With Maxine Peake as Hamlet soon to be broadcast on cinema screens across the nation, co-director Sarah Frankcom was rather pleased to be collaborating with her leading lady.

“As a director I think you can only begin to think about doing Hamlet if you are absolutely passionate about a particular actor.  Right from the beginning of this production it felt like a thrilling opportunity to explore, excavate and interrogate something with Maxine Peake, the most fearless and most courageous actor that I’ve ever worked with,” she said.

Joining the other director Margaret Williams as well as  ‘The Mighty Peake’ in this unique endeavour, are John Shrapnel, Barbara Marten, Gillian Bevan, Katie West and Thomas Arnold. To take this from medium to another is always bound to come with an element of risk, but this stage production illuminates the big screen – literally. The dangling lightbulbs are captured well on film; which at one point are used to depict fiery, stark flames that can also flicker, as well as diminish into nothing. At the point in the play where the words “remember me” are uttered, the lights  go so far as to take on the spirit of Claudius.

One loses sight of the fact that we are listening to the language of Shakespeare, as the actors deliver the lines in such a way, making good use of their physicality, that we mistaken it for modern English, while the actors themselves speak in their original accents, but with good annunciation. A special mention must go to Shrapnel, who plays Claudius and the Ghost, who uses his voice most effectively.

The costume appears to be modern day, or at least from the 1980s, with one of the characters bearing a rather stark resemblance to that of Adam Ant. Though the costumes and activity on the rest of the stage rarely takes your gaze away from Peake, who is captivating enough as the eponymous protagonist. It is impossible to become peaked out with the sheer versatility she brings to the roles, including the choices she makes, which have us continually guessing; and there’s a definite sense of energy as she prances around the stage like a musical instrument running through The Scales. Such energy can be likened to that of Ann-Marie Duff’s performance in St. Joan playing at The National. Both actresses have, of course, been in Channel 4 Series Shameless together, too.

The effectiveness of seeing Hamlet on film is it allows the voyeur to be able to see the expressions on characters faces more; and the spotlights help to further enhance the make-up, and bloody wounds. The gravediggers’ scene is represented through a jumble sale of old clothes, and a rolled-up jumper is used for Yorick’s skull. Ophelia’s body, a dress, is laid down in between each item of clothing. Symbolically the markings set out on the rectangular stage are ripped up as the order of the land falls into disarray.

This is a unique interpretation of Hamlet given it focuses on the topic of bereavement, and the impact this can have on the people who are left behind, expected to fend for themselves. “Lord we know what we are but not what we may be”, says Ophelia as she, like Hamlet, descends into a spiral of madness; allowing the actress to show off her range to its full capacity, recognising ‘deep grief’ as poison, with the death of her mother.

Hamlet was the theatre’s fastest-selling show in a decade. More than 35,000 people saw the production. Picturehouse Entertainment will distribute the film to an estimated 200 cinemas in the UK – which will hopefully lead to a lot of people leaving the cinema over the coming weeks, feeling enriched and moved by what they’ve just witnessed.