Lest more mischance On plots and errors, happen.

I’m not sure how likely this is. When all the major players in a tragedy are dead, it would take an extra bit of effort to get a lot of mischance happening.

Who’s going to be committing these errors?

Osric? Horatio himself?

I mean, if I had to choose someone to kick off some mischance, Osric would be the likeliest candidate – especially if it were some gossip related mischance. But Osric is also a witness – so, he knows, at least, the end of this story.

But a bunch of plots and errors really need someone to be putting them forth and there aren’t many possibilities left alive at this point.

But let this same be presently perform’d, Even while men’s minds are wild.

Wild is an interesting choice of words here. Is it a sense of unschooled? Uninformed? Because Horatio’s concern is that they don’t know the story yet – so is it his idea that his story will tame them? Are “men” going mad because they do not yet know the facts? Probably not. But the notion maybe is that the men’s minds are wild, as in a little out there. Like the men’s minds are the jungle and his story will hack through it and turn their minds into civilization.

A wild mind isn’t necessarily a bad thing, either. Natalie Goldberg wrote a book on creativity called Wild Mind and the goal was to access the wild mind, to let the wildness loose to create.

I’m sure that’s not the kind of wild mind Horatio is concerned with but it is the kind of wild mind I love.

Of that I shall have also cause to speak, And from his mouth whose voice will draw on more;

It’s a little tricky when you’re talking about the mouth and voice of a dead man. It evokes a kind of morbid ventriloquism. It is hard not to picture a dead Hamlet’s mouth being animated and voiced by Horatio. Horatio will prop him up on his knee, move his lips for him and say, “He has my dying voice!”

Of course that’s not what is actually going on here. It’s just Horatio saying he’s going to be able to able to drum up a bunch more support for Fortinbras’ claim to the throne when he reports what Hamlet had to say. It’s just – how he says it.

All this can I Truly deliver.

A podcast.

A folk song.

A classically inspired play.

A puppet show.

A theatrical event.

A rant.

An analysis.

An exploration of an idea.

A blog post.

An evening of songs.

An enthusiastic dance.

A performance.

A novel.

A short story.

A Feldenkrais lesson.

A Shakespeare lesson plan.

A bunch of nonsense.

An improvised mask performance.

A mask workhop.

A clown workshop.

A clown.

A breakfast burrito.

So shall you hear Of carnal, bloody and unnatural acts, Of accidental judgments, casual slaughters, Of deaths put on by cunning and forced cause, And, in this upshot, purposes mistook Fall’n on the investor’s heads.

Horatio chooses to emphasize some odd parts of this story for this bit. Like, if someone asked me what happened in Hamlet, I would list none of these things. It makes it sound as if there’s been nothing but death this whole time – which is not true. There’s just been a lot of it in the last act and it has with a stage full of dead people.

Why does Horatio frame it this way? Does he think it will make these particular guys listen more? Is he emphasizing the unnatural acts because he thinks these guys need a reason to stick around?

They know there’s been some death. The evidence is in front of them. Most people would want to hear how those deaths came to be – not a list of all the previous deaths.

It is oddly excessive. Especially for a guy with a stoic reputation.

It feels like someone turning up at the sinking of the Titanic and being told, “O have we had a lot of drownings! So many drownings. There were people who went down with the ship. People who fell overboard.  People whose lifeboats were leaky. Probably there were even people who drowned in the sea before they even got on the boat. So many drownings! I have got so many to tell you about!”

And let me speak to the yet unknowing world How these things came about:

And yet, we the audience are NOT the yet unknowing world. We are part of the knowing world. We just watched this play and everything Horatio is offering up, we have already seen. There is a kind of circularity to the play. At the beginning, we WERE part of the unknowing world. We had not yet seen what led to the deaths of these people. We were so unknowing, we did not even know they would die. In a way, this invocation of the unknowing world is an invocation of our earlier selves.

I know some hot shot director has started his production with the bodies on the stage and Fortinbras and the English ambassador coming in like – oh, whoa, what happened here and Horatio tells them, I’ll tell you the story and then the whole thing starts from the beginning. I’ve never seen it done – but I feel very confident that someone has tried it. Whether it worked or not is another question, I’m sure but I’d bet a lot of money on SOMEONE trying it.

But since, so jump upon this bloody question, You from the Polack wars, and you from England, Are here arrived, give order that these bodies High on a stage be placed to the view;

Horatio’s really getting a handle on this political language. Is he angling for a gig with one of these guys? This is very formal and very political speech making. He’s potentially learned this at the elbows of royals and in their absence, he steps into the void and starts giving orders.

After all, to whom does he owe allegiance?

Spiritually to Hamlet. But we are given no indication of his nationality. I think we can fairly safely say it is neither England nor Norway or he wouldn’t be so bold as to give these guys instructions. As one of the sole survivors of this Danish tragedy, he becomes a virtual Dane and its highest ranking one at that.

He never gave commandment for their death.

I wonder if this is meant to rankle the ambassador. After all, the guy came in, saw a tragedy and asked for thanks. If the thing he wants thanks for was not actually desired – his whole purpose there is thwarted. He does not speak again so it is possible that this serves Horatio’s possible purpose in saying it and that is shutting the ambassador the hell up.

I don’t think Horatio means to implicate Hamlet. I think he just wants the English ambassador to check himself. A major crime scene is not the time for asking for or receiving thanks or reporting executions. Just as a general rule.

Not from his mouth, Had it the ability of life to thank you.

I am intrigued by the use of the pronoun here. Horatio is clearly referring to the king even though the ambassador has not specifically mentioned him – but “his mouth” seems like a kind of casual reference to a king – even a dead one.

A more formal way to say it would seem to be not from the king’s mouth. But it’s not that. It leaves room for misinterpreting. “His mouth” could, for a moment, be any of the three dead men. Any of them. The next line tells us which mouth Horatio is referring to but even then it might not be clarified for the ambassador and Fortinbras. We know because we know – but the newly arrived characters might still be in the dark. They won’t get the facts from his mouth.

If aught of woe or wonder, cease your search.

This line could, curiously, pass as a carny barker’s patter. It feels like an invitation to a sideshow or a hawker’s spiel to get you in to see a circus or a show. It could be a performer on the High Street in Edinburgh calling out to passing punters.

What is it ye would see? If aught of woe or wonder, cease your search. This show’s got everything, death, tragedy, romance, royalty, sword fights.

Here’s a flyer.

We’re on at 7 at the Pleasance.