What They Did for Love
with Mark St. Germain
Discussion will focus on John Updike’s Gertrude and Claudius and the leading characters risking all for passion.
Sunday, July 28
2 pm at the Wolfson Theatre Center (122 North St.)
Gertrude and Claudius is a prequel to Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The King of Denmark, Rorik, decides that his daughter should marry Amleth, a great warrior, a fine man and ruler of a nearby country. Gertrude protests but eventually obeys her loving father who tells her in time she will fall in love with Amleth. When her father dies, Amleth becomes King, Gertrude Queen and she bears Amleth a son, Hamlet. She is a gracious and dutiful Queen and tries to love her husband and son, who both seem remote.
At the time of her marriage Gertrude met Claudius, Amleth’s brother, whom she had an immediate attraction to but Claudius, a world traveler and adventurer, goes off seeking new adventures. After many years, Claudius returns and their love blooms and takes hold. They fall madly in love. Knowing that this relationship is off-limits, Claudius dutifully leaves again and vows never to return. But their passionate, undying love brings him home again (at Gertrude’s request). They are both swept away by their passion and Gertrude feels that she is for once in her life a fulfilled woman charting her own destiny. But Amleth, the ever patient and loyal husband, find out about it and all hell breaks loose.
The final scenes deal with revenge, death and power and brilliantly lead into Shakespeare’s Hamlet, which is where Gertrude and Claudius ends.