Benedict Cumberbatch begs fans not to film his Hamlet

After 'one hell of a week', actor says being recorded on stage is 'mortifying'

Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet
(Image credit: Barbican)

Benedict Cumberbatch has made a direct appeal to fans not to film his stage performances of Hamlet.

In a video clip of the plea, delivered at the stage door of the Barbican theatre in London, Cumberbatch said: "I can't give you what I want to give you which is a live performance that you'll remember, hopefully, in your minds and brains whether it's good, bad or indifferent, rather than on your phones."

Cumberbatch's appeal rounded off what he has called "one hell of a week", said Radio Times. Last week's Hamlet preview followed more than a year of hype, which has made the production the fastest-selling play in British history and has seen hordes queuing outside the theatre for last-minute tickets.

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His portrayal of Shakespeare's troubled Danish prince has won mixed reviews so far, after critics broke with tradition to review the first preview instead of waiting for the opening night, which is still some weeks away. Some reviewers praised the show as "electrifying" while others said it "lacked subtlety".

But Cumberbatch seemed more concerned about cameras than reviewers.

He said it was "mortifying" to see red camera lights in the crowd, adding "there's nothing less supportive".

Cumberbatch told fans he isn't on social media, but urged them to "tweet, blog, hashtag the sh*t" out of the play and his message. He said he wanted to "enlist" the crowd to try to discourage others from filming future performances and warned fans the Barbican was installing "devices" on Monday to detect and evict those using photographic equipment.

"I don't want that to happen, that's a horrible way to police what is a wonderful thing," he said, adding: "This isn't me blaming you, this is me asking you to ripple it out there on your funny electronic things."

This is not the first time electronic devices have upset stage performers. In 2013, James McAvoy stopped a performance of Macbeth to ask an audience member to stop filming the show.

Last year Kevin Spacey snapped at an audience member after he was distracted by a ringing phone, during a performance of Clarence Darrow, at London's Old Vic theatre.

"If you don't answer that, I will," he said.

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