Grand Theft Hamlet 2023

Directed by Pinny Grylls, Sam Crane Frames

Pinny Grylls and Sam Crane bring the brutality of Grand Theft Auto to the world of Shakespeare – or is it the other way around?

Aug 12

Hollywood Avondale

UK In English
91 minutes Colour / DCP
Violence, offensive language & suicide themes

Directors, Screenplay


Julia Ton, Rebecca Wolff


Pinny Grylls


Pinny Grylls


Jamie Perera


Sam Crane, Mark Oosterveen, Pinny Grylls, Jen Cohn, Tilly Steele


SXSW, CPH:DOX, Hot Docs 2024


Grand Jury Award (Documentary), SXSW Film Festival 2024


In the depths of the Covid-19 pandemic, amidst the umpteenth lockdown, out of work actors Mark and Sam decide to stage the first-ever performance of Shakespeare’s Hamlet at the Pinewood Bowl in the virtual universe of Grand Theft Auto Online. Sam’s partner, filmmaker Pinny Grylls, logs on initially out of curiosity as to where her husband disappears to during all hours of the day, and soon after begins to document the audacious pursuit, shooting entirely within the GTA universe on an in-game phone camera. 

What results is a remarkable feat of filmmaking, not to mention the considerable effort of bringing the Bard to the Bowl. On top of the usual logistical headaches of having to hold auditions, juggle rehearsal schedules and promote the performance, Sam and Mark must contend with bullets flying past their virtual avatars every other minute, as trigger-happy users fire off at the would-be thespians. 

Considering the film takes place entirely in the online city of Los Santos, a locale less known for Shakespeare than the high likelihood of getting shanked, there are a surprising number of gifted actors willing to lend their talents to the performance. Not all are professionals, but like Mark and Sam, each of them seeks connection in an online world, when real life camaraderie has become unattainable.  

To Mark, Sam, and the rest of the cast, GTA Online becomes a virtual haven, a place for building community in unprecedented times and an escape from a grim reality. Finding sanity in moments of delusion and friendship in times of despair, Grand Theft Hamlet transcends the bloody chaos of both of its namesakes to offer a poignant, bittersweet portrait of life in the pandemic. — Matt Bloomfield