2002: Peter Brook
Peter Brook, once the enfant terrible of the London theater, is still, in his advanced years, a bit of a maverick. He has produced the apparently unproducable (e.g., the Mahabharata), and never fails to produce something interesting. This version of Hamlet is no exception: it’s remarkably interesting. Whether it’s Hamlet any longer is another question.
Brook is well aware of the fact that cinema allows a different kind of diction, and different visual modes of disclosure, from those available to the actor on stage. He clearly is trying to exploit those options here. I’m not convinced, however, that he has respected the internal rational dynamics of the play adequately in doing so. He has significantly cut and also rather randomly rearranged the script from one end to the other. What remains is a spare but somewhat fractured image of the play, incapable of conveying the central core of the play as it was written.
The title role is handled with severe and reserved grace by Adrian Lester, whom many may have seen in either Primary Colors, Branagh’s Love’s Labour’s Lost, or a number of other things. He is an excellent actor with a remarkable range; his delivery is thoughtful and subtle, and (within the limits placed upon him by the direction and the abridgement of the script) he does a superior job.
I find it hard to recommend this play to the newcomer: it’s perhaps interesting for those who already know the play well, or those who want to pick out isolated bits of performance. It remains a good mine for fragments of genius — but for all that, it’s not quite Hamlet as a whole any more.
First Playe : Yoshi Oida
Gertrude; Queen: Natasha Parry
Guildenstern; Laertes: Rohan Siva
Hamlet: Adrian Lester
Horatio: Scott Handy
Claudius; Ghost: Jeffery Kissoon
Ophelia: Shantala Shivalingappa
Osric: Antonin Stahly-Vishwanadan
Polonius; Gravedigger: Bruce Myers
Priest: Nicolas Gaster
Rosencrantz: Asil Raïs
Second Player: Akram Khan
Servant: Jérôme Grillon