HAMLET. (10 Minute version) (Group 2’s version) (From The Vault)

How Hamlet Should Have Ended.

Yeldho Shem.
12 min readMay 21, 2022
Bloody poster for a bloody play.

Dramatis Personae










The Most Lamentable Comedy and Most Cruel Death of the King Gonzago


a tragedy in one act

(KING HAMLET stays outside. 5 chairs are arranged in front of the stage. SHAKESPEARE is wandering here and there, wearing a mask, and comes to the center of the stage and starts speaking once the real audience is settled down.)

SHAKESPEARE: “This is the first draft of The Gonzago by me, William Shakespeare. This play is about a murder committed in Vienna. Gonzago is the duke’s name, and his wife is Baptista. You’ll see soon enough. It’s a piece of garbage. Originally, I had planned it as a one-act show; a relief during the time when theatres were shut during the outbreak. However, the other actors in my company added a line here, a soliloquy there, and pretty soon it became a tragedy and a travesty of my original plan. Also, some of the local actors, unemployed and penniless due to frequent closures, demanded parts in the show and inevitably it got out of hand. When you work in theatre you work with what you have, so you have to make lots of compromises. However, the dream of putting on my original show never died for me. So here tonight is my original play, my original one-act version without all the extra baggage, though the only change is the title into “The Mousetrap”, made by my benefactor and sponsor. It’s still the same show and the same plot that everyone is familiar with. Like the longer version, Gonzago is a middle-aged Austrian king and ceteris paribus. It is noontime here at the castle. You must be wondering why I’m wearing a mask: it is beca- oh, something wicked comes this way.”


SHAKESPEARE: “My lord, I have news for you.”

(He should be in the center, looking at the audience) PRINCE HAMLET: “My lord, I have news for you. When you mix red paint with white paint, it becomes pink paint! Imagine that!”

SHAKESPEARE: “What? Anyways, The Rude Mechanicals have reached, my lord. The best actors in the world, either for the proscenium stage, thrust stage, or theater in the round. Here they are now.”

(Just as SHAKESPEARE finishes his lines, the actors must enter through the sides. They should be side-by-side near SHAKESPEARE.)

PRINCE HAMLET: “Nice to see you!”

NICK BOTTOM: (bows down) “My lord!”

PRINCE HAMLET: “Oh Nick, call me Puck.”

NICK BOTTOM: “What, the Puck?”

PRINCE HAMLET: (to FRANCIS FLUTE) “Flute, you had long hair (imitates) last time we met. What happened? You looked great in it.”

FRANCIS FLUTE: “My wife was jealous that I had more hair than her. (chuckles) Actually, it was so hard to maintain.”

PRINCE HAMLET: “Oh. That’s nice. (turns towards SNUG) As I had requested The Rude Mechanicals earlier via a messenger, are you ready for tonight?”

SNUG: “Yes, lord. It is.”

PRINCE HAMLET: “All right then.”

SHAKESPEARE: “Don’t use too many hand gestures; just do a few, gently, like this.”

SNUG: “But we have a problem, my lord. We forgot to bring the costume with us.”

SHAKESPEARE: “I’m out of here.”



NICK BOTTOM: “Lord, we have main items with us, but we don’t have the full set of costumes.”

FRANCIS FLUTE: (takes the hair extension and skirts out of his bag) “TATADA!!!”

PRINCE HAMLET: (rushes in front of them, shouting) “How will I take my revenge with this shoddy play? Go buy costumes! My revenge cannot wait.”


(KING CLAUDIUS and QUEEN GERTRUDE walk onto the stage from the back, OPHELIA behind them. When they reach their seat, OPHELIA removes their overcoat and places it on the chair.)

PRINCE HAMLET: (to the actors) “Make do with what you have. Act naturally at all costs. Exaggeration has no place in the theater, where the purpose is to represent reality.”

(PRINCE HAMLET goes towards the KING and QUEEN, bows and shakes hands. Meanwhile, OPHELIA serves the drink to them. KING refuses and QUEEN takes both the glasses and sips. At the same time, FRANCIS FLUTE wears the skirt and hair extension at one end of the stage.)

PRINCE HAMLET: (should not look at the audience. The conversation is between PRINCE HAMLET, KING CLAUDIUS and QUEEN GERTRUDE) “How’s my uncle doing? My lord, you performed in amateur dramatic productions in college, right?”

QUEEN GERTRUDE: (looks at KING CLAUDIUS) “Indeed he did, didn’t you? He was considered to be quite a good actor.”

PRINCE HAMLET: “What did you enact?”

KING CLAUDIUS: “So sweet of you, Gerty. I played Julius Caesar. I was killed in the Capitol. Brutus killed me.”

PRINCE HAMLET: (mutters) “Would you like to play it again?”


PRINCE HAMLET: “Nothing, my lord. Enjoy the play.”

SNUG: (on stage, looking at the audience) “By the next bell the play would begin. Everyone take your seats.” (mocks the bell sound.)

QUEEN GERTRUDE: “Come here, my dear son. Sit by me.”

PRINCE HAMLET: “No thanks, my mother. There’s a nicer piece of work right here.” (he sits down near OPHELIA.)

OPHELIA: “You’re in a good mood tonight, my lord.”


OPHELIA: “Yes, my lord.”

PRINCE HAMLET: “What can you do but be happy? Look how cheerful my mother is, only two hours after my father died.”

OPHELIA: (gasps) “No, my lord, it’s been four months.”


(KING HAMLET and QUEEN GERTRUDE enter from the side and walk, holding hands. They move their lips, appearing jolly. They sit down in the berth/center of the stage, with his head on “her” lap.)

PLAYER KING: “It’s been thirty years since we were married.”

PLAYER QUEEN: “I hope we stay in love for thirty more years! But I’m sad. You’ve been so gloomy lately that I worry something is wrong. You know very well how much I love you, and my fear is just as deep.”

PLAYER KING: “My love, I will have to leave you soon. My body is growing weak, and I will leave you behind in this beautiful world, honored and much loved. Perhaps you’ll find another husband — “

PLAYER QUEEN: “Oh, curse me if I take a second husband. When a woman takes a second husband, it’s because she’s killed off the first. (HAMLET laughs) Someone might marry a second time for money, but never for love. Any time I kissed my second husband in bed, I’d kill the first one all over again.”

PLAYER KING: “What we say and what we get are two different things. Love is quite unreliable. It is our fate that decides our future. You think now you’ll never remarry, but that thought will die with me, your first husband.”

PLAYER QUEEN: (caressing her hair) “I would rather be dead with you than be someone else’s wife. I swear by God.”

(Suddenly, KING HAMLET’s face appears in the smart class for a second.)

KING CLAUDIUS: (to the audience) “Did anyone see that?”

OPHELIA: “No, my lord.”

(KING CLAUDIUS watches the play.)

PLAYER KING: “I could feel the sincerity in your voice. Anyways, my love, let me get some sleep and escape from this hectic day.”

PLAYER QUEEN: Sleep tight, and may nothing come between us. (caresses him till HAMLET finishes his dialogue)

PRINCE HAMLET: “Mother, are you liking this play?”

QUEEN GERTRUDE: (sips the wine) “Meh, the lady’s overdoing it, I think.”

(Suddenly, KING HAMLET’s face appears in the smart class for a second.)

KING HAMLET: (through the smart class) “Didn’t you kill me?”

KING CLAUDIUS: (to the audience) “Did anyone see that?”

OPHELIA: “No, my lord.”

KING CLAUDIUS: (to SHAKESPEARE) “Do you know the plot? Is there anything offensive in it?”

SHAKESPEARE: “No, no, it’s just a joke. A fun family watch. Not offensive at all.”

KING CLAUDIUS: “What’s the play called?”

SHAKESPEARE: “It’s actually ‘The Murder Of Gonzago’, but the prince here insists that it must be called ‘The Mousetrap.’ You se -”

PRINCE HAMLET: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Let the guilty wince. We can watch without being bothered.”

(PLAYER CLAUDIUS enters from inside the teacher’s podium and walks towards the couple.)

PLAYER CLAUDIUS: (to the audience) “Evil thoughts, ready hands, the right poison, and the time is right too. The night is on my side, for no one can see me. (takes out a bottle from his pocket) You deadly mixture of weeds and plants, use your magic to steal this healthy person’s life away.”

(pours the poison into the PLAYER KING’s ears. PLAYER KING shivers and then lies still. PLAYER CLAUDIUS takes the crown from PLAYER KING and wears it on his head.)

PLAYER CLAUDIUS: “Whatever belongs to my brother is also mine -”

(PLAYER QUEEN pushes PLAYER KING down, gets up and holds PLAYER CLAUDIUS’s hand.)

PLAYER CLAUDIUS: “Even this too.”

(Suddenly, KING CLAUDIUS turns back and by pointing to the back door, shouts.)

KING CLAUDIUS: “Did anyone see that?”

OPHELIA: “No, my lord.”

(KING CLAUDIUS stands up.)

OPHELIA: “The king rises.”

PRINCE HAMLET: “What, frightened by a false fire?”

QUEEN GERTRUDE: “My lord, how are you feeling?”

SHAKESPEARE: “Stop the play.”

KING CLAUDIUS: “Turn on the lights. Get me out of here!”

SHAKESPEARE: “Lights, lights, get us some lights!”

(Only KING CLAUDIUS gets up and walks in the direction of the door, the rest all are seated and the PLAYERS are doing nothing on stage. KING CLAUDIUS opens the door and sees KING HAMLET.)

KING HAMLET: “Didn’t you kill me? Bastard.”

(KING CLAUDIUS closes the door, counts to five (in his mind) and takes a deep breath before opening the door. Sees no one outside. He again closes the door. Meanwhile, PRINCE HAMLET gets up, walks towards the smart class and takes something out from its behind and hides it behind his back. KING CLAUDIUS opens the door again and sees KING HAMLET.)

Both the HAMLETs (The PRINCE and The KING) sing: “Do you get déjà vu when she’s with you? / Do you get déjà vu? (Ah), hmm, / Do you get déjà vu, huh?”

(KING CLAUDIUS closes the door again. He turns to find PRINCE HAMLET near him.)

KING CLAUDIUS: “Did you see anything, my dear prince?”

PRINCE HAMLET: “No, my lord, nothing. It is just your hallucinations.” (pauses to extend his hands sidewards) “Come here.”

(He extends one arm and walks towards the KING and hugs him tightly. Seconds later, the KING CLAUDIUS shivers multiple times and screams. PRINCE HAMLET pushes away the KING CLAUDIUS, who lands on the floor with blood on his shirt — he had been stabbed by his nephew.)

KING CLAUDIUS: “Et tu, Brute?”

PRINCE HAMLET: “Oh, so you remember the lines?”

KING CLAUDIUS: (with hands over his “wound) “So, so, so this play … was a trap for me, isn’t it? You’re taking revenge, right?”

PRINCE HAMLET: “Which part of the title The Mousetrap didn’t you understand, my lord?”

(He then proceeds to beat/kick the shit out of his uncle till blood splatters on his face. The otherwise neatly arranged hair gets disarranged. QUEEN GERTRUDE gasps, OPHELIA screams and the PLAYERS run away to the end of the class, while SHAKESPEARE is peacefully taking down the notes. QUEEN GERTRUDE stands up from her seat and walks to the dead body of KING CLAUDIUS. Facing HAMLET, she speaks.)

QUEEN GERTRUDE: “What have you done, my son? You killed your own father.”

PRINCE HAMLET: “No. I am Prince Hamlet of Denmark, the son of the noble King Hamlet. I will never be this fraud Claudius’ son. He got what he deserved.”

QUEEN GERTRUDE: “What have you done, son? What have you done, son?”

PRINCE HAMLET: “He got what he deserved. Regicide is not a crime that should go unpunished. (plays with his sword.) What have you done, mother? What have you done, mother? Helping in your husband’s murder, just seconds after giving a monologue about your love for him and hastily marrying the self-imposed King to retain your power over the court… all in my absence? What have you done?”

QUEEN GERTRUDE: “I never loved your father. He didn’t care whether I existed or not. Meanwhile, Claudius loved me with all his heart. Denmark’s a prison, it is He who saved me from it. Your father was an obstacle to be removed — for the greater good of this kingdom… and us.”

PRINCE HAMLET: “See how cunningly you acted. Led your husband to sleep that he’ll never wake up from and conspires with his brother to eliminate him by pouring a deadly poison into his ears? Isn’t it romantic? (turns to the audience) We all saw it happening on stage, right?”

QUEEN GERTRUDE: “Here’s the smell of the blood still. All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. Oh, oh, oh!”

SHAKESPEARE: “Hey, that’s a good line!” (and jots it down.)

(Meanwhile, the QUEEN attempts to kill PRINCE HAMLET by taking KING CLAUDIUS’ sword and trying to run to where PRINCE HAMLET is standing, but suddenly falls. OPHELIA gasps and helps her to the nearest chair.)

PRINCE HAMLET: “Do you feel sweaty?” (OPHELIA nods while crying) “A small paralysis of limbs — as if they are attached to some heavyweights?” (OPHELIA takes and drops QUEEN’s hand which quickly falls down) “Hallucinations, life flashing in front of you?”

(QUEEN GERTRUDE faintly nods while HAMLET gets onto the stage after taking KING CLAUDIUS’ crown in his hands and scoops the “blood” (sauce) from KING’s body. Once on stage, he faces the audience and licks it.)

PRINCE HAMLET: “Good. Didn’t you find the wine unnaturally tasty today? It has a small dose of poison, the same one you poured into my father’s ears, just enough to subject you to slow death.”

(Meanwhile, in between her loud sobs, OPHELIA produces an empty bottle — similar to what had been shown on stage — towards the audience. Her cry slowly turns into a laugh. OPHELIA checks the pulse and gestures to PRINCE HAMLET that she is dead.)

PRINCE HAMLET: “Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, Claudius and Gertrude are dead.” (He then puts KING’s crown in his own head.) “Now I am the King. The just king. Two months of instability is behind us.”

(Meanwhile, OPHELIA takes the crown from QUEEN GERTRUDE and wears it. She steps over GERTRUDE’s body, goes to the ex-KING CLAUDIUS’ seat to take his coat, goes to the center stage and makes PRINCE HAMLET wear it.)

OPHELIA: “King Hamlet, the true heir to the Danish throne.”

PRINCE HAMLET: “To be, or not to be the king, that’s the question. I chose the former. Queen Ophelia, the queen of the mighty country.”

(Together they exit the center stage and sit where CLAUDIUS and GERTRUDE were sitting earlier. SHAKESPEARE goes near them, kneels and kisses now King Hamlet.)

SHAKESPEARE: “All hail King Hamlet! Majesty, allow me to speak a few words.”

(PRINCE HAMLET grunts. SHAKESPEARE enters the stage. He looks at the dead body of KING CLAUDIUS and says “Ass”, looks at the body of QUEEN GERTRUDE and repeats “Ass”, points to himself to say “I”. He then proceeds to look at the audience and shouts “Nation.”)

SHAKESPEARE: (to himself) “Ass-ass-i-nation. What a word to describe today’s events.” (proceeds to deliver the monologue at the end describing his intentions to make fictionalize this into a play and to present it in England whenever he reaches back from Denmark, with a stellar cast. He calls it:)

The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark


The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (William Shakespeare) — Main Story, Dialogues, Characters

Hamlet. A One Act Comedy Adapted from Shakespeare (Gerald P. Murphy) — Main Story, Opening Monologue

The Midsummer Night’s Dream (William Shakespeare) — Characters

The Real Inspector Hound (Tom Stoppard) — Story Structure

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (Tom Stoppard) — Mention

The Tragedie of Macbeth (William Shakespeare) — Dialogues, Character Motivation

deja vu (Olivia Rodrigo) — Dialogue

This a play written by Yeldho Shem Mathew, with help from Alishma Rose Shafi, for our CAE 2 English (Revisiting The Classics) Assignment, where we had to adapt a classic of our into a play. Having considered various ideas, plays and classics, we zeroed on Hamlet due to its unique play-within-a-play structure, an opportunity to stage a violent play in a place where “code of conduct” had to be maintained and as a homage to Sir Tom Stoppard.



Yeldho Shem.

Telling terrible stories is my superpower. Safety Not Guaranteed.