Friday, June 5, 2009

Alas, Poor Jude Law

From the world of theater: 

Jude Law is currently playing Hamlet on the London stage, and he has requested a real human skull as a prop for the scene in which Hamlet addresses Yorick—Hamlet's former jester whose skull he comes across when speaking to a gravedigger. It's one of the most famous moments in the play. And it seems Law wanted a skull that had actually been populated by a soul, a brain, a mind. 

It makes sense to me where his request comes from as an actor. The production company was actually able to track one down through an anatomic-parts supplier in Salt Lake City, Utah. However, due to health codes in London, they will not be able to use the real skull and have to go back to a fake. 

But I think, as the director of this play, as soon as this move made such a media firestorm, you'd almost have to pull back and return to a fake skull anyway. 

Once word gets out that Law is using a real skull on stage, that's all anyone would be looking at during the speech. It would be completely distracting. Already this hoopla is going to pull away from the moment ... but with an actual human skull up there, audience members would be pulling out binoculars and craining their heads to see how real it looks and whether they can tell the difference between it and any old prop. 

And just for your enjoyment and because I'm a huge Shakespeare fan, here's my favorite Hamlet, Laurence Olivier, handling this very scene. 


dethmama said...

I love how the head of Olivier's shadow falls directly on the skull as it lays on the ground. Excellent.

Jessica Knapp said...

Nice observation. Yes, Olivier is AMAZING.