Classically-trained English actors Benedict Cumberbatch, Ian McKellen and Judi Dench commemorated the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death (and birthday) on April 23 by taking part in a hilarious comedy sketch that saw a half a dozen different interpretations of how to best to deliver Shakespeare’s most famous line: “To be, or not to be.”
The performance at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s “Shakespeare Live!” began with one actor delivering the opening phrase of the “Hamlet” soliloquy, but before finishing the line, he was interrupted by another thespian sharing a “note” about which word of the phrase should get the emphasis. This process continued until more than half a dozen actors including David Tennant were also on stage, by which point Cumberbatch had been mistaken for Eddie Redmayne (twice) and multiple people were told to put away their skulls, as the scene did not call for props.
The sketch received a literal royal treatment when a member of the royal family made a surprise appearance during the on-stage debate. Check out the video below.