Hamlet Live Encore

One of the hottest tickets in the world right now is Hamlet, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, at the Barbican Theatre in London. I wanted to see it so much, I thought about traveling there, but aside from the cost, the tickets sold out long ago.

Then a friend invited me to see Hamlet, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, live at our local San Franicsco Bay Area movie theater. No joke! On October 15, the stage production was broadcast, live and delayed, to theaters all over the world.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Hamlet

Benedict Cumberbatch as Hamlet

Benedict Cumberbatch was brilliant as Hamlet: moody, mercurial, brooding and funny. He throws himself into the character and the play, and the takes the audience on a wild, energetic ride. He’s an active Hamlet who can’t sit still even as he chides himself over his own inaction.

The setting of the play is timey-wimey, half-contemporary and half-vintage. The costumes and the sets were disjointed, but so is Hamlet’s mind, so it worked. The rest of the cast contained an admirable assortment of actors who were up to the task of performing with a world famous celebrity.

It was an amazing experience, but what was even more amazing is that our theater was only half full. I don’t think this was due to lack of interest in Shakespeare. I wouldn’t have known about this showing if my friend hadn’t told me. There were no advertisements or trailers in movie theaters that I saw. Nothing on social media caught my eye. My friend happened to belong to a mailing list and got the notice.

I’m certain our theater and theaters all over the U.S. would have sold out if the showing had had some advertising. I feel bad for people who missed it.

But never fear! Encore performances of Hamlet will be shown in local U.S. movie theaters soon, via National Theatre Live, an organization that brings live stage plays to movie theaters worldwide. They have a mailing list, which I’ve subscribed to now. No more missing out on great theater, like Coriolanus, starring Tom Hiddleston, which had been previously broadcast live.

Here’s where you can find encore performance information for Hamlet. If you love Hamlet or Benedict Cumberbatch, or both, this is not to be missed.

Binge Complete

As part of my summer binge, I decided to watch the 189-episode telenovela, Lo Que La Vida Me Robó (What Life Took from Me,) on Netflix. I finally finished watching it. That was one long binge! As a viewer, I enjoyed its riveting and twisting storylines. As a writer, I appreciate the show for its characterizations.

Unlike U.S. soap operas, telenovelas come to a conclusion. Since the end of the main story will be reached, the characters are compelled to change and grow, or so one would hope. I felt this was done particularly well with Lo Que La Vida Me Robó.

Classic love triangle. Who will Montserrat choose?

Classic love triangle. Who will Montserrat choose?

The main story concerns a love triangle between lovely young Montserrat Mendoza and her suitors, Alejandro Almonte and José Luis Álvarez. Montserrat plans to run away with José Luis, a marine stationed at the local naval base. However, her money-grubbing mother, Graciela, forces her into the arms of Alejandro, who just inherited a large fortune.

Sounds fairly typical, but it’s not. At its heart, this is a rags-to-riches-to-rags story. Money is the root of all evil and those with it, or obsessed with becoming rich, find themselves far unhappier than those without it. At one point, one of the characters says he is glad he lost his fortune because it had brought nothing but evil to his life.

As the main protagonist, Montserrat changes over the course of the series, going from a naïve and sheltered girl to a strong, determined woman. She makes mistakes, some of them pretty bad, but she also learns from them rather than repeating them endlessly.

The other main and secondary characters grow and change, some for the better, some for the worse. Avarice and vengeance play a huge part in how the stories progress. Some characters overcome their worst instincts while others cannot or will not.

I was impressed by the depth of the characters and by how their story arcs played out. As an author who is writing a series, I took note of how the characters progressed and how each pitfall and triumph made them change and yet remain the same person.

It can be hard to keep momentum going in a series. Lo Que La Vida Me Robó is an example of how that can be done. Watch it for the excitement and fun of a juicy good drama, but also appreciate the writers for knowing how to tell a story.