Monday, August 27, 2018

Hamlet In Motion

Hamlet dumping Ophelia while Polonius and Claudius hide behind a tree. 
Last night we went to one of the annual highlights of our summer - Shakespeare in Motion performed by Theater in the Rough, Israel. So far we've seen A Midsummer Night's Dream, Richard III, and The Taming of the shrew. (Follow the links for my reviews.) We missed Macbeth as I was in my year of mourning for my Dad and didn't go to any live entertainment (although it was pointed out to me that Macbeth is a tragedy, LOL.) Last night was Hamlet.

We forgot to read Hamlet in our Tales from Shakespeare before we went but luckily there was, as usual, a synopsis in the programme. However, we did go prepared with two folding deckchairs this time. And we forwent the picnic because though it sounds idyllic to be watching Shakespeare in the park and eating baguette, cheese and grapes etc... there's actually too much going on for such pretentiousness. Most people go out to eat afterwards. We met half a dozen good friends there and had lots of invitations to join various parties for after show activities. But DD was tired so we came home and ate leftovers from Shabbat instead.

Gertrude and Claudius caught canoodling behind a pillar. 
The park is the garden between the King David Hotel and the Old City of Jerusalem. And the play (which in Hamlet, is the thing) takes place in various locations. The audience ambles from scene to scene along with the actors. I've said it before, but it's a bit like being there with the characters as the plot unfolds.

The acting was superb. I don't like to name names so I won't. Everyone brought something special to their role and obviously it's most thrilling for me to see people I know personally in the performance (Andrea Katz - the Grande Dame of Theater in the Rough, Annabelle Landgarten - we fold clothes together for the Yedidya Bazaar every year, and Gillian Kay - my age in numbers but more of a youthful Peter Pan on stage). Nevertheless I must give a special mention to Hamlet himself - Natan Skop, who was just amazing - hilarious and tragic at the same time. (DD liked Polonius best - Ira Skop, because he was the only nice person in the whole play. "He didn't hurt anyone and he didn't go crazy. He was just trying to help!")

Polonius giving fatherly advice to Ophelia right in front of us!
Having said how wonderful the acting was and how much we thoroughly enjoyed it, Hamlet seems to be a lot harder to follow than previous Shakespeare plays we've seen (even Richard III). We knew the story so we weren't lost but had we not read the synopsis, it would have been a bit confusing. I think the action is slower in Hamlet - people take a long time to say what they need to say. Hamlet went on and on about the nunnery when we got it that he was dumping Ophelia in the first minute. And boy did they all take a long time to die at the end. Did I mention that it's not a happy play?

Sometimes you didn't know where to look first. 
One amusing incident in the graveyard. There was a communal chanting of, "Alas poor Yorick! I knew him Horatio." And one poor man was heard above the crowd with the old misquote of, "Alas poor Yorick! I knew him well." I tittered smugly to myself. (I forgot that Yom Kippur - The Day of Atonement, is in only three weeks. Woops. Sorrysorrysorry.)

And finally, who knew that these famous lines came from Hamlet?

In no particular order: 
Neither a borrower nor a lender be. 
This above all, to thine own self be true. 
There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. 
To be or not to be, that is the question. 
To sleep perchance to dream. 
Though this be madness, there is method in't. 
The play's the thing. (What does that even mean?)
Sweets to the sweet.
The Lady doth protest too much me thinks. (I missed what she was protesting about tbh.)
I must be cruel only to be kind. 
Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. (Obviously)
Alas poor Yorick! I knew him Horatio. (I gave this one away earlier.) 
I know a hawk from a handsaw. (Meaning, I can distinguish between enemies and friends.)
Get thee to a nunnery!

Here the Gravedigger accidently dug up poor Yorick. 
So much modern English usage from one play. My friends and I kept exchanging stretched eyes and raised eyebrows in surprised recognition, each time one came up. Anyway, mark your own papers. 14/14: English Lit. Professors, 6/14 - 13/14: Damned impressive, 5/14: Me, less than 5/14: Oh well.

Jerusalem People - there is one more performance tomorrow night. 28/8/18 at 5.30 pm in the gardens behind the The King David Hotel (walk down the road to the right of the King David into the park). You won't be sorry. 


  1. What fun! We have Shakespeare in High Park every summer - two productions per year, one comedy & one tragedy! I think it's been happening now for about 25 years so well attended. I went to an outdoor production of "Pygmalion" this year in the Guild Park over in the east end of the city and it was wonderful - really a lot of fun. And well done for DD to get through it all - Hamlet can be a bit of a haul! :-)
    If you'd like to hear something wonderful regarding all the Shakespearean quotes that have made their way into our everyday lives - go to YouTube and then search for the following:

    Great Canal Journeys Series 4 Episode 3: Stratford upon Avon and go to the 43 minute mark.

    Prunella Scales and Timothy West do an amazing bit. Enjoy.

    1. Ooh I certainly will look for that on You Tube Margie. Thank you. We watched for about 2 hours and afterwards I was told that they cut the play by more than half! I don't think any of us would have managed 4 hours or more!