CINEMA: CLOSET HAMLET

AS TWO VERY DIFFERENT NEW FILMS SHOW, TO BE OR NOT TO BE IN A COMEDY OR A TRAGEDY IS NOT A QUESTION FOR KEVIN KLINE

I gotta say, this is really a terrific skull," Kevin Kline informs me as he holds Yorick's skull in his hand. We are at the Players club in New York City, standing in the private bedroom of Edwin Booth, the legendary 19th century actor whose Hamlet once defined the role. Kline strokes the skull slowly, lovingly. "Smooth. Very smooth."

Kline has contemplated his fair share of Yoricks. Inside the green canvas bag slung over his shoulder--along with a pack of Marlboro Lights and two recently bought pairs of wire-rim reading glasses--is a copy of Hamlet, a play he has carried with...

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