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Polonius Production Diary: the breakdown

Polonius appears in eight scenes:

  • I,ii (the court scene, which is mostly watching except for one line about Laertes)
  • I,iii (the docks scene, which is actually two scenes: the Laertes farewell and the Ophelia remonstrance)
  • II,i (the Ophelia news) (the Reynaldo part of the scene having been cut, alas)
  • II,ii (many scenes in this one: the letter bit with the King and Queen, the first scene with mad Hamlet, and the introduction of the players)
  • III,i (the first surveillance scene; Polonius and the King bracket Hamlet’s monologue and his scene with Ophelia)
  • III,ii (the Mousetrap; Polonius comes in briefly, leaves, comes back with the Court, watches the play, leaves with the King, and then briefly comes back to deliver a message)
  • III,iii (with the King, discussing his plan)
  • III,iv (the closet scene, in which Polonius is killed at last)

The death is at Folger Through Line Number 2465; their edition of the play is 4167 lines long, so I have a lot of lines (and words—a lot of words) packed in to the first three-fifths of the play, and the last two-fifths to put my feet up in the green room. Probably. If we have a green room. I haven’t counted out what has been cut from the parts I am not in, but I think more was cut from before my death than after.

There are three Big Scenes: the docks scene, the Ophelia scene, and then the letter scene leading in to the scene with Mad Hamlet (the fishmonger scene, I might call it). After that, it’s bits and bobs, with a few jokes thrown in amongst the plot point, but mostly watching and coasting. I need to use the big scenes carefully to set up the rest of it. The important thing, really, is that it has to matter when Polonius dies, but emotionally and (more important) for the plot. I mean, it would presumably matter in the prince-and-heir murdered anybody, but it should also matter because it is Polonius specifically. So, we’ll see.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,

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