Abroad yesterday afternoon south of the river to the theatre – finally hearing the new play from the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. I confess I’d been dubious in advance, the revenge tragedy has been rather done to death in recent years. And even this particular story has been staged in recent memory following the script of none other than Thomas Kyd, so a re-working of Hamlet seemed to offer nothing new.
But we went, and I admit I was wrong – the pen of Will Shakespeare shook the tale up and made something fresh of it. On arrival I almost thought we had mistaken the hour, and had walked in partway through. The play began practically mid-scene, no prologue or explanation, Shakespeare trusting us to find our way through by our own wits. An interesting device. The story having been set before us with deft strokes we were swiftly under way. I began to wonder if there would be sufficient story to fill the allotted time, but this Hamlet was no man of sharp sword yet dull wit. He devised his scheme and spun his web with crazy-sounding quicksilver words to entice the King into revealing his guilt. And then in the moment where he could finally wreak revenge, he pauses and considers if it were the best time. I was of the opinion he should just have done the deed, but in argument later I am almost persuaded that Hamlet’s course might have been the better one. Why should the murderer die in a state of grace when that lack in his victim is a part of his crime? And yet, and yet. In the end they all die, even the innocent maid – and if Hamlet had not stayed his hand at first, she at least might yet live. A conundrum worthy of pondering.
The Lord Chamberlain’s Men were as accomplished as ever. Richard Burbage as one would expect was a delight to watch in the title role. His trademark veracity enhanced perhaps by his own father’s recent passing?
All told a play that is worth hearing again.
Ok, so if you normally read this blog and are now wondering “wtf?”: This is a creative writing assignment for a course I’m taking on Hamlet with Future Learn. We had to write a short review of Hamlet from the perspective of an Elizabethan seeing it for the first time. We were encouraged to embrace anachronism hence the mix between my normal style and slightly archaic (but not Elizabethan) phrasing. And if it was too long to stick in the 1200 char comment box we were encouraged to “set up” a blog and post it there.
If you came from Future Learn: Hi! Welcome, and feel free to poke around the rest of the site 🙂