The 23rd of April marked the 400th year anniversary of William Shakespeare. Whether you’re a devotee of his works or were too scarred by high school English class to appreciate it, you have to admit, he was, and is, a literary icon, and his works have stood the test of time. They have been copied, adapted and remade hundreds of times over, in new and wonderful ways, and have given us some of the greatest love stories and tragedies of our time. His work has given form to styles of poetry, and even how we form characters still today. His villain, Iago, from his tragedy Othello remains one of my favourite literary villains of all time.
To celebrate his life (and death), a group of British actors (and an Australian musical comic) each took turns reciting one of Shakespeare’s most iconic lines, “To be or not to be, that is the question”, from his famous tragedy, Hamlet. Hamlet has been remade so many times, in so many ways, by so many actors on stage and screen, so it was fitting that this be the work chosen to commemorate his life.
Each of the actors took turns reciting the line, each putting emphasis on a different word, and arguing that their version is the most correct. Comedy ensues.
Highlights for me include Tim Minchin making a ginger joke, various members of the company ‘mistaking’ Benedict Cumberbatch for Eddie Redmayne, the general existence of Dame Judi Dench and Sir Ian McKellen, and a special royal cameo from Prince Charles, in what may be his most popular act since he married Lady Diana Spencer.
Whether you’re a fan of Shakespeare or not, you will appreciate the comedy, and can appreciate the work, and the significance it holds to any lover of literature, theatre, or in this case, Benedict Cumberbatch’s face. Check it out below.