“To be or not to be, that is a question.” For more than 400 years, Hamlet, the protagonist of William Shakespeare’s tragedy of the same name, has enthralled countless dramatists and scholars. The play tells a tale about how Hamlet, the prince of Denmark, revenged his dead father, thus unfolding a real-life picture of England and Europe. It truly is a profound tragedy teeming with vivid characters through superb artistry as the highest achievement of Renaissance literature. Hamlet, Macbeth,King Lear and Othelloform the so-called “Four Tragedies of Shakespeare.” On the 400th anniversary of his death, NCPA drama A Midsummer Night’s Dream and opera Macbethhave been put on show. To explore the quintessence of this drama maestro, NCPA would bring us his other plays as well, especially much-expected Hamlet.
While Japanese planes rumbled and delivered bombs, ZHU Shenghao was busy translating Shakespeare’s play on his sickbed. Unfortunately, a bombardment brought his third manuscript into mid-air, where tiny pieces of paper were then fluttering around. ZHU himself just said, “To be or not to be, that is a question beyond reflection.” Then he crept out of bed and started work again. Now that the ship “Denmark Mail” whistled, ZHU felt as if he were seeing the Denmark royalty in Shakespeare’s Hamlet...
The new king Claudius got married with his brother’s widow after murdering him. At the wedding, his nephew Hamlet appeared in mourning, which made Claudius feel distracted and unfocused.
At the same time, Fortinbras, the prince of Norway, was about to lead his troops attacking Denmark, in hopes of retaking the land seized by dead King Hamlet and revenging his father on the king. At midnight, the late king’s ghost appeared, telling his son Hamlet how he was murdered by Claudius and asking him to take vengeance on the villain. All these made Hamlet to pretend madness for concealing his fear. Claudius invited Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, both old chums of Hamlet, to test the protagonist, who saw through their trick. Then by the chance that actors planned to perform in the court, Hamlet orchestrated a play within a play to reveal his uncle’s crime. But Hamlet himself went insane in his mother’s bedroom, killing Ophelia’s father Polonius.
Claudius ordered Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to escort Hamlet to England, and send the English king a letter that writes eliminating Hamlet. Instead, Hamlet persuaded the king into finishing them both and returned to Denmark. Laertes, Polonius’s son, got back to revenge his father on Hamlet, only to witness Ophelia drowned herself hysterically. So, Claudius instigated a duel between Laertes and Hamlets.
Laertes used a poisoned sword when fighting with Hamlet. And Claudius even privately prepared for Hamlet a poisoned wine, which Gertrude drank unexpectedly. As a result, both Laertes and Hamlet were wounded by poisoned swords. Then Laertes accused Claudius of committing the murder, and Hamlet stabbed Claudius to death furiously before passing his throne to upcoming Fortinbras Jr., who was coming here along with his troops.
The inter-royalty tragedy came to an end. So did ZHU Shenghao’s short life. In his 32 years’ life, ZHU rendered Shakespeare’s 32 plays. In Hamlet’s fantasia, SONG Qingru walked onto the stage, where she expressed endless thoughts of her great husband...