In Greg Doran’s rehearsals, the actors decided that Osric is a ‘political flunkie’ – an ambitious young employee of the court, hoping to impress Claudius. They used clothes to convey this – the production is in modern dress so the designer used clothes that a modern audience quickly understands as conveying ambition and business: a sharp suit, slick haircut and shiny shoes! Does Osric know he is inviting Hamlet to his death? Greg’s company decided that Osric did know that he was asking Hamlet to come to his death. He uses charm and a big winning smile to manipulate Hamlet. Later in the production, Osric makes sure he gives the correct sword to Laertes, giving the audience another clue that he is definitely aware of the plan. Ryan Gage’s character is incredibly detailed – at the very end of the production, Osric silently shakes hands with Fortinbras because he has spotted that, now Claudius is dead, Fortinbras is his new boss.
Watch Osric’s scene. Does the audience see the fine detail mentioned above? Do they think it’s important for the actor to have this detail in creating their character?
The above clip is for use in an activity found in the Hamlet Teachers’ Guide. [download the full PDF of the guide]