To mark the passing of Peter O’Toole at the weekend, here’s a wonderful recording from the BBC, way back in 1963, when O’Toole was playing Hamlet at the national Theater in London, under the direction of Lawrence Olivier.
Under discussion among other topics, are interpretations of Shakespeare tragedy, especially the ghost of his dead father; ideas of psychology and madness in the play, and variations in style of style, speech and delivery of the bard’s text.
Also present are the host Huw Weldon, and another guest, the veteran actor Ernest Milton, (who’d played various roles from the play over his long career) and the great American actor, director/producer and all-round genius of stage, screen and radio, Orson Welles.
Naturally the two and conspicuously brilliant and younger men, Welles and O’Toole, tend to dominate.
In fairness to Welles, who could be dismissive of lesser talents (which was almost everyone) and who could easily dominate most conversations with ease, he takes clear and generous pleasure in O’Toole’s charm and ideas. The whole thing is a pleasure to watch, and should possibly be required viewing for anyone planning a production today.
It’s also a sobering reminder just how far TV discussion shows have slid relentlessly downhill, downmarket and down-brow.
Is down-brow even a word?
It is now.