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Saturday, January 10, 2009

David's Return to Hamlet

David returned to Hamlet and I missed it! I've been sick with the flu since last Saturday so I've been playing catch up on all the latest news.

According to the BBC, the RSC has been making daily postings about David's appearances since his return is being assessed on a "day by day" basis.

I also found out that "the RSC came very close to securing a deal to ensure the production was recorded professionally for TV and DVD - but that the plans fell apart, after lengthy negotiations." What a shame! What I would give to be able to get this on DVD. I'm sure the RSC could make a boatload of money from the massive amount of people that would buy it.

A review by Nick Curtis praises David's return in his column titled Tennant is better than ever in Hamlet. Nick writes:

David Tennant's triumphant return for the last week of performances of his RSC Hamlet proves his tenacity. The Dr Who star faced down snipers and doubters when he first returned to Stratford, and the company where he first made his name, to play the Dane last year.

Invalided out of the sold-out London run by a severe spine injury, he could just have kicked back and convalesced. But whether or not his back is better, Tennant is back, and his performance is better than ever.

There is a core of truth to this Hamlet with which Tennant only occasionally loses touch. He plays the prince from the start as an unstable man-boy, sharp but prone to mood swings and histrionics. He’s a case of arrested development, clearly unfit to rule and smart enough to know it. This makes brilliant sense of Hamlet’s inability to avenge his murdered father, or feel lasting remorse for Polonius’s murder or Ophelia’s death, because everything is always about him and his shortcomings.

The lithe, manic physicality of Tennant’s performance hasn’t been affected. Last night I still found some of his early anguish forced and his later “madness” close to Time Lord showboating. But in the soliloquies he is magnetic, rightly confident of his ability to make an audience share his pain, while also being one of the wittiest Hamlets I’ve seen. And it seems bitchy to quibble in the face of Tennant’s commitment to Shakespeare, and the new audiences he must surely have brought in.

He’s supported here by an excellent cast including Patrick Stewart as a silkily conniving Claudius and Edward Bennett, the understudy who covered for him, now back in the role of Laertes.

Gregory Doran’s production is full of detail and nuance, while still delivering all the bombastic flourish — dry ice, chandeliers, frocks! — typical of the RSC. But this is David Tennant’s show. I hope he, and those lucky enough already to have tickets for the last few performances, enjoy it. Until 10 January. Sold out: queue for returns on the door.

The following picture of David and Richard Wilson leaving The Ivy at 1AM is included in the Nick Curtis review.

It's so wonderful that David's recovery has been going so well. It makes me very happy!

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