Benedict Cumberbatch took to the stage for the first time on Wednesday evening in his highly anticipated role of Hamlet. With some fans having queued overnight for tickets while others travelled for many miles, the pressure was on – and Benedict did not disappoint with his interpretation of the great Shakespearean character.
It was the first preview performance of the play, at London's Barbican theatre, and 39-year-old Benedict wowed the audience with his portrayal of 'Hamlet in a hoodie'.
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Benedict Cumberbatch got the thumbs up from critics after his Hamlet debut
The production veered from moments of laugh-out-loud comedy to deep, heart-wrenching tragedy, with the lead actor's performance hailed as "electrifying", "sublime" and "riveting" by critics. Three hours after he first took to the stage, Benedict had the audience on the feet as he took a bow with the rest of the cast.
It is arguably the biggest challenge of Benedict's career – Hamlet is renowned for being perhaps the most difficult role in theatre, and has been performed by greats including Sir Laurence Olivier, Mark Rylance, Peter O'Toole and, most recently, David Tennant.
Benedict himself is no stranger to classical theatre; early in his career, the Sherlock star – the son of two actors, who were both in the audience on his opening night alongside his proud wife Sophie Hunter – performed in Shakespearean plays including Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Benedict's run at the Barbican lasts from 6 August until 31 October. The first batch of tickets, which went on sale last year, sold out so quickly that the production became the fastest-selling show in London theatre history. Tickets are now being traded on eBay for up to £1,500.
Fans do have the chance to get their hands on last-minute tickets – every day of the 12-week production, 30 tickets are being released costing just £10, on a first-come first-serve basis.