Sunday, September 27, 2009

I.ii. The Wedding Banquet - Slings & Arrows

Slings and Arrows is rather playful with the banquet scene, using our knowledge of the actors' stories to give each scene an extra level, one that actually manages to comment on the play. The Claudius of this play is only known as "Alan" and is not really a character in the series. Once he gets going, we cut to Cyril and Frank watching the performance on closed circuit and saying how he's got a good voice tonight. Cyril notes that it's really "all he's got". A perfect moment for these guys who regularly act as a comic chorus, as if on a balcony at The Muppet Show, but also a poke at Claudius as a character. He is an arrogant blowhard full of hot air and no substance, contrasting with the quiet and sensitive Hamlet. Note how Hamlet is right at the front of the stage in the staging.While we don't see most of the scene (the editing basically cuts from the first speech to Claudius' exit), we can imagine Claudius going through the motions and addressing everyone in turn, very much ignoring the elephant in the room. When you reveal that Hamlet was there and draw him out, then Claudius was perhaps forgetting him. When he's in full view like this, Claudius is actively ignoring him and prioritizing other characters over him.

During the initial speech, there is a nice bit of double-acting from Gertrude as played by Ellen Fanshaw played by Martha Burns. Jack Crew (Luke Kirby) is deathly afraid of being shown a fool (he's the action movie/teen heartthrob cast as Hamlet) and is just keeping from throwing up. Ellen/Gertrude looks down at him with a look of sudden concern.
The actress wonders if this will turn out to be the disaster she predicted, but the character seems to register something amiss with her son, motivating the interrogation/comforting to come. Works perfectly in the series, where "use it" is often used in response to something that should distract the actor (just as Jack is "using" his nausea in the scene).

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