The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1697  Thursday, 25 July 2002

From:           Brian Willis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 24 Jul 2002 10:28:10 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 13.1685 Re: Her C's . . .
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1685 Re: Her C's . . .

I am always surprised at how people can easily forget how COMIC Hamlet
can be. In fact, I would stress SHOULD be. Few of the Hamlets that I
have enjoyed have not contained a great sense of humor.

From the post-ghost ramblings about the mole, to the banter with R+G and
the playing with Polonius, to Ophelia in the Mousetrap, and I would
argue even to the reminiscing with Yorick, Hamlet can be a really funny
comic character for stretches of the play. I have rarely seen an actor
succeed in the role on any level that can not reconcile the comedy
within the character to the tragic role he must play. The best recent
example was Mark Rylance at the Globe (who is increasingly becoming
known there for his comedy) but who was able to do what only 2 or 3
other Hamlets have been able to do: shake me with laughter and with

If I'm not mistaken, Burbage played Falstaff and Hamlet. Either he was
the greatest actor the world has ever known (which is entirely
possible), or there are actors who can play both roles. They are just
increasingly hard to find.

Brian Willis

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