“Hamlet' dwarfs 'Hamilton' - it dwarfs pretty much everything - but there's a revealing similarity between them. Shakespeare's longest play leaves its audience in the dark about some basic and seemingly crucial facts. It's not as if the Bard forgot, in the course of all those words, to tell us whether Hamlet was crazy or only pretending: He wanted us to wonder. He forces us to work on a puzzle that has no definite answer. And this mysteriousness is one reason why we find the play irresistible.

'Hamilton' is riddled with question marks. The first act begins with a question, and so does the second. The entire relationship between Hamilton and Burr is based on a mutual and explicit lack of comprehension: 'I will never understand you,' says Hamilton, and Burr wonders, 'What it is like in his shoes?'

Again and again, Lin distinguishes characters by what they wish they knew. 'What'd I miss?' asks Jefferson in the song that introduces him. 'Would that be enough?' asks Eliza in the song that defines her. 'Why do you write like you're running out of time?' asks everybody in a song that marvels at Hamilton's drive, and all but declares that there's no way to explain it. 'Hamilton', like 'Hamlet', gives an audience the chance to watch a bunch of conspicuously intelligent and well-spoken characters fill the stage with 'words, words, words,' only to discover, again and again, the limits to what they can comprehend.”


Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter
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