So I caught Shakespeare’s new one Hamlet, Prince of Denmark at the Globe the other night.
Go, my friends said. You’ll love it, they said. So much better than the Kyd’s Hamlet, they said. Even better than Kyd’s Spanish Tragedy.
My friends are fools.
I go to the theater for action. Not for some overeducated fancy-pants prince to piss and moan about how he didn’t get the throne when his dad died. Then when the old man’s ghost shows up to tell our way-too-sweet prince that it was the kid’s (not the Kyd’s) own uncle who did the deed, does the melancholy dunce take action? No. He wants to make sure the ghost isn’t lying to him or the devil. Please. Of course, he’s telling the truth. It’s a ghost. In a revenge story.
Look, if it wasn’t a revenge story, I could see the whole “oh, I wonder if the spirit is leading me astray” angle. And for a moment, I actually thought Shakespeare might surprise me, make it NOT a revenge tale, especially when we got to the good ol’ play-within-a-play, when every good groundling knows when the blood, gore, revenge and excitement happens. The play-within-a-play comes. And it goes. No death, No revenge. Hamlet instead gets shipped off to England where the crazy people are… yeah, real funny Willie. Screw you, too.
So Hamlet gets rescued by pirates. Off-stage. And I’m figuring maybe we are going in a different direction. So I go with it.
But then two acts later, everyone’s dead, and revenge is gotten. And I feel fooled. It was a revenge tale after all, and I didn’t get my revenge until two acts AFTER when it was supposed to happen.
My friends lapped it up like dogs after a good bearbaiting. But I’m no fool. No one’s going to remember this one. Titus Andronicus. Now THAT’s Shakespeare’s good one. No one’s going care about this one after this summer run is over.
Mark my words.