I, Hamlet

6 Sep

Hamlet. Again. But this time – different. I saw Hamlet so many times, I spent so many hours watching him, it was like learning him by heart, it felt like I know him like the back of my hand. But in real life, you never really know no-one but yourself. And this time I became Hamlet. Hamlet – the heart of the play, and, at the same time, a total outsider, a mere observer.
Sitting in the front row, I felt the growing tension, when all that crept out of the darkness were the breaths and whispers of the actors. And even though they were whispering, or perhaps rather hissing, in a language unknown to me, the tone of their voices sent shivers down my back. Eventually a subtle flame of a candle lit the dim surroundings, unveiling the shadow of an older woman sitting on the ground. She was trembling, the sound of her sobbing would echo across the room. The rest of the actors carefully lifted a table and carried it like a coffin to the front of the stage. And then, in just a second, the atmosphere changed, there was no more despair, it was the beginning of a new era – an era of bitter-sweet insanity and brutish lust. The table, which just a little while ago was the symbol of the King’s coffin, was now bending under the wild passion of all the actors performing an orgy.
Most of the time, the atmosphere of the play was disturbing, manic, nearly diabolic. The stage design was minimalistic, and the lighting was only of the warm colour of candlelight, which gave the performance a special, intimate tinge. Thanks to that, it was easier to focus on the very symbolic and emotional show. The mysterious, sometimes a little dark, music was a perfect addition to the whole performance. In such circumstances, the spectators could feel anxious, confused, perhaps at times even oppressed. The actors were juggling the roles from one to another, none of them was just one character. All of them were constantly trying to establish contact with the audience – their Hamlet. But even then, when it was me who was Hamlet, I still felt like an outsider, like I could not simply fit in and be a part of the world around me. I was there, in the eye of storm, people would address me, and there was nothing I could say, nothing I could do. I was helpless. There was no line for me to say. Although at first I thought that Teatro del Lemming’s director – Massimo Munaro is being whimsical not allowing subtitles during his show, I quickly understood that they really were unnecessary. Why? Because Hamlet will never understand Ophelia anyway, it doesn’t matter if that’s due to the language barrier or to a simple mix-up. As Hamlet I was misunderstood, as a spectator, I was diving into the ocean of the actors’ emotional struggle. My eyes were running from one face to another, trying to catch and understand every metaphorical moment. I was sitting there, enchanted and horrified, watching one of the actresses place a doll in a basin filled with water. And then another actress spoils the clear water by pouring red wine into it. That was the end for Ophelia.
The play was full of symbolism and extreme emotions, everything combined put a stunningly beautiful and unforgettable picture into the viewers’ minds. Even if you didn’t understand a word they said, you could still admire the beauty of sounds. The Italian language is incredibly melodious. And when Hamlet was saying the most important of all words, we all knew that it’s now. I don’t think there’s a person who didn’t understand the last sentence: “Il resto e silenzio” – the rest is silence. When I think of “Amleto”, I’m pretty sure that even this silence was meaningful enough, and suddenly it seemed like our great master Shakespeare, who surely is the king of words, remains a genius even with his ‘feathers’ stripped off. Although the music sometimes made me tremble and feel like I was inside a horror story, it was perfect for the show. I was, and I still am, enchanted. This time I couldn’t fall in love with Hamlet. But I finally got tha chance to understand him. For just a moment I could feel what he felt. And for all that: thank you, Massimo.

pictures: Paolo Ferrari


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