Theater: Ignoble Dane

HAMLET By William Shakespeare

Sarah Siddons was the first woman to play the role of Hamlet, in 1775. Her most illustrious female successor in the part was Sarah Bernhardt (1899), and in more recent decades, Eva Le Gallienne, Judith Anderson and Siobhan McKenna have appeared as the Prince of Denmark.

These women were and are accomplished actresses. Diane Venora, who is fumbling with Shakespeare's greatest role at Joseph Papp's Public Theater, is an unseasoned neophyte of 29 who is woefully miscast in this ever-so-demanding part. If the intent of the casting was to display the womanly aspects of Hamlet's nature, this production...

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