In Peter Brook's Hamlet, all mention of Fortinbras is removed from the story. How does this impact the play?
I would like to know how others would answer this question if this were to be given as an essay question.
I like the question, though I have not read the adaptation.
I have some problems with Hamlet: it is too long, too busy, too many lines, too many character foils, too many subplots, too many words. (Lear, too, has too many obvious doubles.)
I prefer Shakespeare's more Aristotelian plays, Macbeth and Othello. Macbeth is half as long and twice as bloody, and Othello has half as many in the cast. Thus, the three unities (time, place, action) are better preserved: there's more focus on the tragic action, a greater sense of purpose. These plays are more like Oedipus Rex: they get in and get out without delay.
In Hamlet, I love Act I. It's a play unto itself. The Ghost steals the show. I like him better than Hamlet: he knows what he wants. Sure, I like the feigned madness scene with Polonius and the staging of "The Mousetrap," but the middle is interminably long. After that, the play gets a little hoaky, especially the stuff about the pirates. And the fight scene? It's like a sit-com.
The Fortinbras subplot shows that Hamlet is not a political animal, I get it. He is a doppelganger looming on the fringe like the Ghost, I get it. His words cap off the play, I get it. But, really, he's gratuitous, a distraction. I don't need more situational irony. I want Hamlet's dying words to be the last thing I hear. Save that, I want Hamlet's best friend's words to be the last thing I hear. Not some stranger's.
Laertes also is constructed this way. He's the emotional side of vengeance, I get it. But, I know what the emotional side of vengeance is, and so does Hamlet, and I don't need to see internal AND external, direct AND indirect. Cut him too.
In other words, if Hamlet is so smart and multi-faceted, we don't need his same-age doubles. The Ghost will do. Give me more domestic tragedy: more Ophelia, more Gertrude, more Claudius. Or, at least give their words more impetus by cutting some of the extraneous words around theirs. Less is more.