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Music in this addition was used to amplify the emotions of certain characters. While I have seen versions of Hamlet that use music and sound effects to enhance the overall experience, in the National Theater Live's version of Hamlet, music is used by the characters in times of great emotion and seems to amplify the emotions of the characters.
Hamlet for example, is listening to a record when the play first begins. The music is slower and as I watched I could relate to the need to listen to music for comfort after a painful experience. The music amplifies Hamlet's sadness. While Hamlet is sitting looking through memories the music slows and eventually stops. Though the audience doesn't know, one can infer that this record might have belonged to his father, the late King Hamlet. And the emotions related to memories are running through Hamlet's mind as he listens. Hamlet restarts the music and seems to find the strength to go to dinner.
His record player comes out once again when Hamlet seems to have gone mad. He has reverted back to childish play and the music is upbeat and dramatic. Hamlet's dancing around with the music amplifies his going mad.
Ophelia also uses music to amplify her emotions, however, she makes her own music on the piano. First she plays a duet with her brother right before he leaves to go back to France. The music that they create together is sweet and flows. Contrasting with her later version of the music that seems to be broken, stuck on a note or rhythm, which not only amplifies her sadness/madness, but it also can symbolize what she has become: broken.
It is interesting that the directors decided to allow these characters to use music to amplify character's emotions because it invites the audience to feel with them. More sadness, more love, more confusion, and more madness. Music can add powerful emotions, but when actors us the music to let us into their heart, the effect is even more powerful.