It’s Paris in 1899, and star of the stage Sarah Bernhardt has set her sights on playing Hamlet. Too old to play the ingenue and too bored to play the stale roles written for women, the diva needs a genuine crowd-pleaser to save her debt-ridden theatre. What better work than Shakespeare’s finest play? And who better to take on the greatest part ever written than the greatest actress of the century?
Traditionalists are horrified — a woman playing the sacred role of the Prince of Denmark? It’s at best a gimmick, and at worst an unnatural upending of the status quo. As Sarah and her players delve into what makes Hamlet tick, the whole city is watching and waiting to see whether this bold plan will be her legacy, or her folly.
A vivid real-life backstage story by American playwright Theresa Rebeck, Bernhardt/Hamlet is a fast-moving, audacious comedy about a 19th century woman issuing a challenge to the system that still resonates today.