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Almost a year ago a new production of Shakespeare's Hamlet was announced that went on to break box office records. As this production finally prepares to open for previews at the Barbican on 5 August, with an official opening on 25 August, it has already cemented itself as one of the hottest tickets of the year, declaring itself a sell out success.
Whilst productions of Shakespeare's 'masterpiece' are hardly rare, the draw with this revival was Oscar-nominated actor Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role of the haunted Danish Prince – a celebrity casting that was big enough to send 'Sherlock' fans all over the country into overdrive, leading to an online box office line of over 20,000 people as soon as tickets were announced. Within minutes it was declared one of the fastest selling theatrical events of all time, with tickets popping up on online auction sites for ridiculous amounts just hours later.
There's something quite remarkable about any production managing to achieve such sell-out status along the lines of a Beyonce concert or tickets to Glastonbury – let alone for a play that most theatre fans have seen multiple times and generations have avoided throughout school education. Over 400 years old and the longest of Shakespeare's plays, this tragedy has been staged all over the world in multiple guises, with a string of celebrities in the leading roles.
The last popular production came from the Donmar Warehouse in 2009 which starred Hollywood heartthrob Jude Law in the title role. Tickets were equally hard to come by, as they were when David Tennant, Christopher Eccleston, Maxine Peake and even Daniel Day Lewis played the role over the past decades.
The combination of being one of the most famous plays in the English language and the star status of Cumberbatch have already made this production a hit regardless of what critics say. Directed by Lyndsey Turner, with designs by Es Devlin, it's unclear as of yet what direction the production will take – not that it seems to matter to the general public.
For those lucky enough to secure tickets, expect months of gratuitous bragging. If you were unlucky and missed out on your chance, there are a number of ways you can secure tickets to the most talked about production of the year, by just being a little creative.
London Theatre still have tickets available as part of a hotel package, meaning that those from outside of London wanting to make a theatre break trip can still get tickets for the show, alongside an excellent hotel deal. For those who are from London - why not make a special night of it and recover from the excitement of seeing Cumberbatch live in one of the comfortable hotels? Not only is this a fantastic way to save money on a special night out, but it also means you will be able to get access to the final few tickets available to this sell out production.
You can buy 'exclusive' hotel and ticket packages here.
For those who live in London, getting up early may be another key to success. Each performance will have 30 £10 tickets that will go on sale daily to the general public, in a first-come-first-served package direct from the Barbican box office face to face. Demand is expected to be high, so get your sleeping bags at the ready and expect to show your dedication for this excellent bargain.
If neither of these things are an option, the National Theatre Live scheme will be broadcasting the production to cinema screens all over the world on 15 October 2015, giving an international audience, and those without tickets, a chance to be part of theatre history. Check your local cinema for listing information – and book early!
However you choose to see Hamlet – we're sure you won't be disappointed. Do whatever you can to get your tickets to the fastest selling theatrical event of all time!
Hamlet officially opens at the Barbican Theatre on 25 August 2015 and begins previews on 5 August 2015. The show is running for a limited season until 31 October 2015.