Continuing the somewhat Japanese theme begun below, Londonist notes that Yukio Ninagawa will be the director of Hamlet at the Barbican starting November 10.
Japan’s fascination with Shakespeare is long-standing (see “Othello”, below) and, for this writer at least, perpetually puzzling. Ninagawa’s love of the Bard is perhaps even more puzzling, since he speaks no English. He directed Nigel Hawthorne in King Lear in 1999. Since Hawthorne spoke no Japanese, this was all done through an interpreter, and the production was panned.
Ninagawa has directed Hamlet five times before, all in Japanese (and once at the Barbican), so at least he should be au fait with what is going on in the plot and where the toilets are in the theatre.
Michael Maloney takes the title role. He links to Ninagawa, Kevin Bacon-style, through the film Truly, Madly, Deeply, which starred Alan Rickman. Rickman worked with Ninagawa in 1991, just before the film was released.
Ninagawa's 1985 Macbeth electrified the Edinburgh Festival came with Buddhist chanting and Samurai warriors. Apparently people who saw it could never view a cherry blossom tree the same way again.
Last year he took Pericles to the National. And the critics loved it. Can Ninagawa break his English-language hoodoo? It looks likely.