RSC said it was fake, but Yorick's head was human all along
DAVID TENNANT shared the stage with a real human skull in the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of Hamlet at the Novello theatre last year, despite audiences being told they were watching a fake.
"I didn't allow news to be leaked out," admitted Greg Doran, the director of RSC's Hamlet, which has been turned into a TV special in time for Christmas.
"We did not want audiences to be unnecessarily distracted by what had then become a bit of a news story."
That news story hit the stands when, during the play's run in Stratford, it emerged that the famous "Alas poor Yorick scene" featured a bone fide bone in the shape of a bequest to the RSC from theatre fan Andre Tchaikowsky, who hoped his skull would be used in a production of Hamlet.
Presumably to kill the story, the RSC put it about that it would use a plastic head when the show transferred to London, but now the truth has come out Doran appears to be unapologetic.
"Andre Tchaikowsky's skull was a very important part of our production of Hamlet," he said.
"You can't hold a real human skull in your hand and not be moved by the realisation that your own skull sits just beneath your skin, that you will be reduced to that state at some stage.
"That is what Yorick's skull does to Hamlet. It reminds him of the very real presence of Death in Life. Andre's skull was a profound momento mori, which perhaps no prop skull could quite provide."
Tchaikowsky's skull also stars in the upcoming BBC TV version of Hamlet.