chapter  3
Noble memories: playing Hamlet
Pages 44

I Philip Franks’s thoughtful account of playing Hamlet, unsuccessfully in his view, encapsulates usefully the problems and trials of playing the role. These can be summarised as a confrontation with the past, epitomised in the presence in his remarks on Beerbohm, and a subsequent identification with the part, leading to a realisation that ‘my difficulties are also Hamlet’s: he is talking to a group of strangers about a situation he does not fully understand’.4 This observation results from a conviction that the part requires an ‘unusually high level of personal input’; indeed it is his duty to ‘pour as much of [my] experience of loss, doubt, fear and lack of faith into the operation as possible’.5 It is perhaps unsurprising that Franks’s final assessment of his attempt at the role is one of ‘general inadequacy’, given his conceptualisation of the role in almost entirely negative terms. It is also a recognition that he may try to make his own history within the role, but he cannot make it as he pleases.