I hate this picture they keep using.

The Boston Herald’s got a review up of David Tennant’s Hamlet (called “Prepare to be bard to tears…”) so I had to go check it out for that negative headline, if nothing else.  They didn’t like it, though I don’t think the negative aspects of the review live up to the headline, which makes it sound awful.  The author gives is a C+.

What gets me, though, is that crazy picture that I’ve seen used in several articles now.  If we didn’t know what was happening at the time, wouldn’t that look like something straight out of a bad B horror movie?  Why the frick does Hamlet have a crown on his head, has he been playing Henry V? Is Claudius that engrossed in what he’s doing that he’s let a potential assassin get that close to him? He of all people should know you don’t live long as king of Denmark without watching your back!

Saw a production of Hamlet once where they all carried guns instead of swords.  During this crucial scene, Hamlet is at one side of the stage with the gun leveled at Claudius’ back.  I thought that was an interesting way to merge the ideas of “I’m this close to doing it” with “well, if I had a sword I’d kinda sorta have to be within arm’s reach of him…”  Not to mention all the implications that come with the “good guy” shooting someone in the back, even if it is Claudius.

4 thoughts on “I hate this picture they keep using.

  1. I hate the picture also. But it isn't the proximity that bothers me. After all, Hamlet has a set speech of 20+ lines to deliver, all while being close enough to observe, or kill, Claudius. It's part of a theatrical device Shakespeare often uses; one character speaks–the other hears nothing. Characters can even be standing next to each other and comment to the audience in asides about the person they're standing next to–neither of them hear the jibes intended for them, all in the midst of a conversation yet! Another of the things I love about his stuff in the theatre.

    What bugs me about the pic is that, as you said, it looks like something out of a grade B movie–out of context. As you say, if you didn't KNOW what was up…and the crown? Maybe he's picked up Claudius' crown,–purely conjecture on my part and attempt at justification. I'm just trying to somehow make it make sense theatrically with what I can get out of the, as you put it, "crazy picture". They could have picked something else. It's too specifically "sensational", making the play look more like a horror flick, I agree.
    And the reviewer sounds as though he's more concerned about the lighting. Well, we shall see…won't we? Can't wait!

  2. I agree that you can't always look at proximity between two characters as a realistic indicator. But, still, I've always thought of Hamlet as off to one side, hiding in some way, trying to decide whether to leap out and pounce. In this picture it looks like he'd be able to whisper in Claudius' ear.

  3. Yeah, that picture is a little ridiculous. They really played up the 'antic disposition' aspect of things.

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