Wassup Rockers

Hamlet @ Delacorte Theater (Shakespeare in the Park).

[Note: I wrote this on June 22, the day after I saw the production. Its run ends this Sunday, the 29.]

Sort of on a whim, I decided to go line up for tickets to see Hamlet in Central Park. I did a bit of research before I decided to really get on the line, though. Since I wanted to go on a weekend day, plus it was after reviews for the production were already out–creating buzz and more interest to see it, even though reviews were mostly on the “meh” side–, plus since there is only like a week left of the show, I realized there would be a pretty big line and I would have to go fucking early. So I staked me a spot on the line at 6:30 am. There were already about 100 people in front. I know 6:30 was really early. After all, if there are approximately 1800 tickets, minus an indeterminate amount for sponsors, it would have been okay to have been like an hour later… I think. I just didn’t want to risk my chances. Honestly it wasn’t too bad being on the line except I was alone AND my mp3 player ended up dying in its ass. But how can you complain about a pretty day in the park, right?

The play was, as the critics stated more eloquently, “meh.” The first act was pretty long so once the second act kicked in, I zoned out through like half of it. And yet, why do I feel like I hadn’t missed much? A major part of the problem was the Mad Dane himself, who was a ball of energy bouncing all over the place. It was exhausting without being rewarding. I didn’t feel like I got a true glimpse at the psyche of this character. I do feel like Michael Stuhlbarg, the actor playing Hamlet, was committed to portraying the role this way, but it was so over the top, to the point of just feeling cartoonish.

What would Aristotle have said of this play? Would he have felt some sort of catharsis at the end, seeing all those dead bodies splayed on the floor? I didn’t, though I did appreciate the liberal use of fake blood, which was grizzly and used to great effect. When Hamlet’s mama was about to take a sip of some poisoned beverage, I actually found myself giggling. So this was what I got for 7 hours on the line, I thought: a 3.5 hour play that culminates, in part, with a clichéd usage of the “wrong person drinking the poison” scenario. I guess I would have pitied her if I’d felt any connection to her; alas, she seemed nothing but a pretty prop. Andre Braugher, who played her husband and Hamlet’s uncle, was not any more memorable than she.

Honestly, Sam Waterston was the loveliest part of the play, who played the part of Polonius in a sympathetic and bumbling manner. Lovely to see him play a character who lacks any sort of control–it’s so different from what I see on Law & Order.

I do want to say, in addition, that the use of musicians and puppeteers was pretty cool to look at and a testament to the talent of the individuals who have trained in these respective fields.

Of course, I want to commend this obscure fella named Bill Shakespeare for having quite a way with words. He’s got a lot of good zingers, many of which could be used to this day. Overall, the production was unsatisfying and not worth the long wait on the line.


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