardly constitutes a ‘review’, even though she awarded it a five-star rating,” he added.
Hamlet is produced by Sonia Friedman Productions.
In a statement, the company said: “No critics were granted access to the first preview of Hamlet. There has been some reporting this morning to the contrary. Our opening night remains August 25. Official photography from the production is due to be released early next week and therefore any current photography from the production is unauthorised.”