On Saturday night I played Hamlet in the LARP version of the play. I was very excited and somewhat apprehensive about embodying my favourite ever Shakespearean character and doing him justice. Turns out I got too far into the role, because I’ve spent the last two nights unable to sleep as I go through all the things I did wrong, worked out what I should have done and how I should have spoken and generally over-thought things.

The Shifting Forest Storyworks game is set at a dramatic point in the play, a flashpoint moment where things could go any way. Hamlet has recently killed Polonius (thinking he’s the King) and hasn’t told anyone where the body is, Claudius is sending Hamlet to England, Laertes is returning from France, pissed off about the death of Polonius, Hamlet has already failed to kill Claudius a couple of times and has revealed to his mother that he’s been visited by the Ghost of his dead father and told her off.

Awkwardest Family Photo. Claudius and Gertrude were excellent to play against and were very good at both manipulating me and taking my shit. In the game I had intended to be a slightly fae, slightly mad Hamlet who was plotting to kill his Uncle. When the game actually started though I was filled with rage about all the crap that was going on and used every opportunity I could to complain about being sent to England. It seemed to be a surprise to a lot of people that I hadn’t chosen to go myself, and over the course of the night there was some consternation that it was just me, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern going – no entourage of palace guards.

I had fun being very rude to the King, turning and walking away when I was bored with him and being mean to my mother, while also doing everything she asked of me. Horatio was awesome, I was very happy that I had a proper right hand man and someone I knew I could trust.

I spent some time ignoring Ophelia. Then my mother told me I had distressed her (I can’t even remember if she said it was that evening, or events in the past) and so I flamboyantly went to Ophelia and apologised loudly. This was interrupted by her brother appearing in a rage, and I made myself scarce-ish. Later in the night I pissed her off by talking about how I was probably going to go and marry some foreign princess to strengthen Denmark’s political stance and she got all huffy and walked off. Later on again we managed to talk openly and honestly when I found her sitting alone on the stairs.

Between us (we thought, although it was all the King’s idea it turns out) we managed to decide to get married, that way I could stay in Denmark and “get things done” but after a wee while thinking I had managed a ridiculously happy ending, I messed it all up. Ophelia pressed me to tell her what I knew about her father’s death and I was reluctant to say. She assured me that she could forgive me anything, but it turns out not so much. She freaked out, panicked, cried and refused to tell Laertes, and then went off and died. This, understandably, made Laertes very suspicious of me and he harassed me to tell him what was going on.

I had an excellent few conversations with ‘the boys’ and made many off-colour jokes with Marcellus about sheathing swords in likely ladies. My mother told me off thoroughly at several times in the night and I told her off right back. I was a little bit mad sometimes, and a lot angry most of the time.

I managed to procure the letter Guildenstern had been given ordering my death in England. Nick (Rosencrantz) and I had a number of very intense conversations about this, in which I threatened to kill his brother and he tried to tell me to think things through and we kept getting interrupted. Finally he revealed that he was, in fact, on my side but he didn’t want to be implicated. He handed over the letter in time and when Ophelia turned up dead I used the anger from that to confront Claudius in front of everyone. He claimed it was a forgery, despite it clearly having his seal on it, etc, I yelled at him for a bit, worked myself into a froth and then stabbed him. It was awesome.

Unfortunately for me about then Laertes came over and was all “why did Ophelia kill herself?” and I was slightly high on my success with killing kings and I admitted that I was in fact the reason that Polonius was dead. Laertes of course, immediately tried to kill me. Luckily for me, I had friends. Intimidating Marcellus and peace-making Horatio got in between us and I let down my guard. I tried to talk him down, he threw away his sword and Marcellus and Horatio moved aside. Laertes grabbed my dagger and stabbed me with it and I died, speaking my final words to Horatio. I actually told him he should be king, but afterwards I wondered if Gertrude would keep the throne, even without a husband? I also told Horatio to forgive Leartes which turned out to be the only thing that kept him alive. So, I was a good guy at the end anyway, if slightly murderous.

My only regrets from the game? I didn’t use my soliloquy super-power to stop the game and make everyone listen to me dither. Should have, but I was waiting for a natural time in the action. This was, of course, a mistake, since there is nothing natural about soliloquys. Ah well.

I am kind of sad that I died, but it makes sense that I did. Sneaky sneaky Bryn and his clever clever ways. At least my mother didn’t die.

I am sad I didn’t rickroll Ellen/Ophelia by proclaiming that I would, in fact, never give her up, or let her down. Although, it’s probably got that I didn’t because I’m sure that would be justifiable provocation and I would have been slapped.

It’s actually the first time I’ve died in a LARP since a cowboys game my brother ran at a Mega Roleplaying weekend in Hokio when I was about 19. I kind of liked it. I especially loved playing such a pro-active character. The last game I played was Snow White, which I loved, but my character didn’t have a lot of power to change things. Hamlet totally did 🙂

Thanks very much to Scott for running this game, and letting me be Hamlet!

More photos.


One thought on “Hamlet

  1. Damn… you realise you may have blown your once in a lifetime chance for a soliloquy with an audience…

    I remember that cowboy game, but not you dying 🙂

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