Communicator (communicator) wrote,
Communicator
communicator

Hamlet Review

As you can tell from my raving yesterday I had a brilliant time at Hamlet last night. I sort of worship Hamlet in any case, in any production.

Tennant was, as you would expect, very physical and lively. He gave the impression that he and Horatio were miles more intelligent than everyone else, but at the same time he did a lot of that hopping on one leg waving his foot about and holding himself over the grave with one arm and so on. I have no problem with that sort of thing, and he externalised a lot of what was going on inside which I like anyway. It was all very clear, very obvious, and this ties in a bit with what I was taking about yesterday about emphasising the meaning. I suppose this makes it a performance suitable for a young audience, coming to the play for the first time. But I don't think that takes anything away from a person who has been watching it for years.

I like Hamlet to be shared and experienced communally, and this performance brought it right up to people as a ritual in which we all participated, because it was transparent and obvious. I want everyone in the theatre to get it, because it is so important and good. It's like Look - look at this.

So for instance when Horatio says to Hamlet 'You will be dead in half an hour' Tennant's face is like - like you would feel if someone said that to you. Not 'this is the death scene in this famous play' and not sort of bug-eyed tragedy.

There were a lot of good performances. Oliver Ford Davies in particular was outstanding as Polonius, but they all were to be honest. R&K were a couple of twits out of their depth. Ophelia was a daft galumphing girl, as absurdly expressive as Hamlet, so you could see how they were probably very bad for each other.

I am tempted to tell you the things that weren't quite right about this production to show that my critical faculties haven't entirely left me. I thought Patrick Stewart made an appropriately nasty selfish Claudius but his final scene wasn't quite right, and I thought David Tennant started a bit slow. He was stunned, face frozen, sleepwalking until Horatio turned up. I know this was intentional but it had me feeling for the first twenty minutes that it was merely an OK performance. I wonder whether the quality may be a little uneven as other reviews I have read have been much more critical. Anyway, all of these points are almost completely irrelevant to the experience I had.

A couple of other thoughts. One is that Hamlet is a bit like Alien for me. The beginning of Alien where you are walking through the Nostromo, and it's all cold and grey, and everyone is asleep, and soon they will wake up and all will be killed. Elsinore exists outside of normal time as somewhere we can all go to.

And then finally, being entirely superficial, when Claudius interrogates Hamlet to find out where he has left the dead body, Tennant was tied to a chair and gagged. But a soldier stood in the way so I couldn't see properly! I wish I could get another ticket and go and see it all again.
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