Hamlet: The Video Game takes Shakespeare's play, adapts it into a Triple-A video game, and brings that to the stage once again.
Hamlet is one of William Shakespeare's most famous plays, telling a tragic story of revenge, maddness, and death. Yet in all these years, it's never received the Triple-A video game treatment. That's something Deus Ex: Mankind Divided voice and motion capture director Simon Peacock will change with Hamlet: The Video Game. This unique Shakespeare adaptation transforms the story into an interactive experience, adding branching story paths, new weapons, and even Nazi zombies. But the real twist is Hamlet: The Video Game isn't a video game - it's performed on a stage while the audience controls the action.
"Who knew Hamlet was good with his fists, good with a gun and even better with the ladies?" Hamlet: The Video Game's premise reads. "Who knew Gertrude kicked ass? Who knew Shakespeare included a tutorial and a final boss battle?"
In this video game parody, the audience is a focus group for the upcoming Hamlet video game. At various points, any onlooker can change Hamlet's story to their liking, ensuring no two performances will ever quite be alike. Along the way, actors will incorporate video game logic into the story, treating Hamlet's scenes as "levels" that must be overcome until reaching the final, violent confrontation with King Claudius.
"We've ratcheted up the action and added improvisation to give it the interactivity that comes with a video game, giving the audience control over the show's course," Peacock explains. "I've tried to direct this show in much the same way as we work in the motion capture studio. Actors seldom play only one role, we have very sparse sets if any set at all, and it's very collaborative between director and actors."
Of course, with a half-improvised story parodying video games, pretty much anything could happen in a show. Images taken behind the scenes show Hamlet carrying modern firearms, meeting characters like Mario, and even facing what appears to be a Nazi Zombie. Shakespeare's "there are more things in Heaven and Earth" quote is now quite the understatement.
Hamlet: The Video Game will be performed from Sept. 3-6 at The Court Theatre in Christchurch, New Zealand. Sadly, that's a little out of the way for many gamers, but here's hoping it's ported to a stage nearby very soon.