Hamlet falls for Juliet and all hell breaks loose on the Shakespearean landscape
INSUBSTANTIAL PAGEANT FADED
A Play in Two Acts
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Hamlet: Danish; Blue
Ghost of Hamlet’s Father: Cryptic; Secretly wishes he were Caesar’s Ghost
ROMEO & JULIET
Romeo: Impetuous but not in a particularly good way
Juliet: Virtuous; Beautiful; Befuddled; Wants more out of life than a tragic death
Nurse: Attends to Juliet; More Ratched than Nightingale
Friar Lawrence: An idea man, all of them bad
Rosalind: Romeo’s ex; Sleeps around
Capulet: Hates Montague’s
Lady Capulet: Capulet’s wife; Throws a good party
Montague: Hates Capulet’s
Lady Montague: Montague’s wife; Closet fan of Gallagher’s “Watermelon” routine
Prince: Ineffectual Prince of Verona; Goes heavy on the guilt
Tybalt: Dislikes Romeo; Enjoys a good fight; Pain in the neck
Mercutio: A way with words; Romeo’s cousin; Dies needlessly
Benvolio: Hangs out with Mercutio; Knows his way around prosciutto
Falstaff: Rotund friend of Henry V before he became “such a prick”
Henry V: Wayward youth now with a stick up his ass
Henry IV: Crown usurper; Poor parenting skills
Caesar: Vain; Egotistical; Finger painter
Caesar’s Ghost: Caesar, but with more blood on the outside than inside
Calpurnia: Caesar’s wife; Dream interpreter
Antony: Married to Cleopatra; Came to bury Caesar, not to praise him
Brutus: Noble; Conspirator; A man of absolutely no convictions
Othello: Brilliant in battle; A tad jealous
Desdemona: Othello’s wife; Handkerchief dropper; Pillow smotheree
Iago: Cunning ensign to Othello; Not crazy about that position
Lady Macbeth: Ambitious; Cold; Heartless; Don’t fuck with her
Macbeth: Browbeaten husband of Lady Macbeth; Occasionally headless
Witch 1: Foretells the future; Illegal; Off the books
Witch 2: Good with rhymes; Independent Contractor; Gets a 1099
Witch 3: Cauldron stirrer; Bi-weekly paycheck; Direct deposit
Prospero: Exiled Duke; Part-time meteorologist
Caliban: Deformed slave to Prospero; Low self-esteem
Miranda: Prospero’s daughter; Raised in a hovel
Kate: In need of taming; Shrewish
Valentine: One of two gentleman of Verona; Poor sense of direction
Shylock: Merchant; Loanshark; Jew; FDIC insured
Richard III: Hunchback; Murderer; Poor table manners
Gloucester: Knows Lear; Blind; Walks into things
Timon of Athens: Misanthropic bore; Linked to Lance Bath in OK Magazine
Altar Boy (Stefan): Carries wafers, goblets; Young meat
Messenger: Bearer of good and bad news; Greedy
Policeman: Has only a couple of lines; A loner
Romeo & Juliet Chorus: Self-important; Can’t go to his left
Gower: From Pericles; Syrian; Once met Vic Taback
Rumour: From Henry IV; Apologist; Single
Chorus from Henry V: Outspoken; Sure of himself; Insipid
Clown: From Twelfth Night; Sings Lines; Frightens children
Chorus from Henry VIII: Inspiration for Robert Palmer’s “Simply Irresistible”
Chorus from Troilus & Cressida: By and large unemployed; No sense of smell
SCENE: Various locales across the Shakespearean landscape
Seven men, all dressed in period clothing (one is actually dressed as a clown) appear from behind the curtain. They were not expecting any of the others to appear so they look to one another warily, even a bit angrily.
Each of them play the role of Chorus in their respective plays. There’s GOWER from Pericles, RUMOUR from Henry IV Part II, the CLOWN from Twelfth Night and four titled Chorus, one from Troilus & Cressida (CHORUS T & C), one from Henry V (CHORUS H5), one from Henry VIII (CHORUS H8) and finally one from Romeo & Juliet (CHORUS R & J).
After a moment or two of eyeing each other, each launch into their respective prologues. It’s just a mess of noise. They stop, all of them, for a moment and then relaunch into where they left off. Again, more noise and again, they stop. The Clown is the only one who doesn’t stop. He is, in fact, singing.
CLOWN (singing): For the rain it raineth every day. But when I came to man's estate, With hey, ho, & c. (His voice begins to trail off, realizing the six others are looking at him with disgust) 'Gainst knaves and thieves men shut their gate,
CHORUS R & J: What are you doing?
CLOWN: I…I was under the impression that a Chorus was needed for this play.
CHORUS H5: Yes, but who are you?
CLOWN: I’m a clown.
CHORUS R & J: We can all see you’re a clown! What play are you from? I don’t recognize you.
CLOWN: Uhm, Twelfth Night. You know it?
CHORUS H5: Yes, we know it. There’s no prologue in Twelfth Night.
CLOWN (nervously): Yes, well, yes…I’m…There’s an epilogue. I’m responsible for the epilogue. It’s a song I sing…It’s very epilogue-ish, if you will.
CHORUS R & J: I won’t! Off with you!
CLOWN: Maybe I can come up with a prologue song? A little happy-go-lucky kind of thing to set the…
CHORUS H5: That won’t…
CHORUS H5: That won’t be necessary. Please, just go…into the party scene …behind the curtain. Mingle, have a good time. Sing to whomever you want to. We have business to attend to out here.
The Clown begrudgingly complies and goes in through the curtain.
GOWER: Well, that was certainly unwelcome.
CHORUS R & J: And who are you again?
GOWER: Gower. Prologue. Pericles.
CHORUS H5: Pericles? My God, is that still part of the Canon?
GOWER: Oh, yes, sir. Very much so, sir. A comedy. He’s Prince of Tyre?
CHORUS R & J (mocking): Of what?
GOWER: Tyre, sir. It’s near Syria…or part of Syria. I’m not sure. It’s a little grey. But the point is I do have a prologue and, in fact, I have a prologue before each act of my play.
CHORUS H5: Of Pericles?…
GOWER:…Prince of Tyre. Yes.
CHORUS R & J (turning hard towards Chorus H8): What’s your story?
CHORUS H8: Henry the VIII. (confidently) Perhaps you’ve heard of him!
CHORUS R & J: Yes, certainly a well known King, but, alas, a little known play. Name me one character worth knowing in your Henry the Eighth.
CHORUS H8: Okay. How about Henry the Eighth?
CHORUS R & J: Besides him.
CHORUS H8: You have Wolsey and Anne Bullen, Katherine…It’s a who’s who, really.
CHORUS H5: But let’s be honest, it’s not much of a play.
CHORUS H8: So what play are you from then?
CHORUS H5: I’m the Chorus from Henry the Fifth. Heard of that little ditty?
GOWER: I think it’s overrated if you ask me.
CHORUS H5: See that’s just it, Gower, no one’s asking you.
RUMOUR: Speaking on behalf of my play, Henry the Fourth (aside) Part Two…
CHORUS H5: Rumour…
RUMOUR: …I just want to say that I’m a big fan of Henry Five, but, let’s face it, without our efforts in H4, there’s no context to your piece. It’s a kingdom without a horse, so to speak…
CHORUS H5: Rumour…
RUMOUR: I’m not one to quibble over who should be the Chorus for this show. Certainly I’m above quibbling and obviously far and away above this, what would you call it…razzamatazz.
CHORUS R & J: Your name is Rumour?
RUMOR: At least I was given a name.
GOWER: So was I.
CHORUS R & J: But Rumour? Isn’t that the name of one of Ashton Kutcher’s kids.
RUMOUR: Actually that would be Bruce Willis and Demi Moore. Ashton Kutcher is her stepfather, I believe. (turning to the others) Am I right about that, are they married yet?
CHORUS H8: Who are we talking about?
GOWER: Moore and Kutcher.
CHORUS H8: I don’t think so.
CLOWN (from offstage): They’re married!
CHORUS R & J: Let’s get back on point here. Who’s most relevant to present this play? I’d suggest, as the Chorus for Romeo and Juliet, the most likely candidate would be me.
CHORUS T & C: Just because this play involves them doesn’t mean you should be the Chorus for it.
CHORUS R & J: It more than involves them. The story revolves around them.
CHORUS T & C: It also has Hamlet and Iago, Lady Macbeth, Caesar…I say the role should be shared. We could each take a piece it. Divvy it out.
CHORUS H5: That would be a mess. Each of us come from a different point of view. My Henry appears in it and I say his role is central to the action.
CHORUS H4: My Henry appears too. Your Henry’s dad.
CHORUS H5: But he’s not a catalyst.
CHORUS R & J: The story, first and foremost is about Juliet and her desire to see what life is like without Romeo. She’s tired of her role, the destiny assigned to her…
GOWER: And so she falls for Hamlet.
CHORUS T & C: That’s not how I saw it.
CHORUS R & J: And who are you?
CHORUS T & C: The Chorus from Troilus and Cressida.
CHORUS R & J: Are you kidding?
CHORUS T & C: Don’t be a snob.
CHORUS R & J: Troilus and Cressida?
CHORUS H8: Leave him be. He’s right about Hamlet and Juliet. I’m not sure that she falls for him.
RUMOUR: The way they meet, though, at the Capulet Ball…
CHORUS H5: The idea of having the characters from all the plays together for that party…
RUMOUR: It’s perhaps the most famous scene in all of Shakespeare, the moment when Romeo first lays eyes on Juliet.
CHORUS R & J: Thank you. This is why I should be the Chorus here. All others step aside.
CHORUS H4: It’s a recipe for disaster is what is. All the characters getting together in one place at one time. It leads to chaos. Everyone realizing that they’re not tethered to their respective destiny’s…The opportunity to cross pollinate, what-have-you…Only the deft touch of Henry and his son…
CHORUS H8: You’re telling too much of the story. Don’t give it away to them or they’ll leave before we even get off the stage.
GOWER: So how would you like to lead them into this then?
CHORUS H5: Set the scene…
GOWER: At curtain rise, we are at the Capulet Ball.
The Capulet Ball from Romeo & Juliet. The characters from Romeo & Juliet are in attendance, but also many of the characters from other Shakespearean plays. The characters, dressed in Shakespearean garb, litter the stage, chatting with each other, grabbing a plate at the buffet, a drink at the open bar. Elizabethan music fills the air.
RUMOUR: Lady Capulet and her husband have graciously invited all the characters from the Shakespearean canon to attend.
CHORUS R & J: Everyone but the Montagues, of course.
CHORUS H5: Of course.
CHORUS H8: Save for Romeo.
CHORUS R & J: Oh, yes, Romeo’s there.
CHORUS H4: Before we begin I’d like to apologize for what’s to be presented. I beg your pardon in advance and ask for your forgiveness if what follows in any way offends.
CHORUS H5: That doesn’t inspire confidence.
CHORUS H4: Just hedging my bets.
GOWER: The action begins as the Caesar’s, Julius and Calpurnia, enter, with excited anticipation…
CAESAR and his wife CALPURNIA enter through a set of doors. BARDOLPH, a minor character from Henry IV, holds the door open to let them in.
BARDOLPH (sarcastically): You’re welcome!
CAESAR: I said thank you!
Bardolph storms off.
CAESAR (to Calpurnia): I said thank you to him.
CALPURNIA: He must not have heard you.
They are greeted by a HOSTESS. Caesar removes his raincoat, helps Calpurnia off with hers. They’re dressed in togas.
CAESAR: Caesar. J. Caesar. This is my wife Calpurnia.
HOSTESS (spunky Texan accent): Well, welcome to the Capulet Ball Mr. and Mrs. Caesar. Your nametags are over on that table there. The open bar is to your left, the buffet to your right. Have a great time.
CALPURNIA: Thank you.
Caesar walks on in ahead, still brooding.
CAESAR: I said thank you to him.
CAESAR: If I’m nothing else, I’m certainly very gracious.
CALPURNIA: You said thank you at the first set of doors, darling. Not at the second set.
CAESAR: The first set covered the second set. They’re a yard apart. How many times can you say thank you within seconds of each other?
CALPURNIA: Let it go.
CAESAR: I don’t see why you have to take his side? The double door thank you is pretty common practice. You say thank you for the first door and that covers the second one.
CALPURNIA: You’re right.
CAESAR: Well, don’t agree with me just to agree with me. And besides on the way in I was hit with this giant drip of water from the scaffolding. It felt like an anvil hitting my head. I’m soaked.
CALPURNIA (patiently): Oh, let me take a look.
CAESAR: I work a long time to get the hair looking just the way I want it…
CALPURNIA: I know, I know….You look fine. You’re the handsomest man in this place.
CAESAR: Okay, let’s not go overboard.
CALPURNIA: I mean it.
CAESAR: Thank you, Cal.
CALPURNIA: Look at all this. It’s such a spectacle.
CAESAR: It’s too much if you ask me. A little over the top. It’s just the Capulet’s showing off. Each time I come here there’s just a little bit more.
CALPURNIA: Just a little bit, maybe.
CAESAR: A little more than a little is much too much.
CALPURNIA: But at that moment when Juliet descends the staircase and catches Romeo’s eye---It’s magic. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.
CAESAR: What time do we have to stay until? Can we leave before they start the bickering. That Tybalt gives me a headache.
CALPURNIA: We won’t leave too late. It’s nice to get out, though.
CAESAR: I suppose. I have an early meeting at the Senate tomorrow. I’ll signal to you when I’m ready to go.
CALPURNIA: Look over there, by the shrimp tray, at yonder Cassius.
CAESAR: I know. A lean and hungry look…
CALPURNIA: And eats all he wants and never gains a pound.
CAESAR: Fast metabolism.
CALPURNIA: I hate him.
CAESAR: Nonsense…You’re lovely.
CALPURNIA: I’m as big as a house.
CAESAR: You’re not…
(He takes her hand)
CAESAR (Cont’d): Listen, whatever you do, don’t leave my side tonight. I hate these things. Forced hellos, conversations…
On another side of the stage we find FALSTAFF loading his plate with goodies. LADY CAPULET comes up from behind him.
LADY CAPULET: Falstaff…I’m so glad you could make it. My husband and I are so pleased that so many of you show up.
FALSTAFF (stuffing his face): I’m just going to pick.
LADY CAPULET: It’s here to be eaten, dear friend. Tell me, has your Hal had a change of heart? Has he decided to see you?
FALSTAFF: No, my lady. No, the dear boy simply has too much on his head right now. Heavy is the head, y’know…
LADY CAPULET: …That wears the crown. Indeed.
FALSTAFF: I have no doubt he’ll come around, though. No doubt at all.
LADY CAPULET: It’s a thrilling coronation, though, you must admit…Apart, of course, from that business when the King publicly humiliates you.
FALSTAFF: Apart from that, yes, I guess it could be seen as thrilling.
LADY CAPULET: Mr. Capulet and I always attend it…or at least try to. It’s such a grand time, like this: father passing the torch to his son, once wayward, but tossing aside his foolish and treacherous ways, his lowlife companions…No offense intended.
FALSTAFF: None taken.
LADY CAPULET: I can go on about it….It’s thrilling, though.
FALSTAFF: Oh, it’s thrill alright.
LADY CAPULET: I suppose not for you.
FALSTAFF: Not one of my better days.
LADY CAPULET: Perhaps I shouldn’t have brought it up.
FALSTAFF: No, it’s fine. It’s not all bad to be part of such a moment in time, even, as it happens, if you wind up being the arse end of the horse. (turning upbeat) You throw a lovely party, Mrs. C. First rate. I haven’t seen Juliet yet. Have I missed here entrance? We all come for that, really. That and the food…And drink, of course.
LADY CAPULET: Of course. We love having you. No you haven’t missed a thing. Juliet is still upstairs getting ready for her entrance.
FALSTAFF: Wonderful. I’ll look forward to it.
LADY CAPULET: Would you excuse me? I see the Caesar’s have arrived. I should say hello. Calpurnia and I are dear friends. Would you like to join me in greeting them?
FALSTAFF: I’m good here, thanks. Give them my best.
Lady Capulet walks over towards the Caesar’s. Falstaff continues to fill his plate and comes upon HAMLET mulling over the potatoes, racking his brain on whether to go with the au gratin or mashed.
FALSTAFF: They’re just potatoes, Hamlet. You have your mashed and your au gratin. You can have both if you want. That’s what I did.
HAMLET: It’s a touch choice.
FALSTAFF: I can imagine.
HAMLET: Both have their merits.
FALSTAFF: No doubt.
HAMLET: I know what you’re driving at.
FALSTAFF: I have no idea…
HAMLET: I am indecisive out of literary necessity.
FALSTAFF: Oh, come now, everything we do is out of some sort of necessity.
HAMLET: Actions have consequences.
FALSTAFF: Yes, and these consequences are commonly referred to as “results”.
HAMLET: Listen now; can’t one simply dwell on something without it being called indecisive? One has to weigh the pros and cons. It’s reasoning versus impulse. To be cautious is not a bad thing. In some circles that caution would be called wisdom.
JULIET, not having made her grand entrance, nonetheless strolls up to the buffet.
HAMLET: I have no idea why I even try...(noticing Juliet) Hi.
JULIET: (busy trying to get as much food into herself as possible) Hi to you, too.
FALSTAFF: Miss Juliet. It’s an honor. Did I miss your entrance? Your mother said no, but clearly…
JULIET: No, Falstaff, you haven’t missed it. I’m famished. (to Hamlet) Have you tried the roasted potatoes?
HAMLET (flummoxed): Roasted! I didn’t see those. We have a third option is what you’re saying; a third potato option?
JULIET: Here try this. It kicks the shit out of the au gratin.
She stuffs a forkful of the roasted potatoes into Hamlet’s mouth.
HAMLET (mouth full): They’re delicious. Also extremely hot.
JULIET: I’m so sorry. Here, have some water.
He takes the water, drinks it. Composes himself. Falstaff, in the meantime, slips away.
HAMLET: Thank you.
JULIET: They were good right? The potatoes. Amazing. Did I tell you?
HAMLET: From what I could tell just a second ago…while I still had taste buds, they were delicious.
JULIET: I don’t remember seeing you here before. I’m good with faces.
HAMLET: I usually don’t come to this. My mother and stepfather come all the time. That’s my father over there.
Hamlet points to his father, a Ghost, chatting amiably with MACBETH.
HAMLET (Cont’d): I often think of coming, but I’m told that I’m susceptible to melancholia and this being a party, well, basically, I’m a downer.
JULIET: I wouldn’t have known.
HAMLET: Yes, well, I present well.
JULIET: All’s well that ends well.
HAMLET: How’s that?
HAMLET: It doesn’t end well for me.
HAMLET: More or less I kill myself.
JULIET: A tragedy?
HAMLET (smitten with her): Yes. A tragedy.
JULIET: Me too. It gets rather, what, monotonous, though, doesn’t it? I mean at what point do we just say: the hell with it, I won’t drink this elixir today, I’ll put down this happy dagger.
HAMLET: I’ll kill that whore of a mother!
JULIET (lost in her own train of thought): I know I’m supposed to love Romeo, lord knows I do…on some level, but where’s the point of it all, right? Where am I in the equation? When do I matter?
HAMLET: I see what you mean.
JULIET (pleading): Do you? Do you, really?
HAMLET: I do. I get it. I know I should feel melancholy, it’s what I’m told I should feel. I know I should, but I don’t---Not at all. (aside) Not with you.
JULIET (whispering): My parents want me to marry Paris. That’s him over there.
PARIS stands alone, regal, handsome, looking about the room with a sense of entitlement.
HAMLET: So why don’t you marry him?
JULIET: Good question? I’m askin’ the same thing. Look at him. He’s absolutely gorgeous. He wants to marry me. My parents want him to marry me. He’s not a Montague.
HAMLET: And yet…
JULIET: It’s not in the cards. I always wind up with Romeo. Star-crossed love ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.
HAMLET: My girlfriend is kind of…high maintenance. I know what you’re saying.
JULIET: I wish I had a chance, just once, to see what happens.
HAMLET: To see what happens…Going off with Paris you mean?
JULIET: No, not Paris necessarily. Just…I don’t know. I’m being foolish.
HAMLET: No you’re not.
JULIET: Do you know Romeo is coming to this thing tonight looking for another woman? He’s here because of her: some trollop named Rosalind.
HAMLET: I..I..I’ve never met Romeo. I just assumed you two were together.
JULIET: It’s ridiculous if you think about it. The greatest love story ever told, and I’m the girl on the rebound.
HAMLET: That doesn’t seem fair.
JULIET: Let’s not dwell. Right? I’m absolutely starving. You know, we have this party, all this food, and nowhere is it said that I get a chance to eat.
HAMLET: Your parents must be pretty well off. It’s pretty impressive.
JULIET: We do okay. I mean its Verona. Where are you from?
JULIET: Uh, huh.
HAMLET: It’s north of here.
In the background, the Chorus R & J emerges and starts into the prologue of Romeo and Juliet.
CHORUS R & J: Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life…
He, the R & J Chorus, continues with the prologue behind the continuing conversation between Juliet and Hamlet.
JULIET: Uh, oh. I have to get going.
HAMLET: Yes, I understand. No problem.
JULIET: It was nice talking with you, getting to know you…burning the inside of your mouth.
HAMLET: It was nice for me, too.
Lady Capulet comes onto the scene, grabs Juliet briskly by the arm.
LADY CAPULET: My God, there you are! We’ve been looking all over for you!
JULIET: I was hungry.
LADY CAPULET: Well, upstairs you go.
JULIET (to Hamlet): I just realized that I did all the talking. I know nothing about you.
LADY CAPULET: And you need not know, my darling.
JULIET: What could you possibly have done that’s remotely disagreeable?
LADY CAPULET: It’s not what he’s done.
HAMLET: It’s what I don’t do, can’t do.
JULIET (hopeful): Maybe I’ll run into you later...Please, look for me…You can tell me what you haven’t done.
Juliet is whisked away. Hamlet watches her going up the steps, entranced by her. He speaks softly to himself.
HAMLET: What I haven’t done…I don’t act when action was most called for. Petrified by my own inability to decide; unable to discern right from wrong. I wait too long and miss opportunity after opportunity. I let things slip away…
Hamlet steps aside. At that moment, Caesar and Calpurnia amble by.
CALPURNIA:…I’m going to say hello to some of the other girls.
CAESAR: No, no, no…Don’t leave me alone in here.
CALPURNIA (ignoring his pleas): And mingle a little. It wouldn’t kill you.
CAESAR: Fine, but if you see Banquo, I’m not here.
Caesar, left alone, strolls around the room, grabs a drink off a waitresses’ tray, decides to chat up OTHELLO. (The action of the actual Romeo and Juliet play takes place in the background, still beneath conversations in the foreground.)
CAESAR (Cont’d): These things…
OTHELLO: I know. Nobody enjoys them.
CAESAR: I suppose it’s something to behold.
IAGO sneaks up behind Othello.
IAGO (baiting): My dear Othello, is that, uhm, King Henry the Fifth making time with your wife?
OTHELLO: Give it a rest, Iago. We get it. I’m jealous.
IAGO: I’m only pointing it out for your own good. You’d hate to lose a pearl like Desdemona.
OTHELLO: He is getting a little too close to her.
IAGO: What could they be talking about….I wonder?
OTHELLO: God dammit! He’s basically on top of her!
IAGO: He’s awfully handsome.
Othello storms off after them.
OTHELLO: Get away from my wife!
IAGO: There you go. (turning to Caesar): How goes it, Caesar?
CAESAR: I’m alright. Little problem with the prostate…nothing major.
IAGO: Is that Tybalt making a move on your Calpurnia?
CAESAR: Nice try, Iago. I’m pride, not envy.
Caesar walks away.
IAGO (yelling after him): I’m cataloging that.
LADY MACBETH now sidles up to Iago.
LADY MACBETH: (scoffing) Romans.
IAGO: No one else to talk to, Lady M?
LADY MACBETH: What are you implying?
IAGO: Let’s just say we’re not the cool kids here.
LADY MACBETH (referring to R & J play, Capulet welcoming his guests): That Capulet does go on, doesn’t he? Loves the sound of his own voice.
IAGO: But that Tybalt, he’s got a bit of fire in him. Stands up for what he believes in. Not like Romeo over there, slinking around like a worm in-between servants.
LADY MACBETH: And here comes our tragic heroine. Boo, hoo---Poor, beautiful, pathetic Juliet.
Juliet appears at the top of the staircase and descends dramatically. Everyone in the room have their eyes on her.
ROMEO: (To a Servingman): What lady is that, which doth
enrich the hand
Of yonder knight?
SERVANT: I know not, sir.
ROMEO: O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!
It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night
Like a rich jewel in an Ethiope's ear;
Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear!
So shows a snowy dove trooping with crows…
LADY MACBETH: Oh, really. Like I’d want to be her even for a second.
IAGO: Beauty has its virtues, Madam Macbeth. Even someone with as jaded an eye as I can still appreciate it…on some level.
LADY MACBETH: You, with the heart of ice, can see beauty?
IAGO: I’d be insulted if that were coming from anyone else. I’ll take mine on the rocks versus an empty locker.
LADY MACBETH: Oh, now, here comes your boy Tybalt to step in to try to set things right.
TYBALT: This, by his voice, should be a Montague.
Fetch me my rapier, boy. What dares the slave
Come hither, cover'd with an antic face,
To fleer and scorn at our solemnity?
Now, by the stock and honour of my kin,
To strike him dead, I hold it not a sin.
CAPULET: Why, how now, kinsman! wherefore storm you so?
TYBALT: Uncle, this is a Montague, our foe,
A villain that is hither come in spite,
To scorn at our solemnity this night.
CAPULET: He shall be endured:
What, goodman boy! I say, he shall: go to;
Am I the master here, or you? go to.
You'll not endure him! God shall mend my soul!
You'll make a mutiny among my guests!
IAGO: I never understood this part---Why doesn’t Capulet listen to the kid? He knows what he’s talking about.
LADY MACBETH: One must be tempered in their approach. He’s all heat and bluster.
IAGO: Yes, you’re right.
LADY MACBETH: He’s really not a true villain, anyhow---Just an impediment, a bump in the road. He’s meant to represent his entire clan.
IAGO: A composite?
LADY MACBETH: Exactly.
IAGO: Is there’s anything more irrelevant in our world than a composite character?
LADY MACBETH: Here, here.
TYBALT: Why, uncle, 'tis a shame.
CAPULET: Go to, go to;
You are a saucy boy: is't so, indeed?
This trick may chance to scathe you, I know what:
You must contrary me! marry, 'tis time.
Well said, my hearts! You are a princox; go:
Be quiet, or--More light, more light! For shame!
I'll make you quiet. What, cheerly, my hearts!
As Tybalt departs, Romeo steps forward, to greet his Juliet. The action is now focused on them. Everyone is caught up with the moment at hand, Juliet’s arrival, it’s what they all were waiting for.
Iago and Lady Macbeth remain in the foreground, ready to comment to each other on the action.
ROMEO: If I profane with my unworthiest hand
This holy shrine, the gentle fine is this:
My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand
To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.
Juliet is momentarily distracted, as if she’s forgotten her lines, but recovers quickly. Her reading, though, is tinged with uncertainty, a lack of conviction and becomes almost inaudible by the end of it.
JULIET: Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,
Which mannerly devotion shows in this;
For saints have hands that pilgrims' hands do touch,
And palm to palm is holy palmers' kiss.
ROMEO: Have not saints lips, and holy palmers too?
JULIET (now completely distracted): What’s that?
A gasp comes from the crowd.
IAGO (to Lady Macbeth): Did, did you hear what I just heard?
ROMEO (trying to reign Juliet in): Have not saints lips, and holy palmers too?
JULIET (peering into the crowd, mumbles): Ay, pilgrim, lips that they must use in prayer.
LADY MACBETH: Who is she looking for?
ROMEO: O, then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do;
They pray, grant thou, lest faith turn to despair.
JULIET: Can you hold that thought for a second?
Juliet has found Hamlet in the crowd, but he is on his way out of the room.
ROMEO (angry now): Hold that thought?
JULIET (yelling after him): Wait! Wait for me!
She races towards the door, leaving a stunned crowd of onlookers. As she passes Iago and Lady Macbeth, they look at one another, an idea hatching.
Caesar and Calpurnia’s bedroom. . In darkness we can hear moaning, thrashing of sheets and covers. Lights up to reveal Calpurnia in bed, sitting upright with a start, breathless, sweating, eyes wide open. She’s had a bad dream. Caesar is beside her in the bed, fast asleep.
CALPURNIA: You can’t go….
Caesar, groggy, hears her. Responds with eyes still closed.
CAESAR: It’s nothing….Just a dream.
CALPURNIA: You can’t go.
CAESAR: Don’t worry. (pats her softly) Don’t worry.
CALPURNIA: You don’t have to go.
CAESAR: Don’t have to go where?
CALPURNIA: To the Senate. They’re going to murder you.
CAESAR: It’s just a dream, Cal.
CALPURNIA: Don’t give me that. Your own ghost was at the Capulet Ball; blood drenched, a knife still sticking out of his back. It’s not about a dream.
Caesar sits up in the bed. Pulls Calpurnia towards him, into his crook.
CAESAR: Come here. We go through this all the time. You have a bad dream. You try to talk me out going to the Senate. I agree to it, but in the morning Brutus and Casca come for me, play on my enlarged ego and I go against your wishes. If you don’t want me to go, I won’t, but don’t quote me on that in the morning. (turning over, pulling the covers up) Now let’s get some sleep. I have to look good for my assassination.
CALPURNIA: I’m not talking about how we’ve gone about this in the past. The thing is, you don’t have to go.
CAESAR: I do have to go. It’s not a choice.
CALPURNIA: Not a choice? Where is it written that you have to go?
CAESAR: Act three, scene one, line one-ten.
CALPURNIA: Oh, you know what I mean.
CAESAR (sitting up again, pulling her close): I know what you mean. (pause) I don’t want to die either, Cal. I don’t. I don’t want to leave you. But it’s never been a choice…
CALPURNIA: But what if it is a choice? What if dying isn’t your destiny? What if you simply said no? (sitting up, excited with the prospect) Did you see Juliet tonight?
CAESAR: Kind of. I was busy trying to avoid conversation with Timon of Athens. The man is a complete bore.
CALPURNIA: It was remarkable. She, she, just left. She told Romeo “hold that thought”…
CAESAR: Hold that thought?
CALPURNIA: And then she ran out of the room. She just ran away. They brought her back, of course, and she finished the scene, but there was a disconnect; she was there, but she wasn’t there.
CAESAR: And this has to do with me, how?
CALPURNIA: It made me realize that perhaps none of us are tethered to ourselves. I was given a book, something recent from the outside world, something called “The Secret”. It says, in so many words, that we can be whatever we want to be.
CAESAR: Yeah, well I have a secret for you: No we can’t!
CALPURNIA: I’m telling you, you don’t have to go to the Senate tomorrow. You don’t want to go. I certainly don’t want you to go, so just…don’t go.
CAESAR: Just like that.
CALPURNIA: Just like that. Beware the Ides of March. Just this once you’ll heed that warning. You know how you’ve always talked about taking up painting.
CAESAR: I’m an excellent painter. You give me numbers and an outline and I’m even better.
CALPURNIA: Stay home tomorrow. Stay home and see what happens.
CAESAR: Just this once?
CALPURNIA: And see what happens.
CAESAR: If I do it this once…
CALPURNIA: It may change our life.
CAESAR: I’m excited about this. I think you’re onto something here, Cal.
Caesar jumps out of bed, puts on some slippers and opens the bedroom door.
CAESAR (bellows): Servants! Get thee thy paint brushes!
Hamlet in the Capulet orchard, at the base of an overhanging balcony. He throws pebbles at a closed window. A light comes on. He readies himself for Juliet.
HAMLET (to himself): Steady now boy. Steady.
Juliet’s NURSE, not Juliet, comes out onto the balcony. Hamlet is taken by surprise.
HAMLET (Cont’d): I must have the wrong window.
NURSE: You have the right window, Hamlet.
HAMLET: I’m here for Juliet.
NURSE: It’s very late.
HAMLET: I see. Well, I’m sorry. I should probably get going.
NURSE: Maybe you should.
HAMLET: Is Juliet available to talk?
NURSE: She’s sleeping. When you call on someone at three AM you’re kind of taking your chances.
HAMLET: I didn’t think it was a good idea to just come knocking on the front door with a bunch of roses.
NURSE (alarmed): You brought roses for her?
HAMLET: No…I was thinking of doing it, though.
NURSE: It wouldn’t have been a good idea
HAMLET: I was also thinking that roses are so “done”, y’know, and I was thinking that yellow tulips, yellow tulips would have been the way to go. But then, I thought, you don’t want to give the wrong impression.
NURSE: What impression were you trying to make?
HAMLET: Yellow tulips can mean anything. In foreign countries, for all I know, yellow tulips could signify death or weakness or an intention to go to war. I didn’t want to leave anything up for interpretation. I wanted to make a clear statement. Am I making any sense?
NURSE: I’m not sure under what circumstances flowers from you to Juliet would ever be appropriate. Let me make a clear statement to you: Stay away from her! You have no business here. Go home. Tend to your affairs up north.
HAMLET: What exactly are you trying to say?
NURSE: Go home, Hamlet. Romeo is due here any minute. You don’t want him finding you here, trust me.
HAMLET: You’ll let her know I was here?
HAMLET: You’ll tell her I considered bringing her yellow tulips?
NURSE: On your way now.
Juliet, in her nightgown, moves out onto the balcony.
Hamlet steps into the light beneath her balcony.
HAMLET: No, it’s me.
JULIET (very pleased): It’s you.
HAMLET: I almost brought you flowers.
JULIET: How…how almost thoughtful.
HAMLET: Tulips. Yellow tulips. I was going to bring you yellow tulips.
JULIET: Doesn’t that signify death in Asian cultures?
HAMLET (to Nurse): See, I told you. (to Juliet) I considered that…
JULIET: Wait there for me. I’m gonna come down.
NURSE: Juliet, my dear, you should be getting your sleep.
Juliet ignores her and descends an outdoor staircase that leads to/from the balcony and greets Hamlet at first by clasping both his hands, arms outstretched, and then less formally with a brief hug.
JULIET: You don’t mind if I give you a hug?
HAMLET (ecstatic, but masking it): No, not at all.
JULIET: I feel…I feel like we’re kindred spirits.
HAMLET: I’m glad to see you, too.
NURSE: Romeo will be arriving any minute now.
JULIET (whispering): She’s right. This is the time he normally shows up. “What light through yonder window breaks…”
HAMLET: “…It is the east and Juliet is the sun…”
JULIET: You know it!
HAMLET: It’s well known.
JULIET: I don’t keep up with the other stories. I know others do. I hear of them now and again. A Moor named Othello I heard killed his wife in a jealous rage. I met her once, his wife I mean. She seemed very nice and she spoke so highly of him. To hear that he killed her…
HAMLET: It happens.
JULIET: I suppose it does. But the truth is, it happened.
HAMLET: She could have done something about it?
JULIET: She still can. She can choose not to marry him or get away when she sees things going awry. There’s always couples therapy.
HAMLET: Change isn’t so easy. How do you know if you move here it will go there? And if so, how so? There’s no certainty in it.
JULIET: There’s no certainty in anything, silly.
HAMLET: One can mitigate risk.
JULIET: That’s a horrible, horrible word isn’t it---mitigate? It’s almost frightening. Anyway, the thing is, I’m so tired of my own story it seems silly to invest in someone else’s. That sounds selfish right? I’m not a selfish person, though. (a smile) I don’t even know your name.
Juliet shakes Hamlet’s hand.
Off in the distance we faintly hear the Chorus R & J reciting a scene prologue from the R & J play.
CHORUS R & J: Now old desire doth in his death-bed lie, And young affection gapes to be his heir; That fair for which love groan'd for and would die, With tender Juliet match'd, is now not fair. Now Romeo is beloved and loves again…
NURSE (urgently): Juliet! Romeo will soon be here!
HAMLET: To be continued?
JULIET: We could leave together right now…Before he arrives.
HAMLET (nervously): And…and…and go where?
JULIET: Anywhere. Somewhere.
HAMLET: They’d find us. They’d find us and they’d…they’d…
JULIET: They won’t find us.
HAMLET: We need a plan, Juliet. A strategy. Think things through.
JULIET: You’re my friend, right. I can trust you, I mean.
HAMLET: On my life.
JULIET: I can’t do it alone. I have no idea where to go.
HAMLET: You can trust me. I’ll help you.
Romeo stumbles onto the scene. He trips over a flower bed, regains his balance leaning on the base of the balcony. He’s drunk as a skunk.
ROMEO (slurring): But, soft! What window light through yonder light…window breaks? (steadying himself) It is the east, and Juliet is the sun! (pondering) Juliet’s my son? That doesn’t make any sense. Arise, my son, and kill…uhm, kill something or other. The moon, I think. Kill it. Up there. Shoot the moon. Or whatever…
He pulls down his fly and urinates on the base of the balcony.
ROMEO (yells out): Hey, you, up there. Juliet…My son…come out, come out…Come out wherever you are! (to himself) Oh, boy, Not a good idea to look up. Juliet! Maybe it’s better if you come down…Bring the moon with you if you want. I don’t care.
NURSE: Romeo! What’s the meaning of this!
ROMEO: Juliet? You don’t look so good. I guess I don’t look so hot either, but you look terrible. Your hair…That’s not a good look for you.
NURSE: Get a hold of yourself, boy!
ROMEO: Get a hold of yourself boy…What’s my response to that?
NURSE: Look at me!
ROMEO: Do I have to?
NURSE: You’ve been drinking.
ROMEO: Ya think? (looking up, squinting) Hey, you’re not Juliet. Where is she? Where for art thou, Juliet? No comprende, old englais? D’ya eat her or somethin’?
Juliet emerges from the bushes.
ROMEO (sing-songy): There you are?
JULIET: Are you okay?
Hamlet emerges from the bushes now.
ROMEO: Who’s he?
JULIET: Are you okay?
ROMEO: I had little too much to drink. This guy, one of the two Gentleman of Verona---all I can say is he’s no gentleman. (to Hamlet) Are you Juliet’s son?
JULIET: I don’t have a son, Romeo.
ROMEO: Listen, Jul, we need to talk.
JULIET: I have something to say you, too.
ROMEO: Well, you go first because I can’t remember what I wanna talk about.
JULIET: It’s not that I don’t love you, my darling…
ROMEO: Oh, I remember now. I think we need some, I don’t know what you call it…space? We need space.
JULIET: We need space?
ROMEO: I need space.
JULIET: You do?
ROMEO: I’m not kidding. Move back. Further. I’m going to throw up on your shoes. Give me some room here…
JULIET: Feel better?
ROMEO: A little. Who’s he?
JULIET: Romeo, you need to focus for a minute.
ROMEO: You made me look like a fool at the party. Making that stupid speech, “snowy dove trooping with crows…” Trooping…That’s a funny word. Trooping. Trooping.
ROMEO: I don’t think your mother likes me.
JULIET: I’m sorry I made you look foolish. I’m so sorry.
ROMEO: It’s alright. I forgive you. I understand. You think you’re the only one with mixed emotions? (to himself, humming) That’s a song, I think.
JULIET (somewhat hurt): You don’t love me?
ROMEO (still into the song, humming it): What?
JULIET: With all we’ve shared, sacrificed?
ROMEO: Yeah, you’re right about that. I love you, Jul. So much. (to Hamlet) Is trooping a funny word or what?
HAMLET: I’m sorry. I think I’m just in the way here.
JULIET: No, no. Stay. I, we…
ROMEO: I’m…I think I need space again…
Hamlet and Juliet back up, readying for the vomiting to begin.
ROMEO (Cont’d): …False alarm. (to Hamlet) So do you wanna play the scene out or what?
Hamlet points to Juliet.
ROMEO (Cont’d): Oh, that’s better. Do you wanna do the scene? I’ll need you up there on the balcony, though. (he looks up, staggers) On second thought…
JULIET (to Romeo): We need to have a serious talk, you and I, but this isn’t a good time for it I can see.
ROMEO: You can schedule something with my boy, Mercuc…Mercuci, Mercuciosho, Mercuci…I gotta friend who handles all my scheduling. I have to go.
JULIET: That’s just as well.
HAMLET: I better be going, too.
JULIET (to Hamlet): Will you meet me tomorrow?
HAMLET: I don’t know. I have to think about it.
JULIET: Meet me tomorrow at Friar Lawrence’s cell. It’s up the road. You make a right at the corner.
ROMEO: You bear right at the corner. Not the sharp right. She’s lousy with directions.
HAMLET: I’m not sure.
JULIET: Please. I beg you.
ROMEO: Just say yes…It’s easier…Trust me.
Juliet gives Hamlet a quick peck on the cheek, rubs Romeo kindly on the arm and races up the steps.
ROMEO: Can you point me in the direction of my house?
HAMLET: There you go.
Romeo staggers off. Hamlet follows behind.