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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: January ::
Cry for Harry
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0187  Monday, 26 January 2004

From:           Claude Caspar <
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Date:           Friday, 23 Jan 2004 14:38:08 -0500
Subject: 14.2307 Cry for Harry
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2307 Cry for Harry

"I thought Ethan Hawke gave the best performance, which was a surprise
because many of the critics I had read had stated he gave a weak
performance.  Most of the actors seemed to be posturing, whereas Hawke
seemed to be actually feeling the emotions of his character.  Part of
this could be because Hotspur wears his heart on his sleeve, - which
made it easier for Hawke to have more energy than anyone else."

Well, I was at last Sunday's matinee, the last performance.  Trip was
last minute & tickets almost impossible to locate short of murder-
several times I came close, but finally for $350 each we sat second row
center, often within spittle shower of the actors, one of the benefits
of live theatre...  I had just seen the amazing, now closed, Rembrandt
show in Boston's MFA which complemented the sensibilities for
Shakespeare- and, I couldn't resist Bill Irwin's so-so reprise of his
Regard show at the Signature theatre...

It was wonderful & I must agree that Hotspur was never so memorable, so
interesting, so tragic... Definitely the best and only significant
performance, though Poines now exists as an individual as never before,
a dangerous puck.  Kline wasn't the kinda Falstaff that would, or could,
illustrate & vindicate Bloom's, et ali, adulation, but he had his
moments- that He can't be denied is what is significant. Kline was
terrible at the places where the mood shifts, such as when he realizes
he has been had in the robbery...  Nothing interior.   I always re-read
Goddard before I see a play, & even played the audio Archangel version
just to ground me- alas, the Wells "Chimes" seems in limbo.  Goddard is
so good I must urge all to experience the plays through his eyes... When
you see how so many by cutting out the depth of Hal's hypocrisy, let
alone in H5, distort what Shakespeare thought important to dramatize as
counterpoint, such an abridgement seems an unnecessary evil- is it still
Shakespeare without the full text, half a loaf, now almost propaganda
for a view that was, at least, based on the whole loaf?  What was most
interesting was seeing the difference the cuts make to the
interpretation, here not just a line or two, but wholesale & one-sided.
  The adapter, a recognizable actor whose name escapes me, also played
the Chief Justice- and seemed to play the part consistent with his
interpretation & vice versa. As if Polonius scripted all of Hamlet,
alas...  Revenge of the nerds, I suppose.  But, to see Falstaff this way
is more revealing than a simply sympathetic version, too. Shakespeare
has one great & unique limitation- he never gives us anything that
doesn't have the natural ambiguity of Life itself, Santayana
notwithstanding- though of the camp that senses WS's identification with
Falstaff, especially compared with how he dissolves, nay fragments with
ironies into a thousand shards the nature & firmament of royalty,
received values, anything seeming towards Being, anything other than
nominalistic, excepting sentiment- Falstaff is a wounded man, however
heroic.  Yes, Hal is never heroic, except for a physical moment or two,
perhaps, but Falstaff lives heroically & knowingly martyrs himself...

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