You are on page 1of 3

Q. The Dark Lady Players are doing a new production of Hamlet in New York this summer.

It is called Hamlet’s Apocalypse. What does Hamlet have to do with the Apocalypse? Research has shown that the play is actually a comic parody of the Last Day, the Apocalypse, in the Book of Revelation. Many of the characters are allegories for figures in the Book of Revelation. But in Hamlet, unlike in the Bible, the Last Day goes terribly wrong and everyone dies—including Christ and his Bride. There is no new heavenly city of Jerusalem at the end, just a Fort-in-Brass. So it’s a parody and that is what our production will show. Q. So lets start with the Ghost of old Hamlet. Who is he and why is he in hell? The reason Hamlet’s father is in Hell at the beginning of the play is that he is Hyperion, the Greek god of light who was similar to Apollo—the god of the sun, fire and plagues—who was imprisoned in the pit Tartarus. His equivalent in the Book of Revelation is Apollyon, the destroyer— who was the king of Hell. Hamlet is very clear that his father may be the Devil and says about his ghost that “The spirit that I have seen/May be the devil: and the devil hath power/ To assume a pleasing shape.” This is how he was illustrated in a woodcut from Pilgrim’s Progress; as the Devil with big wings. Q. So is it because Hamlet is the son of the Devil that he wears black? Yes. As Hamlet says “let the devil wear black for I'll have a suit of sables”. Ophelia says that when he visited her he looked “As if he had been loosed out of hell”. His first identity is as Hyperion’s firery son, the sun god Helios. We see him here in the background looking at Ophelia and wearing a large sun symbol.

But in addition to being the son of the devil he is also the Anti-Christ and in fact his character borrows from THREE different Anti-Christs. Firstly in the beginning of the play Hamlet’s melancholy and the references to Wittenberg allude to the so-called second Anti-Christ, Martin Luther. That’s what he is in the famous Graveyard scene. Then in the middle of the play Hamlet’s odd interests in the theater and acting, and the killing of Claudius echo the first Anti-Christ, the Emperor Nero. Thirdly in the last part of the play, his return from the sea and his attack on the Christ figure Laertes echo the original Anti-Christ, the Beast from the Sea, from the Book of Revelation. Except in Hamlet the Beast kills the Christ figure. Q. So Hamlet is the son of the Devil and represents a triple anti-Christ. That explains why his character is so unpleasant. What about his mother Gertrude? Shakespeare scholar Linda Hoff has shown that Gertrude is the character of the Whore of Babylon, who is drunk on blood and is seated on the Beast from the Land. Like the Whore of Babylon, Gertrude is holding up her cup and killed by drinking from it. Then King Claudius is the scarlet Beast from the Land, which is associated with Rome. That is why Claudius has the name of a Caesar and is identified as a beast covered head to toe in ‘gules’ which is a word meaning blood. So we will costume Gertrude in a way that makes her identity very obvious. We cant give Claudius 7 heads, but we try to make him look beastly. Q.What about the other characters? Take Osric. He comes at the end of the play in a very odd way. Why does he have such an odd name? His name means the Rule of God. In the Book of Revelation there is a character who will rule the new world with a rod of iron, which comes straight out of Psalm 27. But in Hamlet Osric is not a terrifying figure at

all, he is a bit of a fop, a dandy, a water fly. And his rule of God goes terribly wrong. Everyone dies. Q. So what about Ophelia. Why does she die? And why do you show her as being pregnant? Ophelia is an allegory for both the Woman Crowned with the Sun, from Revelation, and also for her equivalent the Virgin Mary. So when Hamlet enters Ophelia’s closet when she is sewing, this is a parody annunciation scene, and he makes her pregnant through his gaze—like the sunbeam does in pictures of the Annunciation. But then she turns up with all the herbs that cause abortions and gets rid of the baby. And at the end she has a coronet and sings Psalms and for a moment floats in the air, as if she was going to ascend to heaven, like Mary. But instead she falls to her death. So it is a black comedy. Q. A very black comedy. So look out this summer for a radical new approach to Hamlet, by the Dark Lady Players called Hamlet’s Apocalypse. You will be able to get details of when it is playing from www.darkladyplayers.com.