‘Speech Falters Speech Flinches When Horror Lifts a Fist to It’: Action, Emotion, and Inertia in Three Hamlet Variations
Hamlet is always a character under construction, always a potential—both in the sense of those imagined nebulous Hamlets constructed from the pages of the text, and those many embodied Hamlets that may be seen in performance. While there have been numerous adaptations of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, in this essay, I focus on three plays that treat Hamlet as a marginalised and mainly reluctant player in the revenge narrative: Howard Barker’s Gertrude—The Cry (2002), Heiner Müller’s Hamletmachine (1977), and my own When Salome Met Hamlet (2009). These plays explore to varying degrees some of the principal themes raised in Shakespeare’s text—particularly questions of power, subjectivity, Hamlet’s presumed inertia, and those frequent misogynistic outbursts expressed by the protagonist.
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