Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Laertes- a play in verse.

Stage is hung with a network of narrow, vertical, black drapes which allow actors to appear and disappear quickly from any point on the stage.
There is a network of floor level spotlighting which is activated with the lifting of a particular drape.
Costume- for the most part, authentic medieval T-shirts with each character’s name brightly emblazoned upon the front & the historically correct (no matter howsoever politically incorrect) motto of their respective guild (e.g. ‘gravediggers do it with spades’) on the back.
Dark stage. Spotlight on ghost as he comes into view.
Ghost:-                                  Hamlet, son, if be thou near
                                               Hamlet, son, hie thee here
                                       Thy Sire, Hamlet, who’s now but grist
                                             To Hamlet’s Mill, bids thee list.
(At the mention of Hamlet’s Mill there is a roar- as of the sea)
Ah, Hamlet’s Mill now grinds my bones
I who bestrode 2 Baltic thrones
&, a Norse Colossus, held the North in fee
Now, in Hamlet’s Mill, re-salt the Sea.
(Second spot-light showing three sentries, asleep on their feet, propping each other up with their spears.)
Ah, Hamlet, son, ‘twas once my boast
My bare whisper woke the Varangian coast
Yet walk I abroad- now a wittering ghost
So sound sleeps sentry at his post!
First sentry (waking up)- Oi! I heard that! Who says I was asleep? Oi! You there, show yourself! What’s your game, sneaking up on a feller like that? Trying to get me in bother with the sergeant were you? Well I know a trick worth two o’ that! Come forward and show yourself!
Ghost -                        Soldier, ’twas your conscience spoke
                                    Whispering “Duty!” till you woke
                                    As for me, my voice has faded
                                    Or say this World’s ear has grown jaded
                                    To Honour’s call, which is just as well
                                    Else, dozy sentry, you’d sentry Hell!
Second sentry- (peering at the ghost) ‘Ere! I know you don’t I? Leastways there’s something right familiar about your face.
Ghost-                         ’Tis this absolute dark makes me visible
                                    & from Death’s Night, part divisible
                                    Even so might thou vouch me, Silence,
                                    As much voice as doth Death no violence.
Third sentry- ’Ere! What do you mean by going on as if we couldn’t hear what you’re saying? We ain’t deaf, I’ll have you know. Now, you’d better just come clean and explain yourself or I am going to have to poke you in the ribs with this ’ere spear!
Ghost-                         Sentry, you think it fun to shake your spear
                                    But I am the web woven of all you fear
                                    Snag upon me and you snag upon one
                           Would swallow the wolf would swallow the Sun
First Sentry - What did he say?
Sentry 2 – something about swallowing the Sun
Sentry 3-  We’re dreaming is all. Or that yon’s a ghost.
Sentry 1- We don’t get paid enough to sentry ghosts.
Sentry 2- Quite right. Actually, we don’t get paid enough to sentry the living.
Sentry 3- Budget cuts. Denmark’s at peace.
Sentry 1- Aye, and aint it rotten? Now, the old king had a stomach for war.
Ghost-   Had? had? Nay say I have a greater stomach for it now
& Were Hamlet at my side, Hamlet would show me how
To raise up Death against who but dutifully deal it
& unleash Fear on who but fitfully feel it
& Revenge me redly on the race I led
Whose vaunted arms could not keep from my head
The base scythe of Death the skeleton
Publish it in Gath, in Askelon tell it in!
Sentry1-   You know the ghost has a good line in chat
Sentyry2- You think? That last rhyme fell rather flat.
Sentry 3- What I want to know is, who’s this Hamlet bloke?
Ghost-                  Heard you the words I from Hades spoke?
(Sentry 3 nods)
Ghost-                         Brave Hamlet’s my son, sweet Gertrude’s child
Who, like widow’d Denmark, is betimes beguiled
By Artful Peace which calls it orison
In the ears’ porch to pour its poison
& Whom to Vengeance my ghostly voice
Would wake & work him till all Hades rejoice
& Death’s citadel which the living besiege
Open its gates to a unanimous liege
Sentry 1- Gertrude’s barren. Always has been
Sentry 2- No Hamlet hereabouts has been heard or seen
Ghost- No Hamlet? Have I no son?
Sentry 1- none
Sentry 2           nor daughters
Ghost-                                     A curse upon Lethe waters!
                        I’m a gibbering ghost upon Night’s Stygian shore
Only a blood libation can my memory restore
Sentry1- Well, I’ve a bit of black pudding
Ghost- That will have to do. Ah! now I feed I see its true, no son I sired upon my Queen, as for my ravings- what could they mean? (munching) Tho’, mark you, ’twas all Gertrude’s fault, there was nothing wrong with my pole vault. In my courtiers’ cradles I’ve bestowed, byblows sure by the ox cart load, yet a canny son however yclept, I remember not tho’ the name Hamlet, suggests the trickster who in fighting pose, our Danish dead, propped up to scare our English foes, who fleetly fled! But hold my lucid spell draws to a close, so I’ll bid farewell for Hamlet’s Mill must grind my bones, I who bestrode 2 Nordic thrones etc.  (sound effect as of the waves crashing)
Sentry 1- don’t be a stranger.
Sentry 2- Missing you already
Sentry 3- I’m confused. What just happened?
Sentry1- Same thing happens every night
Sentry 2- except for the black pud.
Sentry 1- well yeah- but apart from that
Sentry 2- But that’s just my point. It was the first time old ghosty bollocks had an insight. I think we’re finally getting some real closure here.
Sentry 1- yeah, well, wha’ever
Sentry 3- Listen guys, I’m still confused. I mean what just happened? Does old ghosty bollocks have a son or doesn’t he?
Sentry 2 – Doesn’t
Sentry 1. Does too. He said so himself- “I’ve left plenty of byblows in the cradles of my courtiers.”
Sentry 2-Well he would say that wouldn’t he?
Sentry1- No, see here- he’s on this revenge kick right? I mean he wants one of those sons of his…
Sentry 2- or daughters- he never specified the sex of his byblows- let’s all just keep a lid on the Gender Chauvinism shall we?
Sentry 1- Well a son would be a more logical choice for his purpose- vengeance on widowed Denmark’s too peaceful ways
Sentry 3 (waking up) Gays? Did someone say Gays? As in Gays in the military?
Sentry 1 and 2 exchange looks-
Sentry 1- Yeah. Gays in the military. That’s what this is about.
Sentry3- O.K. Don’t ask, don’t tell. Back to snoozy by byes. This time I get the soft shoulder.
(They fall asleep on each other’s shoulders.)
Spotlight picks out Polonius who has been eavesdropping and follows him to where he encounters richly accoutred Laertes.
Polonius.-       Strange, at this hour, to see the battlements paced
By one all curled & crimped & puffed & laced
What mad French fad affects he now?
Laertes, son, whither goest thou?
Laertes-           Why father is it you? you have a ghostly tread
     I’m overdressed its true, but then I haven’t yet been to bed
        For tonight, at dinner, my lady dropped her scarf
And I fancied I felt- but promise you won’t laugh-
As if Selene, her veil, had to this end let fall
That her Endymion, I, her neck so enthral…
Polonius-   I’m sorry, my lad, your sonnet to wreck
              But Selene, you know, hasn’t a neck
Laertes- In Provence, father, a neck is assumed
Else on a Lunar simile I’d never presumed
Polonius- Ye Gods, for this I sent him to Paris!
Laertes- Tho’ Paris, Fair is, its manners are made mock at the courts of Languedoc, which being dear, I very much fear, I’m terribly in hock, but Dad you’re my rock!
Polonius- Oi! Not so fast my gallant young buck
Tho’ as a matter of fact, your old Dad’s had some luck
& aspire you to something just a little bit higher
Than being a Frenchified flunkey
Or I-talianiate monkey
Be guided by your sire!
Laertes- i’faith, Father, whatever can you mean?
Tho’ in courtly ways, I yet am green
Nothing lowly or base have I yet desired
Rather to that High Place ever aspired
Which Lancelot held for Guinevere
& Tristran for his Iseult dear
Polonius- Well spoken lad & with a Princely air
Not the French polish, the poplar’s fair
None but King’s sons can cuckold Kings
Which neatly me to the matter brings
What say you Laertes to being Royal?
The dead king’s eldest & me a loyal
Joseph, as ’twere, to your sainted mother
To whom indeed I’ll yet prove brother
Advanced at Court by your natural father
So you’d be near him, or say rather
Granted the Great Seal to guard your claim
Which untimely revealed had scotched the fair name
Of Gertrude who, tho’ of the old High King’s race
While your mother lived, had but bigamous embrace
Nor, for the Church, was the matter mended
After your poor mother’s life untimely ended
A story I with a corrupt Cardinal contrived
So Claudius could take an incestuous bride!
Laertes- Stop! What foulness is this assails my ears?
Avaunt thee demon! who in such shape appears
As to seem my own father- peerless of peers
Venerable Polonius- so rich in years
& each richer yet in works and days
Than what the Calendar of Saints itself displays
Thou art foiled, foul fiend, for naught daunts or dismays
By her favour who is screened, whose fervour is her praise!
(Rushes off flourishing Gertrude’s scarf)
Polonius- What’s to be done? The boy’s an ass
But then his mother was just a village lass
Big boned and blonde, a breeding mare.
Came she to court, she could but stare
& gape at the gallants, and gawp at the dames
’Twas the High King’s jest- just one of his games
To foist moron on genius, harlot on saint
Not that I had cause for complaint
Her heart as pure as her wit was slender
When the child queen, Gertrude, thought to befriend her
It broke. She died. On her death-bed raved.
Of Heaven’s Queen, star-light laved,
Descending moon beam stairs to draw her up
With the Pleiades to song and sup.
For her ox like eyes had seen the glory
Burst her ox like heart, a story
Showing what dread divinity yet hedges
To simple soul that pledges
Love to the old High Kings’ race
Or sees it in the Queen’s fair face.
For such Love ever is to those low born fatal
To Elsinore’s hamlets who are natal
For all Heaven is but as winter to that smile
Oppose it with arms! oppose it with guile!
As I did, taking sheath to the king’s knife,
Wise widower, a richly jewelled wife
A proper baron’s daughter
  Some whore had taught her
And I advanced as never before
Gertrude’s eyes now red and sore
Till, with eyes that dimmed the morn
Ophelia, of my loins, was born
Defeated in beauty, now drably attired,
Her mother lasted a week- then expired
Not that Gertrude had any respite for joy
The King, I’d captured with another toy!
Laertes- Father?
Polonius-   (startled)  Christ!
Laertes-                 Father, thank God it’s you!
                        Calling upon our Saviour true.
Fiend’s, I know, care not for that holy name.
And by fiends tonight Elsinore’s beset
What infidelity in me, ’twas to blame
I know not, nor worse yet
What carnal colouring to devoted thought
Ope’d Hell’s gates so a base fiend had wrought
My soul’s overthrow taking your seeming shape
Uttering blasphemies till my only means of escape
Was reverence- for you, and, one other perhaps
Ah! How I had fallen! I know not for what lapse…
Polonius- Yes… well… You take after your mother.
Laertes- I see her in dreams! Her and one other
Their images conjoined in some curious way
One the Sky, the other the lightning’s flickering play
Or one the image, the other the aura
One this hour, the other Aurora
Or, stay, if what I say seems to you absurd…
Polonius- Nay lad, enough, not another word
Laertes- But, Father, for act I mayn’t, speak I must
And, if not to you, then to whom in all trust?
Polonius- Nay, but it wounds me; speak not in this vein
Laertes-  ’Tis a glorious wound! If I could but explain!
Polonius- I loved your mother! Be silent now
Laertes- Would my mother could show me how!
Polonius- Gertrude had a mother. A foreign whore
Brought ruin to Elsinore and Denmark’s shore
Laid low the last of our true High Kings
Killed kinship, courtesy, and love of local things
Turned our wattle to stone with her Gorgon glance
Taught our country morrice the sword’s red dance
Pawned our shady patria for Amphion’s lyre
Flayed our Marsyas shepherds for Empire
Sent Viking our gentle King
Death is the song such Sirens sing!
No sons have they, sometimes a daughter
Consider what Gertrude’s mother taught her!
Twelve years that widow reared our Queen
Yet, from beyond the grave, must vent her spleen
Granting, by her Will, the child, Gertrude’s hand
To whomsoever led our most vile war band
And returned laden from ploughing the Sea
With richest harvest for Persephone
Laertes- A metaphor I’ll put to other uses
Gertrude’s the light from Eleusis!
Or, seeing how narcissus opens its eye to greet her
Say Kore’s daughter is Demeter
Polonius- That way madness lies
Laertes- Yes. But, else, Love dies
Polonius- Love dies. Yes. Yet are there children
Laertes- That’s usury.
 For the parfait to breed is certain sin.
Polonius- What Bogomil blasphemy is this you preach?
Laertes- Nay, ’tis what the Courts of Love proudly teach
Polonius- A pox on foreigners and their foul infections!
Laertes-  Progeny’s the pox on the heart’s affections
Polonius- For shame sirrah! For very shame!
Laertes- Truth blushes not at praise or blame
Polonius- Go to sirrah! Go to, go to!
Laertes- & it were to her, I would so do
Polonius- I waste my breath having words with you
Laertes- All breath is wasted on me too
  Save I breathe her name..
Polonius-                         (shouts) For shame!
(whispering)- Name her not! For your neck have a care!
Laertes-          Let Dawn blush, only Gertrude’s fair!
Polonius-        More of this and we’re undone!
Laertes-     Gladly, my Icarus words by Gertrude’s Sun
Polonius-    We’re overheard! Who’s that approaches?
Laertes-            Peril comforts, Safety reproaches
Polonius-    Why, well met! Look ’tis Fortinbras!
Fortinbras-             Stand off ho! Let me pass
Polonius-    Why, young my lord, we’re all friends here.
Fortinbras-             Stand off ho! Or taste my spear
Polonius-      A spear? my lord, that yon’s a crozier
Fortinbras-  Stand off ho! I’ve got a knife!
 (cringing in abrupt volte face)  O take my purse! just spare my life!
Polonius-     You mistake us, my lord, we’ve no purpose felonious
        This here’s my son & I’m Lord Chamberlain Polonius
(Fortinbras has taken the opportunity to run away. Polonius shouts after him)
Remember me to your Uncle- the Cardinal!
Laertes- To remember her to me all things were created
Polonius- A pox upon words!
Laertes-                                 To words am I fated.
            Penelope weaves through each wave in the Odyssey
            Laertes’ shroud, and that Textum is theodicy
            Word’s web
At Meaning’s ebb
Undone each night
Resumed at first light
I shuttle, Father,
Or say am shuttled rather
If Dreams are the loom, the web is waking
Or the heart’s each beat, the coarse thread’s breaking
Or a ’broidered figure
A thumb’s width- no bigger
In a tapestried Eden briefly exalted
Then exiled, then again halted
Trembling on the threshold of what’s allowed to be
Hope, my Arachne, my Atropos she… (wanders off, his voice fading)
Polonius- His wits list, the mast dips leeward
            From windy talk, his brain’s grown fever’d
            I must away to plot and plan
            Enlist Rumour’s aid, if I can
            To crown my son, not from mere ambition
            But to preserve his life, I make my mission (hurries away purposefully)
Act 2
Ophelia, a twelve year old, in cumbersome court dress, gathering up her skirts to reveal naked feet. She is playing hopscotch.
Skip, hop, splay! (Splays her legs to straddle two boxes)
            He comes out to play
            Hop, skip, hop (teetering on one leg)
            He goes to the shop
            Hop, hop, skip
            He kisses me on the lip (trips and falls into the arms of Laertes)
Laertes- Nay, for then you’ll trip
Ophelia-  Oh! Wow, you gave me a scare!
(Turning around to hang from his neck, kicking her heels in the air)
But to say I tripped is really so-oo unfair
I let myself fall, coz’ I knew you were there.
Laertes- Oh, yes? and how did you know?
Ophelia- Coz you’re my bro!
            You’ll always be there
(Disengaging, and pouting)
            at least, you always were
            But, now, you don’t care!
Laertes – Neigh, neigh, my fine filly (neighing and making horse like gestures)
Ophelia- Ooh, you are silly! (mollified)
But, really, you’ve gotten awful neglectful
Scarcely noticing me & then all cold & respectful
If that’s your French courtesy, it deserves a good stomping
I’m for play, and nick-names, and pillow fights and romping
Laertes-   Ah! But, Ophelia, you’re a lady now
Ophelia- Not I, I pray, I vow
It’s your mind that’s fixed on the ladies
As for me, I wish ’em all to Hades!
Laertes- ’Tis time to put aside childish things
Ophelia-  Nothing good, Adulthood brings
Laertes- Yet, will ye nill ye to this end you must come
Ophelia- Naught becomes me less than that to become
Laertes- Would you be a child forever?
Ophelia- I would & you my elder brother!
Laertes- That, at least, I’ll be always.
Ophelia- That’s talk. You’ve been here four days
                & haven’t asked once to see my dolls!
Laertes- Heaven trembles! My transgression appals!
Ophelia- There’s no call to get sarcastic!
Laertes- Nay, in truth, my wits grow spastic!
            That I should delay
My devoirs to pay
            To Chrissie, Missie, Betsy and Barbie
             A crime as heinous, as any in Hammurabi!
Ophelia- (uncertain, because she really does believe it’s a crime)
               Oh you- you’re just funning!          
Laertes- Not at all, I go to them running! (races off)
Ophelia- Stop! No fair! Come back, and start level!
(Starting to run, but tripping) O, Madonna, send skirts to the devil!

Claudius, who has been eavesdropping, moves into the spotlight as Ophelia runs off. Claudius continues watching her as Gertrude approaches.

Gertrude- Whither goest thy glance, dread my lord?
Caludius- Down memory’s byways that they afford
            A glimpse of a girl no older than that one
            Who thought me a clod, tho’ I thought her the Sun
Gertrude- Nay, but is it of me that now you speak?
Claudius- Forgive me, my dear, my will is weak
            And returns ever to that dear occasion
            When not I resisted a divine invasion
            Fresh tho’ I stood from wreaking havoc on the Saxon
            Myself, I found bound in chains so gossamer and flaxen…
(Gertrude tosses her head)     
            Ah! and it was from just such a toss, I was overthrown!
            Nay! Not a hair is changed, just more golden grown.
Gertrude-                         Fie upon thee! Fie!
            ’Twas for my mother you had an eye
Claudius- That I did. (pause) Why of course!
               Who loves the river, reveres its source!
Gertrude- Be more glib, my lord, or we see through the cheat!
Claudius- Only for my heart doth speak what my lips defeat
Gertude- Nay, go to, you’re smooth, you’re smooth
            Methinks, oftimes, I liked you better in sooth
            When silent you gloomed in your brother’s shadow
            Than now you’d frisk with young ewes in the meadow!
Claudius- Pity me, that in youth I was stung
      I but grow older to grow young!
Gertrude- I begin to see the plot you’re hatching
            That the blame be mine, for your cradle snatching!
Claudius- Nay, all I did was cast a fatherly eye…
Gertude- Fie upon thee! Ye heavens cry fie!
Claudius- The High Kings conquered by not arms nor art
 Their race’s sceptre was the wisdom of the heart 
Seek in its annals of which your blood has learning
                  What says it then of a father’s yearning?
Gertrude- And is that the reason…?
Claudius-                                      Else were treason!
Gertrude-  But oft have I told you what the wise-woman said
                        Not I am barren, yet you come not to bed!
Claudius- Willingly I would, but a spectre dread
            Stands between us- licked by flames Hellish red
            This I have told you, and how I’d that ghost defy
            But that ever and anon ‘murder!’ it doth cry
            And wakes in me such guilt for a deed not I’ve done
            But, perhaps, dreamed till the very shadows seem to shun
            Me, as from your bed I flee, Ah me! I’m undone!
Gertrude-   ’tis but a colour of the mind, a figment
Claudius-  Ah me! to be poltrooned by a pigment!
Gertrude- Nay, when the mind takes a hue
            It must render Hecate’s due
            So the wise-women say
            Till some conjurors’ play        
            The imagined deed enact
            And the mind abreact...
            Husband, I beseech thee, send for the players!
Claudius- Nay, I’ll rely on naught but your prayers. (Uttered forcefully, Claudius makes a manly exit)
Gertrude- My mind misgives me, there’s something here
                       I can not see, yet needs must fear

Second spotlight picks out Laertes as he passes.

            Why Laertes, would you pass me by?
            Not bowing, not speaking, but with an averted eye…
            Don’t avoid me, old playfellow, my blushes to spare!
            You alone are ashamed of the children we once were!
(Laertes gapes open mouthed. He hasn’t presence of mind even to bow.)   
            Danes term discourtesy, tho’ perhaps the French deem high fashion,
            Fish-faced gaping- but, stop!, is it an amorous passion?
            Has consumed your wits- ah! I see by the throbbing of your gills
            Some wench has landed you- does with you as she wills
            Ah! now everything becomes clear, the mystery dissolves
            Your mighty distraction and nightly pacing of the walls
            What’s the name of the damsel leads you such a dance?
            Your body here in Denmark, your heart yet in France!
Laertes:- I…I…
Gertrude-              Fie upon thee! I’ll have no courtly lie
                            Who is the fair one for whom you sigh?
Laertes- Nay, by my faith…
Gertrude-                             the crocodile sayeth!
                        Would we were children again!
 there was honesty in you then
              Now you’ve grown up, you’re no different from other men.
Laertes- A curse upon my heart that it should so tie in knots
            My cursed tongue that can now curse my thoughts
            So fluently, that those thoughts unfilial fetter
            The Will which is their only begetter
            O cursed Will!
            That holds me captive, cursing still
            When to her doth fly
            In a breathless sigh
            My soul, my soul
            To be blessed & by her made whole!
(Enter Rosycross and Goldenstone- the one in Rosicrucian, the other in Alchemist’s attire. They take up self-important and mysterious positions facing Laertes, but wait for him to address them. Laertes does not recognise them. There is an awkward pause.)
Rosycross- (finally stepping forward and giving a variety of Masonic hand signals)
                               Well,..  ahem!..  I confess, I’m rather at a loss
                       Can you already have forgotten your old roomie Rosycross?!
Laertes- Who?
Goldenstone (to Rosycross)- Well so much for you!
Only the search for the stone is the true Aletheia
Over all that’s mundane, flood Lethe here!
(to Laertes) How now, old lab-mate, how goes the quest?
Laertes- Who the devil are you, so oddly dressed?
Goldenstone- (aside to Rosycross) His memory’s misted by arcane studies
                        (to Laertes)                        Why,’tis I Goldenstone!
Laertes- O aye? & seeing as how we were once such buddies
              I suppose you thought I could manage a loan?
Rosycross (to Goldenstone)-  That’s one in your eye and no mistake
                                  Those Alchemist’s robes such an obvious fake!
Goldenstone- The dealer said they were genuine Chinese
Rosycross-  Perhaps that was the provenance of the fleas
                    For our European ones aren’t a patch on these
                    That jump so high
                    And the reason why
                    Is they seek a glimpse of far Cathay…
Goldenstone- Enough with the fleas, or we’ll be here all day
                      The fact of the matter, my dear Laertes
                       If you’ve truly forgotten us, and this isn’t just a tease
                       Is that we’re old friends of yours (Laertes looks dubious)
                                                        - well, acquaintances at least
                        I passed you the salt at the Fresher’s feast
                        And then there was that one time at a Fraternity mixer
                        When we had a cozy little chat about the quest for the elixir
                        Except you kept throwing up- which didn’t faze me any
                        Tho’ the dry cleaning bill came to a pretty penny
                        Not that I’m here to collect, perish the thought!
                        I’m an alchemist after all- tho’ if you could change an ingot?
                        I made it myself just the other day
                        Too pure, I’m afraid, for your Danish assay
                        But what with one thing and another
                        If it wouldn’t be any bother
                        I mean, if you could just see your way.. (proffers a lump of coal)
Rosycross-       …God’s teeth man! put that thing away!
(to Laertes)     By my trowel,
He’s an owl!
                        I wouldn’t be seen dead with him
                        Except he helped me get off gym
                        Forging a letter from my dear old pater
Goldenstone -             Traitor!
                                                You swore you’d never tell!
Rosycross-       Oh hell!
                                    Well, we’re all friends here…
                        I mean, you can’t count telling an old roomie
                        Or if you can, just go ahead and sue me!
Laertes-  You’re saying we were room-mates?
Rosycross-  and went on double-dates!
                   I mean, we would have done
                        We surely should have done
Seeing as we were rushed by the same frat
The toniest- but I needn’t tell you that
So we’re like frat-buds from way back!
Well, would have been, except I got the sack
Because of the fuss over that forged letter
I mean, it was only gym, but the Rector
Didn’t quite understand
When I shook his hand
That I wasn’t trying to flirt
Or, as quid pro quo, lift his shirt
Not that his buttocks weren’t kind of pert
But when, after all that passed between us, he still refused
To let me stay, I felt so cheap and used!
Goldenstone- Tell me about it. I was six months in plaster
                        After my bout with the gym-master.
Rosycross- (angrily) But old Aquinas didn’t your hopes defraud
                                        He got you on the cheerleading squad!
Goldenstone- Yeah but only for the hayseed circuit
                        And with so little material to work it
I mean, a chap can’t dazzle without a decent pom pom
         And the lads deserves better, even for a run of the mill pogrom
Rosycross-         Well, yes, there’s nothing so important as esprit de corps
                                    Which was why being expelled was such a bore
                             Just when I was on the point of getting into a good frat
Goldenstone- By my alathnor! No more of that!
(turning to Laertes who sneaked off long ago)
                       I am sorry my Lord …
                                                            Good God!
                                                                                    He’s vanished
Rosycros-        Its your cheerleading stories- they’ve gotten us banished
                        From Heidelburg and Freiburg and every which why burg
            I’m sorry, old boy, but to be absolutely blunt
            Sometimes you come across as a bit of a…
Goldenstone (speaking simultaneously)
           They liked my stories at Oxford- why, one time in a punt
            The Master of Magdalene got so excited about a stunt
            I devised one half-time to enliven a pogrom in Dachau
            He tried it himself and put his own back out
Rosycross-       That’s not what I heard.
Goldenstone-   No, nor me.
(Awkward pause. They look at each other)
 urm. Should we just sort of push off do you think?
Rosycross- Much the best course. I’m not really quite clear what we’re doing here anyway. But, anything for a laugh eh?
Goldenstone- No.
(They stand around awkwardly)
Right well, let’s just get off shall we?
Rosycross (morosely) yeah, whatever.
(Goldenstone goes off and then comes back)
Goldenstone- Aren’t you coming then?
Rosycross-What? We’ve got to go everywhere together have we? Why don’t you just go on ahead by yourself for a bit. I’ll be along in my own time.
Goldenstone- Oh. Well. Right! If that’s the way you want to play it…
Rosycross- Oh, just piss off for Chrissake!
Goldenstone- Very well then, though there’s no call to raise your voice.
(Ghost appears extreme left. Only Rosycross sees him. He screams.)
Goldenstone- Hark at her! I’m going already. (disappears behind curtain. Ghost advances slowly)
Ghost-                                                Hamlet, son, if be thou near
                                                 Hamlet, son, hie thee here
                                       Thy Sire, Hamlet, who’s now but grist
                                             To Hamlet’s Mill, bids thee list.
(At the mention of Hamlet’s Mill there is a roar- as of the sea)
Ah, Hamlet’s Mill now grinds my bones
I who bestrode 2 Baltic thrones
&, a Norse Colossus, held the North in fee
In Hamlet’s Mill, now, re-salt the Sea.
(Drawing closer to Rosycross)
Ah, Hamlet, son, ‘twas once my boast
My bare whisper woke the Varangian coast
Yet walk I abroad- now a wittering ghost
Sleep sound the sentries at their post.
(examining Rosycross)
Urm. You’re not a sentry.
Rosycross- dumbly shakes his head.
Ghost- This is awkward.
( pause)
Look, just to put you in the picture- I’m looking for my son Hamlet, so as to stir him up to take vengeance on widow’d Denmark’s too peaceful ways.
Rosycross- You seek the widow’s son!
Ghost- Well…Ye-es.. I suppose you could put it like that
Rosycross advances making Masonic gestures.
Ghost- I say! You’ve got the wrong end of the stick. I don’t know what you’ve heard, but I’m not that sort of chap at all. I mean, I’m not saying I never tried a bit of the other- but that was under battle-field conditions; things are different in war-time donchaknow...
Rosycross (coldly)- That’s what they all say.
Ghost- Yes, well.. Good God, was that a cock crow?
Rosycross- No!
Ghost-  Still. Mustn’t dally. Toodle pip!
Rosycross hangs about a bit backstage. Goldenstone comes for him and they prepare to go off when Polonius walks on and they repair to him eagerly.
Polonius-  The harvest’s failed. Elsinore’s soil marries the wind
            The harvest’s failed. Lord! We have grievously sinned!
            Barren seeds are we, by the scythe affrighted
            Barren seeds, our own seed corn blighted
            And in the peasant’s cott, on good report,
In the humble cott, but soon at court
            Hunger suckles at each shrivelled breast
Now the peasant’s, soon the patrician’s guest
Rosycross-  Excellency! By your leave
Polonius- And you did, who’d grieve?
Goldenstone- Excellency! Our respects
Polonius- Cursėd he who accepts
Rosycross- But, good my Lord, you bade us here
Polonius- More than friends, I keep you near
Goldenstone- Command us, Lord, but a little less riddlingly
Rosycross- Command us, Lord, we’d do your will willingly
Polonius-  You are the two coiners of whom I received report
Rosycross & Goldenstone (simultaneously)-
                     Good my Lord, you speak in sport!
Polonius- My wit is edged, you’ll taste the full richness of the jest
                  When the headman’s axe your neck does test
Rosycross-  But, most just my Lord, I am of the craft
                    As for him- well, he’s just a bit daft
Goldenstone- But, but, my Lord, you can see by, the manner I’m dressed
                        ’Tis the philosopher’s stone I make my quest
Polonius- Coiners both- the sort that has currency
               When harvest fails, a plague of vagrancy
                Worse than any chastened Pharaoh
                 Who bide their time and blameless lie low
                   In palmy days and balmy clime- but who
                   Mushroom most in murrain time-
                                                                 You two!
(Rosycross & Goldenstone had been preparing to sneak away, are pinioned by sentries who suddenly pounce from behind the drapes)
Rosycross- Unhand me! (struggles) why the fellow’s deaf!
                     Don’t you know I’m with the I.M.F!
Goldenstone- The civilised world will unite to deplore
                        This outrage on an agent of the W.T.O
Polonius- What mean these hellish acronyms?
(Rosycross & Goldenstone)- The new subject of all secular hymns!
Rosycross- the I.M.F is the International Masonic Fellowship
Goldenstone- & the World Thaumaturgic Order to those who’re hip
                                    The W.T.O is called and yclept
Polonius- Jesus wept!
Rosycross- Angels, unaware, you entertain
Goldenstone- Release us and we’ll gladly explain
Polonius- Not coiners no- but chapmen Devil sent
            Following famine’s footsteps with the foul intent
            Of cheapening souls for your Satanic master
            Speed you to perdition, I’ll send you there faster!
(brandishes sword)
Goldenstone - So fierce my Lord! Take thought, forebear
                        The State’s ruined Credit we can repair
                        As for Devils and demons, ghosts and ghouls
                        Trouble they none but born were fools
                        We’re serviceable my Lord, use us fitly
                        To lop our heads were hardly thrifty!
Polonius-   My sword is swift, you are already dead,
       But don’t know it. If you so much as nod your head
       Save by my leave, off your shoulders it will topple
       And no process of law- not King’s writ nor estoppel
            Will restore you to aught save a puppet’s existence
With me pulling the strings. Oh, I’ll grant you subsistence
Nothing more, for all you Fortune’s fools
But live to be Policy’s tools.
Goldenstone- Dread my Lord, we think it good
To leave off flesh and be as wood.
The better to be your marionettes
We have no will but what your will begets.
(Polonius nods and then looks at Rosycross.)
Rosycross- What he said (Goldenstone nudges him)What? Oh yeah, like wood is good, we’re into wood and um er you know the whole puppet show thing? Like we’re tOtally into that, and everything’s cool and erm you know, different strokes for different folk and like yeah you know this could really work, I mean this could go over big time. Yeah, like totally. Yeah. Unhh hunnh. Hey! WaZZZZZZZZup!
Are we having a good time or what?
(Polonius and Goldenstone walk off while Rosycross is talking. Fade out.)

Act 3
Laertes-       All happens as has happened before
                     We tread the weird we trod of yore
                  Our World narrows as our view expands
                 As held my heart swells in her slender hands
                 & if, in sluggish streams, aught reach the Sea
                    or embark overgrown lads, the World to see
                       That Sea will yet boil in Hamlet’s Mill
                    & the World yet whirl to unwork our Will
Polonius- (entering) Laertes!
                                         Ah, lad, you’ll drive me to distraction!
            Still lost to your thought, tho’ the Court quake in faction
Laertes-  My thoughts, father, are not my own
               I harvest what the weird has sown
Polonius- The Harvest! Aye, the Blight is upon us!
                 A wound I must touch like doubting Thomas
                It harrows me, yet my heart must harden
                & whip on my wits to save the garden.
Laertes-  Not Blight, father, for Blight’s but a Season
             Nor ’s Love a Blight, and Light only Reason
             What I harvest now, tho’ I but harvest words…
Polonius- Harvest nothing! Have done with words!
                Or we’re harvest sure to the carrion birds!
Laertes-  Is Death fearful? I thought her the third
              Ascending in Beauty, phase of the weird
              I welcome Death, & if you ask ‘why?’
              Death’s the Mother who does not die
Polonius- Death is not fearful when it comes in such guise
            ’Twas at about your age, the Queen’s image in her eyes
              Your mother died. She died. The country bred girl
              And now, it’s all happening again.
              I, I… I mean… I took precautions. I’ve spent money
             Damn it, I sent you to Paris!
Prompter- & tho Paris, fair is, it’s manners are made mock etc.
Polonius (exploding)- You’re on the wrong fucking page! And that’s his line, not mine you utter asshole! Oh just fuck off anyway coz I’m not a fucking machine, so just shut it…
Prompter- So-rry!
(Awkward silence. Polonius and Laertes stand around brooding. Ophelia shows up.)
Ophelia- What’s going on? Were you having a row? Won’t someone please tell me what’s going on?
(She goes to Polonius and nestles under his arm looking up at his face. That failing, she goes to Laertes and tugs at his sleeve. Then she catches hold of his upper arm and hangs from it until Laertes is obliged to stoop down and turn his face towards her.)
Won’t someone please say something?
Laertes- What’s the point? Nobody understands a word I say.
Ophelia- I’ll understand! Talk to me only! My embroidery teacher says I’m sharper than a needle. I bet, even if you talk your poetic French, I’ll understand you.
Laertes- I hope that isn’t true.
Ophelia (flouncing)- You think I’m still a child! (Her skirts whirl up to reveal her naked feet.)
Laertes- Still barefoot & wild
Ophelia- (covering feet) I’ve plenty of shoes, & what’s more, they have heels
Laertes- & you’d wear them, I suppose, if only they had wheels!
Ophelia- Shoes with wheels! Now that’s an idea!
            No need to walk, I’d be skating all year!
Polonius- & taking many a fall, I very much fear!
Ophelia (to Laertes)- not if you were with me, you’d catch me pretty quick
Polonius- He might catch you my dear but you’d also catch it from my stick!
Ophelia- It’s unfair! I’m the only one they all punish!
Laertes- Nay, I’ll go halves should Daddy turn hunnish
Ophelia- Will you really? Well, it so happens I’ve got this tiny bit of imposition from my embroidery teacher and seeing as I’ve already finished almost half of it- I mean I would have done if I’d started- so, you see, if you’re really going to go halves on all my punishments from now on…
Laertes- Say no more. Lead me to it.
Polonius- He’ll join you, child, in a little while. There’s something we need to talk about first.
Ophelia- Oh! Well, if it’s a family matter, then the imposition will have to wait, that’s all. Teacher will get mad, but she has to understand, now I’m the woman of the house, my family comes first. Don’t worry daddy, I’ll take care of everything. Just tell me what’s bothering you.
Polonius- Well, if you must know, it’s this complaint we’ve received from the Wardrobe Mistress about girls not doing their homework.
Ophelia- Why, that spiteful creature! Look, I’d love to stick around and chat, but I’ve just remembered I’ve got this really important thing to do. Like, it’s a woman thing, so you wouldn’t understand even if I explained it to you. So, I’ve simply got to rush away especially because you know the Wardrobe Mistress has gone totally mad- it happens to her every so often- it’s a woman thing, you wouldn’t understand- so, I’ve really got to go is what I’m saying. Bye-ee!
Polonius- Right, now, before you go off into one of your fine mystic reveries, Laertes, my lad, you’re going to have to listen to me. Things have taken a serious turn. This is no longer just about you- about saving your neck- this is about the whole future of Denmark. Already, the people feel the pinch of starvation. At Court, the lesser noblemen are beginning to grumble. They yearn for the days of the dead King when our raiding ships returned laden with gold & grain. What they don’t understand is that a fundamental shift has occurred in the Balance of Power in this region. Younger, less priest-ridden, races have risen up along the shores of the Baltic. Frankly, we’ll be lucky if we avoid an invasion- we simply aren’t in a position to mount one. Economically, too, we’re in trouble. The terms of trade have moved against us. Our Currency has depreciated and, ever since the last pogrom, our Credit is exhausted. You see, the Church, is manoeuvring to take over our finances at fire-sale prices. In the past, what saved us was the reputation for ferocity the dead King enjoyed. But, Claudius, everyone knows, is no soldier. That’s why Cardinal Fortinbras arranged the papal dispensation for Gertrude’s incestuous marriage to her brother-in-law, at such a low price. Since the common people are still loyal to the line of the old High Kings, Claudius is safe enough on the throne. But, the price of Claudius’ security is Denmark’s peril unto death. Our people- as yet but lightly yoked- will be, if the Church has its way, first so unmanned by starvation they will finally acquiesce to sell themselves into perpetual bondage for the price of a little seed-corn.
The only thing we’ve got going for us is the fact that the Princes of the South might  still view us as a shield against the wild pagans of the North. But, to get them to unloose their purse strings sufficiently to tide us over our present crisis, we need to offer them an alternative to Claudius- someone with a legitimate claim to the throne and an, as yet, untarnished military reputation.
Now, there’s a rumour taken root that the dead King had a war-like son who is going to return Denmark to its destiny as the hammer of the North. For reasons, you needn’t worry your head over- you, Laertes, could be that looked for saviour. What I want you to do now is to make a tour of the German Universities- take Rosycross and Goldenstone with you- recruiting the fiercest brawlers and the most aristocratic wastrels to your cause. This will give you credibility. Once this happens, I will be able to start raising money again and famine will be staved off.
Laertes- You want me to go to University? That’s what you’re saying?
Polonius- Urm. Ye-ees.
Laertes- But, I couldn’t possibly leave Elsinore just now. Anyway, I spent a term or two at Paris- and much good it did me! No, it was the Courts of Love in Provence that really opened my eyes.
Still, it’s a very generous offer- not that you’ve ever been other than generous to me Dad- and if you’re really sure you can spare the money- there’s a couple of bills I’ve outstanding with my tailor and I know it’s a nuisance but he’s the only man who can do anything with my figure and I simply must give him a little on account because I could really use a few new suits just now because I’m constantly bumping into… well, you know who,… and I mean, I’d cut a pretty sorry figure if I  just kept rotating the same two dozen or two score outfits for the different hours of the day. Which reminds me- I must go and change. Sorry I can’t hang about and chat, but you know how it is. I’ve a position to keep up. Still, you’ve cheered me up a treat, I can’t deny that! So I guess, you’re still the bestest Dad in the World. Bye-ee!
Polonius (turns to audience to utter his soliloquy)
Prompter- Polonius turns to audience to utter his soliloquy.
Polonius- That’s the fucking stage direction you asshole! You’ve ruined it now! Fuck this for a game for soldiers. I mean what is the fucking point!
(Ghost enters)
Hamlet son, if be thou near etc.
Polonius- That’s not in the script! You crazy old bastard you’ve got the wrong cue.
Ghost- No I haven’t.
Prompter- He’s right you know.
Polonius & Ghost speaking together- Whose right? Me or him?
Prompter- Him
Polonius- Oh! Well I’m just a useless old fart aren’t I? Obviously suffering from senile fucking dementia! I need a drink! (Leaves)
Ghost-  Hamlet, son, if be thou near etc
Prompter- When I said him, I didn’t mean you I meant him.
Ghost- Whom?
Prompter- That other geezer.
Ghost- Oh! So what you’re saying to me is I’m not supposed to be onstage just now?
Prompter- That is what I’m saying to you, yes.
Ghost- Well, I’ll just go then.
Prompter- But then there will be no one left on stage.
Ghost- So?
Prompter- But, if there’s no one on stage how am I supposed to know where we are in the play?
Ghost- Dunno. Maybe, you don’t need to know, coz you don’t have to prompt anyone.
Prompter- Hamlet son, if be thou near
Ghost-  what? Oh right.. Hamlet son if be thou near etc
Prompter- No! No! Stop ! Cut it out! I’m not prompting you, I just missed my line.
Ghost (stands around awkwardly) – urm, right, well, I’ll just wander off then shall I?
Prompter- But, then there will be no one on the stage
Ghost- So?
Prompter- Hamlet son if be thou near etc
(Director walks on, apologises to audience, silences prompter, drags off the ghost, and tells audience to go have a drink while he sorts things out.
Member of the audience- Urm! Excuse me!
Director- Yes?
Member of the audience- Well, I mean, I don’t know how other people feel, but
Director- No refunds. It’s theatre policy.
Member of the audience- Hey, I got a free ticket, and I’m not complaining or anything but it’s just that, well, seeing as we’re going for a drink and all...
Director- Very civil of you- mine’s a spritzer.
Member of the audience- No I don’t mean…
Director- The girls are partial to a spot of bubbly.
Member of the audience- I’m sorry, we seem to be at cross-purposes here. I’m not offering to buy you guys a drink, I just want to know what happens in the rest of the play. I mean, just in case I meet somebody interesting at the bar and we get chatting and it leads to a leg-over and then I’m like sitting up in the middle of the night wondering what happened to whassisname you know the guy and that other guy and you know stuff like that.
Director- Oh! Right, well, I see. I mean sure, I totally get your point. And, I‘d really like to help you out. But, I’m like more into the whole mise en scene donchaknow? I mean like does anything really happen in this play? I mean, like isn’t the whole point that nothing actually happens?
Member of the audience- So, nothing happens?
Director- Perhaps nothing concrete happens, but, perhaps, in another sense, everything happens.
Member of the audience- any sex?
Director- I’d have to check the script.
Act 4
Gertrude-  All happens as has happened before
              The players return to Elsinore
           The Cosmos entire taking the Court for stage
            As Fate’s prompter turns its First Folio page
             Not our speech to mend but souls to mar
              Not Hell to baffle but Heaven to bar
             All happens as has happened before
               The same old drama at Elsinore!
Ophelia- Aunty, is something wrong?
Gerturde- Child, be strong!
Ophelia- Aunty, you’re upset
   It’s the Wardrobe Mistress, I bet
      She’s been telling you tales
    Laying on your eyes such scales
That you can no longer see
Your special pet- that’s me!
Come to make all things better
See, I’ve knitted you a sweater!
Well I would have done
I easily could have done
Except my knitting needles got mislaid
Or, for candy apples, went in trade
And so- to complete my utterly unjust imposition
Great Queen- that’s you- your aid, I petition!

Gertrude- Girlhood lost to brute Lust’s requisition
           Womanhood to Love’s bitter Inquisition
          The wombs we inclose and uterine font
           Are a soldier’s jest, his spoils to taunt!
Ophelia- I don’t understand.
Gertrude- A Prince seeks your hand.
Ophelia- My hand is attached to my arm
Gertrude- Yet your hand will do you harm
Ophelia- Then I’ll cut it off and get a hook
Gertrude- Your hook will get you hooked
Ophelia- Then my goose is cooked
          Unless, it I unscrew
          & attach with some glue
          Ye olde chain saw!
          Now, that were a paw
          Could best, I wager
          The great bear of the Ursa Major!
Gertrude (smiling against herself)- Yet all come under ‘the plough’
Ophelia- Not me, I pledge, I vow
Gertrude- How escape thy starry doom?
Ophelia- I’ll sweep the skies with my broom!
Gertrude- Ah! Now I see your true vocation
Ophelia- (insinuatingly) My best subject is ‘Summer Vacation’.
Gertrude- You’re wasting your time with embroidery and knitting
Ophelia- A Solomon in Judgment, here is sitting!
Gertrude- Henceforth mops and brooms shall be your care
Ophelia- Cool! But my brother too should get a share
Gertrude- Laertes? I thought you were close?
           But then, he’s a Man.. I suppose…
                        And that remains the acid test
               & Laertes, too, just like the rest.
Ophelia- Aunty, believe me, he’s always been the best
          ’Cept, now, there’s so much starch in his vest.
           Polishing floors will suit him better I think
           He will get them as slippery as a skating rink
           And while the rest of the court go tumbling- arse over tip
           You and me’ll sail serene with a hearthrug for ship!
(Ophelia illustrates what she means-finally skating- actually hopping- out of sight, blissfully oblivious to the fact that, meanwhile, Gertrude has turned to see that Claudius has been watching.)
Claudius (guiltily) - My queen, I feared to interrupt..
Gertrude- Lord, be thou more abrupt
           As all desire is, that scepter’d be
           Turning caprice to necessity.
Claudius- Gentle wife, you do me wrong
Gertrude- As thou thy heirs that to my womb belong
Claudius- This again?! Have I not said
           For what reason strong I abhor thy bed?
           A ghost stands between us- ‘Murder!” its cry
Gertrude- The Host fears no ghost- it binds us- you and I
Claudius- Learned Clerics grave fault in our marriage have found
Gertrude- Breaking Faith to break what God together has bound
Claudius- Madam, you mistake me- none speak here of divorce
Gertrude- Who’d counsel the costly when there’s cheaper recourse?
Claudius- Madam, I beseech you, speak not such riddles
Gertrude- Marry- if I didn’t- how ugly your Idylls?
Claudius- Is this what you call speaking plain?
Gertrude- The heart’s whisper, to the ear is pain
Claudius- Come, Madam, this is unseemly!
Gertrude- As Truth is to Kings extremely
Claudius- Madam, if I may, your doubts set at rest
Gertrude- A babe I’d have suckling at my breast!
Claudius- Yes. Yes. It’s all true. I’ve been no husband to you. There is justice in your taunt.
Gertrude- You are my husband. All the man I want.
Claudius- And you my wife, my Queen, my life
Gertrude- twist not that knife!
Claudius- My soldier’s life, my wife and Queen
           Is but blood to be spilt for what has been
           So that what was once might again be now
           & our race’s crown encircling your brow
           Blaze forth, once more, with such splendor
           As to illumine our land & defend her
           Against alien horde’s martial thunder
           Ranks ravening to us tear asunder
           Till thy forked lightning burns up their banners
           & under thy yoke, they mend their manners
           Not that, at this moment, invasion is the danger
           But, rather, the Blight- long to our shores a stranger
           & Famine and Civil Faction- Evils twin born
           To defeat which I must this guile suborn.
           & Hamlet-like, death for life dissemble
           & its crown to steady, a dearer heart let tremble.
But, wait, here is Lord Chamberlain Polonius
His ploy to expound in periods harmonious
For till her old steward explain it, strategy is a knife
All husbandry’s so hurtful to the heart of a wife

(Claudius departs. Polonius comes up.)

Polonius-   Majesty, your pardon, but the players approach
            & so who bid them here is spared self-reproach
           Permit me, in your name, their company to banish
           Ah! Would the Blight that besets us as easily vanish!
Gertrude-      Ever is there gloom in the matters you broach
Banishment is the doom for who on my prerogative encroach
    But, my Lord, that is you- for they come at my command
Polonius- The people cry for bread, yet Drama you demand?
Gertrude- Be it on my head, no counsel can remand
          This Physic I feel will work the Public weal
           Banish my land’s blight and barrenness heal
                  Purge this our blood guilt
              The plundered gelt this Palace built
         For the theatre is as a mirror in which we cast
     Off evil enchantments and passion’s poisonous past
(Enter the players- A bunch of mime artists.)
Gertrude- You aren’t the players I sent for.
Player- Thees eez Edinburgh- yees? Zee Festival yeees?
Gertrude- No, this is Elsinore. You need to go back and change at Stuttgart.                                           Polonius- Actually, the last Folk-wandering from Stuttgart left a couple of centuries ago. You’d be better off carrying the plague to Norway and then catching the 1239 invasion which will get you as far as the Orkneys.
Players- Zank you. Vee go now. (They don’t leave. Instead they begin to mime leaving)
Polonius- Fuck this! I need a drink. (Leaves)
Gertrude- (appeals to the Director, off stage) The mimes are at it again. Can’t you do something.
(Goes off)
Ophelia comes on deep in conversation with Rosycross and Goldenstone
Ophelia- so you understand what you have to do?
Goldenstone- Absolutely.
Rosycross- Say what?
Goldenstone- Ignore him. The thing’s in the bag. Nothing easier.
Ophelia- okay. Off you go then. (The mimes prick up their ears and leave)
Goldenstone also leaves. Rosycross hangs about. Goldenstone returns and frog marches him off.
Ophelia- To be or not to be- that is the quest-ion
         Tho’ both but are Mischief’s suggest-ion
          Kid’s listen to coz they don’t know any better
       Like that one time I knitted the Universe a sweater
    And it wore it all Christmas but then swore it was lost
      Though I found it in its closet that same Pentecost
                Which only goes to show
                  Something or other y’know.
Enter Wardrobe Mistress (Iyer in drag)- Ophelia, beti, I been searching you madly.
Ophelia- Whilst in embroidery room, Ma’am, I missing you sadly.
Wardrobe Mistress- Chee! Chee! Such lies you are telling?
Ophelia- Na ji na! Only truth I am yelling!
Wardrobe Mistress- Jhutti kahin ki! Shame you are not knowing?
Ophelia- Only longing for learning in my heart keeps growing
Wardrobe Mistress- But why you don’t come to class to sit and learn?
Ophelia- But there I sit and to learn I yearn
Wardrobe Mistress- But class is where am, it is you who are truant
Ophelia- Behind you I stand, more than your shadow pursuant
Wardrobe Mistress- You mean you were standing behind me all the time
Ophelia- Haan ji haan- behind your back, so sublime
Wardrobe Mistress- But when I call out your name, why you no answer?
Ophelia- My name melts in flame, as in dance does the dancer
Wardrobe Mistress- Achha?! But I see you here in the flesh!
 Ophelia- …………….Caught in Maya’s mesh
          Grace of thy glance being denied to me
           The embroidery room here embroiders thee
Wardrobe Mistress- Stop! That doesn’t make sense
Ophelia- Nor the World that pretence
Wardrobe Mistress- Beti, you trying be clever?
Ophelia- What me? No never! ‘’tis only thee I rever … or… ’kay...Oh God! You’ve found me out- I told the Queen I could never fool you, but she said you were missing India and wanted to go home and that the only way we could get you to stay and teach us all how to weave muslin and spin that other stuff, urm… linen and lace  and y’know, and so on was if I like convinced you the entire Universe was kind of… what’s the world…
Wardrobe Mistress- Maya. Illusion. Neither Space nor Time exist. There is only the weaving.
Ophelia- That’s right. So you see you’re actually back in India…
Wardrobe Mistress- I am?
Ophelia- …um…Sure! Why not?
Wardrobe Mistress- then fuck off you untouchable. In fact all youse can fuck off. I’m going back to my room to weave a nice magical realist tapestry about growing up in Calcutta and scaring Amartya Sen straight and shit. (leaves)
Ophelia- (to the audience) only way to deal with them. What can you do?
Prompter- ‘If my indecision don’t, let this at least daunt her
           Poor is the play where all passion’s in the prompter!’
Ophelia- I’m fourteen! What are you- a pervert?
Prompter- Sorry missed my place. ‘Hamlet, son, if be thou near

No comments: