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Watch this extract from the production, filmed during rehearsals in the Ashcroft Room at the Swan Theatre in 2004.
Nowadays, we're used to questioning the integrity of politicians and should equally apply this scepticism to the dealings of the court at Elsinore. All the traditional court figures appear in this first public scene of the play. Affairs of state are attended to; everything seems even and well-governed. But beneath the surface are layers of intrigue - deceit, artifice and manipulation.
Act 1 Scene 2
This extract opens with Laertes asking to return to France. Before the death of Old Hamlet, Laertes had been in France and Hamlet was in Wittenburg. Claudius give his consent to Laertes.
Then Claudius turns his attention to Hamlet who is still wearing black clothes in mourning for his father. Hamlet's mother, Gertrude, urges him to cast off his 'colour' and Claudius, trying to give fatherly advice, tells Hamlet that his extended mourning is inappropriate.
Claudius reminds Hamlet that in the event of his death, Hamlet would succeed him to the throne and for this reason, Claudius does not want Hamlet going back to study in Wittenburg. Gertrude agrees with Claudius, preferring that her son stay close to her. Hamlet reluctantly agrees to obey her.
When Claudius hears Hamlet's decision to stay, he proposes celebrations.
Hamlet - Toby StephensGertrude - Sian ThomasClaudius - Clive WoodLaertes - Gideon Turner
Filmed, edited and produced for the RSC by Cornucopia Productions.
What kind of king and politician is Claudius? Actor Clive Wood explains.
Why is Polonius keen to send Laertes back to France? Richard Cordery, who plays Polonius, explains his motives.
The court in this production of Hamlet wear stiff formal attire which restricts their posture and movements. In turn, this physical restriction affects their behaviour.
Actor Toby Stephens, who plays Hamlet, explains how the clothing he wears in the production affects his movements and how changes in costume can indicate madness.
How would Claudius react to Hamlet? Actor Clive Wood, who plays Claudius, explains how he has decided to 'embrace' him more.
Director Michael Boyd explains Hamlet's options - and why him returning to Wittenberg is a difficult and dangerous option.
What happens after Claudius, Gertrude and the Court leave the room? Toby Stephens, playing Hamlet, rehearses the rest of the scene.
Filmed in the Ashcroft Room at the Swan Theatre in 2004 by Cornucopia Productions.
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