we are watching the richard burton hamlet (1964) and with all due apologies it's one of the worst productions of shakespeare i've seen in my life. burton himself horribly overacts, in kin with the shatnerian style, but nowhere near as charming, and mostly simply poorly acts. surprisingly, the 'to be' soliloquy finds him at his most muted thus far when he might have finally merited some histrionics. and once again hamlet is ancient (39) and gertrude couldn't be his mother (46) nor claudius his father (50). and i hesitate to call it a production. the complete absence of costumes as the actors appear in suits and sweaters and loafers though they occasionally carry incongruous swords, as if they had no budget at all. and there's a single 'set' of stairs with unfinished stage platforms and a chair and table, used for every scene -- the final evidence a budget was not included. the absolute worst part though was the transformation of many scenes into a 1960s tv sitcom, complete with the audience laughing at inappropriate times or with inappropriate volume, truly as if a laugh track were in use. as much as i am fond of the hume cronyn of *batteries not included and cocoon, and even though he won a tony award and does have acting ability, he turns the character of polonius into a father knows best caricature. and the obnoxiousness of the audience clapping every time a scene or soliloquy concluded and believe me or not every time kramer came through the door. and burton himself inexplicably laughing and cackling to himself where never an actor before had been so foolish.
it didn't take long to realize this would be a mystery science theatre exercise.