This drawing depicts two groups of figures. A darker, more heavily shadowed group that includes a prominent standing figure appears in the lower right corner. A second group of seated figures, more lightly drawn, appear in the upper left.
This drawing is a preparatory study for Orpen's painting "The Play Scene From Hamlet," which depicts the scene from Shakespeare's play in which King Claudius watches a theatrical performance about the murder of a king (Act 3, scene 2). The finished painting, now in Houghton Hall, Norfolk, won the 1899 prize for best composition in the annual competition at the Slade School of Art in London where Orpen was a student. In the drawing Orpen experiments with the massing of figures and dramatic distribution of light for what would become the lower right corner of the final work.