So, Tennant’s Hamlet. The press are already writing of it, and Jonathan Miller sneered at it for ‘celebrity casting‘. Last week, I saw the PR shot for it, and it instantly brought to mind another image.
Friedrich’s The Wanderer Above the Mists (or The Wanderer Above a Sea of Fog). It’s an arresting image, from the Romanticism period in art (painted around 1817). The same period which saw the rise of the sublime as a form of beauty, and concepts of nature v nuture emerge from post-Revolutionary France. It was also around the time when Shakespeare went through a massive revival, led in part by the Lambs’ Tales from Shakespeare (1807), and Hamlet became a tragic hero (rather than a whiny emo boy back from gap year to find ‘Uncle’ Claude has moved in with mum). All this suggests the tone the production intends to take with the play: a Romantic who ends up caught up in that fog that he looks down on.
The military coat (as well as making me go “Captain Jack!”), also recalls Branagh’s Hamlet, which looked to create a strong sense of both the political/military forces waiting on the borders, and the idea of a Germanic stoicism – Hamlet having studied in Wittenberg – in the face of the threats Hamlet faces (real and imagined).
It opens next week, and I shall read the reviews with no end of trepidation. Naturally, I have tickets for September but I can’t work out if I’m more excited by seeing Tennant as Hamlet, or by seeing what looks like it’ll be a smart production of Hamlet with Tennant as the icing.
I picked a quote from Hamlet over the other possible title for this piece, which suggests the latter reason for the excitement. The other title? “Don’t cry, emo Dane prince!”