On the verge of World War One, a ghost resembling the late king of Denmark appears to the night guards and Horatio, a close friend of Prince Hamlet. The group agrees to tell Hamlet about this strange apparition. Claudius, Hamlet’s uncle and the new king, has recently married Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother. Claudius gives a speech dismissing the Norwegian prince Fortinbras’s request to have land previously taken by Denmark returned to Norway. After the speech, Gertrude and Claudius try to console Hamlet, who is upset at how quickly Gertrude married Claudius after his father’s death. Hamlet agrees to stay in Denmark rather than return to university. Later, Horatio and the guardsman Marcellus tell Hamlet about the ghost, and Hamlet vows to wait up with them that night in order to speak with it.
Laertes, son of the king’s advisor Polonius, prepares to leave for France. He warns his sister Ophelia to stay away from Hamlet who lately has been paying her romantic attention. Polonius gives his son some parting advice and then reinforces Laertes’s cautioning to Ophelia. That night, Hamlet encounters the ghost. It claims to be his father and tells Hamlet that Claudius murdered him. Hamlet swears his comrades to secrecy. Meanwhile, Claudius receives a request from the king of Norway to traverse Denmark in order to attack Poland.
Ophelia tells her father that Hamlet approached her in distress. Polonius takes this to mean that Hamlet is in love with Ophelia and decides to tell the King. Hamlet’s old school friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, arrive at the castle at the summons of the king and queen. Claudius and Gertrude urge them to delve into Hamlet’s melancholy. Polonius forwards his theory that Hamlet has gone mad from love, forcing Ophelia to read aloud a letter she received from Hamlet. Polonius and then Rosencrantz and Guildenstern each try unsuccessfully to feel out Hamlet. A troupe of players arrives, and Hamlet has them present a short piece then asks to add some new lines to the play they will perform for the court. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern report back to the king and queen. Polonius and Claudius decide to spy on Hamlet and Ophelia. Hamlet rails at Ophelia, telling her to join a nunnery. Polonius suggests that that they have Gertrude speak to Hamlet to find out what is wrong with him. That night, the players perform, and Claudius recoils from the part of the play that reenacts the poisoning of a king.
Young Prince Fortinbras arrives in Denmark and tells his captain to ask Claudius for safe passage through the kingdom. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern continue their probing of Hamlet until he angrily sends them away. Claudius tells Rosencrantz and Guildenstern that Hamlet must go with them to England. Alone, Claudius prays for forgiveness for his sins. Hamlet observes the prayer and considers killing Claudius but refrains for fear of sending his soul to heaven. Hamlet then confronts his mother, reprimanding her for marrying Claudius so quickly. He thinks the king is hiding in the room and shoots, killing the spying Polonius instead. Hamlet tells his mother that he has been feigning madness, and Gertrude realizes the truth of what Claudius has done. Hamlet leaves to hide Polonius’ body. Claudius and the guards catch Hamlet and send him to England. Claudius sends along a letter asking the king of England to kill Hamlet.
Following her father’s murder and Hamlet’s exile, Ophelia descends into insanity. Laertes returns home seeking vengeance for the death of his father and encounters his mad sister, which only adds to his grief and anger. Meanwhile, a letter informs Horatio that Hamlet escaped Claudius’s trap and is on his way back to Denmark. Claudius convinces Laertes to join in a plot to kill Hamlet. Laertes will poison his sword so that just a cut will kill Hamlet. Claudius will also poison some wine so that if the sword doesn’t work, the drink will. Gertrude interrupts to tell them that Ophelia has been found drowned. On Hamlet’s return to Denmark, he visits the graveyard and questions the gravedigger. While Hamlet is there, Ophelia’s funeral procession arrives, sparking a confrontation.
Hamlet tells Horatio that he found the king’s order to have him killed among Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s papers and reversed the plot on them. A servant of the king enters and tells Hamlet that people are placing bets on who would win a duel between him and Laertes. Hamlet accepts the challenge. During the fight, Hamlet is cut by Laertes’ poisoned sword but steals it from him and cuts Laertes. Gertrude drinks the poison the king had laid out for Hamlet and dies. Hamlet then kills Claudius before succumbing to the poison. In the end, Laertes, Gertrude, Claudius, and Hamlet are all dead—the story is left for Horatio to tell. Fortinbras arrives to claim the kingdom.
It is the late 19th century in coastal Texas. Egeon, a merchant from Houston, has traveled to Galveston to find his son. However, travel between the rival cities of Houston and Galveston is outlawed, and Egeon will be to be put to death unless he can pay the fine of $1,000 (a very large sum at the time). He explains to the Mayor and people of Galveston that he has only come to their island to search for his son Antipholus, who is in turn on his own search.
It seems that Egeon and his family were the victims of a terrible storm while sailing through the Gulf of Mexico decades before. He was traveling with his wife and twin sons and two other twin babies who were being brought up by the family as servants. During the storm, the ship was wrecked and he was able to save only one son and one servant while his wife, his other son, and the other servant were swept away towards Mobile, were they were thought to be rescued. The family was never reunited, and now his son Antipholus has been searching along the gulf coast with his servant and companion Dromio to look for their brothers, who are also named Antipholus and Dromio.
The mayor is so moved by Egeon's tragedy that he gives him until 5 p.m to see if he can raise the $1,000 needed to spare his life. Though the people of Galveston are willing to help as they can, this is a large sum and Egeon will not likely raise it in one day.
At this time however, Antipholus and Dromio of Houston have also made their way to Galveston, though they are unaware of Egeon's dire predicament. They also do not know that their respective twins already reside in Galveston. Shortly after they arrive in town, Antipholus of Houston (who we will call A. H.) hears that there is a tax of 1,000 on the heads of Houstonian merchants in Galveston and sends Dromio of Houston (who we will call D.H.) to their hotel with 1,000 to cover their entrance into the town. Shortly after A.H. sends D.H. on his way, Dromio of Galveston (Dromio G. ) passes by and confuses A.H for his master, Antipholus of Galveston. Antipholus of Galveston is married, and his wife Adriana wants him to come home for dinner. Dromio of Galveston tries to explain this to A. H., but he believes him to be D.H. and is confused and angry at his servant for what he assumes is a jest at his expense. He beats Dromio, who runs away confused as well.
When Dromio relates this to Adriana she becomes upset sends him away before setting out with her sister Luciana and the kitchen servant Luce to bring Antipholus home themselves. The women instead find A.H. and D.H., and accidentally bring them home for dinner, with instructions to D.H. to guard the gate and let no one else in while they dine. This proves problematic when Antipholus and Dromio of Galveston come home with a wealthy guest who they have promised a meal. D.H. refuses to let them in, and Antipolus of Galveston believes that his wife has locked him out to spite him. He resigns to take his guest to dine at the house of a courtesan he knows in town, and decides to punish his wife by giving the courtesan a gold chain that he had originally as a gift to Adriana. Antipholus brings his guest to dinner with the courtesan and tells Angelo, the goldsmith, to meet him at the Hotel Galvez where he will purchase the chain.
During this time A.H. and D.H. have been to dinner with Adriana and Luiciana. They are confused that the women seem to think they know them, but this does not bother A.H. who has become smitten with Luciana, even though she is the sister of his supposed wife. D.H. is less pleased to find out that he is supposedly attached to Luce, who he finds repellent. They decide to leave this strange house full of what could be witches and find a ship to sail out of Galveston as soon as possible. On the way out they encounter Angelo, who mistakes A.H. for Antipholus of Galveston, and gives him the chain supposing he will receive payment later. A.H. is confused but decides to keep what seems like a free gold chain.
The play opens back on the streets of Galveston. Angelo, the goldsmith, needs to pay off debts, but to do so he needs payment for the chain that he accidentally gave to A.H instead of Antipholus of Galveston. He meets Antipholus and demands payment, but Antipholus demands that he bring him the chain first. The two argue back and forth, both believing that they have been cheated by the other. In the end, Angelo has Antipholus arrested for refusing to pay for the gold chain. Before Antipholus is taken into custody, D.H. enters and tells him that he has procured a ship. Antipholus is confused and threatens to beat him unless D.H. goes to Adriana to get bail money. D.H. is also confused about why he would go back to the house of the strange woman they dined with earlier, but he cannot disobey orders from what he believes to be his master.
Back at Antipholus of Galveston's house, the sisters are discussing A.H.'s confession of love for Luciana. They believe that Adriana's husband Antipholus has confessed these feelings, and so are very distraught. However, when D.H enters and explains that Antipholus has been arrested and needs bail money, Adriana and Luciana are both ready to help. Adriana gives D.H. the money and sends him to pay the bail for Antipholus and bring him home. This becomes a problem when D.H. meets A.H. on the street and gives him the bail money instead, thinking he is delivering the sum to Antipholus. A.H. is confused and when D.H. eplains the circumstances of their last supposed encounter, the two become afraid that Galveston is full of witchcraft. When the courtesan enters and demands the chain from A.H., they are doubly sure that the town is full of witchery and believe that she is a sorceress. The courtesan had given Antipholus a ring in exchange for the promised gold chain when he was at her house last for dinner. A.H. and D.H. have no way of knowing this, so they flee from her, leaving the courtesan without the gold chain. She decides to go to Adriana and tell her that Antipholus is mad and has stolen her ring.
Antipholus is waiting for his bail money under the deputy's guard when Dromio of Galveston comes in. He has no idea that Antipholus has sent D.H for bail money and has no funds for the deputy. Adriana, Luciana, and the courtesan come in as Antipholus is beating Dromio. They think that his violent fits are more evidence of his madness and they ask Dr. Pinch, a supposed exorcist, to cure him or his madness. As Pinch pokes and prods at Antipholus, attempting to cure him, Antipholus goes into a rage. Adriana, Luciana, and the courtesan run from Antipholus, only to find A.H on the street. They believe Antipholus has escaped, and chase A.H into a Priory, where he goes to seek refuge from what he believes is a crowd of crazy people. The Abbess of the Priory refuses to release A.H and claims that it is Adriana's fault that her husband is acting mad since she has driven him crazy with her nagging and jealousy. Adriana and Luciana go to the mayor to ask that he force the Abbess to release A.H, but are interupted when an escaped Antipholus runs in.
The mayor, accompanied by the deputy and the captive Egeon, decides that the best answer is to hear both Antipholus and Adriana's side of the story. As they both try to explain, along with interjections from Angelo, Pinch, and the courtesan, it becomes clear that something very strange is going on. While the mayor sends for the Abbess, Egeon tries to talk to Antipholus since he thinks that it is his other son from Houston. Just when things look bleakest for Egeon, the Abbess comes in with A.H and D.H. She reveals that she is Egeon's wife, Emelia, and that the Antipholus brothers and the Dromio brothers are the sets of twins separated so many years before. This way Adriana gets her husband back and Antipholus of Houston is free to marry Luciana. Egeon's fines are covered and he is reunited with Emelia. In the end, all is well with the Houston and Galveston families and they plan a celebratory feast with the citizens of Galveston.