It is midnight and time for changing of the guards. Bernardo and Francisco are waiting for their nightly replacements, Horatio and Marcellus. When Horatio and Marcellus arrive, the four of them begin discussing a ghost that they have seen and are trying to decide if it is for real. Sure enough, here comes the ghost.
Bernardo, Francisco & Marcellus push Horatio forward, telling him, “You are the smart one, YOU go talk to it.” Bernardo says it looks like their dead king. Horatio says it scares him. Finally, Horatio says to the ghost, “Hey you! What are you doing wandering around this time of night and what business do you have going around looking like our dead king??”
Horatio’s friends then accuse him of offending the ghost. (“See it stalks away!) The ghost leaves without speaking to Horatio, so the boys continue discussing whether that was the ghost of their beloved dead King Hamlet, as he appeared to be dressed as he was when he fought against Norway. The ghostly king comes back and they try to fight it. Of course the dead king isn’t interested. He just floats away. They decide to tell Prince Hamlet that they saw his dead daddy.
Claudius, who has taken over as king since King Hamlet’s untimely demise, comes into the room with Queen Gertrude, who he married after her husband, King Hamlet’s, death. Claudius is King Hamlet’s brother, and poisoned King Hamlet by putting poison in his ear, so he could take over the crown. Nobody knows this at this point of course. Laertes is there, as well as Laertes’ father, Polonius. Laertus is asking King Claudius’ permission to go back to France. Claudius then asks if that is okay with Polonius. Polonius says to the king, “Whatever, let him go.”
Claudius and Gertrude then turn their attention to Prince Hamlet, and ask him why he’s still moping. Hamlet says, “Duh, my father just died you idiots.” They say, “Yeah so? It is how nature intended, we live, we die… no need to go moping around like you are, you are depressing us dammit.”
Everyone leaves but Prince Hamlet, who goes on to lament the fact that his own mother couldn’t keep her legs together for a month before she married her own husband’s brother, that strumpet.
In come Horatio, Bernardo and Marcellus to tell Prince Hamlet about seeing his father’s ghost. They tell Prince Hamlet that his poor dead father looked sad. Hamlet says he will sit with them that night so he, too, can see his father’s ghost.
Laertus is talking to his sister, Ophelia. He is telling Ophelia that it is all well and good to have a crush on Prince Hamlet, but the prince has too many responsibilities to do her justice. Polonius then walks in and sees Laertus still there. He tells him goodbye again. (Laertus is going back to France, remember?) Polonius then wrangles out of Ophelia what she and her brother were discussing. She tells him about Prince Hamlet attempting to woo her. Polonius tells her that Hamlet is just trying to get into her pants and it best that she stay away from him. Ophelia agreed.
Prince Hamlet, Horatio and Marcellus go to the platform where the ghostly king was seen the night before. After a long and seemingly pointless speech on the part of Prince Hamlet, the ghost of Prince Hamlet’s father makes his appearance. He beckons for Hamlet to come to him. Horatio and Marcellus tell him the ghost is probably trying to lure Prince Hamlet to his death. Prince Hamlet is determined to see why the ghost wants him to follow. Horatio and Marcellus grab hold of Prince Hamlet to stop him going, but he goes and follows the ghost anyway. They decide they’d better follow the ghost and Prince Hamlet because “something is rotten in Denmark.”
Prince Hamlet and the ghost are having a conversation. The ghost tells Prince Hamlet that he is the spirit of Prince Hamlet’s father and that he has to go to hell to pay for his crimes, and that if it weren’t forbidden he could tell Prince Hamlet tales that would curl his hair. The ghost then goes on to tell Prince Hamlet that he is to revenge his father’s foul and unnatural murder at the hands of Claudius, who poured poison into his ear. The ghost leaves and Horatio and Marcellus finally locate Hamlet. They talk him into telling them what the ghost said. He tells them that the new king is a villain. They say, “Oh yeah, we already knew that.”
Prince Hamlet then swears them to secrecy.
End of Scene 1.
To Be Continued….
On to Part 2