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  • Kate Forest

The Play’s Barely the Thing


We were so fortunate to visit Sweden and Denmark last month. We spent time with friends we hadn’t seen in a long time, and visited countries filled with warm people, rich culture, and delicious food. Important food fact: Danish, the pastries, aren’t Danish. They’re Vienna Bread (wienerbrød) because they were first made in Denmark by Viennese chefs. Still amazingly great with a cup a coffee.

I promise not to bore you with pictures of me pointing a famous landmarks. You can google those landmarks and get better pictures of them, unblemished by my presence.

But I do want to discuss the Kronborg Castle in the city of Elsinore, Denmark. This is the model for the Shakespeare play “Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.” We were lucky that when we visited, actors were stationed around the slot (which is castle in Danish, and it makes me giggle to say it) enacting scenes from the play. It really brought the experience to life and we had a great time.

Nothing I am about to say should in no way be taken as a slight against the slot (hee hee) or the people who preserve the history, or even about Shakespeare. But let me state that Hamlet, the play, isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

Don’t get me wrong. I like Shakespeare plays. And having an offspring who is a theater kid, I’ve seen a lot of productions, professional and amateur, and I enjoy them. But Hamlet, although considered one of Shakespeare’s best, if not the best, sucks.

(so moody)

Here’s the basic outline. Hamlet’s dad was poisoned by his uncle who marries his mother. He learns this from his dad’s ghost. This makes Hamlet sad. Also Hamlet likes Ophelia, who as far as I can tell is the weakest, most boring character Will S ever wrote and I was relieved when she drowned herself (spoiler, she drowns herself after Hamlet accidentally murders her dad).

(even more moody)

Plenty of Shakespeare’s plays have twists and turns and plots that keep you riveted. But this one is seriously dull. Even the big “Oops, I killed the wrong guy” scene isn’t that great. We all know Hamlet’s going to kill the wrong guy. We saw him hide back there.

(not so shocking)

Still, if you have the chance, go to Denmark, go to Elsinore, eat the Vienna bread. And you might as well see the play. It is the thing after all.


© 2015 by KATE FOREST