The first or ‘bad’ quarto of Hamlet is the subject of much debate. Is it an early version of the play as some scholars suggest? Or is it corrupted memorial reconstruction, a product of ‘fast writing’ transcription, or just a pirated version of the play rushed into print? In this article I posit that the first quarto is indeed a valid text that deserves to be recognised for its unique, unfussy, playable brilliance. That the text provides clues (if one knows how to look), that elucidate answers to many of the questions that productions must contend with. I believe it to be a time-capsule version of sorts that is a product of what the actors truly performed, rather than a celebration of the poet's aspirationally complex verse.
Christopher Marino has a career that spans over twenty-five years in regional theatre. He is a founding member of the Helen Hayes-award-winning Taffety Punk Theatre (Washington D.C.), former Artistic Director of the Baltimore Shakespeare Festival, and current Producing Artistic Director of Alchemical Theatre of Wilmington. On faculty at UNCW, Christopher has taught at numerous universities and theatres throughout the US and England. He is a guest lecturer at Rose Bruford College in the UK. He holds an MFA from the Academy for Classical Acting at George Washington/Shakespeare Theatre Company DC. He also trained at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art (Graduate), London, and holds a BA in Drama/Dance from Bard College.