OK, even though I’m a Christian this is a fairly confronting way to experience someone else’s mortality.
Dr Who star David Tennant has fulfilled a concert pianist’s dying wish by using his skull in performances of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
Andre Tchaikowsky, a Polish Jew who escaped the Holocaust and settled in Britain, bequeathed his skull to the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) to be used as a prop.
Soon after his death in 1982, Tchaikowsky’s skull was placed in a costume store.
The skull took centre stage when Tennant took on the role of Hamlet in Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of Shakespeare in the English countryside.
The skull featured in 22 performances of the “Alas, poor Yorick” scene in which Hamlet holds aloft the skull of the court jester unearthed by a gravedigger.
The RSC had to obtain a licence from the Human Tissue Authority to use the skull because it is less than 100 years old.
The decision to use it was kept secret from the audience and many in the production crew for fear of distracting from Tennant’s performance.
Director Greg Doran told The Times: “I thought it would topple the play and it would be all about David acting with a real skull.”
The truth was revealed after the final performance in the Bard’s hometown.
The play will move to London’s Novello Theatre next week, but it has yet to be decided whether Tennant will use Tchaikowsky’s skull there.