“When sorrows come, they come not single spies
But in battalions.”
Considered by many to be Shakespeare’s greatest play, Hamlet is a dark and brooding psychological thriller. Encompassing political intrigue, humour, obsession, murder, tragedy, desire, madness and some of the most touching lines in the English language about what it means to be alive, Hamlet has it all.
Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, encounters the ghost of his dead father one night on the castle ramparts. Describing how he was killed by his brother Claudius, who has now supplanted him on the throne, the ghost orders Hamlet to avenge his murder. Appalled by the rapid remarriage of his mother, Gertrude, to his uncle, Claudius, Hamlet initially seems bent on revenge.
However, he sinks into a deep melancholy and even apparent madness, at what he sees as the betrayal of his noble father. Once his father’s ghost reappears to whet his son’s ‘almost blunted purpose’, the pace of the action picks up in alarming ways.
King Claudius is ambitious, ruthless and as suspicious of Hamlet as Hamlet is of Claudius. The royal palace of Elsinore soon becomes a hot-bed of spying, deception, murder and revenge and many characters become swept up in the drama’s tragic momentum.