Tuesday 1 December 2015


The game's afoot, Watson.
To Denmark.
But not you.

Watching Benny Cumberbatch perform Hamlet was like watching Andy Murray storming around a tennis court, smashing his racquet,  cursing his ghastly mother for having turned his life into a competition,  with himself. 

Cumberbatch's Hamlet has, like Murray,  the subtlety of a Jihadi beheading, 
everything is full-on, coarse, harsh and outraged; 
speeches in which the self-discovery in each  line should reveal its successor were delivered  like a shouty catechism, so well-learned as to be listless, an empty, noisy recital;  

he is of the Branagh school of Shakespeare, Benny: 
Loud Equals Good; 
Roaring, Arms Up To Heaven,  Equals Genius.

Seen in the local cinema, mine was not a theatre experience but a broadbanded film of a National Theatre performance at the Barbican and its presentation was about as cheesy as showbusiness gets, prefaced by self-congratulatory trailers and teasers and tasters and worse than that, Lord Belbin Bagg, looking like a corpse fitted with those unnaturally white and even teeth favoured by US Senators, essayed an all-in-this-together-approach to his SkyArts interview with Benny and we were treated to part of this before the play proper commenced, a sort of a play without the play.  BelbinBagg is repulsive at the best of times, even on the radio,   but here, almost live, 

he was zombie-in-a-fright-wig, blood-curdlingly terrifying, 
the luvvie undead.

Give him his due, Benny swatted away BelbinBagg's questions, treating the wretched  old fraud  just like the impertinent showbiz slag that he is.

BelbinBagg, hinting that he, too, could play Hamlet, if he could be bothered, utilising his own sweeping  knowledge, not only of Shakespeare but of everything theatrical, comical-theatrical, tragical-theatrical, historical-theatrical, never mind of science architecture, philosophy, music, litereature and theology, BelbinBagg, NewLabour peer and a skidmark on culture's underpants,

 the most gorgeous polymath of our time, 
cosied-up to the callow youth, Cumberbatch, and enquired: 

But how does it  feel,  after three hours on stage, exposing yourself, playing the role to which so many aspire, perhaps the greatest role in drama, which is a hoop of fire, that you gotta jump  through.  Woddisit that you really feel?

Hoop of fire? 
It's not the circus, Melvin. 

  Yes, but how do you, y'know, feel?


You what? 

Hungry, I feel very hungry.

Ha-ha, but I'll haveta ask you the question again, the question which I ask all the great performers who come on my show.....

Writing Yesterday, Paul McCartney,
how did that feel, no, 
how did it really feel? 

How do I feel, after playing Hamlet?
Well, ask me when I''ve just done it;  

I dunno how I feel.
I feel hungry. 
Ask anybody, they feel hungry.

I suppose that the people in charge of the global broadcast, as opposed to the play's theatrical producers, thought that BelbinBagg might lend the imprimatur of a popular arts commentator to a film being shown simultaneously in cinemas around the world.  
Only if they were zombie fans. 
The man's a  tedious, vain prat, BelbinBagg. Worse than Michael Parkinson. And unnatural-looking, too.
Not a person I want to see, 
not when I've gone to see Hamlet.

Another pre-play taster took the Great Thespian to be worshipped by an inner-city school drama group, young teens, rehearsing their own inversion of the Unhappy Prince, in which Hamlet's unstifleable angst is collectivised, the other characters saying his lines for him, pointing at him accusingly, as though he were RD Laing's Identified Patient,  a WickerMan sacrifice.  It looked like strong stuff, their drama teacher enlivening an over-revered text, and showed that even the holy scriptures of literature can be re-invented, made darkly evangelical - here be sanity, madness and the family; here be tribes and states; here be the Blues; here be Death's indeclinable Invitation.
 No such imaginative departure,  however,  sullied Benny's Hamlet; as predictable, lacklustre  and artistically unrewarding as would be Dr Who on Ice, Cumberbatch merely took Buggin's Turn in the long line of stale, shouty Hamlets - knights of the stage, peers of the screen, dullards, mostly.

Like many, I suppose, maybe even most, I love the text more ardently than the performances,  often resenting the latter,  and, searching for a good one, I can only think of Jonathan Pryce's

1980 Hamlet-with-the-Voices-talking-to-him, internalising his father's ghost, which brings more to the play than I might, myself, reading it on the loo or muttering it sotto voce at a thousand of Ruin's insults.

It is an unsettling oddity, in passing, seeing someone talking to voices which sound only but undeniably in his head.
I remember onesuch:

Morning, Fred, how are you?
Awww, I got them bleedin' voices at me agin. D'you ever 'ave 'em?
No, I don't, Fred.
At me all the bleedin' time, they are, never bleedin' stop. Canchoo 'ear 'em?
No, Fred, what're they saying?
'Ang on... wossat...this bloke?  This bloke 'ere? Phwoar....Kill that bloke, they're sayin',  that bloke what's talkin' to ya. What a bleedin' thing to say. I 'ave 'em all the time, sayin' that, saying' kill that bloke.  Else I'll go barmy on me bed.  That's what them sayin' now, I'll g'barmy on me own bleedin' bed.
Canchoo 'ear em? 
Dunchoo ever 'ear em? 
I 'ear em all the bleedin' time.
Bleeders dunt leave me alone. 

He'll be dead, now, Fred Bachiocci;
I hope the bleeders've now shut up.

His much reported offstage pleas to his teenybopper audience - that he be allowed to perform his magic without being captured4twitter


show Cumberbatch's self-absorption, as does his dreadful curtain-call exhortation to  give to his current,  favourite charity, Syrian refugees, 

Give us yer focking money!

reminding his audience that their diversion, his performance and that of the ensemble, were as nothing, compared with refugeeism,
 as if  the world needed some overpaid luvvie to so inform it. Whence cometh this dire rite of passage, through which the celebrity-wealthy excuse themselves to the NewPeople of  their fortuitous and often undeserved richness by claiming ownership of a charitable cause and defying them  not to support it.  

It's not as though Cumberbatch is Ruritanian-Windsor, a tribe whose entire raision d'etre is to deflect scrutiny of it's parasitical vileness by attending ten-course charity dinners with their tits hanging out.

Mrs Prince Gormless, doing good in the world, 
for others.

 The nerve of some people, who do they think they are?

I'd have booed him, Cumberbatch,  had I been there and paid good money to see a performance of Hamlet,  these self-aggrandising charity bandits, they know no shame. 

It's like if I won the Lottery, tonight, and came on here, tomorrow, saying, C'mon, mr mongoose, lessaveafewquidoffya4acharideeofmychoice. 
Fucking madness is what it is.

Much too fast, rather like one madly imagines Status Quo performing Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, this Hamlet scrambles and leaps through a static but adaptable set which serves as grand hall, battlefield and graveyard, merely by the use of inventive lighting.  As if announcing the  speed and dynamism of the performance the play opens not with Bernardo and Francisco on the Elsinore battlement but with Hamlet, the student, 

musing to a song coming from  a nineteen-forties or fifties gramophone.  
The props and costumes veered vaguely, all over the place, 

from Hamlet's contemporary hoodie,  
to nineteenth-century Ruritania

and Ophelia's 'forties cocktail dress.


Weaponry ranged from antique  sabres and daggers to automatic pistols; 

it would not have seemed out of place to  see Claudius, in his three-piece suit,  praying regretfully into his iPhone.  

Claudius, played with some craft and subtlety  by  Ciaran Hinds, shed a light obscured by the shouty Hamlet,

the shouty Gertrude and all the other shouty bastards, 


Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, and a hammy, much redacted Polonius -  and was played as much victimised as villainous, acknowledging the offences which had him  trapped, as King and thus State, within them,  and his was the most revealing character, igniting both outrage at his venality and sympathy for his predicament,   Hinds  exercising a sense of pace and rythmn, light and shade, perhapsing this and perhapsing that, a skill which one might expect from any middling playactor but beyond my discernment in Cumberbatch. 

 Overall, the generous staging was most impressive, serving as grand hall, 

battlefield and graveyard, changes being wrought in full-view by scampering ensemble members lugging props, obscured only by tricks of  lighting;

The ghost of Hamlet's father  departing, unshriven,  not into the mist but heading below-stage,  down Purgatory's stairs was one of the better  dramatic moments.  

Much was made and to good effect of shatteringly loud noises-off and skeins of modern dance music being woven into points of  the highest drama.  It hardly mattered, though, the stage; Hamlet can be played anywhere, with or without props and costumes, it is all in the spoken words and could be perfectly adequately presented by a wheelchaired company of Prince Harry's limbless irregulars, in  a darkened room.

Is it worth seeing, then, this latest celebrity vehicle, either in the theatre or on-screen? 
Depends on whether you have already seen Hamlet, I suppose, and on your funds.  I guess  that among  lovers of Hamlet more will have been disappointed than delighted by this show. And for those seeking Occasion, rather than mere cinema attendance, there will be local Am-Dram productions of it from now until the End of Days, some of which will be more servant to the play, than, as was this, to its principal actor. There is nothing whatsoever remarkable about Cumberbatch on screen and it is hard to see that, live, in the theatre, he would be any better, and in any event, celebrity Hamlets are like buses, there'll be another along shortly. If we can have the unspeakable Lenny Henry as Othello, we can have  Bruce Forsyth  as Julius Caesar. Alleged to have an impressive stage background it is, nevertheless,  one must assume, Cumberbatch's  Sherlock heartthrob celebrity and his Hollywood success which delivered him the role of Hamlet at the National, an institution, now, like so much else,  incentivised  and commodified.  The over-commercial approach to the cinema broadcast  was certainly irritating and distasteful, more like an advert for Cillit Bang than a presentation from the nation's  best.

If you haven't seen Hamlet performed then this is visually, at least, a fair introduction to playacting the Bard, although so fast and furious is the endeavour - maybe it was done in a rush to get to Benny's charity-hustling finale - that  a reading of the text, or a summary thereof, would make intelligible those matters skated-over or taken-as-read.  For those, like mr mike, Down Under, with an interest in Decline, Back Home, then a look at what was the fastest-ever sold-out West End show might prove more illuminating than did the show itself.

I am not sorry I saw it at the cinema but if I'd paid a hundred quid plus hotel and travel fares to see it in the Barbican I would be seriously disappointed.

Cumberbatch, himself, simpered that he had participated in order that a new audience - his fans - might be delivered to serious theatre, Bless,  and although one would have thought that veneration of this pampered dickhead and a likely enthusiasm for Shakespeare would be qualities mutually exclusive, he and his fans are the NewPeople and will allow New Ways to be mapped-out for them by their oppressors;  if even some of them, though, a handful,  are as unnerved by Hamlet  as I have been then their miserable, enslaved, consumer lives may yet find  Dissent.  Getting a bit late, though.

What is incontrovertibly delightful, however, from all this, is not only the big-screen, global simulcasts from the National Theatre but the fact that any school in the country can arrange to have anything from the NT's  recorded repertoire streamed to the classroom and supplied with teaching notes and aids freely, or  as Benny would probably say, for free.
 If there are teachers - and from the clip shown prior to Hamlet, there is at least one - who will take up this opportunity  to revive interest in literature, then GlobaCorp's barbarians, standing at the door, may not so easily kick it down.

As for the luvvies, in Shakespeare's time and up until quite recently they were known for the shallow, incontinent, dissolute and licentious fools that they are; nationally a Lord Chamberlain and locally a Watch Committee would police their amoral and delinquent  comings and goings and doings in-between; now that Filth  censors only Inconvenient Truth and not Obscenity, the players are become distinguished, Lords and Ladies of Light Entertainment.

I thought, finally, a bit harshly, I suppose, that the only good thing about Cumberbatch's Hamlet was that it didn't have Dame Helen Mirren in it, nor Dame M, aka Judy Dench from the Secret Service.

The institution itself, playacting, will simply adore, with gritted teeth, the business brought to it by a dreary celebrity taking a role to which many, many others would bring something fresh. 
 There is no business like showbusiness  and the spells of rivalries and opinions and spites and jealousies, although impellers of dramatic excellence,  do not bewitch those concerned with bums-on-seats and with mortgages-to-be-paid.
Benedict Cumberbatch's Hamlet, then, I must suppose, for all its repetitive and thoughtless, uninventive inadequacy is, in the end, good for the theatre business; whether that is a good unalloyed remains to be seen.

Regardless, anyway, of commerce-over-art, Benedict Cumberbatch seems to differ only in his privileged background from any other irritating playactor, hungry for applause, Oscars and money and should be dealt with in his own facetious coin: 

Report me and my cause aright,
 moans a dying Hamlet. 

OK, then Sherlock; 
if you insist.
You were fucking awful.


Alphons said...

As a very distant relative of The Bard I wonder if he ever looks down and curses those who do the selection of those who mangle and contort his works.
Personally I think his works are in general as crap as those who venerate them.

call me ishmael said...

Yours may be a connection mistaken, mr alphons, to the works. I am much persuaded by the seeming effortless yet irrefutable case made by supporters of the assertion that the Earl of Oxford was literary benefactor to your lowly ancestor, an indifferent grammar school pupil, most unlikely to have the knowledge of history, geography, law, divinity, of Courtly manners and customs, of Classics, of native myth and fable, inter alia, which was necessary to the rudest composition of such works; Oxford, too, was gifted poet, essayist and playwright, although such activities were considered much below those of his class. He is believed, therefore, to have gifted the works to Shakespeare freely, in order that they be perfomed or in the case of the Sonnets, read and recited aloud, without connection being made to him, such exposure being deleterious to his standing in Society. It is a maxim , hereabouts, that there is no business like showbusiness; the bard, therefore, not being the bard but merely the scribe is an idea with a delicious, forensic and entertaing rectitude to it. All the world IS a stage, even its greatest dramatist is, himself, an invention.

Be that as it may I hold the written texts, if not, as I say above, the myriad perfomances, to be secular scriptures, as good as any revered by any faith. As words go, all writ down, they are among my favourites, the seeming banal and the tritest being capable of infinite reinterpretation. I do not urge them upon you but simply offer a differeing evaluation.

Anonymous said...

Mr Ish - the Earl of O/Kit Marlowe/Fr Bacon schtick is a bunch of arse, in origin a curious mish-mash of snobbery and narcissistic transference. (I'm being rude about the purveyors of this nonsense, not those tempted into interest like yourself.) I'll send you a copy of "Contested Will" for Christmas in case you fancy a look. But that's by the by - you're bang on about most modern actors - or rather, most modern stars. On stage, they fuck it up by shouting; on screen, they fuck it up by mumbling. I wish I'd seen the Jonathan Pryce performance you mention. Ben Whishaw was pretty good, and at least he was properly young; Toby Stephens was out-acted by his panto thigh-boots, stomping about like Rik Mayall in Blackadder. The best of those I've seen was Simon Russell Beale, who had that tremendous ability to say the lines as though he was speaking naturally and unrehearsed. The most affecting fragment I know is Richard E.Grant at the end of Withnail And I, heartbreaking in his ghastly private hell, performing for the ratty wolves. If you can find it anywhere, it's worth giving a Canadian TV series called "Slings & Arrows" a look; the first series has a shaky opening episode but the show found its feet quickly and is a fine piece of work, a theatre company working on a production of Hamlet, complete with ghost.


call me ishmael said...

Marry, noble verge, 'tis but conjecture, all on't, although as one of Nature's Own Dissenters I fain wouldst favour the judgement of Revolting Enquiry than that of staidness and resignation atrophied by the twin vices of habit and sloth, cry God, therefore, for the gifted though modest Oxford.

I am surprised by your estimate of Russell Beale's worth, having never seen him act but only talk pompously and self referentially over sublime pieces of music, in front of sublime pieces of architecture, into a most unfuckingsublime PBC camera. They are, though, loathsome, one and all, playactors.

Ms Francis de la Tour, now, there was an interestingh casting, a female Hamlet, worth a Bravo just for the thought of it.

Mike said...

We get these "live" performances shown Down Here, though you would doubt there would be much demand amongst the Aussie philistines. Your review prompted me to see if it was on at our local, the Cremorne Orpheum.

Loe and behold, shortly to be screened "live" is BRANAGH THEATRE COMPANY – THE WINTER’S TALE. With both of your favorites: Dame Judy and Branagh himself. I won't be going in case Dame Judy gets her kit off, as old birds like her and Mirren are wont to do. I have a strong stomach - but not that strong.

call me ishmael said...

No, she doesn't disrobe, Dame M, mr mike, just lectures King Laertes,icily and tartly, as though she thought him James Bond. I did see that one, too, just a couple of days before the NT's Hamlet, in the same local cinema. Do see it if you can, Branagh and Dench are as you would expect, the music and dancing are interesting, lewd at times, but energetic and very competent and although for most of the play all involved do that shouty thing it is less oppressive than in the much lengthier Hamlet and as a subtext there is evidence of Branagh's impossible egomania, in an introduction he mantions his own name countless times: Good evening, this is Kenneth Branagh, in a production of The Winter's Tale, by William Shakespeare, performed by the Kenneth Branagh Company, directed by me, Kenneth Branagh and starring me, Kenneth Branagh. Of the Kenneth Branagh Company. And I will now proceed to steal every scene I can. I am, after all, Kenneth Branagh, acor-manager, director and star. Of the Kenneth Branagh Company.

It wasn't much a play to start with but just to hear many of the lines, albeit in uber-declamation, is a bit of a treat for me, here, at Planet Earth's eyebrows, as I am sure it would be for you, at her arsehole. It is worth the admission, if only to reinforce how much better things could be. Better still, Emma tThompson isn't in it.

Did you ever have an opinion on Mr Turner, by the way?

SG said...

"It's not as though Cumberbatch is Ruritanian-Windsor..." Interesting one that Mr I. According to Benny's CV, on Wikipedia, he's a distant relative of Richard III (aren't we all!...). More recently, an Old Harrovian - so potential Ruritanian credentials (then again, many sons of Empire went there - so perhaps not?). He is also very rich (Mansions in London and LA, so plenty of room for Syrian refugees as Mr Ferrari pointed out the other day, at the place I go to when I can't take any more of Humphries et al on 'Today'). I don't mind folks being rich but I do mind them telling comparatively poor folks what to do with their money (charideee begins at home and all that...).

I'm slightly ashamed to admit to still listening to "In Our Time" but have never felt quite the same about it since the car crash of an episode in which Lord Bragg administered a 'put down' to Felipe Fernandez-Armesto (currently Professor of Modern History at Oxford You-Knee) when they were discussing the role of the House of Lords on some matter or other, I forget what. Armesto had the temerity to ask Bragg, and I paraphrase, for it was long ago, 'but surely you, Melvin, as a member of the House of Lords, could offer some perspective on this?' This was greeted by Bragg with something along the lines of 'I do the questions, sonny, and you do the answers'. You could have heard a pin drop and It still makes me cringe to this day!

Also, we were discussing the Syria thing back up the road somewhere.  I came across this, linked from Petunia's new place, and written by the Left's Crocodile Dundee (a passing resemblance, I think, but will defer to your phrenological skills on that matter Mr I):


Strange, what is happening to the political spectrum, that I should find myself in agreement with him!

Mike said...

Yes, Mr I. Thoroughly enjoyed Mr Turner and Timothy Spall was excellent - has he done Hamlet?

Caratacus said...

Having never been particularly impressed by young Hamlet (having been reared on 'O' level Henry V and Julius Caesar), I responded somewhat hesitantly when invited by my then Lady friend to view an open air performance by a group of earnest Shakespeare mummers of the play in Moretonhampstead many years ago. But I swear that when the young prince wrenched from within his soul, "Thus conscience does make cowards of us all", there was a collective gasp from the audience of villagers and others as reluctant introspections were viewed anew and overhauled. People under-estimate the reach of the Bard at their peril, it seems to me ...

call me ishmael said...

I thought, at the time, mr mike, that Turner, as realised by Spall, was vey much Hamlet. Glad you found it worthwhile. I will watch it again, another time, I feel sure it will become what they call a classic.

call me ishmael said...

Doesn't it just, king caratacus. During the preamble to The Winters Tale that ghastly fucking irritant, Rob Brydon, read Bernard Levin's poem catalogue of some of tghe countless Shakespeareisms which, unknown to most, inform and invigourate our language. I will find it and post it, here.

That is well and wisely put, thank you, "when the young prince wrenched from within his soul, "Thus conscience does make cowards of us all", there was a collective gasp from the audience of villagers and others as reluctant introspections were viewed anew and overhauled."

Bungalow Bill said...

Like God, WS is/was many and no-one according to Jorge Luis Borges. That's as good as I've heard. How can Cumberbatch or any of the ghastly Thesps hope to do justice to their "craft" when they are only and always cartoons of themselves?

Nice Finis of your own there, if I may say so, Mr I.

Bungalow Bill said...

That's the thing about Spall isn't it that he somehow disappears from himself when acting or at least when he's at his best?

Anonymous said...

I suppose you're right, it shouldn't matter all that much, but it's not something I can see-both-sides on - I'm unshakeably anti-contrarian on this one.

SRB is a good example of why good actors should stick to what they do well and shut it the rest of the time.

You might like this (despite the beard across the table) - brings tears to my eyes, so it does:

Kate Tempest "My Shakespeare": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QoMb9Yi3GQs


call me ishmael said...

yes, mr sg, Benny and the Jets, their colonisation of the arts has caused much resentment, akin, as it is, to the Etonian front bench.

I find most of talk radio unbearable these days but have nearly always preferred my own silence so it is not such a problem as for those who do not. I haven't heard Today, now, for some years and I simply am physically unable to tolerate British news and current affairs shows. Seriously, they ignite in me an attack of what they used to call the bad humours, stress and anxiety and frustration and I call out for their switching-off. I can take a bit of RT and alJay, and sometimes the PSB coverage les affaires Americaine, sometimes on Sunday's PBC News channel.

AS I said, BelbinBagg is an impertinent slag. I heard him do that very thing, years ago, and would've punched his costly teeth out had he done it to me.

We will come to Syria quite soon. I will chance a look at young bridegrtoom, Neil's, coverage of the by-election; I think, bizarrely, that its result will impinge upon the lives and deaths of many. NewLabour, NewFilth.

call me ishmael said...

I only sway one way or t'other to prompt a reaction, mr verge, even from myself, from which I may learn something; it really doesn't matter to me, the authorship. Lines like these, Thus conscience doth make cowards of us all, leak from Divinity's creative well-spring, inspired and owned by all who ever were, are or will be. In the beginning was the word as in the beginning is the end. We are all sweet princes, requiring flights of angels to sing us to our rest.

call me ishmael said...

yes,mr verge, a kinder en-theus-iasm, filled with a warmer God, Ms Tempest, than was the vile, smirking Drydon's reading.

Mike said...

Its a testament to the Bard (whoever he was) that such powerful phrases as that quoted by Mr Caractacus never fail to impress and cause deep thought.

It was 'As You Like It; for me at O-level. I probably modeled myself on the melancholy Jaques in my youth. "All the world's a stage" and the "seven ages of man". I can still recite those passages, learned by rote, but now more meaningful with age. Its taken the best part of 50 years to understand.

call me ishmael said...

It was firstly Anthony and Cleopatra for me, at A level, and I didn't know Hamlet until I read an American edition in my late twenties; immediately, it shook me rigid, every one of those words rang true, and still do; my truths have changed, theirs haven't, and my re-understanding of them is refinement rather than reconstruction; like your own. If only Volvo made cars as constant and reliable as Hamlet, eh?

call me ishmael said...

It is a blessed rarity that, mr bungalow bill, Spall's talent; although supposedly the very essence of acting few are modest enough to be great. It is not Buddhist non-self-ism, but the partial submersion of self that those parts remaining afloat may fashion and inhabit another. I think that, each to our own, we can all do that, in work, in relationships, trouble is that the digitised reality of the NewePeople turns all into perpetual, self -aware, conscious perfomance; all are comedians, all are critics, all commentators, all ignorant, like Cuimberpatch, of the fact that artifice is not creativity.

call me ishmael said...

Aye, cartoons of themselves, that's right, job's a good un.

Looks like me and Jorge Luis are both singing from the same Book of Common Profanity, the godless but pantheistic edition, You, too, mr bungalow bill.

call me ishmael said...

As to the the Finis, in the end is the beginning. I thought of reporting Cumberbatch aright even as he expired on stage, went home, wrote it down, found a beginning and from there worked myself back to the end again. Isn't it often like that, we find a means to reach and justify the end ? An eternal circle, drawn with a rude stick, on shifting sands.

Mike said...

Revisited Turner today.

This is worth a look, I think (all 4 parts):


A bit of Sharma/Emin bollox, but if you persevere it only emphasises the genious.

Woman on a Raft said...

Mr Alphonse need not wonder what the Bard would say - he left Act 3 Scene 2 to oblige the mummer to recite his views on over-blown performance, with a swipe at stage-hogging Will Kemp.

He wrote a response line which is babble to show that director has to deal with people who speak English but do not understand it:

First Player

I hope we have reformed that indifferently with us,

And then combined a stage direction with a bitch at people who are not standing ready for their cue:

Bid the players make haste.


Will you two help to hasten them?


We will, my lord.


That is not just a pair of lines to get people off stage; P, R & G have only just walked on, brought in specifically so that H, being the director's mouthpiece, can twice tell the bloody actors to get a wiggle on.

Anybody who has ever wrangled actors backstage will tell you that is exactly how things really are.

call me ishmael said...

A play within a play within a play, then, mrs woar.

I may be wrong but I don't recall those particular, directorial instructional lines in the performance here discussed, from which many, more familiar lines were excised - For this relief; Dead, for a ducat; Neither a borrower nor a lender be.

The frantic speed - running pace, leaping and vaulting - at which the only partially obscured company moved props between acts was almost as fast as Benedict's deliveries of speeches more tentative than he chose to realise.Sombre solliloqouy or instruction to speak it trippingly upon the tongue, if they were unknown a priori they would largely have remained so. Have you seen it?

I have but brief working knowledge of actors-managerial and actors-performing, as well as of academics drawn like moths to Entertainmen's flickering limelight. I would of course excuse present company, should they now or have ever thus deployed themselves; the rest of them I would, with cheerful countenance and untroubled conscience, drown in the nearest canal.

call me ishmael said...

I have already seen that, I do believe, mr mike, as well as one by a usually repellent PBC arts luvvie, can't remember his name, Matthew something, on Turner's Thames, a lovely review of works Thames-specific, I think the Temeraire was one such, all executed, I think, during his sojourn, Thames-side, with his former landlady.

Doug Shoulders said...

Suspicious looking barnet on our Melvin is it not? Wouldn’t be any relation to Billy would he? The PBC is such an incestuous lair. And Billy was on the other day bleating about some shit or other..
I watched the PBC versions of Sherlock with Cumberbacth in them. Someone told me it was worth a look…Shouldn’t have listened..As is the bent of the PBC to plug the gay agenda…they had a scene of Holmes winching the face off Moriarty. Typical.
Most actors doing Shakespeare area a bit Brain Blessed.. Bruce Forsyth? Surely that was Carry on up yer praetorian?
They could have got that Scots bloke off of the Boss adverts…that done Leonidus…”Well this isn’t Denmark…This is Scotland!!” (Boots the emperors fluffer down the well..fluffer exits stage front)

I done Shakespeare for school an’ that. I remember reading Macbeth and thinking there’s more in here than that o level shit you’re trying to get us to recite.
I don’t think his work is referred to in schools anymore, but could be wrong..I’m only conjecturing that it’s unlikely given that the subject matter of a Shakespeare play would be deemed offensive or more worryingly for govament, induce pupils to actually think.

call me ishmael said...

No question that whatever the books may indicate the relatively recent Sherlock TV Series have been lovingly homoerotic in visual terms.

Jeremy Brett's Holmes was, for my monmey, the benchmark, and the more poignant because his recurring illnesses were so visible as the series progressed. Cumberbatch's irritating characterisation was narcissistic rather than homosexual but he was filmed speculatively, to excite the lust of as many as possible, but the show, unlike Brett's, was about special effects, about posing rather than acting, just like the successive, recent Doctors Who and their companion jailbaits; two or three wooden characters and an extravagant effects budget. Kids' stuff, like most light entertainment.

It can be argued that amy entertainment is reliant upon special effects, even if, as with the suspension of disbelief, you bring your own, but Benny's Sherlock was for those who are congenitally, enthusiastically gullible, the NewPeople, who chose and revere whizz-bang, super-being delusion, believing it artistic license.

He is a totem of the times, Cumberbatch, as mr bungalow bill says, self-drawn cartoons of themselves, these people. Marketable conscience, Billy Bragg or Benedict Cumberbatch, they offer minimal talent, underpinned by phoney conscience.

That is an interesting conjecture, mr doug, subversion, although anachronistic; maybe, once upon a time, but subversives don't get on TeeVee. Take Billy Connolly, a revolting snob, swear-wording his way into Beverley Hills and Buckingham Palace, deriding the trade of which he was once part. Oh, fuck me, he cries, like a malevolent Ken Dodd, to think Ah may've woond-up a fucking welder, but now everything's tickety-boo, with ma talented and beautifual wife, an' ma talented an' beautiful girrrrrls, and all ma beautiful money; Och, what's tae subvert?

As long as they see dangling knighthoods, peerages, UN ambassadorships, BAFTAS and Oscars and repeat fees, there'll be no subversion round here, not from showbiz.

Anonymous said...

Indeed Mr Ish Och, what's tae subvert? Connolly sold out even before the Parkinson interviews.

I doubt if a potential subversive would get a foot in the door these days. Musician, writer or whatever. If Bragg is on TV these days it’s on a couch in some shitty daytime studio, fake views to sell his truly awful music.

Anonymous said...

The ghost isn't even wearing his beaver up. Some twit must think he's better at Shakespeare than Shakespeare. A narcissistic meddler? Far too many about the place!
Re: Holmes- Brett wasn't great. He didn't get the machine-like quality of the original, he overdid the humanity and also seemed a bit gay, or at least simperingly self-congratulatory.
Doyle might have been happy enough with Martin Freeman's Dr. Watson. At least he doesn't bumble. Poor old Nigel Bruce.

call me ishmael said...

I meant he was the benchmark for televised Holmeses to meet, mr richard, he carried the stories around with him, in a form of mania, arguing with producers and writers about staying faithful as far as possible to Doyle, albeit in a different medium; I also enjoyed his rather grand, even arch acting, as well as the sets and locations of the show, the long street shots and the London locations must have been very difficult to achieve. Anyone can frame a busy action scene in modern London. Cumberbatch, I think, was just happy to do as he was bid, however implausible. Just a guess but I think that Brett's audience would have and still do read the books, Cumberbatch's would have looked at clips on youtube, and then moved on, as they say.

I am sure Martin Freeman is working, still, but it is bitter-sweet, how the star is showered with gold, the supporting cast forgotten.

call me ishmael said...

During the Bragg-Cumberbatch interview clip, mr anonymous, mrs ishmael swore that she saw scars on Belbin's jaw, which corresponded with plastic surgery, we can take comfort, therefore, in the confirmatio that we were right all along, he was a vain empty-headed tart.

Dick the Prick said...

Ha ha - great review.

call me ishmael said...

Thank you, mr dick, my old friend.

carol said...

Secret are told only to the people who are ready to be part of the waves, winning the lottery is divine, but you have to strive to all the perfection to win the lottery, winning the lottery is one of the best thing in life, i am a lottery winner, but before i fall into the light , i have some very bad experience in playing the lottery, because my life was at stake, then lottery seems to be the only means that came into my head, i played the lottery steadily over 3 years , but i could not win more than $600, but i always see people winning millions of dollars, so with that i extended my search for victory , then i found Dr. Buda a powerful voodoo Dr Buda who promised to help me win the lottery. Although i was directed to him by one successful old lottery winner who i trust and look up to for secret behind winning the lottery, i contacted Dr.Buda and he did his normal work for me and finally i won the lottery,$5.000000.00, i am happy today because i am a millionaire, and every mature minded human should use this method to win the lottery, contact Dr Buda via email:budatempleofspells@gmail.com.