Friday, July 25, 2008

a document in madness


A few words on the RSC production of Hamlet which I saw last night in Stratford Upon Avon. This could be a patchworkish sort of blog as I am pretty tired and am not sure I can do a completely coherent piece.

I love Hamlet. It is hard to find words for a play which already says just about everything. I thought deconstruction was something to do with post modernism until I read Hamlet. There is a really beautiful ambiguity about it and last night's performance shone such a delicate light on all of its facades. I came away thinking that maybe it's only acting that can give meaning to language. Or maybe only act-ions. Or something.

It must be hard to act a part like Ophelia or Hamlet without giving in to the desire to answer the questions that the play refuses to answer; what is it to be mad? what is it to love? what is a ghost? what is a father? a mother? how can one live in the present and the past at the same time and how much thought should one give to the future?

Patrick Stuart was bad to the bone as Claudius and Ophelia made me cry with her crazy flower arranging. Particular kudos to David Tennant whose portrayl of the oedipal Hamlet in his mother's bedroom was one of the most touching things I have witnessed on stage or screen. To read about someone whose anxiety about the present leads them to torture themselves over the future while yearning for the past is one thing. To witness what it is like for someone else to try to crawl back inside their mother's womb is another. It extends out somehow so much further than the words alone.

Time traveller indeed.

3 comments:

Rainbow dreams said...

I wish we had studied Hamlet at school - so many major hiccups in my education - yet we midsummer nighted at least four times!!
Sounds enchanting almost

mister tumnus said...

we didn't do hamlet in school but they did show us the film with mel gibson as hamlet. would very much recommend this as an introduction!

i also say the RSC doing midsummer night's dream a couple of years ago in london. if you ever get the chance to catch this, do. it was beautiful.

paulwchambers said...

All that lives must die,
Passing through nature to eternity.
Hamlet. ACT I Scene 2.

...that's my favourite line.... 'time traveller indeed'