Saturday, November 1, 2014

V.ii. The Readiness Is All - Kline '90

Kline keeps most of the sequence intact, give or take a line here and there (the mocking if Osric listing Laertes' twin weapons, for example, may be due to the duel's staging). As his Hamlet tells Horatio about his sea voyage, he seems steadier and far less weepy than before, and holds Horatio by the wrist as if he fears his friend would recoil hearing how their two school chums were murdered. He is shocked, but not too much, though Kline's performance did make me ponder if the scene could be staged where this speech is a veiled threat to Horatio's life. Cross me, and this is what happens. As it ends with Hamlet equating a man's life to a snap of the fingers, it could be quite effective and show a much changed Hamlet.

A line reading of interest: Hamlet stops on "cozenage", which means fraud (Claudius' specifically), and draws attention to its innate pun - it sounds like "cousinage", fusing this fraud with the false kinship the King has shown him, acting as false father, just as he was, in other ways, false brother to Hamlet Sr.

Osric then enters. He's played by Leo Burmester with an Irish accent, perhaps to show a rurality opposed to the other characters' noble births. He's a comic figure for Hamlet to toy with, but not particularly extreme compared to other performances. We see him searching for words as Hamlet gets off-script, and the Prince isn't particularly cruel to him. Once Hamlet has made his point about Claudius' yes men, he walks away. Several lines are cut, and one gets a sense that Osric is too tedious for Hamlet to bother with any longer. There is a strange, lingering moment on "yours, yours", which gives Osric pause. He has just basically send his services are at Hamlet's command, and though "yours" essentially means "thanks" in this context, it also reverses the order of things. Hamlet is at OSRIC's command, since he will be participating in a duel fated to end in tragedy at his behest. In a broken Denmark, a Prince might as well follow the orders of a powerless minion. They are as good as an illegitimate king's.

With the final speech, Hamlet once again grabs Horatio's wrist, this time to stop him from fussing. His defiance of augury is a grander pronouncement, as if spoken to Fortune herself, and Horatio looks spooked. And yet, Hamlet ends it with a resigned smile. Just behind him, a banner with a cross. Everything points to an ending in blood and sacrifice. Cue alarums...

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