Hamlet flummoxed Marriott Edgar wrote a total of 33 humorous verse monologues, the most well known of these is probably The Lion and Albert. I remember hearing this regularly on the radio when I was a child. It must have penetrated deeper than I thought...
Recently, someone drew my attention to The Skinhead Hamlet. (Warning: please don't follow this link if you're at all offended by the F-word or if you're somewhere where being seen laughing at such language would be inappropriate, for example at work!)

Until I read this I hadn't really been aware that humorous versions of Hamlet existed. I'm not quite sure what happened next, but a very weird connection must have been made in my brain because I just knew that if there wasn't already a version of Hamlet done in the style of The Lion and Albert, then there ought to be one. After all, the story of Hamlet is just as tragic as the tale of a little boy eaten by a lion on a visit to the zoo (right in front of his parents as well!) and would perfectly suit that dry Lancashire way of telling a tale. As Google couldn't find me the monologue I longed to see, I decided that I'd better write it myself.

Hamlet -- The Lancashire Dialect Monologue version

One dark moonless night on the ramparts,
Two sentinels standing at ease
Saw summat extremely peculiar,
A ghost, large as life, if you please.

The poor blokes were horribly frightened,
The ghost was all haggard and wan,
But before it could say owt t'purpose,
The cock crowed -- and then it were gone!

When Horatio happened to mention
The ghost they had seen in the night,
Young 'Amlet became quite determined
To see it himself, come what might.

Now 'Amlet was a trifle unbalanced,
His father was dead, and his Ma
Had married his dead father's brother,
Which he thought was going to far.

It were perishing up on the tower,
The air it were biting and cold,
When the ghost at last condescended
To speak, what a story it told!

Revenge was what the ghost wanted,
But what was poor 'Amlet to do?
Should he kill his mother's new husband?
Or forgive him, like good Christians do?

So 'Amlet began to act strangely,
And quite scared Ophelia, poor thing,
She complained to Polonius her father,
Who went and told Claudius the king.

King Claudius became rather worried,
For 'Amlet seemed right round the bend,
So he instructed two of his courtiers
To act as if they were his friends.

Queen Gertrude, she had her own theory
Why her son was behaving so strange,
But daft old Polonius was certain
That love had made 'Amlet deranged.

Said 'Amlet, "By gum, I'm that flummoxed,
It's enough to make anyone vexed,
Should I take arms against all my troubles?
Or top myself? What do I do next?"

But then a convenient occurrence
Gave 'Amlet a cracking idea,
He would set a trap for King Claudius,
And watch if he showed any fear.

For a band of itinerant actors
Had arrived to put on a play,
So after a long conversation
'Amlet gave 'em new words to say.

The play that young 'Amlet had chosen
Had been altered to match the crime,
It should catch the guilty king's conscience,
'Amlet waited, biding his time.

When King Claudius saw the murder,
Enacted right there on the stage,
He rose and cried, "This play is over!"
And 'Amlet saw guilt in his rage.

Queen Gertrude was vexed with young 'Amlet,
In fact there was quite a to do,
With Polonius hid behind th'arras,
There was arguing and shouting too.

Then, hearing a sound behind t'curtain,
And acting as quick as a flash,
'Amlet whips out his sword and kills Polonius,
Said his mother, "Ee lad, that were rash!"

Now meanwhile that devious King Claudius,
Had thought of a plan of his own,
He would send young 'Amlet to England
And make sure he never came home.

But Claudius's plan went all haywire
Soon 'Amlet was on his way back,
He'd been captured, then set free by pirates,
So the king had to try a new tack.

Now Laertes, Ophelia's brother,
Said, "I want a word with the king,
I'm annoyed that my father's been murdered,
And my sister can do nowt but sing."

It seems troubles never come singly,
The Queen cried, "Oh, do come and look!
Ophelia's gone and been drownded,
By falling right into a brook."

This was the last straw for Laertes,
Who was already young 'Amlet's foe,
And there by her graveside they argued,
To add to this sad tale of woe.

Together Leartes and Claudius,
They thought up a devious plan,
For Laertes was now quite determined,
That 'Amlet would die by his hand.

King Claudius issued a challenge,
Gave a prize to tempt 'Amlet to fight,
While Laertes, the cunning young devil,
He poisoned his sword -- that's not right!

Now Claudius, not one to take chances,
Had poisoned a goblet of wine.
Intending to give it to 'Amlet,
'Cos the lad was doing just fine.

At first it seemed 'Amlet was winning,
He got in a couple of hits,
There was trumpets and drums and shouting,
And everyone seemed thrilled to bits.

But then, while Laertes and 'Amlet
Were going at it 'ammer and tongs,
The queen drank the wine meant for 'Amlet,
Then things really started going wrong.

Though the king had realised the problem,
There was nowt he could do, it's too late,
And then 'Amlet was stabbed by Laertes,
And t'poisoned blade sealed the lad's fate.

As the two lads carried on fighting,
It really was quite a to do
They both got themselves in a tangle
And Laertes was poisoned too.

Laertes cried out, "I am finished
And 'Amlet, you too are slain,
And even your poor mother's poisoned,
But the king is the one to blame."

At this 'Amlet quite lost his temper,
Unable to take any more
He stabbed Claudius, then made him drink poison,
Belt and braces, like, just to be sure.

So Horatio's left with all t'bodies,
Upset at the loss of his friend,
It's all been a bit of a hoohah,
A rum do from beginning to end.

© August 2003 Helen Hall


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