Thursday, June 17, 2010

"The silence"

Well, yeah, I DID say I was a big reader - that doesn't have much to do with being a big theater-goer.

So yes, I have read almost all of Shakespeare's plays, but I have never actually gotten around to seeing many of them performed on stage. I think the only major one I've seen was Richard III - and that only because it was "local" (UP was putting it on) and "sentimental" (my partner was playing a couple of one-liner roles) to me.

During a recent night when I didn't come in to work because of an inability to talk properly without bursting into huge, wet, joint-racking coughs, I managed to catch the TV version of the BBC production of Hamlet from 2008 or so. You know, the one with David Tennant in it, and Patrick Stewart?

This photo is likely to be from the stage version instead of from the TV production, as the "Alas, poor Yorick" speech was given outdoors in the latter. (Of course it would be; in the Denmark of the story, the cemetery is outdoors.)

- Well, of course, the juxtaposition of Shakespeare's English with modern dress is jarring and effective.
- The clear use of cameras as metaphor and as a device to facilitate soliloquy - very modern and metafictional. (And, on an unintentionally creepy note, reminiscent of the Weeping Angels!)
- Patrick Stewart is far more evil when he's playing his villains subdued. Whew. You can feel the menace radiating off him in waves.
- There was a very clever person in costuming, I think - during the "Get thee to a nunnery" scenes between Hamlet and Ophelia, Tennant is wearing a shirt printed with a muscular chest and abs - directly over his own chest and abs, of course. Cheeky!
- How can anyone fence in jeans? I mean, at least Laertes wore a proper fencing uniform at the climax....
- Horatio plays it very, very cool at the climax - but you can still feel how bereft he is, being the only main character to survive the ending.
- Poor, poor Ophelia. I'm sure I'll feel more ripped-up if I should see a traditional staging of this story. What little screentime she gets - and especially in her madness scenes - she really shines in.

I probably owe it to myself to see the Ian McKellen film of Richard III although I am definitely a fan of Gloucester. I HATE the portrayal of the poor man as a villain; blame the book The Daughter of Time for that mindset......

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