A little while back I saw a conversation on Reddit started by someone who’d directed Julius Caesar. He’d chosen to cast a … what’s a good word … corpulent gentleman as Cassius. His motivation was probably 90% practical (i.e. the big guy was the only choice) but he’d convinced himself that the casting really drew attention to Caesar’s famous “yon Cassius hath a lean and hungry look” line, making people think that well duh obviously Caesar doesn’t really mean he wants to be surrounded by obese dudes. You can have a “lean and hungry” look that has nothing to do with whether you are undernourished.
I’m into a book right now that looks to be painting Gertrude as an alcoholic (at the very least, she enjoys her wine a little too much). That’s not the first time I’ve seen that, by a long shot. I wonder if somebody’s ever played a tea-totalling Gertrude who won’t touch the stuff? What if we took the whole wine thing right out of Hamlet and had the final bottle of Gatorade poisoned instead?
I’ve been thinking about typecasting in Shakespeare. Some roles seem like they have to be cast a certain way. Does Cassius have to be a beanpole? Does Gertrude have to demonstrate her fondness for wine before we get to the final scene? Does Hamlet have to dress all in black? Does Don John have to hold the cape up to his face and twirl that handlebar mustache?
Ok, I’ve never seen that last one, but it’s what I always think of when I see that play. “There’s to be a WEDDING?! I must RUIN it, because I am so very EVIL!!! Grab the girl, tie her to the railroad tracks!”
Does anybody know what I’m talking about? What character interpretation has become such a go-to move that you’re left wishing somebody would stand the idea on its head just to shake it up a bit?