Hamlet, cigarettes, that kind of thing ~ theatre notes

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Hamlet, cigarettes, that kind of thing

It's been a busy week. Not only have I been fending off the blunt pikes and grammatical shambles of that Lilliputian literary intellect, Peter Craven: I've stopped smoking, No, really. From henceforward I shall be high-stepping keenly about the cultural hotspots of Melbourne, clear of eye and luminous of skin, smelling of neroli essential oil and murmuring holy mantras under my breath...Ok, I agree that is a sickening enough vision to drive one back to the dreaded weed. I promise not to get too wafty.

Anyway, my first official outing as a non-smoker was to see The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark at the Malthouse in Anna Tregloan's fantastic ersatz cinema (complete with fake distressed walls covered with tags and 17th century posters for Hamlet, and wheelie bin lights pierced with some kind of coats of arms). I love this film. The wobbly camera hurts my eyes and the film, like the play, is demanding and difficult. And on this viewing, a couple of minor technical problems - fuzzy, bled-out vision and slightly muffled sound - made the film more difficult than it need be.

Yet it is, if anything, better on a second viewing. Reader, by the time they got to the final line "good night, sweet prince", my heart was broken. There are moments in this film - among many, a couple of Richard Pyros's soliloquies, Adrian Mulraney as the Player King, Beth Buchanan's speechless despair as Ophelia, Heather Bolton as Gertrude weeping in a tiny bathroom, the final few seconds - that I think are completely breath-taking, as good as anything I've seen. I feel about Hamlet a little like Tynan when he claimed that he couldn't love anybody who didn't love Look Back in Anger; but I can't say that, of course, because I'd end up with no friends. For those alive to its rewards, however, it's a wonderful, vital film of one of the great plays of the western canon.

Meanwhile, I am running slow on a review of Kit Lazaroo's Asylum, now on at La Mama, which I hope to upload later today this week. I'd urge you to go, except that the season is totally booked out. (Update: Maureen from La Mama writes to let me know that if you call during office hours - 9347 6948 - you might score "the odd seat here and there"). And then there's Tom Stoppard's Rock'n'Roll, opening tonight at the MTC. And the Hayloft's Platanov, later this week. My goshness, it must be theatre season again. Smoke-free, of course.


Anonymous said...

Good luck, Alison, on the no smoking! It's a new life, really. You'll get used to it. Eventually.

Alison Croggon said...

Thanks, George. I am so ready. It's a new life now!