Claudius-the owner of a plantation in Ville Platte, Evangeline Parish, Louisiana.
Gertrude -the wife of Claudius
Hamlet Jr.-the son of Gertrude and her late husband
Horatio -the best friend of Hamlet Jr.
Polonius -the manager of the plantation
Laertes -son of Polonius
Ophelia -daughter of Polonius
Rosencrantz-a friend of Hamlet Jr.
Guildenstern- a friend of Hamlet Jr.
Ghost of Hamlet Sr. – the late husband of Gertrude and brother of Claudius
Marcellus- the Sheriff
Bernardo- the Deputy
Fortinbras- rival owner of a plantation in Natchez, Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana
Ville Platte, Evangeline Parish, Louisiana
The Ante-Bellum plantation mansion of Claudius and Gertrude
(Claudius enters the mansion’s foyer)
Claudius: Gerty! Are you home?
Gertrude: Claude, darlin’! Where have you been?
Claudius: I’ve been in Ville Platte talking to the Chamber of Commerce!
Gertrude: What ever for honey lamb?
Claudius: That Fortinbras, up in Natchez! He’s trying to buy out all the plantations in Rapides parish and now in Evangeline parish!
Gertrude: Oh, Claude, darlin’! Will he be able to do that?
Claudius: He’s already bought out most of Rapides parish and now he has his sights on ours! This plantation is the only one in Evangeline parish!
Gertrude: Will you be able to stop him!
Claudius: He’ll get this place over my dead body!
(Enter Hamlet Jr.)
Gertrude: Oh, my beautiful boy! Your father is home with the most horrible news, just horrible!
Hamlet: He’s not my father! He’s my uncle!
Gertrude: Oh Hamlet, I know you loved your father! But, he’s been dead for a month! Or has it been two? The script’s contradictory!
Hamlet: My dad’s dead and you’ve already married his brother! How could you do that mother, to marry my father’s brother, my uncle?
Gertrude: My darlin’ boy, I know that it’s hard. But you need to cast off your grief and be happy for us! He’s such a comfort to me!
Claudius: Hamlet, it’s natural for you to grieve for your father! However, isn’t it time you finished this grieving and be happy for your mother and me?
Hamlet: I’d kill myself, if I wouldn’t go to hell, before I could be happy that my mom married my uncle, only a month after his funeral! It’s just too fast!
Gertrude: Hamlet, don’t talk about suicide! It’d break my heart to lose you and your father!
Claudius: He needs to see a shrink!
Gertrude: Claudius, let’s let Hamlet be for a while. He’ll get over this morbid mood.
(Claudius and Gertrude exit)
Hamlet: How fickle women are! That she could have forgotten my dad and married my uncle so soon, only a month, and my dad’s funeral dinner she made into a wedding reception! Oh if this dirty flesh would melt, thaw, and resolve itself into dew! Or if God had not made suicide a sin! How boring, predictable, and useless are all the uses of this world! It is an unweeded garden gone to seed. The weeds have taken over!
Horatio: Hamlet, what’s up?
Hamlet: My mom wants me to consider my uncle my new dad when my dad’s been dead only a month!
Horatio: Hamlet, I know it’s tough, but it’s over and done.
Hamlet: Horatio, you’re my best friend. I thought you’d understand how I feel! How could she get over my dad, a great guy, and marry my uncle, a beast, so soon?
Horatio: Hamlet, you know how women are! They’re fickle. You can’t expect better from them.
Hamlet: Horatio, I love you! Only you think as I do. But, I can’t be happy for them. She married too soon after my dad died!
Horatio: Hamlet, let’s go up to your room. I’ll spend the night with you.
Hamlet: Horatio, I’d enjoy that. Perhaps you can calm me down.
(Hamlet and Horatio go upstairs to Hamlet’s bedroom suite)
Horatio: Hamlet, let’s just go to bed and get some sleep. You’ll feel better in the morning.
Hamlet: Horatio, I think I’ll sleep better with you with me.
Horatio: Let’s just get naked and in bed. Turn off the lights. I’ll talk to you until you fall asleep.
Hamlet: Horatio, we’re not gay, we’re just best friends, right?
Horatio: What ever you say Hamlet! Just get into bed.
(Hamlet and Horatio go to bed. Horatio falls asleep, but Hamlet remains awake. The specter of Hamlet Sr. appears)
Ghost: Hamlet! Hamlet, my time to leave purgatory is short and I must speak to you!
Hamlet: Big Daddy! Dad, is it really you?
Ghost: Yes, Hamlet, I have come to tell you the horrible truth of my murder!
Ghost: Yes, murder, murder most foul!
Hamlet: Dad, what are you talking about?
Ghost: Hamlet, while I was taking my nap out on the veranda, as I usually do, your uncle, my brother, killed me!
Hamlet: How dad?
Ghost: He poured a poison in my ear!
Hamlet: My uncle, a murderer? And mom married him!
Ghost: Yes, the bitch married my own brother as soon as my funeral was over and had the same caterer come out and plan the wedding reception!
Hamlet: But how did Uncle Claudius get away with it?
Ghost: Son, you know the coroner in Evangeline parish! The old drunk didn’t even do an autopsy. He just signed the death certificate when your mother told him I had a cancer.
Hamlet: Dad, what do you want me to do about it?
Ghost: Revenge my murder! Kill your Uncle Claudius!
Hamlet: But how dad?
Ghost: Hamlet, I don’t have time to plan it all out for you! Just do it! I’ve got to go back to purgatory until my sins are burned away!
Hamlet: Purgatory? Dad, we aren’t Catholic! We’re Episcopalian!
Ghost: Oh Hamlet! What can I say? It makes no sense, but it’s in the script. I’ve got to go! Avenge my murder!
Hamlet: Horatio! Horatio wake up!
Horatio: What is it Hamlet?
Hamlet: I just saw my dad’s ghost!
Horatio: Are you sure it wasn’t a nightmare?
Hamlet: Hell yes! I was wide-awake, and I saw him standing at the foot of the bed! Just like I can see you now!
Horatio: What, he was naked?
Hamlet: No, idiot, it wasn’t naked! But I could see him just as clearly as I see you. And he talked to me!
Horatio: Well what’d he say?
Hamlet: My Uncle Claudius murdered him! And he wants me to avenge his death!
Horatio: Murder? But the coroner put cancer on the death certificate without doing an autopsy. How are you supposed to avenge his death?
Hamlet: He didn’t say how I was supposed to avenge him.
Horatio: Well how are you going to do it? I think you have to call the sheriff and report a murder. But, it’s going to be hard to convince him to start an investigation. You can’t tell him your dad’s ghost told you your Uncle Claudius murdered him!
Hamlet: No, I don’t think dad wanted me to have an investigation. I think he wants me to kill Uncle Claudius myself!
Horatio: You think? Didn’t this ghost tell you more?
Hamlet: No, he had to go back to purgatory.
Horatio: Purgatory? Hamlet, you’re Episcopalian!
Hamlet: I know that! But that’s what my dad said.
Horatio: Hamlet, go back to sleep. In the morning, you’ll come to your senses and realize it was just a dream.
Hamlet: OK Horatio. But you stay here, overnight tomorrow, and I’ll wake you if he comes again!
Horatio: Spend the night with you again tomorrow? I think I could do that. But won’t your mom think that we’re…well you know.
Hamlet: Why does every body talk about our friendship and try to turn it into something dirty?
Scene: Morning in the dining room. Claudius and Gertrude are having coffee. (Hamlet and Horatio enter)
Gertrude: Good morning, Hamlet! I hope you are feeling better today.
Hamlet: If you mean am I happy for you and Uncle Claudius, no. In fact, I think I’m madder today than I was yesterday.
Gertrude: Did you not sleep well?
Hamlet: I slept fine mom. Horatio stayed over.
Claudius: Oh Horatio! We didn’t see you come in. You stayed over last night?
Horatio: Yes, I thought Hamlet needed some company to calm down.
Gertrude: I hope that you found the guest room pleasant.
Horatio: I slept with Hamlet in his room.
Claudius: You slept…with Hamlet?
Hamlet: Yes, he is my best friend.
Claudius: Well, it is nice that you have a friend you are close enough with that he can…share your bed.
Hamlet: Why does everybody keep trying to make what I have with Horatio into something dirty!
Gertrude: Calm down Hamlet! No one said anything about you sharing a bed with Horatio as though it was…unusual. We all know that you are…close. Please, both of you sit and eat with us.
Horatio: Thanks, but I need to get home. I need to change and pack a few things.
Gertrude: Are you going on a trip?
Horatio: No, Hamlet asked me to spend the night with him again tonight.
Claudius: Hamlet asked you to spend the night again?
Horatio: Yes, well I think he didn’t sleep well and wants me around for support.
Hamlet: Yes, support! There’s nothing strange about that!
Gertrude: Hamlet, no one said it was strange. Should I prepare the guest room?
Hamlet: No, I want Horatio to spend the night in my room…but just to have him near if I don’t sleep well.
Claudius: Of course! There’s nothing strange about two grown men, best friends, spending the night together…in the same bed.
Hamlet: I think I’ll skip breakfast. I need some time to myself.
(Hamlet and Horatio exit).
Gertrude: There’s something strange about him. He acts just like a cat on a hot tin roof!
Claudius: Cats jump off roofs and land uninjured.
Gertrude: Jump? Jump where, into what?
Claudius: …get a girlfriend!
(Horatio leaves. Hamlet remains on the portecochere)
Hamlet: How can I accept my mother marrying my uncle? Especially now, that I know he murdered my father! To live or die, that is the question. Is it better to put up with all the misfortunes of life or to end them? And to end them die, to sleep, no more. And by sleep, to end all the heartaches of life! That is an ending to be desired: to die, to sleep, perhaps to dream. But there’s the problem. For in the sleep of death, what dreams may come? It makes you think. Who would suffer all the troubles of life when you can end it all with a knife? But why do we not just do it and get it over with? Because of the lack of certainty of what comes after death. The undiscovered country from which no one returns…except my dad…makes us wonder if the troubles of life are not as bad as what might await us in death. This makes cowards of us all. We worry about it and meanwhile all our plans are abandoned, and we do nothing. But wait, I think I hear Ophelia, that bimbo.
Hamlet: Ophelia, in all thy horizons remember my faults!
Ophelia: Oh, I remember your faults!
Hamlet: Did you get my letters?
Ophelia: Yes, I got all of them. This is why I am here. I want to give them back to you.
Hamlet: But, why?
Ophelia: Because, I don’t think you’re like sincere in any of them. My dad warned me about you.
Hamlet: Why would you think I was insincere?
Ophelia: Because you spend more time with Horatio than with me…and that’s a little weird.
Hamlet: Why does everyone keep trying to make something out of my relationship with Horatio?
Ophelia: Well Hamlet, if you want me to be your girlfriend, spending some time with me, alone, would be a start. And stop sending me these weird letters. You’re what, thirty?
Hamlet: So, I’m sentimental, and shy around girls. But, if you want to return my letters, fine, I loved you once.
Ophelia: Well you said so in your letters.
Hamlet: But, if you did not think I was sincere, than I do not love you.
Ophelia: Well, why did you write me that you were?
Hamlet: Join a convent! Or go get yourself another boyfriend, or several! And if you do get married, marry a fool, for we all know what your type does to men!
Ophelia: Only God could straighten you out! You have lost it!
(Ophelia returns the letters and exits)
Scene: interior of the mansion’s living room. Gertrude and Claudius are reading. (Hamlet enters)
Gertrude: Hamlet, you were gone a long time! What took you so long?
Hamlet: I was just sitting, thinking, and Ophelia came over.
Claudius: Isn’t that your girlfriend?
(He throws his love letters on the coffee table).
Gertrude: Was? What happened?
Hamlet: She returned all my letters. She says that I am insincere and spend too much time with Horatio.
Claudius: You do spend more time with him than you ever did with that poor girl.
Hamlet: Horatio has nothing to do with it. She just happened to mentioned that her dad, Polonius, warned her about me. Uncle Claudius, did you say anything to him?
Claudius: Well Hamlet, I have spoken to Polonius recently, but he was telling me that his boy, Laertes, was off to university.
Gertrude: That reminds me Hamlet. I invited your college friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to come back from New Orleans and spend some time with you here in Ville Platte.
Hamlet: Why did you invite them without asking me?
Claudius: Hamlet, you have been moping around, wearing black, listening to Goth rock, and reading Chekhov. You never get out and only see Horatio. So your mother and I thought it would be a good idea to spend some time with more people your age.
Hamlet: Well, I don’t want to see them!
Gertrude: Too late, I called them this morning and they are leaving New Orleans today.
Claudius: Gertrude, these friends of Hamlet’s, there not…
Gertrude: Oh no, they live with their girlfriends. In fact, I think that might be married.
Claudius: That is a comfort. Perhaps they will get Hamlet out of this funk.
Scene: exterior of mansion, Hamlet awaits Rosencrantz and Guildenstern by the road. He sees them approach.
Hamlet: Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, nice to see you.
Rosencrantz: Ham! How’s it hanging?
Guildenstern: Ham! Your mom invited us out to visit you.
Hamlet: Yes, well, I can explain that. I’ll tell you, confidentially, before you talk to my mom and uncle. Lately, I don’t know why, I have lost all my humor and stopped working out. In fact, I have lost interest in just about everything. The world no longer interests me. What a piece of work people are! They seem intelligent, talented, good looking, almost like angels! They are the top of the heap, the commanders of the world, almost godlike. Yet, to me what are they? Men do not please me, or women, though your grins let me know what you are thinking.
Rosencrantz: Ham, that’s not what we were thinking.
Hamlet: Then why do you smile when I said men do not please me?
Guildenstern: Well, Ham, your thirty, and you don’t have a girlfriend.
Rosencrantz: Yes Ham, it doesn’t look good.
Hamlet: Well, for your information, I had a girlfriend!
Guildenstern: Yes? Did you get your groove on?
Hamlet: It wasn’t like that. I wrote her love letters.
Rosencrantz: What’s up with that? Are you in high school?
Hamlet: No, I am just saving myself, for the right girl.
(Rosencrantz and Guildenstern laugh)
Guildenstern: You said you had a girlfriend. So what happened?
Hamlet: She returned my letters, said I was insincere, so I broke up with her.
Rosencrantz: Why did she think you were insincere?
Hamlet: Because I was writing letters to her but not spending much time with her.
Guildenstern: Who have you been spending time with?
Hamlet: Well it isn’t like you have been spending time with me out here. Horatio has been my best friend here in Ville Platte since college.
Guildenstern: Then your mom did the right thing asking us to come out and visit. We need to take you out so you can meet some women!
Rosencrantz: And if you are just writing love letters to the girls, and spending your time with Horatio, we need to work on your skills and get you laid!
(Rosencrantz and Guildenstern laugh and pump their pelvises)
Hamlet: I happen to like Horatio and I don’t think getting laid is what I need. Let’s get you two perverts into the house.
(Hamlet walks back to the mansion, while Rosencrantz and Guildenstern drive up to the mansion).
Scene: interior of the mansion. Gertrude and Claudius are in the living room. (Hamlet unloads the car. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern enter)
Gertrude: Rosencrantz! Guildenstern! I am so glad you could come out to our neck of the woods! Hamlet has been so depressed since his father died. I think he needs the company of his old friends.
Rosencrantz: Thank you Miss Gertrude.
Guildenstern: Yes, thank you Miss Gertrude.
Gertrude: We’re all adults, just call me Gertrude. I think you met my husband, Claudius.
Rosencrantz: Yes we met him at the funeral.
Guildenstern: And at the wedding.
Gertrude: My husband and I asked you to come out to help. Hamlet has been depressed since his father died.
Claudius: And, we were hoping you two could snap him out of it, and tell us what you find out about what he’s thinking and what he’s been up to.
Rosencrantz: We could tell he was depressed, and a little touched.
Guildenstern: We will be happy to tell you what we find out from him and report back to you.
Claudius: Good, that’s what we need is two level headed young men that he will talk to…and then report back to us.
(Hamlet enters with luggage)
Gertrude: I will be putting you two upstairs in the guest rooms on the same floor with Hamlet. Come, bring your things and I will show you to your rooms.
(Gertrude, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern and Hamlet exit, following Gertrude)
Gertrude: Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, we will put you in the guest rooms upstairs on the left. Hamlet is just across the hall. I will leave you boys to unpack and settle in.
Hamlet: Well, I will see you later. Dinner will be around six. I will be in my room.
Scene: dining room of the mansion. Gertrude and Claudius are seated. (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern enter)
Gertrude: Nice to see you again! Hamlet seems to be running late. Go ahead and be seated. Dinner is nothing fancy tonight.
(Rosencrantz and Guildenstern sit)
Claudius: Nice to have some new faces in the house. I am afraid that Hamlet is waiting on Horatio outside.
Rosencrantz: Hamlet does seem to be a little depressed. I’m glad we could come out to visit.
Guildenstern: Hamlet needs to work on his social skills. He told us today that he broke up with his girlfriend.
Gertrude: Well, Ophelia was not much of a girlfriend.
Claudius: In fact, I do not think I had ever known him to take her out.
Rosencrantz: So, what is it with Hamlet and the girls?
Guildenstern: From what he told us, it seems that his friend Horatio is part of the problem.
Claudius: I am counting on you two to figure Hamlet out for us. He won’t speak to us anymore. He spends all his time with his…friend.
Rosencrantz: You don’t think that Hamlet, is…well?
Guildenstern: This Ophelia was his only girlfriend we ever heard of and he just broke up with her. But, that does not seem to be what is upsetting him. He keeps talking about his…friend…Horatio.
Gertrude: Quiet! I think I hear them now!
(Hamlet and Horatio enter)
Hamlet: Sorry we are late for dinner.
Horatio: Yes, Hamlet failed to tell me what time to get back.
Gertrude: Well, we are all here now. I must say, it is nice to be surrounded by so many handsome men.
Claudius: Gertrude, you look beautiful tonight.
(Claudius raises his wine glass)
Claudius: Gentlemen, a toast to my lovely wife!
(All raise their glasses. All have random conversations over dinner. Hamlet and Horatio exit.)
Hamlet: Horatio, I have a plan for tomorrow night.
Horatio: What Hamlet?
Hamlet: We will write a play for my Uncle Claudius and our guests. We will play out a murder mystery. I will watch Uncle Claudius as he watches the play to see how he reacts.
Horatio: The play’s the thing where we will catch the conscience of your uncle?
Hamlet: Exactly, we will write it tonight and cut it up into parts for Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and you. That way, no one will know how it ends but us, and I will know if Uncle Claudius suspects that I know how he killed my dad.
(Hamlet and Horatio return to the dining room)
Horatio: Hamlet and I have a surprise to entertain you tomorrow.
Hamlet: Yes, we are going to have one of those home murder mysteries and everyone will have a part to read, but no one will know who the murderer is until the end!
Gertrude: Well boys, that sounds…creative.
Claudius: At least it will give you something to do.
Hamlet: Then excuse us. Horatio and I will go to my room, write the play, and cut it up into individual parts!
(Hamlet and Horatio exit)
Scene: interior of Hamlet’s bedroom. Hamlet and Horatio are gathered around the typewriter.
Hamlet: I know a play about a murder. We can make a few changes and put in the way that Uncle Claudius killed my father.
Horatio: And then we cut it into parts to perform for them?
Hamlet: And I will watch Uncle Claudius to see how he reacts.
Horatio: Start typing! What’s the play?
Hamlet: “The Murder of Gonzago”, it’s a classic.
(Hamlet and Horatio begin to work on the play, and commence cutting up the parts)
Horatio: Hamlet, it’s getting late and I am tired.
Hamlet: Then let’s go to bed.
Horatio: Should we go downstairs and say goodnight?
Hamlet: No, they may still be downstairs or they may have gone to bed. It would be simpler to just see them in the morning. Remember Horatio, if my father’s ghost appears again tonight, I will wake you and you will see his ghost yourself and believe me.
(Hamlet and Horatio strip and get into bed)
Hamlet: Remember Horatio, we are only sleeping together only so you can see the ghost yourself.
Horatio: Whatever Hamlet. Just turn off the lights.
(Hamlet turns off the light and they fall asleep)
(The specter of Hamlet Sr. appears)
Hamlet: Horatio! Horatio wake up!
Hamlet: Big Daddy is it you?
Ghost: You were expecting someone else?
Hamlet: No Big Daddy, I just wanted to be sure I was not dreaming.
Ghost: Why do you hesitate in avenging my death?
Hamlet: I am working on it dad!
Horatio: By Saint Patrick, who is this that at the end of the bed?
Hamlet: It is my father! But, why did you swear by St. Patrick? You’re not Irish or Catholic: you’re Episcopalian!
Horatio: Hamlet, I must have panicked, but it’s in the script for this scene.
Ghost: My time is short. Who is this man with you?
Hamlet: This is Horatio. I brought him here tonight to see you for himself and believe what you have told me.
Ghost: He could not sleep in a chair or on the floor?
Hamlet: Dad, not you too! He’s just a friend!
Ghost: As my time is short I will continue, but…a friend?
Hamlet: Dad Horatio and I have devised a plan to observe my uncle’s guilt!
Ghost: Hamlet I have been over this with you.
Hamlet: Dad tell Horatio what you told me before so that Horatio can see and hear and believe what I have told him! There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than you ever dreamed of!
Ghost: Hamlet, he has seen and heard me! What more do you require?
Both: Swear by what ghost!
Ghost: Swear by Hamlet’s…sword!
(Hamlet and Horatio look at each other and each place a hand on Hamlet’s…sword)
Ghost: Not that! It was a figure of speech!
Hamlet: Sorry dad! But you have to admit, Freud would probably have something to say about swearing on my sword!
Ghost: Hamlet, sometimes a sword is just a sword!
(Both hold hands)
Both: We swear…to what?
Ghost: That you will tell no one what you saw or heard!
Both: We swear!
(The ghost disappears)
Hamlet: Now do you believe me?
Horatio: I saw him and heard him myself ask why you hesitated to avenge his murder.
Hamlet: Then you believe me?
Horatio: I believe!
Hamlet: Then let us return to sleep and begin our plan tomorrow.
Horatio: Hamlet, why is you arm around me?
Hamlet: To dispel my fear!
Horatio: Whatever Hamlet.
(They fall asleep in an embrace)
Scene: interior, mansion dining room. Claudius, Gertrude, Hamlet, Horatio, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are seated and eating breakfast.
Gertrude: Did everyone sleep well last night?
Rosencrantz: That is a nice bed.
Guildenstern: Your home is far nicer than my apartment.
Horatio: I did but…
Hamlet: You swore!
Claudius: Hamlet, you interrupted Horatio. Horatio, you did but what?
Horatio: Oh, I was just saying that Hamlet snores.
Gertrude: Snores? Hamlet, I have never heard you snore.
Hamlet: Well, if Horatio says I do, I must have last night.
Claudius: Hamlet are you going to take your friends to town today?
Hamlet: If they are up to it.
Gertrude: Did you finish your murder mystery performance for tonight?
Hamlet: Yes, mom, we did.
Horatio: I think it will be very entertaining, and revealing!
Claudius: Hamlet, you didn’t put anything embarrassing in it did you?
Hamlet: Embarrassing to whom?
Gertrude: To any one Hamlet!
Hamlet: Well, Horatio will have to play the female lead in drag.
Claudius: Horatio in drag may be considered revealing!
Hamlet: Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, get ready and Horatio and I can take you into town.
Horatio: Yes, there are some lovely homes in town!
Hamlet: I think the Moon Lake Casino would be more their speed.
Scene: exterior Moon Lake Casino gazebos on a pier over the lake. Hamlet, Horatio, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are seated outdoors drinking.
Rosencrantz: Ham, this place is very unusual.
Guildenstern: Ham, is this the closest to a good bar here in Ville Platte?
Hamlet: It is the only bar. Evangeline parish is dry.
Horatio: I don’t know how they get away with it. Perhaps its one of those casinos permitted on water.
Guildenstern: So, Ham is this a good place to meet the ladies?
Rosencrantz: I think it must be with all these private gazebos.
Hamlet: Horatio and I like it.
Horatio: Yes, it is nice to have a cocktail on the lake, especially when the moon is out.
Hamlet: Horatio! Look now! Is that Ophelia and her brother, Laertes, coming this way?
Horatio: Hamlet, it is, and she looks drunk!
(Ophelia and Laertes approach. She is singing a song, clutching a bunch of wildflowers.)
Hamlet: Ophelia, we did not expect to run into you tonight.
Ophelia: I’m sure about that. I see that you are with your friend, and who are these two?
Hamlet: Ophelia, this is Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, from New Orleans.
Ophelia: Oh, big city boys! Apparently that’s where the real men are! Gentlemen, this is my brother, Laertes.
(Rosencrantz and Guildenstern rise, shake Laertes’ hand, and kiss Ophelia’s hand)
Horatio: Ophelia, have you been picking wild flowers?
Ophelia: Oh these? Yes. There’s a daisy.
(She throws it at Hamlet)
Ophelia: I would give you some violets, but they withered all away when my father died.
Hamlet: Your father, Polonius, dead?
Laertes: Yes, he got caught in one of your dad’s cotton gins today. What a mess!
Horatio: Our condolences.
Laertes: Thanks, but he wouldn’t have died if Hamlet’s dad hadn’t had those old, rickety cotton mills.
Hamlet: Those mills were in good condition when my dad died! The person you need to blame is my Uncle Claudius. He let the plantation fall into disrepair!
Laertes: Let’s not argue! I am sure that it is only upsetting Ophelia more!
Rosencrantz: I doubt she even hears you. She’s wasted!
Guildenstern: I think she’s just a little crazy!
(Ophelia and Laertes leave)
Rosencrantz: Ham, if that girl was you girlfriend, you’re better off without her!
Guildenstern: Ham, you can do better.
Hamlet: Let’s get out of here!
Horatio: I think we should. We need to get back to the house for dinner and your play!
Scene: interior, the mansion’s dining room. Claudius, Gertrude, Hamlet, Horatio, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are all eating.
Claudius: So, Hamlet did you and your friends have a pleasant day?
Hamlet: Yes, we went to Moon Lake Casino.
Gertrude: Oh, that must have been nice with a cool breeze over the lake!
Horatio: Yes, but we left early. We ran into Ophelia and Laertes.
Rosencrantz: She was one crazy girl!
Gertrude: Crazy, how so?
Guildenstern: She was drunk, kept singing the chorus to Lady Marmalade, and throwing flowers at us!
Hamlet: She was upset. Her father is dead.
Gertrude: Polonius? Dead?
Claudius: I didn’t tell you sweet pea! I didn’t want to upset you. He fell into one of the cotton gins.
Gertrude: Oh, how horrible!
Claudius: Yes, I’m afraid it will be a closed casket funeral. The coroner’s office had to vacuum and scrape what was left of him out of the gin!
(The telephone rings. Gertrude leaves the table to answer. Faint, distressed conversation is heard. Gertrude returns blanched)
Claudius: Gerty! What is it sweet pea?
Gertrude: That was Laertes. Ophelia is dead!
Hamlet: Dead! But how?
Gertrude: She fell into Moon Lake! It seems that bad new just keeps coming tonight! She climbed out onto a willow branch over the water and it broke. Her clothes kept her up a while, and then she just sank! They say she didn’t struggle at all.
Hamlet: Where was Laertes?
Gertrude: He was there on the dance floor of the casino, when he heard the noise. He ran out, all did, all ran and gathered at the edge of the lake! Laertes tried to get closer, but someone caught his arm. “Don’t go any closer! Come back! You don’t want to see!” Then Laertes heard someone say that they had pulled Ophelia out of the water, all covered in mud and swamp creatures.
Horatio: Oh how horrible!
Rosencrantz: Yes, but she was pretty wasted.
Guildenstern: I don’t think I’ll get that lyric out of my head! Voulez-vous couche avec moi ce soir…ya, ya, ya!
Claudius : Gentlemen, if we’re all finished with dinner, than I suggest we retire to the living room for Hamlet and Horatio’s little dinner theater!
Hamlet: Oh, we don’t have to cut dinner short!
Claudius: I think the distraction will help your mother get over her shock.
Horatio: Yes, we can perform it here while you finish dinner. I just need to go change and get the script.
Gertrude: Claude, I think the boys are right. We’ll finish dinner and let the boys perform their dinner theater!
(Hamlet and Horatio exit)
Guildenstern: This better not be gay!
Rosencrantz: Oh, Miss Gertrude he only means that it’s not stupid!
(Hamlet and Horatio enter. Hamlet has the script and Horatio is wearing a Mardi Gras dress of Gertrude’s. Claudius lets out an audible groan)
Gertrude: Horatio, I would never have guessed that you and I were the same size!
Hamlet: Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, these are your parts. They’re numbered so that you will know your cues. Horatio has his lines memorized.
(Hamlet gives a script page to each)
Claudius: OK boys, let’s see your little play.
Hamlet: It’s more like a charade. They have stage directions but few lines. Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, you need to join Horatio in the hall.
Claudius: And what do you do?
Hamlet: I stay here to explain to you and my mother the parts you may not get.
(Rosencrantz enters with Horatio in the Mardi Gras dress and tries to play his part from the script. All the time Hamlet keeps an eye on Claudius and Gertrude. Horatio leads Rosencrantz while Horatio shows affection to him through gesture. He guides Rosencrantz to the floor and closes his eyes as if in sleep. Horatio exits and Guildenstern enters and mimics a villain, creeping up on Rosencrantz and pretends to pour a liquid in his ear. Guildenstern exits and Rosencrantz convulses in a poor death scene. Horatio returns and gives an exaggerated display of grief. Guildenstern returns and pulls Rosencrantz out into the hall. He then comes back in and on bended knee pledges love to Horatio. Horatio gives an exaggerated display of hesitation and then acceptance of Guildenstern’s love. They embrace. Horatio kisses him and leads him lovingly out of the room. All reenter and take a bow. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern sit while Horatio leaves to change).
Gertrude: I don’t get it.
(Claudius turns red with anger and stands, pushing his chair away)
Claudius: Hamlet! Do you want to explain to your mother and me what that was?
Hamlet: Mother, what do you think?
Gertrude: Well, first I would have to say that was probably not the first time that Horatio has worn a dress! Second, I think the woman protests too much! But it was not quite what I expected from a mystery!
Hamlet: How so mother?
Gertrude: Well, it’s rather obvious! When Horatio first came in, he was in love with Rosencrantz. Then Guildenstern came in and poisoned him. And when Horatio came in again, he…she…fell in love with Guildenstern. So, where’s the mystery?
Hamlet: Ah, but mother, who is who?
Gertrude: What do you mean?
Claudius: I think it’s obvious Gerty! Rosencrantz was your late husband, my brother. Horatio was you. And, Guildenstern was supposed to be me!
Hamlet: Very good Uncle Claudius!
Claudius: Hamlet, is this little play supposed to suggest that I killed your father?
Hamlet: I watched you Uncle Claudius! I watched your every expression! I watched your every reaction! I saw how you reacted when the poison was poured in the ear!
Claudius: But, how…how could you know? You have no proof!
Hamlet: If it was not what happened, why did my little play upset you!
Gertrude: Claude! It can’t be! Tell me that this is just another one of Hamlet’s sick delusions!
Rosencrantz: The follow up act is better then the play!
Guildenstern: Yes, this is much more dramatic!
Claudius: How could he have known?
Hamlet: What, that you killed my dad!
Gertrude: Oh, Claude! Tell me it isn’t true!
Hamlet: Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, you saw how Uncle Claudius reacted! What do you think?
Guildenstern: Ham, I think you nailed him!
Rosencrantz: Ham, why would that stupid play upset him if it wasn’t true?
Gertrude: Oh, Claude! It is true! You killed my husband!
Hamlet: Horatio, call the sheriff!
Horatio: I already have!
(Claudius flees the room)
Gertrude: Hamlet! Can you forgive me? I didn’t know!
Hamlet: O come on mom! How could you not have known! Dad died suddenly for no apparent reason and you did not even ask for an autopsy! Moreover, within the month, you marry Uncle Claudius! I find it hard to believe that you did not suspect something! You told the coroner that dad had cancer! You know he was as healthy as a horse!
Guildenstern: You have any popcorn?
Horatio: I’ll go make some!
Gertrude: You must believe me Hamlet! I did not know!
Hamlet: Save it for the sheriff mom!
(Gertrude exits in tears)
Rosencrantz: Ham, how did you know?
Hamlet: You wouldn’t believe me if I told you! But ask Horatio! He can tell you it’s true!
Guildenstern: Ham, gives us a clue! Now we have a real murder mystery!
Hamlet: A little bird told me. Horatio can tell you! Where’s Horatio?
Rosencrantz: He went to make popcorn.
(Horatio returns with popcorn for all).
Horatio: What happened?
Hamlet: We did it Horatio! Uncle Claudius is obviously guilty. My mom claims she didn’t know. But you know women, anything to save her man! They’ve both run off, undoubtedly they are trying to figure out how to get away.
Horatio: They won’t get away, I called the sheriff as soon as I left to get out of the dress.
(The sounds or sirens are heard. The sheriff Marcellus and his deputy Bernardo enter)
Sheriff: We got a call about a murder!
Hamlet: Yes, sheriff! You need to reopen the case on my father’s death! I think an autopsy will show he did not have cancer, but was poisoned!
Sheriff: By whom?
Hamlet: By my Uncle Claudius. And, I believe my mother was in on it!
Sheriff: Where are they?
Horatio: They should be in the house somewhere, probably upstairs packing for their escape.
Deputy: Yes sheriff?
Sheriff: Go check it out.
Sheriff: Now, of you four, do you have anyone who can back up this theory of his?
Hamlet: Yes! My friends Horatio, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were all present when I exposed them!
Sheriff: Is that right boys?
All: Yes, we were there when they all but confessed.
Sheriff: I’ll talk to y’all later. In the meantime, I’m going to help my deputy.
Rosencrantz: Ham, Horatio, I have to hand it to you. The play was odd, but you guys pulled off your stunt.
Hamlet: Well, I did what I was supposed to do: I avenged my father’s death!
Horatio: But, Hamlet, we missed some of our best lines!
Guildenstern: There was more?
Rosencrantz: They cut out some of best parts.
Guildenstern: Ham, give your friend a chance to say his best lines!
Hamlet: OK! Horatio, are you ready!
Horatio: Yes, Hamlet I’m ready! You start!
(Hamlet lies on the floor, clutching his chest. Horatio kneels beside him.)
Hamlet: If you did ever hold me in your heart, avoid happiness a while, and in this harsh world, draw your breath in pain, to tell my story! I die Horatio!
(Hamlet pretends to die.)
Horatio: Now cracks a noble heart! Good night sweet prince and flights of angels sing you to your rest!
(Horatio leans over Hamlet’s immobile body and weeps. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern applaud as Hamlet and Horatio rise)
Rosencrantz: We have a couple of things to ask.
Guildenstern: Ham, you know I slept through English lit, but aren’t we all supposed to die in the end?
Rosencrantz: Yes, everybody but Horatio dies man.
Hamlet: This is a one-act play and I did what I was supposed to do: I avenged my father’s death. And isn’t it better this way?
Rosencrantz: If you had stuck to the plot, in the end, would you have committed passive suicide, by letting Laertes kill you, just to get to Claudius?
Hamlet: Yes, I think that is what Shakespeare had in mind. Suicide is a recurrent theme and I talk about it all the time.
Rosencrantz: Is Horatio just your best friend or your boyfriend?
Hamlet: Read between the lines! Did Shakespeare ever give me a real girlfriend or have me say anything positive about women? I mean check out Act III, scene ii, when I speak to Horatio: “Give me that man, that is not passion’s slave, and I will wear him in my heart’s core, ay, in my heart of heart, as I do thee”.
Guildenstern: So, you and Horatio are…
(Hamlet leans in and gives Horatio a kiss)
Guildenstern: Oh, man!