NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - British actor Jude Law received mixed reviews on Wednesday for his role as "Hamlet" on Broadway with one review declaring his performance "electrifying" and another describing it as "highly disappointing."
New York's Daily News gave the production, which comes to the Great White Way from a successful run in London last year, four and a half stars out of five and USA Today gave the show four stars out of four.
"Can a movie star on the stage transcend his film performances and even rise above the gossip pages?" asked Joe Dziemianowicz of The Daily News. "The answer is yes when it comes to Jude Law."
The production of Hamlet, which began previews on September 12 and will run until December 6, marks Oscar-nominated Law's return to Broadway for the first time since his Tony Award-nominated debut in "Indiscretions" in 1995.
Law, 36, was nominated for an Academy Award for his 1999 role in "The Talented Mr. Ripley" and for his 2003 performance in "Cold Mountain," but he has been as much in the headlines for his personal life.
"Let's cut to the chase: Jude Law doesn't embarrass himself as Hamlet. Far from it," wrote The New Post's Elisabeth Vincentelli. "While Law is the only reason Michael Grandage's production is on Broadway, this isn't meant to disparage the show, which is perfectly honorable."
But while critics from the New York Post, the Daily News and USA Today liked Law's performance, The New York Times and The Washington Post critics felt quite the opposite.
Both newspapers criticized Law for using his hands to show the audience what he was saying, such as throwing his arms upwards when he refers to the heavens and pointing to his forehead when talking about his mind.
"If every actor were like Mr. Law, signed performances for the hard of hearing would be unnecessary," wrote New York Times critic Ben Brantley.
The Washington Post's Peter Marks wrote: "For every action of any other actor on the stage, he supplies four, and he never stops gesticulating. Is the idea here that Law's Hamlet thinks all the world's a college stage?"
But Brantley acknowledged: "Mr. Law's undeniable charisma and gender-crossing sex appeal may captivate Broadway theatergoers who wouldn't normally attend productions of Shakespeare."
Reporting by Michelle Nichols; editing by Patricia Reaney