Madeleine Mantock on making her West End debut in 'Hamnet'

Madeleine Mantock, who made her West End debut in Lolita Chakrabarti’s adaptation of Hamnet, talks about how she was cast and the importance of representation.

Suzy Evans
Suzy Evans

"It feels like we’re doing the right thing," Mantok says about casting Shakespeare’s women in a new light. "And I get a sense of naughty glee that we can be so bold about it." Known for her work onscreen in the American series Into the Badlands and the Charmed reboot, Mantock makes the move to the stage as Agnes Hathaway, the Bard’s wife, in this theatrical epic.

London Theatre Magazine spoke with Mantock about bringing this Shakespearean story to the stage.

How did you get cast in Hamnet?

Sometimes you find yourself reading things, and you’re not that into it. But with this one, I really felt the story. You sometimes think, "Do I dare to see myself in the centre of this?" Then you think, "Oh, nobody will ever let me do that. They’ll never say yes, it’s too good."

Did you know the novel?

I had a very narrow awareness of the book in that I’d seen the cover, but I didn’t know what it was about. I didn’t make the connection between Hamlet and Hamnet.

Hamnet refocuses Shakespeare’s story on his family and the women in his life. What does that representation mean to you?

It feels normal to me. Yes, this is what we should be doing. But I think that that’s because I have a bit more of a slightly obnoxious brazen approach that I just want to be allowed to exist. I am the centre of my own universe. So it kind of makes sense to me. I walk into our rehearsal room, and I see all these brilliant, wonderful, smart, funny women who have made this story and are putting it on the stage. And I just think, yeah, this feels right.

What do you hope people take away from the show?

I think people get so wrapped up in life sometimes that it’s actually quite amazing to go, I am only just a tiny person on this floating rock. But we all feel really big things. And that’s what I love about theatre – that we get to go and sit in a dark room filled with other people. And I just think it’s a really nice way to commune and reflect on what life is.

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Photo: Madeleine Mantock in Hamnet. (Photo courtesy of production)

This article first appeared in the January 2024 issue of London Theatre Magazine.

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