The week before last, I saw more Shakespeare in one week than I had in the preceding decade: Brendan Cowell in the Bell production of Hamlet on Tuesday, and then the NIDA second-year class doing Othello on Saturday.
Both were very good. I heard that Cowell’s Hamlet was getting knocked for being “too emo”, which is weird because isn’t Hamlet the first emo in literature? It’s all there in the text, people. My problem with his performance was that he jumped around like a monkey-boy and dragged “Words, words, words” out into a shout, which isn’t how I’ve ever imagined that line, but apart from that I thought he was great. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were amusingly Stoppardian to begin with but modulated it into genuine affection when it was needed.
The NIDA Othello had more shaky moments – including a nice ad-lib and save when someone’s sword accidentally went under the seating – but I found it a lot more moving than the Bell. I know Hamlet pretty well but had never read or seen a production (stage or film) of Othello: and I reckon it’s got a much better climax. As James Joyce sez, Act V of Hamlet is indeed a “bloodboltered shambles”:
SOME GUY: O hai, the King wants you to fight that guy who like totally hates your guts. You can win a PONY!
GERTRUDE: ooooh, wine. Cheers ears.
*the boys all stab one another*