Taking a Five-Year-Old To See Hamlet

Apart from seeing three new shows, my wife and I also went back to see the Hamlet that we saw at opening night earlier in the season (and reviewed here). And we took our nearly-six-year-old son. What did we think the second time? What did he think?

What we thought:

- Opening night we sat in the center section. This time, we sat somewhat off to the side. Whoa! This show is really blocked for the center section! It hadn’t struck me the first time we saw it, but Adrian Noble blocked this show as if he was unaware the Festival stage is a thrust, with a decent chunk of the audience off to either side. This was genuinely problematic for the soliloquies, and made it harder to appreciate the sets. But it also meant we were able to notice little things, little reactions that we missed the first night – the one that comes first to mind is Claudius draining his tumbler when Gertrude reports the death of Ophelia.

What he thought:

- “Fishmonger” is a really funny word. – Polonius losing his place is really funny, too. – So is Polonius yawning and saying, “this is too long.” In fact, Polonius is a regular laugh a minute. – You can’t stop looking at Ophelia when she’s going crazy. – Hamlet talks too much, especially when nobody is listening. – Tricking the king with a play is cool. – The sword fight at the end is cool. – At the end, when Hamlet is supposed to be dead, you can still see him breathing.

For what it’s worth, there it is.