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cultural vandal | by maryann johanson

my summer of David Tennant and ‘Hamlet’

So you may have heard — certainly I’ve mentioned it here — that David Tennant, aka the current Doctor Who, will be appearing in Hamlet and Love’s Labour’s Lost with the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-on-Avon this summer and autumn. (Performances start in July, and I think they’re all sold out.) I’ve got tickets to both shows in late September/early October, and I’m really looking forward to my trip across the pond. Not just for the plays, but because I really love England, too, and it’s been too long (1996!) since I was there.
As a fan of both Tennant’s and Shakespeare’s, I’m very interested to see how the actor approaches the crazy Dane, because — having seen most of what Tennant has done that’s available on DVD — it’s clear that he’s got an affinity for the, ahem, somewhat alternatively mentally abled. The Doctor is one of the more even-keeled characters he’s played, and even the Time Lord is really not all that particularly sane. I saw Ralph Fiennes play Hamlet on Broadway, ooo, probably ten years ago or more now, and I remember being struck by how he played the character: like he really was insane, and not just crazy like a fox, the way most other interpretations have had him. I’m not sure if a genuinely crazy Hamlet is actually even supported by the text, but I loved the risk Fiennes took in doing that: he made the character his own in a unique way. And I’m expecting something similar from Tennant.

So, in preparation for my trip to the land of the Bard, I am rereading Hamlet and Love’s Labour’s Lost — nay, studying them, in fact. And more: I’m going to (re)watch every version of Hamlet on film I can find (plus Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead), and review them — which has the bonus added value of also tying in to the upcoming summer releases of the movies Hamlet 2 and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Undead.

I’m also going to rewatch all of Tennant’s stuff that I’ve got– a lovely pile of overseas DVDs — and talk about all that, too.

Not that I ever made more grandiose plans for myself than I’m able to get through… but I should be able to manage this between now and September…

my summer of David Tennant:

Secret Smile
Takin’ Over the Asylum audition
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Jude
Bright Young Things
David Tennant as Hamlet
David Tennant in Love’s Labour’s Lost
• (more to come)

my summer of Hamlet:

Maximilian Schell as Hamlet
Kevin Kline as Hamlet
Derek Jacobi as Hamlet
Mel Gibson as Hamlet
David Tennant as Hamlet
• (more to come)



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