Jude Law has a dashing, high-energy confidence in "Hamlet," on Broadway after a sold-out London run. The fine actor - whose love life has been unfairly headlined over his craft - commands virtually every scene in this downtown-black, modern-dress production. He has a focused, varied voice to go with his delicately chiseled fox-face features, and a lithe physical power that propels him from spotlight to spotlight with the effortless virtuosity of a Shakespearean action hero.
Indeed, if your father were murdered by his brother, who stole his kingdom and married your mother, you'd definitely want Law to avenge the crime.
On the other hand, if you're looking for an ambivalent Hamlet, one who struggles with existential decisions or makes you question his sanity, well, this is likely to feel more like a movie-star vehicle than a provocative interpretation of great conflicted tragedy.
Law and Shakespeare are present and clearly declaimed, which may well be enough for a Broadway smash. But director Michael Grandage, head of the estimable Donmar Warehouse, has done neither any favors with the routine supporting cast.
Despite Christopher Oram's hip black-and-drab clothes and tall minimalist sets, the production seems more assembled than built creatively around its main attraction. Despite the appearance of a high concept, the ideas behind it are stock, often delivered in the sort of an old-fashioned, master thespian British style that appears less committed to character than to the plummy beauty of the words.
Lest we forget the reason for the production, Grandage puts Law in a theatrical cone of light before the play ever begins. This is just the first of many times the actor is coiled, or crumpled, or crouched on the ground, positions from which he catapults with the hyperactive buoyancy of a young athlete.
He asks "to be or not to be" while sitting cross-legged in a snowstorm. When he says "ape," he pretends to be a gorilla. Long before Hamlet coaches the acting troupe to "suit the action to the word, the word to the action," Law has been acting out the advice. Although he takes five acts to decide "the readiness is all," he seems ready for action from the start.WHAT "Hamlet"
WHERE Broadhurst Theatre, 235 W. 44th St.
INFO $25-$116.50; 212-239- 6200; telecharge.com
BOTTOM LINE The moody Dane as action hero