Sorry, darlings, but I was too old for Hamlet but I was able to play his randy, ambitious and murderous Uncle Claudius. It was interesting - well it interested me! - when later on I gave up the acting lark and took to directing, including a production of Hamlet, how different the view of the play is from, so to speak, the inside looking out, as compared to the over-view required of a director. I enjoyed the role but learned very little about the play itself. However, what I do remember vividly is night after night spitting out the line: Do it, England; For like the hectic in my blood he rages. This, of course, is after I have despatched my errant nephew to England on a false diplomatic mission but actually the message he bears is a request to the English king to execute him - pronto!
Then I was given the chance to play 'The Great Man Himself' - William Shakespeare - in a delightful little play called The Boy Juliet. This was written by the late Royce Ryton, one of those honourable 'band of brothers' usually referred to as 'jobbing playwrights'. He had one major success with a play called Crown Matrimonial which caused some ripples in its day by portraying a living member of the royal family - the then Queen Mother. He had a few minor successes but somehow he never quite broke into the big time. I can barely remember The Boy Juliet except that it pre-dated the film Shakespeare in Love with which it shared the notion of a girl somehow getting to play a female role on stage during Shakespeare's time - an action that would, in reality, have led the participants straight into jail had they been discovered. I remember thinking at the time that it was a delightful comedy and that it deserved a bigger audience.
You will have noticed that I am not wearing the moustache or beard favoured by the real William Shakespeare because, as I told the long-suffering director, I can't stand all that stuff glued around my lips when I'm acting. However, darlings, I am prepared to make huge sacrifices for my 'art' and so you will notice that I shaved back the front of my hair line to provide a suitable Shakespearean dome!