PRINT April 2001


Peter Brook’s Tragedy of Hamlet

STAGING ONE SHAKESPEARE PLAY every five years or so, Peter Brook sees the Bard’s abundant oeuvre as a fitting vehicle to deliver the news of the world. Even when the director turns to other material, we are never far from Stratford. Lost in the prince’s famous tribulations—The Tragedy of Hamlet makes its New York debut at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on April 24 following its premiere in Paris this winter—one cannot help but flash back to Brook’s 1985 production of Mahabharata, particularly the lines “What is madness? It is a forgotten path.”

Forgotten or not, it is this path that Hamlet, as prodigiously interpreted by Adrian Lester, follows. Yet it’s far from a marked-out route: Brook has severely pruned Shakespeare’s play, eliminating more than half the text, reordering the scenes, and reducing the number of actors to eight. Thus deprived of familiar landmarks, Brook’s Hamlet must agree

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