Category Archives: plays

Brooklyn and Hamlet

Over the weekend I saw a film (Brooklyn) and a play (Hamlet) and while my expectations were low and high for each show respectively, they ended up being reversed by the time the actors took the bow.

The film, set in Ireland and Brooklyn, NY, was beautifully made, with great costumes and strong but subtle acting. The story, about a young woman immigrating to the U.S. alone, didn’t seem thrilling to me, so I lacked interest in watching it, even though there was a Q&A with the lead actress, director, and producer afterwards.

However, the story starts quickly, with the young daughter leaving her mother and older sister behind in Ireland, where she had no prospects for a future. By the end of the film I was all wrapped up in her story, wondering how it would end. Would it be cheesy or tragic? It ended up being the “right” ending, and I felt like I could identify with her and her struggles of identity and what is considered “home.”

One particular detail I liked about the film was having the native New Yorkers speak with their distinct accents. The NY accent today isn’t very distinct like it was back then, so┬áit was a nice touch to add to the authentic feel of the time period of the 1950s.

In stark contrast, the Hamlet I saw via the National Theatre Live screening had no distinct setting of time. That was the most obvious thing that stood out to me; so much so that it became unsettling, and, in the end, extremely irritating.

Shakespearean dialogue mashed up with elaborate stage pieces, fancy suits, Victorian style coats, military uniforms, hoodies, jeans, sneakers, and a flannel shirt made a visually inconsistent, incoherent statement.

I wanted to be blown away by this play, I really did. And yet I have to admit that I wasn’t. The one very good thing I will say is that it made me think about what I did and didn’t like, and this interpretation challenged me. But I still didn’t like it.