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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: February ::
Hamlet Spy Caught Spying
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0326  Monday, 12 February 2001

From:           Ron Dwelle <
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Date:           Friday, 9 Feb 2001 11:39:42 -0500
Subject:        Hamlet Spy Caught Spying

I just saw a videotape of Hamlet (apparently taken from a television
show, maybe early 1970s), with Richard Chamberlain.

In Act 3, scene 1, the director has Claudius and Polonius hide behind a
curtain and thus hear Hamlet's soliloquy. But after Ophelia enters,
Hamlet spies a pair of eyes (presumably Polonius's), at which point he
goes bonkers (and turns quite vicious toward Ophelia).

I don't see much textual evidence for it (the spy caught spying), but it
did work nicely (though obviously it changes the scene significantly).
I'm wondering if there's any history of the scene being played in such a
way, or if anyone has seen a similar interpretation staged.

Incidentally, the video was not too bad (maybe low-expectations--I never
thought of Richard Chamberlain as being a real actor). It was heavily
cut (to fit within 2 hours and still leave time for commercials), but
otherwise quite good. I can't find the video listed for sale. Is it?

Ron Dwelle

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