Written by Joe Janes
King Hamlet’s Ghost
(Lights up on a melancholy Hamlet and Bernardo, a guard, on the wall of the castle in the middle of the night.)
BERNARDOI tell thee, Hamlet. T’was here upon this wall I saw the ghostly visage of thine father. Marcellus, who guards the north wall, saw it, too.
HAMLETI hope what you speak is true, Bernardo. My father’s spirit then is as uneasy as mine own.
BERNARDOExcept he’s dead.
BERNARDOAnd you are not.
HAMLETI was referring to my own disposition when I said spirit.
BERNARDOOh. Look, a mist.
HAMLETTis the shadow of a man.
BERNARDOTis your father.
(King Hamlet’s ghost enters.)
HAMLETFather. Oh, how I have missed you so.
KINGMe, too. Good to see you. Bernardo.
HAMLETFather, what is it that has wrested you from your tomb?
KINGHamlet…Hamlet…You must avenge my death.
HAMLETSo, there was foul play!
KINGIndeed. Poison was poured into my ear as I slept.
HAMLETMurder. And the offending beast, is it who I suspect?
KINGYes, my loathsome brother Claudius, so he may take from me my wife and my throne.
BERNARDOQueen Gertrude approaches.
GERTRUDEHamlet. You should be resting – What mischief is this?
HAMLETNothing, Mother. Bernardo and I are just chatting with this stranger.
BERNARDOLovely weather we’re having, isn’t it?
KINGI love a good mist.
GERTRUDEThis stranger looks familiar, even in the dark of night. What brings you to our castle, sir?
KINGJust passing through.
GERTRUDEHorrible liar, it’s your father!
BERNARDOTechnically, just his father’s ghost.
GERTRUDEAnd what crap from beyond the grave are you peddling to your son, this time?
HAMLETMother, he wants me to avenge his death and so I shall.
GERTRUDEBy doing what? Killing God?
HAMLETHe said my uncle Claudius poured poison in his ear while he slept.
GERTRUDEReally? And you believe him?
HAMLETSeems to make sense.
BARNARDOAnd he is a ghost, if I may say. Highly reliable source.
GERTRUDEYou’re such gullible ignorami. How would you know, Hamlet the Elder, if your brother Claudius poured poison in your ear while you slept? Weren’t you, oh, I don’t know, sleeping at the time?
KINGI recall feeling something wet in my ear. I mistook it for the feeble seductive advances of your tongue, which is why it did not stir me.
GERTRUDEThat I believe. But you still don’t know for a fact someone poured poison in your ear.
KINGOh, I’m pretty sure.
GERTRUDEBut here is a query of more import. If you were indeed murdered at the hand of thy brother, why wait two frickin’ months after your death to tell anyone? After I already remarried and your brother has been coronated. Does being dead mean you can no longer tell time or read a calendar?
BERNARDOBetter late than never, right?
KINGThere you go.
GERTRUDEI’m not sure what your game is, but, Hamlet, your father died in his sleep just as the doctors stated. We spared you the details to save you from the humiliation. He drank too much before going to bed and choked upon his own regurgitations, just like a lowly minstrel. I might have been able to save him, had I not already been chased from the bedchamber by his many noisy and noxious gasses.
KINGI should never eat kung pao quail before going to bed.
GERTRUDEAnd after downing a jug of mead.
KINGYou know me gastronomically too well, fair Gertrude.
GERTRUDEDon’t “fair Gertrude me,” you horse’s pale ass. You’re trying to control your son and your kingdom from behind death’s curtain. Go back to your hole in the ground and leave us be. Come, Hamlet. Off to bed.
HAMLETGoodnight, Father. It was good seeing you, again.
KINGYou, too, Son. Sorry it wasn’t under better circumstances (indicating Gertrude). But do your old man a favor.
KINGFor God’s sake, cheer up. I thought by giving you a project, like avenging my death, might put you in a good mood. That and I really do hate my brother. You, son, must find a girl, commence to a strong campaign of wooing, win her heart and then settle down and begin producing more Hamlets. That Ophelia’s a hotty. A little nutty, but me-ow.
GERTRUDEWell, at least we agree on something.
BERNARDOThat Ophelia’s a hotty?
GERTRUDEThat this one needs to settle down. Now, you off to sleep and you off to the grave. Goodnight.
(She exits with Hamlet leaving King Hamlet and Bernardo standing next to one another.)
BERNARDOWould you like me to fix you up some kung pao quail to take with you?
KINGOh, would you, Bernardo? That’s so sweet.
BERNARDOBack in a jiff.
MARCELLUS (off)Halt! Who goes there?
KING (walking off)Marcellus…Marcellus… Tis I, the ghost of King Hamlet. I need you to avenge my death, if you’re not too busy…
(Lights fade as he walks off.)