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29 April 2010 @ 08:00 pm
Hamlet: worst audience member ever, Y/Y? It always amuses me when productions don't even try to pretend that we can hear him but the players can't: the perils of performing for royalty. (Also, because I am a caricature of myself, I totally dug the Player Queen.)

There may be a proper update about Hamlet at some point, but: let it be known that I am in love with David Tennant's using his bare feet to point at things during the Mousetrap scene. And also with the eager, unselfconscious (and unconscious), childlike energy with which he folds himself down at the Player King's feet to hear of Priam and Pyrrhus--tell me a story, it says, and the Player King obliges, giving him words and gestures with which to imagine himself. Those arms raised for the killing stroke will come back again, in "O what a rogue and peasant slave am I" and in "Now might I do it pat"--and so will the standing as a neutral to his will and matter. (I tend to grieve for Hamlet--any Hamlet--in bits and pieces, when we see the young man who was; that was one.)

Oh--and I loved the flying tackle-hug between him and Horatio. Because, once again, I am a caricature of myself.

(ETA: And I squeed, when he said "dreamt of in our philosophy," after reading Jonathan Bate's article about it and Tennant's desire to change the line. I am like that. And there's this brief glimmer of wonder when he says it, too--which doesn't suit with "your philosophy," because that's Hamlet holding himself apart from Horatio's beliefs. For just a second, with "our," we got something different, something more open and shared, something that harks back to the two of them together at Wittenberg. Or I could be reading entirely too much into it; I am also like that, sometimes. But I think it was there.)
the cold genius: i cannot make you a wholesome answerangevin2 on April 30th, 2010 12:44 am (UTC)
I just love David Tennant's feet in general, now. :D
tempestsarekind: hamlet--though you can fret metempestsarekind on April 30th, 2010 05:34 pm (UTC)
This is also true, yes. :) I don't think I'd spent much time, previously, thinking about David Tennant's feet--so I suppose I can't say that Hamlet has never done anything for me!
Neaneadods on April 30th, 2010 12:55 am (UTC)
That is the one and only one production where the dumb show made sense in context. I tend to want to edit Hamlet's text and then smack the hero upside the head with a brick. (I think Tennant's playing him as not entirely sane in the first place, and falling apart quickly.)
tempestsarekind: globetempestsarekind on April 30th, 2010 05:36 pm (UTC)
I really liked how they did the dumb show. Although I tend to think that Hamlet is as "what the heck?" about that as I am; he doesn't seem to be best pleased with the concept in general, so maybe he didn't actually mean for it to be included? That's how I'd play it, anyway.
Neaneadods on April 30th, 2010 11:21 pm (UTC)
The dumb show is awkward, because we see everything with no reaction from the king, and then we see it all again with commentary. (Frankly, that's one of the things that I'd edit out, were I directing Hamlet; it's just too recursive and problematic.)

I saw the Hamlet live when Laertes was playing the title role. Although he wasn't quite up to the mark, he did have an even better physical look with that receding chin - this Hamlet was very much overbred and overlooked. (However, he wasn't quite up to the mark when it came to the soliloquies, while Tennant knocks 'em out of the park.)
tempestsarekind: hamlet/horatio OTPtempestsarekind on April 30th, 2010 11:55 pm (UTC)
Yes, it is peculiar--like Claudius hears the words and is like, "Oh, now I get that this whole thing is about me!"

I loved the soliloquies in this--which I usually don't; they're great to study, but on stage I tend to prefer the "antic disposition," because the whole play can screech to a halt during the famous bits. But Tennant was able to deliver them very sensitively--and (at least for "O that this too, too solid flesh" and "To be or not to be") as though they were real, snatched moments of release, quickly hidden.

I can't quite imagine Edward Bennett as Hamlet--but I saw him recently as Oliver in Sam Mendes' As You Like It, and thought he was wonderful. He really made the transition from "homicidal elder brother" to "lovestruck young man" work for me.
Neaneadods on May 1st, 2010 12:53 am (UTC)
Bennett worked as a Hamlet who cracks quite quickly; in this production, I feel that Hamlet was under immense amounts of pressure to start with and crumbled like a cookie the minute the screws were turned.

But he, alas, shouted all the soliloquies like a renegade from a production of The Tell-Tale Heart. Tennant's quieter delivery works much better as someone trying to snatch a moment's privacy he knows he'll never have.
tempestsarekind: hamlet--though you can fret metempestsarekind on May 1st, 2010 12:59 am (UTC)
The sense of constant surveillance definitely helped with that; I had the sense that he was holding so much back already, because everyone was watching, and yet he *still* had to deal with people telling him he'd been grieving too long and too obviously.
Neaneadods on May 1st, 2010 01:38 am (UTC)
They used cameras in the movie instead of mirrors but the mirrors worked better, IMO, because only one person sees through the camera; the operator. Whereas everyone sees everything immediately in a mirror.

Not to mention the obvious metaphor of the permanently shattered mirror when Polonius was killed and the literally crazed view it reflected from then on.
tempestsarekind: she runs lunatictempestsarekind on May 1st, 2010 07:19 pm (UTC)
Right. I could see how the mirrors might be more successful--although I thought they did a pretty good job of incorporating the mirrors into the setting, and there's also the fact that the idea of recording ties in with the issues of memory and remembrance that run through the play.
Neaneadods on May 1st, 2010 08:08 pm (UTC)
I hadn't thought of that!
tempestsarekind: peddlers of bombasttempestsarekind on May 1st, 2010 08:20 pm (UTC)
I love Hamlet's "while memory holds a seat in this distracted globe" speech, and the way he imagines technology (his "tables," the erasable notebook) to figure the workings of his memory--so I like the idea of the camera is an upgrading of that technology.
Neaneadods on May 1st, 2010 09:08 pm (UTC)
That's a whole new take. I'm going to have to mull on it.
tempestsarekind: books and flowerstempestsarekind on May 1st, 2010 11:27 pm (UTC)
Well, Hamlet is quite good for mulling, I find. :)
a_t_raina_t_rain on April 30th, 2010 03:29 am (UTC)
Surely, the Grocer and his wife in The Knight of the Burning Pestle are the worst audience members ever? I mean, at least Hamlet warns the actors that he's going to rewrite the script :)
tempestsarekind: all the world's a stagetempestsarekind on April 30th, 2010 05:36 pm (UTC)
Ha, okay, fair point!
Cisiccisic on April 30th, 2010 11:13 pm (UTC)
I haven't watched it yet... maybe that's what I'll do tonight!

What is Jonathan Bate's article about it? I've been aware of the two versions of the line for a while, and I think it makes a difference -- "your philosophy" is more distancing, more accusatory or putting-downish.
tempestsarekind: hamlet/horatio OTPtempestsarekind on April 30th, 2010 11:50 pm (UTC)
It was definitely a fun time!

Jonathan Bate wrote a brief piece about editing the RSC Shakespeare, and one of the anecdotes is about giving David Tennant a copy of the RSC Hamlet:

Yes--that's exactly what I liked about "our philosophy"; "your" always sounds to me as though Hamlet thinks he's above that sort of thing.