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Benedict Cumberbatch in "Hamlet"


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Hi Slithytove!  Nice to meet you!  I keep thinking you are me when I see your posts, and them I'm like "Did I post that?!"   

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I've just never liked Shakespeare because I don't really like the Elizabethan period of English history.  I like the pre-Norman Conquest stuff.  But I got these tickets about the time BC did the "Seven Ages of Man" advertisement for the BBC last fall, and I figured this was my chance to finally see Shakespeare done well so that I might enjoy it.  Of course, I've done none of my homework, so I'm banking on what Toby said that the material will be accessible without too much background info.

 

I can't say, because I haven't seen it -- but Martin Freeman said roughly the same thing T.o.b.y did, which you may find reassuring.

 

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Boton, I doubt you'll have any trouble following and / or appreciating the play because you have not read Hamlet or read about it in advance. I have never seen a production that made it so clear what's going on and what it's all about without significantly altering the source material. I predict you will have a great time.

Boton, I want to hug you for that post. lol

And, you know, I'm not really that out of touch. I've just never liked Shakespeare because I don't really like the Elizabethan period of English history. I like the pre-Norman Conquest stuff. But I got these tickets about the time BC did the "Seven Ages of Man" advertisement for the BBC last fall, and I figured this was my chance to finally see Shakespeare done well so that I might enjoy it. Of course, I've done none of my homework, so I'm banking on what Toby said that the material will be accessible without too much background info.

My son johnspec doesn't know Shakespeare and he enjoyed the play. He followed along well enough @ 13.

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Hi Slithytove!  Nice to meet you!  I keep thinking you are me when I see your posts, and them I'm like "Did I post that?!"   

But you don't look a bit alike! :d

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So. I did it again. Still incompatible to Shakespeare. But it was nice though, much less stressed than the first one.

The subtitles were there from the beginning this time and I also noticed some details I missed the first time.

 

I noticed that Ophelia's hair color changes from blond at the beginning to dark brown. I also noticed Ben's unbelievable leap onto the table* (how could I ever miss THAT?!?) and that his "King" jacket was a parody of the one Claudius wore at the show. Still didn't like the Ghost, liked Laertes less than at the first time, also thought Horacio didn't fit into the cast - he seems to be from completely different continuum (and if it was intended that way, it didn't work on me).

 

*how damn fit you have to be to achieve it - and to make it look so effortless! I was thinking that Sherlock jumping over the table in TSOT used some kind of helping device, but now...

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Oh, yes, I saw an asian lady in the row behind me, she had the Barbican program - I went and asked her about it. It turned out that she was in London and saw the play live, sadly her German was not very good. As I realized I could try to use English, the play was about to start. Sometimes I'm really slow.

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Hi Slithytove! Nice to meet you! I keep thinking you are me when I see your posts, and them I'm like "Did I post that?!"

Thank you - I've been in hibernation for quite a while - family stuff - but you know what this fandom is like. It draws you back , and you can't resist joining in...

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*how damn fit you have to be to achieve it - and to make it look so effortless! I was thinking that Sherlock jumping over the table in TSOT used some kind of helping device, but now...

I think he has springs on his shoes ... :D
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I remember I really liked it, but that was back when I was a lot younger and really liked Mel. Other than that, I don't remember a whole lot about it, I'm afraid. BC's version seems easier to understand, but that might be a function of my more advanced age too. :p

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I just saw Mel's version back late August/early September and enjoyed it. I followed the storyline well as I had seen Hamlet before as a teenager.

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I remember watching it long ago, but was re-watched some fragments on YouTube. To be honest, I liked them. Probably because they are less... theatrical?  From the beginning I was wondering if there is a version with a very quiet, subdued Hamlet...

Oh, and I loved Helena Bonham Carter as Ophelia.

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Oh, if I can follow it, Boton will be more than fine.

 

Your faith in me is heart-warming.   :)

 

Seriously, after reflecting on the play for a couple of weeks (we left for vacation right after we saw it), I do regret not doing some of my homework beforehand.  Because of the differences in accent and my increasing reliance on closed-captioning when I watch BBC programs (programmes?), I had a lot of trouble understanding what was being said, and I could only reliably understand Hamlet, Ophelia, and Claudius.  Most specifically, BC was the only one, for me, who actually sounded like he was speaking English rather than reciting iambic pentameter or whatever this one is written in, so I was a bit lost a few times.

 

I think I would have appreciated the staging and costuming more if I had had the slightest idea what the plot was going to be.  As it was, I had my hands full figuring out the actual plot, and I'm pretty sure I missed things that were done for interpretive reasons that are not necessarily always a part of Hamlet.  I still am not sure why half the thing looked like it was filmed on the extra props left over from The Imitation Game.

 

I didn't realize how many phrases and idioms that are in common use come from this play, even though my MIL tried to forewarn me.  As it was, I would hear something like "saints and ministers of grace defend us" and startle a bit, because the play uses it in a slightly different context than most people I know do.  So then I'd be a line behind while I adjusted to how the familiar phrase was used in its original context.

 

I enjoyed the fact that we were seated between a set of Shakespeare fans and a set of Cumberbatch fans (with one wearing an "I am SHERlocked" shirt).  So, at the interval, I got to hear one row say "what a brilliant delivery to maintain the inherent humor in the original text" and another row say "I'm more in love with him than I was before!"

 

That said, I really enjoyed it, and I take a certain amount of perverse glee in perhaps being the first person in 400 years to go into a production of Hamlet completely unspoiled.  (What?  X dies?  Y does too?  I didn't see that coming!)  

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Yeah. The understanding was the main reason for me to do a research, because I knew I would have huge problems with the language.

 

I think the TIG scenery was just a take on the oncoming war and Fortinbras' army maching across the land. They IMO took the most common clichee of war, which still might be WWII - that's why the set looked like taken from WWII war ministry rooms with the map and phones etc.

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That makes a great deal of sense, JP.  I'm going to go with that interpretation unless someone suggests a different one from LT's own mouth!

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Because of the differences in accent and my increasing reliance on closed-captioning when I watch BBC programs (programmes?), I had a lot of trouble understanding what was being said, and I could only reliably understand Hamlet, Ophelia, and Claudius.  Most specifically, BC was the only one, for me, who actually sounded like he was speaking English rather than reciting iambic pentameter or whatever this one is written in, so I was a bit lost a few times.

I hate it when people "recite" a poem -- let alone an entire play!  So perhaps it's just as well that I skipped the theater experience.  I would buy a DVD if the price is fairly reasonable and if I'm still interested if/when they finally get around to releasing it.  But I sure hope it has subtitles!

 

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You have to come to Germany - here we have had English subtitles. :)

 

You mean when Hamlet was shown in theaters?  Cool!  I've heard that some theaters here in the US have subtitles available for at least some movies, but you have to ask for a special little box, and I don't often have trouble understanding movie dialog anyhow (just television sometimes).  But in the case of a British cast reciting iambic pentameter, I might just ask for the box!

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Yepp, There were subtitles on the screen, just like those of a DVD. In the live screening they had some problems apparently and the subtitles came some time during the play, but the encore had them from the beginning.

 

And I think the encores might still run somewhere in Germany. ;)

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Yep, it had subtitles, but they annoyed the h*** out of me, because they were so distracting! "Angels and ministers of grace" is a favourite of Horace Rumpole's, like "Nymph in thy orizons remember me"; and Rumpole I know by heart, so even BC's soliloquies brought forth quite inappropriate chuckles in me. At the "Alas, poor Yorrick" one, I very nearly guffawed and got some really threatening dagger-like looks from the neighbouring seats.

Now, for Coriolanus and Tom Hiddleston! Can't wait to buy the tickets for that!

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Yes, it is a double-edged sword, the subtitles. If you can cope with the text somehow they are distracting. You can always hold something in front of your face to cover them - but then you would also get some looks from the neighbors :P

 

I don't remember the live screening, but in the encore audience was absolutely silent, which is somehow unusual in a cinema. A mobile ringed but was silenced in one second, I'm not even sure if it was in the cinema or at the Barbican :P

 

Plus: at least at the encore in Mannheim it was clearly visible that people met for that event. I even think some of them were message board members seeing one another for the first time. In Stuttgart it was me who was meeting someone, and we went for a dinner before the show, so I had not much opportunity for observing people.

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Where I live, only one place showed Hamlet without subtitles and that was sold out almost instantly. So where I went, I had to put up with words on screen and yes, I do find them a bit distracting as well, but I'm used to them because when I watch movies at home with friends or family, I usually insist on original audio and they say all right, but we want subtitles. (And if the film isn't in English, I need subtitles too, of course).

 

The audience at the live showing I attended was pleasant. There were all ages present from 14 to 90, but I'd say the majority was over 40. They definitely seemed to be there for the play rather than the main actor. It wasn't dead silent, but people paid attention to the screen and any noise was in reaction to the play, like laughter or the occasional whispered comment or explanation to a friend. It was a very relaxed, happy atmosphere. Many had wine glasses and during intermission, I was not the only person who got popcorn. It was Hamlet for fun, not Hamlet as homework.

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You had an intermission? No fair ....

 

I think that about describes the audience in my theater too; I was a little surprised there weren't more young folk. Especially since there's a huge university near the theater. Tickets were pricey, that might have deterred some of them -- or maybe they were the ones who made it to the live screening, now that I think about it. More internet savvy and all that.

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