What is he trying to DO with this line? I can understand that he might have just noticed his mother laughing or flirting or something and so this line might come from there. But why say it to Ophelia? And why make this two hour crack? Has it been two hours since they had their nunnery scene? Is there some sense that he’s comparing Ophelia to his mother – trying to encourage merriness in her after their difficult letter returning scene? Like, there’s a sense of – “There’s my mother doing just fine after the death of her husband. Maybe you could cheer up too, two hours after our breakup.” Or “I’m like my mother – see? We’re both laughing after my father’s death. Look at us making merry.”
But also – his father is about to die again within these two hours in the sense that the show they’re about to see features a re-enactment of his death. Maybe it’s fore-shadowing.
And the actual news of how he died has happened within those two hours as well, meta-theatricaly – even though he died before the play started, we discover it in the two hours of the play (Well, three or four when it’s played all the way through.)
It could be a meta-meta-theatre moment.