Saturday, 7 November 2015

To sleep, perchance to dream

Horatio and Hamlet survey the Elsinore rubble.

We have discovered that there are more Cumberbitches in Ottawa than DT fan girls. Two years ago, we attended a "live-stream" cinema screening of the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of Richard II, starring David Tennant. It was well-attended but not sold out.

A couple of evenings ago, I decided to check out the ticket situation for an encore presentation of a not-quite-live-stream (not live in Canada, anyway) performance of the National Theatre's presentation of Hamlet, starring Benedict Cumberbatch. (Just as an aside, Mr Cumberbatch has gone on record as saying he prefers to refer to his female fans as the "Cumbercollective".) When I logged on to the Cineplex website, there were exactly 27 tickets left for this afternoon's showing.

Keeping that in mind, the Resident Fan Boy, younger daughter, and I turned up at the Silver City cinema nearly an hour early, and this was only partly due to the unreliability of weekend buses in Hades. About a dozen people had already staked out seats - Ottawans are very territorial about their vantage points - so we grabbed our favourites: last row, centre, and savoured the schadenfreude of watching later arrivals trying to find seats where they could a) sit with their friends; b) see the whole screen.

The production? A little too clever for its own good, and the tinkering with the order of the scenes and the rather heavy-handed use of stages-within-stages, slow motion, and rubble failed to tell me anything new.

Mind you, I'm hardly one to talk. The problem with a full cinema is that there are over 300 bodies warming the place nicely, and I kept dropping off, despite my best efforts. Also, there was only one intermission, which meant two-thirds of the play had elapsed before there was an opportunity to dash for the long queues to both washrooms. The length of the first "half" effectively finished younger daughter off, so she and the Resident Fan Boy made a break for it.

I stayed, and the cooler extra space next to me, in combination with the events hurtling to their violent conclusion on the screen, kept me awake and attentive during the final "half" (third). The cast was good, but the one stand-out for me was Karl Johnson, one of those madly busy British character actors, who played both the ghost and the gravedigger.

Mr Cumberbatch gave a flawless performance, but while I enjoy and admire his work, I'm not a Cumberbitch. I find it a struggle enough not to be any kind of bitch.

Clicking on the screen makes it way bigger.
The show had started at about 1pm, and when I emerged from the theatre, it was past 4:30. I rarely see spectacular sunsets in Ottawa, but we got one of a British Columbia calibre this evening.

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