Monday, March 9, 2009

Week Eight, Day 50 - "Something Rotten"

“Something Rotten”
Written by Joe Janes

CAST:
Bernardo
Hamlet
King Hamlet’s Ghost
Gertrude
Marcellus

(Lights up on a melancholy Hamlet and Bernardo, a guard, on the wall of the castle in the middle of the night.)

BERNARDO
I 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.

HAMLET
I hope what you speak is true, Bernardo. My father’s spirit then is as uneasy as mine own.

BERNARDO
Except he’s dead.

HAMLET
Right.

BERNARDO
And you are not.

HAMLET
I was referring to my own disposition when I said spirit.

BERNARDO
Oh. Look, a mist.

HAMLET
Tis the shadow of a man.

BERNARDO
Tis your father.

(King Hamlet’s ghost enters.)


KING
Hamlet…Hamlet…

HAMLET
Father. Oh, how I have missed you so.

KING
Me, too. Good to see you. Bernardo.

BERNARDO
King.

HAMLET
Father, what is it that has wrested you from your tomb?

KING
Hamlet…Hamlet…You must avenge my death.

HAMLET
So, there was foul play!

KING
Indeed. Poison was poured into my ear as I slept.

HAMLET
Murder. And the offending beast, is it who I suspect?

KING
Yes, my loathsome brother Claudius, so he may take from me my wife and my throne.

GERTRUDE
Hamlet!...Hamlet!

BERNARDO
Queen Gertrude approaches.

HAMLET
Mother.

KING
Oh, shit.

(Gertrude enters.)

GERTRUDE
Hamlet. You should be resting – What mischief is this?

HAMLET
Nothing, Mother. Bernardo and I are just chatting with this stranger.

BERNARDO
Lovely weather we’re having, isn’t it?

KING
I love a good mist.

GERTRUDE
This stranger looks familiar, even in the dark of night. What brings you to our castle, sir?

KING
Just passing through.

GERTRUDE
Horrible liar, it’s your father!

BERNARDO
Technically, just his father’s ghost.

KING
Hello, Gertrude.

GERTRUDE
And what crap from beyond the grave are you peddling to your son, this time?

HAMLET
Mother, he wants me to avenge his death and so I shall.

GERTRUDE
By doing what? Killing God?

HAMLET
He said my uncle Claudius poured poison in his ear while he slept.

GERTRUDE
Really? And you believe him?

HAMLET
Seems to make sense.

BARNARDO
And he is a ghost, if I may say. Highly reliable source.

GERTRUDE
You’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?

KING
I 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.

GERTRUDE
That I believe. But you still don’t know for a fact someone poured poison in your ear.

KING
Oh, I’m pretty sure.

GERTRUDE
But 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?

BERNARDO
Better late than never, right?

KING
There you go.

GERTRUDE
I’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.


KING
I should never eat kung pao quail before going to bed.

GERTRUDE
And after downing a jug of mead.

KING
You know me gastronomically too well, fair Gertrude.

GERTRUDE
Don’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.

HAMLET
Goodnight, Father. It was good seeing you, again.

KING
You, too, Son. Sorry it wasn’t under better circumstances (indicating Gertrude). But do your old man a favor.

HAMLET
What’s that?

KING
For 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.

GERTRUDE
Well, at least we agree on something.

BERNARDO
That Ophelia’s a hotty?

GERTRUDE
That 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.)

BERNARDO
Would you like me to fix you up some kung pao quail to take with you?

KING
Oh, would you, Bernardo? That’s so sweet.

BERNARDO
Back in a jiff.

(Bernardo exits.)

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.)

4 comments:

idjar said...

I love a good mead story.

Chris Othic said...

Another enjoyable outing.

I really love when people write scenes with fakey elevated language. You do that in this scene, but inconsistently. I kind of want it to be used across the board, and then in those lines when you break the pattern, I think it's more of a punch line. I think of all the characters, Gertrude's dialogue does this the most.

Like the out.

John Potter said...

Joe - Really love this one - Agree totally with Chris' comment...I think it'd give it more of a punch...
Also mayhap have the King interrupt less when Gertrude gets on a roll toward the end with her reasoning...and personally I don't even think you need the last line "If you're not too busy..."

Great sketch really enjoyed reading it...kind of made my day!

Joe Janes said...

Good feedback, guys. Thanks!