Saturday, July 26, 2008

England Day 6!

Wow, I've had internet issues! So expect a long post.

So yesterday! Seems like such a long time ago. We woke up in Bath and ate breakfast at the hotel. Then we wandered around and and bought some clothes. Then we went to the Roman Baths.

This was a very, very cool museum. We could walk all around the Baths and there was a cool audio tour and I really wish there'd been internet in last night's hotel because I just don't have time to cover this in detail with all the other things we've done. But there was really interesting commentary by Bill Bryson. And holographic images on the walls!

It was really cool.

Also there were all these pigs on the streets in Chicago cow style. They were beautiful. There was one that was so entirely a Rocky Horror pig. It was hilarious. It was based on the legend of King Bladud, the founder of Bath. They have such a cool founding legend. Boston has history, Bath has legends.

I want to go back there some day. I think I could live there.

Then it was off to Stratford-upon-Avon for Hamlet!

I'm going to save Hamlet for last because it was so awesome that I don't want to rush through it in an attempt to finish the blog post. So Hamlet, then we went to bed.

In the morning we visited Anne Hathaway's cottage which was very pretty and then went off to Oxford. We ate lunch and looked around then saw this rather silly production of Twelfth Night where Antonio was a puppet and the company had gone through Violas like popcorn. This was Viola 4 and she wasn't off book. But it was very fun anyway!

Then it was off to the hotel in Dorchester where there was (theoretically) no internet except I seem to have managed to find some anyway. This is the least pleasant place we've stayed so far.

So! Hamlet!

Oh my god, it was amazing. What I kind of didn't realize in the excitement of OH MY GOD DAVID TENNANT was that Patrick Stewart was playing Claudius! And let me tell you, he NAILED the role. He was also the Ghost, which I thought was just too cool.

Oh, man, there is no way I'll manage to say everything I loved about this show. There was too much.

The set was completely made out of mirrors. The floor was mirrored tiles and the back wall was made of six mirrors that could move. Occasionally they'd bring out other set pieces, but for the most part, this was it.

In the first scene the two guards kept shining their flashlights on the ground so the beams bounced up and hit the faces of whoever was talking.

The costumes were all pretty much modern dress, and oh man, they looked so good!

Oh, the ghost? Was also Patrick Stewart. He did both. It was just so...guh.

Hamlet made a very clear transition from sane to "mad." He rumpled his hair up after meeting the ghost and the next time we saw him, he wore a red t-shirt and jeans. And no shoes or socks. Also, he looked so young the entire time!

Polonius was hilarious. He was such a doddering old man. During some of his lines he'd just trail into mumbling and there'd be an awkward pause where everyone would lean in to see what he was going to say next and he'd suddenly be like, "Oh, where was I?"

Ophelia and Laertes were also great. Ophelia found condoms in Laertes' suitcase and mocked him when he was telling her not to fool around with Hamlet. And when Ophelia went mad? She was so much more insane than Hamlet. She was not faking it. And Laertes was so pissed. They both were really good.

Gertrude was wonderful. She went from being a glamorous queen in the first scene we see her to a tortured mother and widow in the end.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were awesome. They were, of course, confused for each other, and bawdy and always together, and complete snakes. Brilliant.

And let's not forget Horatio! Now, I really love Horatio. And he was so good in this. He was always the one who laughed at Hamlet's jokes when everyone else clearly wanted him to just shut up. And they didn't cut out the suicide line at the end! Man, I loved this show.

Back to Claudius. He just had such dignity! After the play he just walked up to Hamlet and shone the light in his face clearly wondering what he knew and he was just so calm and collected. And in the end, when Hamlet's already poisoned him, Hamlet just handed him the cup and he drank from it meeting Hamlet's eyes the entire time and died. He wasn't forced. True, he was already dead, but still. It was

Hamlet! He was so good! He was just wracked with grief in the beginning, and he did the fake madness so wonderfully! He was clearly having a great time, and after he killed Polonius there was a chase scene and they ended up duct taping him to a chair! And he delivered "To be or not to be" really well. That's a hard speech, since everyone knows it so well. And not really central to the plot, yet completely unable to be cut out. He barely acted it at all. He just rocked back and forth a little, staring at the audience and standing all but still. It was great.

I really loved this. I did.

The intermission came at a really weird point, though. When Claudius is praying and Hamlet comes in and thinks, oh, this is a really convenient time to kill him, and then he raises the dagger and bam, lights went out.

It was so television. I could practically hear the voice over saying, "Don't go away! We'll be back after these messages!"

Another cool thing, remember the mirrored set I told you about? Well, Polonius hides behind the mirrors a lot. And when he's in Gertrude's room and Hamlet hears him, Hamlet shoots, the lights go out, the mirrors spin, and when they stop, they're cracked. They stay that way for the rest of the show.

It was just so cool. I cannot get over how awesome it was. I'm sure I'll think in a few minutes of something I can't believe I'd ever forget to mention, but honestly? I could go on forever about this show. But I won't.


Anonymous said...

Talk about awesome - your report is AWESOME! I feel like I was there. Love, Gramma F

Anonymous said...

WOW, Shana! That sounds amazing!!!!! Now I am totally jealous, I want to go to Stratford and check it out! Want to come with me?

Your description is also amazing, I can feel how exciting and wonderful it was. Unbelievable.


Saranga said...

Hi, I got here from SallyP's blog.
You saw Patrick Stewart in Hamlet?! Ok, so very very jealous. That show has been a hot topic in my work as a colleague had tickets but couldn't afford the trip to Stratford to go. She was gutted.

I'd have LOVED to have seen it. I'm glad you enjoyed England!

Shana Jean Hausman said...

Hi! Welcome!

Ooh, your poor colleague! Well, it was utterly lovely. Best version of Hamlet I've ever seen. Of course, the other ones I've seen are maybe four or so movies and the play I was in back in eighth grade, it doesn't have much competition. Still, terrific.

Thanks! I hope to come back soon!