Friday, April 15, 2011

II.ii. Rosencrantz & Guildenstern - Tennant (2009)

Though some R&G pairings emphasize the betrayal, acting as somewhat sinister agents of the Royals, the 2009 R&G emphasize just how much they've grown apart from Hamlet. While he is an adult struggling with adult things, they are immature boys giggling at all the wrong bits and staring at their feet when things get serious. It's an extremely funny performance, even as the tension and discomfort mount. R&G are helped immensely by the editing, giving them reaction shots for many of Hamlet's lines. Instead of having the prince rattle on an uninterrupted speech, there's the sense that R&D do indeed have lines, albeit silent ones. Pauses, stares, the putting of hands in pockets, hard swallows... this is where they live - in between the lines (funny, then, that it's where Hamlet "reads" them).

And the discomfort is felt by Hamlet too. He's happy to see them, but before he can ever feel their betrayal, he visibly feels that they are no longer on the same page. Guildenstern's giggling during the Fortune banter makes Hamlet uncomfortably stammer through the next line, desperate to change the subject. He's humoring them, but doesn't share in their mirth. (It's also one of the few "Doctorish" bits in the film. Tennant reigns in a lot of his Doctor Who mannerisms in this performance, but they sometimes slip by. It happens again at the end of the sequence when he starts acting crazy again, adopting a cockney accent and making clicking noises when he delivers the "hawk from a handsaw" line, which you can easily compare to the "you've had some cowboys up in here" stuff of his Doctor.)
R&G are naturally dumbfounded at the "depression" speech, once again, reverses allowing the characters to be active witnesses. Tennant delivers the speech with obvious sarcasm. His voice breaking at the end makes R&G's giggles more inappropriate than ever. Rosencrantz actually lets out a little "a-ha!" there, indicating that he thinks he's understood a meaning (finally), perhaps that this was all a long joke about liking women, but he's of course wrong.

One problem with the problem play is figuring out when Hamlet concocted his plan to stage a play that would catch the King's conscience. The speech in which he reveals it comes at the end of the Act, but there are various point before then where Hamlet seems to be acting in accordance to this plan already. Tennant hits on this idea quite early. His expression when he hears about the Players makes it clear he's already thinking about it, motivating the line "He that plays the king shall be welcome". We'll see later if and how Tennant picks up the threads of this idea later. At that moment, it gives him a boost of mad energy and he starts acting the loon again. He strangely picks through Guildenstern's pockets, crosses his arms before shaking R&G's hands and takes on accents.

Trims and Cuts
There are few trims to the text in this section. The entire rhetoric of shadows' shadows, for example, is not delivered. Hamlet also doesn't reveal that he is "most dreadfully attended". None of these have any great effect on the play. The only outright cut is the usual decision to remove the theatrical gossip. Again, this is not a huge loss, though in this case it does make "It is not very strange; for mine uncle is king of Denmark..." something of a non-sequitur, albeit one of many R&G have to react to.

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