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Watch this extract from the production, filmed on stage in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in 2004.
Does Ophelia have any control over her life? Told to act as a trap for Hamlet while her father and Claudius watch and hear everything, she is placed in a cruel dilemma. If he challenges her directly, will she be able to lie convincingly?
Immediately after the moment seen in this extract, Claudius decides Hamlet is dangerous enough to be sent to England. Should this scene be threatening?
Act 3 Scene 1
Ophelia waits for Hamlet while her father Polonius and Claudius hide so they can overhear them. When Hamlet appears, Ophelia tells him she wants to give back some gifts he's given her. He denies that he gave them to her and that he ever loved her. Ophelia is bewildered but Hamlet says all men are 'arrant knaves' and she would be better off in a nunnery. When Hamlet asks where Polonius is, Ophelia lies. Hamlet becomes angry, raging that women are all two-faced liars. The extract ends with Ophelia upset and fearing that Hamlet's gone mad.
Ophelia - Meg FraserHamlet - Toby Stephens
Filmed, edited and produced for the RSC by Cornucopia Productions.
Actor Meg Fraser plays Ophelia. In rehearsals for any play, the company examine the relationships between the characters. Here Meg explains how in Hamlet, each scene is a journey in itself and they have played this scene in several different ways in rehearsals.
Director Michael Boyd explains the lack of power that women like Ophelia had in Shakespeare's day. The only way for her to increase her family's fortunes is to marry well. But with Hamlet now seeming to be mad, he's no longer a good match for her.
Designer Tom Piper went through many different ideas for costumes for Ophelia. Here, he explains why the finished costume covers her up so much!
How does Hamlet's relationship with Ophelia change as a result of this scene? Director Michael Boyd discusses what happens next and Hamlet's reaction.
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