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[personal profile] allochthonous
Full of glee because I achieved my Azerbaijan visa (no mean feat) and my Georgian work permit today, so I am all set to get back home next week. Vienna is nice and all and has good cake and drinkable coffee, but I am missing khachapuri.

For reasons of misplaced cultural enthusiasm I ended up this evening at a performance of Hamlet at the Burgtheater which I think is effectively the Austrian equivalent of the National. What I did not realise was that this was entirely uncut, although the 5.30 start time should perhaps have tipped me off; we didn't get out until 11. Bum-numbing qualities aside,  it was actually pretty good (well, Hamlet and Gertrude and weirdly, Rosencratz, were excellent; everyone else sort of so-so and they did some weird thing where a different actor played Ophelia when she was mad which I thought was just odd) with a  young Hamlet which makes him so much less tiresome (he still is fairly tiresome, but I find it way more forgivable when played by a 20-something as opposed to a pushing-40, which seems standard in the UK these days), and a slightly bizarre set like the interior of a sad 1980s conference centre, but five and a half hours of Hamlet is generally far more Hamlet than anyone needs.

But the final scene was entirely worth the preceding five hours as after all that Serious Acting everyone let rip: I've never seen such stupendously histrionic death agonies. The duel was great, which it isn't always, but was totally overshadowed by Gertrude rolling around on the floor behind them while Hamlet wasn't going to let deadly poison prevent him from emitting earsplitting shrieks between every line. Meanwhile Claudius sort of stood around forgetting to act until it was time to die and then he collapsed tenderly into Osric's arms, and then young Fortinbras came in and giggled like a psycopath and beat up Horatio. It was superb.
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