27 January 2014

Online Hamlet: An Elizabethian theatre-goer in Shakespeare's Globe

To my delight the great playwright of our day, Mr. William Shakespeare, has written another play! This one is called Hamlet; a tragedy we are all told.  The great actor, Richard Burbage, has once again taken the starring role in this piece. I find him to be quite a talented player and am fascinated to see what he is able to do with Mr. Shakespeare's new work.  My companion does not, sadly, see this piece in a favourable light.  According to her, it appears to be very similar to M. Thomas Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy, which has recently made rounds in the various theatres.  'How?!' I argue.  'A story of revenge, a murder, and even a character named Horatio' begins an answer.  I was determined to judge for myself and I am quite content with that decision.

The night of the play we crowded into the dirty and muddy grounds in front of the stage.  It has just recently rained and though it is not the most comfortable means, it is certainly an excellent way to view the players: tete a tete, almost.  I look around at the other merchants and nobles in the seats above looking down upon us as if we are nothing but lice on a dog, but I take no heed.  I am here to see Mr. Burbage and Shakespeare's thrilling new play.  The play begins.  Watchmen upon the watch see a ghost...the ghost of the murdered King!  The drums sound and the ghost appears unwilling to speak unless it is his son, the Prince Hamlet.  From there another tale of revenge, madness (real or played, I know not), duality, and even despair and confusion all play their part in this tale.

We, the audience, applauded Burbage, the rest of the players, and Shakespeare himself for this amazing tale of a young prince and his troubled state. ver, depending on the popularity of this play (and I do think it is one of Mr. Shakespeare's best) I wonder how or indeed if an aged Burbage would take this role.  The young Burbage of two and thirty years managed to convince me of his university ties. My companion still is not completely convinced of it's differences from Kyd's work, I will endeavour to change their mind.  Even the young lad cast as Ophelia put in a great deal of care in conveying the love that was forming for Hamlet and the madness that had overcome her.  At a moment, it appeared as Burbage was speaking directly to me as he contemplated life and death...'To be or not be..." that will indeed be the question.

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