John Caird’s Production of Hamlet Essay

John Caird’s Production of Hamlet Essay

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Shakespeare’s longest play has a lengthy production history. Through waves of different Hamlet productions, John Caird’s 2000 production of Hamlet stands out especially because of its lead actor. This National Theatre show, staged at the Littleton Theatre, featured Simon Russell Beale as the titular character. In The Guardian, Lyn Gardner writes that Russell Beale had wanted to be in a production of Hamlet for twenty years and when he got his chance, he didn’t “blow it.” John Caird’s elaborate three and a half hour production gave a great big nod to the religious aspect of the play, especially with its use of the set. Though Russell Beale’s performance was universally acclaimed, the effectiveness of playing Hamlet as a gentle soul and the consequences of this choice were debated.
John Caird’s vision for his production of Hamlet was to give it a “suffocatingly religious” atmosphere where “the set was part cathedral, part castle, part graveyard, part attic” (Bate 202). With the help of set designer Tim Hatley, this goal was accomplished. Amy Gamerman of the Wall Street Journal characterized the set as “dismal” and “vacant-looking.” The set was comprised of luggage, suitcases and old trunks that were stacked, torn down and restacked again in different ways to make different scenes. Presumably this element of the set served the purpose of reinforcing the idea of Hamlet’s journey of transitioning from a life free of pain to a life fraught with the truth of his father’s death (Vivier 323). Unfortunately, Kate Levin in Shakespeare Quarterly says that this thematically driven set choice simply didn’t “jive” with the irregular lighting choices and the monotonous Latin chanting meant to play up the religious aspect of the play (11...

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...ucson Weekly. 10 May 2001. Tucson Weekly. Web. 27 Oct. 2013. Google.
Rocamora, Carol. “A Prince Among Men: Rediscovering Hamlet.” The Nation. 1 Feb. 2001. The Nation. Web. 27 Oct. 2013. Google.
Rogoff, Gordon. “Auden Country and the Search for the Perfect Play.” Theater 32.1 (2002): 48-61. Print. Project Muse.
Vivier, Judylee. “Comparison Review of Two Productions of Hamlet produced by the Brooklyn Academy of Music.” Voice and Speech Review 3.1 (2003): 322-324. Web. Google Scholar.
Wolf, Matt. “Two Hamlets Explore New Paths in an Old Terrain.” New York Times. 8 Apr. 2001. The New York Times Company. Web. 27 Oct. 2013. Google.
Wolf, Matt. “Review of Hamlet.” Variety 380.4 (11 Sept. 2000): 32. Rpt. in Shakespearean Criticism. Ed. Michelle Lee. Vol. 92. Detroit: Gale, 2005. Literature Resource Center. Web. 23 Oct. 2013. Literature Resource Center.

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