Elijah Alexander as Claudius and Kate Maccluggage in Mark St. Germain's Gertrude and Claudius at The Barrington Stage Company. Photo Daniel Rader.

Gertrude and Claudius at Barrington Stage Company

For some time now, there has been a tendency for directors and actors of Hamlet to treat the protagonist’s mother and uncle/stepfather with more tolerance than in the moralistic past. Shakespeare doesn’t oblige us to view them as outright villains or to see them—or the deceased King of Denmark—from Hamlet’s eyes, but that’s what has usually happened. In the late 1990s John Updike took this about as far as it can sensibly go in his novel, Gertrude and Claudius,

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