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Book Title: Sleep Deprivation Chamber|
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 436 KB
ISBN 13: 9781559361262
City - Country: No data
Loaded: 2888 times
Reader ratings: 5.3
The author of the book: Adam P. Kennedy
Edition: Theatre Communications Group
Date of issue: November 1st 1996
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I’m intrigued by Sleep Deprivation Chamber’s continuous intertwining with Hamlet because even as Hamlet is a play about guilt and abused power, it is also a play about uncertainty. In Hamlet it is not as clear as it would seem that Hamlet is justified in seeking revenge, or that the story the Ghost tells (i.e., the Ghost’s testimony) is reliable. We do know that Claudius murdered Old Hamlet for the crown and for Gertrude—Claudius admits as much in III.iii—but it is not clear that the murder occurred in the way the Ghost claims it did. During the Mouse Trap scene, Claudius sits through the entire dumb show, which portrays a man murdering the king and seducing the queen. Shakespeare gives us no indication that Claudius is at all bothered by this, despite Hamlet’s plan to watch Claudius and see if he reacts to a recreation of the murder described by the Ghost. It is only after Hamlet explains that the murderer in “The Mouse Trap” is “one Lucianus, nephew to the king” who “poisons him i’ the garden for’s estate” and “gets the love of Gonzago’s wife” (III.ii I don’t have line numbers because my copy of Hamlet is in my office and I’m working off an online text). The problem here is that the murderer is the king’s nephew, not his brother, so one reading of this scene is that Claudius stops the play because he sees it as Hamlet threatening to murder him—Hamlet is, after all, nephew to the current king. This is clearly the interpretation of Gregory Doran’s 2009 teleplay starring David Tennant as Hamlet and Patrick Stewart as Claudius.
Now, why this bothers me in relation to Sleep Deprivation Chamber is that the link to Hamlet makes me doubt whether Teddy is as innocent as the play pushes us to believe. I want to believe that Teddy really is the innocent victim of police brutality. But when Hamlet is introduced as an x-factor in a play already run through with dream sequences, repetitions, and semi-relived experiences, I have to doubt. I think the form/genre of the dream play already pushes us to question how reliable any depiction is, and then the problems of proof in Hamlet seem to insert themselves in Rich’s play. My own affective response is to hate Holzer and assume he’s simply abused his power because he’s a corrupt and racist cop. And like Claudius, Holzer does admit that he beat Teddy, but in Holzer’s version of events (which we get in scene III) Teddy seemed to pose a threat.
The autobiographical element of this play also throws me off. On the one hand, knowing that the play’s events are based on actual events that happened to the Kennedy family suggests truth to them. On the other hand, I wouldn’t imagine the Kennedys would be to keen to portray Teddy in a negative light or Holzer in a positive light. So I’m not sure how much we can trust people who were so directly involved to provide a reliable picture of events.
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