In 1781, a text (dated 1710) of a play entitled 'Der Bestrafte Brudermord' (Fratricide Revenged) was published in Gotha in Germany. It tells an exaggerated, action-filled version the story of Shakespeare’s Hamlet that is often hilarious. The Ghost of Hamlet’s father sneaks behind the sentries to box their ears; ‘Ofelia’, sex-crazed with madness, hurls herself at the clown Phantasmo; Hamlet rids himself of two murderers by asking them to shoot him at the same time – he ducks and they shoot one another instead. What is this slapstick, bawdy romp of a Shakespeare tragedy? And how did it come about?
For years Shakespeareans have been confused by 'Der Bestrafte Brudermord'. Is it a unique record of the play preceding Shakespeare’s Hamlet? A corrupt version of Shakespeare’s play? An adaptation? Writers on puppets some time ago came up with their own answer. They suggested it was a puppet play.