Tuesday, 12 August 2008

For the benefit of some readers: OMG....

Last week I mentioned that we were going to see Hamlet. Some of the responses - OK, all of the responses - made it clear to me that I couldn't really leave it there.

Well, I could have left it hanging, I suppose. But people from a place where you're legally allowed to bear firearms would have hunted me down and dispensed summary justice. Which is why I'm trying my hand at theatre criticism. I'm really not too sure if this will be definitive. Or any good, for that matter.

You don't need me to tell you that Hamlet is one of Shakespeare's more heavy-going works. There's murder, suicide, madness and pretty much the dysfunctional family from Hell.

While the RSC carries out transformation of the Swan Theatre on the banks of the Avon, performances take place at the Courtyard just up the road. I don't see this as an disadvantage - the Courtyard is very intimate, with the stage thrust out into the auditorium and surrounded by stalls on three sides. We were sat five rows from the front, putting us at eye-level with the performers.

I haven't seen much Shakespeare - yes, we studied it at school but that was different - so my concern was that I'd find it difficult to follow on stage. But I needn't have worried.

I want to make it clear from the outset that this was not just the David Tennant show. Of course, in the title role he's going to form a major part. I'll be honest - I've not really seen much of his TV stuff. Although his background was actually in this environment, I suppose he does carry a lot of baggage as 'that bloke off the telly'. But he was a captivating Hamlet - at turns moody, mad, petulant, morose, entertaining. He covered every inch of the stage. You're never actually certain if you want to be on his side or not. This is complex. As it should be. You've got to concentrate on it, but he makes this effort worthwhile.

Then there was Patrick Stewart. This rich voice, from a whisper to a shout, filling every bit of the theatre. He had presence in bucketloads. God, he was impressive. And, can I use the word in its original sense, awesome.

But let's not forget - this was an ensemble performance, with the entire cast pulling together to tell a story. I now see while the RSC is seen as the pinnacle for stage acting. And I have this only 45 minutes down the road. (Yes - tickets for A Midsummer Nights Dream at the end of the month have already been ordered. Can't beat a bit of culture, can you?)

There were no obvious Dr Who fanboys evident. Although there was one girl who was, rather loudly, telling her neighbour in the interval about all the Serious Plays she'd seen that year. As they were both wearing homemade "David Tennant We Love You" T shirts, methinks the lady doth protest too much.

This section is for City Girl and others who have a similar interest.

This is a modern dress production. At one point David Tennant is wearing jeans and a T-shirt. And the T-shirt rides up to show a perfectly toned stomach.

There, are you satisfied?

I feel almost grimy......

1 comment:

City Girl said...


You get a big *smooch* for that, Fab Boy.

In all seriousness, as much as I go on about DT, I have witnessed much, much live theatre (my hometown is theatre heaven) and at least a half-dozen Shakespearean productions. Hamlet is my all-time favorite. Of course, I'm drawn to the dysfunctional....

DT with PS in Hamlet is my idea of heaven!


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