Since we have been in the era of directors’ theater for a long time, the latter do not hesitate to consider classic texts according to the idea they have of the spirit of the times, taking advantage of the effectiveness and the genius of an author, especially if it is Shakespeare. Dear Will has seen others, and it is not a feminist reading of Hamlet that will make him, oh no, turn in his grave. At the Odéon, Brazilian director Christiane Jatahy got up one morning with this strange and penetrating dream: “Damn, but it’s for sure: Hamlet is a woman! » The idea is not stupid, it would even be rather attractive.

At the Odéon, the young prince is therefore played by Clotilde Hesme. We know her, she is always beyond praise and once again, she is remarkable, even astonishing. Without her, this Hamlet would fall like a soufflé despite its attractive contemporary opulent decor – an apartment where a sumptuous sofa, TV, large dining table, fitted kitchen on the right, bedroom on the left, bathroom set back, imposing curtain at the back of the stage… -, despite this grandiose video appearance of the specter of the father (Loïc Corbery) in very close-up. Christiane Jatahy therefore has an idea in mind and she lets us know: “To be or not to be…” in a patriarchal system, a source of violence since the dawn of time. We were taught that this soliloquy from Hamlet was that of a man who wondered if there was something after death – “This unknown country whose border no traveler has crossed” – while the specter of his father has just given him proof that heaven and purgatory exist. Times have changed.

There remains the distribution: it is uneven but how could it be otherwise as the presence of Clotilde Hesme is hypnotizing. On the stage, excluding Clotilde Hesme, two actresses (Isabel Abreu in the role of Ophélie and Servane Ducorps in that of Gertrude), four actors (Matthieu Sampeur is Claudius; Tonan Quito, Polonius; David Houri, Rosencrantz; and Tom Adjibi, Guildenstern). The other actresses (around twenty) who participate in the tragedy are filmed beforehand, and these almost omnipresent images – see the interminable scene, at the beginning, of the wedding (?) of Claudius and Gertrude – end up tiring and suffocating the text sometimes reshaped, tinkered with, reorganized and interspersed with songs by Prince, Sinéad O’Connor, Nina Simone… In this semblance of bric-a-brac, Clotilde Hesme brings the pieces together. So when she intones “And now what am I going to do?” », by Gilbert Bécaud, it makes some sense and turns out to be rather amusing. Very funny too, when, taking on the deep voice of Darth Vader, she tells Claudius this famous line from The Empire Strikes Back: “I am your father. »

You will see, here, we dance, we drink, we gorge ourselves on pizzas, we get busy in the kitchen, we laugh, we cry, we shout, we clumsily strum the guitar, we turn on the television which communicates to us fresh news from Fortinbras, prince of Norway: he has, as agreed, crossed the territory of Denmark with his troops. If you remember scene 3 of Act III, where Claudius, kneeling, feels the full horror of his fratricide, don’t look for him in prayer, he is moping on his toilet. Behind him, Hamlet, dagger in hand, has the idea that he is going to kill his uncle during a private moment, a refrain. We understand, it’s not okay to kill someone in a delicate position. As for video images produced live, it is a disease that is too contagious, a stubborn fashion that many directors still believe is in the public’s taste.

But let’s return to our Hamlet. The character oscillates between her desire for revenge to kill Claudius, her usurping uncle, and this very feminine sensitivity which refuses the violence of murder and its inevitable consequences, namely the bloody escalation. Clotilde Hesme, dressed all in black sportswear, plays a prince with an androgynous appearance and, when madness arises in him, the actress is both moving and buffoonish, tragicomic. His relationships with Ophelia and Gertrude are highlighted here since, for Christiane Jatahy, Hamlet is now a women’s affair. Isabel Abreu aptly plays Ophelia’s dementia, which has been increasing since the mistaken murder of her father Polonius by Hamlet. It won’t be long before the poor little madwoman sinks for good, but when Gertrude recounts the death of the latter, who drowned trying to grab the branch of a willow, we would like the scene to be more disturbing. Our spine doesn’t quiver, it’s a shame.

We can, of course, criticize the director for her somewhat simplistic Freudo-Lacanian reading of this tragedy. When Hamlet beats eggs while dancing (she dances very well, the graceful Clotilde Hesme!) for five minutes, we say to ourselves, it’s okay, it’s okay, we understood the play on words: Hamlet/omelette. After two hours of show, the play is nearing the end. The apartment is upside down. Everyone is dead, the tables turned. There remains the prince. His body will soon reach the cemetery as evening falls. A question arises, you will say: should we see this (you) Hamlet? Yes, twice yes. For Clotilde Hesme and for… Clotilde Hesme who rightly takes the lioness’s share of the public’s applause.

Hamlet, at the Théâtre de l’Odéon (Paris 6th), until April 14. Such. : 01 44 85 40 40. And from June 11 to 13 at the Théâtre national de Villeurbanne (69). Such. : 04 78 03 30 00.