Last night I joined Naomi, Matthew and Debbie for a jaunt to Stratford. With the main theatre under renovation what I knew as the Other Place has been consumed by the Courtyard Theatre into a magnificent venue that put me in mind of the Globe. The stage was embedded in the audience, a layer of black shiny tiles with a mirrored back drop. By out heads (we were in the gods) there were six chandeliers waiting to be lower into the play. The opening scene was cleverly done, the auditorium was in pitch black and the guards on the roof tops of Elsinore castle shone their torches onto the shiny floor to illuminate their own faces and the ghostly king in the reflected light. The king Patrick Stewart - he also played the living king Claudius) had a coat that billowed smoke, which gave a very good effect. In the first few scenes with the non-mad Hamlet David Tennant was hardly recognizable but as he ruffled up his hair and became more lively in his actions he became more like the Doctor, we even had twiddling of knives and recorders a la sonic screwdriver! Horatio (Peter de Jersey) sported leather elbow patches and complimented Hamlet well, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (Sam Alexander and Tom Davey) were suitably stuck up, whereas Laertes (Edward Bennet, who looks remarkably like Prince William) fenced like a champion! Gertrude (Penny Downie) and Ophelia (Mariah Gale) gave dazzling performances but bumbling Polonius (Oliver Ford Davies) had us in stitches many a time. The atmosphere was perfect and had us speechless by the end.