Franco Zefferelli’s HAMLET (1990) may not age well, given that star Mel Gibson’s image is now “anti-Semitic loonie” instead of “talented actor/director” (it’s telling that the two special features are both Gibson-centric) Which is unfortunate because Gibson does very well as an intense Hamlet fuming over Gertrude (Glenn Close) marrying Claudius (Alan Bates) so soon after her husband’s death; said rage, of course, turns murderous after the Big Reveal from ghostly Paul Scofield. Watching so soon after the Derek Jacobi version, I can see where the cuts are (Fortinbras, and Hamlet’s advice to the players). What really stands out are the women’s role: Helena Bonham Carter’s Ophelia is much livelier and more active than most that I’ve seen (and Gibsons deliver “get thee to a nunnery” less as an insult and more as “girl, get somewhere out of the line of fire while you can.”). And Close’s Gertrude is a wonder, clearly excited about her new husband, but just as loving to her son; there’s a great bit early on when Claudius is telling Hamlet to stop being so mopey and Gertrude is wordlessly trying to reconcile her two men. Worth seeing if you’re okay with seeing Gibson; Ian Holm plays a windbag Polonius. “I show you how a king may progress through the guts of a beggar.”
Playmakers’ follow-up to the Robin Hood play Sherwood was the much darker SKELETON CREW (by Dominique Morisseau, who recently received a McArthur genius grant). This one is set in 2008 in the break room of a dying Detroit auto plant as a fiftysomething lesbian, her surrogate son/supervisor, a single expectant mother and borderline gangsta all contemplate how to deal with a looming plant closing. The first contemporary drama I’ve seen on stage in a long time, this was well done though a lower key, less downbeat ending than I expected. But that fits well about the themes of struggling to stay afloat and pondering what “afloat” really means. “There’s no way to fight without jumping on the goddamn grenade.”
The final season of LOST GIRL was an improvement over S4, but that’s not saying much. This time the Big Bad is the Olympians (“The most powerful fae of all time.”), particularly Bo’s father Hades (Eric Roberts), who it turns out has big plans for her, and not pleasant ones. Lacking Kenzi most of the season really hurt, and the Tamsyn/Bo/Lauren triangle didn’t work at all. However they did pull off a first-rate season ender — the showrunners definitely knew ahead of time this was their last hurrah (Dragoncon’s Lost Girl panel said they had a different showrunner for every season, which explains a lot). “Great, I’m going to die next to a girl wearing gingham.”
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