Such whispery, self-effacing presences…

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about a metaphor from a New York Times review of Benedict Cumberbatch playing Hamlet…

I’m a big fan of the actor Benedict Cumberbatch. I find his acting to be remarkably nuanced and clever. He’s so much more interesting than many of his peers.

I prevented myself from hopping on a plane to go to London to view his performance of Hamlet at the Barbican. Instead, I satisfied myself by reading a New York Times review by Ben Brantley. While it didn’t make me feel as though I’d attended the performance, it did give me a few rewards. Here was a metaphor that I particularly appreciated:

The women in Hamlet’s life — Ophelia and his mother, Gertrude (Anastasia Hille) — are such whispery, self-effacing presences you expect them to evaporate.

I also enjoyed Branley’s joke on Cumberbatch’s unwieldy name:

…the Cumberbatch Hamlet (those words do not roll easily off the tongue)…

And I appreciated Brantley’s description of the front-of-house shenanigans:

Overeager fans were snapping photos during the show! Two ignoble London newspapers had writers review the production long before its official opening! Other publications a) lambasted and b) saluted said papers for doing so!

It began to seem as if stupefying fame surely qualified as one of the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, and that this Hamlet would wrestle as much with the shadow of his portrayer’s celebrity as with the usual issues of vacillation, procrastination and suicidal tendencies.

I understand the performance has been filmed. My next job: figuring out where I can see it.


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