My earliest memory of Shakespeare was way back in 1993 when our driver, nicknamed “Shakespeare”, barged into my room in the middle of the night when I was asleep and- wait. Not that.
My other early Shakespeare memory was when I did my grade three book report on Romeo and Juliet. No, seriously. Well, actually, I was supposed to do my book report on Hardy Boys Casefiles #1: Dead on Target, but I saw that old, battered copy of Romeo and Juliet on the shelf right next to Rambo: First Blood. Yeah, leave it to me to pick up a sissified love story over Rambo awesomeness.
Yeah, I was stupid.
So I read the play, and I understood it as much as a grade three student would: not much. So i ended up writing a book report which I was saying “What the fuck am I doing” every three minutes or so. I mean, seriously. “Thou wast never with me for any thing when thou wast not there for the goose”? What was Shakespeare smoking?
Also, I flunked the book report.
So began my lifelong hatred of anything Shakespeare. Sorry William, I know we share the same birthday, but you bore me to death. The fact that I saw an extremely lifeless and boring rendition of a Filipino translation of As You Like It back in college didn’t help.
Now that I’m done with the obligatory long-ass boring intro, I can now get into the real reason for this article. I was invited by Lorna Lopez to watch Repertory Philippines‘ latest offering, a reimagined production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
“To be or not to be. That is a question? lolz”
Okay, not that kind of Hamlet. This Hamlet, they claim, is a stripped-down version of Shakespeare’s play, removing all the layers that surround it but its core. They set it in a post-apocalyptic world, leaving nothing but “an immortal masterpiece about greed, love, vengeance, and passion.”
Sounds good. And now I decide to read through the blurb:
A land ravaged by war. A kingdom struggling to survive. A desperate ghost. A murderous king. An incestuous queen. And a tormented prince, hungry for revenge.
Just looking at the costumes alone tells me that this isn’t going to be another drab and boring Shakespeare play:
Curiosity piqued to the max, I went to OnStage Greenbelt to watch it with Lauren, who, like me, knows almost next to nothing about Shakespeare except for the fact that Joseph Fiennes played him in Shakespeare in Love (masculinity: -100). As the lights dimmed, I realized that Shakespeare plays are recited in Old English, and I expected the sound of that would make me snore by the second act. Thankfully, the acting delivered, and even though Shakespeare plays were usually filled with dragging monologue and convoluted plots, I was riveted, taking in every detail. Awesome acting. Strip Hamlet down to its bare essentials they did.
I just had a few bones to pick with the play though. Even though the costumes were one of the things that made me excited with this play, for some reason I felt that they were too Final Fantasy. The costumes didn’t feel out of place. It just didn’t feel exactly right. In fact, for the first thirty minutes, I was reminded of an Otaku ex-girlfriend of mine who insisted I dress exactly the same way when we go on dates and stuff. We didn’t last more than two weeks.
But still, the play is fantastic. From the creepy opening up to the end where the poisoned Hamlet looks at the audience, says “The rest is silence” and dies, the play succeeds.
Lauren: I like it.
Ade: So doeth I, my fair lady.
Lauren: Um. What?
Ade: The performance. It is… awesometh.
Lauren: Awesometh? What? Have you been taking meth… or something?
Ade: Nay! I beseech you, have no foul thoughts in thy mind’s eye. You see, to be, or not to be. That is the question.
Lauren: Ade, you’re scaring me.
Ade: Why, I ask thee, should you be frightened?
Ade: But, my lady! This is not supposeth to frighten thee-
Lauren: Shut up, Ade.
Lauren: Shut the fucketh up.
You can still catch Hamlet at Onstage Greenbelt 1 until February 17, 2008. Show details are as follows:
February 1-17, 2008
8:00 PM on Fridays & Saturday
3:30 PM on Saturdays & Sundays
2/F Greenbelt 1, Ayala Center, Makati City
Orchestra Center – P 550.00
Orchestra Side – P 350.00
Balcony – P 250.00
Head over to the Repertory Philippines site for more info about this and upcoming shows through here.