Monday, October 26, 2009

Hamlet on Broadway

"At the heart of this character is someone we all recognize as ourselves," says Jude Law to Adam Green in the October issue of Vogue, the article we refused to read until after we caught his performance Friday night in the title role of Hamlet (now playing on Broadway at the Broadhurst Theater through December 6). 

Hamlet is one of those roles that changes its hue each time a different actor steps into it, which is why we take a new journey each time we watch it. We are first introduced to Law's quietly brooding performance in Act 1, however, like someone bumping up the noise, he quickly turns bombastic and uninhibited by Act 2, continuing through until his last word spoken in the arms of his only friend (which, by the way, makes this the first we've noted big hints towards Horatio's creepy man-crush on Hamlet). We're curious to see how Jude's character evolves through each performance since his immediacy comes off as spontaneous, unmeditated.

The set design- monolithic doors, everything in granite- hits you over head with cold interiors, while disheveled, drab, black costumes add a sense of mourning to the layers of bleakness. We bow down to the director, Michael Grandage, for cleverly turning our point of view around, such as in Act 3, scene 4, in the Queen's closet, when we find ourselves eavesdropping with Polonius on Hamlet's confrontation with Gertrude. We became unnerved when Laertes dove into the fresh grave of his sister and propped her up for us to gawk at, although actor Gwilym Lee's polite approach fell short of the potential of the scene's potency. We thank you Mr. Grandage for keeping us awake during the well over three hours with your unexpected pockets of creepiness, while concurrently understating the oft-interpreted oedipal dynamic between Hamlet and his mother.

Watching Jude as Hamlet, we couldn't help but feel we were witnessing a historical moment in Hamlet's history. The force of his performance was indeed noble and unpredictable, and pretty much out-shined the rest of the monochromatic, mainly disposable cast. And therein lies the problem that vexed our sweet prince.

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