Hamlet-911 by Ann-Marie MacDonald


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Hamlet-911 by Ann-Marie MacDonald

A serious comedy, set in the present day at the Stratford Festival. Middle-aged actor, Guinness Menzies is best known as a television star. He jumps at the chance to play Hamlet on the Stratford Festival stage, largely to impress his father, a renowned Shakespearean actor. Guinness and his wife have a year-old baby daughter. Although Guinness's wife is younger than he is, she is playing Gertrude, Hamlet's mother. Their marriage is tested by a number of on and offstage life events until, on the day of a fateful student matinée, it erupts in crisis. Guinness finds himself in the Underworld, a bewildering, hilarious and terrifying realm where the ghost of a dead comedian (Yorick?) acts as his guide and tormentor. Meanwhile, in the real world, a fourteen year old boy, Jeremy, has reached out to Guinness online in hopes of getting help with his essay on Hamlet before he comes to the student matinée with his school. Guinness, however, has ignored the boy. Jeremy, facing his own crisis, is desperate to make a connection with a caring father figure. He stumbles into an online relationship with an internet predator whose motivations are anything but life-affirming. In the Underworld, Guinness comes face to face with himself and narrowly survives the encounter. Can he, however, reach Jeremy in time to commit one selfless and redemptive act? And can he find his way home again, and seize the chance to be a better husband and father... a better man?

Produced at the Stratford Festival, Stratford ON, 2022

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Play with Music
Run time: 90 minutes
Content note: Suicidal ideation and violence are depicted in staged excerpts of Shakespeare's "Hamlet" as well as in the original text of "Hamlet-911".

Cast size: 25 actors
Male roles: 5
Female roles: 6
Casting note: Many roles are doubled. There is a chorus of 8 young teenagers who are non-speaking, and appear briefly at the end of the play.