Alright, welcome to Day 2 of the 12 Plays of Christmas. This one is a bit of a stretch, but, day 2 of Christmas is St Stephens Day, and he was a martyr known for making long speeches…. and who do we know who is a bit of a martyr and makes long speeches? Hamlet!
“Hamlet” is my favourite play by far, I love everything about the characters and the storyline, and not just because I descend from the Danes. Hamlet, torn between revenging his father’s death and, well, not believing a ghost… torn between whether to do the right thing, which is to kill his uncle, the King, which is in every sense doing the wrong thing lawfully…. he is a complex character. And Ophelia, his love interest is just as interesting, torn between doing what her father wants, and following her own path… both end up dead of course. It isn’t a Shakespearean tragedy without it. And the brilliant parallels between Hamlet – the man of thought – and Laertes – the man of action- are just so fantastically drawn. And there is an epic sword battle.
I have directed “Hamlet” in the past, removing all the Ophelia scenes and telling the story from her perspective, of a woman pushed, prodded and pulled in all sorts of directions, where in the end death seems like more than just an escape.
Other fun 15 minute interpretations include looking at the play within a play – the Globe Theatre company did this so splendidly with their “Hamlet to the Globe” world tour. I also love the final battle sequence where pretty much everyone dies. The Gravedigger sequence allows all sorts of creative license, interpreting the men as smart, or dull, and including song. Playing the juxtaposition between the lightness of death for the diggers, and the heaviness of the subject matter for the main cast is a fun option as well.
See you tomorrow!