Hamlet

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Hamlet

Post  eddie on Sun Dec 04, 2011 1:44 pm

Hamlet: Schaubühne Berlin – review

Barbican, London

Kate Kellaway

The Observer, Sunday 4 December 2011


Judith Rosmair (Gertrude), Urs Jucker (Claudius) and, right, Lars Eidinger (Hamlet) in Schaubühne's Hamlet: 'earth-moving'. Photograph: Tristram Kenton

This is a ripping-up of the rule book – if there were ever any rules to staging Shakespeare (at one point Hamlet, at loose in the stalls, grabbed a critic's notes and sent its pages flying). Thomas Ostermeier's staggering, demented, incredible production from Berlin's Schaubühne theatre is not for purists. It is Hamlet as raw materials: made of handfuls of earth, blood, water and selected Shakespearean speeches with new lines added (such as Hamlet's jeer at Polonius: "You are forced to wear discount glasses and can't get it up any more"). "To be or not to be" is a drunk's refrain.

This is Hamlet as black comedy – muddy, bloody, anguished slapstick. The prince of Denmark is a clown, a madman, a blundering child who looks straight out of Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are. He is played with fabulous, inventive athleticism by Lars Eidinger. Take the production on its own terms or you won't keep up. Jan Pappelbaum's set is an open grave – as if we were inside the darkness of Hamlet's skull. Litter from the funeral party lies about. It is as sterile a promontory as ever you saw.

All boundaries have broken down. Gertrude and Ophelia are played by the same actress, Judith Rosmair – an idea of frantic coherence that confirms Hamlet's confused, incestuous idea of every woman as similarly contaminated. She is particularly amazing as Gertrude: a small white sex fiend under a bridal veil, singing in French for extra seductive reach.

More than anything, this mind-blowing, spit-hurling, earth-moving evening (with subtitles) is about what theatre can do. And the one line from Shakespeare that was carefully offered in English? "The play is the thing…"

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Re: Hamlet

Post  eddie on Tue Dec 06, 2011 6:08 am

Hamlet – review

Barbican, London

Lyn Gardner

guardian.co.uk, Friday 2 December 2011 18.30 GMT


Irritating … Lars Eidinger, right, as Hamlet. Photograph: Tristram Kenton for the Guardian

Less a tragedy and more a tortured comedy played out in the squelching mud and dirt of Elsinore, Thomas Ostermeier's Schaubuhne production shines the same forensic light on Shakespeare as he previously brought to bear on Kane and Ibsen. The result is brash and noisy, sometimes infuriating, frequently illuminating, occasionally heart-stopping and never, not even for the tiniest moment, dull. You can't always say that about Shakespeare in this country.

Marius von Mayenburg's version begins with "To be or not to be", which becomes an echo over the 165 minutes played without an interval, as Ostermeier offers an Elsinore on the slide. Even the gravedigger can't get the old king's coffin in the ground without slipping on the mud into the grave himself. But it's the hole that Lars Eidinger's Hamlet digs for himself that proves the most dangerous in a country already madly out of control and wedded to excess: there's too much food, too much drink, too many guns too easily fired. Even too much sex: glimpsed through the lens of Hamlet's video camera, Gertrude (Judith Rosmair, fab) looks like a Fellini film star; in the flesh she is something more tawdry. Later, there's an extraordinary moment straight out of The Exorcist.

It's not surprising that this royal family has spawned a dysfunctional country and a dysfunctional prince. This Hamlet is no brooding intellectual or dashing "sweet prince". He's an irritating spoilt kid in a flabby, grown man's body. He plonks his crown on upside-down, he throws tantrums, he lies face down in the mud, he wanders around sticking his video camera in people's faces. Particularly his own. The more he stares into the camera, the more he disappears. The more he feigns madness, the madder he becomes. The only people he seems to trust are us, the audience, and even then he can be rather abusive. Eidinger's Hamlet is not a pretty sight, and you can't take your eyes off of him. Mad, certainly; magnificent and doomed, too.

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Re: Hamlet

Post  pinhedz on Tue Dec 06, 2011 11:33 am

A reading that's more conventional, but also different (soundtrack by Dmitri Shostakovich, translation by Boris Pasternak):


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Re: Hamlet

Post  LaRue on Tue Dec 06, 2011 10:51 pm

I love the idea that the same woman plays both Getrude and Ophelia! Hamlet has some serious Mummy issues.

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Re: Hamlet

Post  eddie on Wed Dec 07, 2011 1:57 am

LaRue wrote:I love the idea that the same woman plays both Getrude and Ophelia! Hamlet has some serious Mummy issues.

In his film adaptation of Hamlet, Olivier played the "Closet" scene in which the prince reproaches Gertrude on a bed with his mum. Quite shocking in its day:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhW7bOoTxxQ&feature=related

Hamlet: Nay, but to live
In the rank sweat of an enseamed bed,
Stew'd in corruption, honeying and making love
Over the nasty sty,--

Now, if they'd had a "Bad Sex" award in Elizabethan London... Laughing

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Re: Hamlet

Post  eddie on Thu Dec 08, 2011 6:53 pm

You'll like this, LaRue:

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=youtube+hamlet&docid=1233220403494&mid=1CF0FFA7AA67115A43B41CF0FFA7AA67115A43B4&FORM=LKVR14#
Act V: the sword fight. David Tennant as Hamlet. Patrick Stewart as Claudius.

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Re: Hamlet

Post  eddie on Thu Dec 08, 2011 7:02 pm

^

The same scene in The Simpsons:

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=youtube+hamlet&docid=1233220403494&mid=643AA9448CA4C5053405643AA9448CA4C5053405&FORM=LKVR24#

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Re: Hamlet

Post  eddie on Thu Dec 08, 2011 7:10 pm

Pinhedz's Gravedigger scene, with Nicol Williamson as Hamlet:

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=youtube+nicol+williamson+hamlet&qpvt=youtube+nicol+williamson+hamlet&mid=6AA2FD1FAC62D2BF86116AA2FD1FAC62D2BF8611&FORM=LKVR#


Last edited by eddie on Fri Dec 09, 2011 2:01 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Hamlet

Post  pinhedz on Thu Dec 08, 2011 11:11 pm

eddie wrote:This Hamlet is no brooding intellectual or dashing "sweet prince". He's an irritating spoilt kid in a flabby, grown man's body.
An interviewer in Italy was trying to make the point that, while Shakespeare might be regarded as a demigod in the English speaking world, in other countries (like Italy--where Dante is the demigod), he's just another writer. He asked Italians if they knew Hamlet, and got answers like "Yes, the neurotic that couldn't make up his mind."

I've always thought that he was not only neurotic and indecisive, but also whiny, self absorbed, and mean.

And clumsy--he got a lot of harmless people killed, didn't he? Polonius, Ophelia, Rozenkrantz and Gildenstern ... any others?

But that's what it takes to make tragedies--tragic flaws, yes?

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Re: Hamlet

Post  eddie on Fri Dec 09, 2011 2:07 am

pinhedz wrote:I've always thought that he was not only neurotic and indecisive, but also whiny, self absorbed, and mean.

Youth has a habit of always asking the questions that maturity can't answer.

Personally, I think it's a play about how bereavement drives you temporarily mad (as it certainly did me).

Hamlet = early death of WS's son Hamnet. Too much of a biographical coincidence in names, there.

Interesting to note:

1. The Ghost of Hamlet's father is one of the very few roles we know that WS actually acted.

2. Daniel Day-Lewis, playing Prince Hamlet, ran screaming from the stage when the ghost of his own father appeared to him in mid-performance- right on cue. What a Face

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