/ 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...
CAST OF CHARACTERS:
In Order Of Appearance
ROSENCRANTZ (GHOST DOCTOR)
GUILDENSTERN (GHOST NURSE)
CLAUDIUS (GHOST CLAUDIUS)
POLONIUS (GHOST CLOWN)
OPHELIA (GHOST OPHELIA)
OTHERS: BOARD MEMBERS, ORDERLIES, GHOSTS, PATIENTS
LIST OF SCENES:
SCENE ONE: HAMLET’S DIAGNOSIS, THE LABORATORY
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
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…
SCENE TWO: HOLDING COURT, THE OPERATING THEATRE
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.
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…
SCENE THREE: HORATIO AND HAMLET, THE MORGUE
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,
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.
HAMLET Murder, Horatio.
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?
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
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.
SCENE FOUR: COFFEE TALK
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?
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
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…
SCENE FIVE: HAMLET’S LABORATORY, LATER THAT NIGHT
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…
SCENE SIX: HALLUCINATION #1: THE GRAVE DIGGERS
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
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…
SCENE SEVEN: THE NEXT MORNING, ROUNDS / ROSENCRANTZ
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
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.
SCENE EIGHT: TRAUMA
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
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…
SCENE NINE: MOUSETRAP IN THE MORGUE
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
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...
SCENE TEN: HOLDING COURT #2, THE BOARDROOM
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.
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
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
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.
SCENE ELEVEN: HALLUCINATION #2: THE GHOSTS IN THE WALLS
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
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.
SCENE TWELVE: CRAINIAL PRESSURE AND CONFRONTATION, THE LABORATORY
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…
SCENE THIRTEEN: CLOSING SURGERY
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.
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
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…