There are references to Shakespeare all over London, regardless of where you look. If I thought that London was devoted to Shakespeare, I was not prepared for Stratford upon Avon. It is the Disney World equivalent, without the rides. Picture the devotion that some people to rockstars and you’ve got Stratford. Shakespeare’s presence lingers everywhere, including the guy who dresses up as his ghost and scared me each time I passed him in the street (which was a lot). If you ever make it to Stratford, don’t make eye contact, he can smell your fear. But back to the guy who lived 400 years ago.
It was exciting to see the place where he lived and worked, but less so when we took the time to see his burial site. Shakespeare is everywhere. His presence lingers despite his death occurring over four centuries ago. It was a funny feeling to see his eternal resting place, after analyzing nearly every aspect of his life over the past few weeks. As corny as it sounds, its like William Shakespeare is the unofficial 7th member of our London Breakfast Club.
Now onto Hamlet. Hamlet is most likely the play that what most people think of when they hear the words William Shakespeare. I’ve come to respect the tradition associated with Shakespeare’s works even when some like Macbeth (which we saw at the Globe) incorporate bits of modern reference. However, I found the Royal Shakespeare Company’s (RSC) interpretation to be disappointing. While I was watching the performance, I felt let down by the performance. It seemed like it was trying so incredibly hard to be something that it wasn’t, which was modern and relatable to those in the audience today. This rendition of Hamlet felt like something completely different from the world that Shakespeare created, and while I could appreciate the work and dedication of all involved, I could not however appreciate it as a whole. The immature nature of the Hamlet character, the disconnect in costumes and the farfetched themes were entirely underwhelming for me as an audience member.
Luckily my faith was restored in Cymbeline, the second RSC performance my class saw. It completely changed my impression of the RSC, and it was a relief to see many of Hamlet’s actors take up different roles in Cymbeline (which was great to see how dynamic and talented they all are).
Overall Shakespeare Land was great, but I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t very excited to return to the hustle and bustle of the ever changing London.