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Hamnet Play Review | A Poignant Exploration of Shakespeare’s Family Tragedy at Garrick Theatre

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Embark on a journey into the mesmerizing world of 'Hamnet' at the Garrick Theatre in London. This unique theatrical production unfolds the love story of Agnes Hathaway and William Shakespeare, set against the backdrop of 16th-century Warwickshire. Their connection, guided by unexplainable instincts, leads to the formation of a family and a life together. Hamnet is a poignant and beautifully crafted tale that showcases the human spirit's remarkable ability to endure even in the face of the most devastating loss. It's a theatrical experience that lingers in your heart and mind long after the final curtain falls, leaving you with a profound appreciation for love's enduring power and the art of storytelling.

What is Hamnet about?

Hamnet is a captivating play that weaves a story of love, loss, and the enduring power of family bonds. Agnes Hathaway and William Shakespeare find each other in 16th-century Warwickshire, driven by mysterious circumstances. Their love endures as Agnes tends to their three children while William pursues a theater career in London. When the plague claims their beloved son, Hamnet, each must grapple with grief. Yet, from this profound sorrow, something extraordinary emerges. Hamnet is a tale of resilience and the remarkable legacy that grief can birth.

Hamnet: Cast, creative team, and set

Hamnet cast

The cast of Hamnet is led by Madeleine Mantock as Agnes Hathaway and Tom Varey as William Shakespeare. Their performances are complemented by a talented ensemble, including Sarah Belcher as Joan, Will Brown as Burbage and Father John, and Ajani Cabey portraying the titular character, Hamnet. Frankie Hastings, Karl Haynes, Alex Jarrett, Hannah McPake, Peter Wight, Gabriel Akuwudike, Phoebe Campbell, Mhairi Gayer, and Liza Sadovy contribute their skills to craft a memorable and emotionally resonant production.

Creative team

Hamnet is a captivating adaptation of Maggie O'Farrell's acclaimed novel, skillfully brought to the stage by the talented playwright Lolita Chakrabarti. The production is under the expert direction of Artistic Director Erica Whyman. The creative team behind Hamnet includes Design by Tom Piper, Lighting by Prema Mehta, Sound by Simon Baker, Music by Oğuz Kaplangi, Casting by Amy Ball CDG, Movement by Ayse Tashkiran, Dramaturg Pippa Hill, Fights by Kate Waters, and Music Director Alice Brown.


Tom Piper's set design for Hamnet is a visual masterpiece that seamlessly transports the audience to the heart of an Elizabethan rural home. Crafted in blonde wood, it exquisitely captures the essence of the era while ingeniously continuing the contours of the Garrick Theatre's balconies. This ingenious design ingeniously transforms the venue into what can be likened to the "wooden O" of Shakespeare's original Globe Theatre. It not only provides a fitting backdrop but also adds depth to the performance, enhancing the overall experience of Hamnet.

Hamnet review: Final verdict

Hamnet offers a moving stage adaptation of Maggie O’Farrell’s novel under the direction of the Royal Shakespeare Company's Artistic Director, Erica Whyman. The play provides a poignant exploration of Shakespeare's family life, with Lolita Chakrabarti's creative adaptation. Madeleine Mantock's luminous portrayal of Agnes Hathaway and Tom Varey's depiction of Shakespeare add depth to the narrative. The creative set design by Tom Piper ingeniously captures the essence of an Elizabethan home and the spirit of the Globe Theatre. Despite a slow start, the play weaves a narrative web around human life, art, and family. Hamnet stands as a touching and emotive commentary on Shakespeare's life and enduring legacy.

How to buy Hamnet tickets?

Looking for budget-friendly tickets for the Hamnet play in London? Book your tickets online! Enjoy last-minute availability, choose your using the Garrick Theatre seating plan, and skip the queues by booking at your convenience.

Hamnet review: What the critics think

"Moving stage adaptation of Maggie O’Farrell’s novel about Shakespeare’s son" "Lolita Chakrabarti’s rich drama for the RSC comes to London’s Garrick Theatre"
Sarah Hemming, The Financial Times

"Initially slow, the show about Shakespeare and his family weaves a beguiling narrative web around the creation of life and art”
Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard

"The RSC’s adaptation of this Women’s Prize-winning novel about Shakespeare’s son has the whiff of a naff heritage tourist attraction at the start – but the second act will break your heart"
Alice Saville, The Independent

"Siblings and their tragic legacies come under the spotlight" (Garrick Theatre London)
Patricia Nicol, The Sunday Times

"The RSC adaptation of Maggie O'Farrell's novel about Shakespeare's son is a searing take on grief"
Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph

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