The Tragedie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke (Revised and Condensed)

Act I

Scene I. Elsinore. A platform before the castle.

[Enter Horatio and Marcellus]

HORATIO:
I begged him not to follow that creepy ghost,
Did I not, Marcellus? But off he went!
And we are left to wonder what new fardels
This noble prince must wearily bear through life.
First of all, a father dead, and then,
A mother to an uncle wed. What next?
And what small part may comrades play to ease
The heartache and the thousand natural shocks?

MARCELLUS:
Maybe you can yap a little less?
What the hell’s a fardel anyway?

HORATIO:
Hush! Here comes the prince!
[Enter Hamlet]
What news hath our pallid visitor imparted?
Mayhap some grave imprimatur divine
Hath from the grave o’erspilled? Or secrets dark
And damp, which hitherto hath slept beneath
The ground, hath mushroom’d up like chanterelles?
Or—

MARCELLUS:
Put a sock in it, Horatio!
Let Hamlet speak!

HORATIO:
Apologies, my lord.

HAMLET:
Oh, that’s okay. I know how much you love to prattle on. Anyway, yeah. Talked to my dad. Turns out my uncle killed him after all.

MARCELLUS:
The villain!

HORATIO:
O grave news indeed!

HAMLET:
So, I think I’ll pop into the castle now and kill my uncle. I’d kill my mother too, but the ghost made me promise not to. Whoa. I guess I’ll be king now?

HORATIO:
But, good my lord, perhaps this wispy ghost
Blows smoke up the portal of thy nether regions?
It may be wise to seek some further proof.
A play, methinks, could be performed to show
The foulness of the deed, and seeing this,
The king would rise, his conscience neatly caught.

HAMLET:
What? Literally make a whole production out of it and see if he blinks? That’s not a thing, Horatio. I’m just gonna get a dagger and stab him in the kidney.
[Exit Hamlet]

MARCELLUS:
He’s taking it well.

HORATIO:
I fear some calamity awaits the prince.

MARCELLUS:
Eh, he’s good with a dagger. You’d be surprised.

HORATIO:
You think he’ll simply waltz in there and spit
His uncle like a Christmas goose? Ha!
The title page declares for all to see:
To Hamlet must befall some tragedie!
[Exit Horatio]

MARCELLUS:
That guy worries too much.
[Exit]

Scene II. Elsinore. A room of state in the Castle.

[Enter Claudius King of Denmark]

KING:
It’s good to be the king!
[Looks out window, humming ‘Old Town Road’. Hamlet enters, holding a dagger, and tiptoes up behind the King; stabs the King in the kidney.]
I got the horses in the ba-AAACK!
[King dies]

HAMLET:
A serviceable villain, as dutious to the vices…
Shit, wrong play.
[Enter Horatio, followed by Marcellus]

HORATIO:
My lord, be careful… Oh! The deed is done.

MARCELLUS:
Well, that’s that then.
[Enter Polonius, Ophelia, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, Gertrude the Queen, and Laertes]

QUEEN:
Hamlet! What have I told you about stabbing people in the kidney!

HAMLET:
Aww, Mom!

LAERTES:
Better him than us, I say!

POLONIUS, OPHELIA, ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN:
Yup. Yup. Couldn’t have said it better. Yup. You got that right. Uh huh. [etc.]

HAMLET:
Right, then. Rosencrantz, get rid of this body, would you?

GUILDENSTERN:
I’m Guildenstern.

HAMLET:
Whatever. Just stack him with the Titus Andronicus corpses.

GUILDENSTERN [aside]:
Small part, they said. No physical labor, they said.
[Guildenstern drags King offstage]

HAMLET [clapping hands]:
So! Who’s hungry?

HORATIO:
But that can’t be the end of the story, my lord.

HAMLET:
Why the bloody hell not?

HORATIO:
Look you, there! Beyond the lip of the stage,
Beyond the fourth wall, rotund patrons
Of the arts, Ivy League alumni
With canes and pacemakers and hearing aids,
And expectations! So many expectations!
This is supposed to be a five act play!
You need to struggle and throw an occasional fit,
To rave and cry and curse the plight of man,
And only then strike the deadly blow.
You need, in short, to give the folks a show!

HAMLET:
Do I? But isn’t it simpler this way?

HORATIO:
It’s simpler, of course. But where’s the drama?

HAMLET:
Drama? Pfft.

HORATIO:
Tragedie is what they came to see!
The backs of nobles bent by human frailty…
The dizzy downward spiral of pain and misfortune…
The dead! And the hollowed-out hopes
Of those who limp away with their lives.

HAMLET [to audience]:
You people are sick!

HORATIO:
Be that as it may, they paid good coin
To see the prince of Denmarke lose it all.
They came to stroke their chins at Hamlet’s fall.

HAMLET:
My fall? Why mine?

MARCELLUS [clearing throat]:
Your name is on the play, my lord.

HAMLET:
But still! What about you, Horatio? How about they watch you suffer instead?

HORATIO:
Me, my lord?

HAMLET:
Yes! Your tragic flaw is… let’s see… it’s that you can’t leave well enough alone. Will that do? What do you guys think?

MARCELLUS, LAERTES, QUEEN, POLONIUS, OPHELIA, ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN:
Yup. Yup. Couldn’t have said it better. Yup. You got that right. Uh huh. [etc.]

HORATIO:
No, no, it’s okay! Two scenes is plenty! Forget I said anything!

HAMLET:
Marcellus?

MARCELLUS:
Say no more, my lord. [stabs Horatio]

HORATIO:
Now cracks a noble heart!
[dies]

HAMLET:
Guildencrantz? Could you…?
[Guildenstern sighs heavily and drags Horatio offstage.]

POLONIUS:
Well done, my lord! You said something about food?

HAMLET:
Yes, food! ahem To eat… or not to eat?
[dramatic pause]
How is that even a question! Funeral baked meats anyone? The larder is simply stuffed with them!

MARCELLUS, LAERTES, QUEEN, POLONIUS, OPHELIA, ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN:
Yup. Yup. Couldn’t have said it better. Yup. You got that right. Uh huh. [etc.]
[Exeunt]