/ a shakespearian thriller /
written by jack richardson
after william shakespeare

William Shakespeare's classic tale of revenge - reimagined, rearranged, and reborn in the form of an 80's slasher film.

Following the botched surgery of his father, Hamlet, M.D, has retreated deep into experimental science. He is bent on perfecting a truth serum to derive the true nature of his father’s untimely death, and while experimenting on himself and others around him, inadvertently discovers that the truth can lead to madness.


Meanwhile, the staff of the Great Denmark Hospital attempt to make sense of Hamlet’s self-destructive mania - and contend with their own duplicitous motivations - as the investigation into the death of the Chief of Staff leads inexorably towards a mad, blood-curdling conclusion...


In Order Of Appearance































Projection: The words GREAT DENMARK HOSPITAL on a white linen curtain centre stage.


(Musical Sequence: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE, Guns N Roses.)


The curtains are drawn across as we enter the front doors of the Hospital. A corridor of activity opens in front of us: nurses, orderlies, patients, all moving with precision and purpose. We move along it, through the bustle…


Projection: Newspaper headlines, reading 150 YRS OLD, GREAT “DANE” STILL GOING STRONG, with a black and white picture of the staff standing outside the hospital, about to cut a large birthday cake with scalpels.


We move down the hospital corridor. There’s OPHELIA doing her rounds, almost a movie star in a white coat; a group of male interns follow her, entranced. She closes a curtain around a bed-ridden patient, revealing ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN mucking about with gurneys, dressed in surgical scrubs. They pass POLONIUS, slowing down, and once past him, resume. GERTRUDE catches them, scolds them, draws across another curtain. CLAUDIUS conducts a reflex test on a smocked patient, with slow results. He consults, diagnoses, and recommends surgery. The distressed patient is led away on a gurney by enthusiastic nurses…


Projection: Sometime in the past, vox-pop amateur footage roaming the hospital corridors, catching the staff and orderlies by surprise: Gertrude caught stern but a little amused outside her office. Claudius and Hamlet, Snr, enjoying lunch in the cafeteria. Horatio pranked while examining his microscope, black ink around his eye. Lastly the camera turns back on itself, MySpace-style, revealing Ophelia with her arm around HAMLET.


Back in the Hospital, we take the elevator to the Operating Rooms, where the nurses deposit the hapless patient. Claudius and others are there, in scrubs and gloves and masks. Despite the patient’s resistance, they put him under and commence. Elsewhere on the floor, Ophelia tries to ditch some enthusiastic would-be suitors. HORATIO, eating a sandwich with a stack of files under his arm, is almost run down by Rosencrantz and Guildenstern getting into the elevator. Narrowly missing them, he then almost bumps into Ophelia. They have an awkward moment of corridor tango before Ophelia passes. Horatio watches her go, enchanted…


Projection: Newsreel footage with the banner reading GREAT “DANE” ROCKED BY TRAGEDY, the on-ground reporter covering the sudden hospitalisation and death of renowned Chief of Staff, Dr. Hamlet, snr. Headline: HOSPITAL LEGEND DIES UNDER KNIFE OF BROTHER/WIFE. Claudius giving a statement, while Gertrude breaks down. Hamlet watches on from a distance. Newspaper headlines: FOUL PLAY SUSPECTED? HOSPITAL TO LAUNCH INQUIRY.


A laundry lady collects the bloody sheets from each O.R., pushing her cart to the laundry chute. Dumping it down, we follow it to the basement, where we pass the janitor and morgue assistants pushing corpses covered in white sheets. Horatio steps out of the elevator, still eating his sandwich, and heads into the morgue. In shadow-play we see bodies being dissected and organs being weighed…


Veering further into the hospital’s depths, we once again pass Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, now mucking about with a corpse. A sloppy hand flops out from beneath the covered sheet, and they absently tuck it back in. Passing them, we come upon a closed door, on its face stencilled the epithet: DR. HAMLET, SNR: TOXICOLOGICAL STUDY. We go inside…


Hamlet’s laboratory is a mess of mad-scientist equipment, cold-transport organ boxes, beakers, piping, a blackboard covered in equations, desk cluttered with papers and notebooks, and flickering fluorescents. Standing before the blackboard, engrossed in his work, HAMLET registers nothing but what’s in front of him: a complicated formula written and re-written. In a sudden flurry of energy, he strikes out a section and crumples in frustration…


HAMLET         How all occasions do inform against me! What is a man, if the chief good and market of his time be but to sleep and feed

                       (Returning to his desk, picking up a framed photograph) That it should come to this, but two months dead… So excellent a

                       king, so loving to my mother… A beast that wants discourse of reason would have mourned longer…


Putting down the photograph, Hamlet picks up his tape recorder Dictaphone.


HAMLET         (Into Dictaphone) If circumstances lead me, I will find where the truth is hid. This is most brave that I, son of a dear father

                       murdered, prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell, should find the native hue of resolution is sicklied over with the pale

                       cast of thought.


                       I have heard that guilty creatures have been struck so to the soul that they have proclaimed their malefactions. For murder,

                       though it have no tongue, will speak with most miraculous organ. I’ll have mine uncle consume such a distilment. I’ll observe

                       his looks. If he but blench, I know my course…


ROSEN.          (Off stage) Hamlet, most honoured lord!


HAMLET         Who goes?


GUILDEN.       (O.S) Your most excellent good friends! Rosencrantz and Guildenstern!


HAMLET         The worser welcome… I have charged thee not to haunt my doors!


ROSEN.          (O.S) Aye my lord, and now, being full of supper and distempering draughts, upon malicious knavery we come to start

                        thou’s quiet.


Hamlet looks pained, throws a sheet over his work, makes sure everything is well in order.


HAMLET         Enter. How fares you both?


ROSEN.          (Entering) As the indifferent children of the earth…


GUILDEN.       … Happy in that we are not over-happy. How is it with you?


HAMLET         I am dreadfully attended, in a beaten way of friendship.


ROSEN.           Why do you admit no messengers and receive no tokens?


HAMLET         My inhibition comes by the means of (gesturing to his work)… late innovation.


GUILDEN.       My lord, what is your cause of distemper? You surely bar the door upon your own liberty if you deny your griefs to your                                 friends.


HAMLET         (Ironic) Sir, I lack advancement.


GUILDEN.       My lord, put your discourse into some frame, and start not so wildly from this affair…


HAMLET         (Snapping) I am tame, sirs. Tame!


ROSEN.           They say your behaviour hath struck them into amazement…


HAMLET         (Dismissively) I do not well understand that.


GUILDEN.       Your wisdom should show itself more richer to signify this to a doctor…


HAMLET         (Frustrated) Why do you visit?


GUILDEN.       Why… to visit you, my lord! No other occasion.


HAMLET         Beggar that I am, I am even poorer in thanks… but I thank you. Tell me, why were you sent? Is it your own inclination? A free                         visitation? Speak.


ROSEN.           You were sent for.


HAMLET         To what end?


GUILDEN.       Sir, I cannot make you a wholesome answer…


ROSEN.           I will tell you why. You have of late, though wherefore we know not, lost all your mirth, forgone all custom of exercise -----


GUILDEN.       And indeed it goes so heavy upon your disposition, that this goodly frame, the earth -----


HAMLET         (Interrupting) No such matter! You will not speak to me like an honest man, to be more even and direct with me than the rest                         of my servants!


ROSEN.           My lord, you were sent for. There is a kind of confession in your looks which your modesty has not craft enough to colour.


GUILDEN.       The good king and queen have sent for you. Will you come?


HAMLET         So shall my participation prevent my discovery, and your secret to the king and queen moult no feather. Fine. I come…


Rosencrantz and Guildenstern exit, a reluctant Hamlet in tow. The scene shifts to…



Claudius stands over a patient, deep in surgery. Nurses and an anaesthetist assist him. Hospital doctors and members of the Board watch on from the observation platform above, including Gertrude, Polonius, and Ophelia.


CLAUDIUS     (While operating) Sweet are the uses of adversity, which, like the toad, ugly and venomous, wears yet a precious jewel in his

                       head. Now follows thinking by our late brother’s death, our state to be disjoint and out of frame. We cannot all be masters,

                       nor all masters cannot be truly followed. Others there are, who, trimmed in forms and visages of duty, keep yet their hearts

                       attending on themselves, and do well thrive by them. Chairman Polonius…?


POLONIUS     Woe indeed to our most valiant brother. So much for him. Now for ourselves and for this time of meeting. Thus much the

                       business is: We have here writ the levies, the lists and full proportions all made out on the subject giving to you no further

                       personal power to business with the kingdom more than the scope of these delated articles allow. You must therefore

                       slubber the gloss of your new fortunes with this most boisterous expedition.


CLAUDIUS     With sorrow I embrace my fortune.


GERTRUDE   We are glad on it. Claudius tis a worthy governor.

ALL                 (Round of applause)


HAMLET         (Appearing at the doorway) Oh heavy ignorance, thou praisest the worst best!


GERTRUDE   What praise couldst thou bestow on a deserving man indeed – one that in the authority of his merit did justly put on the

                      vouch of very malice?


CLAUDIUS     Softly, gentle Gertrude. Let it not gall your patience, good Hamlet, that I extend my manners. I confess, it gives me wonder

                       great as my content to see you here before me. Please, if thou hast any sound or use of voice, speak to me.


HAMLET         (Sarcastic) If there be any good thing to be done that may do ease and grace to me, speak to me.


CLAUDIUS     (Kindly) A mote it is to trouble the mind’s eye…


HAMLET         (Ironic) A mote in the most high and palmy state of Rome, a little ere the mighty Julius fell.


CLAUDIUS     What? Are we to believe graves stand tenantless, and the sheeted dead do squeak and gibber in the streets?


HAMLET         No, but as prologue to the omen coming on, have heaven and earth together demonstrated unto our climatures and



CLAUDIUS     If thou art privy to thy country’s fate, which happily foreknowing may avoid, speak!


HAMLET         (Stepping forward) Lord Polonius, speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue. Come

                       now to the report.


CLAUDIUS     Report?


POLONIUS     (Hesitantly) Lord Hamlet hath, my lord, wrung from my slow leave some laboursome petition… and at last upon his will I

                       sealed my hard consent: An inquiry of your brother, not two months dead.


CLAUDIUS     Howsoever pursuest this act?


POLONIUS     I have dispatched good Horatio as the bearer of this inquiry. I do beseech you, give him leave.


CLAUDIUS     (Evenly) I do. Haste commends his duty.


HAMLET         Let us haste to hear it.


CLAUDIUS     Tis sweet and commendable in your nature, Hamlet, to give these mourning duties to your father. But you must know, your

                       father lost a father… that father lost, lost his…


HAMLET         My father, not two months dead -----


CLAUDIUS     Cousin Hamlet, let the world take note! You are the most immediate to our throne, the seat of my dear brother, and with no

                       less nobility of love than that which dearest father bears his son do I impart towards you.


HAMLET         (Ignoring Claudius) My lord Polonius, I await the outcome of your commission.


GERTRUDE   Hamlet, it would please you to show us so much gentry and good will as to expend your time with us awhile. For the supply

                      and profit of out hope, your visitation shall receive such thanks as fits a king’s remembrance. I pray you stay, for your uncle

                      and for me.


HAMLET         Both your majesties might, by the sovereign power you have of us, put your dread pleasures more into command than to

                       entreaty. As for my uncle, for no necessity of present life must I show out a flag and sign of love… nor you, madam.


Disgusted, Hamlet leaves in a huff. There’s an awkward moment of silence. Ophelia leaves the observation deck, following him.


CLAUDIUS     (Carefully) My friends, something have you heard of Hamlet’s… transformation, or so we call it… for the exterior nor the

                       inward man resembles that it was. What it should be more than his father’s death that thus hath put him so much from the

                       understanding of himself, I cannot dream. I entreat you all to draw him on to pleasures, and to gather, so much as from

                       occasion you may glean, where aught to us unknown afflicts him thus, that opened lies within our remedy. That will be all.


Thus dismissed, the attendees exit. Gertrude is among the last to leave. She shares a look with Claudius from the observation platform, to which Claudius shrugs. She exits. Claudius resumes surgery with renewed concentration.


Outside the OR, Ophelia follows Hamlet down the corridors. He steps into an open elevator.


OPHELIA        Hamlet, wait!


The elevator doors close in Ophelia’s face. She sighs. Hospital staff shoot her gossipy looks as they pass, and she straightens her shoulders, resuming her rounds…





The scene shifts again as Hamlet steps out of the basement elevator and stalks along the corridor. He comes to the intersection leading to his office, and instead of turning down it, continues on to the Morgue. He slaps open the doors and exclaims to the room:


HAMLET         Oh, what a rogue and peasant slave am I, a fool to gibe and gambol and laugh at! A plague on all their houses!


Horatio is alone in the Morgue, sitting at his desk, eating his sandwich and making notes on a pad. Covered corpses lie on mortuary slabs, in various states of dissection. Horatio looks up at Hamlet’s sudden burst.


HORATIO        Hail to your lordship. I am glad to see you well… or at all.


HAMLET         (Calmer) Horatio, the same, or I do forget myself… What keeps thee from our King’s summons?


HORATIO        A truant disposition, my lord. The sight is always dismal.


HAMLET         Very good with you to say so. Is it not monstrous that this player here, in a dream of passion, could force his soul to take his

                       own conceit? And all for nothing!


HORATIO        What follows, my friend?


HAMLET         That dull and muddy-mettled rascals calls me villain? Break may pate across? Pluck off my beard and blow it in my face?

                       No, it is he the bloody, bawdy villain…


HORATIO        Most holy and religious fear it is to keep those many, many bodies safe that live and feed upon the kingdom’s majesty. Alas,

                        poor Hamlet…


HAMLET         Mock me not, Horatio, nor should you pity… but instead lend thy serious hearing to what I shall unfold.


HORATIO        (Putting down his pen) Speak, my lord, I am bound to hear.


HAMLET         So art thou to revenge when thou shalt hear.


HORATIO        What?


HAMLET         Murder, Horatio.


HORATIO        Murder!


HAMLET         Aye, murder most foul…


HORATIO        And what body be the victim of this unnatural deed? (Realising, shocked) The King, your father?


HAMLET         The King my father, murdered in his secure hour upon the table…


HORATIO        And by whose hands think you the whole ear of Denmark is so rankly abused? Surely not Gertrude, thy mother…?


HAMLET         When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions. No, my mother stays.


HORATIO        So whereto serves mercy but to confront the visage of offence? Surely thou canst believe that the serpent that did sting thy

                        father’s life now wears the crown?


HAMLET         (Silence)


HORATIO        (Shocked) A most lame and impotent conclusion! Madness!


HAMLET         Yet there may be method in it, Horatio. There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.


HORATIO        Though to your mind your father’s spirit all is not well, I doubt some foul play. My commission assumes your noble father’s

                        person, and your uncle’s. That your father died from a form of plausible manners is an apt conclusion. Indeed, some men

                        carry the stamp of one defect, undetected, upon the brain…


Hamlet is not listening. He wanders to the covered figure on the mortuary slab.


HAMLET         He was a man, my father… take him for all in all. I shall not look upon his like again… The King, my father…


Hamlet goes to lift up the sheet covering the supposed body of his father. Horatio intervenes.


HORATIO        Season your admiration for a while with an attendant ear, till I may deliver, upon the witness of these gentlemen, this marvel

                        to you.


Horatio taps the stack of papers on his desk – the coroner’s report into the death of Hamlet’s father. Hamlet seizes upon it.


HAMLET         If ever thou didst my dear father love, for God’s love, let me see…


HORATIO        God’s above all, my lord. There be souls that must be saved, and there be souls must not be saved. I am forbid to tell the

                        secrets of my prison-house, Hamlet. Though what would you hear? For I could a tale unfold whose lightest word would

                        harrow up thy soul.


HAMLET         Yes, but -----


HORATIO        But this eternal blazon must not be to ears of flesh and blood. What if it tempt you toward the flood, my lord? Or to the

                        dreadful summit of the cliff?


HAMLET         (Glumly) It’s true, good lieutenant.


HORATIO        For mine own part, too. No offence to the general, nor any man of quality, but I hope to be saved.


HAMLET         And so do I too.


HORATIO        By your leave, let’s have no more of this. Let’s to our affairs.


HAMLET         Excellent well, Horatio. Goodbye.


Hamlet leaves. Horatio watches him go. He picks up the report and locks it in his desk draw. Then he resumes his sandwich.




The scene shifts in a flurry of hospital activity. Passing nurses draw a curtain across, revealing Gertrude in the Doctor’s Lounge, pouring herself a cup of coffee. Ophelia enters, looking taxed.


GERTRUDE    Hail to thee, lady. Good morrow.


OPHELIA        Well met, dear Gertrude. Is the day so young?


GERTRUDE    But new struck nine?


OPHELIA        Ah me, sad hours seem long.


GERTRUDE    What sadness lengthens Ophelia’s hours?


OPHELIA        Not having that which, having, makes them short.


GERTRUDE    In love?


OPHELIA        (Shrugs)


GERTRUDE    Out of love?


OPHELIA        Out of his favour, where I am in love. If it please my lady, what tidings can you tell me of my lord Hamlet?


GERTRUDE    Though he is not mad, he is bound more than a madman is: Shut up in his prison, kept without food, whipped and



OPHELIA        I have heard and do in part believe it. Alas that love, so gentle in his view, should be so tyrannous and rough in proof…


GERTRUDE    How? Do you speak to him?


OPHELIA        I do, but answers he makes me none. Just once methought he might lift up his head and address himself to motion… but

                       every time he slinks in haste away and vanishes from my sight.


GERTRUDE    Ha. By heaven, it is as proper to our age to cast beyond ourselves in our opinions as it is common for the younger sort to

                       lack discretion. This is the very ecstasy of love, and leads the will to desperate undertakings.


OPHELIA        The very ecstasy of love?


GERTRUDE    For Hamlet, the trifling of his favour is sweet, not lasting – the perfume and suppliance of a minute, no more.


OPHELIA        No more but so?


GERTRUDE    Think it no more. Perhaps he loves you now, and no soil nor cautel doth besmirch the virtue of his will. But you must fear his

                       will is not his own: He may be circumscribed unto the voice and yielding of that body whereof he is the head. Then, if he

                       says he loves you…


OPHELIA        I see. I shall the effect of this good lesson keep, good sister. (Sceptical) But please do not show me the steep and thorny

                       way to heaven while yourself the primrose path of dalliance treads, and recks not your own rede…


GERTRUDE   (Feigning ignorance) What mean thou?


OPHELIA        That thee and my lord Claudius have become such companions noted and most known to youth and liberty.


GERTRUDE    (Taken aback) Wherefore should you know this?


OPHELIA        The staff have seen it. The witness of gentleman Rosencrantz – and Guildenstern – have discerned some distant knowledge

                       of you.

GERTRUDE    (Laughing) Tut, you have lost myself. I am not here: This is not Gertrude. She’s some other where. (Sharply) But where was



OPHELIA        On the platform, where they watched.


GERTRUDE   (Dismissively) Dear Ophelia, one fire burns out another’s burning – one pain is lessened by another’s anguish. Take thou

                       some new infection from thy eye, or the rank poison of the old will die. Such is love’s transgression.


OPHELIA        I’m sorry if these words offend you.


GERTRUDE    There’s no offence, my lady. Fare you well.


OPHELIA        And you.


Gertrude exits quickly, regaining her composure. Ophelia lingers, contemplating Gertrude’s words and Hamlet’s actions. She sips furtively at her coffee.


A curtain is drawn across, revealing Claudius post-surgery, peeling off his bloody gloves and washing his hands. Polonius joins him, examining the surgical instruments keenly.


CLAUDIUS     Honourable Polonius, tell me, saw you not his face?


POLONIUS     Oh, yes, yes, my lord.


CLAUDIUS     Looked Hamlet frowningly?


POLONIUS     A countenance more in sorrow than in anger, I should say.


CLAUDIUS     Good that the everlasting has fixed his canon against self-slaughter. I knew him, Polonius: a fellow of infinite jest and most

                       excellent fancy. And now…? I know not.


POLONIUS     The dram of evil doth all the noble substance often doubt, my lord, to his own scandal. Tis here, but yet confused –

                       knavery’s plain face is never seen till used. So practicing upon his peace and quiet even unto madness…


CLAUDIUS     What he spake, though it lacked form a little, was not like madness. There’s something in his soul over which his melancholy

                       sits on brood.


POLONIU       He waxes desperate with imagination. But sir, such wanton, wild, and usual slips are as companions noted and most known

                       to youth. If it be not, confine him where your wisdom best shall think, or to Paediatrics send him.


CLAUDIUS     It shall be so. Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.


POLONIUS     We will find where truth is hid, though it were hid indeed within the centre. At a more considered time we’ll read, answer, and

                       think upon this business.


CLAUDIUS     Mad let us grant him then… for now. We will try it. Thankyou, Polonius.


POLONIUS     My lord.


Another curtain is draw across, concealing the pair and revealing Rosencrantz and Guildenstern standing in a slow-moving elevator, each ferrying a comatose patient in a wheelchair to the floor above. Elevator muzak plays listlessly. Guildenstern flips a coin absently, bored. Rosencrantz slaps his patient’s face with the patient’s own slack hand listlessly.


The elevator DINGs and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern exit, pushing with them their wheelchairs. The patients pull across a curtain, revealing Claudius and Gertrude in a supply closest, putting on their clothes.


CLAUDIUS     Polonius tells me, my dear Gertrude, he hath found the head and source of your son’s distemper.


GERTRUDE    I doubt it is no other but the main: his father’s death, and our… marriage.


CLAUDIUS     I would fain prove so, whether Hamlet has fallen into a sadness, or a fast, or a watch, or a weakness. We shall sift him. You

                       shall do marvellous wisely, when you visit him, to make inquiry of his behaviour.


GERTRUDE    I did intend it.


CLAUDIUS     Tell him his pranks have been too broad to bear with, and that your Grace hath screen’d and stood between much heat and

                       him. Pray you be round with him.


GERTRUDE    I did intend it, my lord.


CLAUDIUS     Be round with him, so by your company to draw him on to pleasures, and to gather so much as from the occasion you may

                       glean where aught to us unknown afflicts him thus, that opened lies within our remedy. Some little time will prove our



GERTRUDE   (Aside) Your majesty might, by the sovereign power you have, put your pleasures into command than to entreaty.




GERTRUDE   Heaven makes my presence and practices pleasant and helpful to him. I go.


She draws the curtains across Claudius, and exits…





The hospital lights are down, implying a nighttime simulation. The corridors are now almost empty, the bustle reduced to a few nighttime nurses and a skeleton staff. We descend into the basement, where the darkness is somehow darker. Hamlet’s laboratory is thick with it.


Hamlet stand at his worktable, tinkering with beakers and vials, working on the elixir outlined on the blackboard. An old gramophone sits on the desk beside him, playing an old brass standard very quietly. Hamlet’s reel-to-reel Dictaphone reiterates Hamlet’s thoughts from earlier in the day…


HAMLET         (Recorded) This is most brave that I, son of a dear father murdered, prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell should find

                       the native hue of resolution is sicklied over with the pale cast of thought. Enterprises of great pitch and moment, with this

                       regard, their currents turn awry and lose the name of action…


An old telephone rings suddenly, jolting him. Hamlet shoots a wary glance over his shoulder as the answering machine picks it up.


OPHELIA        (On the phone) Hamlet? Are you there? Hamlet? … Truly in my youth I have suffered much extremity for love. You are so sick

                       of late, so far from cheer and from your former state, that I distrust you. Yet, though I distrust, a woman’s fear and love holds

                       quantity. To my soul’s idol, the most beautified Hamlet…


HAMLET         That’s an ill phrase, ‘beautified’…


OPHELIA        (Cont) Doubt thou the stars are fire, or that the truth be a liar, but never doubt I love. I have not art to reckon my groans, but

                       know I love thee best. Believe it. Fare you well, my lord.


Hamlet moves suddenly and snatches up the phone.


HAMLET         You think had I given my heart a winking, mute and dumb, or looked upon this love with idle sight? This must not be – lord

                       Hamlet is a prince, out of thy star!


But he’s talking to nobody, just a dial tone. Hamlet hangs up the phone. He resumes his work, replaying his Dictaphone recording.


HAMLET         (Recorded) This is most brave that I, son of a dear father murdered, prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell should find

                       the native hue of resolution is sicklied over with the pale cast of thought. Enterprises of great pitch and moment, with this

                       regard, their currents turn awry and lose the name of action…


His laboratory door opens, and Gertrude enters. Hamlet whirls surprised, clicking off the Dictaphone hurriedly.


GERTRUDE    Hamlet, you started like a guilty thing upon a fearful summons.


HAMLET         Startled by a poor ghost.


GERTRUDE    How is it that the clouds still hang on you? Hamlet, do not forever with thy veiled lids seek for thy noble father in the dust.

                       Though know’st ‘tis common: all that live must die, passing through nature to eternity…


HAMLET         Is that my meaning? You breathe his faults so quaintly that they seem the taints of liberty.


GERTRUDE    Why seems it so particular with thee?


HAMLET         Seems, madam? I know not ‘seems’. Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother, together with all shows of grief that can

                       denote me truly. These are actions that a man might play… but I have within which passeth show. These are but the

                       trappings and suits of woe.


GERTRUDE    And have you forgot me?


HAMLET         Forgot? No, by the rood, not so: you are the queen, your husband’s wife, and – would it were not so – you are my mother…


A moment of frosty silence. Gertrude moves about the room, looking at Hamlet’s work. Hamlet attempts to shield as much as he can from her.


GERTRUDE    How fares Ophelia?


HAMLET         (Glibly) A maiden of spirit so still and quiet that her motion blushed at herself.


GERTRUDE    Damned as thou art, thou hast enchanted her.


HAMLET         Damned be she, who, in spite of nature, to fall in love with what she feared to look on.


GERTRUDE    You do her wrong being so majestical, to offer her such a show of violence – for she is as the air, invulnerable, and your vain

                       blows malicious mockery.


HAMLET         Whoever she be that in this foul proceeding hath thus beguiled Ophelia of herself.


Gertrude moves towards the hastily-covered blackboard. Hamlet moves to distract her.


HAMLET         How fares cousin Claudius, mother?


GERTRUDE    Claudius, your uncle? Well, God-a-mercy, well.


HAMLET         Tis told me, he hath very oft of late given private time to you, and you yourself have of your audience been most free and

                       bounteous. What is between you? Give me the truth.


GERTRUDE    He hath, of late, made many tenders of his affection for me.


HAMLET         Affection? Ha! Do you believe his ‘tenders’, as you call them?


GERTRUDE    I do not know what I should think. I do know, when the blood burns, how prodigal the soul lends the tongue vows.


HAMLET         Marry, I’ll teach you: you have taken these tenders for true pay, which are not sterling. Tender yourself more dearly, or you’ll

                       tender yourself a fool.


GERTRUDE    Then this is for all, Hamlet: I would not, in plain terms, from this time forth, have you so slander any talk with me of Claudius.

                       Look to it, I charge you. Let not thy mother lose her prayers, Hamlet.


HAMLET         I shall in all my best obey you, madam.


GERTRUDE    Good night, dear Hamlet.


Hamlet says nothing. Gertrude leaves, Hamlet’s frosty silence at her back. His laboratory door closes, and Hamlet immediately lashes out at his work, sweeping his notes off the table. The record player, having come to the end of its rotation, produces empty static.


HAMLET         Look how she steals away! Mother, for love of grace, lay not that flattering unction to your soul – it will but skin and film the

                       ulcerous place while rank corruption, mining all within, infects unseen!


He snatches up his Dictaphone.


HAMLET         Confess yourself to heaven, repent what’s past, avoid what is to come! Do not spread the compost on the weeds to make

                       them ranker. Forgive me this my virtue, for in the fatness of these pursy times, virtue itself of vice must pardon beg and leave

                       to do me good!


Hamlet slows, picks up the vial of green elixir…


HAMLET         Why, what should I fear? I do not set my life at a pin’s fee. And for my soul, what can it do to that, being a thing immortal as

                        itself? Doubt truth to be a liar… Doubt it no more.


With those words, Hamlet drinks the formula. At first, there’s no reaction, no discernable effect. But then…





The formula takes hold in strange and peculiar ways. His record player suddenly begins to play all on its own: First electric statice, chaotic, and then music, becoming louder…


(Musical Sequence: SWEET CHILD OF MINE, Guns N Roses.)


A shadow moves behind Hamlet. He whirls towards it, but there’s nothing there. The shadow moves across the laboratory door. Hamlet moves to it, opens it: There’s nobody there. He steps out into the corridor. The lights flicker on and off. A ghostly apparition stands in the hallway, its head circled with blood, its cranium open and brain exposed. It is the KING’S GHOST. Hamlet moves towards it. The ghost disappears.


Hamlet gives chase. He reaches the elevators and steps inside. The lights flicker out again. The walls of the elevator become translucent, ghostly hands and figures pressing and writhing behind them. The lights flicker on and off, and when they return, the King’s Ghost stands behind him. Hamlet spins around, but the Ghost is gone again. The elevator doors open.


Hamlet follows the Ghost through the hospital, from hallway to Intensive Care to the cafeteria. No one besides Hamlet can see the ghostly spectre (including Polonius, Horatio, and Ophelia), continuing on their work as if nothing were wrong. Hamlet stumbles, as if in a daze.


The Ghost steps through the doors of the Operating Theatre. Hamlet follows tentatively. The OR lights flicker and flash, the gurney in the centre of the room bloodstained like a mortuary slab. Hamlet moves towards it. The music suddenly becomes diegetic, thin and reedy, piped in through the hospital PA system. With a whine of feedback, it is cut off completely.


Rusty wheels approach, squeaking and rattling, coming closer. Voices accompany:


GHOST DOCTOR                (Off stage) Is he to be buried in Christian burial that willfully seeks his own salvation?


GHOST NURSE                   (Off stage) I tell thee he is, and therefore they’ll make his grave straight: The crowner hath sat on him, and finds

                                             it Christian burial.


G. DOCTOR    (O.S.) How can that be, unless he murdered himself in his own defense?


G. NURSE       (O.S) Why, 'tis found so.


The OR doors slam open and two ghouls enter – a GHOST DOCTOR and a GHOST NURSE – dragging between them a steel gurney. On the gurney is a disembodied shape, covered in a bloodstained white sheet. The two wheel the gurney to the centre of the room, under the light of the stand-lamp, and park it there. As they do, they talk, oblivious to Hamlet’s presence:


G. DOCTOR    It must be, it cannot be else, for here lies the point: If I murder myself wittingly, it argues an act, and an act hath three

                        branches: it is: to act, to do, to perform. Therefore, he murdered himself wittingly.


G. NURSE       Nay, but hear you goodman delver -----


G. DOCTOR    Pray give me leave! Here lies the murder – here stands the man. If the man goes to his murder, and murders himself, it is

                        willy-nilly he goes – mark you that. But if the murder comes to him and kills him, he kills not himself. He that is not guilty of

                        his own death shortens not his own life.


G. NURSE       But is this law?


G. DOCTOR    Ay, marry, tis crowner's quest law.


Both ghouls cross themselves.


The Nurse picks up a large scalpel and hands it to the Doctor. The Doctor lifts up the corner of the sheet. The Nurse peers over his shoulder.


HAMLET          Angels and ministers of grace defend me! Be thou spirits of health or goblins damned, bringing with thee airs from heaven

                        or blasted from hell! Thou come’st in such a questionable shape, be thy intents wicked or charitable?


G. DOCTOR    Is this Hamlet I see before me? Pray, let him not burst to ignorance, speak!


HAMLET          Have you fellows no feeling of your business that you sing at… life-saving?


G. DOCTOR    Our custom hath made it in us a property of easiness.


HAMLET          That skull had a tongue in it and could sing too, once.


G. DOCTOR    How the knave jowls it to the ground, as if it were Cain’s jaw-bone, that did the first murder!


G. NURSE       Aye, it might.


HAMLET          Why does he suffer this rude knave to knock him about the sconce with a dirty scalpel?


G. DOCTOR    The very conveyance of his land will hardly lie in this box.


G. NURSE       By medicine, life may be prolonged, yet death will seize the doctor too.


HAMLET          Must the inheritor himself have no more?


G. DOCTOR    Thus one must clothe ones’ naked villainy with old odd ends stolen out of holy writ, and seem a saint when most one plays

                        the devil.


HAMLET          The spirit that I have seen may be the devil, and the devil hath power to assume a pleasing shape…


G. DOCTOR    Do you not know us, my lord?


HAMLET          Know you? A ghost’s word for a thousand pound… you are my mother Gertrude, my uncle Claudius.


G. DOCTOR    Ay, and we shall all know by this fellow – for the body cannot keep council, they tell all…


G. NURSE       Belike this show imports the argument of the play…


G. DOCTOR    For us and for our tragedy, here stooping to your clemency, we beg your hearing patiently…


G. NURSE       Let us impart what we have done unto…


BOTH               Hamlet, the King of Denmark!


They whip back the sheet from the operating table, revealing the dissected corpse of Hamlet’s father. Hamlet recoils, startled. The lights flash on and off.


HAMLET         What is this, frighted with false fire? Murder most foul… I’ll have grounds more relative than this!


Hamlet lunges forward, slashing at the Ghost Doctor with his scalpel. He slices the ghoul’s throat, blood spurting in a crimson geyser. The Ghost Doctor collapses onto the operating table, dead. The Ghost Nurse screams and flees the room.


HAMLET         Let the stricken deer go weep, the hart ungalled play, for some must watch, while some must sleep… So runs the world

                       away. May your heels kick at heaven, and your soul be as damned and black as hell. There is some salvation in this act.


As Hamlet steps towards the operating table, the curtain is draw around him. In silhouette, Hamlet raises the scalpel over the slumped body of the Ghost Doctor, and then begins to cut…




The lights suddenly change, signifying daytime. The same curtain is suddenly drawn back, revealing nothing of the previous scene: Instead, we’re in the Intensive Care ward, rows of patients housed in neatly made hospital beds each behind their own curtain.


Hamlet stands in the middle of the room, rubbing his throbbing forehead. He looks dishevelled and severely hungover. An INTERN stands nearby, looking tentatively concerned.


INTERN           How fares you, cousin Hamlet?


HAMLET         (Wincing) Oh God! I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space… were it not that I have bad



INTERN           Bad dreams?


HAMLET         I have had a dream in the night, past the wit of man to say what dream it was. The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man

                       hath not seen, his tongue to conceive, nor his heart to report what my dream was.


INTERN           (Further confused) What sayest thou, noble heart?


HAMLET         It is merely a lust of the blood and a permission of the will. (Enraged) Come, be a man and drown thyself! Drown cats and

                       blind puppies!


INTERN           (Hesitantly) Tis well, my lord… I’ll have thee speak out the rest soon.


HAMLET         Good good, see them all well bestowed. Go to it!


The Intern bobs his head and leaves, not entirely understanding what just occurred. He meets another Intern at the door to the ward, and both exit, casting odd glances back at Hamlet and whispering.


Hamlet, now alone in the ward, continues on his round. He pulls back the next curtain, anticipating another bedridden patient. Instead he reveals Rosencrantz, strapped upright to a gurney. Pins have been driven into his skull, and his head is in a steel neck-brace. The top of his scalp has been sewed back on, his brain tampered with.


Hamlet stares, shocked, and then jumps into action. He casts a glance back out into the empty ward, and then draws the curtain quickly shut around them both.


HAMLET         Man’s hand indeed is not able to taste nor his heart to report what my dream was yesternight! Hell and night must bring this

                       monstrous birth to the world’s light… Dear Rosencrantz!


ROSEN.           (Ranting and damaged) I do believe you think what now you speak, but what we do determine oft we break. Purpose is but

                        the slave to memory, of violent birth, poor validity.


HAMLET         (Enraptured) Rosencrantz, sweet Rosencrantz… My friend is now of a free and open nature to think men honest that but

                        seem to be so. Thus do I ever make this fool my purse… it works!


ROSEN.           (Suddenly lucid) Hamlet, help me.


HAMLET         Rosencrantz, thou art slain – no medicine in the world can do thee good. (Hamlet injects Rosencrantz with a syringe of

                       glowing green elixir) Now cracks a noble heart! Good night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest…


OPHELIA        (Off stage) Hamlet?


HAMLET         Hark! Why does the lady come hither?


OPHELIA        (O.S.) Lord Hamlet?


Hamlet quickly throws the sheet over Rosencrantz just as Ophelia enters the ward. He slips out of the cubicle, drawing the curtain tightly shut behind him. Ophelia approaches, a cardboard box in her hands. Inside is an assortment of objects: Picture frames, cards, dying flowers, a camcorder.


OPHELIA        (Curtly) My lord, I have remembrances of yours that I have longed long to re-deliver. Pray you now receive them.


HAMLET         I never gave you aught.


OPHELIA        You did, and with them words of so sweet breath composed as made the things more rich. Rich gifts wax poor when givers

                       prove unkind. There, my lord.


HAMLET         (Taking the box) So, what my love is, proof hath made you know. I did love you once.


OPHELIA        (Stung) Indeed, Hamlet. You made me believe so.


HAMLET         (Cruelly) You should not have believed me. I loved you not.


OPHELIA        I was clearly more deceived.


HAMLET         I am myself indifferent honest… but yet I could accuse me of such things that it were better my mother had not borne me.


OPHELIA        (Sarcastic) Since I cannot prove a lover to entertain these well-spoken days, I am determined to prove a villain and hate the

                       idle pleasures of these days. Men are arrant knaves, all. We should believe none of you.


The pair stare each other down, neither conceding defeat by being the first to walk away. A paging tone chimes over the hospital PA system, calling their names to the ER. Neither move. A NURSE enters, sees them both, approaches.


NURSE            My lady, my lord, vouchsafe me a word with you!


OPHELIA        What is the reason of this terrible summons? What is the matter here?


NURSE            Such answers as I can make you, at our King’s commandment, are of deaths put on by accidental slaughter, the deaths of

                        twenty men or more! The sight is dismal!


OPHELIA        This quarry cries on havoc. Are they so followed?


NURSE            They are, my lords – they go to their graves like beds! And there is an aerie of children, little eyases that all cry out!


OPHELIA        What, are there children?


NURSE            Aye, my lady. Sweet Ophelia, noble Hamlet, wilt thou not come?


OPHELIA        Let us haste to hear them, cursed sprite. Ever were we born to set it right! Hamlet?


HAMLET         To die, to sleep – to sleep, perchance to dream. For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come…


OPHELIA        Then let the doors shut upon you, that you may play the fool nowhere but in your own house!


Ophelia turns and storms out of the ward, the Nurse at her side. Hamlet watches her go, then takes out his flask of elixir, drinks from it, and follows.





The lights change dramatically and we arrive in the Emergency Room, where chaos reign. Nurses and orderlies rush about in a frantic ballet, pushing gurneys, wheelchairs, leading patients on crutches, staunching wounds, mopping blood, stitching cuts, setting bones. The scene is reminiscent of a front-line triage under heavy shelling, hellish and bloody.


Scrolling on the waiting room televisions is a newsflash. Projection: Footage of a train crash, the headline RAIL DISASTER STRIKES PEAK HOUR, DOZENS DEAD AND HUNDREDS WOUNDED, EMERGENCY FACILITIES AT GREAT “DANE” PUSHED TO LIMIT.


All available hands are on deck to help: Gertrude examining a broken arm; Claudius, a cranial fracture; Ophelia, a screaming child; Polonius, drifting uselessly. Medical jargon flows in a heady stream. Blood pools on the floor. Hamlet enters, appearing unfazed by the ranks of meatball surgery occurring around him. Gertrude sees him enter, and gestures him over.


GERTRUDE    Sweet Hamlet, lend your patience to us! We jointly labour with these souls to give them due content.


HAMLET         (Disinterested) This means of death, by obscure burial, has no trophy, sword, nor hatchment over their bones. No cry can

                       be heard, as it were from heaven to hell, that I must call in question.


GERTRUDE    (Impatient) Then where there is offence, let the great axe fall. I pray you, go with me!


OPHELIA        What should we say to you, my lord?


HAMLET         Why, anything but to the purpose! There is a kind of confession in all your looks which all your modesties have not craft

                       enough to colour.


CLAUDIUS     Perhaps lord Hamlet would most humbly take his leave of us.


HAMLET         You cannot, sir, take from me anything that I will more willingly part withal… except my life.


GERTRUDE    (Frustrated) Heaven’s powers, restore him…


HAMLET         Restore him indeed! On fortune’s cap we are not the very button, nor the soles of her shoes.


OPHELIA        Then is doomsday near. What have you, good Hamlet, deserved at the hands of fortune that she send you to prison hither?


HAMLET         Denmark’s a prison.


OPHELIA        Then the world is one! What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason and infinite in faculty! This man delights not me!


Ophelia storms out of the OR, tearing off her gloves and throwing them aside. All watch her leave in shock, except for Hamlet, who is somewhere else.


GERTRUDE    What a rash and bloody deed is this!


HAMLET         A bloody deed? Almost as bad, good mother, as kill a king and marry his brother!


GERTRUDE    As kill a king!


CLAUDIUS     Gertrude, leave off the wringing of your hands! Hamlet, peace! Sit you down!


HAMLET         Leave off the wringing of your hands and let me wring your heart: If damned custom have not brass’d it so that it is proof

                       against sense…


CLAUDIUS     Young Hamlet is, in his retirement, most marvellously distempered.


GERTRUDE    Hamlet, you hast thy mother much offended…


HAMLET         Mother, you have my father much offended! Look you now what follows! Here is your husband: like a mildewed ear, blasting

                       his wholesome brother!


GERTRUDE    As truly as to heaven I do confess the vices of my blood to your grave ears, I’ll present how I did thrive in this man’s love,

                       and he in mine.


HAMLET         You cannot call it love! Have you not eyes?


CLAUDIUS     Worthy Hamlet, what has deprived your sovereignty of reason and draw you into this madness? The very place puts toys of                          desperation into every brain that looks so many fathoms to the sea and hears it roar beneath.


HAMLET         So do those that live in the rank sweat of an enseamed bed, stewed in corruption, honeying and making love over a nasty



GERTRUDE    Hamlet, upon the heat and flame of thy distemper sprinkle cool patience! Give him some light! Away!


CLAUDIUS     Hamlet, you were wont be civil! The gravity of your youth the world hath noted, and your name is great. And yet you unlace

                       your reputation thus, and spend your rich opinion for the name of a night brawler? Give me answer to it!


HAMLET         Speak to me no more, villain! You, a slave that is not twentieth part the tithe of your precedent lord!


GERTRUDE    Hamlet, away!


Hamlet leaves, overturning a tray of instruments as he goes. In the clatter and following shocked silence, the constant BEEP, BEEP of heart-rate monitors signifies life. Everyone slowly returns to their duties.


POLONIUS     I like him not, nor stands it safe with us to let his madness range. The terms of our estate may not endure hazard so

                       dangerous as doth hourly grow out of his lunacies.


GERTRUDE    We will ourselves provide.


CLAUDIUS     The single and peculiar life is bound with all the strength and armour of the mind to keep itself from annoyance… but much

                       more that spirit upon whose weal depend and rest the lives of many.


POLONIUS     The cease of majesty dies not alone, but, like a gulf, doth draw what’s near it with it.


CLAUDIUS     Arm you, I pray you. We will fetter put upon this fear, which no goes too free-footed in all of Denmark. Now… to arms!


All return to their grisly duties, as a curtain is drawn across the action and the lights go down, sparing us the gory details…





The curtains close and the lights continue down until we’re in a space clearly no longer part of conventional reality. Hamlet storms along the hallway, oddly empty of activity. Music begins.


(Musical Sequence: LIVE AND LET DIE, Guns N Roses.)


As Hamlet walks along the hallway, the lights flicker. The walls become translucent, and behind them a gruesome shadow-play begins: Doctors and Nurses treat victims in the most ghastly fashion imaginable, tearing off limbs, gouging out eyes, cutting open chests, suturing with knitting needles, general horror.


Hamlet, shocked and sickened by the ghastly images around him, tries to block them from his sight. The lights flicker again and the ghoulish physicians begin to emerge from the walls, hands and faces reaching and grasping for him. Blood steaks down the walls like something from The Shining.


Hamlet is swept off his feet by a rocketing wheelchair, pushed by the Ghost Nurse. He scrambles out of it, grapples with her, stabs her in the throat with his scalpel. He tosses her body in the wheelchair and sends it careening down the corridor.


The lights flicker and flash with intensity, driving Hamlet faster and faster down the endless hallway. He arrives at the door to the Morgue and throws it open. As he bursts inside, the lights return to normal, and the music ends.


HAMLET         (Terrified) Worthy Horatio, I am hurt to danger! I can inform you of all that I do know, nor know I aught by me that’s said or

                        done amiss this night… unless self-charity be sometimes a vice, and to defend ourselves it be a sin when violence assails                           us! Horatio! Horatio?


The Morgue is empty; Hamlet is talking to himself. Hamlet slumps in Horatio’s chair, his head in his hands.


HAMLET         What duty it is, to define true madness. What is it but to be nothing else but mad? Now, by heaven, my blood begins my

                       safer guide to rule, and passion, having my best judgement collied, assays to lead the way.


Hamlet sits up and begins to search Horatio’s desk, riffling through his papers and folders, finding nothing. He tries the desk draw, locked, and forces it open. Inside is the investigation report.


HAMLET         Now all remains that I find out the cause of this effect, or rather, the cause of this defect, for this effect defective comes by



Hamlet flips it opens and reads rapidly. He flicks the next page, and then the next, becoming increasingly agitated. He comes upon the final page, and can scarcely believe what he holds in his hands.


HAMLET         Nothing! Nothing to speak of his rank offence, nor of those effects for which he did the murder… It is too often seen the

                       wicked prize itself buys out the law – but ‘tis not so above. The action lies in his true nature, and we ourselves compelled

                       even to our faults to give in evidence. What then? What rests?


Hamlet throws the report onto the desk in disgust and replaces his head in his hands.


HAMLET         My father, by a dear brother murdered… (A flash of inspiration, said aloud) I could, of a need, concoct a speech of some

                       dozen or sixteen lines, which I could set down and insert in it…? I know not if it be true, yet I, for mere suspicion in that kind,

                       will do as if for surety. Now might I do it. In the corrupted currents of this world, one may not be pardoned and retain the



Hamlet takes a sheet of paper from Horatio’s blotter, scribbles a postscript upon it, and then stamps it with Horatio’s signature. He slips it inside the report, folds it up, and is about to place it back in the draw when a Morgue curtain is draw across and Horatio enters.


Hamlet leaps at him, grabbing him by the collar.


HAMLET         Art thou there, true-penny? Dear Horatio, thou art a wretched, intruding fool!


HORATIO       Why, how now, Hamlet! What’s the matter?


HAMLET         Your report makes a rhapsody of words, and I am thought-sick at the act. By a brother’s hand was my father murdered. He

                       took my father grossly, full of bread, with all his crimes broad blown as flush as May… And how his audit stands who knows

                       save heaven? Here’s the new commission: read it at more leisure.


Hamlet lets Horatio go and shoves the doctored report upon him. Horatio flicks through it and scans the altered page.


HORATIO        Hamlet, what have thou done? This is hire and salary, not revenge!


Hamlet grabs Horatio again by the collar, and this time holds a scalpel to his throat.


HAMLET         There’s a villain dwelling in Denmark, and he’s an errant knave. I sat me down, devised a new commission, wrote it fair, so

                       with the whiff and wind of his fell sword the unnerved father falls! Do not lend a tyrannous and damned light to his vile



HORATIO       (Terrified) What would you have me?


HAMLET         I’ll have these pages play something like the murder of my father before mine uncle. I’ll observe his looks: if he but blench, I

                       know my course.


HORATIO       Nay, that follows not. Thou must have grounds more relative than this!


HAMLET         The spirit I have seen may be the devil, and the devil hath power to assume a pleasing shape. And yea, perhaps out of my

                       weakness and my melancholy abuses me to damn me. Swear never to speak of this that you have seen. Swear by my

                       sword, swear!


HORATIO       This is but wondrous strange…


HAMLET         And therefore as a stranger give it welcome. If thou didst ever hold me in thy hear, never, so help you mercy, tell of seeing

                       me here. This not to do, so grace and mercy at your most need help you. Swear!


HORATIO       Be thou assured, if words be made of breath and breath of life, I have no life to breath what thou hast said to me.


HAMLET         Dear Horatio, you that look pale and tremble at this chance… you are but mute or audience to this act. Had I but time, I

                       could tell you… but let it be. I am dead, Horatio. We would be kings of infinite space, but that we have bad dreams…


Hamlet lets Horatio go, and exits the Morgue. Horatio collapses into his chair, his head in his hands. His eyes turn to the report on his desk. He stands slowly, picking up the report and the telephone.


HORATIO        My lord Polonius. It is done. (Hangs up) The rest is silence.


A page over the hospital PA system calls everyone to a meeting. The scene changes around him, curtains drawn and rearranged to transition to the hospital Board Room...




People begin to enter the Board Room: Gertrude, Claudius, Polonius, Board Members. Horatio stands meekly at the door. Ophelia enters last. He moves towards her.


HORATIO        Sweet Ophelia, a word?


OPHELIA        What troubles thee, Horatio?


HORATIO        That is the question that puzzles the will, and makes us rather bear those ills we have than fly to others that we know naught



OPHELIA        (Puzzled) How is it?


HORATIO        Is it nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by

                        opposing, end them?


OPHELIA        There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. This above all, Horatio – to thine own self be true.


HORATIO        I see. When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions.


OPHELIA        Horatio?


HORATIO        Nothing either good or bad, my lady. Tis a touch, I do confess.


Ophelia goes and sits. Horatio approaches Claudius, who stands talking with Polonius.


HORATIO        My lord, a word?


CLAUDIUS      Ah, Horatio! What is it? (Seeing Horatio’s agitation) Rest, rest, perturbed spirit! Tell for all.


HORATIO        (Stuttering) Gentle sir, it is with all my love I do commend me to you… and what so poor a man as Hamlet is may do, to

                        express my love and friending to you… that, God willing, I shall not lack…


CLAUDIUS      Speak man, what holds?


HORATIO        Of Hamlet, my lord, I fear the trust you put in him. I fear on some odd time, his infirmity will shake this kingdom. I fear foul

                        deeds with rise, though all the earth overwhelm them, to men’s eyes…


CLAUDIUS      It were well I put in mind of it, Horatio. Perhaps Hamlet sees it not, or in his good nature prizes the virtues that appear?


HORATIO        Aye, my lord.


CLAUDIUS      I do love Hamlet well, Horatio, as do thee, and would do much to cure him of his evil. Is not this true?


Horatio goes to say something more, but Hamlet appears at the doorway, rendering him speechless. Horatio can only nod instead. Claudius takes his seat, as does Polonius. Hamlet passes Horatio, gives him a look, and then takes his seat too.


HORATIO        Thus conscience does make cowards of us all.


Horatio hands the report to Polonius, and then loiters by the door. Claudius raps the table for silence.


CLAUDIUS      Welcome, masters, good friends, welcome all. I am glad to see thee all well. Pray God your voice, like a piece of uncurrent

                        gold, be not cracked within the ring. Horatio’s commission is complete. We’ll have the speech straight. Come, give us a

                        taste of your quality.


POLONIUS     We follow the King’s pleasure. If his fitness speaks, ours is ready now. Pray you read.


Polonius motions to a Board Member, who takes the report, stands, clears his throat, and opens the report to read aloud:


B. MEMBER    My lord, his majesty commends him to you by such royal commission rendering unto the death of our dear King Hamlet,

                        who brings back to you that you attend him in this hall. Thus speaks Horatio, chief among your officers: That upon enquiry,

                        King Hamlet’s two eyes like stars start from their spheres, his knotted and combined locks to part, and each particular hair

                        to stand on end, like quills upon a fretful porpentine. Thusly concluded, his death is hereby the result of foul and most

                        natural… murder!


Shock ripples through the seated attendees.


POLONIUS     Murder? What sayest thou?


B. MEMBER   The words hold that in the porches of the ears the juice of cursed hebona was poured from a vial, what’s effect holds such

                       an enmity with blood of man that, swift as quicksilver, it coursed through the natural gates and alleys of the body, and with a

                       sudden vigour it doth posset and curd, like eager droppings into milk, the thin and wholesome blood!


CLAUDIUS     Nay, these are but wild and whirling words!


HAMLET         Prithee to silence, my lord! He would speak again. Say on!


B. MEMBER   And so says Horatio, that with the whiff and wind of this fell sword, the unnerving father fell, and was good King Hamlet of

                       life, of crown, of queen, at once dispatched… by a brother’s hand!


OPHELIA        The King rises!


CLAUDIUS     Give over the play…


GERTRUDE    This cannot be!


HAMLET         Ay, that incestuous, adulterate beast, with witchcraft of his wit and traitorous gifts that lend a tyrannous and damned light to

                       the vile murder! How fares the King?


POLONIUS     Look where he has turned his colour, and has tears in his eyes…


HAMLET         Didst perceive, upon the talk of the poisoning?


OPHELIA        (Sarcastic) You are as good as chorus, my lord!


GERTRUDE    Hamlet, put your discourse into some frame and start not so wildly from this affair!


HAMLET         Oh wonderful son that can so astonish a mother and remand an uncle! Sir, make of you a wholesome answer! How stands

                       the charge?


CLAUDIUS     My wit is diseased, but such an answer as I can make, you shall not command – or rather, of this “damned light”, as you say

                       to your mother. Therefore, no more!


POLONIUS     Hamlet, I bid you retire. Give heedful note, and after we will all our judgements join in censure of Horatio’s seeming.


HAMLET         I take Horatio’s word for a thousand pound, were it not so? The croaking raven doth bellow for revenge…


GERTRUDE    Hamlet, you eat the air, promise-crammed! You cannot feet capons so.


POLONIUS     Will it please you go, my lord?


GERTRUDE    Away with thee! Now!


Hamlet, in the face of so much outrage and rancour, for once complies. He bows to all, smirking, and then exits as a curtain is drawn across the shocked Board Members and attending doctors.





Hamlet walks down a hospital hallway, drinking liberally from his elixir flask. He passes nurses and orderlies, bumping into them, ignoring them, existing in his own space.


HAMLET         (Mocking) “God be with you, sir.” “Will it please you go, my lord?” “My lady, I’ll be with your straight.” (To his Dictaphone)

                       God made us with such large discourse that, looking before and after, he gave us not that capability and god-like reason to

                       fust in us unused. Now it is bestial oblivion or some craven scruple, a thought which hath but one part wisdom: A father’s



The lights begin to flicker again. Hamlet slows. A lucid dread takes over him.


HAMLET         Now it is the time of night that the graves, all gaping wide, every one lets for its sprite. My hour is almost come, when I to

                       sulphurous and tormented flames must render up myself…


Hamlet shakes the thought from his head and drinks more.


HAMLET         My pulse, like all, doth temperately keep time. It is not madness that I have uttered – bring me to the test and I the matter

                       would re-word.


Hamlet stumbles, suddenly overcome with grief.


HAMLET         Oh wretched state… Oh limed soul, struggling to be free, art more engaged! So excellent a king, so loving to my mother…


Hamlet sits distraught, head in his hands. The lights begin to flicker and flash. Ghostly shadows move behind the walls. A GHOST CLOWN emerges from within them, pushing a gurney with a sheeted body.


GHOST CLOWN      How does my good Hamlet?


HAMLET         Do you know me, my lord?


G. CLOWN      Excellent well: You are a fishmonger.


HAMLET         Not I, my lord.


G. CLOWN      Then I would you were so honest a man.


HAMLET         So honest a man?


G. CLOWN      Aye sir. To be honest, as this world goes, is to be one man picked out of ten thousand.


HAMLET         That’s very true!


G. CLOWN      Indeed, as sure as the sun breed maggots in a dead dog, being a good kissing carrion. (Motioning to gurney) Dost thou

                        think King Hamlet looks of this fashion in the earth?


HAMLET         Even so.


G. CLOWN      And smelt so? To what base uses we may return, Hamlet. Why, may not imagination trace the noble dust of King Hamlet, till

                        he find it stopping a bung-hole? The likelihood leads thus: The King died, the King was buried, the King returneth into dust,                         the dust is earth, of earth we make loam, and why of that loam they might not stop a beer-barrel?


HAMLET         And the King, my father? What ceremony else?


G. CLOWN      His obsequies have been far enlarged as we have warranties: His death was doubtful. He should in ground unsanctified

                        have lodged till the last trumpet sound.


HAMLET         Must there no more be done?


G. CLOWN      No more be done. We should profane the service of the dead to sing sage requiem, and such rest to his as to peace-parted

                        souls. He is dead.


HAMLET         (Suddenly enraged) Lay him in the earth then, and from his fair and unpolluted flesh may violets spring! I tell thee, churlish

                       ghoul, a ministering angel shall my father be when thou liest howling! The devil take thy soul!


Hamlet hacks at the Ghost with a bone-saw from the gurney. Blood splatters everywhere as Hamlet bodily dismembers him. The lights flicker and flash again, more ghostly apparitions pressing against the walls. Another emerges behind Hamlet, a GHOST OPHELIA, and drapes her arms around his neck.


GHOST OPHELIA               My lord Hamlet, never alone did the King sigh, but with a general groan.


HAMLET         Come hither, gentle mistress. If she confesses that she was half the wooer, destruction on my head, if my bad blame light on

                       any man. Do you perceive all this company where most you owe obedience? (Turning to face her in her arms) I pray you, I

                       would hear you speak.


G. OPHELIA   Dear Hamlet, take up this mangled matter at the best. Men do their broken weapon rather use than their bare hands. That I

                       did love thee, Hamlet, to live with thee, your downright violence and scorn of fortunes trumpet to the world. I saw your visage

                       in my mind, and to your honours and your valiant parts did I my soul and fortunes consecrate… so that, dear lord, if I be left

                       behind, the rights for why I love him are bereft of me. (Hamlet begins to choke her) Thou prayest not well. I prithee, take thy

                       fingers from my throat…


The Ghost Ophelia slumps gruesomely in Hamlet’s hands, eyes wide and glassy like a doll’s. The lights flicker and flash again, and her body disappears, buoyed away by a chorus of disembodied hands. The lights swirl, illuminating a GHOSTLY CLAUDIUS, kneeling in prayer. Hamlet approaches, his scalpel in hand, a disembodied heartbeat throbbing though the air.


HAMLET         Now might I do it pat, now he is praying… He who took my father grossly, and now his audit stands who knows save

                       heaven. Now am I revenged…  to take him in the purging of his soul. Up, sword, and know thou a more horrid hent!


The lights flicker and flash again, and the Ghostly Claudius disappears under Hamlet’s downward swipe. The lights come on suddenly, and Hamlet snaps out of his delirium.





Hamlet stands in his laboratory, blinking, no idea of how he got here. His hallucinations have abruptly disappeared. The heartbeat has morphed into a steady rapping on the door.


Hamlet looks about his laboratory. Rosencrantz is there, strapped upright to his gurney, dead. Guildenstern slumps in a wheelchair, a scalpel in his throat, dead also. Hamlet throws a sheet over them both lethargically, and then moves slowly to open the door.


Gertrude pushes past him, entering the lab.


GERTRUDE    Hamlet, what have I seen tonight…


HAMLET         Seen no more than draw apart the body he hath killed…


GERTRUDE    Hamlet, you must not put another scandal on him! Your uncle and all are most marvellously distempered, and you so

                       happily to slander what’s untimely done! This, a son of mine… My soul is full of discord and dismay…


HAMLET         For this same lord, I do repent.


GERTRUDE    No countenance can excuse this vile deed!


HAMLET         Lady, heaven hath pleased it so to punish me with this, and this with me that I must be their scourge and minister. I will

                       bestow and will answer well the death I gave him, but not yet. Thus bad begins and worse remains behind.


GERTRUDE    (Tearing) What shall I to do with you?


HAMLET         Be cruel only to be kind. Let the bloat king tempt you again to bed, let him pinch wanton at your cheek for a pair of reechy

                       kisses. I essentially am not in madness, but mad in craft. I know my course. Once more into the breach.


Hamlet pushes past Gertrude and exits. Gertrude remains, her head in her hands. From the shadows at the other end of Hamlet’s laboratory, a FIGURE emerges. At first he seems a ghost, but it is only his pale face and white coat. It is Horatio. Gertrude starts.


GERTRUDE    Good Horatio! How shall this bloody deed be answered? It will be laid to us, whose providence should have kept short,

                       restrained, and out of haunt, this mad young man… My husband, by a dear brother murdered…


HORATIO        I have nothing with this answer. Those words are not my own.


GERTRUDE    Not your own?


HORATIO        For this slander, lay this unto Hamlet, prince of Denmark.


Horatio withdraws the sheet from Hamlet’s blackboard, revealing all his notes and ambitions.


HORATIO        In my closest he comes to me and sat he down and devised a new commission. Wilt thou know the effect of what he wrote?


GERTRUDE    Aye, good Horatio.


HORATIO        “That with the whiff and wind of this fell sword, the unnerving father, your husband, fell… And was good King Hamlet of life,

                        of crown, of queen, at once dispatched by his brother’s hand…”


GERTRUDE    So was it sealed?


HORATIO        Folded the writ up in form of the other, subscribed it, placed it safely, the changeling never known. There is more.


GERTRUDE    Say on.


HORATIO        Our affairs of state have come too late – the ears are senseless that should give us hearing, to tell Hamlet his

                        commandment is fulfilled.


GERTRUDE    Horatio, what speakest thou?


Horatio moves to the covered bodies and withdraws the sheets.


HORATIO        Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead.


GERTRUDE    (Recoiling) Oh proud death, what feast is toward in thine eternal cell that thou so many princes at a shot so bloodily hast

                       struck? I take it most unkindly that thou, Horatio, shouldst know of this, for all.


HORATIO        In following him, I follow but myself. Heaven is my judge. Now I fear his brainish apprehension becomes true madness,

                        tempting him toward the summit of a dreadful cliff.


GERTRUDE    My God, Claudius… the source of his distemper…


Gertrude moves to the doorway and pulls the fire alarm. A wailing siren begins to pulse throughout the hospital.


GERTRUDE    Good Horatio, a life may yet be saved!


Both exit, frantic, as the curtains are all drawn across wildly, transporting them elsewhere…





Gertrude and Horatio search frantically throughout the hospital, the fire alarm flooding the corridors with nurses and orderlies, panicking patients and others. They struggle against the flood of evacuation. Hamlet is nowhere to be found.


Gertrude and Horatio separate. A scream sounds, and Gertrude follows it to the source: A Nurse, clutching her bloody arm, scalpel-slashed. She points towards the Operating Theatre. Gertrude follows, drawing aside a curtain.


Hamlet is inside, frantically moving about Claudius, who is strapped upright to a gurney under the operating lights. His head is in a steel-pinned neck brace. There is blood down his face from a cut around the circumference of his forehead.


GERTRUDE    Hamlet!


HAMLET         Mother! Uncle! I pray you both, if you have hitherto concealed this sight, let it be tenable in your silence still. Foul deeds will

                       rise, though all the earth overwhelm them, to men’s eyes.


GERTRUDE    Hamlet, what means you by this?


Hamlet pushes a gurney to the Theatre doors, overturning it, blocking them shut. He appears unfazed by her appearance, manic but eerily focused.


HAMLET         My fate cries out and makes each petty artery in this body as hardy as the Nemean lion’s nerve. Still am I called…


Hamlet takes up position behind Claudius, hanging an IV of glowing elixir to its stand and swabbing Claudius’ arm with alcohol.


CLAUDIUS     Calmly, good Hamlet. What is the cause that thy rebellion looks so giant-like?


HAMLET         (Jabbing in the IV) Where is my father?


CLAUDIUS     (Wincing) Dead.


GERTRUDE    (Starting forward) But not by him!


CLAUDIUS     Let him go, Gertrude! Do not fear our person. There’s such divinity doth hedge a king.


HAMLET         A king of shreds and patches! You are no more a King than I to Hercules! How came he dead? Come! I’ll not be juggled



CLAUDIUS     Good Hamlet, if you desire to know the certainty of your father’s death, is it writ in your revenge that you draw both friend

                       and foe?


HAMLET         None but his enemies, to this point I stand. Both the worlds I give to negligence: Let come what comes – only I’ll be

                       revenged most thoroughly for my father!


Hamlet picks up an electric bone saw and jolts it into life.


GERTRUDE   (Hysterical) Hamlet, who shall stay you?


HAMLET         My will, not all the world! And for my means, I’ll husband them so well they shall go far with little!


CLAUDIUS     Hamlet, you deny me my right: I commune with your grief. You speak like a child. I am guiltless of your father’s death.


HAMLET         Bloody, bawdy villain! Tell to me the truth!


CLAUDIUS     What would you have me say? “Oh, my offence is rank? It smells to heaven?”


HAMLET         It hath the primal eldest curse upon it! A brother’s murder!


CLAUDIUS     A brother’s murder? If you speak truth, what form of prayer can serve my turn? “Forgive me my foul murder”?


HAMLET         Nay, judgement! Here, thou incestuous, murderous Dane! Drink off this potion. Follow my father!


Hamlet applies the bone saw to Claudius’ skull. The lights flicker and flash.


GERTRUDE   (Distraught) Hamlet, when remedies are past, the griefs are ended by seeing the worst, which late on hopes depended! To

                      mourn a mischief that is past and gone is the next way to draw new mischief on!


HAMLET         Come now, I will get to where the truth is hid!


Hamlet again applies the bone saw.


GERTRUDE    What cannot be preserved when fortune takes, patience her injury a mockery makes. The robbed that smiles steals

                       something from the thief, he robs himself that spends a bootless grief…


With a gruesome snap, Hamlet shuts off the saw and, taking a pair of forceps in his hands, pries off the top of Claudius’ skull, exposing his brain. Blood explodes in a gushing clot, drenching Hamlet. Claudius shudders once, and dies.


HAMLET         And so he goes to heaven, and so I am revenged…


GERTRUDE   (Approaching) Hamlet… what hast thou done?


HAMLET         A villain kills my father, and for that, I, his sole son, do this same villain send to heaven. Wretched queen, had I but time…


GERTRUDE   (Backing away) This cursed hand is thicker than itself with brother’s blood… There is not rain enough in the sweet heavens to

                       wash it clean. Hamlet… What hast thou done!


HAMLET         (Moving towards her) Nay, I know not what I have done…


There comes a sudden commotion against the barred Theatre doors. Hamlet turns towards it.


HORATIO        (Off stage) The doors are locked!


GERTRUDE    Here is treachery, seek it out!


Hamlet whirls towards her impulsively, his scalpel flashing. Gertrude stiffens. Hamlet and Gertrude exchange a measure of silence. Hamlet takes a step away from his mother.


GERTRUDE    Your words fly up, Hamlet, but your thoughts remain below. Words without thoughts… never go to heaven.


Blood explodes from the slash to Gertrude’s throat in an elegiac stream. She crumples as the blood-flow slackens. She sinks to the floor, and dies.


The commotion at the door comes again, and they fly open: Horatio, Ophelia, Polonius and two Orderlies burst into the room. They stop up short, surveying the scene of carnage before them, horrified.


HAMLET         How now, Horatio? You tremble and look pale: Is not this something more than fantasy?


HORATIO        Where is this sight?


HAMLET         What is it ye would see? If aught of woe or wonder, cease your search.


HORATIO        Before my God, I might not this believe without the sensible and true avouch of mine own eyes.


HAMLET         I beg your pardon, sirs. I’ve done you wrong. What I have done… I here proclaim was madness. Was it Hamlet wronged

                       Claudius? Never Hamlet. If Hamlet himself be taken away, and when he’s not himself, does wrong Gertrude… then Hamlet

                       does not. Hamlet denies it.


HORATIO        Who does it then?


HAMLET         Why, nought but his madness.


HORATIO        If it be so, Hamlet is of the faction that is wronged. His madness is poor Denmark’s enemy.


HAMLET         What say you, sweet Ophelia?


OPHELIA        He is justly served. It is a poison tempered by himself.


She turns and leaves, her hand over his mouth, sickened. The Orderlies and Horatio apprehend Hamlet, and escort him from the room into a blinding chorus of camera flashbulbs. The lights dim sporadically over the scene.


(Musical Sequence: SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL, Guns N Roses.)


Projection: Newsreel footage to the headlines HOSPITAL HORROR: RENOWNED DOCTORS KILLED IN HORRIFIC MURDER SPREE, Hamlet being led out of the hospital into an waiting police car, sirens flashing, crowd weeping. Crime-scene photos of Gertrude, Claudius, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, with the headline: FOUR DEAD AT HANDS OF HAMLET JNR, AMONG THEM MOTHER/UNCLE. Horatio and Ophelia watch on from the hospital doorway. Polonius makes a statement.


Curtains are drawn over the stage, each florescent light turned off one at a time. The music becomes tinny over the Hospital PA system. The Janitor mops his way around the Operating Theatre, clearing up the mess. Eventually the curtain is drawn across him, too, and the stage goes dark…