For this assignment I chose the speech of Claudius the ghost, Hamlet’s late father. I think that this speech is more important than any other in the story. Had Hamlet not have met his father’s ghost, he would not have known that his father was murdered by his uncle. This speech was given to introduce the conflict into the story. The first version of this speech I decided to use was created for a program known as “This is Hamlet” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gpDgB-GJPY
The reason I chose this performance was because it was so very different than I had seen previously. I have attended Hamlet live, and the staging of this particular scene involved quite a bit of movement and the set at this point contained many different levels. I found this version to be extremely different because it has very little movement and the stage is simply flat.
Although the scene is written quite well, (I wonder why?) I feel that the actor does not use all that he is given is the script. His voice is very quiet and solemn for the majority of the speech and sometimes his words are even inaudible. For most of the lines, Robert Parsons maintains a monotone voice, almost as if the character is talking to himself. This makes his voice feel distant in a way. There are not a lot of dynamic changes in the actors lines, except when he is talking about the Queen. At this point he raises his voice to almost a shout. There is only one other point in the speech that the king raises his voice to the same volume, and that is when he shouts “Oh Horrible!”. The actor’s lack of expression makes it seem like he is recalling all that has happened.
If I was the director of this actor I would tell him to use far more expression is his voice, instead of being monotone. I would also tell this particular actor to try and speak a little louder in certain places. It is a fine line between suspenseful and too quiet, and in this particular scene, he is on the wrong side of that line.
My reasoning behind choosing the second performance is because of my fondness for the actors. Hamlet is portrayed by David Tennant, who played the doctor in Doctor Who, and Claudius is played by Patrick Stewart who is Captain Picard on Startrek: The Next Generation. Both of these actors I am fans of and I was interested to see them performing Hamlet. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-tYlYJ0PJM
In comparison to the first version, I found this one to be far more rewarding. Claudius in this version has far more expression in voice. I think that it is very appropriate that when the actor comes to words like wretch, dispatched, and prick, he spits them out almost as if in disgust. I found this to be very powerful. I also found it appropriate that during the first half of his speech he is much slower and puts more emphasis on some words, but then after he says: “Brief let me be” he speeds up a bit and puts less emphasis on his words almost as if to save time. At one point in his speech he pauses for a very long time to disclose the name of the poison used on him. The way he delivers this word it is as if he were in shock of the deed. I found this to be very effective.
If I was the director of this actor, I would try to get him to go quieter. (funny how the last one was too quiet, now this one’s too loud…)If he could get the audience in that suspense of the quietness of his voice, mixed with his loud shouting, I think it would be amazing.
If I was casting Hamlet, and I had to chose and actor out of the two I have discussed, I would choose Patrick Stewart because of his expressiveness in his delivery of his lines.
If I could cast anyone to be Claudius, then I would probably cast an actor like Vincent Price or Bella Lagosi for the role. I would do this to emphasize on the terrible deeds that Claudius has done to be put back on earth as a ghost. Both of these actors know how to perform in a very sinister way, and I think it would add another layer to the character.