Sunday, July 17, 2011

II.ii. O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I - Slings & Arrows

The montage from Slings & Arrows Season 1, episode 6, cuts this speech down to a single line (the first). In the context of the show, the actors playing Hamlet has been told the play is just five speeches - all you need is to get those right - to help him get through it. Jack Crew's own insecurities are transposed into the performance, and with this awkward gesture and disdainful delivery, he tells us as much about the actor than he does about the character. Hamlet is a play about play-acting, and Slings & Arrows certainly knows how to blur the line further. At once, we see Hamlet's auto derision at being a bad actor (i.e. unable to act in a non-Thespian context) and Jack Crew's fear that he is not a proper actor either (coming from action films rather than classical theater). And it's done sparingly, with a single line. Of course, as with all things, it's a single line that works because we, the audience, know both Hamlet's and Jack Crew's contexts.

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