Theater Abroad: Revised Standard Dane

Act III, Scene 1, Prince Hamlet is alone. "To be, or not to be—what the hell?" he intoned.

This was the new Hamlet of Franco Zeffirelli. Last year, in a choreography of flashing swords held like switchblades, the 28-year-old Italian director caused a transatlantic sensation by staging the Old Vic's final Romeo and Juliet as if it were an adaptation of West Side Story. This year, in a production that has become a Roman sellout, he has excised most of the melancholia from the melancholy Dane, replacing it with angry young slang and...

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