Saturday, May 4, 2013

Act IV, Scene 4 - Slings & Arrows

In the play inside the show, Luke Kirby's Jack Crew is getting into the "home stretch", as this is the last of six soliloquies. What we see of it in the montage is a simple close-up, but it shows how Jack, an insecure Hollywood actor, has become much more confident by this point in the performance, which can also be said of Hamlet. Meta-textually, one might very well see how the actor on stage would get an energy boost from knowing his exile (long-over due break) was coming next. The story structure must play into the mood of the actor.

But that's not the only meta-textual trick Slings & Arrows plays on its audience. As Jack/Hamlet speaks his words, his director Geoffrey is reminded to get his mentor's skull for the Yorick scene, and has to make a mad dash for it. As he does, we stay in touch with Hamlet through the backstage P.A. system, and the mention of a "delicate and tender prince" seems to give Geoffrey that association. If Fortinbras is a mirror held up to Hamlet, and Hamlet is an actor/director, taking on various roles and instructing the Players on how to act, can Fortinbras be any different? And in that context, the futile enterprise, the "egg shell", of his war with Poland IS, in a sense, the act of putting on a play. So much goes into the endeavor, and yet, each performance is ephemeral.

The juxtaposition made here makes Hamlet chide himself for not giving his all when the actor who plays him obviously is. He is himself the First Player, able to conjure emotions out of thin air for a world imaginary. Hamlet keeps breaking the fourth wall and running into itself.

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