Oct 9, 2009


What a lost opportunity; Jude Law could probably be a great Dane, but the new Broadway production, like McKellen's King Lear, is so transparently constructed as a vehicle for a single star that it puts the rest of the play in virtual eclipse. Of all the reviews I find myself most closely in agreement with Teachout.

But my better half pointed out a couple of lines she'd never noticed before, which points to the logic of casting a smoking-hot Hamlet. Both are from a clearly insecure Claudius:
I have sent to seek him, and to find the body.
How dangerous is it that this man goes loose!
Yet must not we put the strong law on him:
He's loved of the distracted multitude,
Who like not in their judgment, but their eyes;
And where tis so, the offender's scourge is weigh'd,
But never the offence.

The other motive,
Why to a public count I might not go,
Is the great love the general gender bear him;
Who, dipping all his faults in their affection,
Would, like the spring that turneth wood to stone,
Convert his gyves to graces;
so that my arrows,
Too slightly timber'd for so loud a wind,
Would have reverted to my bow again,
And not where I had aim'd them.

My first Hamlet was not such a dreamboat: It was Derek Jacobi's 1980 TV version, which I'm not quite sure I want to revisit for fear it won't live up to my memory (I tried to watch a little of this and had to stop, though this is a bit better). The only others I've seen, if I recall correctly, are Mel Gibson's passable turn in the Bertolucci film (a.k.a. Giblet), Marco Barricelli's muddled take at OSF, Alina Phelan's in an odd, transfixing first-quarto rendering at Theatre of NOTE, and Branagh's film, which to my profound surprise I pretty much adored. Perhaps because my first exposure was to Jacobi's take, I tend to prefer a nerdy, bookish, too-clever-for-his-own good, dare I say effete Hamlet over a restless, alpha-male, thwarted-action-hero take on the role. In fact, I can almost imagine Jude Law embodying the best of both those polar opposites--but not in the show that's currently up at the Broadhurst.

Found this weird mash-up of Jacobi's respective takes on Hamlet & Claudius (dig the Mark Hamill hair on his young self):

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