1: You know how Hamlet wants to avenge Hamlet in Hamlet?
1: Right, so-
2: Sorry, I said "yeah" but I meant to say "those words make no sense". Panicked a bit.
1: Alright. So, in Hamlet the play, Hamlet the prince wants to avenge Hamlet the king.
2: Oh, yeah?
1: So, at the start, Hamlet's dead.
2: Woah, leftfield, the hero's dead! That would make for a play chock-full of frustrating inaction!
1: No, Hamlet the king, not Hamlet the prince.
2: Oh, yeah, course.
1: So Hamlet is walking round.
2: Hamlet the prince, yeah? Because Hamlet the king is dead.
1: You got it. Then Hamlet says, "Oh, I'm dead".
2: What does he say that for?
1: Because he's dead.
2: Who is? Hamlet the prince?
1: Hamlet the king.
2: But how can he say it? He's dead
1: He's a ghost.
2: Alright. His story checks out, then.
1: Yep. So Hamlet says to Hamlet -
2: Live prince to spectral king?
1: Vice versa. Hamlet says to Hamlet, "Hamlet, I'm dead, avenge me", and Hamlet says, OK Hamlet, I will.
2: And then he does. Cool story, bro.
1: No, well not exactly. Hamlet points out that he was murdered by Claudius.
2: Is Claudius a ghost too?
1: No. He's Hamlet's brother.
2: Wow, Hamlet was killed by his son!
1: No, Hamlet was killed by his brother. Hamlet's uncle.
2: Live Hamlet's uncle was killed by dead Hamlet's brother?
1: Yes...although dead Hamlet was live Hamlet then, otherwise he couldn't have been killed.
2: Fine. So, then Hamlet minor avenges Hamlet major, but with, like, extra family awkwardness? Cool story, bro.
1: Sort of. I mean, it's already awkward, because Claudius has married Hamlet's mother brackets other Hamlet's wife close brackets so now he's basically Hamlet's father too.
2: Outrageous! And I suppose the people of Denmark wanted to oust this imposter?
1: They're surprisingly quiet on the issue, actually. I guess, to them, Claudius as king was pretty indistinguishable from Hamlet as king: same surname, same beard, same wife, same Norway-baiting foreign policy.
2: Same shit, different Dane.
1: Yeah. Anyway, Hamlet father (actual) tells Hamlet son how Claudius father (step) killed him (him being Hamlet, brother or father or regnal corpse), which he did by pouring poison in his ear.
2: That is definitely in the top 14 ways of getting poison into somebody.
1: I know, pretty foolproof method. So Hamlet the son/the prince/the alive one/the play's hero decides to make Claudius the uncle/the brother/the poisoner/the play's villain sort of but it doesn't exactly have one, admit that he'd done it. And he goes about achieving this by showing him a play.
2: Does that work?
1: It always does, yes. It's like a trial, but quicker, cheaper, and far more reliable. Whenever someone sees something in a play that they've done in real life, they jump up and run out of the room. It's like when I suspected my uncle of killing my father.
2: You never mentioned that.
1: I must have - when my uncle killed my father? Well, he did. And when we suspected it, we saw a play about a man killing his brother -
2: Was it Hamlet?
1: Ha! No, that would have been funny. The sort of funny thing that might happen in a funny sketch. No it was a different play called The Murder of Gonzago. Not that great as a play. To be honest, there was a mix-up, we thought we were going to see The Mousetrap. Anyway, when it came to the bit where the brother stroke uncle killed the brother stroke father my uncle stroke father's brother got up and ran out the room, so we knew he'd done it.
1: I mean, also, he'd confessed just before we went into the play, so we had a strong inkling. In retrospect we shouldn't have gone to the theatre at all, we should have gone to the police.
2: Do you think that avoiding the police was possibly another reason your uncle ran out?
1: Yes, I do a bit. He knew he'd get away, because we were too embarrassed about getting up in the middle of a play to follow him.
2: Christ, no, that would be mortifying.
1: Also he'd been unwrapping Toffos really loud, so we were kind of glad he was no longer spoiling The Murder of Gonzago.
2: And what happened next?
1: Gonzago got murdered, then it pretty much ended. Like I say, rubbish play. Really short.
2: Right. So, the rule is, see something you've done in a play, jump up and run out of the room?
1: That's the exact rule. So, when I went to see Hamlet (play) and saw Hamlet (prince) show the death of Hamlet (king) to Claudius (various relationships) I thought, that's what I did!
2: Then what happened?
1: I jumped and ran out of the room!
2: Course you did.
1: Inevitable. Left all my Toffos on the seat too, just to top it all off. So I don't actually know how Hamlet ends.
2: Oh, I'm sure they all work something out and live happily ever after.
1: Yeah, probably.