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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Benedict Cumberbatch As William Shakespeare

So, what do you think of Benedict Cumberbatch as the Bard?

My versions of Hamlet, Richard III and The Merchant of Venice take us back to see the plays as they were first written and performed by the original actors, which of course included Shakespeare himself.

There are some truly gifted actors that could do a splendid job in the same role.

But there is something about Benedict Cumberbatch as William Shakespeare that just seems right.

He recently said that he wants to play Hamlet before too long. Well, I think he would make a great Hamlet, but I would think that this is a better opportunity.

My version of Hamlet covers much of Shakespeare's life, from his childhood in Stratford, to his early days in London and through the tumultuous last decade of the 16th century -- which saw him enjoy great success and then later, as he nearly lost everything, including his life.

This would require a performance that would show how a young and naive Shakespeare, newly arrived from Stratford, became a popular and important actor, who then entered into the royal court and became enmeshed in the intrigue in Queen Elizabeth's court.

I think Benedict would be very good at showing us this transformation.

While I have never seen him perform any Shakespeare, I have every confidence that he would do well in the parts of my versions where Shakespeare acts onstage with his company of actors. In my version of Hamlet, he would play the Ghost of Hamlet's father. In my version of Richard III, he plays multiple roles including Anne and Queen Margaret.

I would be very excited to see him play these different roles on the Elizabethan stage, and I think he would bring a great vitality to what original playhouse acting was like.

The last major motion picture concerning Shakespeare was Shakespeare In Love in 1998, with Joseph Fiennes. I enjoyed it very much, but it is fantasy romantic drama, and doesn't pretend to be a serious look at his life.

Before that, there was a TV series in 1978 starring Tim Curry (!) as Shakespeare. I haven't watched it. I don't even know if I should.

I don't count Anonymous from last year. It is nothing more than an insult to Shakespeare.

Don't you think it's about time that there was a serious look at the life and work of William Shakespeare?

Where is the Amadeus for Shakespeare? 

Well, my adaptation of Hamlet serves that purpose, and I would think that Benedict Cumberbatch as William Shakespeare would help humanize this great man, and help draw us into the very real and dramatic story of his life.