We Shall Sift Him
It is only when we forget Shakespeare that we can begin to find him.
— Peter Brook, 1996.
Who is Hamlet? That is the question.
First off, he’s an acid test for actors. Viewing the different versions can be disheartening. It’s like watching one soldier volunteer to scope out the enemy lines, only to be picked off, followed by another volunteer, then another, until finally a whole squadron’s been taken out.
Yet each new attempt, however ill-advised, offers some fresh angle from which to view the perennially tortured Prince of Denmark. Laurence Olivier played the blonde fop who couldn’t make up his mind. Richard Burton was the Byronic poet. Derek Jacobi the biting, sarcastic intellectual. Kevin Kline the profound melancholic. Mel Gibson the attention deficit with anger issues. Kenneth Branagh the hyper-sensitive. Ethan Hawke the beatnik rebel. Keanu Reeves the…whoa… Reeves tackled this part?