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Hamlet (#110 of 6)

Film Comment Selects 2015: Cymbeline

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Film Comment Selects 2015: <em>Cymbeline</em>
Film Comment Selects 2015: <em>Cymbeline</em>

In Cymbeline, director Michael Almereyda, working with cinematographer Tim Orr, strikingly calls attention to the flimsiness of the story’s settings. Characters hatch out a plan at a Chinese restaurant and the audience is allowed to ineffably sense that this location was selected, perhaps the week before shooting, for the strip-mall bareness of its interior and for its overall chintziness, which contrasts with the heightened poetic dialogue that’s taken from Shakespeare’s play of the same name. Other locations, which include warehouses, dilapidated mansions, bridges, and spartanly furnished cabins, exude a similarly purposefully contrived aura of isolated, cherry-picked formality: They’re theatrical sets as found objects, and Orr often casts them in silvery hues that convey a nihilistic impression of decay and apocalyptic impermanency.

Live Wire: An Interview with The Comedy of Errors Star Hamish Linklater

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Live Wire: An Interview with <em>The Comedy of Errors</em> Star Hamish Linklater
Live Wire: An Interview with <em>The Comedy of Errors</em> Star Hamish Linklater

What kind of Hamish Linklater fan you are likely depends on what kind of entertainment you take in the most. If you’re a TV buff, odds are you know him from The New Adventures of Old Christine, or maybe Gideon’s Crossing. If you mainly watch films, you’ve surely seen his standout work in a range of projects, from Miranda July’s The Future and the old cult flick Groove to Greta Gerwig’s vehicle Lola Versus and this year’s 42. Theater junkies know Linklater from his extensive work on stage, which dates all the way back to his childhood, when his mother, Kristin Linklater, a vocal technique teacher and current chair of the Acting Division at Columbia University, made him aware of the Bard almost immediately. Throughout his theater career, the 36-year-old has starred with the likes of the late Jill Clayburgh in Off Broadway productions, made his Broadway debut in 2011’s Seminar with Alan Rickman and Jerry O’Connell, and made repeated returns to the Public’s Shakespeare in the Park, appearing in 2009’s Twelfth Night and 2010’s The Merchant of Venice. This season, the actor returns to the outdoor venue in The Comedy of Errors, which reunites him with director Daniel Sullivan and his frequent co-star Jesse Tyler Ferguson.

Summer of ‘88: Da

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Summer of ‘88: <em>Da</em>
Summer of ‘88: <em>Da</em>

If you dream of a monosyllabic title for your hit play, you can’t get any more evocative than Hugh Leonard when he gave his the simple name of Da. Not only is it short, not only does it spell out the theme of filial sentiment in a single flap of the tongue, it damn near makes sense visually. The two bulky letters face each other, different in size and stature, forever at odds and yet inseparable. Like father. Like son. Duh.

For a brief moment in the late ’80s and early ’90s, it seemed Ireland could have done no wrong in terms of movies that were unashamedly local and universal at the same time. The same feat would be repeated by Iran in the mid-’90s and by Romania in the new millennium, but the string of Irish films of note—starting out with The Dead, Eat the Peach, and Da, and culminating with the golden era bookended by Jim Sheridan’s My Left Foot and In the Name of the Father—has been hugely inspiring in terms of attracting global audiences to local themes. (In fact, one of the best films of the entire surge was John Irvin’s Widows’ Peak, based on a script by no other than Leonard.)

I have a special fondness for Da: Leonard’s play is one of several I translated into my native Polish, and it’s also the only one of those to be published. Naturally, I spent a long time with Leonard’s words. As I ploughed through the text, I wondered how the whole thing would work on the stage, given its complex time structure. This I’ve yet to discover; the movie, however, still works very well.

Honoring Structure: An Interview with An Enemy of the People‘s Richard Thomas

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Honoring Structure: An Interview with An Enemy of the People’s Richard Thomas
Honoring Structure: An Interview with An Enemy of the People’s Richard Thomas

Richard Thomas is back on Broadway in the Manhattan Theatre Club’s revival of Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People. The New York-born actor, who for many will always be associated with The Waltons, started his career as a child actor, making his first Broadway appearance at age seven in 1958. Since then, with detours for movies and especially television, he’s worked steadily in the theater, playing a slew of classical roles in regional theater, and working on contemporary fare by writers such as Lanford Wilson, Terrence McNally, Edward Albee, and David Mamet.

In Ibsen’s 1882 classic, a community’s highly anticipated source of revenue, a new public baths for their town, is in jeopardy when the town’s medical officer, Thomas Stockman, discovers the water may be contaminated. Stockman’s determination to stop the project sets him in collision with his fellow townspeople as well as his brother, Peter (Thomas), the mayor of the town. I spoke with the 61-year-old actor shortly before performances started at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre on Broadway.