My question for discussion, though, is … why? I understand a live theatre troop having to double up on actors because they don’t have the bodies, or need to keep costs/resources/complexity down or whatever the real world reasons are. I’m not talking about that. When you’ve got plenty of budget and big name stars to work with, double casting to begin with is clearly a choice. To double cast the major roles obviously has a point, such as the fairly obvious one when we see Theseus and Hippolyta double cast with Oberon and Titania in Midsummer.
So then, why Claudius and his brother? What’s the point of that particular choice? Is it to show that Hamlet’s issues with Claudius are really unresolved issues with his dad? Is it to suggest that Hamlet’s dad and his brother were so close in physical resemblance that we can forgive Gertrude for essentially replacing the former with the latter? Hamlet several times plays up the differences between his father and Claudius (the line “like Hyperion to a satyr” comes to mind), so is it to draw a stark contrast to that, to suggest clearly to the audience that they weren’t really so different after all, and Hamlet just wishes that they were?
Any other “well known” double cast decisions you want to talk about?