Thursday, October 15, 2009

"Hamlet" directed by Michael Grandage

The production from The Donmar Warehouse in London comes to Broadway, at Broadhurst Theatre. TH and I watched it on Tuesday. I think SS is right when she said Jude Law, as Hamlet, tried too hard. He did not manage to shake off his celebrity and immerse himself into the role, but overacted to the point of caricature. Contrary to his own advice to the players, he sawed the air too much with his hands.

Kevin R. McNally's Claudius was a defensive dictator. In his poignant prayer scene, you almost want to forgive him for killing his brother and king. I did not like Geraldine James as Gertrude: her queen looked the part but had no center. Peter Eyre was a very human Ghost, and an extraordinary Player King. His speech about Hecuba was the best thing in the performance. He recited the speech as a whole, living thing; Jude Law recited his soliloquies line by line. Ron Cook had Polonius down to a T. Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Ophelia came up with only inconsistency. I could not understand a word of her mad speeches.

The minor characters had very little stage presence, with the exception, perhaps, of Gwilym Lee as Laertes. In his duel with Hamlet, Jude Law was convincingly the better fencer. The direction brought out subtly the homo-erotic feelings Horatio (Matt Ryan) has for Hamlet, I thought. Finally, the poetry, the inspired poetry, survived it all. "The play's the thing,/ in which to catch the conscience of a king."

1 comment:

Brian said...

Too bad about Jude, I guess. But Ron Cook! Amazing. His performance as Richard (Gloucester and III) in the BBC's 1980s productions is out and out frightening: