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Getting A Head In Show Business

Here’s my new ambition: according to a story in Sunday’s Observer, a Polish concert pianist named Andr?? Tchaikowsky bequeathed his skull to the Royal Shakespeare Company before his death from cancer in 1982 “in the hope of achieving his acting dream.” The skull “sat in a box in the props department, virtually untouched for 25 years, until director Greg Doran retrieved it for its stage debut” as Yorick in a new production of Hamlet. (I like the “virtually untouched.” One can only imagine.)

The show is sold out, as crowds have been turning out to see David Tennant, BBC-TV’s Dr. Who, as Hamlet, and Patrick Stewart, Star Trek’s Jean-Luc Picard, as Claudius. But don’t tell that to Tchaikowsky.

Tchaikowsky’s posthumous performance, which it is safe to assume makes up in consistency what it lacks in expressiveness, was kept secret when the show opened in Stratford-upon-Avon, where there was already massive hype around Doctor Who star Tennant.

Hamlet may get all the good lines, but now it’s Tchaikowsky who’s getting the press. I’m sure he’s grinning from ear to ear. And like every actor, he’s probably convinced that he’s stealing the show. (One scene, no lines. But it’s a start!) Sadly, he doesn’t get to take a curtain call. But then it’s been curtains for Andr?? for years.

I can only share his dream. Now if I can only decide which body parts to leave to The Kenyon Review

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