Libretto by Declan Donnellan, Nick Ormerod, Radu Poklitaru
Choreographer: Radu Poklitaru Stage Director: Declan Donnellan Designer: Nick Ormerod
Scene 1 Hamlet remembers a birthday celebration of his childhood attended by the entire court at Elsinore. He remembers his father and mother the King and Queen of Denmark. He remembers the chief minister Polonius and his two children Ophelia and Laertes. He also remembers his uncle Claudius. The young Hamlet dances with the child Ophelia. Yorick a famous clown is introduced and dances with him.
Scene 2 The present. Hamlet and Ophelia, now grown-up, explore their feelings for each other.
Scene 3 The court says farewell to Hamlet who is leaving Elsinore to study at Wittenberg.
Scene 4 Ophelia is distraught but is told by her brother, Laertes, and father, Polonius, to have no hope of Prince Hamlet.
Scene 5 The King suddenly falls ill. He dies and, alone, the Queen mourns for her husband. Claudius, the King’s brother, appears and consoles the widowed Queen.
Scene 6 Claudius and Gertrude are married. Initially the court is doubtful but gradually Claudius wins their support and the wedding is celebrated. Hamlet returns and sees his place has been usurped. His mother is still Queen but his uncle has now become the new King of Denmark.
Scene 7 Hamlet is left alone. The ghost of his father appears, and the old King shows that he did not die of natural causes as was believed, in fact he was murdered. We see Claudius administering the poison. The ghost tells Hamlet to avenge him.
Scene 8 Hamlet, alone, kills his uncle in his imagination, but fails when confronted with the real Claudius. He pretends to be mad.
Scene 9 Polonius has taken a bundle of love-letters from Ophelia. She is set up as bait to discover if Hamlet is really mad. Polonius and Claudius hide. Hamlet appears and Ophelia gives him back the letters. Ophelia becomes alarmed and Hamlet realizes he is being spied on. Ophelia has betrayed him.
Scene 10 Hamlet entertains the court to a film he has made. The film suggests the murder of his father. Claudius is outraged and Hamlet is triumphant.
Scene 11 The Queen’s bedroom. Polonius enters and plans with Gertrude how to manage the increasingly unstable Prince. When Hamlet arrives, Polonius hides behind a screen. Hamlet prepares to face his mother alone. Initially tender and forgiving, Hamlet becomes increasingly angry. The ghost of the King appears and stops his son from striking Gertrude. Hamlet understands there is someone spying on him in his mother’s bedroom. Believing that it is Claudius behind the screen he strikes and realizes that he has killed Polonius, Ophelia’s father.
Scene 12 Ophelia rushes to her father’s body. Gertrude weeps. Hamlet is sent away.
Scene 13 Ophelia has lost her sanity.
Scene 14 Ophelia drowns herself.
Scene 15 A graveyard. Two gravediggers. Hamlet returns. He finds a skull near a new grave. It is Yorick’s.
Scene 16 A funeral procession appears. Hamlet sees it is Ophelia’s. Hamlet and Laertes fight over the body.
Scene 17 Claudius calms Laertes and they plot to stage a duel and to use poison in the duel to murder Hamlet.
Scene 18 Alone Hamlet is haunted by the ghost of Ophelia.
Scene 19 Norway is invading Denmark. Elsinore prepares for war.
Scene 20 Hamlet says farewell to the ghosts of his father, Ophelia and Yorick.
Scene 21 The duel. Laertes and Hamlet fight. The Queen accidentally drinks the poison. Laertes fatally wounds Hamlet. Hamlet kills Laertes and Claudius.
Scene 22 Gertrude says farewell to her son.
Scene 23 Norway’s invading army floods onto the stage.