Tuesday, October 26, 2010

II.i. Ophelia Affrighted - BBC '80

Sadly, the BBC television production's version of this story shows off both the actress and the format's flaws. While from the distance afforded by the stage, Lalla Ward's performance would be acceptable, even the medium shot shows her tears to be absent in all but her voice. We're too close for such a performance. We could hear believe that Ophelia is faking it just as Hamlet is, except that Jacobi's Hamlet is well and truly mad (as he'll realize himself later), and Ophelia is meant to be sincerly distraught. But as I say, from a distance, Ward's performance is adequate. There's a fun moment when she is surprised by Reynaldo's exit and catches herself in time to cursorily curtsy. Polonius is kind to her, even when he makes the accusation, his fatherly love evident.
Even when the staging doesn't inspire much, I do try and pick up on a line I haven't examined before, and in this case, and perhaps because Ophelia herself has a fantastic hat, that line is "no hat upon his head". I just now realized that most, if not all, Hamlets I've seen feature a hatless Hamlet from start to finish. Could we infer that Shakespeare staged it differently? Hamlet might have started with a hat - like other courtly characters have - and signified his madness by taking it off and letting his hair flow wildly. Food for a future director's staging.

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