November 11, 2009
Jude Law on Broadway - an energetic and mercurial Hamlet.
Jude Law brought his own flavor to Shakespeare's Hamlet. The British actor carried the role with a vitality and vitriol that was truly captivating. His use of pauses, as tools to manipulate audience response, was a masterful stroke that had the audience participate in his eccentric-sounding yet witty pondering. Jude Law presented a Hamlet whose hands and body movement spoke volumes for him, as did his poignant pauses in speech delivery. This prince was more prone to flights of mercurial fancy. He drove speedily in and out of emotions such as anger, ridicule, jest, and pain; unlike other Hamlets he did not indulge in long bouts of melancholia and brooding. Jude Law's lean physique lent itself to this characterization of ebullience and vitality, not quite associated with earlier Hamlets. This combination of vitriol and energy in Mr Law's spasmodic yet graceful bodily movements quite compliment the indecisiveness in Hamlet 's character! Which makes me wonder how exhausted he must have been at the end of the 3 hour 15 minutes performance during which he performed for more than 40% of the time! Also, I would be curious to know if Mr Law surprised himself by his range of rendition in presenting the Danish Prince to audiences in London and New York over the last few months. In fact in one interview he admits, " there is no definitive ‘Hamlet,’ because you don’t play Hamlet, Hamlet plays you."
Mr Michael Grandage, the director of the play, has done a splendid job of creating an austere Demark, 'an unweeded garden' with 'things rank and gross'. The set and costumes are both, in minimalist tradition. The metaphor of Denmark as prison was well captured by the cold, grey fortified walls that Hamlet was presented against and within, as were the costumes in subdued shades of grey, blue, and brown. The supporting cast members did reasonably well to support Mr Law in one of his best performances, though they did appear wanting in a few scenes when they were pitted against a superbly fluid and natural Hamlet, not quite as somber or melancholy as the earlier Hamlets played by Lawrence Oliviere and Richard Burton.
This is a show I strongly recommend! I was pained at the amount it cost a dear one to have me watch this play on Broadway, but it was definitely worth it. Jude Law's rendition of Hamlet is in fact a tribute to Shakespeare's characterization.