To be or not to be. Is that the question?
Now, I enjoy cultural activities, I cherish spending time with dear friends and I embrace trying new things however, relishing three hours of Shakespeare, I was not.
Long days of concentration invariably mean, spending any period worthy of intense attention, at night can be a test of my resolve. The performance in question was a National Theatre Live production, of, to give it it’s full title, The Tragedy of Hamlet.
The troubled soul of the title character was performed by Benedict Cumberbatch. Adding a big screen name to any play is going to get bums on seats but as one who has been living under a stone for years, it was not a personal sweetner.
Projected live from the Barbican in London onto cinema screens across the country, I was sceptical. Everything you get from a being in a live audience would surely be lost in a cinema theatre?
I was proved wrong, every seat in the cinema was sold out (the Benedict effect?). So much so that a group decision to pack some evening cocktail sausages and other such distracting warm foods we had hope would fly under the radar of a half full cinema, suddenly seemed like a miscalculation, and a pungent one at that.
I am not ashamed to admit, I did not understand every word of the lengthy dialogues, and there were moments when I realised I had missed an exchange or lost my place but, what it was, was extremely powerful and entertaining. Incredible even. The story was passionate and laugh out loud funny.
Shortly after my Shakespeare epiphany I received a phone call from a gentleman wearing the same surprise as I had, with regards the famous playwright. Dragged to the Shakespeare in Schools festival in Lochgelly, he was a non-theatre goer in general, in fact he admitted to resolutely disliking plays. But again Shakespeare and more specifically the children of Bell Baxter High School, surprised him by transforming Macbeth into an entertaining and accessible performance. So bravo, I say, to schools for continually re-assessing how they tackle the tricky couplets, for the world who doggedly insists we all fall in love with this often challenging genre and to the man himself, for writing stories that twist and turn and captivate over 400 years later.