To tie in with the current exhibition at Anne Hathaway's cottage, Say it with Flowers, February's Picture of the Month features an image of Ophelia, from the RSC's acclaimed 2008 production of Hamlet starring David Tennant and directed by Greg Doran. It shows Ophelia, played superbly by Mariah Gale, in Act 4 scene 4, after she has been driven mad by the death of her father, Polonius. Ophelia, bedraggled and mud-splattered, entered carrying a bunch of flowers and herbs which she handed out to Laertes and Claudius.
"There's rosemary, that's for remembrance: pray, love remember: And there is pansies, that's for thoughts."
Pansies symbolised love. Ophelia also carried columbines, symbolic of infidelity and the herbs rosemary, fennel and rue, symbolic of remembrance, flattery and repentance respectively. I remember the scene very vividly as it was a highly charged and emotional moment. I completely agree with Michael Billington's comments in his review of the production for the Guardian: "I can scarcely remember a better Ophelia than that of Mariah Gale, whose mad scenes carry a potent sense of danger, whose skin is as badly scarred by the flowers she has picked , as her mind divided by emotional turmoil." Ellie Kurrtz caught the haunting quality of Mariah Gales' performance perfectly in this very striking image.