Here are the facts: Edward Petherbridge, while in New Zealand rehearsing King Lear in 2007, suffered a stroke. That experience (the illness, the production that didn’t happen) inspired My Perfect Mind. Here is another fact: the play, written by Kathryn Hunter, Paul Hunter and Petherbridge himself, is simple (two actors playing dozens of parts with the assistance of mundane props) yet difficult to describe. It’s free association, perfectly structured, executed and improvised, through the imagination, emotions, memories and images of a perfect mind. Freud without the couch, the doctor or the breaks. Continue reading
Within a few seconds of the performance starting, I knew I was going to love Joe Wright’s production of Trelawny of the Wells. The set, with the simplicity and elegance of a puzzle box, is a pleasure to look at, and the first few moments of the production are so joyously startling that, as a calling card, are hard to beat. If that’s me being uncritical, so be it. Some plays are meant to make you happy and on the evidence of this production, I don’t see why I should resist it.
The story touches on things I love: it’s a play about actors. And eventually a play within a play. In 150 years, few things have changed: actors are still gypsies, a little bit touched, envied, loved, disrespected, outrageous, generous and petty in the same breath and looking for a way out. Rose Trelawny is the brightest most talented star of her company but is giving theatre up for the love of a young man from an aristocratic family. Two worlds are set on a collision course.
By many standards, I am a Hamlet novice (or even a heretic to the cult): I only have eight stage and four screen Hamlets under my belt, and occasionally I bristle in the news of another stage production announced (there is always another production announced). Do I really want to see another Hamlet so close to the last one?
If that thought crossed my mind, then the David Tennant / Hamlet documentary on BBC2 (part of the Shakespeare Uncovered series) came along to remind me that a) yes, I most definitely want to see another Hamlet (and another one after that) and b) my love for Hamlet predates my obsession for theatre or Shakespeare, and it will probably outlive them.
As far as I am concerned, Hamlet is black magic. Even if we occasionally stray away, we (all of us, audience, actors, everyone) are bound to it and we return. David Tennant said as much at the end of the programme. My intention here isn’t to review the BBC2 documentary (the Hamlet Weblog has done it much better than I could, let’s briefly say that it was as simple and complex and exciting as it should be) but to list some additional (and personal) Hamlet treasures: Continue reading