Extra deaths in Shakespeare's Hamlet?
June 16, 2008 12:57 PM   Subscribe

Productions of Hamlet in which an additional character dies unexpectedly? (spoilers for a 400-year-old play and modern productions)

One currently running production does this (once the show closes, I'll comment to give you the details). I saw it, and was amazed -- then curious whether it'd ever been done before.

A friend suggested that Martin Sheen's Hamlet, from 1968's Public Theater production in Central Park, may have done something similar with a Vietnam-y setting. Unfortunately I can't find information about that assertion, either way.

People expected to die in Hamlet:
-Hamlet's dad (offstage)
-Fortinbras's dad (offstage)

Know about a production with an even higher death toll? I'm interested in anything you've got -- from the local production in a church basement on up. The more documentation, the better, obviously. I have access to jstor and other scholarly resources, so feel free to link those articles as well as any others you find. Thanks!
posted by booksandlibretti to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I don't have an answer for you, but I would suggest contacting the Folger Shakespeare Library (here's their Ask a Librarian form). A researcher there might be able to give you some leads.
posted by arco at 1:10 PM on June 16, 2008

This post describes a 1999 production by the Actors' Theatre of Louisville in which Horatio is executed.

This article may be discussing the same production.

(And, I mean, it's gotta be Horatio who gets killed, right, if you're gonna kill someone--nobody cares about Fortinbras, and who else is left?)
posted by phoenixy at 1:15 PM on June 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

Oh, the article I linked to also says Osric was killed by Fortinbras at the end of Branagh's film version of Hamlet. I certainly don't remember that, but it's been a while since I saw it.
posted by phoenixy at 1:18 PM on June 16, 2008

If memory serves (and I'm pretty sure it does), in this production of Hamlet, which I attended in 2005, Hamlet killed Horatio in the final scene.
posted by Prospero at 1:20 PM on June 16, 2008

posted by grumblebee at 1:22 PM on June 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

Horatio's would be the only other death that would matter -- if he dies, who would speak to the yet unknowing world how these things came about?
posted by pracowity at 1:23 PM on June 16, 2008

Martin Sheen played Hamlet in the version you mention, but it was Joseph Papp who directed it. Papp's version with Sheen was reviewed by Time magazine, which doesn't mention any extra deaths, but does make it quite clear that the production was pretty unusual (which, given that it was directed by Papp, is hardly surprising).

I do remember Osric being killed in Branagh's version, but don't recall who did it.

Prospero- The article you linked to makes it very clear that you are correct. I seem to recall hearing about that, though didn't see it.
posted by cerebus19 at 1:33 PM on June 16, 2008

-The Player King in "The Mousetrap" / "The Murder of Gonzago"
posted by grumblebee at 1:36 PM on June 16, 2008

Slightly off-topic, but I heard that the death toll in Shakespeare's plays was limited by the fact that there was no curtain. So, you had to have enough living characters to drag the dead ones off the stage.

Kill 'em all, it's what he would have wanted...
posted by TheophileEscargot at 11:00 PM on June 16, 2008

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