John Caird's Vision for His Production of Hamlet Essay

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John Caird’s vision for his production of Hamlet was to give it a “suffocatingly religious” atmosphere where “the set was part cathedral, part castle, part graveyard, part attic” (Bate 202). Together with set designer Tim Hatley, he succeeded. Amy Gamerman of the Wall Street Journal characterized the set as “dismal” and “vacant-looking.” The set was comprised of luggage, suitcases and old trunks that were stacked, torn down and restacked again in different ways to make different scenes. Presumably this element of the set serves the purpose of reinforcing the idea of Hamlet’s journey of transitioning from a life free of pain to a life fraught with the truth of his father’s death (Vivier 323). Unfortunately, Kate Levin of Shakespeare…show more content…
Russell Beale’s Hamlet stood out for his gentleness and sweetness making Horatio’s “goodnight sweet prince” (5.2.332) all the more poignant. Though initially Russell Beale’s physique seemed an unnatural choice for the role of Hamlet, in the end his performance was critically acclaimed by most everyone. Though at the time Russell Beale was forty years old and not the slim young Dane audiences had come to expect, his performance was one of a kind according to Judylee Vivier of the Voice and Speech Review (323). She says that the unexpected death of Hamlet’s father throws him into such a sorrowful state that he “is vulnerable, open and present in the text” (323). Russell Beale plays Hamlet as the student who desperately wants to go back to the university in Wittenberg. His academic tendencies become clear as he constantly writes down words and phrases he appreciates in his journal. Judylee writes that Hamlet is obsessed with words because “they are all he has left” (323). Writing things down becomes his way of processing the tragic events of his life (Lloyd).
Many have conjectured that events in Simon Russell Beale’s life affected his portrayal of Hamlet. James Harding of the Financial Times notes that Russell Beale’s mother passed away during rehearsals for this production. The death of his mother perhaps led the lead actor to portray Hamlet in a much “softer” way. This unfortunate circumstance may have driven his performance as the loss of a parent helped

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