To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing, end them. To die. To sleep.
Yes, we got tickets. And Hamlet was amazing. Incredible production.
The costuming was modern, but the play stayed true to Shakespeare's original language. There wasn't a bad actor in the entire company, though I thought Claudius was miscast. The two actors that stood out in my mind were Michael Stuhlbarg as Hamlet and Sam Waterston (of Law and Order fame) as Polonius.
Michael Stuhlbarg plays a grieving, relentlessly miserable, brooding, crazy Hamlet. He vocalizes a lot, making funny, clownish contemporary sounds which he incorporates into the Shakespearean dialogue. He's very physical, dashing around the stage, constantly moving, like a nervous beagle. I found it interesting to have a lead actor who was so short. He couldn't have been more than 5'4" or so. All the other actors seemed to tower over him, including Ophelia. But he gave a huge performance. His gestures and vocalizing contemporized the dialogue and made it modern and relevant. I thought his Hamlet was fabulous.
Sam Waterston stole the show. His Polonius was every inch the wise, elderly advisor, and also the silly, somewhat senile clown. The audience laughed at every joke that he conveyed through his delivery. He still maintained that gravitas he exudes as he senior DA on Law and Order, but this was a whole new character. He kept me riveted.
Hamlet is a little like 24, in that there is a huge body count at the end of the show, but the violence seems to be appropriate. The show closes with a new world order, and you wonder how they will avoid making the mistakes of their predecessors.
This was the first time I've seen any production of Hamlet since my father passed away. It's interesting for me to observe how much more engaged I was this time in the language of mourning. Hamlet, Laertes and Ophelia all lose their fathers and all deal with it differently. This probably flew right over my head until I too became a mourner.
What a perfect night, in spite of the occasional drizzle. I have not thought once tonight about my divorce, my childlessness or my "situation." I have not felt that trapped, choking, hopeless desperate feeling at all. All I felt was happy and engaged. What a day. Today, I left my self-consciousness and self-pity at home (where unfortunately, they were waiting for me upon my return).
Next month's play is Hair. Not sure what Hair has to do with Shakespeare, but I am definitely going to go see it, if I can fit it into a non-Three Weeks date. The music alone is worthwhile.
Today, I love New York.