Sunday, May 23, 2010

Addition: Tennant's Hamlet (2009)

This week, I watched the Royal Shakespeare Company's production Hamlet directed by Gregory Doran and starring David Tennant and Patrick Stewart (that sound you hear is a geekgasm). The telefilm is different from the stage performance, but its essence has been preserved, and the director's very interesting commentary indicates how and why changes were made. The opportunity here, then, is to discuss both. The production is modern dress, but it doesn't attempt to set it in a truly modern world (à la Hamlet 2000). I'm happy to add it to the roster of Hamlets featured on this blog, and will run through all these scenes up to Scene 4 in the next few installments, catching it up with the others. There are plenty of excellent performances and intriguing staging ideas, and only rarely do we get the feeling that they were working on a television budget.

If I attempt a brief overall review here, I'll have to admit that this version has entered my top three favorites (along with Branagh's and Jacobi's). Tennant brings a physicality to the role and only once or twice does he become Doctorish (but then, Doctor Who is a Hamlet-like character touched by the same kind of madness, perhaps it was inevitable). Stewart redeems himself completely in the dual role of Claudius and the Ghost. I wasn't keen on his performance in the BBC's 1980 version, but he makes completely different choices here and is wonderful. In Penny Downie, we have one of the best Gertrudes I've ever seen. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are given a new lease on life. And Oliver Ford Davies' Polonius is a new and wonderful take on the character. Only Ophelia proves a deception, but that's often the case.

No comments: