Was Hamlet mad?

The people of Hackney give their verdict
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DAVID GILL, publican: I don't think Hamlet was mad, I think he was a deep thinker. He was a man very dedicated to the people around him but he got a bit too introspective. I think he had a conscience. He was a man of integrity, which is rare in leaders. The late John Smith could have been a latterday Hamlet.

JOANNA ROBERTS, school worker: Hamlet wasn't mad because there were times when he had lucid moments. When you listen to him and think about what he says it all sounds sensible. He wasn't potty but he did have a mother complex. He was a depressive and didn't let his feelings out. I often wonder if he was gay; Richard II was so why not Hamlet?

MRS P ANDERSON, retired midwife: No, he was not mad. When things happen to you, it drives you into a state. Hamlet was enraged at seeing his mother marry his uncle. He was emotional, annoyed.

SAUL FAJERMAN, temp: Hamlet was clever, he feigned madness. He did it because he was confused about whether to believe the ghost of his father or whether he should murder his uncle. He feigned insanity to take stock of the situation and drop out of normal life. It was a good way of buying time to decide what to do next. If I was in his situation I think I would go mad.

DANNY CULLEN, trainee solicitor: He didn't start off mad, he was just playing the moody teenager role. I think many of the characters who managed to profit from him were madder. By the end of the play I would say he had completely lost it, especially when various people were dying and he was killing the wrong ones.

LIZ HUTCHINSON, psychiatric nurse: Hamlet wasn't insane because he wasn't deluded or psychotic. I believe he was provoked. I think he was made totally distraught by what was happening.

STUART COTTAGE, trainee metal worker: Hamlet wasn't a nutter, he was just weird. He had a way about him that made people listen. I saw it at the Hackney Empire but I don't think they portrayed him all that well, he was too psychotic. I would have made him more philosophical.

EILEEN, passer-by: What's mad? People like Hamlet have troubles in their life which can send them over the edge but not out of their minds. Hamlet had to be in a state of temporary madness - it can happen to anyone.

MICHAEL, caf owner: We're all mad, aren't we? I don't think Hamlet was any madder than me or anyone else. Everything borders on madness. Where's the sanity in an executive of a multi-million company drying out in a sanatorium because of stress?

PAUL SHEEHAN, council worker: Hamlet had a few problems but he wasn't mental, he was unlucky. Things were thrust upon him, his stepfather had killed his old man and married his mother. He had an Oedipus complex and topping his girlfriend's old man didn't help him at all.

SHAHID HUSSEIN, hairdresser: Hamlet wasn't mad, Shakespeare was.

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