Unlike continental Baroque, privileging spectacular shows and visual artificiality, the Elizabethan theatre built a world of verbal vertigo. Hamlet in particular is a text where words at the same time hide and reveal the emptiness underlying human life as well as theatrical mimesis. While almost all Shakespeare plays were adapted and transformed from the Restoration to the nineteenth century, Hamlet was an exception. Yet it underwent a radical transformation in the twentieth century in two texts which play with the verbal texture of the original: The Marowitz Hamlet by Charles Marowitz and Rosencrantz and Guilderstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard. Both plays partake of the intertextual practice of recycling previous materials, and of quoting and contaminating cultural and literary fragments. Though in different ways, the two texts revisit the illusory perspective and the complexity of Hamlet, and the latter in particular shows that what was an Elizabethan representation of shadows in our time has become a spectacular fiction exorcizing the fear of death and emptiness by multiplying metatheatrical effects and citations.
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