Katrina Hayes ©2005
Hamlet and Ophelia are onstage, sitting on a bench, upstage right, whispering to each other. Puck is onstage as well, downstage center, speaking to the audience.
Puck: Never haveth I enjoyed a story of simple love. Must this story be so bland? Have we here Ophelia, rose-white maid amongst the nobles of DenmarkÕs court. Gestures to Ophelia as she rises. And have we with her Hamlet, heir to his fatherÕs throne. Gestures to Hamlet as he rises as well, and the pair walk downstage, still talking to one another. Or is he? Evil laughter as he glances at the couple again and runs off stage left.
Hamlet: Now, fair Ophelia, our nuptial hour draws on apace: four happy days bring in another moon – but O methinks, how slow this old moon wanes! She lingers my desires, like to a step-dame or a dowager long withering without a young manÕs revenue.
Ophelia: Four days will quickly steep themselves in night; four nights will quickly dream away the time; and then the moon, like to a silver bow new-bent in heaven, shall behold the night of our solemnities.
Hamlet: Let us stir up the courtly youth to merriments; awake the pert and nimble spirit of mirth; turn melancholy forth to funerals: the pale companion is not for our pomp.
Puck reappears stage left, visibly but not audibly laughing where there is something like a tree is that he can crouch behind. Horatio comes on stage right looking around; spots Hamlet.
Horatio: Hamlet! O, Hamlet, good lordÉ thou hast my humblest pity!
Hamlet: Horatio, what is the meaning of this? Thou art the unbetrothed one, not I! And I shall be King of all Denmark, once my father departest to his deserved place amongst the heavens! Why shouldst I deserve thy pity?
Horatio: Hamlet, thy father is dead!
Hamlet: Horatio, thou hast thy friend much offended!
Horatio: But speak I the truth, my lord. Exits stage right, looking down.
Hamlet: My fair Ophelia, where had we been?
Ophelia: Our nuptial merriments shall have a melancholy funeral as its companion! Sobbing.
Hamlet: Oh, but that must not be the case. We might yet be wed in joy. We shall be merry united! I loveth thee, and thou lovest me, why shouldst our mirth be shadowed by my rise to that of absolute power over Denmark? Evil laughter. I am hereby the most powerful in this pathetic little land!
Ophelia: Dost thou not love thy country?
Hamlet: It is like a prison to me.
Ophelia: But I am here.
Hamlet: You? Bah! Get thee to a nunnery, what use have I for you?
Ophelia: ButÉ butÉ
Ophelia runs offstage[to the right] sobbing. Puck ducks off stage left, laughing harder.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern enter stage left.
Rosencrantz: Hullo dear Hamlet!
Guildenstern: My honorÕd lord!
Hamlet: My excellent good friends! How dost thou, Guildenstern? Ah, Rosencrantz! Good lads, how do you both?
Guildenstern: Happy, in that we are not over-happy, on FortuneÕs cap we are not the very button?
Hamlet: Nor the soles of her shoe?
Rosencrantz: Neither, my lord.
Hamlet: Then you live about her waist, or in the middle of her favors?
Guildenstern: Faith, her privates we.
Hamlet: In the secret parts of Fortune? O, most true, she is a strumpet. Alas, my fair Ophelia dost not allow me even a glimpse of her own, most certainly not to reside therein. How hast thou wooed so well this fortunate lady?
Guildenstern: Well, we flipped a coin oft, and all times but none hast Rosencrantz called it heads. And heads, there it landed. So you see, Fortune gives to us whatever we might desire.
Hamlet: That you might lose every coin toss? I see your purse is quite empty.
Guildenstern: Éoh, bother.
Rosencrantz: Let us go discuss this at further length. We might have guessed that Fortune would not allow us both winning at once.
They exit stage left. Horatio enters stage right.
Hamlet: [to audience] I might as well just sit here, and let them come to me. ItÕs the sort of thing a King might do, and if I tried to find them, they might try to look for me as well. And that could lead to many unproductive circlings and lost man-hours about the castle. [to Horatio] My good friend! I permit thee audience! What news or matter bringest thou before me?
Horatio: Hail to your lordship! I am your good friend ever.
Hamlet: Sir, my poor servant – IÕll change that name with you, now that I might be King.
Horatio: Éno chance of that, my Lord. Thine Uncle, Claudius, hast declared hisself King of Denmark, whilst thou did lurk in the shadows.
Hamlet: Oh, fie! I shouldst not have remained in the garden. But what is your affair out here?
Horatio: My lord, I came to you, for I have seen your fatherÕs ghost.
Hamlet: I prithee do not mock me, I think it was to call off mine and OpheliaÕs wedding.
Horatio: Indeed, my lord, I wish that were the case.
Hamlet: Thou wisht I marry not Ophelia?
Horatio: No, no! I do wish that you marry the buxom lass. I do wish I brought not news of spirits lurking that should not lurk. But I have seen him, my lord, have seen the King your father.
Hamlet: He is not quite dead after all, then?
Horatio: My lord, I have spake but truth. Thy father ist quite dead, Claudius has quite taken your Crown –
Hamlet: My crown! Oh, woe!
Horatio: – and thy fatherÕs ghost dost wander about this garden. Might I bring you to him?
Puck enters stage right, with a suit of armor and a mask on, holding his arms out and moaning.
Hamlet: Would that that not be quite necessary, look! Turns and points at Puck.
Puck beckons Hamlet.
Horatio: It beckons you to go away with it, as if it some impartment did desire to you alone.
Hamlet: It will not speak, then I will follow it.
Horatio: Do not, my lord.
Hamlet: Why, what should be the fear? I do not set my life at a pinÕs fee, and for my soul, what can it do to that, being a thing immortal as itself? It waves me forth again, IÕll follow it. Puck beckons again. It waves me still. I go.
Horatio: You shall not go, my lord.
Hamlet: Hold off your hands.
Horatio: Be rulÕd, you shall not go.
Hamlet: That I be the rightful King of Denmark, none shall rule me but missen! My fate cries out, as does my fatherÕs ghost. Unhand me, servant. By heaven, IÕll make a ghost of him that lets me! I say away!
Hamlet runs to Puck. They both now glare at Horatio.
Horatio: Éwhat?! Oh fine, IÕll go. But blame me not when this mischief gets out of hand.
Puck laughs evilly. Horatio looks worriedly at the pair. Exits stage left.
Puck: Mark me.
Hamlet: I will.
Puck: My hour is almost come, when I to sulphÕrous and tormenting flames must render up myself. My son, have pity on me!
Hamlet: Alas, poor ghost!
Puck: Nay, scratch that, pity me not, but lend thy serious hearing to what I shall unfold.
Hamlet: Speak, I am bound to hear.
Puck: So art thou to revenge, when thou shalt hear.
Puck: I am thy fatherÕs spirit, doomÕd for a certain term to walk the night. For the day I am confinÕd to fast in fires, but this eternal blazon must not be to ears of flesh and blood. List, list, O, list! If thou didst ever thy dear father love –
Hamlet: O God!
Puck: Revenge his foul and most unnatural murther.
Puck: Murther most foul, as in the best it is, but this most foul, strange, and unnatural. Thine uncle, Claudius, has this sin committed!
Hamlet: Claudius! O my prophetic soul! My uncle?
Puck: Indeed. And now I must take my leave.
Hamlet: Woe, mine father! Art thy truly dead? Wilst I thou never see again?
Puck: Indeed. Withdraws stage right. Offstage: Avenge meÉ
Hamlet looks around paranoidly.
Hamlet: I see their knavery! This is to make an ass of me; to fright me, if they could. But I will not stir from this place, do what they can: I will walk up and down here, and I will speak to myself, and they shall hear I am not afraid. Heading to downstage center. To be, or not to beü that is the question: whether Ōtis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune –
Ophelia enters stage left.
Hamlet: The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in my orisons be all my sins remembered.
Ophelia: Good my lord, how does your honor for this many a day?
Hamlet: I humbly thank you, well.
Ophelia: My lord, I have remembrances of yours, that I have longed to redeliver. I pray you now receive them.
Hamlet: No, not I, I never gave you aught.
Ophelia: My honorÕd lord, you know right well you did, and with them words of so sweet breath composÕd as had made these things more rich. Their perfume lost, take these again, for the noble mind rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind. Unless thee, gentle mortal, would again sing for me. Mine ear is much enamourÕd of thy note; so is mine eye enthralled to thy shape; and fair virtueÕs force perforce doth move me on the first view to say, to swear, I love thee.
Hamlet: Methinks, mistress, you should have little reason for that. And yet, to say the truth, reason and love keep little company together nowadays – the more the pity, that some honest neighbours will not make them friends. É say, are you honest?
Ophelia: My lord?
Hamlet: Are you fair?
Ophelia: What means your lordship?
Hamlet: That if you be honest and fair, your honesty should admit no discourse to your beauty.
Ophelia: Thou art as wise as thou art beautiful. Could beauty, my lord, have better commerce than with honesty?
Hamlet: As I must be, for I am to be King someday. But the power of a womanÕs beauty, such as yours, will sooner transform honesty from what it is to a bawd than the force of honesty can translate beauty into his likeness. This was sometime a paradox, but now the time gives it proof. I did love you once.
Ophelia: Indeed, my lord, you made me believe so.
Hamlet: Evil laughter. But my love was only induced by your womanly treacheries! Women are evil! Virtue cannot so inoculate our old stock but we shall relish of it. I did not truly love you, nymph! Evil woman! You, who God has given one face and you make for yourself another. You jig and amble, nickname GodÕs creatures, and make your wantonness your ignorance. Get thee to a nunnery, no woman can help but breed sinners, for sinners are you all! See myself! I have from woman come. Because of woman, I am very proud, revengeful and ambitious. I command thee, woman, leave me before thou kannst more to my poor mind do! What should fellows as I do crawling about in a world chock-full of women? IÕll no more onÕt, it hath made me mad. Go thy ways to a nunnÕry.
Ophelia: But are we not to be wed four days hence?
Hamlet: I say we will have no more marriages! I am a wise man, and I know what a monster you make of me: to a nunnÕry go, and quickly too. Farewell.
Ophelia runs off stage right crying. Again. Claudius enters.
Hamlet: You! You have my father killed!
Claudius: What is wrong with you?
Hamlet: Thou has it done to take my throne!
Polonius enters stage right.
Claudius: Kid, if you want to go to the bathroom, thereÕs plenty of bushes around.
Polonius: Claudius, I do believe heÕs actually mad.
Claudius: Mad about what?
Polonius: You know, mad! Ship-him-to-England crazy!
Hamlet: Mad at you! Points at Claudius accusingly.
Claudius looks around lost, but Laertes enters just in time, face dirtied as if had been crying.
Laertes: My dear sister is drownÕd!
Hamlet: DrownÕd! O, Ophelia! I lovÕd her! Forty thousand brothers could not with all their quantity of love make up my sum. How dare you cry for her?!
Claudius: O, he is mad.
Hamlet: And thou! Thou who hast usurped my throne darest speak? I shalt kill you both! Pulls out sword, charges at Laertes. They battle, but eventually Hamlet kills Laertes. Puck enters and is hiding behind his tree at some point.
Claudius: All this over a toilet? All others are paying him no attention.
Hamlet: Haha! And now, for you, thou who had my father killed!
Claudius: Wait, I thought it was your bride that was dead, and that she had her own life drownÕdÉ
Puck: Oh, fie! I would not have messed with them if I had known him to be already mad! Jumps out from behind tree. Do not lay a hand on him! He has not committed murther, rather, it was I who slipped the poison to this kingdomÕs latest King. If I, as a shadow, have offended, think but this, and all is mended: that those in death are but aslumber, while your follies have begun to appear.
Hamlet: Ah, but you did it in the pay of this man! Runs sword through Claudius, who is caught by surprise; kneels, then slumps to ground, clutching his stomach.
Puck: You paranoid, ambitiousÉ Prince!
Hamlet: Ah, but now I am King of Denmark! É why should I let live those who conspired with the man who tried to usurp my throne?
Puck: Éhe never did try to usurp. I just set that up. Do not reprehend; if you pardon, I will mend. And as I am an honest Puck –
Hamlet: Why shouldst I believe that foulty that cometh from your mouth? YouÕre annoying as well as treacherous! Runs at Puck with sword, which goes through Puck; a struggle as Puck remains standing, glaring at him; Puck gets his hands around HamletÕs neck and manages to remove Hamlet and the sword from himself. But keeps his hands around HamletÕs neck. What unearned luck is this?!
Puck: Call you me a liar?! Good night! Éoh, and I die not for I am an immortal fairy. Strangles Hamlet.
Hamlet: Dying. Thou art the spirit lurking that should notÉ
Hamlet, Claudius, Laertes lie dead on the floor.
Puck: OopzÉ I never meant it to go this farÉ I only wanted a bit of fun. It was supposed to turn out right at the end! The lovers should have been together, the throne in the hands of a rightful heirÉ who now to inherit? I fear Denmark shall become a vassal of England, for I hear the approach of her ambassadors. Perhaps I should cause it to be discovered that that Horatio is of the blood. He would make a most just king, if he could believe himself that he was but nobleÉ I must set things rightÉ Well, good night to you all, enjoy your slumber. It will be a long night for me: Robin must restore balance which he has upset.