Tuesday, 10 October 2017

The Gloomy Dane and the Comfy Chair

I went to the cinema on Thursday, quite out of the blue. How very spontaneous of me.

It was the encore showing of the National Theatre 2015 live broadcast of Hamlet, so NTNotLive then. My friend, who is an English teacher, suddenly texted me on Thursday afternoon saying this was on and did I went to go - then she had to run off to teach a class, so with a bit of intermittent texting between classes we managed to get it organised and she booked the tickets (more of which to follow).

Otter impressionist Benedict Cumberbatch was playing the gloomy Dane, and Ciarán Hinds was Claudius. The last time I saw Mr Hinds in anything he was falling off the cliffs at Eshaness in series 3 of Shetland. They were the only people I'd heard of in it, and actually I didn't recognise Ciarán for a bit. The only problem with famous people in big roles is that I get distracted by what they're famous for. Benedict has such a distinctive face that it's really difficult to to get away from 221b Baker Street and get immersed in Elsinore. Though that's not to say he made bad job of it - he didn't. Although talking of the vague distraction of previous roles, the Ghost and the Gravedigger were both played by Karl Johnson. I had to google him when I got home because I knew I'd seen him in something but couldn't place it. Turns out it was Hot Fuzz. He was PC Walker, the one who translates for the mumbling old farmer with the weapons. He was an excellent Gravedigger. 

Now in a stroke of absolute genius my friend had booked the comfy reclining seats which have been newly installed at the cinema. I am a terrible fidget at the cinema - I just can't sit still for long and get really uncomfortable. But the leg-rest, and in fact all the leg-room, made all the difference. Definitely worth it for a 'film' so long that it has an interval. And actually I got so desperate for a pee that I had to run to the loo before the interval, and completely missed Polonius getting offed. Of all the scenes to miss!

Ophelia got me thinking. She was very wispy. Every Hamlet I've seen has had a wispy Ophelia. I don't think this is really a reflection on those who've played her, but rather on the role - she's not really a character at all, but a plot device, poor thing. Not one of Shakespeare's best certainly. My other random thought was 'wouldn't it be fun if there was a (Shakespearean-)English-language Danish-cast production of Hamlet. I think Sandi Toksvig would make an excellent gravedigger - a thought that seems so completely right that I'm now half-convinced I've seen her do that scene, at least, somewhere. Most of the cast of The Killing would be brilliant - Ann Eleonora Jørgensen who played Pernilla Birk Larsen (and also was in the Midsomer Murders episode 'The Killings of Copenhagen') would be such a good Gertrude. This is how I deal with insomnia - I play fantasy Shakespeare-casting.

Yikes, better go...

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