Aug 25, 2017

Searching for Beefcake in Shakespeare's Hamlet

Hamlet (1603) is one of my favorite Shakespearean plays.  It's heavy-laden with gay subtexts, from the tortured Hamlet's buddy-bond with Horatio to the  backstage chumminess of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

Many contemporary versions, parodies, and pastiches have a queer mentality, too.  Remember Mary Anne on Gilligan's Island as a drag-king Laertes listening to his father pontificate?

But I never thought of watching it for the beefcake, until I saw this still of Filip Adeyev in a Russian version of the tragedy.

Aranui High School often wins out over other productions in New Zealand's National Festival of Shakespeare in Schools.  In 2006 they gave Hamlet a Maori context, with Te Awhiroa Kuka-Sweet as the Prince of Denmark.

In 2014, Hiraeth Artistic Productions in London mounted an all-male Hamlet set in a Liverpool prison, with both buddy-bonding and multiple shirtless shots.

The Theatre de Vanves in Paris went even farther, with Hamlet (Robin Causse) completely nude throughout (the other players wore clothes).

Earlier this year, chestworthy actor and reality-tv star Tom Sandoval appeared on the Bravo talk show Watch What Happens Live to perform the "To be or not to be" soliloquy with his shirt off.  Presumably the intended audience wouldn't pay attention any other way.

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