"dear maid, kind sister, sweet Ophelia"
<--- This photo is from Shakespeare in the Park's Romeo & Juliet last year (which I loved) but I'm pretending it's from the 2008 Shakespeare in the Park season which is offering up Hamlet. Lauren Ambrose is featured for the second year in a row and this photo is still appropriate because, as you know, Ophelia does get all tragically water-logged by play's end.
My short take on Hamlet as a play: It's an impossibility to find a perfect Hamlet. The role has too many problems or, too be more specific, there are too many ways to play it, none of which turn out hugely satisfying unless the performer is dexterous enough to allude to the several other ways of playing it whilst also making it his own. So I didn't like this Hamlet (Michael Stuhlbarg last seen by moi in the superb Broadway play Pillow Man) who started the mammoth play with his performance turned up to 11. How could be possibly sustain it? (pssst. he didn't. Why not build rather than start out all thunderous?)
The play had other problems. Margaret Colin was an odd or insufficient Gertrud... or maybe it's the way this thing was directed. The Gertrud bedroom scene (the one where Hamlet stabs Polonius) was just terrible. His dead body lays on the bed and Gertrud acts like she isn't even freaked out by her murdered subject and Hamlet never once seems guilty about the stabbing, even mocking Polonius in his death... and isn't Hamlet always second guessing himself? Shouldn't there be guilt?
This free Hamlet, which also stars Sam Waterston, David Harbour and Andre Braugher runs until June 29th in Central Park. Good luck getting tickets.
Anyway. Lauren Ambrose continues to be as delicious onstage as she was for the entirety of Six Feet Under on television. Perhaps this was no revelatory Juliet but she made a fine Ophelia which leads me to my other insurmountable problem with productions of Hamlet: There's just never enough Ophelia ... sweet sweet Ophelia. That's Shakespeare's fault!
Do you have a favorite Hamlet? How many productions / movie versions have you seen?