A little while ago, a Gentle Reader of this Tohu Bohu and I were having a conversation about Sir Ian McKellen being cast in the title role of Hamlet at an upcoming production at Theatre Royal Windsor. As you do, we mused about whether the rest of the case would be age-appropriate (vaddevah dat means) and then started musing about who we would cast if we were to restrict the actors to people over the age of seventy. We enjoyed that a lot, but wound up frustrated by the clear fact that there are more great British (and Irish) Shakespearean actors over seventy who are women than there are parts for women in Hamlet, even if you do a reasonably amount of cross-casting. And then we decided that what would be really terrific would be an all-women over-seventy cast.
Here’s what we came up with:
Hamlet: Glenda Jackson
Ophelia: Judi Dench
Claudius: Eileen Atkins
Gertrude: Francesca Annis
Polonius: Maggie Smith
Horatio: Rosemary Harris
Laertes: Harriet Walter
Player King: Janet Suzman
Second Player: Vanessa Redgrave
Ghost: Frances de la Tour
Osric: Penelope Wilton
Diana Rigg (alas)
Gravediggers: Miriam Margolyes and Angela Lansbury
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern: Sinéad and Sorcha Cusack
Marcellus, Bernardo, Francisco: Joan Plowright, Sheila Hancock, Jane Lapotaire
Company: Judy Parfitt, Prunella Scales, Clare Bloom, Alison Steadman, Susan Dury, Barbara Leigh-Hunt, Susan Hampshire, Angela Pleasance, Estelle Kohler, Brenda Blethyn, Julie Walters, Phyllida Law, Sian Phillips
I’m inclined to have Julie Walters take over Fortinbras, although I suspect she would play it comic—which would be very funny! But not necessarily how I would want the part played.
Wouldn’t that be a lovely cast? They could totally do it as an internet virtual table read. I would watch the hell out of that.
I am bothering to write this up and post it on this sadly-neglected Tohu-Bohu of mine because the Donmar Trilogy, productions of Julius Caesar, Henry IV and The Tempest starring youngest of that magnificent crew, Harriet Walter, with an all-female cast, is currently streaming for free. You have just a few hours left (as of writing) to watch JC, which I have now watched and highly recommend, although it will be available again on October 30-November 1. The cast is amazing. Even if none of them were seventy.
Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,