A Forum for and the Background of the Mediation of Dialogue in Ancient and Modern Academies

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Hamlet and Hamlets

Hamlet is currently sold-out in London's Novello Theater. I had bought my ticket in August, and on Monday I realized once more how outstanding a Hamlet's direction must be, and nothing less than that; and how Shakespeare's heritage is equally heavy for all of us, including the British actors. David Tennant (one reason for this performance being sold-out) was replaced by Edward Bennett because of an injury of the former. The direction was good, with elements borrowed from Branagh's filmed Hamlet (i.e. the huge mirrors onstage reflecting the players' word and act; or Ophelia's grave scene). I found the performance intriguing for a special reason: After a rather disappointing first part, I noticed Bennett's transformation in the second, from the grave scene onwards: as if he then all of a sudden immersed into Hamlet's role! A very good Gertrude's moment is also worth mentioning: after the closet scene and as her husband approaches her.
My exalted expectations have been caused by a series of famous Hamlets I had watched before. All the precious moments of the exquisite performances and directions awoke in my memory and often thrust aside less strong moments of the current performance: Laurence Olivier kissing Gertrude (1948), Richard Burton hinting at his self-directing of his madness by one single gesture (1964; a most interesting experiment to film the actors' last rehearsal of Hamlet), the most expressive Innokenty Smoktunovsky as Hamlet in Grigori Kozintsev's adaptation (1964), the scene of Ophelia's madness in Branagh's hyper-production which brought to the surface the enormous difficulties of turning such a play into a film (1996): all films available in Amazon, by the way.
Now, and before my blog turns into a cultural diary, I am back for good in the problems of the bad soul in the Laws, since the deadline is for the end of January. No culture break till then! Enough philotheasthai for 2008! Merry Christmas dear all, accompanied by the famous Christmas Carols at King's College and the melody of Berlioz' L' enfance du Christ (LSO live 2007 conducted by Sir Collin Davis: thanks Francisco)!



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