Friday, August 01, 2014

Traveling Shakespeare

Globe to Globe Hamlet
by William Shakespeare

"Now I am alone. O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!
Is it not monstrous that this player here, 
But in a fiction, in a dream of passion,
Could force his soul so to his own conceit 
That from her working all his visage wann'd, 
Tears in his eyes, distraction in's aspect, 
A broken voice, and his whole function suiting 
With forms to his conceit? and all for nothing!" (2.2, 520-527)

Wednesday evening I attended a production of Hamlet presented at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater.  What made this production unique was its presentation by Shakespeare's Globe from London on their world tour celebrating the 450th birthday of Shakespeare.  It is a two-year long project that began last spring at Shakespeare's Globe in London and will conclude in April of 2016 in London to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death.  

The evening was a delightful experience with the Globe company of fewer than twelve actors presenting a bare-bones "traveling" version of Hamlet.  It was fast-paced, which helps with Shakespeare's longest play, and it had a few more touches of humor than most productions of this play.  The company excelled at sharing many of the roles and seemed more comfortable with the setting at Chicago's Shakespeare Theater than might be expected for the third and final of only three performances they gave before moving on to their next destination.

Learning of his father’s death, Prince Hamlet comes home to find his uncle married to his mother and installed on the Danish throne. At night, the ghost of the old king demands that Hamlet avenge his ‘foul and most unnatural murder’.  The play, encompasses political intrigue and sexual obsession, philosophical reflection and violent action, tragic depth and in this production, wild humor.  The introduction and finale added some song and dance that fit the occasion.

Hamlet as Shakespeare’s ‘poem unlimited’ is a colossus in the story of the English language and the fullest expression of his genius.  This production realized this genius and demonstrated why people still are enthralled by the play after more than four centuries.


Brian Joseph said...

Sounds like a great performance. I love watching Shakespeare even if it just a community Theater production.

A Globe Company performance seems like such a treat.

James said...


It was a unique experience for me. It enhanced my recent readings from Shakespeare to make this Summer special.