The MousetrapPosted March 30 2011
In Shakespeare's play Hamlet, "The Mousetrap" is Hamlet's answer to Polonius' inquiry about which play the court is about to see (III, ii). The play is actually The Murder of Gonzago, but the opening dumb show is all that is presented. Hamlet enlists a company of traveling performers to stage the play which he has modified to re-enact the circumstances of his father's murder. Shortly after the play begins, Claudius cannot bear to watch, rises and asks for lights. The king's anguished reaction to the performance (which Horatio also notices) convinces Hamlet of his guilt. In English theatre tradition, a dumb show is a masque-like interlude of silent pantomime usually with allegorical content that refers to the occasion of a play or its theme.