Hamlet isn’t my favorite play – mostly because it’s so rich and deep that a completely fulfilling production is almost unattainable – but it is certainly the most influential. I return to it again and again, revisiting its characters and themes and finding echoes of it throughout popular culture. I played a reduced Hamlet, of course, in The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged).
I also wrote the comic prequel to Shakespeare’s tragedy – Hamlet’s Big Adventure! (a prequel), in fact.
And I’ve written about it frequently for the Folger Shakespeare Library, talking about:
- Hamlet as the poster boy for the existential ennui we’ve all felt during the pandemic;
- The echoes of Hamlet to be found in superheroes like Batman and Black Panther;
- How the story of Hamlet has been continued by other writers like Tom Stoppard, Lisa Klein, and – me;
- How Hamlet inspired The Lion King (and how Shakespeare is the secret source for all Disney movies);
- How Star Trek‘s William Shatner is the last living example of bravura 19th-century acting; and
- How Hamlet and Twelfth Night are the tragic and comic sides of the grief and loss coin.
No doubt about it: Hamlet is “a hit, a very palpable [and influential] hit.”