Saturday, March 8, 2014

IV.vii. Ophelia's Death - Kline '90

As this production recreates the play as Kline crafted it on stage, the scene does not allow a flashback to the events Gertrude describes. It does, however, make sense of how wary Laertes is. His reaction to the news is to mistrust it, and his initial question (where?) drips with disbelief. Though he's just been "turned" by Claudius, the King has also shown him how devious and underhanded he could be (the convoluted murder conspiracy). Could Ophelia have been the victim of a similar plot, lest her madness reveal some hidden truths at Court? Because we don't see her suicide, we're allowed to be suspicious as well. Gertrude is certainly sincere, but did she actually witness those events (and thus is guilty of letting them happen), or was she told? And if told, how reliable was the witness? The problem with such an interpretation is that Claudius shouldn't be upset about this death affecting his plans for Hamlet (except with himself, but that's not the performance here).

Dana Ivey stresses the words "cold maid", which is an illuminating choice, as Ophelia is indeed the coldest of maids now. It's doubly interesting because this adaptation's Ophelia, Diane Venora, seems a little old for the part. Was she really a "maid", or is that part of Gertrude's tale to cushion the blow as much as the prettiness of the picture she paints?

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