Put Money in Thy Purse

Source: Micheál Mac Liammóir, Put Money in Thy Purse: The Diary of the Film of Othello (London: Methuen, 1952), p. 212

Production: William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Théâtre Marigny, 11 December 1949

Text: December 11th. Spent morning cutting Earnest, and after lunch Hilton and I experienced keenest disappointment of the year by seeing Jean-Louis Barrault’s Hamlet at the Marigny. ‘Twenty-ish production, all ingenuity and grey tabs and set-pieces pulled and pushed hither and thither to indicate changes of location, and J-L.B. in the same mood, a slick, vivacious Puck of a Prince. H. cheered me up after the shock of the first court scene by muttering in my ear ‘Harlequin, Prince of Denmark’; but general impression one of disillusion too deep for jokes: so fine an artist brilliantly engaged on so palpable a misconception. He treated the ghost as a leprechaun, and the friendship with Horatio as a mild Alma Mater flirtation, and Ophelia as if she were pestering him for an autograph. Saw dear Tanya Moiseiwitsch for a few minutes in an interval, came away early and dined with Orson, wild-eyed and in hell’s-a-poppin’ form.

Comments: Micheál Mac Liammóir (1899-1978) was an English actor, born Alfred Willmore, who in adult life adopted an Irish name. His lifelong partner was the actor Hilton Edwards. Both acted in Orson Welles’ feature film Othello (1951), whose peripatetic production in Morocco and Italy is documented in Mac Liammóir’s published diary, Put Money in Thy Purse (he played Iago). He and Hilton were in Paris during a gap in film production, preparing for a stage production of The Importance of Being Earnest, when they saw this production of Hamlet at the Théâtre Marigny. Jean-Louis Barrault was a French stage and film actor, director and mime artist, renowned for his appearance in the 1945 film Les Enfants du Paradis and for his performances at the Comédie-Française.

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