LONDON — "Too too solid flesh" becomes thematic in this fascinating and moving Hamlet at the intimate Almeida Theatre. Everybody is always hugging and kissing and slapping and grabbing, and Andrew Scott ( whom you may know as Moriarty to Cumberbatch's Sherlock) is deeply wonderful in the title role, is constantly wiping his wet eyes and pulling his hair and rubbing his hands. It's all very human, very flesh, except when it's not.

The production opens with a newsreel (in Danish) showing us Gertrude and Hamlet in a limo on the way to the state funeral.  Then the ghost of King Hamlet appears on CCTV. This is a modern world of suits and cameras, so that sometimes we're watching the action on stage — the duel at the end, for instance — and simultaneously the sports video above it.  Most brilliant is the moment after Hamlet has instructed Horatio to watch Claudius' reaction to the 'Mousetrap' play and we watch their faces in close-up as they watch the play while we watch the play on stage. This tripling? quadrupling? of audience-as-watcher teases the mind into and out of thought.

All this is the brainchild of the brilliant Robert Icke who is the hot new London director. He has everyone talking very fast — except when they're not. Two startling silences punctuate the performance: when Polonius (the excellent Peter Wight) suddenly can't remember when he was saying and stops dead in his narrative tracks, and then again when Claudius stalks out of the play within the play and everyone freezes.

Also thematically dual is the high theatricality of all these effects, plus the troupe of actors and all the advice about acting, the rehearsing of dialogue, the dumb show preceding the "real" show, all this in combination with the absolutely naturalistic delivery.  Scott has made the soliloquys his own, and he is so persuasively tormented, so passionate, so vulnerable to all the pressures on him, that he seems to be just talking and thinking it all through out loud. His self-mockery, the nakedness of his rage at himself, is utterly believable, as well as his rage at Claudius (tall, slick Angus Wright) and Gertrude (a disappointingly colorless Juliet Stevenson).

The contemporary setting allows all the characters to wear watches, emphasizing (perhaps too blatantly) the fact that in tragedy, time's up.  (Never mind that this production runs nearly four hours.)