The heart of Hamlet

Jonathon Young, Hamlet, Bard on the Beach, Vancouver, theatre

Jonathon Young, one of the best actors you’ll ever see, is playing Hamlet this summer. (David Cooper photo)

Last week, I had a fabulous chat with Jonathon Young, who’s playing Hamlet at Bard on the Beach this summer. You can read the interview in the Straight by going to

Jon and I had such a rich conversation that I want to pass along some more of what he had to say. 

Here’s Jon on Hamlet’s understanding of his own capacity for evil: “In that moment when he swears [to the ghost that he will murder Claudius], he aligns himself to wrong in the name of right. In the name of good, he swears to do evil…Once he’s sworn it and once he knows that his mythic destiny or his tragic fate has been set, he knows that he will become another Claudius: he will become a king through murder. When he says, ‘One may smile and smile and be a villain, at least I’m sure it may be so in Denmark,’ he knows that’s him.

And here’s what Jon had to say about Hamlet’s complex relationship with his intended murder victim: “I don’t come to Hamlet as someone who is free from indiscretion. Hamlet says, ‘I am indifferent honest.’ I don’t come to Hamlet as a righteous, strictly moral human being. I come to it as a weak human being. And I relate to Claudius: I understand Claudius’s conundrum, his secret. I understand the weakness of Claudius. I have compassion for him. And I think that it’s most interesting if Hamlet does too. I think there’s more fuel if Hamlet is full of good memories of Uncle Claudius: trust.”

Hamlet opens in the big tent at Bard on the Beach on Saturday,

June 29.

About Colin Thomas

Colin Thomas is a Vancouver-based editor, an award-winning playwright, and an established theatre critic. Colin helps writers unlock the full potential of their novels, short stories, screenplays, and children's books.

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