The play's the thing!
I can't help but think that there's been some vanished into the vacuum of cyberspace somewhere along the line, but this is it on the blogroll; 300!
And what better way, on this 300th occasion, to review the theatre event of the year, in a slightly stilted and biased way?
So. The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. The Dane. Mr Tennant. How was it?
In a word, glorious.
In several more words:
I only read Hamlet all the way through very recently, and absolutely loved it, but mere reading obviously never compares to seeing it performed. Seeing it on stage brings the speeches to life; provides meaning for the phrases you don't fully understand, and just gives the play depth and life. This was no exception at all. There wasn't a dull moment from start to finish; it was very slick and fast-moving, and every performance was wonderful.
The set was interesting; the Courtyard Theatre has been extended whilst the main theatre in Stratford is being refurbished, and it still has that studio theatre vibe about it; the stage is very central and almost integral to the audience, and the whole play hits them on a very intimate level. I was on the second-to-back row on the stalls and still felt incredibly involved in the action. The stage was bare for the most part, but the background was made up of tinted mirrors, which opened inwards to allow characters (mainly Cluadius and Polonius as they spied on Hamlet) and sets to move on and off stage.
David Tennant was magnificent. His progression through Hamlet's various emotions was so well played; his first speech, when he was left on stage lamenting his father's death, was heartbreaking; he cries and curls in on himself, and even surrounded by an entire audience, looked so completely alone. Gah. But he soldiered through; the misery leading to terror when his father's ghost confronted him, and "antic disposition" and fear from there on in.
Oh, the antic disposition. I'd read that David brought out the darker points of humour in the play, but I wasn't sure what to expect; he was hilarious! Hilarious with just the right edge of anger to inspire apprehension in the other characters, enough madness to tip him over the edge. As shown by Doctor Who, but proved within a smaller space, he is a brilliant mover; leaping and dancing around the stage and always keeping the audience in suspense as to what he would do next. Having said that, when the madness did tip over the edge, it was terrifying; we've seen angry Doctor millions of times, but Tennant's angry Hamlet is utterly different; chilling, goading, furious, and oh. Scary. The scene between him and his mother is one of the most intense I've ever seen on stage, moving from fear to anger to regret and beyond.
Anyone worrying about David's acting ability needn't; Hamlet is as far from the Doctor as you could reach. Both very flawed characters, excellently acted, but it's easy to differentiate between the two. Having said that, it was lovely (and exciting) to see little mannerisms, David-isms, I suppose, that are occasionally seen in Doctor Who; there was at least one "Well!", rubbing of the neck, and the Converse! Oh yes, and, SO MUCH HAIR-RUFFLING. ALL THE WAY THROUGH. It was glorious to behold.
And, on a completely shallow note, dear Lord he's good-looking. The screen doesn't lie - in fact, I don't think it does him justice; he's lean and angular and agile and lovely and has fantastic hair. I had to supress wriggling in excitement whenever he was on stage because he...oh dear. I'm gushing, aren't I? My Dad was calling it "hero-worship" and although he's wrong...well, he's not entirely wrong.
The other performances were fantastic as well; Patrick Stewart doubled up and played King Hamlet and Claudius (although I was more compelled by King Hamlet, to be honest), Oliver Ford Davies was hilairous as a bumbling, well-meaning, rambling Polonius, and Mariah Gale broke my heart; her progression of feelings was as good as David's; from sweetness to fear to utter dispair. Poor thing.
Oh, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were brilliant, too; they were exactly as I imagined when I read the play, and played the fools with aplomb, it was great. I'm itching to read Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead, now; I've heard great things, and would love to see their backstory!
Whew. Terrible review, I know, too much Tennant and not enough of everything else. But it was all wonderful; scrapping, realistic-fights, typically teenage behaviour, atmospheric lights and sounds; the techie in me was infatuated with the whole thing. My parents were incredibly impressed; my dad went to see the full Kenneth Branagh Hamlet when he was younger, and was blown away by that; nothing has beaten it so far, but he loved this one.
Ow, my fingers.
School tomorrow! I have to go in this afternoon, as there's a rehearsal of Jesus Christ Superstar that, as stage manager, I should really see, as I haven't been to any so far.
Have borrowed a shiny new copy of Brideshead Revisited from the library; I'm the first one to have it! Yay!
Right, had better go. Talk soon!