Monday, June 26, 2017

Shakespeare, Hamlet and Saturday night.

On Saturday night, my wife and I taxied to the Public Theater to see Oscar Isaac in Shakespeare's "Hamlet."

I've seen a lot of Shakespeare in my day--going back to visiting Stratford, Connecticut when I was in high school for a performance of "Macbeth."

My wife and I have been supporters of the Public for about 20 years. So we, more often than not, see two performances of Shakespeare a year, outdoors in the Delacorte Theater.

I've seen Anne Hathaway. Al Pacino. Sam Waterston, John Lithgow, Kevin Spacey and other names I'm sure I've forgotten.

I dig Shakespeare.

It's not always easy to get through--and Hamlet, at 3 1/2 hours is his longest and most challenging play--the most Wagnerian of his opus.

A lot of people avoid things that are long and challenging. It seems to my jaded eyes that virtually every movie out today is essentially a video version of a comic book story I outgrew when I was 12. However, Shakespeare is Shakespeare. He deals in eternal truths and the rawest of conflicts and emotions.

Oscar Isaac, who blew me away five years ago in the Coen Brothers' "Finding Llewyn Davis," gave the greatest Shakespearean performance I have ever seen. 

Usually, when the Elizabethan English starts, your ears buckle for a bit and you miss 2/3rds of what's going on until you adjust to the 16th Century.

But Isaac's performance brought the language to life. The theater was silent when he spoke.

I leave you with this.

Perhaps the greatest passage in all of English literature.

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