(Index to the Series appears on Oct. 7, 2010 — https://cradkilodney.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/ )

Main Characters

Lear — King of Britain

Goneril, Regan, Cordelia — his daughters

Duke of Albany — Goneril’s husband

Duke of Cornwall — Regan’s husband

Earl of Gloucester

Edgar and Edmund — sons of Gloucester (Edmund is illegitimate)

Earl of Kent

Oswald — Goneril’s steward

Fool — Lear’s jester

Duke of Burgundy

King of France

Curan — a courtier

Old Man

Gist of the story: King Lear is old and wants to step down and relinquish his kingdom to his daughters.  Goneril and Regan put on a big show of affection, which wins them big shares.  But modest, pure-hearted Cordelia refuses to indulge in flattery.  The King misinterprets her attitude as a lack of love for him, so he cuts her out and rejects her.  She marries the King of France.  Now at the mercy of his other two daughters, Lear is treated like a useless old man and a pain in the ass.  He loses his mind over their bad treatment of him and runs away, accompanied by his Fool and his new servant, who is actually the banished Earl of Kent returned in disguise.  Meanwhile, the Earl of Gloucester is deceived by his illegitimate son, Edmund, into believing that good son Edgar intends to kill him.  Edgar flees and disguises himself as a mad beggar.  Gloucester is betrayed by Edmund as a spy for France and for helping Lear, and his eyes are gouged out by the Duke of Cornwall, Regan’s husband.  Cornwall is killed by an enraged servant.  The blind Gloucester, kicked out of his own house, is rescued by the still-disguised Edgar and led to safety.  Lear is led to the French forces now landed in Dover by the loyal, protective Kent, still disguised as a servant.  There is a battle between the French forces, accompanied by Cordelia, who intends to help Lear recover his kingdom, and the British forces, led by Edmund and Albany.  Edmund leads Regan’s forces in lieu of the deceased Cornwall; Albany is overall commander, although his sympathies are with Lear, and he’s only in it because the French have invaded.  Goneril wants to have Albany killed so she can marry Edmund, but Regan also wants Edmund.  So Goneril decides to poison Regan.  Albany learns of Goneril’s treachery and exposes both her and Edmund.  Edgar arrives and slays his evil brother.  Goneril, now exposed, and seeing Edmund fatally wounded, commits suicide.  Cordelia is hanged on orders from Edmund conveyed before his death.   Her death is too much for Lear — the two having been reconciled — and he dies of grief.  Albany is left to rule Britain.  (In the words of Shakespearean scholar A. C. Bradley, “King Lear is the tragedy in which evil is shown in the greatest abundance; and the evil characters are peculiarly repellent from their hard savagery, and because so little good is mingled with their evil.  The effect is therefore more startling than elsewhere; it is even appalling.”)

Act 1, Scene 1.  King Lear’s palace.  Kent, Gloucester, and Edmund come in.

Kent: I always thought the King liked Albany better than Cornwall.

Gloucester: I thought so, too.  But looking at the map and the way he wants to divide up the kingdom, the shares look pretty equal.

Kent: So this is your son, eh?

Gloucester: Yup.  My boy Edmund.  Actually, he’s, uh, what you might call, uh, sort of, well, illegitimate, ha, ha.  Technically.

Kent: Not a problem.  I’m not prejudiced.  He looks like a fine lad.

Gloucester: He is.  His brother Edgar is a year older.  He is legitimate, ha, ha.  But I treat them as equals.  My sons and heirs.–Edmund, this is my good friend, the Earl of Kent.

Edmund: It’s an honour to meet you, sir.

Kent: I expect to be hearing more about you in the future, Edmund.

Edmund: Oh, you will, sir.

Gloucester: Ah, here comes the King.

    (A trumpet flourish.  The King comes in, along with the Dukes of Albany and Cornwall, daughters Goneril, Regan, and Cordelia, and Attendants.)

Lear: Gloucester, go and entertain the King of France and the Duke of Burgundy, okay?

Gloucester: Sure thing, my lord.–Come on, Edmund.  (Gloucester and Edmund leave.)

Lear: Now, let’s get down to business.  Here’s the map.  As you can see, I’ve divided the kingdom into three parts.  I’m tired, and I want to take it easy in my old age and let the young bloods take over.  Cornwall and Albany, you’re my sons-in-law, and I don’t want you to fight about shares later, so we’ll settle it all now.  The King of France and the Duke of Burgundy both want to marry Cordelia, so they have an interest in the matter as well.  Now, I’m going to give out the shares of the kingdom according to who loves me the most.  How’s that?  Goneril, you’re the oldest.  What do you have to say?

    (Goneril smothers the King with hugs and kisses while speaking.)

Goneril: Oh, daddy dearest!  I love you more than anyone else in the world!  You’re the Number One super-best daddy that ever lived!  I’m so lucky to be your little girl!  I love you tons and tons and tons!  Darling daddy!  I love you the most!  I love you and only you!

Cordelia (Aside): What a vulgar display.

Lear: Ha, ha, ha, well, well, well!  That’s wonderful, sweetheart!  What a good daughter you are!  So, let’s see now.  You’re going to get this part here, from this line to this — all the pretty flowers and trees and meadows and rivers, and no grotty immigrants.  That’s for you and your husband, Albany, and your future children and grandchildren forever.  And now, Regan, my middle daughter, wife of our good fellow Cornwall, what do you have to say?

    (Regan jumps all over the King and smothers him with hugs and kisses as she speaks.)

Regan: Oh, daddy, I love you just as much as Goneril and even more!  I adore you!  I worship the ground you walk on!  I love you with all the love in my heart!  I can’t even find words to tell you how much I love you!  I’m the one who loves you the most, absolutely, without doubt!  I want to kiss every hair on your adorable head!  You’re the only one I love!

Cordelia (Aside): Fuck me.  I never went to acting school.

Lear: Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!  Oh, my wonderful Regan!  What a daughter!  To you and your family forever I give this part of the kingdom, from here to here, which is every bit as good as Goneril’s, with lots of trees and flowers and the most expensive birds, and excellent land for future development.  And now, last but not least, my youngest daughter, Cordelia, who has not one but two noble suitors who want to marry her, ha, ha.  So, what do you say, girl?

Cordelia: Nothing.

Lear: What’s that?

Cordelia: I’m not good at expressing my feelings.  I’m your daughter, and I love you the way a daughter should love her father — no more and no less.

Lear: Is that all you can say?  Maybe you should try again.  We’re talking about a big inheritance here.

Cordelia: Is there something I’m supposed to prove?  I’m not going to flatter you.  I’ve been a good, obedient daughter.  How can my sisters say they love only you when they have husbands?  If I were married, half my love would have to go to my husband.

Lear: So that’s the way you feel?

Cordelia: I’m just being honest.

Lear: And you wouldn’t flatter me just a little bit to make me happy?

Cordelia: No.

Lear: Then you don’t love me.  That’s obvious.  In that case you can keep your honesty as your sole inheritance.  You’re out.  You’re not my daughter any more.  I’m through with you.

Kent: Uh, my lord–

Lear: Stay out of this, Kent.–Cornwall and Albany, you and my daughters will split the portion that Cordelia would have gotten.  The two of you will rule jointly, with all the powers and privileges and property, et cetera.   I’ll just keep a hundred knights for myself, as befits a retired king,  And I’ll take turns living with each of you.  As for Cordelia, we’ll see who wants to marry her now.

Kent: My King, to whom I’ve always been loyal, I really must say–

Lear: Forget it, will you!

Kent: My lord, it’s my duty to speak frankly if I think you’re making a mistake.  You’re wrong to think Cordelia doesn’t love you.  She just doesn’t want to be phony like the other two.

Lear: Kent, I swear, you’d better be quiet!

Kent: The only thing I’ve ever cared about is your best interests.

Lear: Just get out of my sight!

Lear: You’ve lost your common sense!  You should take back your kingdom!  Don’t give it away to these two!  You’ll regret it!

Lear: Kent, you’re a traitor!  I’ll give you six days to get out of the country.  After that, if you’re found here, I’ll have you executed!

Kent: Very well.  I’ll go.  (To Cordelia)  May God protect you for your honesty.– Gentlemen, goodbye.

    (Kent leaves.  Then a trumpet flourish announces Gloucester leading in the King of France and the Duke of Burgundy, with Attendants.)

Gloucester: We played some snooker to pass the time, my lord.

Lear: Wonderful.  So, Burgundy, you want to marry my daughter.  What sort of dowry do you want?

Burgundy: Whatever you’ve given her is fine with me.

Lear: She’s just been disinherited.  We’re unhappy with her.  She’s getting zero.  Nada.  Rien.

Burgundy: What?

Lear: If you want her, you can have her as is — no extras.

Burgundy: Oh….Well….That sort of changes things, doesn’t it?

Lear: Right.  You don’t want her.  (To the King of France) And as for your Majesty, I wouldn’t expect you to want her either with no dowry.

France: Well, this is weird.  I always thought she was the one you loved most.  Now you’re disowning her.  What did she do, murder someone?  Convert to Islam?  Use the wrong fork? 

Cordelia: Tell him the truth, dad.  You’re disinheriting me because I’m not a phony flatterer like my sisters.  They slobbered all over you to get as much as they could.

Lear: That’s not the point.  The point is that they knew it would make me happy, so they flattered me.  But you wouldn’t.  You deliberately didn’t do something to please me, which means you don’t love me the way they do.

France: Now I get it.  You wanted to be indulged in your old age.  That’s it, right?

Lear: Yes.  Why not?

France: Well, Burgundy, do you still love her with no dowry?

Burgundy: My lord Lear, if you would just let Cordelia have what you originally intended–

Lear: Nope.  My mind’s made up. 

Burgundy: I see….I’m sorry, Cordelia.  You’re very sweet, but, you see, I assumed–

Cordelia: It’s quite all right.  I understand.

France: I’ll take you just as you are, Cordelia.  You’re honest.  And brave.  Your character is dowry enough for me.  I’ll marry you.

Lear: She’s all yours, France.  Good riddance to her.–Come on, guys, let’s have a drink. 

    (Lear, Burgundy, Cornwall, Albany, and Gloucester leave, with Attendants.)

France: Well, say goodbye to your sisters, Cordelia.

Cordelia: Daddy’s darlings.  Take good care of our father.  I leave him in your benevolent, loving hands.

Regan: Don’t tell us what to do.

Goneril: You take care of your husband.  He must have a soft spot for hard luck cases.

Cordelia: May the wicked receive their just desserts.  Good luck.

France: Let’s go, my dear.

    (France and Cordelia leave.)

Goneril: Well, I’d say we both came out of this better than either of us expected.  I think dad will stay with us first.

Regan: Okay.  And we’ll take him next month.

Goneril: He’s getting old, you know.  And I think he’s losing his marbles.  Cordelia was his favorite.

Regan: I don’t think he realizes how he’s changed.

Goneril: We’re going to have our hands full.  Old people can be such a pain in the ass.

Regan: And unpredictable.  Look at the way he banished Kent — one of his best friends.

Regan: And did you see how rude he was just walking out on the King of France?  If this is any indication of how unstable he is, I don’t think it’s wise to let him keep any sort of power.

Regan: I’m with you on that.

Goneril: We’re going to have to do something to rein him in.  And I mean sooner rather than later.

    (They leave.)

Act 1, Scene 2.  The Earl of Gloucester’s castle.  Edmund comes in, holding a letter.

Edmund: I’m fed up with social discrimination against so-called illegitimate children.  I’m every bit as good as my legitimate brother, Edgar — better, in fact.  And now I’m going to steal his inheritance.  Power to the bastards!

    (Gloucester comes in.)

Gloucester: I can’t believe it.  Kent has been banished.  The King of France went home offended.  And Lear has given up practically all his power to Goneril and Regan.  And all this in one day.  What next?  Edmund, have you got some news there?

Edmund (Pretending to hide the letter): No, no.  Nothing at all.

Gloucester: What’s that letter?

Edmund: Oh, nothing.  Never mind.

Gloucester: Why are you trying to hide it?  What is it?

Edmund: It’s, uh…it’s from Edgar.  But I haven’t finished reading it.  I don’t think you’d want to see it.

Gloucester: Give it here.

Edmund: Okay, but don’t blame me for it.

Gloucester (Reads letter): ‘We could be enjoying ourselves if the old man were out of the way.  Why should we wait till he dies of old age?  Let’s get rid of him and split the money.  Meet with me, and we’ll make our plans.  Edgar.’  What the hell?  Edgar wrote this?  How did you get it?

Edmund: I found it on my window sill.

Gloucester: Is this his handwriting?

Edmund: I’m afraid it is.

Gloucester: Yes….It looks like it….Did he ever say anything like this to you before?

Edmund: No.  But I’ve heard him say several times that young men of our age should be able to take control of their parents’ money and let the parents be dependent instead of the children.

Gloucester: That no-good kid!  I’ll kick his ass!  Wants to get ride of me, eh?  Go and find him.  Do you know where he is?

Edmund: I don’t know.  But, really, we shouldn’t jump to conclusions.  Maybe there’s some explanation for this letter.  Could be he just wrote it to test me.

Gloucester: You think so?

Edmund: It’s possible.

Gloucester: Yes.  Of course.  After all, he couldn’t be that evil, to want to kill his own father.

Edmund: No, I don’t think so.  But let me talk to him and find out the truth.  Let me do it in my own way.  Trust me, okay?

Gloucester: Yes, yes.  Good.  I leave it to you.  Get the truth out of him.  I need to know one way or the other. 

Edmund: So do I.  I’ll take care of it.  Don’t worry.

Gloucester: God, it must be something in the stars.  Nothing makes sense any more.  The world’s going to hell.  There’s crime, war, the breakdown of the family.  And a good guy like Kent getting banished for no reason.  Hell, I need a drink.

    (Gloucester leaves.)

Edmund: Typical dumbness!  It’s all in the stars.  We don’t make our own problems.  We’re just victims of the stars and planets.  Oh!  Oh!  What’s going to happen?  Better look at the stars!  Uh, oh, it’s a comet!  That’s bad!  Which comet is it?  Why, it’s Comet…(Edgar comes in.)…Edgar!

Edgar: Hey, bro.  Boy, you’ve got a strange look in your eyes.  What’s going on?

Edmund: Oh, it’s those eclipses we had recently.  Bad omens, you know.

Edgar: Come on.  Don’t take that stuff seriously.

Edmund: Oh, you don’t know.  Strange events in the sky are signs of strange events to come on earth.

Edgar: I didn’t know you believed in astrology.

Edmund: When did you see dad last?

Edgar: Last night.  Why?

Edmund: Was everything all right?  He wasn’t angry with you for some reason, was he?

Edgar: Of course, not.

Edmund: Well, you must have done something to piss him off, because he is mad as hell, and I mean right off the scale.  Whatever it’s about, just steer clear of him until he calms down.

Edgar: I can’t believe it!  I didn’t do anything!  Somebody must have told him some kind of lie about me.

Edmund: Yeah, that’s what I think.  Just keep away from him for the time being.  Tell you what.  Go to my room and wait there.  At the right time I’ll take you to where you can listen in on dad and me talking.  Then you’ll know what it’s about.  Here’s my key.  You stay in my room.  But if you have to go out for any reason, make sure you’ve got your sword.

Edgar: What for?

Edmund: Just trust me, okay, bro?  There’s something bad in the wind.  You may have to protect yourself.  Now go.

Edgar: You’ll come back soon?

Edmund: Yes, yes.  Trust me.  Whatever I do is for your safety.  Remember that.  (Edgar leaves.)  Perfect.  Now I’ve got them both confused.  I’ve got them in the palm of my hand.  I’m going to get everything I want.

    (Edmund leaves.)

Act 1, Scene 3.  The Duke of Albany’s castle.  Goneril and her Steward, Oswald, come in.

Goneril: Oswald, did my father slap you for making fun of his Fool?

Oswald: I’m afraid so, madam.

Goneril: He’s really getting on my nerves.  It’s one damn thing after another.  His knights are disorderly.  They don’t wipe their feet when they come into the house.  And he nags me about every little thing.  He wants this.  He wants that.  He’s like a child.  Listen, when he gets back from hunting, I don’t want to speak to him.  Tell him I’m sick.  And from now on, if he wants something, make him wait.  And tell the staff to do likewise.  If he yells at you, I’ll answer for it, don’t worry.  (The sound of hunting horns is heard.)  And tell the servants not to be too friendly with the knights.  Let them fend for themselves.  I’m not here to cater to them.  If my father doesn’t like it here, he can go to my sister’s place.  In fact, I’m going to write to her to tell her to treat him the same way.  Now, go get dinner ready.

Oswald: Yes, madam.

    (Oswald leaves.)

Act 1, Scene 4.  A hall in Albany’s castle.  Kent comes in, disguised, and dressed like a commoner.

Kent: I don’t think the King will recognize me in these clothes and with my beard different, and if I change my voice.  I’ve got to try to save him from his own foolishness, even if it means risking my life.

    (A sound of horns.  Lear comes in with some Knights and Attendants.)

Lear: I’m hungry.  Get me some dinner.  (Attendant leaves.  To Kent)  Who are you?

Kent: You can call me Caius.  I’m looking for a job as a servant.  I’m honest and trustworthy, I go to church, and I don’t smoke. 

Lear: Do you know who I am?

Kent: No, sir, but I can tell you’re the sort of master I’d love to work for.

Lear: What can you do?

Kent: I can ride, I can deliver messages, I’m discreet, I’m good with tools, I can do general labor, I can keep accounts, I’m a smart shopper, I’m diligent about details, and I don’t take sick days.

Lear: How old are you?

Kent: I’m forty-eight, sir, and I’ve never made a claim for workers’ compensation.

Lear: Straight or gay?

Kent: Straight, sir.

Lear: Okay, good enough.  I’ll give you a try.–Hey, where’s my dinner?  And where’s my Fool?  (To Attendant)  Go get my Fool.  (Attendant leaves.  Oswald comes in.)  You.  Oswald.  Where’s my daughter?

Oswald: Yes–  (Oswald leaves.)

Lear: Yes what?  Call him back.  (A Knight leaves.)  Where the hell is everyone?  Where’s my Fool?  Where’s my daughter?

    (Same Knight returns.)

Knight: My lord, the steward says your daughter is too ill to see you.

Lear: Why didn’t he come back and tell me himself?

Knight: He didn’t want to.  He was really rude about it.

Lear: Is that so?

Knight: My lord, it seems to me that everyone is ignoring you, including your daughter and the Duke.

Lear: Yeah, so I’ve noticed.  I’m going to have to speak to her about that.  But where’s my Fool?  I haven’t seen him for two days.

Knight: He hasn’t been himself ever since Madam Cordelia went away, sir.  He’s been really down.

Lear: Yeah, I think I’ve noticed that, too.  (To Attendant)  Go tell my daughter I want to speak to her.  And go get my Fool, too.  (Attendant leaves.  Then Oswald returns.)  Oh, there you are.  Say, listen, who the hell do you think I am, Steward?

Oswald: My boss’s father.

Lear: Your boss’s father?  You disrespectful piece of snot!

Oswald: Don’t call me that.

Lear: Punk!  (He slaps Oswald.)

Oswald: You can’t hit me!  You’re not the boss of me!

Kent: You white trash!  (Kent trips Oswald to the floor.)

Lear: Hey, well done!  I like you!

Kent (To Oswald): You should know your place.  Go learn some manners.  (He pushes Oswald out.)

Lear: I’m glad I hired you.  Here’s a bonus.  (He gives Kent a gold coin.  As this happens, the Fool comes in, wearing the traditional jester’s cap.)

Fool (To Kent): Take my cap, too.

Kent: What for?

Fool: You’ll need it if you’re going to be on this gentleman’s side.  You see, he turned two of his daughters against him and did the third one a favor without realizing it — exactly the opposite of what he intended.  (To Lear)  Uncle, you should ask your daughters for a fool’s cap so you can be their fool.

Lear: Wise guy.  I should get my whip and use it on you, you barking dog.

Fool: Don’t whip the dog because he barks.  A dog doesn’t know how to lie.

Lear (To Kent): I don’t know why I put up with this guy.

Fool: A dozen peasants may fit into a hut, but a full house cannot contain more than three of anything.

Kent: That’s nothing.

Fool: Can you make no use of nothing?

Lear: Nothing can be made out of nothing.

Fool: Quite so!  Why does a person grow taller but a candle grow shorter?

Lear: Huh?

Fool: How can one ass lead another if both are behinds?

Kent: You certainly are a fool.

Fool: But not as big a fool as the one who gave away all his lands.

Lear: What are you insinuating?

Kent: I believe I see a meaning there, my lord.

Fool: Both the man who walks straight and the man who walks crookedly must sooner or later come to a hazard, but the crooked man will wear out his shoes first.

Lear: What the–

Fool: Walk not with the lamb nor with the lemming, for either way you will come to grief.  (Lear and Kent exchange puzzled looks.)  If an inn becomes too crowded, it may cease to be popular.

Lear: Wait a minute.  That doesn’t make any sense.

Fool: Does it make any sense to turn your daughters into your parents?  If you give them the rod of authority and pull down your own pants, you are asking for a whipping.

Lear: Oh, shut up!

Fool: Match your socks to your codpiece and your tie to your vest. 

Lear: Shut up!

Fool: Never buy stocks in a downtrend.

Lear: Shut up!  (Goneril comes in.)  Daughter, why do you frown at me so much lately?

Fool: Just think, my lord.  Not so long ago it didn’t matter if she frowned.  Now you must worry about it.

Goneril: Shut up, Fool!  (To Lear)  Not only is your Fool insolent, but all of your attendants and knights are becoming a major pain in the ass.  And you encourage them.  I hate to have to say this to you, but it’s got to stop.

Lear: Hey, what am I?

Fool: A shadow of your former self.

Lear (To Goneril): This can’t be my daughter I’m talking to.  Perhaps we need to be properly introduced, madam.

Goneril: Oh, stop it!  You have such an attitude.  I would expect you to be wiser than that.  The whole household is in chaos because all of your people are so badly behaved.  I can’t have this.  And why do you need a hundred knights?  I want you to get rid of half of them within two weeks.

Lear: Are you kidding?  What a bitch you’ve turned into all of a sudden!  To hell with you!  I’m going to move in with Regan!–Saddle the horses!  Get everyone packed!  (Albany comes in.)  Albany, do you want me to go?  Are you as ungrateful and cold-hearted as your wife?

Albany: Oh, please, sir.  Why are you going?

Lear (To Goneril): All my people are honourable and know how to behave!–Oh, God!  Why did I disinherit Cordelia?  How could I be so stupid, stupid, stupid!

Albany: My lord, believe me, I don’t know what this quarrel is about.

Lear: I guess you don’t.–Goneril, I hope you never have children.  Or if you do, I hope they treat you the way you’ve treated me.  With ingratitude!–Where’s my horse?  (He leaves.)

Albany: What’s this all about?  Why is he angry?

Goneril: It’s none of your business.  If he wants to go, let him go.

    (Lear returns.)

Lear: You want to take away fifty of my knights in two weeks?  You evil, ungrateful bitch!   I curse you!  I disown you!  Thank God I have another daughter to go to!  She’ll treat me right, and she’ll claw your eyes out for being so bad to me!

    (Lear leaves with Kent and Attendants.)

Goneril: Hear that?  Pathetic, isn’t it?

Albany: Really, my dear, this isn’t right.  You own father–

Goneril: Never mind.  (To Fool)  What are you hanging around for?

Fool: Uncle, wait for me!  (He runs off.)

Goneril: It’s not safe for us to let the old man keep a hundred knights when it’s obvious he’s becoming senile.

Albany: Well, I think you may be exaggerating.

Goneril: I’m not taking any chances.  And I’m telling Regan, too.  She mustn’t let him keep a hundred knights.–Oswald!

    (Oswald comes in.)

Oswald: Yes, madam.

Goneril: Have you written that letter I told you to write to my sister?

Oswald: Yes, madam.

Goneril: Take an escort and deliver it to her.  And emphasize the fact that I don’t want my father to keep a hundred knights.  (Oswald leaves.)  I would have hoped you’d understand the situation better.  You’re much too soft for a man of your position.

Albany: Perhaps you know better than I do.

Goneril: Yes, dear.  I generally do.

    (She walks off.)

Act 1, Scene 5.  In the courtyard outside Albany’s castle, Lear, Kent, and the Fool come in.

Lear: Caius, take this letter to my daughter, the Duchess of Cornwall.  If she asks you any questions about it, you can tell her what you know, but don’t volunteer anything else.  Go quick, man.

Kent: I’ll be Mercury, sir!  (He leaves.)

Fool: I’m sure your other daughter will treat you according to her true nature, Uncle.

Lear: I’m counting on it.  I’d lose my mind if she didn’t.

Fool: You should always put your name and address on your mind, Uncle.

Lear: Why is that?

Fool: So that if you lose it, it may be returned to you.

    (A Gentleman comes in.)

Gentleman: Your horses are ready, my lord.

Lear: Good.  Let’s go.

    (They leave.)

Act 2, Scene 1.  The Earl of Gloucester’s castle.  Edmund and Curan come in from opposite directions.  Curan has gay mannerisms.

Edmund: Hey, Curan.  Wassup? 

Curan: Oh, Edmund!  The Dude of Cornwall — oh, I mean the Duke of Cornwall, ha ha–

Edmund: Ha, ha!

Curan: –And his wife, Madam Regan, are coming over — right now, in fact.

Edmund: Oh, yeah?  What’s the reason?

Curan: Well!  Rumor has it — and, of course, it’s just a rumor — that there’s some friction between the Dudes of Cornwall and Albany.  And it’s not my preferred kind of friction!

Edmund: No shit!

Curan: Of course, you didn’t hear this from me.  Well, I have to go help prepare the canapes.  Ta-ta!  (He prances off.)

Edmund: So, Cornwall’s coming over.  How can I use this to my advantage?  (Paces back and forth a few times, then smiles to himself.)  Hey, Edgar!  Come down!  (Edgar comes in, looking worried.  He is armed.)  Listen.  The old man is looking for you.  Get out now.

Edgar: What’s the matter?  What’s happening?

Edmund: Cornwall and Regan are on their way over.  Apparently it’s urgent.  Did you say anything against Cornwall?

Edgar: Who, me?  No!

Edmund: Because Cornwall and Albany are feuding, and Cornwall thinks you’ve taken sides with Albany.  Think!  You must have said something.

Edgar: No, I never said anything.  I don’t even know anything about it.

Edmund: Dad’s coming.  Listen.  Do what I say.  Take your sword out.  We have to pretend that we just fought.–Oh!  Stop!  No!  Don’t!  Help!–Now run.  Get going.  Don’t look back.  (Edgar flees.)  Oh!  Help!  Father!  (Edmund deliberately cuts himself.)  That should look convincing.–Help!  Somebody!  Please! 

    (Gloucester and Servants arrive.)

Gloucester: Edmund!  What happened?

Edmund: He was hiding in the shadows.  He started ranting like a lunatic.

Gloucester: Who?

Edmund: Edgar!

Gloucester: Good God!  (To Servants)  After him!  (Servants run off.) 

Edmund: He ordered me to kill you.  I told him I would never do such a thing.  Then he got angry and stabbed me.  I tried to hold him, but he got away. 

Gloucester: He won’t get far.  When we catch him, we’ll have him hanged.  The Duke of Cornwall is coming.  He’s my patron.  He’ll back me up.

Edmund: I threatened to expose him, father.

Gloucester: Who?

Edmund: Edgar.  Because of the letter.  He said he would pin the whole thing on me — that it was my idea to kill you.  He said it would be his word against mine, and no one would believe a bastard like me.

Gloucester: Listen, he’s not my son any more.  He’s a damn criminal.  You’re my one and only son.  (A trumpet call is heard.)  That’s Cornwall’s trumpet.  I don’t know what he wants to see me about.  But anyway, he’ll give me the authority to deal with Edgar.  And you, Edmund…you’ll be the next Earl of Gloucester someday.  You’ll get everything.

    (Cornwall, Regan, and Attendants come in.)

Cornwall: Gloucester!  There was a commotion outside just now!  We just heard the strangest thing!  Did somebody try to kill Edmund?

Regan: Whoever did it, he’ll pay for it!  How are you, my lord?

Gloucester: Madam, I don’t know how to tell you.  It was my own son, Edgar.  He was plotting to kill me.

Regan: Edgar!  He’s godson to my father!  Wasn’t he hanging around with my father’s knights — those trouble-makers? 

Edmund: Yes, he was.

Regan: Well, no wonder!  They must have put him up to it — to kill you and get his hands on your money.  My sister just sent me a letter warning me about them and saying not to let them into my house.

Cornwall: You were loyal to your father, Edmund.  I thank God for that.

Edmund: It was my duty as a son.

Gloucester: See here?  He was wounded trying to catch Edgar.  I’ve got people out looking for him now.

Cornwall: You have complete discretion to do whatever you want.–And you, Edmund, have proven yourself to be a real man of honour and courage.  You’re the sort of fellow I can trust.  I’ll be needing you.

Edmund: I’m your servant, sir.

Cornwall: You don’t know why we’re here, do you, Gloucester?

Gloucester: No.

Regan: We’ve got a situation, my lord, and we need your advice.  I’ve gotten letters from both my father and my sister complaining about each other, and I wanted to speak to you before I answered them.  The messengers are following us, and they’ll be waiting for my replies.

Gloucester: Yes, yes.  Let’s sit down and have a drink and talk it over.

    (They leave.)

Act 2, Scene 2.  Outside of Gloucester’s castle.  Kent and Oswald come in from opposite directions.  It is just before dawn.

Oswald: Good morning.  Do you live here?

Kent: Yes.

Oswald: Where can I tie my horse?

Kent: Anywhere in the mud.

Oswald: That’s not very nice.  I just asked a simple question.

Kent: The white trash section is around back.

Oswald: Hey, why are you disrespecting me?  I don’t even know you.

Kent: Well, I know you.  You’re a miserable, low-life slave and a son of a whore.

Oswald: What the fuck?

Kent: You don’t remember me, do you, asshole?  I knocked you down two days ago in front of the King.  (Draws his sword.)  Come on, faggot!  Draw your sword!

Oswald: Help!  Help!  Help!

Kent: Fuckin’ coward!  (Kicks Oswald several times.)

Oswald: Help!  Help!

    (Edmund comes in with sword drawn, followed by Cornwall, Regan, Gloucester, and Servants.)

Edmund: What are you doing to this man?

Kent: Hey, I’ll fight you, too!  I don’t care!

Cornwall: You use that sword, and it’ll be the last thing you ever do.

Gloucester: Who are these guys?

Regan: My messenger and my father’s messenger.

Cornwall: Do you guys have a problem, or what?

Kent: He’s a goddamn fucking low-life slave.

Cornwall: Why?  What’s he done to you?

Kent: Maybe I don’t like his face.  I’m telling you straight.  He’s a bum.

Cornwall: I don’t think you’re telling me anything straight.  (To Oswald)  What did you do to offend him?

Oswald: Nothing, sir!  The other day he knocked me down in front of the King just to be a big hero, and now he tells me to tie my horse in the mud, then he starts insulting me, and then he kicks me, and then he draws his sword!

Cornwall (To Kent): You’re going into the stocks!

Kent: I’m the King’s messenger.

Cornwall: I don’t give a fuck what you are.  You’re going into the stocks, and you’re going to sit there till noon.–Bring the stocks.  (Servants leave.)

Regan: Not just till noon.  Make it until tomorrow night.

    (The stocks are brought in.)

Gloucester: Please, my lord.  I wish you wouldn’t.  I don’t think it’s appropriate to treat the King’s messenger so harshly.  It’s really up to the King.

Cornwall: Let me worry about that.

Regan: My sister won’t like it if he isn’t punished.  After all, he assaulted her steward.  (Kent is put in the stocks.)  Let’s go, dear.  (Regan, Cornwall, and the Servants leave.)

Gloucester: I’m really sorry about this.  But the Duke outranks me.  And you really pissed him off.

Kent: Never mind.  Forget it.

Gloucester: Personally, I think he was wrong.  But he’s got a bad temper.  You don’t want to get on his bad side.  Oh, hell.  The King’s not going to like this.  Anyway, bear with it.  (He leaves.)

Kent: Oh, fucking hell.  If only Cordelia were here.  She’d set things straight again.  She sent me a letter.  She knows what I’m doing.  She’ll come back someday.  (He falls asleep.)

Act 2, Scene 3.  Edgar is in the woods.

Edgar: People are after me like I’m some kind of criminal.  There’s only one way I’m going to stay alive, and that’s by disguising myself.  I’ll be a mad beggar.  I’ll be Poor Tom.  Yeah, that’s it.  A mentally disturbed homeless person.  Plenty of people will feed me and give me stuff.  Thank God for liberals.

    (He leaves.)

Act 2, Scene 4.  Kent is in the stocks in front of Gloucester’s castle.  Lear, his Fool, and a Gentleman come in.

Lear: Regan left her house and never sent back my messenger.  That’s strange.

Gentleman: And nobody could say why she and the Duke were coming here to Gloucester’s.

Kent: Master, it’s me!

Lear: What the fuck!  Are you joking around?

Fool: No, Uncle.  That’s my job.

Kent: Your daughter and her husband had me locked up like this.

Lear: What the hell for?

Kent: I’ll tell you the whole story.  I had just delivered your letter to your daughter when this other messenger arrived from Madam Goneril.  And as soon as Madam Regan read that letter, she and her husband got their attendants together to come here.  She gave me a real dirty look, and she told me to follow her and wait for a reply to you.  When I got here, I bumped into Madam Goneril’s messenger, and when I realized he was the same guy who talked back to you the other day, I picked a fight with him — which I guess was not very smart on my part.  Well, the Duke and Duchess got pissed off, and here I am.

Lear: I’m going to go speak to that daughter of mine.  (He leaves.)

Kent: How come the King is here with so few people?

Fool: Well, he’s not as rich and powerful as he used to be, now, is he?

Kent: No.

Fool: But you already knew that, didn’t you?

Kent: Yes.

Fool: Ah, well, only a fool would remain loyal to a master whose fortunes have declined so much.  (Kent and the Fool share a long, knowing look.  Then Lear returns with Gloucester.)

Lear: She refuses to speak to me!  Oh, but they’re tired after traveling all night, you see!  What a crock!

Gloucester: The Duke is a stubborn guy.

Lear: What’s he being so stubborn for?  I only wanted to speak to him and my daughter.

Gloucester: Yes.  I told him.

Lear: Of all the fucking nerve.  You go back and tell the Duke of Cornwall–No, on second thought, forget it.  Maybe they are tired.  Maybe he’s got a headache.  I shouldn’t confront him when I’m angry like this.  (Looking at Kent)  Damn it!  Get my guy out of those stocks! This is such an insult to me!  I’m not going to listen to their fake excuses.  I demand to speak to the two of them right now.  You go tell them to come right here, right now, or I’ll break their door down.

Gloucester: Oh, God.  I hope this doesn’t turn into an ugly scene.  (He leaves.)

Lear: I can feel my blood pressure going up.  If I don’t watch it, I’ll end up having a stroke.

    (Gloucester returns with Cornwall, Regan, and Servants.  The Servants release Kent from the stocks.)

Lear: Well!  Good morning!

Cornwall: Good morning.

Regan: Glad to see you, dad.

Lear: I’ve been anxious to speak to you, Regan.  First things first.  It’s your sister.  She’s turned into a total bitch.  She’s treating me like dirt.

Regan: Take it easy, dad.  I think you’re misjudging her.

Lear: You do?

Regan: I think whatever she’s done — like curbing the bad behavior of your knights, for instance — she’s probably justified.

Lear: She’s a bitch!  That’s all she is!

Regan: Dad, calm down.  You know, you’re getting old, and I think maybe you’re not seeing things clearly.  I do see things clearly.  You should go back and tell her you’re sorry. 

Lear: Go back and tell her I’m sorry?  Don’t you understand how degrading that would be?  I can’t go back!  Regan, please!  I’m begging you!  Take me in!

Regan: Dad, I don’t want to hear any more of this.  Go back to Goneril.

Lear: Never!  I’ll never go back to that evil bitch!

Regan: Jesus!  Is that what you’re going to say about me the next time you’re in a bad mood?

Lear: Of course, not.  You’re good, not evil like your sister.  You wouldn’t be bad to me like she has.

    (A trumpet call is heard.)

Regan: That’s her.  She told me she was coming.  (Oswald comes in.)  Is your mistress here?

Lear: This is your sister’s pet iguana.–Take off, loser!

Cornwall: Oh!  My lord!  What a thing to say!

Lear: Second thing.  Who put my man in the stocks, Regan?  Tell me it wasn’t you.  (Goneril arrives.  To Goneril)  Aren’t you ashamed to show your face here?–Regan, don’t tell me you’re on her side.

Goneril: Why shouldn’t she be?  I haven’t done anything wrong.  It’s all in your mind.

Lear: Who put my man in the stocks?

Cornwall: I did.  He deserved it.

Lear: You did?

Regan: Dad, look, you’re not in power any more, okay?  If you go back to Goneril’s for a month and get rid of half your knights, then you can come and stay with me.  I don’t have enough food in the house to feed a crowd right now.

Lear: Go back to her and lose half my knights?  Bullshit!  I’d sooner be homeless!  Or maybe I should go to the King of France and beg him for an old-age pension!  I’d sooner be this asshole’s servant (Indicating Oswald) than move back in with her.

Goneril: If that’s your preference–

Lear: Don’t piss me off any more than you already have.  You may be my daughter, but I’m through with you forever.  I’ll stay with Regan — me and all one hundred of my knights.

Regan: Dad, you’re not listening.  I can’t take you in yet.  You’re being very unreasonable.  Some people get like this when they get old.  You should just do whatever Goneril wants.

Lear: You mean that?

Regan: Yes.  Why do you need a hundred knights?  Aren’t fifty enough?  You don’t even need that many, for that matter.

Goneril: My servants and Regan’s are perfectly capable of looking after you.

Regan: Yes.  That’s the most sensible arrangement.  Just bring, say, twenty-five knights.  That’s all I can feed.

Lear: I gave the two of you my whole kingdom!

Regan: Yes, which was perfectly reasonable.

Lear: Twenty-five knights.  You’re worse than she is.  (To Goneril)  I’ll stay with you and keep fifty knights.  You said I could.

Goneril: Frankly, I don’t see why you need any at all.

Regan: Nor do I.

Lear: Oh, sure!  Take away everything I’ve got left that I don’t actually need.  Hell, I don’t need a bed, do I?  I can sleep in the stable with the horses.  Leave me just one pair of socks and one shirt.  That’ll be fine.  Turn your own father into a wretched beggar, why don’t you.  I swear to God, I will get my revenge on both of you!  (A storm breaks.  Lightning and thunder and wind.)  Yes, break my heart into a million pieces!  Come, Fool, and watch me go mad!

    (Lear, Gloucester, Kent, and the Fool leave.)

Cornwall: Let’s go before we get drenched.

Regan: I don’t know what the old man expects from us.

Goneril: Let him stew in his own juices.  I have no sympathy for him.

Regan: I mean, I’d be willing to take him in just by himself, but not with a whole crew.

Goneril: Same here.

    (Gloucester returns.)

Gloucester: The King is mad as hell.  He wants his horse, but he won’t say where he’s going.

Cornwall: Oh, let him go.

Goneril: Yes.  Don’t try to stop him.

Gloucester: But to go out in a storm like this?  There’s no shelter for miles.

Regan: Let him go with his people and get into whatever trouble he’s looking for.  Maybe he’ll learn a lesson.  Just lock your doors and let the loonies run berserk outside.

Cornwall: Yes.  That’s good advice.  And we should get inside.

    (They leave.)

Act 3, Scene 1.  On a heath.  Storm in progress.  Kent and a Gentleman come in from opposite directions.

Kent: Hey, where’s the King?

Gentleman: He’s running around in the storm, tearing his hair out and screaming like a lunatic.

Kent: All by himself?

Gentleman: He’s got his Fool with him.

Kent: Listen, bro, I have to trust you, and you have to trust me.  There’s a secret conflict between Albany and Cornwall.  There are spies for the French among their servants.  The French army has already landed secretly, and they’re getting ready to launch an invasion.  Now listen carefully.  If you go to Dover and report what’s happened with the King, the right people will thank you for the information.  I come from a noble family — never mind how I look — so you can believe what I’m telling you. 

Gentleman: I need to know more about this.

Kent: There’s no time.  Here.  Take this ring.  Find Cordelia and show it to her.  She’ll know who it’s from.  Now you get going.  I’m going to look for the King.

Gentleman: All right.

    (They leave in different directions.)

Act 3, Scene 2.  Elsewhere on the heath.  Storm in progress.  Lear and the Fool come in.

Lear: Blow, winds, blow!  Rain, thunder, and lightning…wreck everything!  Let’s have the biggest storm of all time!  I don’t care any more!

Fool: Are you sure you wouldn’t rather suck up to your daughters just a little so we can get out of the rain?

Lear: The elements despise me the same way that my daughters despise me.  There’s no justice for me, in heaven or on earth.

Fool: No man can stand up to the elements for long, Uncle.

Lear: And why is that?

Fool: Because an element never forgets.

Lear: Bah!

Fool: A wise man might suggest that your present circumstances are the result of your own actions.  But, of couse, I’m just a fool, so I’d never think of that.

Lear: I’m not listening.

    (Kent comes in.)

Kent: My lord, are you all right?  I don’t think the devil himself would come out of hell to be in a storm like this.

Lear: This storm was meant to make sinners tremble from the guilt of their sins.  Those who have sinned against me will be exposed for what they are.

Kent: You’re a mess, my lord.  There’s a miserable hovel nearby where we can take shelter.  You need to calm down and collect yourself.

Lear: Yes, yes.  All right.–Come on, Fool, let’s get out of the rain.

Fool: A hovel?  Did he say a hovel?  Oh, goody!  I’ve always wanted to stay in a hovel!

    (They leave.)

Act 3, Scene 3.  Gloucester’s castle.  Gloucester and Edmund come in.

Gloucester: I don’t like this at all, Edmund.  Just because I wanted to help the King.  I’ve always been close to the King.  And now Cornwall and Regan have taken over the house — my own house!  And they’ve threatened to punish me if I try to help the King any more.

Edmund: Yeah, it totally sucks.

Gloucester: I must tell you something in confidence, boy.  There’s trouble brewing between Cornwall and Albany.  And what’s more, I’ve gotten word that the French have landed.  You’re to say nothing about this, of course.

Edmund: Of course.

Gloucester: The King’s been treated very badly, but he’s going to get the relief he deserves.  And we have to stand with him.  Now I want you to keep Cornwall company and let him think everything is fine.  If he asks about me, I’ve gone to bed, get it?  I’m going to go out and look for the King and see what I can do for him.  You be careful.

Edmund: Right.  (Gloucester leaves.)  Perfect.  I couldn’t have asked for anything better.  I’ll tell the Duke everything, and that’ll be the end of my father.  The Duke will reward me, and I’ll inherit everything.

    (He leaves.)

Act 3, Scene 4.  On the heath.  Lear, Kent, and the Fool stand before a shack.

Kent: Well, here it is.  Let’s go in.

Lear: You go in.  I don’t even feel the storm any more.  All I can think of is getting even with those two rotten daughters of mine.  (To the Fool)  You go on in, boy.  No need for you to stand out here.  (The Fool goes into the shack.)  Now I know what it feels like to be homeless.  How they must suffer on a night like this.  If I ever regain my power, I’ll build plenty of bridges for them to sleep under.

(Fool returns.)

Fool: Uncle, there’s a weirdo in the hovel!

Kent: Who’s in there?

Fool: He calls himself Poor Tom.

Kent (Toward the shack): You come out of there now!

    (Edgar emerges, dressed in rags.)

Edgar: Watch out!  The evil ones are after me.  They want to kill me.  I’m hunted like an animal.  I’m cold.  I’ve lost my mind.  Ah-bluh-bluh-bluh-bluh….

Lear: I know just how you feel.  Your daughters did this to you, did they?

Kent: No, sir.  He doesn’t have any daughters.

Edgar: Keep the Commandments.  Hunour thy parents.  Don’t serve red wine with fish.  Ooh…brrr!

Lear: Who are you, man?  Or what were you?

Edgar: A sinner and a degenerate, guilty of every vice. 

Lear: Oh, then you’d be better off dead.

    (Gloucester comes in, bearing a torch.)

Edgar: The bogey man!

Kent: Who’s there?

Gloucester: It’s me.  Gloucester.  (To Lear)  What are you doing here, my lord?  Come back to my house.  Your daughters have turned into tyrants.  They’ve taken over the house and have ordered me to keep you out.  But I can’t leave you here like this.

Lear: I don’t want to leave this Poor Tom fellow.  I feel sorry for him.

Kent (To Gloucester): The King’s lost his mind.

Gloucester: I’m not surprised.  His own daughters want him dead.  Kent tried to warn him, but the King banished him.  And I’m about to lose my mind, too.  My own son Edgar wanted to kill me.  (To Lear)  Now please, my lord, let’s go.

Lear: Only if Poor Tom comes, too.

Gloucester: Yes, yes, he can come, too.  But everyone must keep quiet.  If I get caught helping you, God knows what’ll happen to me.

    (All leave.)

Act 3, Scene 5.  In Gloucester’s castle.  Cornwall and Edmund come in.

Edmund: I feel terrible about ratting out my own father, but here’s the letter he showed me.  (Gives letter to Cornwall.)  It proves he was spying for the French.

Cornwall: Find out where he is, and I’ll place him under arrest.  And you, of course, will be the new Earl of Gloucester.  You’re on my side from now on. 

Edmund: Thank you, my lord.

    (Edmund leaves.)

Act 3, Scene 6.  A farmhouse beside Gloucester’s castle.  Kent and Gloucester come in.

Gloucester: You sit tight.  I’ll try to get a few things so the King will be comfortable. 

    (Gloucester leaves.  Then Lear, Edgar, and the Fool come in.)

Lear (To Edgar): I’ve decided I like you, you Poor Tom.  You can be one of my knights.  But you’ve got to find some better clothes.

Kent: Try and rest, my lord.

Lear:  Yes, yes.  I think I’ll have a nice nap before supper.

    (Gloucester returns with a small bundle.)

Gloucester (To Kent): How is he?

Kent: The same.  (Makes “crazy” gesture with finger twirling around the ear.)  He needs to rest. 

Gloucester: No.  You’ve got to get him out of here now.  I overheard them talking.  They intend to kill him.  There’s a cart outside.  You’ve got to put him in it and drive to Dover.  You’ll be safe there.

Kent (To the Fool): You’d better give me a hand with the King.

Gloucester: Hurry.

    (All leave.)

Act 3, Scene 7.  In Gloucester’s castle.  Cornwall, Regan, Goneril, Edmund, and Servants come in.

Cornwall (To Goneril): Take this letter to your husband at once.  The French have landed.  (To Servants)  Find that traitor Gloucester.  (Servants leave.)

Regan: Hang him.

Goneril: No.  Pluck his eyes out.

Cornwall: Leave him to me.–Edmund, I don’t want you to be here when I deal with your father.  You go with Goneril.  (Oswald comes in.  To Oswald)  Where’s the King?

Oswald: Gloucester helped him get away — to Dover.  And thirty-six of his knights are on their way to Dover, too. 

Cornwall: Get horses for your mistress.

    (Oswald leaves.)

Goneril: Goodbye, both of you.

Cornwall and Regan: Goodbye.

    (Goneril and Edmund leave.)

Cornwall: When I get my hands on that Gloucester–Where are those servants? 

Regan: Are you going to hang him?

Cornwall: Mm…I don’t think so.  I’d have to give him a formal trial.  I don’t want that.  But short of hanging him, I can still punish him severely, and, boy, will I ever!

    (Gloucester is brought in by Servants.)

Gloucester: My lord!  My lady!  Are we not friends?  You’re guests in my house.  You wouldn’t hurt me, would you?

Cornwall (To Servants): Tie him good and tight.

    (Servants tie him.)

Regan: Gloucester, you’re a traitor!

Gloucester: No, no!  I’m not!

Cornwall: What letters did you get from the King of France?

Regan: And don’t try to lie.  We know the truth.

Cornwall: You arranged for the French to land, didn’t you?

Regan: You sent my father to them, to tell dirty lies about us, didn’t you?

Gloucester: If I got any letter from the King of France, it was nothing bad.   I can’t even remember the details.

Cornwall: Liar!  We’ve seen the letter!  Why did you send the King to Dover?

Gloucester: To get him away from the whole lot of you!  I couldn’t bear to see you treat him so badly!  And you were even going to kill him!  I’ll see you punished by God for your wickedness!

Cornwall: Oh, no, you won’t.  You won’t see anything ever again.

    (Cornwall kicks Gloucester, who ends up on his back.  Cornwall then gouges out Gloucester’s eyes with the heel of his boot.  Gloucester screams.)

(A Servant): No!  Stop!

Cornwall: How dare you!  (Draws his sword.  The Servant draws his in reply.)

Servant: Fiend!  Monster!

    (They fight.  The Servant strikes Cornwall with a fatal blow.   Then Regan picks up a sword and stabs the Servant in the back.)

Gloucester: Edmund!  Edmund!  Where is my son?

Regan: You asshole!  Edmund was the one who ratted you out!

Gloucester: Oh, no!  Then he lied to me about Edgar!  It was Edmund who wanted me dead!

Regan (To Servants): Drag this dog out of the house and let him smell his way to Dover! (A Servant helps the staggering Gloucester out.  To Cornwall) Are you hurt bad?

Cornwall: Oh shit.  Help me out of here.  I think I’m gonna die.

    (Regan helps Cornwall out.)

Second Servant (To Third Servant): What bastards!  Get some first aid for the Earl.  I’ll see if I can help him.

    (They leave in opposite directions.)

Act 4, Scene 1.  On the heath.  Edgar comes in.

Edgar: After all the shit I’ve been through, things have to start getting better.  Wait.  Who’s that?  It’s my father and some old guy.  Oh, it’s one of the tenants.

    (Gloucester and the Old Man come in.  The Old Man is leading him by the arm.)

Old Man: My lord, I’ve been your tenant and your father’s tenant for eighty years.

Gloucester: Go away, I tell you.  Just leave me.  I know you mean well, but it’s pointless.  Oh, my son Edgar!  I was so wrong.  I feel so bad about it.  If only I could touch him now.

Edgar (Aside): Oh, my God.  He’s blind.

Old Man: There’s someone here, sir.  It’s that mad beggar Poor Tom.  He’s practically naked.

Gloucester: Go fetch him some clothes, then.  I’ll let him lead me, and you can catch up with us later.

Old Man: I shouldn’t leave you with a madman, sir.

Edgar: He’s mad, and I’m blind.  So what?  Go find him some clothes.

    (Old Man leaves.)

Edgar: I’m so cold, sir.  And the devils are after me, sir.

Gloucester: Here.  Take this purse.  I won’t be needing money any more.

Edgar: Bless you, sir.

Gloucester: Do you know the way to Dover?

Edgar: Yes, sir.

Gloucester: There’s a high cliff overlooking the water.  I’m sure you know it.  Lead me there so I can end my life.

Edgar: Give me your arm, sir.  I’ll take you.

    (They leave.)

Act 4, Scene 2.  Before the Duke of Albany’s castle.  Goneril and Edmund come in.

Goneril: Here’s our place.  I wonder where my husband is.  (Oswald comes in.)  Where’s the Duke?

Oswald: Inside, madam.  I must tell you, he’s acting very strangely.  When I told him the French had landed, he smiled.  Then when I told him you were coming, he frowned.  And when I told him about Gloucester’s disloyalty and the good work Edmund did for you, he called me an idiot.

Goneril (To Edmund): You’d better not come in.  My husband’s not really with us.  He’s got no guts.  I should dump him and marry you instead.  You go back to Cornwall and tell him to get his troops ready.  Oswald will be our messenger.  (She gives Edmund a deep kiss.)  And there’s more where that came from.  Take this and think of me.  (She gives him a pair of panties.)

Edmund: It’ll be just you and me, baby — forever!  (He leaves.)

Goneril (Aside): I can’t wait to fuck that handsome stud.  I’m wasting my time with Albany.

Oswald: Here comes the Duke, madam.

    (Albany comes in.)

Goneril: You know, I think you’ve lost interest in me.

Albany: I don’t know who you are any more.  You turn against your own father.  You and your sister.  What are you — monsters?  And what about Cornwall?  Is he one, too?  I’m disgusted with the lot of you.

Goneril: You spineless twerp!  You’ve got your head up your ass!  Don’t you know the French are on our soil?  Don’t you realize that we’re threatened?

Albany: Look in the mirror and you’ll see the devil in a dress.  If you weren’t my wife, I’d strangle you.

Goneril: Oooh…what a man!

    (A Messenger arrives.)

Messenger: My lord, the Duke of Cornwall is dead.

Albany: What happened?

Messenger: He was killed by one of Gloucester’s servants.

Albany: What!

Messenger: He gouged out Gloucester’s eyes.

Albany: Who did?

Messenger: Cornwall did, sir.  To punish him.  The servant couldn’t bear it, and he struck Cornwall with a sword.  The Duchess killed the servant herself, but the Duke died later.

Albany: Cornwall got what he deserved.  And poor Gloucester lost both his eyes?

Messenger: Yes, he did.–Madam, this letter is from your sister.  She wants a reply right away.

Goneril (Aside): If Regan’s a widow now and Edmund is with her, that could be bad for me.  On the other hand, if something were to happen to her, I’d get her share of the kingdom.–Yes.  Thank you.  I’ll write to my sister now.  (She leaves.)

Albany: Where was Edmund when the Duke put out his father’s eyes?

Messenger: He wasn’t there, sir.  He came here with your wife.

Albany: I never saw him.

Messenger: I passed him as he was going back.

Albany: Does he know what Cornwall did to his father?

Messenger: Sir, it was Edmund who betrayed his father to Cornwall.  He left so that wouldn’t have to see what happened.

Albany: Poor Gloucester.  Good, loyal Gloucester.  Now, I want you to tell me everything you know.

    (They leave.)

Act 4, Scene 3.  The French camp near Dover.  Kent and a Gentleman come in.  (Same Gentleman as in Act 3, Scene 1.)

Kent: Why has the King of France gone back to France so suddenly?

Gentleman: Something urgent, but I don’t know what.  But Cordelia is still here.

Kent: How did she take the news about her father?

Gentleman: She took it hard, although she tried not to show it.  She’s very worried about him.

Kent: He’s safe in Dover now, but he’s too overwhelmed with guilt to face her.  What’s the latest news about Albany’s and Cornwall’s forces?

Gentleman: Rumor has it they’re on the march.

Kent: I’ll take you to Lear, and I want you to stick with him.  I have some business to attend to. 

    (They leave.)

Act 4, Scene 4.  A tent in the French camp.  Cordelia, a Doctor, an Officer, and Soldiers come in.

Cordelia (To Officer): My father’s been seen, and he’s out of his mind.  Round up as many men as you can and find him.  (Officer leaves with some Soldiers.  To Doctor) Is there any way to restore his sanity?

Doctor: Yes, madam.  Herbal medicine.  We have some natural cures that I think will help.  You know, some doctors are slaves to the big drug companies, and they only want to push those expensive drugs.  But I’m not like that.

Cordelia: Yes, yes.  Please try your best.  Do anything you can.

    (Messenger comes in.)

Messenger: Madam, the British forces are heading this way.

Cordelia: Yes, we know.  Our forces are ready.  We have to fight the British for my father’s sake, and that’s the only reason.  France never intended to conquer Britain.

    (All leave.)

Act 4, Scene 5.  Gloucester’s castle.  Regan and Oswald come in.

Regan: Are Albany’s forces on the march?

Oswald: Yes, madam.

Regan: Is Albany commanding personally?

Oswald: Yes, but he’s not really into it.  Your sister would be a better general.

Regan: And Edmund never spoke to Albany?

Oswald: No, madam.  But I have a letter from your sister that I’m supposed to deliver to him.

Regan: Do you know what it’s about?

Oswald: No.

Regan: Edmund went to find his father and kill him.  We should have killed him when we had the chance.  As long as he’s alive, he’s a threat.  He’ll turn people against us.  And Edmund wants to spy on the French as well. 

Oswald: I should chase after him and deliver the letter.

Regan: No, you’d be safer here with us.  Our troops march tomorrow.

Oswald: But I have to deliver the letter.  Your sister’s orders.

Regan: I don’t understand why she would write a letter when she could just as easily give you the message by word.  Unless there’s something secret in the letter.  Give it to me.

Oswald: Please, I’m not supposed to–

Regan: I know my sister doesn’t love her husband.  And I know that she has her eye on Edmund.  And you know all her secrets, after all.

Oswald: Who, me?

Regan: Of course.  I know you do.  Now listen.  I’m a widow.  Edmund and I have, shall we say, talked about things.  I’m a better match for him than my sister is.  When you find him, tell him straight out that I said so.  And when you report back to my sister — which I’m sure you’ll do — you tell her she should be sensible about it and forget about Edmund.  Now, if you insist on delivering that letter, you keep a lookout for Gloucester while you’re out there.  If you find him, kill him.  There’ll be a big reward in it for you.

Oswald: Yes, madam!  Thank you, madam!

    (He leaves.)

Act 4, Scene 6.  In the fields near Dover, Edgar, still in the guise of Poor Tom but wearing somewhat better clothes, is leading Gloucester.

Gloucester: Are we getting near that cliff?

Edgar: Yes, we’re climbing up to it.  Can’t you tell?

Gloucester: No.  It feels like we’re on flat ground.  And I don’t hear the sea.

Edgar: Your senses are deceiving you, that’s all.

Gloucester: You sound different than before.  I mean your voice.  You’re speaking better — more like a gentleman.

Edgar: Oh, no, I’m just the same.  Here we are at the edge of the cliff.  Boy, it sure is high up!

Gloucester: Put me right on the edge where you’re standing now.

Edgar: Okay.  There you are.  You’re one step from going over.

Gloucester: You can let go of me now.  Here’s another purse for you.  There’s a valuable jewel in it.  Now just say goodbye and let me hear you walking away.

Edgar: Goodbye, sir.  I’m going.  (Aside) This little trick is for his own good.

Gloucester: Goodbye, cruel world.  I can’t bear this suffering any longer.  God bless my good son Edgar.  (He steps forward and falls to the ground, then lies there motionless.)

Edgar (No longer speaking like Poor Tom): Are you all right, sir?

Gloucester: Let me die.

Edgar: It’s a miracle, sir!  You’re alive!  By the grace of God!

Gloucester: But didn’t I fall?

Edgar: Yes!  All the way from the top of the cliff!  It’s amazing!  I can’t believe it!

Gloucester: Christ.  I can’t even commit suicide.

Edgar: Who was up there on the cliff with you?

Gloucester: Just a poor beggar.

Edgar: Oh.  I thought it was some criminal who wanted to kill you.  You mean you wanted to die?

Gloucester: Yes.

Edgar: Then God saved you.  Don’t you see?  You were meant to live.

Gloucester: Yes….Yes….You must be right.  How else–Now I want to live.  Now I want to live.

Edgar: Good for you, sir!  (Lear comes in, fantastically dressed with flowers and tree branches.)  Oh.  We have company, sir.  Looks like a crazy man.

Lear: They can’t arrest me for minting coins.  I’m the King.  Yes.  Give the mouse some cheese now.  And get me some extra-large underwear, and make sure it’s not made in goddamn Pakistan.  They don’t know their sizes over there.  Everything they make is too small.  I can take on a giant.  I will take on a giant!  I’ll show him what for!

Edgar: What a wacko.

Gloucester: I recognize that voice.

Lear: They flattered me.  They lied.  They were phony.  They threw me out in the storm.  Then I knew what they really were.  I found out too late.

Gloucester: It’s Lear!  My King!

Lear: Yes.  I was the King.  But what am I now?  Even Gloucester’s bastard son was not as bad as my daughters.  They pretend to be so good, but under the surface they’re nothing but snakes.

Gloucester: Sir, don’t you know me?

Lear (Long pause): Yes.  My old friend Gloucester.  Your eyes are gone, but you see well enough what evil there is in this world.

Gloucester: Oh, my poor King!

    (A Gentleman comes in with Attendants.  This is the same Gentleman as Act 4, Scene 3.)

Gentleman: There he is!  Thank God!–Sir, your dearest daughter–

Lear: What?  Am I a prisoner?

Gentleman: No, no, sir!

Lear: I will die bravely, like a king.

Gentleman: Yes, yes, we know you’re the King, sir.  And we’re loyal to you, sir!

Lear: Oh!  Well!  Then there’s still hope, isn’t there!  Come on, then!  See if you can catch the old jack rabbit!  (He runs off, and the Attendants chase after him.)

Gentleman: Pitiful, isn’t it?  Thank God he has one daughter left who still loves him.

Edgar: Sir, have you heard anything about an impending battle?

Gentleman: Everyone knows by now.

Edgar: How close is the other army?

Gentleman: Very close.  It’s just a matter of hours at the most.  The Queen is staying here, but the French army has already set off.  Marshal La Fer is commanding.  I have to go.  (He leaves.)

Gloucester: You haven’t told me who you are.

Edgar: Just a poor man who has been through terrible times.  Give me your hand, and I’ll take you somewhere where you’ll be safe.

Gloucester: God bless you, whoever you are.

    (Oswald comes in, drawing his sword.)

Oswald: There you are, you traitor!  I’ll get a big reward for killing you!

    (Edgar draws his sword and jumps in front of Gloucester.)

Edgar: Back off!

Oswald: You peasant!  Are you on his side?  Then I’ll kill you, too!

    (They fight.  Edgar stabs Oswald, who falls.)

Oswald: Oh!…I’m going to die!…Listen to me….Do me this favor….I have a letter….It’s for Edmund…Earl of Gloucester….He’s with the British…oh…oh…(He dies.)

Edgar: I know this bastard.

Gloucester: Is he dead?

Edgar: Yes.  Let’s see what that letter is all about.  (Reads letter) ‘Don’t forget what we promised each other.  If you truly want to marry me, you’ve got to kill my husband.  If he comes back from the battle alive, I’ll be stuck with him forever.  Don’t disappoint me.–Goneril.’  That fucking bitch!  She wants to bump off her husband!  Wait till I show him this letter! 

Gloucester: Oh, my God!  Edmund will murder Albany!  I can’t take it!  I wish I were as mad as the King.  Then maybe I wouldn’t feel my grief.

    (Sound of distant drums.)

Edgar: Come on.  Give me your hand.  I’ll take you to a friend.  You’ll be all right.

    (They leave.)

Act 4, Scene 7.  A tent in the French camp.  Cordelia, Kent, the Doctor, and a Gentleman come in.

Cordelia: Kent, I can’t thank you enough for all you’ve done.  Now please stop wearing those clothes.  I want to see you as the Earl of Kent again, not my father’s servant.

Kent: Not yet.  At the right time.  Trust me.

Cordelia: Okay.  (To the Doctor) How is the King?

Doctor: He’s had a long sleep.  I think it’s okay to wake him up now. 

Cordelia: Whatever you think is best.

    (Lear is brought in on a chair by Servants.  He’s asleep.)

Doctor: With the rest he’s had and the medicines, his mind should be better.  At least I hope so. 

Cordelia: It tears my heart to think about what he’s been through.  It would break any man.

Doctor: He’s waking up.  Speak to him, madam.

Cordelia: Father, how do you feel?

Lear: Leave me in my grave.  Let me go to hell.

Cordelia: Don’t you know who I am?

Lear: A spirit?

Doctor: He’s still groggy.  We should leave him alone a while longer.

Lear: Where am I?  Is this daylight?  Am I alive or dead?

Cordelia: Give me your hand and bless me.

Lear: Don’t make fun of an old man.  I don’t think I’m entirely in my right mind.  I don’t know where I am.  Why am I wearing these clothes?  Where was I last night?  I can’t remember.  But you look familiar.  You look like my daughter Cordelia.

Cordelia: Yes!  It’s me!

Lear: Don’t cry for me.  Please.  You should hate me for what I did.

Cordelia: I don’t hate you.

Lear: Am I in France?

Cordelia: No.  Britain.  Your own kingdom.

Lear: Don’t lie to me.

Doctor: Madam, it would be best not to upset him.  He needs some quiet time.

Cordelia: I’ll walk you to your bed, father.

Lear: I’ve been very stupid.  Forgive me, Cordelia.  Forgive me.

    (All leave except Kent and the Gentleman.)

Gentleman: Is it true that the Duke of Cornwall was killed?

Kent: Yes.

Gentleman: Who’s commanding his forces?

Kent: Supposedly, Edmund.

Gentleman: I think it’s going to be a bloody fight.

Kent: I believe you’re right.  Good luck to you.

Gentleman: And you, too.

    (They leave.)

Act 5, Scene 1.  The British camp near Dover.  Edmund, Regan, Gentleman, and Soldiers come in, with drums and colours.

Edmund (To Gentleman): I need to know if Albany is still with us.  Go find out.  (Gentleman leaves.)

Regan: I think something must have happened to my sister’s steward, Oswald.  He had a letter for you.

Edmund: Which I never got.

Regan: Listen.  You know how I feel about you.  Tell me the truth.  Do you love my sister?

Edmund: Purely in a Platonic way.

Regan: So you’ve never fucked her?

Edmund: Of course, not.  How could you even think that?

Regan: I think you have.

Edmund: Have not.

Regan: I would never stand for it.  Promise me you’ll stay away from her.

Edmund: Of course.  Oh!  Here they come.

    (Albany, Goneril, and Soldiers come in, with drums and colours.)

Goneril (Aside): I’d rather lose the battle than lose Edmund to my sister.

Albany: Hello, Regan.  Edmund.  Well, it seems that the King is reunited with Cordelia, and everyone who is really pissed off with us — that is, pissed off with you — is ready to fight us.  But just so there’s no misunderstanding, I have nothing to do with family issues.  Your grievances are not mine.  The only reason I’m here is that the French have landed on British soil.  They have forced our hand.

Edmund: Right!  It’s all about duty to the nation.

Regan: Yes.

Goneril: Of course.

Albany: As for the tactics, we should leave it to the experienced commanders to decide what to do.

Edmund: I’ll meet you in your tent.

Regan: Coming, sister?

Goneril: No.

Regan: I think you should.

Goneril (Long pause): All right.  If you insist.

    (Everyone leaves, except Albany, who is intercepted by Edgar coming in, still disguised.)

Edgar: Please, your Grace.  I must have a word with you.

Albany (To Others): Go on.  I’ll catch up with you.  (To Edgar) What is it?

Edgar: Sir, before you join the battle, you should read this letter.  If you win, I’ll be nearby, and I’ll back up what’s in the letter.  Just have a herald call out, and I’ll appear.  If you lose the battle, it won’t matter.

Albany: Stay while I read it.

Edgar: I can’t.  Just remember that when you need me, I’ll be there.  You can trust me.

    (Edgar leaves.  Then Edmund comes in.)

Edmund: The enemy’s in sight.  We’ve got to get moving right now.

Albany: Yes, yes, all right.  (He leaves.)

Edmund: I’ve told both Regan and Goneril that I love them.  But they’re so jealous of each other, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy either one if the other were still alive.  In any case, I need Albany dead and out of the way.  Let Goneril figure out how.  For the sake of appearances, this is his battle and his command.  But once we capture Lear and Cordelia, I’ll see to it that they die.  After that, well, under the right circumstances, I can see myself as the next King.

    (He leaves.)

Act 5, Scene 2.  A field between the two camps.  A trumpet call.  Lear, Cordelia, and Soldiers enter and exit across the stage.  Then Edgar and Gloucester come in.

Edgar: You sit under this tree and pray for us to win.  I’ll be back as soon as I can.

Gloucester: Good luck.

    (Edgar leaves.  Sounds of battle.  Then a trumpet sounds the retreat.  Edgar returns.)

Edgar: Come on!  I’ve got to get you out of here!  The French army has lost, and Lear and Cordelia have been taken prisoner!

Gloucester: Let me die here, then.

Edgar: Like hell!  Come on!

    (He leads Gloucester off hurriedly.)

Act 5, Scene 3.  The British camp near Dover.  Edmund comes in with victorious drums and colours.  Lear and Cordelia are brought in as prisoners.  Also present: a Captain and Soldiers.

Edmund: Take these two away.  They’ll be judged later.

Cordelia (To Lear): I don’t care what happens to me.  It’s you I’m worried about.

Lear: I’m not afraid of being a prisoner.  We can be in prison together.  If you can forgive me, I’ll sit in prison for the rest of my life and not mind at all.  We’ll live to see the bastards rot.

    (Lear and Cordelia are led away by Soldiers.)

Edmund: Captain, take this note and follow them to the prison.  There are instructions here for you.  Just do what you have to do, and don’t be squeamish about it, understand?

Captain: I understand.

Edmund: Good.  There’ll be a reward in this for you.  Now get going.

    (Captain leaves.  A trumpet flourish.  Albany, Goneril, and Regan come in, with another Captain and Soldiers.)

Albany: Congratulations, Edmund.  You were brilliant in the field.  Now I need to take the prisoners off your hands so I can deal with them properly.

Edmund: Uh, yes.  Right.  I took the liberty of having Lear and Cordelia put under guard where there’s no risk of them stirring up a rebellion against us.  You can take charge of them tomorrow, or whenever you want to put them on trial.  Besides, we ought to wait a bit before we do anything, so that we can deal with things calmly.  You understand.  So soon after the battle, with all our emotions running high.

Albany: I thought I was in charge here.

Regan: Yes, but Edmund commanded my forces, and he represented me.  So I’d say that makes him your equal.

Goneril: He’s equal because of what he did on the battlefield, not because he represented you.

Regan: It’s by my authority that he’s equal.

Goneril: Well, that would be the case if you were married to him.

Regan: Which I might be.

Goneril: Ha!  You’re dreaming, girl!

Regan: Sister, if I didn’t have a stomach ache, I’d really tell you where to go.–Edmund, everything I have is yours.  I’m yours.

Goneril: Do you honestly think you’re going to marry him?

Albany: I don’t see that you can stop her.

Edmund: Neither can you, for that matter.

Albany: Oh, yes, I can, you illegitimate bastard.

Regan (To Edmund): Fight him if you want to marry me!

Albany: Don’t get your hopes up, Duchess.–Edmund, you’re under arrest for treason.  And you, Goneril, are under arrest as an accessory.–So you see, Duchess, your offer of marriage is null and void, since Edmund has already agreed to marry my wife.

Goneril: What a joke!

Albany: So, Edmund?  Do you want to fight me — you goddamn traitor?

Regan: You’re making me sick!

Goneril (Aside): No, that’s the poison I gave you.

Edmund: Nobody calls me a traitor and gets away with it!

Albany: Your soldiers have all been dismissed.  You’re on your own.–Herald!  Herald!

Regan: I’m feeling really sick.

Albany: Take her to my tent.  (Regan is led off by a Soldier.  Then a Herald comes in.)  Come here, Herald.  Read this out to the general camp.

Captain: Sound the trumpet!  The Herald will speak!

    (A trumpet sounds.)

Herald (Reads): ‘If any man wants to accuse Edmund, the supposed Earl of Gloucester, of being a traitor, scoundrel, villain, knave, et cetera, let him appear right here by the third sound of the trumpet.’

Edmund: Go ahead.  Sound your damned trumpet.  I want to see how this joke ends.

    (First trumpet.)

Herald: Again!

    (Second trumpet.)

Herald: Again!

    (Third trumpet.  This is answered by another trumpet, which trumpeter then comes in, immediately followed by Edgar, who is armed.  He is still dressed in poor clothes.)

Albany: Ask him why he’s here.

Herald: Why are you here?

Edgar: I’ve come to fight it out with that fucking traitor Edmund — or whichever slave speaks for him!

Edmund: I speak for myself!  What do you have to say to me?

Edgar: Draw your sword!  You are a traitor to heaven, a traitor to your father, a traitor to your brother, a traitor to your King, and a traitor to the honourable Duke!  And you are a low-down, vile piece of shit and a rotten, miserable, plague-carrying rat!

Edmund: I don’t even know who you are, you asshole!  Under the law, I don’t have to fight a commoner like you, but for your lies and insults, I will!

    (Edmund and Edgar duel.  Edmund receives a mortal blow and falls.)

Albany: Stop!  No more!

Goneril: This is a trick, Edmund!  You didn’t have to fight him!

Albany: Shut up, bitch!  I have the letter you wrote to Edmund.  Here it is.  Recognize it?

Goneril: So what?  You can’t prove any crime against me with that!   (She runs out.)

Albany (To Soldiers): Don’t let her leave the camp.  (Soldiers leave.)

Edmund (To Edgar): I’m going to die….It’s all true…I confess…But who are you?

Edgar: You don’t recognize me like this, do you?  I’m your brother, Edgar.  My father lost his eyes because of you.

Edmund: Then I deserve this.

Albany: Edgar!  I should have known.  Believe me, I never had anything against you or your father.

Edgar: I know.

Albany: But where have you been?  How did you know about your father?

Edgar: I was with him when he was blind.  He didn’t know who I was.  I should have told him then.  I’m sorry I didn’t.  But I had to stay in disguise.  I finally told him just a little while ago.  His heart was too weak for the shock.  But he was happy, and he blessed me before he died.  And there’s something else you should know.  Someone else recognized me when I spoke to my father.  He remembered seeing me as Poor Tom, a mad beggar living in a miserable shack.  And when he realized who I was, he couldn’t contain himself.  He told my father and me the most awful story of what he went through for Lear’s sake — how bad it was for both of them.  

Albany: Who was it?

Edgar: It was Kent — the man Lear banished, who came back in disguise at the risk of his life to watch over his King.

    (A Gentleman rushes in, holding a bloody knife.)

Gentleman: Help!  Help!  She’s dead!  She killed herself!

Albany: Who?

Gentleman: Your wife, sir!  She confessed to poisoning her sister!  They’re both dead!

Edmund: And I’m next.

Albany: Bring in the bodies.

    (Gentleman leaves.)

Edgar: Here comes Kent.

    (Kent comes in.)

Albany: So you’re Kent.  I wish we were meeting under better circumstances.

Kent: I came to say good night to the King.  Isn’t he here?

Albany: The King!  We forgot all about him!  Edmund!  Where’s the King?  Where’s Cordelia?–Look, Kent.  See what’s happened.

    (The bodies of Goneril and Regan are brought in.)

Kent: Oh, God.  Why?

Edmund: Goneril loved me.  She poisoned her sister for my sake.  Then she took her own life.  She knew I wasn’t going to live.

Albany: Cover them.  Please.  (The bodies are covered.)

Edmund: Before I die….Listen….Quick….To the castle….I gave orders…to have Lear and Cordelia hanged….Hurry….

Albany: Hurry!

Edgar: To who?  We need a sign of authority!

Edmund: Take my sword….Show it to the Captain….He has orders from Goneril and me…to hang Cordelia in the prison…and make it look like suicide.

Edgar (To Messenger): Hurry!  Go!

    (Messenger leaves with the sword.)

Albany: Let’s hope it’s not too late!  Take Edmund away.

    (Edmund is borne off.  Then Lear comes in, carrying the dead Cordelia in his arms, with a Gentleman and others following.)

Lear: She’s dead!  Dead!  Give me all your voices so I can crack the vault of heaven!  She is dead!

Kent: It’s the end of the world.

Albany: Let the world take us all with it.

Lear: If she could only live, it would make up for all the sorrows of my life.

Kent: My poor King.

Lear: Leave me alone.  I might have saved her.  Too late.  My Cordelia.  But I killed the villain that hanged her.

Gentleman: It’s true.  He did.

Lear: I used to be quite good with a sword.  But now I’m old.  And I don’t see too well….Aren’t you Kent?

Kent: Yes, my lord.  It’s me.  And do you know where your servant, Caius, is?

Lear: Oh, he’s dead, I suppose.  He was a good man.

Kent: He’s not dead.  It’s me.

Lear: Oh, well, then, welcome — whoever you are.

    (A Messenger comes in.)

Messenger: Edmund has died, my lord.

Albany: That’s a small matter now.  As for the rest of us, we must do what we can for the King.  As long as he’s alive, he will rule Britain.  Everyone will be restored to his proper position and title.  Those who deserve rewards will be rewarded.  And those who were our enemies will get what they deserve.

Lear: My sweet girl….Why should lowly animals have life and not you?….Ohh…I feel faint….It’s so hot in here….See?  Her lips….She’s trying to speak….She wants to tell me–(He dies.)

Edgar: My lord!  My lord!  (He tries to revive Lear.)  My lord!  My lord!

Kent: Let him go.  Let him be with his good daughter.

Albany: Take them away.  (The Gentleman and others carry out the bodies.  To Kent and Edgar)  Who’s going to rule Britain now?  It’s an awful burden for me alone.  The three of us could share it.  Kent?  You were as true to him as any man could be.  He would approve.

Kent: I can’t.  I’ll be going away soon.  There is a master who needs me.

Albany: Edgar?  You were his godson.

Edgar: No.  I have no desire to rule.  I’ve been through too much.  My heart and mind wouldn’t be fit for it.  But you, my lord.  You will be a fine king.  All of Britain will love you and bless you.  And so will the spirit of our King Lear.


    Copyright@ 2010 by Crad Kilodney, Toronto, Canada.  E-mail: crad166@yahoo.com  



(Index to the Series appears on Oct. 7, 2010 — https://cradkilodney.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/ )

Main characters

Montague — a noble of Verona

Lady Montague — his wife 

Romeo — son of Montague

Benvolio — kinsman and friend of Romeo

Mercutio — kinsman of Prince Escalus and friend of Romeo

Balthasar — Romeo’s servant

Abraham — Montague’s servant

Capulet — a noble of Verona

Lady Capulet — his wife

Juliet — daughter of Capulet

Nurse to Juliet

Tybalt — Juliet’s cousin

Sampson and Gregory — servants to Capulet

Peter — servant to Juliet’s Nurse

Escalus — Prince of Verona

Paris — cousin of Prince Escalus

Page to Paris

Friar Laurence

Friar John

Chemist (referred to in the original as Apothecary)

Gist of the story: Romeo and Juliet fall in love, but because their families have been feuding as long as anyone can remember, they can’t marry openly.   So, with the help of the sympathetic Friar Laurence, they wed secretly.  Only hours later, Romeo is confronted by Juliet’s hot-tempered cousin Tybalt, who wants to punish Romeo for sneaking into a party at the Capulets’ house.  Romeo is unwilling to fight someone he is now related to by marriage, but Mercutio eagerly accepts Tybalt’s challenge.  Tybalt kills Mercutio.  Then Romeo kills Tybalt.  Romeo is now in big trouble because the Prince issued a death decree to stop further fighting in public between the warring Montagues and Capulets.  Romeo has time for one last visit to Juliet to consummate their marriage, and then he must flee to Mantua, where he has been banished.  Then things get really complicated.  Capulet arranges a marriage for Juliet with Paris.  She wants to avoid it but doesn’t tell her father she’s already married.  Friar Laurence comes up with a bizarre plan to help Juliet avoid the arranged marriage.  He gives her a potion that will simulate death for 42 hours.  Once she’s interred in the family crypt, he will send word to Romeo explaining what’s happened and instructing him to come to the cemetery and take Juliet away as soon as she wakes up.  The plan goes horribly wrong, however.  Romeo never gets Friar Laurence’s letter.  Instead, he gets a false report that Juliet has died.  He returns to her tomb and, finding her apparently dead, he drinks poison and kills himself.  Then Juliet awakens and, finding her beloved Romeo dead beside her, she takes his dagger and stabs herself in suicide.  The feuding families arrive to discover the fatal consequences of their feud.  (Bear in mind that Romeo and Juliet are just kids, so don’t expect them to act like mature adults.  Juliet is a few weeks shy of her fourteenth birthday.  Romeo is probably about seventeen.)

Act 1, Scene 1.  A street in Verona.  Sampson and Gregory, two servants of Capulet, come in.  They are armed.

Sampson: If any Montagues show up, I’ll kick their asses.

Gregory: If they don’t kick yours first — ha!

Sampson: I’ll smash their men and grope their women.

Gregory: Just grope?  Is that all?

Sampson: I’ll give ’em a fucking they’ll never forget.  I’ll give ’em–

Gregory: Hold it.  There’s two guys from the Montagues.

    (Abraham and Balthasar approach.)

Sampson: You say something to them, and I’ll back you up.

Gregory: Yeah, sure you will.

Sampson: Get them to start a fight, and we’ll have the law on our side.

Gregory: I could stick my tongue out.  How’s that?

Sampson: I know.  I’ll give ’em the finger, sort of accidentally.  (He gestures with his middle finger somewhat vaguely.)

Abraham: Hey, was that meant for us?

Sampson: I don’t know what you’re talking about, dude.

Gregory: I think he’s trying to start something.

Abraham: No, I ain’t starting nothing.

Sampson: Just don’t fuck with us, man.  Our master is Capulet.

Abraham: Oooh, Capulet!  You don’t say!  Well, Montague is better than Capulet any day.

    (Benvolio comes in as the four servants draw their swords.)

Sampson: I’m ready for you guys right now!

Abraham: Come on, moron!

    (The servants begin to fight, but Benvolio intervenes and stops them.)

Benvolio: Hey, knock it off, you guys!

    (Tybalt comes in.)

Tybalt: Hey, Benvolio, you fucker, keep away from our guys or I’ll chop your head off!

Benvolio: I’m just stopping this fight, Tybalt!  You should do the same!  Unless you want a piece of me!

Tybalt: Fuck all you Montagues!  I hate you bastards! 

    (Tybalt reaches for his sword, but Benvolio attacks him with fists, then they fight.  The servants join in.  Others from both houses arrive as well, and a noisy brawl of fist-fighting ensues.  Then citizens and peace officers arrive with clubs.)

An Officer: Get all these guys!  Fuckin’ trouble-makers!

Citizens: Fuckin’ Capulets!  Goddamn Montagues!

    (The officers and citizens separate the warring factions.  Then Capulet, an old man dressed in his nightclothes, arives with his wife.)

Capulet: What’s going on?  Are these Montagues starting a fight?  Give me my sword!

Lady Capulet: Your sword?  Get serious.  More like your crutch.

    (Old Montague and his wife come in.)

Montague: Capulet, you bastard!  Wait till I get my hands on you!

Lady Montague (Restraining him): No, you don’t.

    (Prince Escalus arrives with his attendants.)

Prince: Are you fucking assholes making trouble again?  I’ve had it up to here with both of you!  Fucking Capulets and fucking Montagues!  This is the third time you’ve gotten into a street brawl, and the whole town is fed up with all of you and your constant feuding!  From now on, any one of you who disturbs the peace by fighting will get the death penalty!  You, Capulet.  You’re coming back with me for a little talk.  And you, Montague.  I want to see you this afternoon.

    (All disperse, except for Montague, Lady Montague, and Benvolio.)

Montague: Who started it this time?

Benvolio: Your two guys and their two guys were fighting, and all I did was step in to stop them.  Then Tybalt comes along with his big attitude and big mouth, and the next thing I know he’s reaching for his sword.  And pretty soon everybody from both sides is jumping into it, and it turns into another riot, like last time.  Then the Prince shows up. 

Lady Montague: At least Romeo wasn’t involved, thank goodness!  Where is he, anyway?

Benvolio: I saw him out walking before dawn.  He saw me coming and ducked into the woods.  I figured if he didn’t want to talk to me, I should leave him alone.

Montague: I don’t know what’s wrong with that kid.  He’s always depressed.  All day long he shuts himself up in his room.  Nobody can talk to him.  He keeps everything to himself. 

Benvolio: I see him coming.  Maybe I can worm something out of him. 

Montague: You try.  (To Lady Montague)  Let’s go.

    (Montague and his wife leave.  Then Romeo comes in.)

Benvolio: Hey, cousin, wassup?

Romeo: Nothing.  Just one miserable hour after another, that’s all.

Benvolio: I think I know what’s eating you.  You’re in love.  That’s it, isn’t it?

Romeo: Ohh…Ben…Seriously, man.  I’m like out of my fucking mind.  I can’t think straight any more.  It’s making me sick.

Benvolio: Well, that’s pretty sad.  More like pathetic.

Romeo: Thanks.  That sure makes me feel better.  I’ll fuck off, then. 

Benvolio: Hold on.  I’ll go with you.

Romeo: Go with me where?  Into the pit of hell?

Benvolio: Come on, pull yourself together.  Who are you in love with?

Romeo: Rosaline.  But it’s useless.  She doesn’t want a boyfriend.  She wants to stay a virgin.  She’s so hot and so beautiful.  It’s such a fucking waste.  I’m just so sick in love with her, but I have like zero chance with her.  I feel like a dead man.

Benvolio: You’re not a dead man.  Stop talking like a fool.  There are plenty of women out there.  Open your eyes and find somebody else.

Romeo: I can’t.  She’s the most beautiful woman in the world.  There are no other women, as far as I’m concerned.

Benvolio: Man, you need some serious therapy or you’ll end up totally deranged.  I’m going to have to work on you.

    (They leave.)

Act 1, Scene 2.  A street.  Capulet, Paris, and a Servant come in.

Capulet: The Prince read the Riot Act to me and Montague both.  We’re supposed to keep everybody else in line.

Paris: It’s too bad there’s been a feud all these years.  But what do you say about my proposition — my marrying your daughter?

Capulet: The girl isn’t even fourteen yet.  Give her two more years.

Paris: There are married girls her age.  In Afghanistan there are eighty-year-old men marrying twelve-year-old girls. 

Capulet: Never mind what those Mohammedan freaks do.  They’re a bunch of retarded, sub-cultural monkeys.  But, look, I don’t mind if you start getting to know the girl.  Better you than someone else.  In principle, I approve of your proposition.  I’m going to work on it.  Now, I’m having my annual house party tonight.  It’s for friends, relatives, and available singles.  It’s a chance for the singles to look each other over.  So you come over and give Juliet a chance to get to know you.  We’ll have food, wine, dancing.  Some people show up in masks.  It’s cool.  (To Servant, giving a paper)  Bozo, here’s the guest list for the party.  I want you to call on all these people and tell them they’re invited to our house party tonight.

    (Capulet and Paris leave.)

Servant: Fuck me.  I can’t read.  Oh, wait.  These guys can help me out.

    (Benvolio and Romeo come in.)

Benvolio: Find another woman and you’ll feel better.

Romeo: It’s no use.  I feel like I’m in a prison, being starved and tortured and–

Servant: Excuse me, sir.  Can you read?

Romeo: Of course, I can read.  What do you think I am, a Canadian?

Servant: Oh, thank God!  I have a list of people here that I’m supposed to invite to my master’s house for a party tonight.  Unfortunately, I can’t read.  Could you read me the names?  I’m good at remembering.

Romeo (Taking paper): Sure, I can do that.  (Reads)  “Signior Martino and his wife Velveeta and his daughters Pansy and Conformina; Count Anselme and his scintillating sisters Flagella and Flicka; Lady Pirini Scleroso, widow of Vetruvio; Signior Placentio and his breathtaking sisters Muffy and Peaches; Mercutio and his brother Valentine; my uncle Capulet, his wife, Gorga, and daughters Euglena and Euphorbia; my niece Rosaline; Livia; Signior Valentio and his cousin Tybalt; Lucio and the aggressive Helena; Spike Galtieri; Mildred Zontar; Bunny Tularemia; Cretina Burrito; Njinki Blogbadu; Vilo Bacillakis; and Balakankatharan Ramanathavavuniyan.”  Sounds like an awesome party.  Where’s it happening?

Servant: At my master Capulet’s house.  You can drop in for a cup of wine, as long as you’re not a Montague.  Thank you.  Goodbye.  (He leaves.)

Benvolio: Rosaline will be there — the one you’re so sick in love with.  You should go.  Have a look at the other women.  You may see someone you like better.

Romeo: That could never happen.  There’s no one who can match her.

Benvolio: But you’ve never compared here with anyone else.  You just see her in isolation.  You go to the party and then make up your mind.  I’ll go with you.  How’s that? 

Romeo: Okay, I’ll go.  But I don’t think it’ll make any difference.

    (They leave.)

Act 1, Scene 3.  A room in the Capulet house.  Lady Capulet and Juliet’s Nurse come in.

Lady Capulet: Where’s Juliet?  Call her, will you?

Nurse: Juliet!

    (Juliet comes in.)

Juliet: Yes, mom?

Lady Capulet: Isn’t she pretty?  Not even fourteen.

Nurse: She’ll be fourteen on Lammastide Eve.  My, my!  The prettiest baby I ever nursed.  I want to live to see her married.

Lady Capulet: You’re reading my mind.–Juliet, what do you think about getting married?

Juliet: I never thought of it.

Lady Capulet: Well, start thinking about it.  There’s a fine noble named Paris who wants to marry you.

Nurse: Now there’s a hunk!

Lady Capulet: He’s coming to the dinner party tonight.  You’ll get a look at him.  He’s very handsome, and he’s got money.  And he’s related to the Prince.  What do you say?

Juliet: If you want me to meet him, I’ll meet him.  Maybe I’ll like him.  Maybe I won’t.  I don’t know.

    (A servant comes in.)

Servant: Madam, the guests are arriving, and supper is being laid out.

Lady Capulet: Right.  We’re coming.  (Servant leaves.)  Juliet, Paris will be waiting to meet you.

Nurse: Go for it, girl!  If I were a teenager again, I’d be all over that stud.

    (They leave.)

Act 1, Scene 4.  On a street, Romeo, Mercutio, Benvolio, and a few others come in, wearing masks suitable for a masquerade ball.

Romeo: What’ll we say when we get there?

Benvolio: Don’t worry about it.  We’ll just slip in while the party’s in progress, dance with a few ladies, and be out of there.

Romeo: I’m not really up for this.  I’m still depressed.

Mercutio: Aw, go on.  This’ll be good for you.

Romeo: I think it’s a bad idea to go.  I had a bad dream.

Mercutio: A dream!  Huh!  Don’t take a dream seriously.  It’s just Queen Mab, the Celtic fairy queen, messing with your head.  I once dreamed that an elephant was hitting me with its trunk because I wouldn’t feed it.  Another time I dreamed that my servants were zombies.  And another time there was this big rabbit, and he made me follow him down this hole, and we ended up in this grotto with all these hot Norwegian babes with big tits.  And then–

Benvolio: Will you shut up!  We’re going to be too late for dinner.

Romeo: I’ve still got this awful feeling hanging over me that something bad is going to come out of all this — like my own death.  But you guys are determined to take me, aren’t you?  Okay, then, lead the way.

Benvolio: Hey, ho!  On we go!

    (They leave.) 

Act 1, Scene 5.  At Capulet’s house, the Capulets are mixing with the guests.  Musicians are playing, and people are dancing.

Romeo (to a Servant): Who is that lady over there?

Servant: I don’t know which one you mean, sir.

Romeo: She’s the most beautiful lady I’ve ever seen.

Tybalt (Aside): I know that voice.  (He goes to Capulet and speaks to him discreetly.)  Uncle, there’s a Montague in the room.  Over there — the one wearing the purple mask.

Capulet: Who is that?  Romeo?

Tybalt: Yes.  Let me get my sword, and I’ll kill him.

Capulet: No, no, no.  He’s not doing any harm.  He’s behaving himself.

Tybalt: But he’s a damned Montague.  I won’t tolerate him in this house.

Capulet: Hey, take it easy.  This is my house.  I say leave him alone.  We’re having a nice party here.  Don’t spoil it.

Tybalt: It’s a deliberate insult to us that he’s here.  How can you allow it?

Capulet: Don’t be a hothead.  Just keep that temper of yours under control.

Tybalt: I’d better leave the room.  Fuck him anyway.

    (Tybalt leaves.  Romeo approaches Juliet.)

Romeo: Oh, madam, I would kiss your hand.  (He kisses her hand.)

Juliet: Oh, that’s so quaint!

Romeo: Oh, madam, I would kiss your lips.

Juliet: Oh!  But I–(Romeo kisses her very gently on the lips.)  Oh…oh…that was so gentle.

    (Nurse comes over to Juliet.)

Nurse: Madam, your mother wants to speak to you.

Romeo: And who is her mother?

Nurse: Her mother is the lady of the house, of course — Lady Capulet.

Romeo: This girl’s a Capulet?  Oh, God, I’m done for!

    (Benvolio approaches Romeo.)

Benvolio: This would be a good time to bug out, bro.

Romeo: Yeah, I think you’re right.

Capulet: Hey, fellows, you don’t have to go.  Stick around and have a snack.

Benvolio: Gee, thanks, my lord, but it’s late for us.  We’ve got to go.  We had a good time, though.

Capulet: All right, then.  Thanks for coming.  Good night.

    (Everyone disperses except for Juliet and the Nurse.)

Juliet: Who was that man — the one who kissed me?

Nurse: His name is Romeo.  He’s the son of Montague.

Juliet (Sighing): Romeo!…I love him.

Nurse: What?  You would love a Montague?

    (Lady Capulet calls “Juliet” from within.)

Nurse: Yes, we’re coming, madam!

    (Nurse leads Juliet out.)

Act 2, Scene 1.  Benvolio and Mercutio are outside at night, returning from Capulet’s house.

Benvolio: Hey, where did Romeo go?  Did he go back?

Mercutio: He probably went home.

Benvolio: No, he didn’t.  I could swear I saw him go back.

Mercutio: Ha!  Back to try his luck with Rosaline?  Could be.  Maybe he’s thinking of finding her in the orchard and getting between her silky thighs.  He’s got Rosaline on the brain.

Benvolio: Oh, hell.  I hope not.

Mercutio: He’ll probably stand outside the house all night, freezing his ass hoping to see her.

Benvolio: Oh, well, forget about it.  Let’s go home.

    (They leave.)

Act 2, Scene 2. Romeo is in the orchard beside the house.  A light appears above in Juliet’s bedroom.

Romeo: There’s a light in her window.  Maybe I’ll see her naked….Oh, Juliet, baby doll, I want you so bad.  I love you.  I want to fuck you.  I have such a hard-on.  I would die for you.  You’re the sun, moon, and stars all put together.  I can’t live without you.

Juliet (Speaking to herself, unaware of Romeo): Oh, Romeo…Romeo…Why must you be a Montague?  Why must I be a Capulet?  I’d be all yours if it weren’t for our names.

Romeo (Louder, making himself heard): I’ll change my name for your sake, if that’s what it takes for you to love me.

Juliet (On the balcony): Who’s there?

Romeo: I won’t speak my name if it stands between us.

Juliet: I know your voice.  It’s Romeo.  Did you climb over the orchard wall just to see me?  You could’ve broken your neck.  And if any of my family catch you, they might kill you.

Romeo: I don’t care.  I love you.  I would gladly die right here, right now, if I knew you loved me.

Juliet: You heard me say so before I knew you were down there.  All right, then.  But I don’t want you to think I’m easy.  You say you love me, but how do I know you really mean it?

Romeo: I swear it.  I swear by the moon.

Juliet: The moon changes.  Your love could change, too.

Romeo: What do you want me to swear on?

Juliet: Don’t swear on anything.  This is all too sudden for me.  We both need time to think it over, don’t you think?  You should go now.

Romeo: Do you want me to leave unsatisfied?

Juliet: What kind of satisfction do you expect me to give you tonight?

Romeo: Just tell me you love me.

Juliet: You already heard me say it.

Romeo: Are you taking it back now?

Juliet: No.  I’d just rather wait and be sure of you.  Then I can tell you again.  (Nurse is heard calling within.)  Wait a second.  Don’t go.  (Juliet leaves the balcony.)

Romeo: Oh, God.  Maybe I’m just dreaming all this.  Maybe it’s Queen Mab playing a trick on me.

    (Juliet returns to the balcony.)

Juliet: If you really love me, I want to know tomorrow where and when you’ll marry me.  I’ll send someone to you, and you’ll give her your message, okay?  And if you’ve changed your mind and don’t want to marry me, then leave me alone and let me get over you.

Nurse (Within): Madam!

Juliet: Yes, I’m coming!  (Juliet leaves the balcony.  Romeo begins to walk away.  Then Juliet returns to the balcony.  She speaks in a loud whisper.)  Romeo!…I can’t raise my voice.  What time tomorrow should I send someone to see you?

Romeo: Nine o’clock.

Juliet: I can hardly wait.  I hate to say good night to you.

Romeo: I hate to leave you.

Juliet: We’ll be here all night saying good night to each other.  I have to go.  (She goes inside.)

Romeo: I won’t sleep a wink tonight.

    (He leaves.)

Act 2, Scene 3.  Friar Laurence is puttering about in his garden, a basket in hand.

Friar Laurence: Boy, I got a good crop of weed coming in.  This is gonna make all the brothers very happy.  It’s like I always say.  Everything that Mother Nature grows is good for something.

    (Romeo comes in.)

Romeo: Good morning, Father.

Friar Laurence: Well, you’re up early, aren’t you?  Or more likely, from the looks of your eyeballs, you never went to bed at all.

Romeo: You’re right, Father.  I was up all night.  And it was wonderful.

Friar Laurence: Uh, oh!  Don’t tell me you spent the night having sex with Rosaline!

Romeo: Rosaline?  Forget her.  She’s history.

Friar Laurence: That’s probably for the best.  So where were you?

Romeo: I was behind enemy lines, you might say.  And now I’m wounded — by love, that is.  And so is the enemy.  So I’ve come to you for help.

Friar Laurence: What exactly do you mean?

Romeo: I’m talking about me and Juliet Capulet.  We want to be married — today, if possible.

Friar Laurence: Holy shit!  I don’t believe it!  For months you were eating your heart out over Rosaline.  Now all of a sudden you want to marry Juliet?

Romeo: Look, Father, you criticized me enough over Rosaline, but don’t criticize me now.  Juliet is different.  She loves me.  Rosaline didn’t.

Friar Laurence: I see.  Okay, then.  This could be a good thing.  This could end the feud between your families.

Romeo: Let’s do it now.  I don’t want to wait.

Friar Laurence: Yeah, yeah.  Take it easy.  You young people are too much in a hurry.  Okay.  Come on.

    (They leave.)

Act 2, Scene 4.  Benvolio and Mercutio are on the street.

Mercutio: Where was Romeo last night?

Benvolio: He wasn’t home.  That’s all I know.

Mercutio: It’s Rosaline’s fault.  That cold-hearted bitch won’t give him a chance.  She’s driving him crazy.

Benvolio: I’ll tell you something worse.  Tybalt sent a letter to his house.

Mercutio: Oh, he did, did he?  I can guess what that’s about.  It’s a challenge to a duel.

Benvolio: Well, then, Romeo will duel him.  He’s not going to take any shit from Tybalt.

Mercutio: Tybalt will kill him.

Benvolio: How do you know?

Mercutio: Listen, Tybalt is the fucking Prince of Darkness with a sword.  He could unbutton your shirt with his sword faster than you could unbutton it yourself.  You don’t want to mess with him.

Benvolio: Here comes Romeo now.

    (Romeo comes in.)

Mercutio: Probably with a bad case of blue balls.–Hey, bro, you gave us the slip last night.

Romeo: Sorry about that, guys.  I didn’t mean to be rude.  I had, uh, some pressing business, you might say.

Mercutio: Like pressing your dick between Rosaline’s creamy thighs?

Romeo: No, no.  Ha, ha.

Mercutio: Parking the big fire engine in her back alley, maybe?

Romeo: No, no.  Come on.

Mercutio: I know what.  You were giving her some French love, right?  A good sucking for her virgin clit.

Romeo: No, no.–Oops! Watch your language.

    (Nurse and Peter come in.)

Nurse: Good morning, gentlemen.

Mercutio: Good afternoon, madam.

Nurse: Oh!  Is it afternoon already?

Mercutio: Of course.  In fact, the bawdy hand of the clock is now upon the prick of noon.

Peter: What do you mean?

Mercutio: That was a joke.

Peter: I don’t get it.

Nurse: I get it.  (To Mercutio)  You asshole.  Now, I would have a private word with young lord Romeo, please.

Mercutio (to Benvolio): You see?  The dude’s already made a reputation for himself after last night.  She’s hot for him.  (To Romeo)  See you later at your place for dinner?

Romeo: Yeah, yeah.  Later.

Mercutio: Have a good time.  Heh!  Heh!

    (Mercutio and Benvolio leave.)

Nurse: That guy’s an asshole.  (To Peter)  And you.  You just stand there while someone talks dirty to me?

Peter: Sorry.  I didn’t understand anything that was said.

Nurse (to Romeo): Now, sir.  My young lady sent me to find you.  But I’ll tell you right now on my own behalf that you’d better not have any bad intentions where she’s concerned.  Otherwise, you’re not at all the gentleman she thinks you are. 

Romeo: Please tell her to find some excuse to come to confession this afternoon.  Friar Laurence will marry us in his cell at the abbey.

Nurse: She’ll be there.

Romeo: And now I want you to wait behind the abbey wall.  A friend of mine will bring you a rope ladder.  I’m going to use it tonight.  It’s to, uh–

Nurse: Yes, I understand.  By the way, you ought to know there’s another fellow who wants to marry Juliet.  It’s Paris.

Romeo: Never mind about him.  Just give Juliet my message.

Nurse: I will.  She’ll be very glad.

    (Romeo leaves.)

Nurse (to Peter): Come on.  Let’s go.

    (They leave in another direction.)

Act 2, Scene 5.  In Capulet’s orchard.  Juliet is pacing back and forth.

Juliet: Where the hell is that nurse?  She’s been gone since nine o’clock this morning.  This waiting is killing me.  (The Nurse and Peter come in.)  Finally!  Nurse, did you see Romeo?  Please, I want to speak in private.

Nurse (to Peter): Go take a walk.  (Peter leaves.)

Juliet: Well?  Tell me the news!  Why are you frowning?

Nurse: Oh, give me a minute to rest.  Oh, my poor feet.  They’re so sore.  And my bones are aching.

Juliet: Yes, I’m sorry.  But what’s the news?  What did he say?

Nurse: Well!  I don’t know about this Romeo of yours.  He’s a good-looking fellow, I’ll grant you that.  But I can’t say much about his choice of friends.  One of them was quite vulgar, in my opinion. 

Juliet: Never mind that.  What about the marriage?  Is he marrying me or not?

Nurse: Oh, what a headache I have!  And my back!  You shouldn’t send an old person like me on such a long errand.

Juliet: Yes, I’m sorry.  But tell me about Romeo!  What did he say?

Nurse: He’s a nice fellow, in my opinion.  He seems honest and kind.

Juliet: Yes, yes, I know that!  But what did he say?

Nurse: My goodness, you are impatient.  Well, can you go to confession today?

Juliet: Yes.

Nurse: Then you are to go to Friar Laurence’s cell and meet your Romeo there and be married.  I will bring you a rope ladder so your Romeo can climb up to your room tonight.  Oh, the things I do to make you happy!  Now, you get going.

Juliet: Yes!  Thank you, Nurse!

    (Juliet leaves.)

Act 2, Scene 6.  Friar Laurence’s cell.  Friar Laurence and Romeo come in.

Friar Laurence: Teenage marriage is always high-risk.  I hope this works out.

Romeo: As long as I can marry her now, I don’t care what happens later.

Friar Laurence: Well, I’m on your side anyway.  Ah, here comes the young lady now.

    (Juliet comes in.)

Romeo: Juliet!   I can’t tell you how happy I am!  I’m floating!  I’m hearing violins!

Juliet: Me, too!  Double!

Friar Laurence: Right.  Let’s get it over with, shall we?  Follow me.

    (They leave.)

Act 3, Scene 1.  Mercutio, Benvolio, and a few servants are on the street.

Benvolio: Boy, what a heat wave!

Mercutio: It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.

Benvolio: This sort of heat brings out the worst in people.  Have you ever noticed how there’s more violence on hot days?

Mercutio: You’re one to talk.  You’ve got a hair-trigger like nobody else.  You once punched a guy because he made fun of your hat.  And that wasn’t even in the summer.

Benvolio: Aah, you’re just the same, if not worse.  You once got into a fight with a chef over a pizza.

Mercutio: You don’t sprinkle grated parmesan cheese on top of a finished pizza.  Only fools do that.

Benvolio: Uh, oh.  I think I see trouble coming.

    (Tybalt and others come in.)

Tybalt: I want a word with you guys.

Mercutio: What’s your problem, dude?

Romeo: You’re Romeo’s friends, aren’t you?

Mercutio: Yeah, so what?

Tybalt: I saw him in Capulet’s house last evening, that’s what. 

Benvolio (to Mercutio): Hey, we’re in a public place.  You want to take this dispute indoors?

Mercutio: No way.

    (Romeo comes in.)

Tybalt: Never mind.  Here’s the guy I want.–Hey, Romeo.  You’re a fucking creep.

Romeo: I’m not going to lose my temper with you, Tybalt.  I don’t want a fight, so just go away.

Tybalt: Draw your sword, you Montague bastard!   My uncle might overlook your insult, but I won’t!

Romeo: I never did anything to you.  And I don’t have anything against you or any Capulet, for that matter.

Mercutio: Hey, Rom, are you wimping out?  I can’t believe it!  (Draws his sword.  To Tybalt)  Okay, you rat-fucker.  You obviously came here for a fight.

Tybalt: You want a piece of me?

Mercutio: Not just a piece.  I want all of you.

Tybalt: Suits me fine, asshole.  (Draws his sword.)

Romeo: No, Merc!  Don’t fight him!

Mercutio: Come on, bring it, you fucker!

    (Mercutio and Tybalt start to duel.)

Romeo: Stop, you guys!  The Prince has forbidden dueling!  (Romeo gets between Tybalt and Mercutio and inadvertently blocks Mercutio’s line of sight.  Tybalt stabs Mercutio and then flees with his companions.)

Mercutio: Oh, fuck me!  He got me!  Oh, God!

Benvolio: How bad is it?

Mercutio: Bad enough.  Somebody get a doctor.  (A servant leaves.)

Romeo: Hold on.  You’ll be okay.

Mercutio: No, I won’t.  I’m dead.  Damn it.  Why did you jump in front of me?  You blocked my sight.

Romeo: I didn’t mean to.  I was only trying to help.

Mercutio: Ugh…Damn Montagues and Capulets….If it wasn’t for your damn feuding….Look who gets killed — me….Ben, get me indoors somewhere.

    (Benvolio helps Mercutio as both leave.)

Romeo: Poor Mercutio.  That should’ve been me.  But I couldn’t fight Tybalt.  He doesn’t know that I married Juliet and he’s family now.  Nobody knows except Friar Laurence and the nurse.  Now my friends will all think I’m a coward.

    (Benvolio returns.)

Benvolio: He’s dead.

Romeo: Oh, fucking hell!  I can’t leave it like this.  (Tybalt returns.)  You bastard!  You killed him!  Now I’m going to kill you!

    (They duel.  Romeo kills Tybalt.)

Benvolio: You better get the fuck out of here!  If the Prince’s men catch you, you’ll be sentenced to death!

Romeo: What was I supposed to do? 

Benvolio: This is no time for a debate!  Get your ass out of here!

    (Romeo flees.  Then citizens arrive, shouting “Murder!”  Then the Prince arrives with his attendants, as well as Montague, Capulet, their wives, and others.)

Prince: What happened here?  Who did this?

Benvolio: Prince, I saw the whole thing.  Tybalt came looking for a fight with Romeo, but Romeo tried to make peace with him.  Then Mercutio got into a duel with Tybalt, and when Romeo got between them to stop it, Tybalt stabbed Mercutio and killed him.  Then Tybalt ran, but a minute later he came back, and then Romeo fought him and killed him.

Lady Capulet: Tybalt was my nephew.  Prince, you have to punish Romeo for this.

Prince: Romeo killed Tybalt, but Tybalt killed Mercutio.  And Mercutio was my kinsman.  So who’s guilty now?

Montague: Not Romeo, Prince.  He was Mercutio’s friend.  Tybalt started the whole thing, and you would’ve punished him for starting a duel.

Prince: I can’t excuse Romeo.  I issued a decree, and if I start making exceptions, we’ll be right back where we started, and there will never be any real peace in Verona.  The only clemency I will grant to him is that he is to be banished from Verona.  Let him go to Mantua.  But if he comes back without my permission, he’ll be executed.  As for you, Montague, you’re going to pay a big fine.  Mercutio is dead because of your constant feuding with the Capulets.  Now let’s get this body off the street.

    (Tybalt’s body is borne off as everyone leaves.)

Act 3, Scene 2.  Capulet’s orchard.  Juliet comes in.

Juliet: This is the longest day of my life.  If only night would come and bring my Romeo to me.  (The Nurse come in, carrying the rope ladder.)  Nurse, what’s the news?  Is this the rope ladder for Romeo?

Nurse: I don’t think you’ll have any use for this after all.

Juliet: Why?  What’s happened?

Nurse: Oh, God.  Everything’s gone wrong.  The poor man’s dead.

Juliet: Who’s dead?

Nurse: I saw the body.  Stabbed in the chest, he was.  All covered in blood.

Juliet: Romeo?  If Romeo’s dead, let me die, too, and bury me with him!

Nurse: My good friend Tybalt.  Such a fine gentleman.  Oh, that I should see him dead with my own eyes.

Juliet: What?  Are they both dead — my cousin and Romeo?

Nurse: No, madam.  Tybalt is dead.  Romeo killed him, and he’s been banished.

Juliet: Romeo killed my cousin Tybalt?

Nurse: That he did.  It’s so terrible.

Juliet: My Romeo?  The man I thought was such an angel?  Is he really a murderer?  Could I have been so wrong about him?

Nurse: All men are liars.  You can’t believe in any of them.  To hell with Romeo!

Juliet: Bite your tongue!  He no more belongs in hell than I do! 

Nurse: Would you defend the man who killed your cousin?

Juliet: Defend my husband?  Of course!  I have to!  There must be an explanation.  Tybalt must have tried to kill him first.  And now Romeo is banished.  That’s worse than anything.  I’ll never see him again.  Nurse, where are my parents?

Nurse: They’re crying their hearts out over Tybalt’s body right now.  You should be with them.

Juliet: No.  Let them shed their tears for Tybalt.  I’ll shed mine for Romeo.  Let me take these ropes to my room.  My Romeo would have been with me tonight.  Instead, I’ll be a virgin till I’m dead.

Nurse: Go wait in your room.  I know where he’s hiding.  He’s in Friar Laurence’s cell.  I’ll try to bring him to you tonight.

Juliet: Oh, you must!  Please, you must!  Let me see him one more time.  And give him this ring from me.

Act 3, Scene 3.  In Friar Laurence’s cell.  Friar Laurence comes in.

Friar Laurence: It’s me, kid.  Come on out.

    (Romeo appears from a place of concealment.)

Romeo: What’s happening out there, Father?

Friar Laurence: You’ve been banished by the Prince.  Count yourself lucky.  He could have ordered you executed outright.

Romeo: I’d rather die than be separated from Juliet.

Friar Laurence: I wish you’d think with your brain for a change, instead of acting out of emotion.  There is a world outside of Verona, you know.  You go to Mantua and bide your time.  Get some stability back in your life.

Romeo: My life is shit without Juliet!  (He falls to the floor, weeping.)

Friar Laurence: Don’t talk like a child.  (Knocking is heard at the door.)  Quick!  Hide!

Romeo: I don’t care any more.  Let them find me.

    (More knocking at the door.)

Friar Laurence: Yes!  Coming!  Who is it?

Nurse (From outside): I come from Lady Juliet.

Friar Laurence (Opening door): All right.  Come in.

Nurse: Where’s Romeo?

Friar Laurence (Pointing): He’s that puddle on the floor.

Nurse: My goodness.  Just like Juliet.

Romeo (Getting up): How is she?  Does she still want me?  Does she think I’m a murderer?

Nurse: All she does is cry, cry, cry.  She cries over Tybalt, and she cries over you.

Romeo: I’ve ruined her life.  I should die now.  (Starts to draw his dagger but is stopped by Friar Laurence.)

Friar Laurence: Put that away, for Christ’s sake.  Can’t you pull yourself together and act like a man?  This is no time for hysteria.  Listen, my boy, you’re luckier than you realize.  You could’ve been killed by Tybalt, but you’re alive.  You could’ve gotten a death sentence, but you’re only banished.  And you still have Juliet.  Now you listen to me.  You go to Juliet.  But don’t stay there too late or you’ll run into the guards on the night watch.  Then you go to Mantua and wait until we can figure out the best way and the best time to announce your marriage publicly.  Then maybe we can persuade the Prince to pardon you and let you come back.–Nurse, tell your lady to try to get everyone else in the house to go to bed early.

Nurse: I will.  This is good news.–My lord, your Juliet told me to give you this ring.  She’s waiting to see you.  (Nurse leaves.)

Romeo: I’m starting to feel better.

Friar Laurence: Remember, don’t stay too late.  I’ll send word to you in Mantua by one of your servants whenever I have news for you.

Romeo: Thanks.  Goodbye.

    (Romeo leaves.) 

 Act 3, Scene 4.  A room in Capulet’s house.  Capulet, Lady Capulet, and Paris come in.

Capulet: There’s been so much shit happening that we haven’t had time to talk this over with Juliet.  She’s grieving over her poor cousin Tybalt.  And I should have been in bed an hour ago.

Paris: I understand.  This isn’t the right time to talk to her about marriage.  Just give her my kind regards.

Lady Capulet: We will.

Capulet: My mind’s made up.  I want the girl to marry you.  She’ll do what I want, I’m sure.–Wife, you have a word with her before you go to bed.  Explain to her that Paris is ready to marry her.  We’ll do it on Wednesday.  What’s today?

Paris: Monday.

Capulet: Then Wedneday’s too soon.  We’ll make it Thursday.  Is that okay?  After all, with Tybalt just recently…you know.  We shouldn’t celebrate too much.  It’ll be a quiet little wedding.  Just a few friends.

Paris: Thursday is fine with me.  I can hardly wait.

Capulet: Good.  Then it’s Thursday.–Wife, you’ll tell Juliet.–It’s late.  Good night, Paris.

Paris: Good night, my lord.

    (Paris leaves.) 

Act 3, Scene 5.  In Juliet’s bedroom.  Juliet is with Romeo.

Juliet (Very weepy): I wish you didn’t have to go.

Romeo: I’ll stay here and die if you want me to.

Juliet: No.  You have to go so you can live.

Romeo: One last kiss.  (They kiss.)

Juliet: Will I ever see you again?

Romeo: Sure.  Everything will work out okay.

Juliet: Try to send word to me from Mantua.

Romeo: I will if I can.

    (The Nurse knocks at the door and pokes her head in.)

Nurse: Your mother’s coming to speak to you.  (Nurse leaves.)

Juliet: Hurry!

    (They go out to the balcony, and Juliet watches as Romeo disappears down the rope ladder.)

Juliet: He looks so pale in the moonlight — almost like a dead man.

    (Lady Capulet knocks, and Juliet quickly shuts the balcony door in time to face her mother walking in.)

Lady Capulet: Still up, Juliet?  What’s the matter?

Juliet: I don’t feel well.

Lady Capulet: You’ve been crying.  Over Tybalt.  You can’t grieve for your cousin forever.

Juliet: Let me cry for what I have lost.

Lady Capulet: Better that you should cry that his murderer still lives.

Juliet: Murderer?

Lady Capulet: That villain Romeo.

Juliet: Yes, of course.  I wish that no one else but I should be the one to avenge Tybalt’s death.

Lady Capulet: Romeo will get what’s coming to him.  You can be sure of that.  I have friends in Mantua.  I could have him killed.  Then you could stop grieving for Tybalt.

Juliet: No.  If Romeo dies, I must see him with my own eyes.

Lady Capulet: Well, in any case, I have some good news for you.

Juliet: What’s that?

Lady Capulet: Your kind, caring, wonderful father, who thinks only of your best interests, has arranged something for you.  On Thursday you’re going to marry Count Paris at Saint Peter’s Church.

Juliet: What?  Marry Paris?  Just like that?   Oh, no!  I’m not going to be forced into any marriage with Paris!  I swear to you, I’ll marry Romeo before I marry Paris!

Lady Capulet: That’s a ridiculous thing to say.  Paris is related to the Prince, and he’s crazy about you.  Oh, I don’t think your father is going to like this.

    (Capulet and the Nurse come in.)

Capulet: Still crying, girl?  My goodness!  Well, wife, did you tell her?

Lady Capulet: She refuses to marry Paris.

Capulet: What?  Is she crazy?  Paris is the finest bachelor in Verona!  Daughter, you should be grateful!

Juliet: Thanks but no thanks!  Nobody tells me who to love — or who to hate!

Capulet: You spoiled brat!  Now you listen to me!  Thursday morning you’re going to marry Paris at Saint Peter’s Church if I have to drag you there kicking and screaming!

Lady Capulet (to Capulet): Please!  My dear!

Juliet: Would you please listen to me for one minute?

Capulet: Damn you, you ungrateful kid!  I’m your father, and you’ll do what I say!  I should give you such a smack in the face right now!–Wife, we’ve raised a bad kid!  She’s a curse to us, not a blessing!

Nurse: No!  Don’t say that, sir!  She’s a good girl!

Capulet: Oh, shut up!  Nobody asked for your  opinion!

Lady Capulet: Oh, my dear, please don’t lose your temper.

Capulet: Jesus Christ!  It  pisses me off!  Every day, every hour, every minute, all I think about is making a good marriage for my daughter!  And when I find her the best gentleman in town — a man any woman in her right mind would be thrilled to marry — she doesn’t want him!  Well, if you don’t want to get married, young lady, fine with me!  But out you go!  Go out in the world and make your own way!  It’s your choice!  If you want to be my daughter, you’ll marry Paris!  Otherwise, you’re on your own, and you won’t get a penny from me!  You can join the homeless and beg on the street!  (He leaves.)

Juliet: Doesn’t anybody understand?  Doesn’t anybody care how I feel?  Mom, you can’t let him throw me out!  At least make him put off the marriage for a month.  Otherwise…you might as well have a grave dug for me.

Lady Capulet: Don’t look to me for any help.  Your father’s the boss.  And he happens to be right.  If you insist on being stubborn, I’m through with you.

    (She leaves.)

Juliet: Nurse, what should I do?  How can I stop this?  Tell me!

Nurse: Well, now, it seems to me that things have changed, haven’t they?  Your Romeo is out of the picture.  He’s banished.  How can he come back?  He can’t without being put to death.  So you really don’t have a husband.  Now, on the other hand, there’s Paris.  He’s quite a catch, if you want my opinion — way better than Romeo.  You’d be a lot happier with Paris.  You should marry him.  Romeo might as well be dead.

Juliet: You really mean that?

Nurse: Of course.

Juliet: Thank you.  You’ve been a big help.  Please tell my mother that since I’ve made my father so angry, I’m going to see Friar Laurence the first thing in the morning to make confession and to be absolved.

Nurse: Well, now, that’s more like it.  Your parents will be very happy to hear that.  (She leaves.)

Juliet: What a hypocrite!  First she’s all in favor of Romeo.  Then I should forget about him and marry Paris.  I’m through with her.  Friar Laurence is my last hope.  If he can’t help me, I might as well kill myself.

Act 4, Scene 1.  In Friar Laurence’s cell.  Friar Laurence and Paris come in.

Friar Laurence: So you want to get married on Thursday, do you?  That’s pretty sudden.

Paris: That’s what the old man wants, and that’s what I want, too.

Friar Laurence: But you haven’t heard what the girl wants.  Doesn’t that matter?

Paris: Well, I haven’t had the chance to talk to her myself, because all she does is cry over her cousin Tybalt.  But her father thinks it’s best if she gets married at once to snap her out of her grief.

Friar Laurence (Aside): How did I ever get mixed up in such a mess?–Oh, here comes the young lady now.

    (Juliet comes in.)

Paris: What a happy coincidence!  My future wife!

Juliet: We’ll see about that.

Paris: If you’ve come to confess to Friar Laurence, don’t deny to him that you love me.

Juliet: My confessions are my own affair.

Paris: Poor girl.  I can see you’ve been crying.

Juliet: Yes.  Quite so.–Father, do you have time for me now, or should I come back later?

Friar Laurence: No, no, stay.–My lord, if you don’t mind.

Paris: Not at all.  I leave you both to your privacy.–Juliet, until Thursday, my dear.  (He leaves.)

Juliet: Oh, Father, I don’t know what to do!  I’ve lost all hope!

Friar Laurence: Indeed.  Paris told me the two of you are to be married on Thursday.

Juliet: Get me out of this somehow.  Think of something.  (Shows knife.)  Otherwise, this is my only way out.

Friar Laurence: No, no, don’t even think of that.  I may be able to help you.  I have an idea.  It’s pretty drastic, however.  You’ll need nerves of steel and some good luck to pull it off.

Juliet: I’ll do anything.  I’ll walk on hot coals.  I’ll wade through a swamp full of alligators.  Whatever it takes.  As long as it gets me back together with Romeo. 

Friar Laurence: All right, then.  Here’s the plan.  You go home and say you’ll agree to marry Paris.  (He goes to a cabinet and retrieves a vial.)  Tomorrow night, which is Wednesday night, make sure you’re alone in your bedroom.  You must drink what’s in this vial.  It contains a plant extract.  It will make you appear dead for forty-two hours.  On Thursday morning, when they find you, they’ll think you’re dead.  Then they’ll inter you in the family vault in the cemetery.  In the meantime, I’ll send word to Romeo and explain what we’ve done.  He’ll come to the vault, and I’ll meet him there shortly before you wake up.  As soon as you wake up, he’ll take you away to Mantua.  What do you think?  Are you willing to try it?

Juliet: I’ll do it.  Give me the vial.

Friar Laurence: Good.  Here.  Just follow my instructions and don’t lose your courage.  I’ll get one of the brothers to deliver a letter to Romeo in Mantua.

Juliet: Thank you, Father!

    (She leaves.)

Act 4, Scene 2.  In Capulet’s house.  Capulet, Lady Capulet, and the Nurse.

Capulet: So Juliet went to see Friar Laurence, did she?

Nurse: Yes.  For confession.

Capulet: Well, let’s hope he was able to talk some sense into her.

Nurse: Here she comes now.  She looks a lot calmer.

    (Juliet comes in.)

Capulet: Well, now, girl.  What do you have to say to me?

Juliet: I talked it over with Friar Laurence, and now I understand that I was wrong.  I’m sorry I was disobedient.  I’ll do whatever you say.

Capulet: Thank God for that!  I can’t wait to tell Paris.  I’ll send word to him.

Juliet: You don’t have to.  I bumped into him at Friar Laurence’s cell.

Capulet: Splendid!  Well!  Everything’s working out perfectly, heh, heh!  In fact, why wait till Thursday?  Let’s tell Paris the wedding is on for tomorrow.

Juliet: Oh!  But my clothes aren’t ready.

Lady Capulet: I haven’t shopped.  We need food.

Capulet: Minor details.  Don’t worry about it.  I think I’ll walk over to see Paris right now.  Oh, I feel so relieved!

    (He leaves.)

Act 4, Scene 3.  In Juliet’s room.  Juliet and the Nurse are selecting clothes.

Juliet: I know what I’m going to wear.  You can leave me now.  I want to be by myself.

    (Lady Capulet comes in.)

Lady Capulet: Do you need any help?

Juliet: No, mom.  I want to be alone now.

Lady Capulet: All right.  Good night.  Try to get some sleep.

    (Lady Capulet and the Nurse leave.)

Juliet (Taking the vial from a place of concealment): What if it doesn’t work?  What if it’s poison?  What if I suffocate in the vault before Romeo gets there?  What if I wake up in darkness and don’t remember where I am?  What if Tybalt’s ghost is waiting to kill me?…I feel so alone….Never mind.  There’s no other way….Romeo….Romeo (She drinks the vial and falls upon her bad, within the bedcurtains.)

Act 4, Scene 4.  This scene is deleted.

Act 4, Scene 5.  Juliet’s room.  The Nurse comes in.

Nurse: Mistress Juliet, wake up!  Come on!  Time to get up!  (Parts the bedcurtains.)  Still asleep?  And in your clothes?  My goodness!  Come on, lady, get up!  (Shakes Juliet, then feels her neck, face, and hands.)  What’s this?  Oh, my God!  She’s dead!  Help!  Help!

    (Lady Capulet comes in.)

Lady Capulet: What’s the matter?

Nurse: She won’t wake up!

Juliet: Wake up, Juliet!  Wake up!  (Shaking her)  Help!

    (Capulet comes in.)

Capulet: What’s wrong?  Paris just arrived.

Lady Capulet and Nurse: She’s dead!

Capulet: What?  It can’t be!  (Examines Juliet.)  There’s no sign of life….She is dead.

    (Friar Laurence and Paris come in.)

Friar Laurence: We’re waiting for the bride.

Capulet: She’ll never live to be a bride.  (To Paris)  You would have been my son-in-law today.  Our poor girl is dead.

Paris: Dead?  Dead?  On our wedding day?  Why?  Why?

Lady Capulet: This is the worst day of my life.   Why, God?  Why?

Nurse: It’s the most terrible thing I’ve ever seen.

Capulet: My poor girl.  So young.  Now my life is destroyed.

Friar Laurence: The girl is in Heaven now.  All your tears won’t bring her back, so let her be.  We’ll take her to the church for the funeral.  Let’s all try to be dignified about it.

Act 5, Scene 1.  A street in Mantua.  Romeo is there when his servant, Balthasar, arrives.

Balthasar (Out of breath): My lord!

Romeo: Do you have any news for me?  Anything from Friar Laurence?  Anything about Juliet?

Balthasar: I have some bad news.  Juliet is dead.  I saw her carried to the family vault.  I came on foot as quick as I could.

Romeo: No!  It can’t be!  I’m going back there at once!

Balthasar: No, you mustn’t!  You know what will happen to you if you go back!

Romeo: To hell with it!  Don’t you have any word at all from Friar Laurence?

Balthasar: No.  Nothing.  But I heard that Juliet was supposed to marry Count Paris the very day she died.

Romeo: Hire two horses at one.  We have to go back.   (Balthasar leaves.)  Juliet…I’ll be with you tonight, no matter what.  If you really are dead, I’ll die beside you….I know a chemist here in town.  I can get poison from him.  His shop won’t be open today, but he lives on this street….This is his house….Chemist!  Chemist!  Come out!  You’re wanted!

    (The Chemist comes out of a doorway.  He’s old and ragged.)

Chemist: What do you want, sir?  My shop is closed today.  It’s a holiday.

Romeo: I know that.  Listen, I have forty ducats for you if you can provide me with something.  You look like you could use the money.

Chemist: Forty ducats!  My goodness!  What is it you want?

Romeo: I want a poison.  Something fast-acting and deadly.

Chemist: Oh, my!  I could get in a lot of trouble selling you something like that.

Romeo: Nobody will know.  Forty ducats, man!

Chemist: Wait here.  Don’t go away.  (Chemist goes into his house, and after a few moments he returns with a small package, such as a pouch or envelope.)  Just dissolve this powder in any liquid.  It works immediately.

Romeo: Good.  Here’s your money.  Buy yourself a new suit.  (Chemist leaves.)  And now I go to Juliet’s grave.

    (He leaves.)

Act 5, Scene 2.  Friar Laurence is in his cell when Friar John opens the door.

Friar John: Friar Laurence!  Oh, I’m glad you’re here!

Friar Laurence: Friar John!  Are you back from Mantua already?  What did Romeo Say?  Did he write me a letter?

Friar John: I never made it to Mantua.  I went to get another brother to go with me.  He was visiting a sick man, and when we were coming out of the house we ran into the public health officers, and they thought we might be infected with the plague, so they made us go back in the house.

Friar Laurence: What about my letter to Romeo?

Friar John: I couldn’t get anyone to take it to him, and I couldn’t get anyone to bring it back to you because they were afraid it might be contaminated with plague.  Here it is.

Friar Laurence: Oh, my God!  I’m fucked!  Romeo needed to get this letter!  Oh, bloody hell!  Listen.  John.  Go get me a crowbar.  Bring it back here at once.

Friar John: Okay, I can get one.  (He leaves.)

Friar Laurence: What a fucking mess!  Juliet will wake up in three hours.  If Romeo isn’t there, it’ll be my fault.  Maybe I can still get word to him.  But right now I have to get her out of that vault and bring her here.

    (He leaves.)

Act 5, Scene 3.  Outside the Capulet family vault in the cemetery at night.  Paris and his Page come in, carrying flowers and a torch.

Paris: I don’t want anyone to see us.  Put out the torch and give it to me.  I want you to lie under those trees and keep your ear to the ground.  If you hear footsteps, whistle to me as a signal.

Page: This place gives me the creeps.  (He retires.)

Paris: My poor Juliet.  These flowers should have gone on your bridal bed.  Now they go on your grave.  (The Page whistles.)  Somebody’s coming.  I see a torch.  (Paris hides himself.  Then Romeo and Balthasar come in, carrying a torch and tools.)

Romeo: Give me the pick and crowbar.  Now, take this letter.  First thing in the morning, you’re to deliver it to my father.  Whatever happens here tonight, you know nothing.  Understand?  I want to see Juliet’s face one last time, and I want to take the ring from her finger.  Now, get going, and don’t come back to spy on me or I’ll break your neck.

Balthasar: I won’t.  I promise. 

Romeo: You’ve served me well.  Have a good life and be happy.  Goodbye.

Balthasar (Aside): I don’t like the sound of that.  I’d better just hide myself and keep an eye on him.  (He retires and hides himself.)

Romeo: Death, make room for one more.  (He opens the vault with the tools.)

Paris (Aside): I know who that is.  It’s that devil Romeo who murdered Juliet’s cousin.  That’s why she died — from grief.  And now he’s going to defile their bodies.  (He steps forward.)  Stop right there, you damned criminal!  I”m arresting you, and you’re going to be executed!

Romeo: Don’t interfere in something you don’t understand!  Get out of here!  I don’t want to hurt you!

Paris: You’re coming with me!

Romeo: I warned you!

    (They fight.)

Page: Oh, shit!  I gotta get help!  (He flees.)

Paris: Oh!…I’m dead….Put me…next to…Juliet (He dies.)

Romeo: Who is this guy?…Oh, Christ!  This is Paris.  This is the guy Juliet was supposed to marry….Paris, you poor son of a bitch.  (He lays Paris in the tomb, near Juliet.)  Juliet.  You look just as beautiful as when you were alive.  Death hasn’t changed you at all.  I’ll never leave you again.  I’ll be by your side forever. One last kiss.  (He kisses her.)  And now I’ll end it all.  I won’t have to suffer any more.  (He drinks the poison.)  Oh…oh…(He dies. Then Friar Laurence arrives from the other end of the cemetery, carrying a lantern and a crowbar.  He encounters the concealed Balthasar.)

Friar Laurence: Who are you?

Balthasar: It’s Balthasar, the servant of Romeo.  I know you, Father.

Friar Laurence: Thank God!  You scared me!  I see a light in the Capulet vault.

Balthasar: Romeo’s in there.

Friar Laurence: How long has he been in there?

Balthasar: Too long.  I’m worried.

Friar Laurence: Come with me.  Please.

Balthasar: No, I can’t.  I’m not supposed to be here.  He’ll kill me if he thinks I stayed to spy on him.

Friar Laurence: All right, I’ll go in by myself.  I’ve got a bad feeling.

Balthasar: I thought I heard fighting before, but I may have been dreaming.  I dreamed Romeo killed someone.

Friar Laurence: That’s all we need.  (He goes to the entrance of the vault.)  Uh, oh.  I see blood.  (He enters the vault.)  Romeo!…Paris!…They’re both dead!…Juliet…she’s waking up.

    (Juliet awakes.)

Juliet: Oh!…Friar Laurence!  Where’s Romeo?

    (Distant footsteps and voices are heard — Paris’s Page returning with help.)

Friar Laurence: Somebody’s coming!  We’ve got to get out of here!  I’m sorry, Juliet.  Something went wrong.  Romeo and Paris are both dead.  I’ve got to get you out of here.  I can hide you with some nuns.  Please!  Don’t ask questions. There’s no time to explain.  I’ll be in a lot of trouble if they find me here.

Juliet: Then go, Father.  I’m not going anywhere.  (Friar Laurence flees.)  Romeo?…What’s this cup?  He drank poison?  He should have left some for me….Perhaps there’s some on his lips.  (She kisses him.)  Your lips are still warm.  (The Watchmen and Page and heard outside.  “Which way?”  “Over here!”)  Come to rescue me?  No, thank you.  (She takes Romeo’s dagger.)  Ah, Romeo….(She stabs herself and falls upon his body and dies.  Then the Watchmen and Page arrive.)

Page: This is the place!   The Capulet vault! 

First Watchman: Look at all this blood!  Search the grounds and arrest anyone you find!  (Some Watchmen leave.)  Oh, this is bad.  We’ve got bodies here.  Juliet’s dead, but she’s still warm.  Go tell the Prince.  And go to the Montagues and the Capulets and get them over here.  I’m not sure what to make of this.  (Others leave.  Second Watchman returns with Balthasar.)

Second Watchman: Here’s Romeo’s servant.  He was hiding in the churchyard.

    (Third Watchman returns with Friar Laurence.)

Third Watchman: I caught this guy trying to leave.  He had a crowbar.  Looks like a break-and-enter.

    (The Prince arrives with his attendants.)

Prince: What’s the idea of waking me up in the middle of the night?

    (The Capulets arrive, with others.)

Capulet: What’s all the yelling about?

Lady Capulet: People in the street are yelling something about Romeo and Juliet and Paris, and everyone’s running to the cemetery.

First Watchman: Prince, Count Paris is dead.  And Romeo is dead.  And Juliet is dead, too, but her body is still warm — as if she only just died.

Prince: This is murder!

First Watchman: We caught the Friar and Romeo’s servant with burglary tools.  It look like they broke into the vault.

Capulet: Wife, look there!  Juliet’s been stabbed with Romeo’s dagger!

Lady Capulet: Oh!  I’m ready to die!

    (Montague arrives, with others.)

Prince: Where’s your wife, Montague?

Montague: She died tonight, my lord.  The grief of Romeo’s exile was too much for her.

Prince: Look there.  There’s your boy.

Montague: Romeo!  You foolish boy!  What have you done?

Prince: We don’t know what happened here.  But we found Friar Laurence trying to leave.–You’d better tell us everything, Father.

Friar Laurence: I feel responsible for all this.  But believe me, I was only trying to do good.  I married Romeo and Juliet secretly.  That same day Romeo killed Tybalt in a duel.  Juliet wasn’t grieving for Tybalt.  She was grieving over Romeo being banished.  When Capulet arranged a marriage for Juliet with Paris, she came to me for help.  I gave her a potion that would make her appear dead for forty-two hours.  My plan was to send word to Romeo in Mantua and have him meet me at the Capulet vault just before Juliet woke up.  But he never got the letter.  So I came here myself to make sure she didn’t wake up alone.  I intended to hide her in my cell until I could get word to Romeo.  But when I arrived, I found Romeo and Paris both dead, and Juliet was just waking up.  She wouldn’t leave with me.  It’s obvious now that she killed herself.  Her nurse will verify what I said about the secret marriage.  I’m sorry that everything ended so badly.  I’ll take whatever punishment you think I deserve.

Prince: Now I want to hear from Balthasar.

Balthasar: I went to Mantua to tell Romeo that Juliet had died, which was true as far as I knew.  We came back here immediately.  He gave me this letter for his father and told me to leave.

Prince: I’ll take that letter.  Where’s Paris’s Page?–What was your master doing here?

Page: He came to put flowers on Juliet’s grave.  Then he told me to keep a lookout, so I did.  Then this other fellow came with a light and tried to open the vault, and my master tried to stop him.  There was a fight, and I ran for help.

Prince (Scanning letter): This letter confirms what Friar Laurence said.  Romeo writes that he bought poison and came back to die beside Juliet.  Now it’s all clear.  Romeo didn’t know that Juliet was still alive, and he killed himself  because he couldn’t  bear to live without her.  And then she killed herself because she couldn’t bear to live without him.  Well!   Capulet.  Montague.  Do you see what your feuding has led to?  You’ve both lost your children.  And I’ve lost family as well, because I tolerated your feuding as long as I did.  So now we are all paying the price, aren’t we?

Capulet: Montague, for whatever it’s worth, I’m glad my daughter married your son.

Montague: I will have a statue made for Juliet — the most beautiful statue Verona has ever seen.

Capulet: And I’ll do the same for Romeo.

Prince: It looks like a cloudy morning.  The sun doesn’t want to come out today.  The better to leave us to ourselves to reflect on our mistakes, and to decide who shall be punished and who shall be forgiven.


    Copyright@ 2010 by Crad Kilodney, Toronto, Canada.  E-Mail: crad166@yahoo.com   






(Index to the Series appears on Oct. 7, 2010 — https://cradkilodney.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/ )

Main characters

Othello — a noble Moor; a general in the service of Venice

Duke of Venice

Brabantio — a senator

Gratiano — brother of Brabantio

Lodovico — relative of Brabantio

Desdemona — wife of Othello, and daughter of Brabantio

Cassio — Othello’s lieutenant (second in command)

Iago — Othello’s ancient (officer who carries the flag; also known as ensign)

Emilia — wife of Iago

Roderigo — former suitor of Desdemona

Bianca — Cassio’s mistress

Montano — governor of Cyprus

Gist of the story: Othello, a general, has just promoted Cassio as his lieutenant, which enrages Iago, who felt he deserved the promotion.  While maintaining a facade of honesty and loyalty at all times, Iago plots revenge against both Cassio and Othello.  He sets up Cassio to get fired from his new position.  Then he makes Othello believe his wife, Desdemona, to whom he has only just been married, has been having an affair with Cassio.  Othello believes the lie and strangles Desdemona.  When he realizes he has been deceived, he commits suicide out of grief.  (Othello is a Moor, which means he is a Muslim of mixed Berber and Arab ancestry and, therefore, dark-skinned.  While this circumstance is relevant, Shakespeare never intended the story to be any sort of racial statement.  Also, in this period of history, Venice was a regional power, like a city-state, with Mediterranean territories and was resisting encroachment by the Ottoman Empire.)

Act 1, Scene 1.  A street in Venice.  Iago and Roderigo come in.

Roderigo: Are you telling me that fucking bastard stole my girlfriend?  Are you kidding me, man?

Iago: I’m not making it up.  Why would I make it up?

Roderigo: Well, you told me before you hated the Moor’s guts.

Iago: Yeah, I hate his guts, and for good reason.  I wanted that job as lieutenant.  I had three personal references — good ones.  VIP’s who know me.  And the son of a bitch ignores them.  He says, “Oh, sorry.  Job’s taken.”  And who do you think got that job?  Michael Cassio, an egghead with no battle experience.  He learned war out of books.  I learned it on the field of battle — in Rhodes and Cyprus.  But he gets promoted over me.  What do I get?  I get to be his Moorship’s ancient.  I get to carry his flag. 

Roderigo: I’d like to carry his noose.

Iago: That’s the way it is in the army.  It’s all about who the general likes more.  Never mind seniority or ability.  So now you understand why I hate that Moor bastard.

Roderigo: I’d feel just the same as you, bro.

Iago: Let me tell you something.  I’m always thinking of what’s in my own best interests, you know what I mean?  I’m not like a lot of these suckers who waste their lives taking all the boss’s shit forever.  And what happens to them?  They end up old, used up, fucked over, and they’ve got nothing to show for all their years of being obedient little sheep.  That’s not going to be my fate.  You can bet your ass on that.  Now, smart guys, on the other hand — like me — know how to play the game.  You have to put on a false face, but always be looking out for yourself.  Let the boss think you love him.  Never let your ambition show.  Rule Number One, Roddy: never let your enemies know you’re angry with them.  That’s why I can’t make a fuss about Cassio getting the promotion.  I’ll just put on a big smile ’cause I’m so happy to be that darkie bastard’s ancient.

Roderigo: Yeah, darkie bastard is right.  Old liver-lips.  Fuckin’ Moors.  And you found out he stole my girlfriend? 

Iago: Well, actually, she ran off with him.  They eloped.  But it amounts to the same thing. 

Roderigo: Then we both have a reason to hate him.

Iago: That’s right.  And we’re going to stick it to him.  Both of us. 

Roderigo: How?

Iago: Her father, the senator, doesn’t know yet.  You should go stand in front of his house and tell him the news — and I mean really loud so everyone hears.  We’ll watch how he reacts.  It’ll be a hoot.

Roderigo: Hey, he lives right over here.  Should I just yell at him from down here?

Iago: Yeah, do it.  It’ll be cool.

Roderigo: Okay….Hey, Senator Brabantio!  Hey, Senator!

Iago: Hey, Brabantio!  Wake up!  You’ve been robbed!  Your daughter’s gone!

    (Brabantio appears at a window above.)

Brabantio: Who the fuck is shouting down there!

Iago: Hey, Pops, your daughter’s gone!  She’s getting her brains fucked out by a jigaboo!  Get your friends together fast, or you’ll be bouncing little buckwheats on your knee!

Brabantio: Are you fucking crazy?

Roderigo: Hey, Pops, it’s me — Roderigo!

Brabantio: You punk!  I thought I told you never to come around here any more!  My daughter’s not for you!

Roderigo: No, no, you don’t understand, Senator.  I came to tell you something important.

Iago: That’s right, Senator.  Your daughter’s getting fucked by a Barbary ape.  He’s got his ape claws all over her silky white body right now, and he’s slobbering all over her with his thick monkey lips.

Brabantio: You dirty-mouthed low-life!  Who are you?

Iago: Hey, I’m just a good citizen who came to tell you that the Moor is fucking your daughter.

Roderigo: Of course, maybe you don’t mind that your daughter is getting stuffed with black monster cock.  Maybe you’re a liberal.  If that’s the case, we’re sorry we bothered you.  But I thought you ought to know in case you didn’t.  If you don’t believe us, check her bedroom.  See if she’s there.

Brabantio: Oh, fuck!  Somebody bring me a candle!  Wake up the house!  This is worse than a nightmare.  (He leaves the window.)

Iago: I’d better not stick around, bro.  I don’t want the Moor to know I was here.  Even if we make a scandal of him, there’s no way he’s going to get fired as long as there’s trouble in Cyprus.  The state needs him too much.  Anyway, I gotta get back to him.  If you want to look for him later, try the Brass Rail.  He likes to hang out there.  I’ll be there, too.  After all, I’m his loyal, trusty ancient, right?

    (Iago leaves.  Then Brabantio appears on the street in his nightgown, along with his servants, bearing torches.)

Brabantio: You were right, Roderigo.  She’s gone.  Tell me what you know.  Where was she?  What did she say?  Did they elope?

Roderigo: I’m pretty sure.  They’re probably married by now.

Brabantio: He must have used some sort of spell or witchcraft to seduce her.  That’s the only possible explanation.

Roderigo: I’ve heard of that.

Brabantio: Damn.  I wish now I’d let her go out with you instead.

Roderigo: I think I know where we might find them, if you can round up some muscle.

Brabantio: Hell, yes!  I have authority.  I can get an armed posse together.  Roderigo, you’ve done me a favor.  I owe you for this.

    (They leave.)

Act 1, Scene 2.  Othello, Iago, and attendants with torches are in front of the Brass Rail, a pub.

Iago: I would’ve stuck a knife in the guy if I weren’t so damned decent.

Othello: It’s a good thing you didn’t.  He’s my father-in-law now.

Iago: He was really trash-talking you something awful.  So did you get married?  Because he’ll do whatever he can to get the marriage annulled.

Othello: Oh, let him bitch.  I’ve served the state very well.  And as for Desdemona, I love her.  She’s the only woman I’d ever marry.

    (Cassio arrives with other officers with torches.)

Cassio: Greetings from the Duke, General.  He wants to see you right away.

Othello: Wassup?  Do you know?

Cassio: I think it’s something important about Cyprus.  A lot of the councillors are already there.  The Duke has people out looking for you right now.

Othello: Okay, no problem.  I just want to step  into the pub for a quick drink, and then I’ll head off with you to the Duke’s.  (He goes inside.)

Cassio: What’s with the boss?  Is he celebrating something?

Iago: You might say he found himself a nice little treasure chest, and he’s made forever — assuming he gets to keep it.

Cassio: I don’t get it.

Iago: He got married.

Cassio: Married?  To who?

    (Othello returns.)

Iago: Ready to go, General?

Othello: Sure.  Let’s go.

Cassio: Somebody’s coming.

Iago: Uh, oh.  It’s Brabantio.  He’s gonna be pissed.

    (Brabantio, Roderigo, and officers with torches and weapons arrive.)

Brabantio: There he is!  Get him, you guys!

    (Both parties draw swords.)

Iago: Back off!  Nobody touches my general!

Othello: Whoa!  Take it easy!  Calm down, fellows!  There isn’t going to be any fighting here.  Senator, what’s the problem?

Brabantio: Where’s my daughter, you bastard?  I know you used some kind of black magic on her.  That’s the only way she’d run off with the likes of you.  I’m going to arrest you for witchcraft.

Othello: That would be pretty dumb, Senator.  The Duke just sent for me, and he probably wants to see you, too.  He’s in council right now.

Brabantio: At this time of night?  Well, then, you just come along with me, and we’ll see what the Duke has to say about all this.

    (All leave.)

Act 1, Scene 3.  A chamber in the Senate House.  The Duke and Senators are seated at a table.  Attendants are nearby.

Duke: We have reports that a Turkish fleet is headed for Cyprus.

    (A sailor rushes in.)

Sailor: Message for you, my lord.  The Turks are sailing towards Rhodes.

A Senator: That can’t be.  It must be a decoy.  The Turks want Cyprus, not Rhodes.

Duke: I think you’re right about that.

    (A messenger rushes in.)

Messenger: A message for you, my lords.  The Turks have joined up with another fleet at Rhodes, and now they’re sailing in the direction of Cyprus.  The report comes from Signior Montano, the governor of Cyprus.

Duke: Well, that clinches it.

    (Brabantio, Othello, Cassio, Iago, Roderigo, and officers come in.)

Another Senator: At last!  It’s Brabantio and our favorite Moor.

Duke: Othello!  Am I glad to see you!  We’ve got trouble with the Turks.  I’ve got to send you to Cyprus right away.  Brabantio!  You’re here finally!  We needed you, too.

Brabantio: And I need you, your Grace.  I’ve got a big problem.

Duke: What’s that?

Brabantio: My daughter’s been stolen from me by this general of yours.  He used witchcraft on her.

Duke (to Othello): Is that true?

Othello: I married the girl, that’s all.  We love each other.  There was no witchcraft.

Brabantio: My daughter would never love an ugly spook like this.  He must have put her under some kind of spell.

Duke: Well, Senator, saying it is not the same as proving it.  What do you say, Othello?

Othello: If you don’t believe me, send for her.  She’s at the Brass Rail.  Let her come here and tell you the truth in front of her father.

Duke: Okay, let’s do that, then.

Othello: Iago, you know the place.  Go and bring her.

Iago: Sure thing.  (He leaves with two or three attendants.)

Othello: And now let me tell you how she and I fell in love.  Her father invited me to his house lots of times.  I told him about my whole life — all my battles and adventures and hardships, all the dangers, all the places I’d seen, all the strange people.  And Desdemona would hang on my every word.  She was fascinated.  She was moved.  That was how we connected.  Is that so hard to understand?

Duke: No, not at all.  You see, Brabantio, you jumped to the wrong conclusion.

    (Desdemona, Iago, and attendants come in.)

Brabantio: I want to hear what my daughter has to say.  If I’ve accused Othello wrongly, well, shame on me.  Come here, Desdemona.  Who are you more loyal to — me or Othello?

Desdemona: Dad, I love you.  But now I’m married, and I have to put my husband first, the same way that my mother put you before her father.

Brabantio: Well…I guess that settles that.  Now you can get on with your serious business, your Grace.  Othello, as much as I hate to lose my daughter — especially with no warning at all — I approve of the marriage.  I guess it’s the right thing.  What else can I do?

Duke: That’s what I want to hear.  Give the newlyweds a chance.  It’s a done deal, so try to think of it as something good.

Brabantio: You’re right.  Okay.  Now let’s deal with this Turkish business. 

Duke: Right.  Othello, the Turks are making a move on Cyprus.  You know Cyprus well, so you’re the one who has to go and put out this fire — as much as I hate to separate you from your new bride.

Othello: I’m a soldier first, your Grace.  I’ll go where I’m needed.  I’ll take the Turks on any time, anywhere.  But I want my wife to be well taken care of while I’m gone.

Duke: She can stay with her father.

Brabantio: No, no.

Othello: No, no.

Desdemona: Please let me go to Cyprus with my husband, your Grace.

Othello: Yes, your Grace.  Let her come with me.  It’s not for my sake, it’s for hers.  I promise it won’t interfere with my duties.

Duke: Okay, have it your way.  But you’ve go to ship out tonight.  There’s no time to lose.  Your wife can follow you tomorrow.  Pick somebody to escort her.

Iago: Iago can escort her.  I trust him completely.

Duke: Fine with me.  Okay, it’s late.  Let’s break it up, gentlemen.  (To Brabantio) You see?  Your new son-in-law is a good guy — not like your typical darkie.

Brabantio (to Othello): Keep an eye on her, Othello.  She fooled me, and one of these days she may fool you, too.

Othello (Chuckling): Oh, Senator!

    (Brabantio leaves with the Duke, Senators, officers, and attendants.)

Othello: Iago, I’m putting Desdemona in your hands.  Your wife, Emilia, can be her companion.  Bring them at the best time.  Come, Desi, we’ve got an hour before I have to leave.  (Othello and Desdemona leave.)

Roderigo: Iago, I feel like killing myself.

Iago: Don’t be an ass.

Roderigo: I can’t live without her.

Iago: Bullshit.  You’d kill yourself over a woman?  Hmf!  I’d sooner change places with a baboon.

Roderigo: What can I do?  I can’t help the way I feel.  I can’t change that.

Iago: Dude, listen.  It’s all in the mind.  It’s all about will.  Why do we have brains?  To reason with.  Not to let ourselves get whipped around by emotions.  Now, you get your head together and be a man.  I’m your friend, right?  Now, take it from me: this marriage won’t last.  They did it on the spur of the moment, and it’ll break up just as suddenly.  These Moors are impulsive.  He’ll get fed up with her.  And she’ll realize she made a mistake, too.  You just be patient for a while, and you’ll have her back.

Roderigo: Will you help me with this?

Iago: Of course, I’ll help you.  I hate the Moor, too.  There’s nothing I’d like better than to see you end up with Desdemona.  Don’t worry.  I can see it all working out for you.  Now, try to relax and get a good night’s sleep.  We’ll talk again tomorrow.

Roderigo: Thanks, Iago.  You’re a true friend.  (He leaves.)

Iago: There goes another dupe.  I could make a good living off all the suckers in the world.  Roderigo is someone I can use against the Moor.  I really hate that darkie.  I’ve even heard rumors that he’s been fucking my wife.  Maybe he has, and maybe he hasn’t.  I don’t know.  But if there are rumors, I’m going to assume that they’re true.  So that’s another reason to nail the bastard.  The Moor trusts me completely.  That’s the big advantage I have over him.  So the idea now is to get Cassio and the Moor both, and to do it in such a way that I look like a fucking saint….Hmm….Let’s see….I’ve got it.  I’ll tell Othello that Cassio has been getting too familiar with Desdemona.  That’s plausible.  Cassio’s a handsome guy.  Women go for him.  Othello would believe anything I told him.  I’d have to play him the right way, but I can do that.  For a guy who’s been in wars, he can be pretty naive about people.

    (Iago leaves.)

Act 2, Scene 1.  A seaport in Cyprus.  An open place near the harbor.  Montano, the Governor of Cyprus, is with two Gentlemen.

Montano: What a hell of a storm that was.  It was bad enough on land.  I can’t imagine what it was like at sea.

First Gentleman: It’s still rough out there.  I can’t even see a sail.

Second Gentleman: I wonder if there’s anything left of the Turkish fleet.

    (A third Gentleman arrives.)

Third Gentleman: Guess what.  The Turkish fleet has turned back.  The storm was too much for them.

Montano: How did you find out?

Third Gentleman: We heard it from a ship that just arrived from Venice.  Michael Cassio, Othello’s lieutenant, was on it.  Othello’s still at sea, but he should be here soon.

Montano: I hope so.

Third Gentleman: Cassio said it was pretty bad out there.  He’s worried about Othello.  Their ships got separated.

    (Cassio arrives.)

Cassio: There’s no sign of Othello’s ship yet.

Montano: I hope he’s got a rugged ship.

Cassio: Yeah, it’s a good ship.  And he’s got a good pilot.  Let’s hope he’s okay.

    (A messenger arrives.)

Messenger: There’s a sail on the horizon!

Cassio (to Second Gentleman): Maybe that’s him.  Want to go check?

Second Gentleman: Sure.  (He leaves.)

Montano: Tell me, Lieutenant.  Is your general married?

Cassio: Oh, yes.  A lovely lady — Senator Brabantio’s daughter, Desdemona.

    (Second Gentleman returns.)

Second Gentleman: It’s Iago’s ship.  The general’s ancient.

Cassio: Desdemona’s on that ship.  You see?  She’s so beautiful, even the elements calmed down to let her pass safely.  Oh!  I think I see them coming.

    (Desdemona, Iago, Roderigo, and Emilia, with attendants, come in.)

Cassio: Ah, Desdemona!  Now all the men of Cyprus have a proper goddess to worship!

Desdemona: Oh, you flatterer, ha, ha!  So where is my husband?

Cassio: We’re still waiting for him.

Desdemona: Oh, my goodness!  He’s not here yet?  You didn’t see his ship?

Cassio: We got separated.

    (Distant cries of “A sail!  A sail!”  A shot is heard.)

Second Gentleman: That’s a signal shot.  It’s a friendly ship.

Cassio: Would you check it out?  (Second Gentleman leaves.)  Iago, good to see you!  You won’t mind if I give your wife a kiss.  (He kisses Emilia.)  You look great, Emilia.

Iago: She’s on her best behavior now, ha, ha.  Believe me, you don’t want to see her other side.

Emilia: Don’t listen to him.  He loves to tease me.

Desdemona: Oh, Iago, what a thing to say!  What does a woman have to do to earn your praise?

Iago: Keep the kids quiet and make sure there’s plenty of beer in the cooler.

Desdemona: Oh, you cynic.  Don’t take him seriously, Emilia.  What do you think, Cassio?

Cassio: Well, he has a point, although I think you’ll appreciate him more as a soldier than a philosopher.  (He takes Desdemona’s hand in a friendly way.)

Iago (Aside): Oh, catch that little move?  Holding her hand.  Smiling at her.  That’s right.  Go on.  The fly has found his way to the web.  (Cassio kisses Desdemona’s hand.)  Oh, isn’t he gallant?  Isn’t he suave?  (A trumpet sounds.)  That’s the general!  That’s his trumpet!

    (Othello arrives with his attendants.)

Othello: Desi, darling!

Desdemona: Dear Othello!  (They kiss.)

Iago (Aside): Happy now….Not so happy later.

Othello: It’s all good news, my friends.  No more threat from the Turks.  No war.  Let’s head to the castle.  Iago, go unload my baggage and bring the captain to the citadel.  I’m going to break out the good stuff for him.  He deserves it after bringing me through that storm.

    (All leave except Iago and Roderigo.)

Iago: Listen, Roddy.  Desdemona’s in love with Cassio.

Roderigo: No way.

Iago: Oh, yes.  She has a wandering eye.  She likes a good-looking man.  The Moor is nothing to look at.  She’s going to lose interest in him pretty soon.  But Cassio’s her type.  Of course, he’s totally superficial.  He just wants to get his rocks off.  He’s only out to use her.  But she doesn’t realize it.

Desdemona: She wouldn’t fall for a guy like that.

Iago: Sure, she would.  She’s mistake-prone when it comes to men.  She married the Moor, didn’t she?  That proves it.  Didn’t you see the way she let Cassio hold her hand?

Roderigo: Oh, that was nothing.

Iago: Don’t kid yourself.  I could see what he was thinking.  It was written all over him.  He wanted to fuck her so bad.  And she was falling for him.  Now listen.  We’re going to get him out of the way tonight, before he goes  on guard duty.  He doesn’t really know you.  I’ll give you a signal, and you’ll do something to provoke him.  Let him hit you.  Then he’ll be in trouble.

Roderigo: Well…okay…I’ll try, assuming I have the opportunity.

Iago: You will.  Trust me.  Meet me at the citadel.  I have to go unload the general’s stuff now.  I’ll see you later.

Roderigo: Okay, later, bro.  (Roderigo leaves.)

Iago: Cassio obviously likes Desdemona, and she likes him, too.  I’ll make the Moor think she loves Cassio.  He’ll be jealous as hell.  When Roddy provokes Cassio, I’ll report it to the Moor in such a way that it looks like Cassio’s fault.  The Moor will be so grateful to me.  After that…well, things should unfold the way I want them to.

    (He leaves.)

Act 2, Scene 2.  Before Othello’s castle in Cyprus.  Othello’s Herald comes in and faces an assembled crowd.  The Herald reads a proclamation.

Herald: Hear ye!  Hear ye!….Whatever…By order of Othello, our general, there shall be a celebration all over the island to celebrate the end of the Turkish threat, as well as the general’s recent marriage.  All bars can stay open all night.  There shall be bonfires, singing, dancing, feasting, general merriment, and a wet t-shirt contest.  Noise by-laws will not be enforced.  Traffic will be diverted away from the downtown core.  School is out for tomorrow.  Banks will be closed.  Government services will be closed, including garbage collection and mail delivery.  The stock exchange will be closed.  Tomorrow will not be a settlement day for stock and option trades.  God bless the island of Cyprus and our noble general, Othello.  That is all.

    (General cheering as the Herald leaves.)

Act 2, Scene 3.  Within the castle.  Othello, Desdemona, Cassio, and attendants come in.

Othello: Michael, you’re in charge of the guard tonight.

Cassio: Iago has instructions what to do, but I’ll keep an eye on things.

Othello: He’s a good man.  Come and see me early tomorrow.  Now, Desi, let’s try out the water bed.–Good night.

    (All leave except Cassio.  Then Iago comes in.)

Cassio: Hey, bro.  We’re on the watch tonight.

Iago: It’s still early.  It’s not even ten.  The general’s going to bed early for a long night of Moorish fucking.  He’s going to give his wife some black love, right?  (Nudges Cassio in the ribs.)  She’s going to ride on that big horse cock of his.  Eh?  Eh?  (Another nudge.)

Cassio: She’s quite lovely.

Iago: I’ll bet her pussy could swallow the biggest sausage in Venice.  Eh?  Eh?  (Nudge.)

Cassio: I think she’s sweet and delicate.

Iago: She just oozes sex waves, doncha think?  And her lips were made for sucking.  Eh?  Eh?  (Nudge.)

Cassio: She’s attractive but modest as well.

Iago: Doesn’t she just make you want to rip her clothes off and slip her the pork sword while you stuff her tits in your mouth?  Eh?  Eh?  (Nudge.)

Cassio: I would say she is without a flaw.

Iago: Yeah….Right….Okay, well, good fucking to them both.  Hey, I’ve got a big bottle of wine, and there are some local guys I want you to meet.  We can drink to the good health of our favorite Moor.

Cassio: I really shouldn’t.  Wine goes to my head.

Iago: Aw, come on.  One cup won’t hurt.  Just to be social.  You’ll like these guys.  They’re cool.

Cassio: I had a cup earlier, and I’m still feeling it.  I’d better not have any more.

Iago: But we’re celebrating.  And the guys want us to join them.

Cassio: Where are they?

Iago: They’re in the foyer.  Go on, bring them up.

Cassio: Oh, well…if you insist.  (Cassio leaves.)

Iago: All I have to do is ply him with a little more wine, and he’ll be on a hair-trigger.  Roderigo is already drunk, and he’s got Desdemona on the brain.  He’ll be waiting for my signal.  The Cyprus guys are already a bit drunk, too.  The idea is to get Cassio to offend the Cyprus guys so he gets fired.

    (Cassio, Montano, and Gentlemen come in, followed by a servant with wine.)

Cassio: Oh, man, they’re already making me drink wine.

Iago: Hey, it’s a party!  Have a good time!  Let’s drink!

Cassio: To the health of our general.

Montano: I’ll drink to that.

Iago (Sings or recites, with the accent of Norfolk on the second syllable — i.e., nor-FOLK):

    Here’s to the good girls of Norfolk,

    Let’s hear it for Norfolk,

    They don’t drink, they don’t smoke,

    Norfolk, Norfolk, Norfolk!

Montano: Rock on, dude!

Cassio: That’s my limit, guys.  Not another drop.  Duty calls, and I have to go.  (He leaves.)

Iago: I think the lieutenant has had too much to drink.  Othello had better not catch him like that.

Montano: Oh?  Does he get this way a lot?

Iago: Way too much.

Montano: In that case, you’d be doing the general a favor to tell him.

    (Roderigo comes in.)

Iago (Aside to Roderigo): There goes Cassio.  Go after him.  (Roderigo leaves.)

Montano: I say, don’t you think you should tell the general about the lieutenant’s drinking problem?

Iago: I just couldn’t do that to a friend.  I’d rather help him overcome his degenerate vice.

    (Shouts of “Help! Help!”  Cassio comes in, chasing Roderigo.)

Cassio: You piece of shit!

Montano: Lieutenant!  What’s the matter?

Cassio: This asshole called me a fairy!  I’ll punch his lights out!

Roderigo: You wouldn’t dare!

Cassio: Oh, wouldn’t I!  (Punches Roderigo.)

Montano: Stop!  (Grabs Cassio’s arm.)

Cassio: Let go or I’ll punch you, too!

Montano: You’re drunk!

Cassio: Drunk, am I?  Fuck you!  (Punches Montano, and they fight.)

Iago (Aside to Roderigo): Good job!  Now run out and shout that there’s a mutiny.  (Roderigo runs out.  Shouts of “Mutiny!  Mutiny!”)  Stop this fighting!  Stop it, both of you!  (To others)  Help me pull these guys apart.

    (The combatants are separated as Othello comes in with attendants.)

Othello: What the hell’s going on here?

Montano: Your lieutenant punched me!

Othello: What started this?  This is a disgrace!  Iago, what happened here?

Iago: I really don’t know.  Everyone was having a good time.  And then somebody said something — I don’t know what — and then a fight broke out.  The whole thing is stupid.

Othello: Michael, I can’t believe this.  Can you explain it?

Cassio: No….Sorry….I just can’t speak.

Othello: Montano.  Really.  A man of your position.  To get into a fight like some sort of white trash.

Montano: General, I didn’t do anything wrong to anybody, and Iago will tell you so.

Othello: Iago, who started it?

Iago: Well…I…I really hate to tell you….I hate to hurt a fellow officer like Michael Cassio, who is my friend.  But he came in chasing after this fellow, and he hit him.  And when Signior Montano tried to intervene, Michael hit him, too.  Probably the other fellow said something to offend Cassio.  I don’t know. 

Othello: Well, it’s very noble of you to stand by your friend, but I can’t tolerate this kind of misconduct among my officers.  Michael, you’re no longer my lieutenant.  I’m very disappointed in you.  Montano, my attendants will take care of that lump on your head.–Guys, take the governor to the doctor.  (Montano is escorted out by some attendants.  Then Desdemona comes in.)

Desdemona: I heard a commotion.  What happened?

Othello: It’s nothing, my dear.  Just a very small quarrel, that’s all.  I’ll tell you later.  (To Iago) Keep a lid on this, okay?  Anybody asks, just make up some bullshit. 

    (All leave, except Iago and Cassio.)

Iago: Are you hurt, Michael?

Cassio: Just my reputation.

Iago: Aw, don’t worry.  The general only fired you for the sake of appearances because you hit the governor.  He still likes you.  If you talk to him, I think he’ll reinstate you.

Cassio: I can’t do that.  I feel too humiliated. 

Iago: Aw, buck up.  It was just a little mistake on your part.  It’ll all blow over.  Look, I have an idea.  Why don’t you ask Desdemona to put in a good word for you to the general?  She likes you.  She’d do that much for you.

Cassio: Well, I guess that’s not a bad idea.  Okay, I’ll go see her first thing in the morning.

Iago: Atta boy!  That’s the spirit!  Now, why don’t you hit the sack and let me take care of the watch for you. 

Cassio: You’re a real pal, Iago.  I appreciate it.  Thanks.  (He leaves.) 

Iago: Okay, the wheels are turning.  My wife, Emilia, is Desdemona’s companion.  So now I get Emilia to prime Desdemona to receive Cassio in a nice, friendly way.  After that, I make Othello believe that Cassio and Desdemona are more than just friends.  Gee, I so much enjoy manipulating people!

    (He leaves.)

Act 3, Scene 1.  This scene is deleted.

Act 3, Scene 2.  This scene is deleted.

Act 3, Scene 3.  The garden of the castle.  Desdemona, Cassio, and Emilia come in.

Desdemona: I’ll do everything I can for you, Cassio.

Emilia: Oh, I hope you can.  It means as much to Iago as it does to Cassio.

Desdemona: Iago’s so good, isn’t he?  Don’t worry, Cassio.  Everything will be okay again between you and my husband.  Of course, you did offend the governor, so it won’t be so easy.  But I’ll keep after him until he gives in.

Emilia: Oh, I think I see him coming.

Cassio: I’d better leave.  I’m still too embarrassed to face him.

    (Cassio leaves.  Then Othello and Iago come in.)

Iago: Oh, well, well!

Othello: What?

Iago: Oh, nothing.

Othello: Was that Cassio I just saw leaving?

Iago: Huh?  Cassio?  Naw, it couldn’t be.  Cassio wouldn’t slink away with such a guilty look on his face just because he saw you coming.

Othello: Gee, that’s funny.  I could’ve sworn–

Desdemona: Oh, here you are, my dear.  I was just talking with your lieutenant.  He feel so bad about being fired.  He thinks the world of you.  I’d be so happy if you’ve give him another chance.

Othello: Was that him I just saw leaving?

Desdemona: Yes.  He’s still embarrassed, the poor fellow.  You should call him back.

Othello: Not now.  Maybe later.

Desdemona: How about inviting him to supper?

Othello: Not tonight. I have a meeting with my staff at the citadel.

Desdemona: Well, then, how about tomorrow night?  Or Tuesday, or Wednesday?  You can’t be that busy.

Othello: Don’t bug me about it.  If he wants to talk to me, let him come and see me.

Desdemona: All right, then.  Come on, Emilia.  Let’s go play some euchre.

    (Desdemona and Emilia leave.)

Othello: That woman!  When she gets her mind set on something, she doesn’t let go.  And she usually gets what she wants from me.

Iago: Say, General, when you were courting Desdemona, did Cassio know?

Othello: Of course.  He was in my confidence the whole time.

Iago: Ah.  Really?   And I didn’t think he knew her at all.

Othello: What are you driving at?

Iago: Well…General…I really shouldn’t be saying anything.  I don’t want you to be hurt.

Othello: Wait a minute now.  A disloyal rat would drop insinuations because that’s the sort of thing a rat does.  But you’re not like that.  You’re always honest and loyal to me.  If there’s something I ought to know, spit it out.

Iago: I’m afraid if I told you, you’d be jealous as hell.

Othello: You mean about Desdemona and other men?  Bah!  Come on!  She’s the outgoing type, that’s all.

Iago: Of course, I don’t have any proof of anything, but I’d keep an eye on your wife and Cassio if I were you.  After all, she deceived her father before she married you.  He was so much in the dark he thought you must have used witchcraft on her.  I’m sorry.  I’m only telling you this out of loyalty.

Othello: I’d never question your loyalty.

Iago: I hope I’m wrong about all this.  You know Cassio’s my friend.  I’d sooner have my arms and legs ripped off than slander him, even by accident.

Othello: I don’t think Desdemona’s messing around with Cassio or anyone else.

Iago: Let’s hope not.

Othello: On the other hand, she did marry outside of her own people when she married me, if you know what I mean.

Iago: I certainly do.  And maybe she’s having second thoughts about that.  After all, Cassio’s a handsome guy, and he’s one of her people.

Othello: Look, let’s just drop it, okay?  If you find out anything specific, let me know.   And that includes anything you find out from your wife.  Leave me be for now.

Iago: Yes, General.  Goodbye.  (Iago leaves.)

Othello: Why did I marry that woman?  Iago knows more than he’s telling me.

    (Iago returns.)

Iago: Just another thought, General.  Put Cassio off for a while and see what happens.  See how hard your wife pushes you to rehire him.  That may tell you something.  In the meantime, I’ll assume for everybody’s sake that it’s just my over-active imagination.

Othello: Yes, yes.  I’ll do what you suggest.  Thanks.  (Iago leaves.)  What an honest guy!  And he really knows people.  If Desdemona has been messing around, I’m through with her.  Fucking hell!  Marriage can be a bigger curse for men of power and responsibility than for ordinary people.

    (Desdemona and Emilia come in.)

Desdemona: Your dinner guests are waiting for you.

Othello: Sorry, I forgot.  I have a headache.  Right there.  (Points to forehead.)

Desdemona: That’s from not getting enough sleep.  Let me wrap my handkerchief around it.

Othello: Forget that.  I’ll take a pill.  (Handkerchief drops to the floor.)  Let’s go.

    (Othello and Desdemona leave.)

Emilia: Oh!  I’d better save this.  (Picks up handkerchief.)  It was the first gift she ever got from Othello.  Iago keeps begging me to steal it.  I don’t know why.  Maybe he likes the design.  I’ll have a duplicate made for him.

    (Iago comes in.)

Emilia: Look what I have for you.  Desdemona’s handkerchief.  She dropped it, and I picked it up.

Iago: Oh!  Fabulous!   Good work!  Give it to me!

Emilia: What do you want it for?

Iago: Never mind.  (He snatches it.)

Emilia: Hey!  She’s going to want that back!

Iago: You never saw it, understand?  I need it.  Now scram.  (Emilia leaves.)  I’ve got plans for this little item.  I’ll drop it in Cassio’s room, and he’ll conveniently find it.  He won’t realize how incriminating it is.  This will prove to Othello that Cassio and Desdemona have been having an affair.  In fact, here comes the big man now.

    (Othello comes in.)

Othello: Hey, you know, I was a happily married guy until you put the idea in my head that my wife might be messing around on me.  And you’re going to damned sorry about that if you don’t have some proof to back it up.

Iago: Oh!  General!  Is this what I get for being so loyal and honest?  Next time I’ll keep my mouth shut, no matter what goes on behind your back.

Othello: Oh, hell, I didn’t mean it like that.  It’s just that you’ve got me upset about it, and I need some proof.

Iago: I’m sorry that you’re upset.  What would it take to convince you?  Do you have to catch her in the act?

Othello: Oh, goddamn!

Iago: Because that’s not likely to happen, right?  But if you want circumstantial evidence — and I mean clear-cut, obvious circumstantial evidence — I have that.

Othello: Okay, tell me.

Iago: Well, the other night I was staying over at Cassio’s, and we had to share the same bed — which of course is perfectly normal for soldiers, right?  Okay, so it turns out the guy talks in his sleep.  And what do you think he was saying?  He was saying, “Oh, Desdemona, I love you so much.  I want to fuck you again.”  And he said, “We can’t let your husband find out.”  And he said, “Get on top and hump my face so I can eat you from underneath.”

Othello: Oh, fucking hell!

Iago: Of course, he was only dreaming.

Othello: Yeah, dreaming!  But dreaming of what?  Of something that happened!  I’ll tear that bitch to pieces!

Iago: No, no, don’t do that.  You can’t be a hundred percent sure until you see something with your own eyes.  Say, doesn’t your wife carry a handkerchief with a strawberry design on it?

Othello: Yes.  That was the first gift I ever gave her.

Iago: Really!   I didn’t know that.  Jeez, I could swear I saw Cassio wipe his face with it today.

Othello: Oh, shit, that settles it!  Now I see it all!  I’ll kill that son of a bitch!  I’ll kill them both!  (He covers his face, overcome with emotion.  Iago puts a hand on his shoulder in consolation.)

Iago: I feel your pain, General.  You’ve been so wronged.  Tell me what you want me to do, and I’ll do it.

Othello: You’re my best friend, Iago.  You’ll do me one favor, won’t you?  You’ll kill Cassio.  I want that bastard dead within three days.

Iago: I’ll do it.  But let your wife live.

Othello: That bitch!  I’ll take care of her in my own way.  Iago, as of now you’re my lieutenant.

Iago: You won’t be sorry, General.  I’ll be the best lieutenant you could ever have.

    (They leave.)

Act 3, Scene 4.  Before the castle.  Desdemona and Emilia come in.

Desdemona: Where the hell did I lose that handkerchief?

Emilia: I don’t know.

Desdemona: Damn!  That’s the last thing I’d want to lose.  You know, it’s a good think my husband isn’t the jealous type, or he might get the wrong idea.

    (Othello comes in.)

Othello: Oh, there you are.

Desdemona: I’m glad you’re here.  You said Cassio could see you whenever he wanted, right?  So I sent word to him to come.

Othello: Oh, hell, not now.  I have such a head cold.  Lend me your handkerchief, will you.

Desdemona: I have this one.  (Offers a handkerchief.)

Othello: Where’s the other one — the one I gave you as a present?

Desdemona: I can’t find it.  I don’t know what happened to it.

Othello: That was a precious heirloom.  It was made by a two-hundred-year-old witch.  It had magical powers.  You can’t lose it!

Desdemona: I didn’t say I lost it.  I just can’t find it.

Othello: Well, go look for it now.  I want to see it.

Desdemona: Why are you making a big deal about it?  You don’t want to speak to Cassio.  That’s it, isn’t it?

Othello: Find that hanky now!

Desdemona: But I wanted to talk to you about Cassio.  He’s always been such a good–

Othello: Fuck Cassio!  I want to see that hanky!

Desdemona: I don’t believe this.

Othello: God damn it!  (He leaves angrily.)

Emilia: And he’s not the jealous type.  Right.

Desdemona: I’ve never seen him like this before.  I don’t understand.

Emilia: Take it from me.  It takes a lot longer than you’ve been married to see all the sides of a man.  They chew us up and spit us out….Oh, there’s my husband and Cassio.

    (Iago and Cassio come in.)

Iago (to Cassio): Go on.  Ask her.

Cassio: Madam, I’m begging you.  Please.  Ask your husband to take me back.  I can’t bear this waiting.

Desdemona: Oh, Cassio, I can’t right now.  I tried to speak to him, but he’s in such a bad mood.  Try to be patient.

Iago: Oh, is the general angry?

Emilia: He was in a foul mood.  He just left.

Iago: I can’t imagine why.  But it must be something serious.  I’ll go talk to him.

Desdemona: I wish you would.  (Iago leaves.)  Maybe it was some news from Venice that upset him, or something here in Cyprus.  There’s probably some reasonable explanation.

Emilia: Of course.  It’s something like that.  Some political problem.  Nothing to do with you.

Desdemona: Of course, not.  After all, I’ve never given him any rason to be jealous.

Emilia: Ah, madam….Jealous people don’t need a reason.  Jealousy just sort of feeds on itself.

Desdemona: Well, let’s hope that’s not what’s happening.  Cassio, you wait here.  I’ll try to speak to him for you.  Maybe I can bring him back.

Cassio: Thanks.  I’ll wait.

    (Desdemona and Emilia leave.  Then Cassio’s mistress, Bianca, comes in.)

Bianca: Swetheart!  I’ve missed you!

Cassio: I was on my way to see you, actually.

Bianca: And I was on my way to your place.  Hey, this girl has been horny without you.

Cassio: I’m sorry, babe.  I’ve had things on my mind.  But I’ll make it up to you.  Oh, before I forget….(Takes out Desdemona’s handkerchief.)  You’re good with embroidery.  Could you make me a copy of this? 

Bianca: Where did you get this?  From some other girl, I suppose.  That’s why I haven’t seen you for over a week.

Cassio: No, no, I swear!  How could you ever think such a thing?

Bianca: Whose is it, then?

Cassio: I don’t know.  I just found it in my room.  It’s awfully nice.  But I can’t keep it, because somebody will be wanting it back.  I thought you’d make a copy for me before I have to return it.  So why don’t you just take it with you and go, okay?

Bianca: You want me to go?

Cassio: You can’t stay here.  I’m waiting for the general.  I don’t want him to see me with you.

Bianca: Oh, so you don’t love me.

Cassio: Of course, I do.

Bianca: Then promise you’ll see me soon.

Cassio: Yes, I promise.

Bianca: At lease walk me to the corner like a good boyfriend.

Cassio: Okay, but only to the corner.  I have to be here when the general shows up.

Bianca: I have some crotchless panties to wear for you.

Cassio: Great.  Fine.  Whatever.

    (They leave.)

Act 4, Scene 1.  Othello and Iago are in front of the castle.

Othello: So that bastard Cassio had my handkerchief, did he?  That’s bad.

Iago: What if I told you he talked about fucking your wife?

Othello: Are you shitting me?

Iago: No.  But, of course, he’ll deny it.

Othello: I can’t take this!…I…I feel…faint…(He faints.  Just then, Cassio comes in.)

Cassio: What happened to the general?

Iago: He’s had a seizure.  Don’t worry.  He’ll come out of it.  Listen, maybe you shouldn’t be here when he wakes up.  I’ll get him on his way, and you come back in a few minutes.

Cassio: Okay, if you think that’s best.  (Cassio leaves.)

Othello (Waking up): Cassio…Cassio….He told you he fucked my wife?

Iago: Take it easy, General.  Cassio was just here, but I got rid of him.  Listen, he’s coming back in a couple of minutes.  This is what we’ll do.  You’ll hide and listen in on our conversation.  I’ll get him to tell me about your wife.  Just don’t do anything for now, okay?  Just hold your temper.

Othello: All right, I will.  But later he’s a dead man.

Iago: Whatever you say.  Now just go and hide.  (Othello leaves.)  Excellent.  When Cassio comes back, I’ll get him to talk about that whore girlfriend of his, Bianca, and Othello will think he’s talking about Desdemona.  (Cassio returns.)  Ah, Lieutenant.  You’re back.

Cassio: Lieutenant.  Huh, I wish.  If only I could get my job back.

Iago (In a low voice): Keep leaning on Desdemona, and you’ll get your wish.  Of course, if it were in Bianca’s hands, you’d get your old job back like that (Snaps fingers).

Cassio: Ha!  She’d really do a job on the general!

Othello (From concealment): Laughing at me, is he?

Iago (Back to normal voice): I never knew a woman who loved a man as much as she loves you.

Cassio: Yeah, I think she really does love me.

Iago: She’s told some people that you’re going to marry her.  Are you?

Cassio: Are you kidding?  That’s a laugh!  Oh, I like her well enough, but it’s just for sport.  I never promised her anything.  She was here a little while ago.  She follows me around like a puppy.  I was on the beach with some guys from Venice, and that hot little pussy comes along and throws her arms around me.  What an embarrassment!  I ought to dump that whore, except that she’s such a good fuck.

    (Bianca comes in.)

Iago: Speaking of which.

Cassio: Are you back again?

Bianca: Oh, fuck off.  What was the big idea of giving me that handkerchief?  You say you want me to copy it.  Some nerve!  You expect me to believe that you just happened to find it in your room, and you have no idea whose it is!  Here!  Take it back.  I’m not making a copy.  Give it back to your….girlfriend!

Cassio: Aw, come on, Bianca, sweetie-pie, honey-bun. baby-doll.  Don’t be like that.

Othello: Fuck me.  That looks like my handkerchief.

Bianca: If you don’t show up for dinner tonight, don’t bother coming over ever again!  (She leaves.)

Iago: Go after her.

Cassio: Yeah, guess I’d better, or she’ll be cursing me out loud on the street for everyone to hear.

Iago: Are you going to her place for dinner?

Cassio: Yeah, I suppose so.

Iago: Well, I might pass by and have a word with you.

Cassio: Okay, then.  Later.  (He leaves.  Then Othello comes out of hiding.)

Othello: That was my handkerchief, wasn’t it?

Iago: Yup.  You saw it.

Othello: What’s the best way for me to murder that asshole?

Iago: I know what you mean.  You see what he really things of your wife?  She gives him that lovely hanky, which was your present, and he gives it to that ho, Bianca.

Othello: What an insult to my wife!

Iago: Forget her.

Othello: You’re right.  Let her rot in hell.  And I thought she was the most wonderful woman in the world.  I believed in her.  That makes it a thousand times harder to take this shit.  But to take revenge on her….I so much hate to do it, Iago.

Iago: Well, if you don’t mind her fucking other men, tell her she can.  Otherwise–

Othello: Oh, god damn it!  I’ll tear her to pieces!  No, I’ll use poison.  Iago, can you get me some poison?

Iago: Don’t use poison.  Strangle her.  It’s more direct.  It’s more honorable.

Othello: Yes….Yes….

Iago: As for Cassio, leave him to me.  I’ll do it tonight.

Othello: Good.  (A trumpet is heard.)  What trumpet is that?

Iago: That’s from Venice, if I’m not mistaken.

    (Lodovico, Desdemona, and attendants come in.)

Lodovico: Hey, how’s it going, guys?  You have regards from the Duke and all the senators.  And, General, here’s a letter for you.  (Othello opens the letter and begins reading.)  How’s Lieutenant Cassio?

Iago: He’s alive.

Desdemona: Cousin, I’m afraid there’s been a bit of a falling out between Cassio and my husband.  Maybe you can patch it up.

Othello: Don’t count on it.

Desdemona: Oh?

Othello (Reading): “You are hereby instructed to…”  (Mumbles.)

Lodovico: This is news to me.  What’s wrong?

Desdemona: It’s an unhappy situation.  I’ve been trying to fix it for poor Cassio.  I care for the guy.

Othello (Mumbles, finishes letter): Goddamn fucking hell! 

Desdemona: Uh, oh.

Lodovico: I think he’s being recalled to Venice, and Cassio will be left in command here.

Desdemona: Oh, that’s such a relief!

Othello: Is it now?

Desdemona: What do you mean?

Othello: Bitch!  (He slaps her.  Desdemona cries.)

Lodovico: General!  I can’t believe what I just saw!  Tell you you’re sorry.  She’s crying.

Othello: Don’t pay any attention to her phony tears.  (To Desdemona)  Get out of my sight!  (Desdemona leaves crying.)

Lodovico: Oh, General!  This is cruel!

Othello: Forget her.  As for this (Indicates letter), they want me back in Venice.  Cassio is to be in command here.  Shit.  But orders and orders.  You’ll have dinner at my place tonight, Lodovico.  Welcome to Cyprus — island of goats and monkeys.  (Othello leaves angrily.)

Lodovico: What the fuck?  This is our great commander?  This is the pride of Venice?

Iago: He’s changed.

Lodovico: He must be out of his mind.  Did you see how he hit his wife — my cousin?

Iago: I think there’s worse to come.

Lodovico: What’s his problem?  Is he overworked?  Or did the letter piss him off?

Iago: I’m afraid I can’t tell you everything I know.  That would be indiscreet for an officer.  But just watch him and judge for yourself.

Lodovico: This is a shock to me.

    (They leave.)

Act 4, Scene 2.  Within the castle.  Othello and Emilia come in.

Othello: You’re supposed to be my wife’s companion.  Surely you’ve seen something going on between her and Cassio.

Emilia: No.  Absolutely nothing.

Othello: She never asked you to leave so they could be alone?

Emilia: Never.  They’ve always been totally proper.  If you think something’s going on, then somebody has been feeding you lies.

Othello: Tell her I want to see her.  (Emilia leaves.)  Emilia’s covering up for her.  Gotta be.  She’s probably been helping them all along.  (Desdemona and Emila come in.  To Emilia)  Okay, leave us.  (Emilia leaves.)  I want to hear you swear to God you’ve been faithful to me.

Desdemona: Of course, I have.

Othello: Don’t bullshit me, you liar!  I could’ve taken any other sort of misery but this. 

Desdemona: What the hell have I done?

Othello: You’re a whore!

Desdemona: I’m no such thing!

Othello: The clever whore of Venice who married Othello.  What Saint Peter is to heaven, you are to hell — the doorkeeper!  (Emilia comes in.)  And you keep your mouth shut about all this, Emilia!  (Othello leaves.)

Emilia: What’s the matter with him?

Desdemona: I have no husband any more.  I’m just totally numb.  I need to speak to Iago.

    (Emilia leaves and returns with Iago.)

Iago: How are you, madam?

Desdemona: Iago, am I a whore?

Emilia: The general called her a whore.

Iago: No!  Why would he say that?

Desdemona: I have no idea.

Iago: What a jerk!  What started all this?

Desdemona: God only knows.

Emilia: Some fucking asshole has been spreading lies.  Somebody who’s out to get something for himself.  That’s what I think.

Iago: That’s incredible!  No one could be that evil.

Emilia: Whoever he is, he deserves to hang!  Calling her a whore.  When?  With who?  Whoever that bastard is deserves to be skinned alive!  He should have his balls cut off!

Iago: Please, not so loud.

Emilia: I don’t give a fuck if I’m loud!  Imagine if some lying piece of shit turned your brain inside out and made you think I was fucking the general!

Iago: Quiet!  Don’t be stupid!

Desdemona: Iago, you’ve got to help me get him back.  Please!  You’e my friend.  Go talk to him.  I still love him, even after what he said.

Iago: Yes, yes, it’ll be all right.  Don’t be upset.  It’s just a passing mood.  The pressure of the job.  State business.  That sort of thing.  (Trumpets are heard.)  That’s the call to dinner.  The general’s having the VIP’s from Venice as his guests.  You don’t want them to see you crying.

    (Desdemona and Emilia leave.  Then Roderigo comes in.)

Iago: Wassup, man?

Roderigo: I’m getting fed up with you blowing me off day after day.  You told me I’d get Desdemona back, and what have you done for me?  Nothing.  I’m not taking this shit any more.

Iago: Roddy, I promised you–

Roderigo: Fuck your promises!  You told me to send her presents, and I spent all my money on jewelry, which you said you delivered.  And you said she was happy to get it.  And so?

Iago: Yeah, and so?

Roderigo: Well, I think you’ve been jerking me around, and I don’t like it!

Iago: Fine.  Whatever.

Roderigo: Well, I’ll just go straight to Desdemona myself.  If she wants to give me back my presents, I’ll forget the whole business and not bother her any more.  If she doesn’t give them back, I’ll take it out on you!

Iago: That’s the spirit!  You know, from now on I like you even better.  I don’t blame you for being pissed off with me.  But the fact is, I’ve been taking care of things for you.

Roderigo: It sure doesn’t look that way to me.

Iago: I know.  Maybe it doesn’t look that way.  But listen.  Roddy.  Dude.  If you’re the man I think you are — and I mean a man with balls — you’re going to get your chance to prove it tonight.  And if you don’t have Desdemona in your arms by tomorrow night, you can cut my heart out with a knife, if you want to.  You can throw me off a cliff.  You can set wild dogs on me.  You can force me to read Canadian poetry magazines. 

Roderigo: All right, all right.  What’s your plan?

Iago: In a minute.  But first I’ve got some news that affects you.  Some officials are here from Venice.  They’re going to install Cassio in command here in Cyprus.

Roderigo: So, then, Othello and Desdemona are going back to Venice?

Iago: Not quite.  He’s being reassigned to Mauritania.  She’ll be going with him, of course.

Roderigo: Mauritania?  Fucking Mauritania?  Are you shitting me?  Holy fuck!  I’ll never see her again!

Iago: That’s right.  Unless…something happens that prevents him from leaving Cyprus.  Like, for instance, if Cassio were to have a, uh…somewhat fatal accident.

Roderigo: A fatal accident.  And I’m going to be the fatal accident.  Is that it?

Iago: Exactly.  Cassio will be at his girlfriend’s place for dinner tonight.  He’ll be leaving her place probably between midnight and one o’clock.  You lie in wait for him and then…you know…do what you have to do.  I’ll be there, too, to back you up, if necessary.  Come one.  Let’s walk.

    (They leave.)

Act 4, Scene 3.  Another room in the castle.  Othello, Lodovico, Desdemona, Emilia, and attendants come in.

Othello: Desi, I’m going to walk with Lodovico a bit.  You get to bed.  I’ll be back in a little while.  (Othello, Lodovico, and attendants leave.)

Emilia: I’ve laid out your night things.  And I put your wedding sheets on your bed, as you asked.

Desdemona: If I die tonight, wrap me in one of them.

Emilia: Oh, don’t say that!

    (Emilia and Desdemona leave.)

Act 5. Scene 1.  A street at night.  Iago and Roderigo come in.

Iago: You hide in this recess.  He’ll be coming this way.  Make sure you shove the sword in good.  I’ll be nearby.

Roderigo: Stay close in case I miss.

Iago: Two steps away, bro.  Now get focused and just do it.  (Iago goes a short distance away and conceals himself.)

Roderigo (Aside): I don’t know if I’m really up for this.  But after what he told me, I don’t have any choice.

Iago (Aside): If this works out the way I hope, they both end up dead.  I need them both out of the way.

    (Cassio comes by.)

Roderigo: Die, you bastard!  (Makes a pass at Cassio.)

Cassio: What the fuck!  (Draws his sword and strikes Roderigo.)  Take that, you fucker!

Roderigo: Oh, shit!

    (Iago sneaks behind Cassio, stabs him in the leg, and leaves.)

Cassio: Oh, my leg!  Oh, fuck!  Help!  (Falls.  At this point, Othello enters at one side of the stage, barely seen.)

Othello (Aside): That’s Cassio’s voice. Iago got him.  So much for your boyfriend, Desdemona.  Now you’re next.  (Othello leaves.  Then Lodovico and Gratiano come in.)

Cassio: Help me!  Somebody!

Gratiano: Somebody’s in trouble!

Cassio: Help!

Roderigo: That bastard!

Lodovico: That’s two different voices.  Hold on.  It could be a trick.  We need some other people.

Roderigo: I’m bleeding to death!

Gratiano: Somebody’s coming with a lamp.  He’s armed.

    (Iago comes in.)

Iago: Who’s there?  Who called for help?

Lodovico: We don’t know.

Cassio: Over here!  Help me!

Gratiano: Isn’t that Iago, the general’s ancient?

Lodovico: Why, yes.

Cassio: Iago!  It’s me!  I was attacked!

Iago: Cassio!  My God!  Who did this?

Cassio: One of them is still here.  I wounded him.

Roderigo: Help me here!  I’m hurt!

Cassio: That’s the guy!

Iago: I’ll get that rat!  (He stabs Roderigo.)

Roderigo (Faintly): Iago…you…bastard…(Falls unconscious, apparently dead.)

Iago: Where are the others?  Where is everybody?  Isn’t there anyone on the street?  Hey, who are you guys?

Lodovico: It’s me.  Lodovico.  And Gratiano, Desdemona’s uncle.

Iago: Help me with Cassio.  He’s my friend.–Bro, how are you?

Cassio: My leg is cut.  I’m bleeding all over the place.

Iago: Hold on.  Guys, give me some light.  I’ll tie my shirt around him to stop the bleeding.

    (Bianca comes in.)

Bianca: What happened?  I heard somebody scream.

Iago: Yeah, you should know, you bitch.

Bianca: Cassio!  Cassio!  My darling!

Iago: Fuckin ho.–Cassio, who did this to you?

Cassio: I don’t know.

Iago: We need some kind of stretcher.

Bianca: Cassio!  Cassio!

Iago: Guys, I think this bitch had something to do with it.  She’s a ho.–Take it easy, Cassio.–Guys, put the light on this other guy….Who is it?…Holy shit!  It’s Roderigo!  He’s a friend of mine!  (Neighbors bring a chair in.)  That’ll do.  Get Cassio indoors.  I’ll get the general’s doctor.  (To Bianca)  As for you, bitch, what did you have to do with this?

Cassio: She didn’t have anything to do with it.  And I don’t know that other guy.

    (Cassio and Roderigo are carried off by neighbors.)

Iago: Look at this bitch.  She’s got guilt written all over her face.

    (Emilia comes in.)

Emilia: What’s going on here?

Iago: Cassio was attacked by a Venetian named Roderigo, and some other guys.  He’s hurt bad, but he killed Roderigo.

Emilia: Oh, my God!  Poor Cassio!

Iago: This is what happens to men who patronize hos.  Ask him where he had dinner tonight. 

Bianca: He had dinner at my house.  So what?

Iago: So you’re coming with me, that’s what.–Emilia, run back to the castle and tell the general and his wife what’s happened.–Guys, let’s make sure Cassio’s being taken care of.  (All leave, except Iago, who lingers for a moment.  Aside)  This is where all the shit hits the fan.  Either I’m rolling in clover, or fucked ten times over.  (He leaves.)

Act 5, Scene 2.  Desdemona is sleeping in her bed when Othello comes in with a lamp.

Othello: How I hate to kill her.  I could extinguish this lamp and relight it if I wanted to.  But if I extinguish her life, I can’t bring her back.  (He kisses her.)  One last kiss.  This is how I would remember you.

    (Desdemona awakens.)

Desdemona: Othello?

Othello: Yes.

Desdemona: Are you coming to bed?

Othello: Have you said your prayers?

Desdemona: Yes.

Othello: Do you have anything to confess to God?  I don’t want to kill you if you haven’t confessed yourself.

Desdemona: Kill me?

Othello: Yes.

Desdemona: What have I done?  What am I supposed to confess?

Othello: Remember that handkerchief I gave you as a gift?  You gave it to Cassio.

Desdemona: I never did.  You can ask him.

Othello: Don’t lie to me.  I saw it in his hand.

Desdemona: Then he must have found it.  But I never gave it to him.  Ask him.

Othello: He’s already confessed.

Desdemona: Confessed to what?

Othello: To having had sex with you.

Desdemona: That’s impossible!  He would never say that!

Othello: Oh, he won’t admit  it now.  But Iago heard him say it.

Desdemona: No!  Iago’s lying!  Don’t kill me!  Let me live!

    (Othello strangles her.  Emilia bangs on the door.)

Emilia (From outside): My lord!  My lord!

Othello: Who’s there?

Emilia: Please, my lord!  I must speak to you!

Othello (Aside): Emilia.  She’s going to tell me that Cassio is dead.  Should I let her in?  My wife is still breathing.

Emilia: Please, my lord!  It’s urgent!

Othello: Wait till I draw the curtains.  (Draws the bedcurtains, then opens the door to let Emilia in.)

Emilia: Oh, my lord!  Someone’s been killed!

Othello: There must be a full moon.  Everyone’s gone crazy. 

Emilia: My lord, Cassio has killed a Venetian named Roderigo!

Othello: Killed him?  And what about Cassio?  Is he dead?

Emilia: No, he’s alive.

Othello: Alive?  I must have my revenge.

Desdemona: He’s killing me!  I’m innocent!

Emilia (Parts the bedcurtains): My God!  Desdemona!

Desdemona (Faintly): I’m dying….I’m innocent.

Emilia: Who did this to you?

Desdemona: No one…myself….Goodbye.  (Dies.)

Othello: Even in death she lies.  I killed her.

Emilia: You killed her?  You monster!

Othello: It was a matter of honor.  She was a slut.  A whore.

Emilia: No!  She was always faithful to you!

Othello: She was having an affair with Cassio.  Ask your husband.  He knew all about it.

Emilia: My husband?

Othello: Yes.  He told me.  He wouldn’t lie.

Emilia: My husband told you?  If he said that, he deserves to rot in hell!  But he didn’t!  That’s just your excuse for murdering your wife!

Othello: Shut up!  You don’t know the truth!

Emilia: You fool!  I’m going to tell everyone what you’ve done!–Help!  Help!  The general has killed his wife!  Murder!  Murder!

    (Montano, Gratiano, Iago, and others rush in.)

Montano: What’s going on, General?

Emilia: Iago!  Now you’re being blamed for murder!

Gratiano: What?  Murder?

Emilia: Tell us he’s lying Iago.  He claims you told him Desdemona was having an affair with Cassio.  I know you would never say such a thing.

Iago: I only told him what I thought, and he found the proof he needed.

Emilia: Did you actually say she was having an affair with Cassio?

Iago: Yes.

Emilia: You liar!  Having an affair with Cassio?  Cassio?

Iago: Hold your tongue.

Emilia: Don’t tell me to hold my tongue!  My lady lies murdered in her own bed!

Others: Oh!  Oh, no!

Othello: I had to kill her.  She dishonored me.

Emilia: You murderer!

Iago: Shut up!  Go to your room!

Emilia: No!

Gratiano: Poor Desdemona!  I’m glad your father’s not alive to see this.

Othello: You people don’t understand.  She was unfaithful.  Iago knows.  Cassio even admitted it.  She gave Cassio that handkerchief I gave her as a gift.

Emilia: The handkerchief!  Oh, my God!  Now I understand!

Iago: Shut up!

Emilia: No, I won’t shut up!

    (Iago threatens Emilia with his sword.)

Gratiano: Don’t you dare!

Emilia (to Othello): You fool!  I found that handkerchief!  I gave it to my husband because he kept begging me to steal it.  I couldn’t understand why he would want it.  Now I do.  I see it all now.

Iago: Fucking bitch!  Liar!

Emilia: It’s the truth!  And now Desdemona is dead!  Murdered by mistake!  Because you lied!

Othello: You bastard!

    (Othello goes after Iago with a knife but is disarmed and held back by Montano and others.  Iago stabs his wife and flees.)

Montano: You guys guard the door!  The Moor doesn’t leave this room!  I’ll go after Iago.

    (All leave the room, except Othello and Emilia, who is lying on the floor.)

Emilia (Dying): She loved you, Moor.  She was true to you.  (Dies.)

Othello: This is the end.  My life is over….I have another sword here somewhere….Yes, here it is.  Now let me be damned to hell.  Oh, Desdemona!

    (Lodovico, Cassio, Montano, and officers return with Iago in custody.)

Lodovico: Where is that murderer?

Othello: I’m looking at him.  (Wounds Iago.  Others disarm Othello.)

Iago: I’m not dead.

Othello: You’ll wish you were.

Lodovico: Othello, you were once so good.  Now see what you’ve turned into — all because you let yourself get played by this miserable piece of shit.  How are you going to be remembered?

Othello: As an honorable murderer, if there is such a thing.  I did it for the sake of honor.

Lodovico: This bastard admitted trying to kill Cassio.  Were you in on it?

Othello: Yes.

Cassio: I never gave you any reason.

Othello: I know that now.  I’m sorry.  Ask this bastard why he did all this.

Iago: I have nothing to say to any of you.

Lodovico: General, we found a couple of letters in Roderigo’s pocket.  In one of them he admits to taking part in a plan to kill Cassio.  And there was another letter intended for Iago, which was never delivered.  He was very angry with Iago for deceiving him.

Othello: Cassio, how did you come to have my wife’s handkerchief?

Cassio: I found it in my room.  Iago admitted he put it there to set me up.

Othello: Oh, God!  What have I done!  How could I be such a fool!

Cassio: The last thing Roderigo said before he died was that Iago was to blame for the attack on me.  Iago used him.  Iago made him do everything.

Lodovico: General, you’re under arrest.  You are stripped of your rank, and Cassio shall assume your command.  Iago can expect the worst possible punishment.  Your fate will be decided by the state of Venice.  Let’s go.

Othello: Wait.  Let me speak.  When you record these events in your letters, tell the truth about me — nothing better and nothing worse.  Remember me as one whose love was greater than his wisdom.  You can say that I was manipulated and deceived by someone I trusted, and that I threw away the greatest treasure of my life — by mistake.  And you can say that once, long ago, in Syria, when a Turkish bastard insulted the honor of Venice, I grabbed his throat and killed him…like…this!  (Stabs himself.)

Lodovico: Oh, God!

Othello: I kissed you before I killed you, Desdemona.  This is the only way for me to die.  (He falls across Desdemona’s body and dies.)

Lodovico: Remove this bed from this room and hide it away forever.  Gratiano, everything the Moor owned is now yours — his house, his wealth, everything.  As Desdemona’s uncle, his estate reverts to you.  (To Montano)  And you, Lord Governor, shall have the privilege of passing judgment on this despicable scumbag, Iago.  Any torture you care to impose.  And don’t be squeamish about it.  As for myself, I’m taking the next ship back to Venice.  I’ll have to tell the Duke and the senators everything that’s happened here — all these terrible events — although it will break my heart to tell it.

    (All leave.)


    Copyright@ 2010 by Crad Kilodney, Toronto, Canada.  E-mail: crad166@yahoo.com   




 (Index to the Series appears on Oct. 7, 2010 — https://cradkilodney.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/ )

Main characters

Macbeth — a Scottish general, Thane of Glamis

Lady Macbeth — his wife

Duncan — King of Scotland

Malcolm, Donalbain — Duncan’s sons

Banquo — another general

Fleance — son of Banquo

Macduff — a noble

Lady Macduff — his wife

Lennox, Ross, Menteith, Angus, Caithness — other nobles

Siward — Earl of Northumberland

Young Siward — his son

Leyton — officer to Macbeth (Shakespeare uses the name Seyton, but I’ve changed it so the audience doesn’t hear it as “Satan.”)

Three Witches

Gist of the story: Macbeth, a Scottish general, is given a prophecy by three witches that he will someday be King.  His ambitious wife pushes him to make the prophecy come true by murdering the King and pinning it on the King’s drunken guards.  The King’s sons flee the country and are soon joined by other lords who also fear for their lives.  The fugitives assemble an army in England and return to Scotland to get rid of Macbeth.  Macbeth believes he cannot be harmed because of another prophecy given to him by the witches, but there is a loophole in it.  One noble, Macduff, can kill Macbeth, and he does.  (These days, if you hear someone refer to a woman as “Lady Macbeth,” they’re implying that she’s cold-blooded and ruthlessly ambitious.)

Act 1, Scene 1.  An open place.  Thunder and lightning.  Three Witches come in.

First Witch: When are we going to meet up?

Second Witch: After the battle.

First Witch: Where?

Second Witch: In the shrubbery.

Third Witch: That’s where we’ll meet Macbeth.

First Witch: I have to go home and feed my cat.

Second Witch: I have to feed my toad.

Third Witch: Okay, sisters, see you later.

    (They depart, singing.)

All Three: Oh, we’re witches…and we love this kind of weather ’cause we’re witches…yes, we’re witches…and we love the stinky air because we’re witches…oh, we’re witches….

Act 1, Scene 2.  A camp near a battlefield.  King Duncan, Malcolm, Donalbain, Lennox, and attendants (guards) meet a wounded captain.

King: Who’s this?

Malcolm: He’s one of our guys.  He helped save me….Man, you are the best!  Tell the King what happened.

Captain: We were fighting with that rebel bastard Macdonwald.  It looked like he was going to win, but then Macbeth showed up in the nick of time and hacked his soldiers to pieces, and then he cut his damned head off.

King: Wow!  That’s my general!  What a hero!

Captain: Wait, there’s more.  We had the rebels on the run, but then the Norwegians regrouped and attacked us again.

King: Did Macbeth and Banquo fight them off?

Captain: There was an awful battle.  I don’t know how it turned out….Ohh…I’m hurt bad.

King: You’re a good soldier….Get this guy to the medics.  (Captain is helped off by attendants.  Then Ross and Angus arrive.)

Ross: God save the King!

King: Ross, where ya been?

Ross: I’ve just come from Fife.  The Norwegians were in control, thanks to that goddamn traitor, the Thane of Cawdor.  But Macbeth attacked them, and finally we won.

King: Excellent!

Ross: The King of Norway wants to make peace.  We wouldn’t let him bury his dead until he shelled out ten thousand dollars.

King: Fine.  And so much for the Thane of Cawdor.  He’s to be executed at once.  Macbeth will be the new Thane of Cawdor.

Ross: I’ll see to it.

King: He deserves the reward.

Act 1, Scene 3.  A heath (shrubland).  Thunder.  The Three Witches come in.

First Witch: Where ya been?

Second Witch: Killing pigs.

Third Witch (to First): How about you?

First Witch: A sailor’s wife had some chestnuts, and when I asked her to give me some, she told me to fuck off.  So I put a curse on her husband to die.

Third Witch: That’ll teach her to respect visible minorities.

    (Sound of drums.)

First Witch: That’ll be Macbeth.

    (Macbeth and Banquo come in.)

Macbeth: What a day!

Banquo: Who the hell are these freakin’ ugly bitches?

First Witch: Hail, Macbeth,Thane of Glamis!

Second Witch: Hail, Macbeth, Thane of Cawdor!

Third Witch: Hail, Macbeth, our next King!

Banquo: Hey, what about me?

Third Witch: Your children will be kings.

Macbeth: Wait a minute.  I’m the Thane of Glamis, all right.  But how can I be the Thane of Cawdor, too?  After all, he’s alive and well.  And as for being King, that’s ridiculous.  Unless you know something I don’t.

    (Witches vanish in a puff of smoke.)

Banquo: What the fuck?  Did you see that?

Macbeth: Holy shit.  And just when it was getting interesting.  Your children will be kings, Banquo.

Banquo: And you’re going to be King.

Macbeth: And Thane of Cawdor.

    (Ross and Angus arrive.)

Ross: Hey, Macbeth, we heard what you did to those fucking Norwegians.  Everybody’s talking about it.  And the King is so happy, he’s making you the new Thane of Cawdor.

Macbeth: What happened to the old one?

Angus: He’s going to be executed for treason.

Macbeth: Wow!  That’s great news!  (Aside to Banquo)  Those witches told me I’d be Thane of Cawdor, and now I am.  And your children will be kings.

Banquo (Aside to Macbeth): Don’t get any big ideas about being King.  There could be something evil at work here.

Macbeth (Aside to Banquo): Good or evil, who cares?  If I’m destined to be King, I sure as hell ain’t gonna complain about it.

Banquo: Yeah, well, let’s get going.

Macbeth: Right.  The King’s waiting for us.  (Aside to Banquo)  We need to talk about this prophecy stuff later.

Banquo: Yeah.

    (All leave.)

Act 1, Scene 4.  The palace at Forres.  Fanfare.  King Duncan, Lennox, Malcolm, Donalbain, and attendants come in.

King: Has Cawdor been executed yet?

Malcolm: Yes.  Right at the end, he confessed to treason and said he was sorry.

King: You know, I trusted that guy absolutely.

    (Macbeth, Banquo, Ross, and Angus arrive.)

King: Macbeth!  I can’t thank you enough for what you’ve done.

Macbeth: It’s an honor to serve your Majesty.

King: Both of you guys — you and Banquo — are definitely moving up in the world, if you get my drift.

Banquo: We do it all for you, your Majesty — now and forever.

King: As you know, Malcolm here will succeed me as King someday.  And today I’m giving him the title of Prince of Cumberland.  And you, Macbeth, are now the Thane of Cawdor.

Macbeth: Wow!  Wait till my wife hears this!  You’ll come for dinner, I hope.

King: You bet.

Macbeth (Aside): The Prince of Cumberland stands between me and the throne….Supposing that…no, I shouldn’t even be thinking about it.  (To King)  I’ve got to get going.  (He leaves.)

King: You know, I sure am proud of that guy, Banquo.  Come on, let’s go.  You can escort me to Macbeth’s house.  (They leave.)

Act 1, Scene 5.  Macbeth’s castle at Inverness.  Macbeth’s wife come in with a letter.

Lady Macbeth (Reading letter): “Good news!  Some witches predicted I’d be Thane of Cawdor, and now I am!  And guess what?  They also predicted I’d be King!  Isn’t that great?”…King!  Yes, you could be King, all right, if only you weren’t so good and moral.  We’re going to have a little talk about that when you get home. 

    (Messenger arrives.)

Messenger: Madam, the King’s coming to dinner.

Lady Macbeth: What?  My husband didn’t tell me!  I’ve got to get everything ready.

Messenger: Your husband’s on his way, madam.

Lady Macbeth: Okay, fine.  (Messenger leaves.)  This is too good to be true.  The King…right here under our roof….Now I gotta get psyched up to be totally fucking evil.  All you evil spirits, I’m your girl now!  Satan, make me Queen of Hell!  (Singing and snapping fingers)  I’m gonna be Satan’s girlfriend…I’m gonna be the Queen of Hell….(Macbeth comes in.)  Glamis!  Cawdor!  And very soon to be King!

Macbeth: The King’s coming to dinner, and he’s going to stay overnight.

Lady Macbeth: Yeah, but he’ll never leave here alive.

Macbeth: Oh!…You don’t mean….That is….I didn’t really intend–

Lady Macbeth: Look, just do what I tell you.  You just act nice and normal and friendly.

Macbeth: Well…my dear….Don’t you think we should talk this over?

Lady Macbeth: What for?  You got a prophecy, didn’t you?  That means it’s already settled.  And I do so much want to be Queen.  So you just put on a happy face and leave the thinking to me.

Act 1, Scene 6.  Before Macbeth’s castle.  The King, Malcolm, Donalbain, Banquo, Lennox, Macduff, Ross, Angus, and attendants.

King: Nice place.  Wonder what they paid for it. 

Banquo: Cover your head, my lord.  There’s about a million pigeons on the roof.

    (Lady Macbeth meets the guests.)

King: Lady Macbeth.  Long time no see.  Thanks for feeding us on such short notice.

Lady Macbeth: It’s no trouble at all.  We’re having meat loaf.

King: Wonderful.  Where’s your husband?

Lady Macbeth: He’s just changing his shirt.  Come on in, everybody.

    (All leave.)

Act 1, Scene 7.  In the castle.  Servants cross the stage, implying service between the kitchen and dining hall.  Macbeth stands by himself.

Macbeth: I suppose if we’re going to go through with this, we might as well get it over with as soon as possible.  But  it’s such a terrible thing to do.  To murder my own King while he’s a guest in my house.  Everyone loves him.  He’s a good King.  And he’s been good to me.  I don’t think I have it in me to murder him, no matter how much I’d love to be King.

    (Lady Macbeth comes in.)

Lady Macbeth: There you are.  Why did you leave the dining hall?  He’s almost finished eating.

Macbeth: Has he asked for me?

Lady Macbeth: What do you think?

Macbeth: Please, let’s call it off.  I just can’t do it.

Lady Macbeth: What’s the matter with you?  Don’t you have the balls?  If you love me, you’ll do it.

Macbeth: Stop it!

Lady Macbeth: You wanted to be King, didn’t you?  Okay, so here’s the perfect opportunity.  We won’t get a better one.

Macbeth: But what if something should go wrong?

Lady Macbeth: Nothing will go wrong if you just screw up your courage and do it.  I’ve got it all figured out.  When the King is asleep, I’ll get his two chamberlains so drunk, they’ll be out cold.  Once they’re asleep, we can kill the King and make it look like they did it.

Macbeth: So we’ll use their dagggers, is that it?

Lady Macbeth: Exactly.  And when the body is discovered, we’ll put on a good act like we’re horrified, and then you’ll find the bloody daggers on the drunken chamberlains, and you’ll kill them while they’re still sleeping.  Then we can blame it on them.  It’ll look obvious.  Nobody will question it. 

Macbeth: All right, then.  We’ll just have to be convincing.

Act 2, Scene 1.  Banquo and Fleance are in the courtyard of Macbeth’s castle at night.  Fleance holds a torch.  Macbeth arrives with a servant, also holding a torch.

Banquo: Still up, eh?  The King’s gone to bed.  He was really happy tonight.  He brought you some nice presents, and he gave your wife a diamond. 

Macbeth: We should have served steak.  But the meat loaf went over well.

Banquo: The witches were right about you becoming Thane of Cawdor.

Macbeth: I want to talk to you about that sometime.

Banquo: Whenever.  We’re off to bed.  Goodnight.

Macbeth: Goodnight.

    (Banquo and Fleance leave.)

Macbeth (to servant): Tell my wife to ring the bell when my, uh, drink is ready.  (Servant leaves.)

    (Macbeth sees a dagger floating in the air before him.)

Macbeth: Oh, fucking bloody hell….I’m seeing a dagger….It’s hanging in mid-air….Oh, my fucking brain….What are you doing?…This can’t be real….(Tries to grasp the dagger but can’t.)  Ohhhh…There’s blood on it….That’s blood, all right….Oh, my God…Yeah…I know…I know….I’m going to murder the King….There’s no backing out now…(A bell rings.)  That’s my signal.  (He leaves.)

Act 2, Scene 2.  In Macbeth’s castle.  Lady Macbeth alone.

Lady Macbeth: The King’s attendants are out cold.  I drugged their wine.  God, I’m so excited!  What’s taking Mac so long?  He should have done it by now.

    (Macbeth comes in.)

Macbeth: It’s done.

Lady Macbeth: I thought I heard voices.

Macbeth: Malcolm and Donalbain woke up in the second bedroom, but they went right back to sleep.  I feel sick about this.

Lady Macbeth: Don’t think about it.  Think about being King.

Macbeth: I heard a strange voice saying “Macbeth shall sleep no more.”

Lady Macbeth: It’s just your nerves.  Get a grip on yourself.  Wash your hands.  You’ve got blood on them.  And get rid of those daggers, for chrissake!  Put them in the attendants’ room and make sure you get the blood on them.

Macbeth: I can’t.  I just can’t.

Lady Macbeth: Wimp!  Give them to me.  I’ll put them there myself.  (She takes the daggers and leaves.  Then a knock is heard.  Macbeth jumps.)

Macbeth: Fuck!  What was that?  I can’t stop shaking!

    (Lady Macbeth returns.)

Lady Macbeth: That’s taken care of.  (Another knock is heard.)  Somebody’s knocking at the south door.  Quick!  We have to change into our nightgowns so it doesn’t look like we’ve been up all this time.  (She leaves.)

Macbeth: I can’t believe what I’ve done.  (Another knock.)  Fuck me.  (He leaves.)

Act 2, Scene 3.  At Macbeth’s castle.  A porter is answering the door.  Knocking is heard.

Porter: Yeah, yeah, I’m coming.  (Knocking.)  Who the fuck would show up at six in the morning?  (Knocking.)  Probably some homeless bastard who thinks a liberal lives here.  (Opens door.  Macduff and Lennox come in.)

Macduff: Sleeping late, were you?

Porter: Oh, we were all up late having a good time and getting rather drunk, sir.

Macduff: Is the boss up yet?  (Macbeth comes in.)  Ah, there he is.

Macbeth: Hey, good morning, guys.

Macduff: Is the King up yet?  He told me to call on him early.

Macbeth: I think he’s still sleeping.  I’ll go check.

Macduff: No, that’s okay.  I’ll go wake him up.  He’s expecting me.  (Macduff leaves.)

Lennox: What a night it was!  We had such an awful windstorm.  There was a lot of damage in my neighborhood.  And some people said there was an earth tremor, too.  It had to be the worst damn night in my whole life.

Macbeth: Yes, I think I know what you mean.

    (Macduff returns in a panic.)

Macduff: Oh, shit!  The King is dead!  He’s been murdered!  (Macbeth and Lennox rush out.)  Everybody up!  Wake up!  Ring the alarm bell!   Come on, wake up!

    (Bell rings.  Lady Macbeth comes in.)

Lady Macbeth: What’s going on?  Is something wrong?

Macduff: Oh, madam, I can’t bear to tell you.  (Banquo rushes in.)  Banquo!  The King’s been murdered!

Lady Macbeth: Oh, my God!

Banquo: Oh, no!

    (Macbeth, Lennox, and Ross come in.)

Macbeth: I wish I’d never lived to see this day.

    (Malcolm and Donalbain come in.)

Donalbain: What’s happening?

Macduff: Your father’s been murdered!

Malcolm: Oh, by who?  I mean, by whom?

Lennox: It looks like the attendants did it.  We found the bloody daggers on them.  They were dead, too.

Macbeth: I killed them.

Macduff: You killed them?

Macbeth: After what they did to the King, of course I killed them.  I was so angry, I couldn’t control myself.  Anyone in my place would’ve done the same thing.

Lady Macbeth: I think I’m going to faint!

Malcolm (Aside to Donalbain): What do you think?

Donalbain (Aside to Malcolm): I don’t know.  I think we should just get out of here.

    (Lady Macbeth is carried out.)

Banquo: Gentlemen, we’re going to get to the bottom of this.  I think there’s more to this dirty business than meets the eye.

Macduff: Yes, I agree.

Others: Yes.  Yes.

Macbeth: I suggest we meet in the hall.  (All leave, except for Malcolm and Donalbain.)

Malcolm: I’m not hanging around for any damned meeting.  I’m going to England.

Donalbain: We should split up.  I’ll go to Ireland instead.

Malcolm: Forget about saying goodbye to them.  Let’s just get out now. 

    (They leave.)

Act 2, Scene 4.  Ross is outside Macbeth’s castle when Macduff arrives.

Ross: Well, did you figure out who killed the King?

Macduff: The attendants did it — the ones Macbeth killed.

Ross: Why would they do such a thing?

Macduff: We figure they were bribed by Malcolm and Donalbain, because the two of them cut out when the King’s body was found.

Ross: Ain’t that something?  I never would have expected that in a million years.  Well, I guess that puts Macbeth in line for the throne.

Macduff: He’s already been chosen.

Ross: You going to Scone?

Macduff: No, Fife.

Ross: I’m going to Scone.

Macduff: Have a good trip.

Ross: You, too.

    (Both leave.)

Act 3, Scene 1.  The palace at Forres.  Banquo alone.

Banquo: It all came true for Macbeth, just like the witches predicted.  I just wonder about him, though.  I’m starting to get suspicious.  And as for me, I’m supposed to be the father of future kings.  Well, I suppose that’s something to hope for.

    (Trumpet call.  Macbeth as King, Lady Macbeth as Queen, Lennox, Ross, Lords, and attendants come in.)

Macbeth: Here’s our good buddy Banquo.  Hey, we’re having a big dinner tonight.  Sort of a celebration for me becoming King, you know.  You’re invited, of course.  We’re doing barbecue ribs — your favorite.

Banquo: I can hardly wait.

Macbeth: Going out riding later?

Banquo: Yeah.

Macbeth: We missed you at today’s council meeting, but I trust you’ll be there tomorrow.  Where you riding to?

Banquo: Nowhere special.  I just need a long ride to clear my head.

Macbeth: Don’t miss dinner.

Banquo: I won’t.

Macbeth: I hear that Malcolm and Donalbain are hiding out in England and Ireland, and they’re spreading a lot of lies about me.  I want to talk to you about that tomorrow.

Banquo: Yeah, for sure.  See you later.  (He leaves.)

Macbeth: Now I need to be alone, you guys, okay?  See you at dinner.  (Everyone leaves except for one attendant.)  Are there some guys waiting to see me?

Attendant: Yes, my lord.  They’re outside the palace gate.

Macbeth: Bring them in.  (Attendant leaves.)  Banquo’s going to be a problem.  He’s a tough son of a bitch, and he’s not stupid.  The witches said his children would be kings.  I have no children.  So what the hell did I murder Duncan for — to put Banquo’s children on the throne? 

    (The attendant returns with two murderers and then leaves.)

Macbeth: Remember what I told you guys yesterday?  I explained to you how Banquo was the cause of all your problems, how he screwed you and treated you like morons.

First Murderer: Yeah.

Macbeth: I gave you a day to think it over.  So?  Do you want to get even, or don’t you?

First Murderer: Hell, yes.  My life is so totally fucked I don’t care what happens to me any more.

Second Murderer: Same with me.  I’m so angry and frustrated I can’t take it any more.  I’m ready to kill someone.

Macbeth: Banquo’s your enemy.  And he’s my enemy, too.  But there’s no way I can get rid of him myself, even if I am King.  My friends are his friends, too.  So I need you guys to help me out.

First Murderer: We’ll do anything you say.

Macbeth: It’s got to be done tonight.  He’ll be with his son, Fleance.  You’ve got to kill him, too.  I’ll tell you where to wait for them.  It’s got to be a clean job.  No cock-ups. 

Murderers: Right.

Macbeth: Then it’s settled.  You wait for me inside.  I’ll come and see you shortly. 

    (All leave.)

Act 3, Scene 2.  The palace.  Lady Macbeth and a servant.

Lady Macbeth: Is Banquo gone?

Servant: Yes, madam, but he’s coming back tonight.

Lady Macbeth: Tell the King I need to speak to him.  (Servant leaves.  Shortly thereafter, Macbeth comes in.)  Mac, why are you keeping to yourself?  People will get suspicious.

Macbeth: Look, we’re not free and clear of this business as long as Banquo is around.  I’m going to have to do something about him.

Lady Macbeth: Like what?

Macbeth: Don’t ask.  It’ll all be over by tonight.

Act 3, Scene 3.  Near the palace.  Three murderers.

First Murderer: Who brought you in on this?

Third Murderer: Macbeth, of course.

Second Murderer: It’s okay.  Three are better than two.

First Murderer: Those guys should have been here by now.

Third Murderer: I hear horses.

First Murderer: They’ll be getting off and walking the rest of the way.

Second Murderer: I see them.  Here they come.  Get down and hide.

    (Banquo and Fleance arrive on foot with a torch.)

Banquo: Looks like rain tonight.  And me without an umbrella.

    (Murderers leap out and attack Banquo.)

Banquo: Run, Fleance!  (Fleance flees.)  Oh, shit!  (Falls dead.)

Third Murderer: The kid got away.

First Murderer: Oh, bad luck.  But at least we got Banquo.  Let’s go report to Macbeth.

    (They leave.)

Act 3, Scene 4.  The dining hall in the palace.  Macbeth, his wife, Ross, Lennox, Lords, and attendants come in.  The food is on the table.

Macbeth: Everyone sit down.  You know your places.

A Lord: Those ribs smell awesome!

Another Lord: Fries and cole slaw, too!  Mmm-mmm!

    (First Murderer appears.  Macbeth takes him aside.)

Macbeth: How did it go?

Murderer: Banquo’s dead, but the kid got away.

Macbeth: Oh, too bad.  Well, no point worrying about it.  You did fine.  Now beat it.  (Murderer leaves.  Macbeth returns to the table.)  Sorry, heh, heh.  Just making a little bet on a horse, heh, heh.

Lady Macbeth: Come on, sit down.  We can’t start without you.  The ribs will get cold.

    (The Ghost of Banquo appears and sits down in Macbeth’s place.)

Macbeth: Oh, fucking hell.  What am I seeing?

Lennox: Sit down, my lord.  Try this barbecue sauce.  It’s terrific.

Macbeth: Yes…of course….Well, the upper class is all here…except for Banquo….Hope nothing’s happened to him.

Ross: If he misses out on these ribs, it’s his loss.  Aren’t you going to sit down?

Macbeth: Oh…the table appears to be full.

Lennox: No, no.  Here’s your seat.

Macbeth: Where?

Lennox: Right here.  What’s the matter?

Macbeth: Is this somebody’s idea of a joke?

Lords: Joke?  What joke, my lord?

Macbeth: Don’t fuck with my head!  You know what I mean!

Ross: You know what, guys?  Maybe we should go.  His Majesty is obviously not feeling well.

Lady Macbeth: No, no, please sit.  It’s nothing.  Just a little post-traumatic stress disorder….You know…from fighting the Norwegians…and finding our King dead.

Macbeth (Pointing at Ghost): Look!  Look!  Are the dead coming back to us?  (Ghost leaves.)

Lady Macbeth: Please, my lord.  You have all your friends here.  This is supposed to be a celebration.

Macbeth: Oh…yes…I forgot….I’m sorry, lads.  It must be my nerves.  It happens occasionally.  Okay, let’s have some wine. Here’s to all of you, and especially to my good friend Banquo.  Wish he was here.  (Ghost of Banquo returns.)  Damn you!  Get out of my sight!  Don’t you come in here like that!  You’re not real!   You’re a damned ghost!  (Ghost leaves.)  Oh…oh….That’s better….It’s gone now.

Lady Macbeth: You’re ruining this dinner for everyone.

Macbeth: How can you see such a thing and not be afraid?

Ross: What sort of thing, my lord?

Lady Macbeth: I’m sorry, boys.  The King is just out of it this evening, for some reason.  I’m afraid dinner is over.  And I had cherry cheesecake for dessert, too.  Too bad.

Lennox:  Hope the King feels better tomorrow.

Lady Macbeth: Thanks for coming, boys.  We’ll make up for it next time.  Good night.

    (Guests leave.)

Macbeth: The murderer always gets revealed in the end, doesn’t he?  There are signs that point to him, aren’t there?  And murder is avenged by blood.  Isn’t that so?…It’s odd that Macduff didn’t show up tonight, don’t you think?

Lady Macbeth: Did you send word to him to find out why?

Macbeth: No, but I can find out.  I have a spy in every one of their houses, you know.  Tomorrow I’ll go see those witches again.  I have to know what sort of danger I’m in.  I’ve already got enough blood on my hands, but I’m thinking that it’s not over yet.  There’ll be more.

Lady Macbeth: What you need is a good night’s sleep.

     (They leave.)

Act 3, Scene 5.  This scene is deleted.

Act 3, Scene 6.  In the palace.  Lennox and another Lord come in.

Lennox: So the way I see it, Fleance killed Banquo.  That’s why he fled.  If he ever falls into Macbeth’s hands, he’ll pay with his life, that’s for sure.  See what Macbeth did to those drunken attendants that murdered Duncan?  Now, that was noble!  And I hear that Macduff didn’t show up for the King’s dinner, and now he’s on the shit list.  I wonder where he is.

Lord: The latest word is that he went to England to join Malcolm.  Malcolm has gotten really tight with King Edward, so now Macduff wants Edward’s help to raise an army, probably in Northumberland.  You know Siward, the Earl of Northumberland?  He’s a total warmonger.  It’s a sure bet there’s going to be big trouble.  Macbeth is getting ready for war.

Lennox: Poor Macbeth.  It’s one damn problem after another.

Lord: Being a King isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Lennox: You said it.

    (They leave.)

Act 4, Scene 1.  The Witches’ haunt.  The Three Witches are stirring a cauldron.

First Witch: Did you put in enough eye of newt?

Second Witch: Yes, dearie, and some bat’s wool, too.

Third Witch: Is there enough hemlock, d’ya think?

Second Witch: Yes, yes, plenty.

First Witch: They don’t use hemlock at all in France, or so I’ve heard.

Second Witch: Well, that’s the French for you.  They think they’re better than we are.  They think hemlock is low-class.  They use foxglove instead.

Third Witch: Oooh, foxglove….Now, ain’t that special.

Second Witch: The French can’t do sorcery like we can, that’s for sure.

First Witch: No, their spells wear off too fast.

Third Witch: Hope you didn’t forget the baboon’s blood.

Second Witch: No, but I had to cut back on it.   Baboon’s blood has gotten very expensive since the government raised the tariff on it.

Third Witch: They don’t think about the effect on people like us.  It’s getting harder and harder to maintain a traditional way of life.

First Witch: Ain’t it the truth.

Second Witch: I think we have a visitor.

    (Macbeth comes in.)

Macbeth: God, that smells awful, even for Scottish cooking!

Second Witch: It’s not for eating, it’s for casting spells.

Third Witch: It’s part of a religious belief system, so you can’t criticize it.

Macbeth: What the hell have you got in there?

First Witch: Well, we got a Jew’s liver, and some poisoned intestines–

Macbeth: Stop!  I don’t want to know.  As long as it works for sorcery and predicting the future.  That’s all I care about.

Second Witch: It works for making good apparitions.  Watch.

    (Thunder.  First Apparition appears — a helmeted head.)

Macbeth: Oh, you unholy apparition, tell me–

First Witch: You don’t have to ask.  It already knows what you want.  Just be quiet and let it speak.

First Apparition: Macbeth!  Macbeth!  Beware Macduff.  Beware the Thane of Fife.  That is all.  (Apparition disappears.)

Macbeth: Damn.  I was afraid of that.  But I also want to know–

First Witch: Here’s another one.  Just be quiet and listen.

    (Thunder.  Second Apparition appears — a bloody child.)

Second Apparition: Macbeth!  Macbeth!  No man born of a woman shall harm you.  That is all.  (Disappears.)

Macbeth: Oh, well, that’s good news!  Then I don’t have to worry about Macduff or any other man, do I?  But one more thing I want to know….

    (Thunder.  Third Apparition appears — a child wearing a crown, with a little tree in his hand.)

Third Apparition: Macbeth shall never be defeated until Great Birnam Wood shall come to Dunsinane Hill.  That is all.  (Disappears.)

Macbeth: Oh, perfect!  That can never happen!  I mean, like, what, a bunch of trees are going to uproot themselves and start walking?  (Imitates a tree walking.)  Oh, we’re going to Dunsinane, we’re on our way to Dunsinane, we’re trees and we’re going for a nice, long walk to Dunsinane, perfectly normal, we do it all the time….Hey, I love this prophecy stuff.  Just one more thing.  Last thing.  I promise.  Will Banquo be the father of kings?

    (Sound of oboes — a suitable flourish for a King.)

All Witches: Show him!

    (An image of eight Kings, and Banquo at the end as the ninth King, holding a mirror.  His robe is bloody.  Banquo points to the other Kings and then to himself, to indicate they are his.)

Macbeth: Oh, bloody hell!  Eight of them!  Fucking bloody hell!  You rotten hags!  Say it ain’t so!

First Witch: Hey, you asked for it.  (The Witches and the image disappear in a puff of smoke.)

Macbeth: Oh, fuck.  Oh, fuck.

    (Lennox comes in.)

Lennox: Here you are, my lord.

Macbeth: Did you see those three witches?

Lennox: No. What witches?

Macbeth: Fuck it.  Never mind. 

Lennox: I have some news for you, my lord.  Macduff has fled to England.

Macbeth: That fucking traitor!  (Aside)  I’ll kill his whole family.

    (They leave.)

Act 4, Scene 2.  Macduff’s castle.  Lady Macduff, her son, and Ross.

Lady Macduff: Why did Duff go to England?  It’s a crazy thing to do.  It makes him look like a traitor.  What was he afraid of?

Ross: I can’t say, but we should assume he had his reasons.  Right now, nobody knows who they can trust.  Anyway, I have to leave.

    (Ross leaves.  Shortly thereafter, a messenger arrives.)

Messenger: Madam, you don’t know me, but I’ve come to warn you to take the children and run.  You’re in great danger.  I must go.  (He leaves.)

Lady Macduff: Go where?  Why should I go anywhere?  I haven’t done anything.

    (Murderers come in.)

Murderer: Where’s your husband?  He’s a traitor!

Son: Liar!  My daddy’s not a traitor!

Murderer: You little bastard!  (Stabs the boy.)

Son: Mama!  Run away!

    (Lady Macduff flees, crying “Murder!” as murderers pursue her.)

Act 4, Scene 3.  In front of the King’s palace in England.  Malcolm and Macduff.

Malcolm: You’ve always been close to Macbeth.  And so far he hasn’t done you any harm.  How do I know you weren’t sent here to deliver me into his hands?

Macduff: What sort of villain do you think I am?

Malcolm: Well, excuse me for thinking it, but it seems kind of strange that you would leave your family all of a sudden and come here.

Macduff: I ought to walk away from you right now, to think you would suspect me of that kind of treachery. 

Malcolm: Sorry.  Don’t be offended….You know, the English are ready to provide me with an army to go back to Scotland and get rid of Macbeth.  But for all anyone knows, I could turn out to be a worse King than he is.

Macduff: That’s ridiculous.

Malcolm: No, seriously.  For instance, I’m a total sex addict.  I want to fuck every woman in sight.

Macduff: Well…ahem…of course, that can be a bad thing.  But if you want women, that can be arranged discreetly.  And plenty of women would be willing.

Malcolm: But I’m also a greedy bastard.  Greedy, greedy, greedy.  You have no idea.  I’d probably plunder all the nobles.  I’d get my hands on everything I could.

Macduff: Well…ahem…to be sure, greed can be a bad thing, too.  It’s been the downfall of many a king.  But, after all, there’s plenty of luxuries for you in Scotland.  You’d be quite well off.

Malcolm: But there’s another thing you ought to know.  I don’t have any of the qualities a king should have — justice, temperance, stability, courage, mercy, and all those other virtues.  Quite the opposite.  I’m devoted to every sort of crime and evil.  I’d unleash hell on earth and plunge the whole country into chaos.  Do you think such a person is fit to govern?

Macduff: Oh, my poor Scotland!  If you’re to become King, I’ll never go back!  There’s no hope!

Malcolm: Relax, Duff.  I was kidding.  I was just testing you, ha, ha. 

Macduff: Wise guy.

Malcolm: Look, now that I know we’re on the same side, I’ll do everything I can to help you.  Siward has had ten thousand soldiers ready since before you got here, and he’s already on the move.  We’ll join forces with him.

    (A doctor arrives.)

Malcolm: Doctor, is the King coming?

Doctor: Yeah, pretty soon.  He’s doing some faith healing on some people with an incurable disease.  (Doctor leaves.)

Macduff: What disease was he talking about?

Malcolm: Scrofula.  It’s pretty gross.  There’s a lot of swelling and stinky pus.  King Edward does this thing with a gold coin and praying and stuff like that.  I don’t know how it works, but it works.  He can also tell the future.  He’s made a lot of money in commodities.

    (Ross comes in.)

Macduff: Hey, look who’s here.  My cousin Ross.

Ross: Hi, guys.

Macduff: So, do we still have a Scotland to go back to?

Ross: Scotland’s a fucking mess.  People are dying left and right.  It’s total misery.

Macduff: How’s my family?

Ross (Hesitating): They were fine when I left them.

Macduff: You’re hiding something.  Tell me the truth.

Ross: They’ve all been murdered.  I’m sorry.

Macduff: How could God let this happen?  They died on account of me.

Malcolm: We’ll get even, Duff.

Macduff: Wait till I get my hands on Macbeth.

Malcolm: We’re ready to strike back.  All this shit will come to an end.  You’ll see.

    (They leave.)

Act 5, Scene 1.  In the castle at Dunsinane.  A doctor and a gentlewoman.

Gentlewoman: Lady Macbeth has been sleepwalking, Doctor.  She even writes notes in her sleep.

Doctor: Has she said anything?

Gentlewoman: Nothing I would ever repeat.  (Lady Macbeth comes in, sleepwalking and holding a candle.)  Look.  She’s at it again.  Her eyes are open, but she’s asleep, believe me.

Lady Macbeth: Out, damned spot!

Doctor: Spot?  Is that her dog?

Gentlewoman: No, they don’t have a dog.

Lady Macbeth: Who would have thought the old man had so much blood in him?

Doctor: I’m not sure I want to hear this.

Lady Macbeth: Where is Lady Macduff now?  Will these hands never be clean?  Wash your hands.  Banquo’s dead and buried.

Doctor: Uh, oh.

Lady Macbeth: The crime cannot be undone.  Let’s go to bed.  (She leaves.)

Doctor: You should keep an eye on her.  And keep her away from sharp objects.

Gentlewoman: I will.  Thank you for coming, Doctor.

    (They leave.)

Act 5, Scene 2.  The country near Dunsinane.  Lords Menteith, Caithness, Angus, and Lennox, with soldiers.  These are loyal to Malcolm.

Menteith: The English are getting close.  Malcolm, Siward, and Macduff are leading them.

Angus: We’ll meet up with them near Birnam Wood.

Caithness: Is Donalbain with them?

Lennox: No, he’s not in this fight at all.  He’s either a pacifist or he’s gay.  But Siward’s son is with them, and a lot of good, young English lads who are ready to kick ass.

Menteith: What about Macbeth?

Caithness: He’s built up the defenses at Dunsinane.  I’ve also heard he’s raving like a madman.

Angus: I’m not surprised.  His soldiers hate him, and he knows it.

Caithness: Let’s get to Birnam and meet up with the others.

Menteith (to Lennox): Hey, is that really true about Donalbain?

Lennox: Is what true?

Menteith: That he’s gay?

Lennox: Listen, just forget I said that, all right?

Menteith: Okay.  Whatever.

    (All leave.) 

Act 5, Scene 3.  In the castle at Dunsinane.  Macbeth, the doctor, and attendants come in.

Macbeth: I don’t give a rat’s ass about what the enemy is doing.  I was given a prophecy.  No man born of a woman can harm me.  So fuck Malcolm, fuck all the nobles who deserted me, and fuck the English.  I am so fucking fed up.  Instead of being surrounded by loyal troops and getting the love, obedience, and honor I deserve, all I hear is grumbling and bitching and curses against me….Leyton!

    (Leyton, an officer, comes in.)

Leyton: Yes, my lord?

Macbeth: What’s the news?

Leyton: The enemy has ten thousand troops marching against us.

Macbeth: I’m ready to fight, so fuck ’em all.  Doctor, how’s my wife?

Doctor: She’s hallucinating.  She’s out of her mind.

Macbeth: Don’t you have a pill for that?

Doctor: I’m afraid not.

Macbeth: Well, there must be some kind of herbal remedy.  I see them advertised everywhere.  Come on, man, what do I pay you for?  Leyton, get me my armor.  I want some scouts sent out.  And if any of our men are talking like chicken-shit cowards, hang ’em.  Remember, you guys, until Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane, I rule!  (Leyton and doctor leave.)

Act 5, Scene 4.  The country near Birnam Wood.  The English army, along with Malcolm, Siward, Young Siward, Macduff, Menteith, Caithness, and Angus.

Siward: What forest is this?

Menteith: This is called Birnam Wood.

Malcolm: I have a brilliant idea!  How about this?  We’ll cut leafy branches off the trees, and all the soldiers will cover themselves so they won’t be noticed, and then we’ll sort of creep up little by little.  That way we can get real close to the castle.

Siward: That could work, as long as the bastard stays in the castle.

Malcolm: He’s got to stay inside.  A lot of guys are deserting him, and those that are staying probably are just waiting for a chance to surrender.

Siward: We should assume there’s going to be some fighting anyway, so let’s get down to it.

    (All leave, marching.)

Act 5, Scene 5.  Inside Dunsinane Castle.  Macbeth, Leyton, and soldiers, including drums and colors.

Macbeth: We’re safe inside the castle.  They’ll never break in.  (A cry of women is heard.)  What the hell is that?  Leyton, go check.  (Leyton leaves.)  As if I didn’t have enough to worry about.  (Leyton returns.)

Leyton: The Queen is dead, my lord.  It appears to be suicide.

Macbeth: Oh, God, not now!  How much can I bear?  Day after day, and every day after that, life is just totally fucking meaningless bullshit.  And then you die.  And that’s all there is.

    (Messenger arrives.)

Messenger: My lord, I have something very strange to report.

Macbeth: What is it?

Messenger: Well, this may sound crazy, but it appears that the trees of Birnam Wood are moving slowly toward the castle. 

Macbeth: What?  You need to have your eyes checked, man!

Messenger: My lord, you can see for yourself.  It’s about three miles away.  The trees are moving.

Macbeth: Wait a minute….Birnam Wood…moving toward Dunsinane….Oh, my God!  The prophecy!  I will rule until Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane.  Okay, everyone, strap on your gear.  We can’t run, and we can’t hide.  We have to fight.

    (All leave.)

Act 5, Scene 6.  Before the castle of Dunsinane.  The English forces, with Malcolm, Siward, and Macduff, all holding leafy branches.

Malcolm: We’re close enough.  Siward, you and your son lead the first charge.  Macduff and I will lead the second. 

Siward: That suits me fine.  Blow the trumpets!  And make it loud!  It scares the shit out of the gooks!  (Sounds of trumpets.)

Act 5, Scene 7.  On the battlefield.  Macbeth comes in alone.

Macbeth: Okay, take it easy.  Nothing to worry about.  No man born of a woman can hurt me.  I’m Superman.

    (Young Siward comes in, brandishing sword.)

Young Siward: Who are you?

Macbeth: I’m Macbeth!  I’m the King!  Be afraid!  Be very afraid!

Young Siward: You piece of shit!

    (They fight with swords, and Macbeth kills Young Siward.)

Macbeth: You sucker!  You were born of a woman, so there was no way you could kill me!  The prophecy is true!  I can’t be killed!

    (He leaves.  Sounds of battle.  Macduff comes in alone.)

Macduff: Macbeth, if I don’t kill you myself, I’ll never be able to bear my family’s death.  And judging from the noise, I think I know where to find you.

    (He leaves.  More sounds of battle.  Malcolm and Siward come in.)

Siward: Look!  Everyone in the castle is surrendering!  This is going to be easy.

Malcolm: You see?  They don’t want to fight for Macbeth.

Siward: Let’s get inside.

    (They leave.  More sounds of battle.)

Act 5, Scene 8.  Elsewhere on the battlefield, Macbeth and Macduff meet.

Macduff: At last I’ve got you, you son of a bitch!

Macbeth: You’re the last man I wanted to fight, but now that you’re here, I’ll soak the ground with your blood!

    (They fight with swords.)

Macbeth: I can’t be killed by any man born of a woman!  It was a prophecy!

Macduff: Well, I got a surprise for you, pal!  I was delivered by Caesarian!  So I was not actually born by my mother!

Macbeth: What!  Hey, that’s not fair!  That’s a technicality!  You can’t use that!

Macduff: You should always read the fine print!

Macbeth: Oh, fuck, fuck, fuck!

    (They resume the fighting.  Macduff kills Macbeth.  Then he leaves, dragging the body with him.  Trumpet call to withdraw.  Malcolm, Siward, Ross, Lords, and soldiers come in.)

Siward: I’d say we kicked their butts, all right.

Malcolm: Macduff is missing, and so’s your son.

Ross: Your son, Young Siward, is dead.  He died fighting like a good soldier.

Siward: If I had as many sons as the hairs on my head, I’d want them all to die the same way.

    (Macduff comes in, holding Macbeth’s head.)

Macduff: Well, I got myself a nice trophy.  And you, my lord Malcolm, Prince Royal, and rightful heir to the throne, are now the King of Scotland.

    (A flourish of trumpets.)

Malcolm: Thank you!  Thank you!  Every one of you!  This means honors and rewards for all of you. The coronation will be at Scone on, uh, let’s make it Sunday.  Big banquet to follow.  You’ll all be there, of course.  Now, I want you to get the word out to everyone who left the country that it’s safe to come back — especially to my brother, Donalbain.  And, yes, I know all about the rumors, so just to set the record straight…Don is not gay.

    (Flourish of trumpets.  All leave as curtain falls.)


    Copyright@ 2010 by Crad Kilodney, Toronto, Canada.  E-mail: crad166@yahoo.com

Author’s Note: “Shakespeare For White Trash” is a series of condensed restylings designed to make Shakespeare understandable and enjoyable to those who have little or no knowledge of him.  Read my versions and you’ll be a Shakespeare fan forever.

(Index to the Series appears on Oct. 7, 2010 — https://cradkilodney.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/ )   

Main characters

Claudius — King of Denmark

Hamlet — Prince of Denmark, nephew of Claudius

Gertrude– Hamlet’s mother, Queen of Denmark

Polonius — Lord Chamberlain (someone who manages the King’s domestic affairs)

Laertes — son of Polonius

Ophelia — daughter of Polonius

Horatio — Hamlet’s best friend

Marcellus, Bernardo, Francisco — soldiers/officers

Cornelius, Voltemand, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, Osric — courtiers (Courtiers are members of the King’s court.  They may or may not actually do anything useful, but they get fed anyway.)

Reynaldo — servant of Polonius

Fortinbras — Prince of Norway, nephew of the King of Norway

Ghost (Hamlet’s dead father)

Gist of the story: Hamlet’s father, the King of Denmark, was murdered by his brother, Claudius (Hamlet’s uncle), who then remarried Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude.  Hamlet and Gertrude don’t know Claudius murdered the old king.  Then the dead king’s ghost appears to Hamlet and tells him how he was murdered and tells Hamlet to get revenge on Claudius.  When Claudius realizes Hamlet is on to him, he plots to get rid of Hamlet before Hamlet can get his revenge.  By the end almost everybody dies.  (How can you resist a story line like that?)

Act 1, Scene 1.   Elsinore Castle.  Francisco is on guard duty on the watch platform when Bernardo arrives to relieve him.

Francisco: It’s about time, bro.  I was supposed to be off at midnight.

Bernardo: Okay, you can go to bed.  Wassup anyway?

Francisco: Not much.

Bernardo: If you see Horatio and Marcellus, tell them to move their butts.  They’re supposed to be on duty, too.

Francisco: Here they are now.   (Horatio and Marcellus arrive.)

Marcellus: Hey, dudes.  Have you seen that ghost again?

Bernardo: I didn’t see nothing tonight.

Marcellus: Horatio says we’re just imagining things.  He don’t believe in ghosts.  But we seen it twice.  I told him.

Horatio: There ain’t gonna be no ghost.

Bernardo: Me and Marcellus seen it last night.  (Ghost appears.)

Marcellus: Whoa!  There it is again!

Bernardo: It looks just like the old king!

Marcellus: Horatio, you talk to it!

Horatio: Hey, ghost!  Who are you?  Say something!

Bernardo: It’s leaving!

Horatio: Hey, I’m talking to you!  You deaf or something?  (Ghost leaves.)

Bernardo: Now do you believe us, Horatio?

Horatio: Holy shit!

Marcellus: Didn’t it look like the old king?

Horatio: I’ll say!  You know, I think this is a bad omen.  I think it means war with Norway.  I think they want to take back the lands we won from them.  (Ghost appears again.)  Look out!   There it is again!…Hey, ghost, what’re you trying to tell us?  Hey!…Marcellus, hit it!  (Sound of rooster crowing.  Ghost leaves.)

Marcellus: Too late.  It’s gone. 

Bernardo: I think it was going to speak when the rooster crowed.

Horatio: It didn’t want to be here when the morning broke.  Some kind of ghost rule, I think.  We should tell Hamlet.  I’m sure the ghost would talk to him.

Marcellus:  Yeah, let’s do that.

Act 1, Scene 2.  Elsinore Castle.  A big hall.  Claudius, Gertrude, Hamlet, Polonius, Laertes, Ophelia, and a bunch of extras.

King: I want to thank everyone for coming to my brother’s funeral and also to the wedding.  We’re sad and happy at the same time, obviously.  Some of you may be wondering why the wedding happened so quickly after the funeral.  Well, there’s a good reason.  There were a lot of leftovers after the funeral, and I didn’t want them to go to waste.  Now, down to serious business.  Fortinbras, the Prince of Norway, apparently thinks this is a good time to bully us into giving back the lands my brother won from his late father.  (Beckons to Cornelius and Voltemand, who approach.)  So this is what I’m going to do.  I’m writing to the King of Norway, who is pretty sick and probably doesn’t know about all the shit his nephew Fortinbras has been kicking up, and I’m telling him to put the kid on a shorter leash.  So, Cornelius and Voltemand, you’ll act as my ambassadors to Norway and deliver my letter to the King and bring back his reply.  (Hands letter to them.)

Cornelius and Voltemand: Yes, your Majesty.  (They leave.)

King: And now, wassup with you, Laertes?  You wanted to talk to me about something.

Laertes: I’d like to go back to France, to college.  I came back to Denmark for your coronation, but that’s done, so…

King: What does your father say?

Polonius: The kid’s been nagging me so much, I gave in and told him he could go back to Paris.

King: I hear those Parisian girls are pretty hot, heh, heh.  Well, okay, Laertes, you’re only young once, as they say….And now, Hamlet, my new son.  Why do you look so down?

Hamlet: No reason.

Queen: Don’t grieve forever for your father.  Everyone dies sometime.

Hamlet: You have no idea how miserable I feel.

King: It’s understandable that you should grieve for your father, but don’t take it to extremes.  I want you to think of me as your new father.  Don’t go back to school in Wittenberg.  Your mother and I want you to stay here with us.

Queen: Yes, Hamlet, don’t leave us to go back to Wittenberg.

Hamlet: Okay, I’ll stay.

King: Great!  Now everyone’s happy!  Okay, snack time!  (Everyone leaves except Hamlet.)

Hamlet: God, I’m so pissed off!  My father’s not even dead two months and my mother marries my uncle!  What an incestuous bitch!

    (Horatio, Marcellus, and Bernardo walk in.)

Horatio: Hail, Prince, good buddy!

Hamlet: So you made the trip from Wittenberg, too.

Horatio: For the funeral, naturally.

Hamlet: You mean the wedding.

Horatio: Well, that, too.

Hamlet: Worst wedding I ever attended.  I kept thinking about my poor dead father.

Horatio: I think I saw him last night.

Hamlet: You saw my father?

Horatio: Marcellus and Bernardo saw his ghost two nights in a row, and I saw him on the third night.  We were all scared shitless.  It was him, for sure.  He was all dressed in full armor.

Hamlet: Did you speak to him?

Horatio: I tried to, but he disappeared when the rooster crowed.

Hamlet: Well, I’m gonna be up there tonight with you guys in case he shows up.  In the meantime, don’t tell anyone about this.  (The others leave.)  My father’s ghost?  Dressed in armor?  This sounds like some real heavy shit.

Act 1, Scene 3.  The house of Polonius.  Laertes and Ophelia. 

Laertes: Well, I’m off to Paris.  Don’t forget to write.  And as for Hamlet, I know you have a crush on him, but don’t take him seriously.  Even if he says he loves you, basically he just wants to fuck you.  He’s no different from any other guy.  (Polonius comes in.)

Polonius: Are you still here?  Go on, your ship’s waiting.  But just let me give you some fatherly advice before you go.  Number one, keep your thoughts to yourself.  Number two, be true to yourself.  And number three, always pay cash.

Laertes: I will.  Goodbye, Sis, and remember what I said.  (Leaves.)

Polonius: What did Laertes say to you?

Ophelia: It was about Hamlet.

Polonius: You’ve been seeing him a lot, haven’t you?

Ophelia: He says he loves me.

Polonius: Don’t be naive, girl.  He’s just a horny prince.  I don’t want you to see him any more.

Ophelia: Okay, if you insist.

Act 1, Scene 4.  Hamlet, Horatio, and Marcellus are on the watch platform of the castle.

Hamlet: What time is it?

Marcellus: Just past midnight.

    (Ghost appears.)

Horatio: There it is!

Hamlet: Father!  You’re supposed to be dead!  How can you be here?  (Ghost beckons Hamlet to follow.)

Horatio: It wants to speak to you alone.

Marcellus: Don’t go!

Hamlet: It’s okay.  What can it do to me?  (Follows ghost offstage.)

Horatio: What if it’s a demon in disguise?

Marcellus: Bro, we gotta follow them.  (They leave.)

Act 1, Scene 5.  Another part of the watch platform.

Hamlet: Okay, ghost, whoever you are.  Talk to me.

Ghost: Son, I’m your father.  I’m just a spirit now.  Listen, I was murdered by your Uncle Claudius.  Everyone was told I died from a snake bite while I was taking a nap in the orchard.  Like, Denmark is really known for poisonous snakes, right?  But your uncle put poison in my ears.  Then with me dead, he seduced your mother.  Now, you get that piece of shit for me, but spare your mother, understand?  Okay, that’s it.  I’m outa here.  Good luck.  (Ghost leaves.  Horatio and Marcellus arrive.)

Horatio: What happened?

Hamlet: It was my father’s ghost, all right.  But I can’t say any more right now.  Only thing is, you have to swear absolutely you won’t say anything about this to anyone.  Swear on my sword.

Horatio and Marcellus (hands on sword): We swear, bro.

Act 2, Scene 1.  The house of Polonius.  Polonius and Reynaldo come in.

Polonius: Reynaldo, here’s some money I want you to take to Laertes in Paris.  But before you see him, I want you to ask around among the other Danes in Paris and find out if he’s been leading a wild life –you know, drinking, gambling, fucking hookers, that sort of thing.

Reynaldo: Right, boss.  (Reynaldo leaves.  Ophelia comes in.)

Ophelia: Dad, I’m so upset.

Polonius: What’s the matter?

Ophelia: Hamlet came to see me, and he looked like a mess, and he was out of his mind.  He just stared like a madman, and he groaned, and his head was bobbing up and down, and then he staggered out looking at me over his shoulder.

Polonius: The kid’s hormones must be out of control.  Or did you say something to upset him? 

Ophelia: No, but I did refuse to see him, like you told me. 

Polonius: Well, maybe that made things worse.  But I was just being cautious for your sake.  Anyway, let’s go see the King.

Act 2, Scene 2.  In the castle.  The King and Queen come in, along with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

King: Welcome, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.  The reason I asked you to come over is that Hamlet has been acting pretty weird.  You’ve both known him since childhood, so I believe you can draw him out and find out what’s eating him.  You’ll do that for your King and Queen, won’t you?

Queen: Of course, they will, dear.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern: Yes, your Majesties.

Queen: He’s around somewhere.  Just look for him.  (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern leave.  Polonius comes in.)

Polonius: The ambassadors are back from Norway with some good news.  And I think I know why Hamlet is acting crazy.  But let me bring in Voltemand and Cornelius first.  (He leaves very briefly and returns with Voltemand and Cornelius.)

King: What’s the news from Norway?

Voltemand: Well, here’s the story.  The King investigated what his nephew, Prince Fortinbras, was up to, and he got really pissed off that the kid was planning to invade us.  So he gave him a big lecture and made him promise to forget about it.  The kid agreed.  The King was real happy about that, and he gave the kid three thousand crowns to take the army to attack Poland instead.  (Hands King a letter.)  The King asks you to allow Fortinbras and his army to pass through Denmark so they can get to Poland.

King: I guess that’s reasonable.  I’ll send him an answer later.  Well done.  (Voltemand and Cornelius leave.)

Polonius: Well, that’s one less thing to worry about.  Now, about your Prince Hamlet.  He’s just totally bonkers.

Queen: Can you be more specific?

Polonius: He sent my daughter, Ophelia, this steamy love letter.  I’ll read it: ‘Dear Ophelia, Your white breasts are driving me crazy.  I am groaning for you.  I love you.  Yours forever, Hamlet.’

King: How did she take it?

Polonius: Well, she’s still a virgin.  I told her Hamlet is a prince, and she’s, well, not on the same level, and it just can’t work.  I told her not to have any more contact with him, and, naturally, she obeyed me.  Now the Prince is obviously depressed and out of his mind.

King:  Are you sure about this?

Polonius: Well, there’s one way to prove it.  I’ll arrange for Ophelia to meet him in the lobby, where he likes to walk for hours.  You can hide behind the curtain and see what happens.

King: That’s a good idea.  Okay.

Polonius: Wait!  I see him coming!  You guys get out of the room, and I’ll see what I can get out of him.  (King and Queen leave hurriedly.  Then Hamlet comes in, reading a book.)  How’s it going. Prince?

Hamlet: I know you.  You’re a fishmonger.

Polonius: No, I’m not.  I’m the Lord Chamberlain.

Hamlet: The sun breeds maggots in dead dogs.  Say, you have a daughter, don’t you?

Polonius: Of course.

Hamlet: Don’t let her walk in the sun.  She might get pregnant.

Polonius (aside): This guy’s nuts….Uh, what are you reading, Prince?  Anything good?

Hamlet: It’s about old men with grey beards and wrinkled faces.  I agree with it, but I don’t like the style.  And if you yourself could go backwards like a crab, you’d be as old as I am.

Polonius: Uh…right…yeah….That makes a lot of sense.  Well, I really must be going.  (He leaves.  Then Rosencrantz and Guildenstern come in.)

Hamlet: Ros and Guil, my old friends.  Wassup?

Rosencrantz: Not much.  Just came for a friendly visit.

Hamlet: Oh, did you now?  Just a friendly visit.  How nice….(Suddenly looking harsh)  And, of course, the King and Queen didn’t send the two of you.

Rosencrantz (squirming): Oh, no!

Guildenstern (squirming): No, not at all!

Rosencrantz: That is, not as such.

Guildenstern: Well…that is…actually….

Rosencrantz: Uh…well…sort of.

Guildenstern: Sort of…maybe.

Rosencrantz: Sort of…yes.

Guildenstern: Just following orders, that’s all.

Hamlet: I know I’ve been in a bad mood lately, but why not?  After all, the earth is sterile, the air is foul, and what is man but a pile of dust anyway?  Everyone thinks I’m crazy, but I’m only crazy when I want to be.

Rosencrantz: Well, then, there’s a company of actors coming to put on a show.  Maybe that’ll cheer you up.

    (Polonius comes in.)

Polonius: My lord, the actors have arrived.  They can do any kind of play — tragedy, comedy, historical, postmodern, you name it.  (Four or five actors come in.)

Hamlet: That’s fine.  I could use a laugh.  Okay, you take care of these actors, Polonius.  I’ll just have a word with this guy.  (Polonius and all the actors leave except one.  Hamlet speaks to him.)  Can you do “The Murder of Gonzago”?

Actor: Of course.  We got a good review for it in The Times.

Hamlet: That’s swell.  I’m just going to make a few changes, however.  Something to amuse the King.

Actor: Not a problem.

Hamlet: Very good.   I’ll see you about it later.  Carry on.  (Actor leaves.)  And I’ll see you guys tonight.  (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern leave.)  Yeah, something to amuse the King, my goddamn uncle.  I should have just snuffed him by now.  What’s the matter with me?  Don’t I have the balls?  I just have to be sure, that’s all.  I have to be absolutely sure he’s guilty.  I’ll have the actors do a scene just like the murder of my father, and I’ll watch my uncle’s reactions.  Then I’ll know.

Act 3, Scene 1.  A room in the castle.  King, Queen, Polonius, Ophelia, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and Lords.

King (to Rosencrantz): Well, you guys spoke to Hamlet.  Why is he acting like a lunatic?

Rosencrantz: He admitted he was in a bad mood, but the things he said didn’t make any sense to me.

Guildenstern: I thought he was being evasive.

Rosencrantz: He did seem to lighten up a bit when the actors arrived.  He’s looking forward to seeing the play tonight.

King: That’s good.  Try to keep his spirits up.

Rosencrantz: We will, my lord.  (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern leave.)

King: You should go now, Gertrude.  Hamlet should be coming along about now, and Ophelia will meet him.  Polonius and I will be hiding to see how he behaves.  This way we’ll find out if he’s just lovesick, or if there’s something else making him act crazy.  (Queen leaves.)

Polonius: He’s coming.  Let’s get out of sight.  (King and Polonius leave.  Hamlet comes in.  Ophelia is off to the side, and he doesn’t notice her.)

Hamlet: To be, or not to be: that’s the question.  Or, in other words, should I do something, or should I do nothing?…Fuck me.  I so much need a beer right now….Oh!  Ophelia.

Ophelia: How are you?

Hamlet: Fine.

Ophelia: I’m giving you back all your gifts and letters.

Hamlet: I never gave you anything.

Ophelia: Yes, you did.  Take them.  (Hamlet doesn’t take them.)

Hamlet: I did love you once, but not any more.

Ophelia: You deceived me.

Hamlet: You don’t know what terrible thoughts I have in my head.  You should never trust any man.  Take my advice and become a nun.  Where’s your father?

Ophelia: At home.

Hamlet: He’s a dickhead. 

Ophelia: Hey, God, can you restore this man’s sanity?

Hamlet: You women make me sick.  You turn men into monsters.  You’re two-faced, you’re phony, you act on a whim and then pretend it’s just ignorance.  Let’s put an end to marriage.  Those that are already married will be allowed to live — except for one.  (Leaves.)

Ophelia: How can a noble prince turn into such a total creep?  And I thought he loved me.  I feel like complete shit!  (She leaves.  Then the King and Polonius come in.)

King: The Prince isn’t lovesick, Polonius.  There’s something else going on, and it sounds dangerous to me.  I’m going to send him to England on some errand.  I’ll send him to collect the money they owe us.  Maybe a change of scenery will do him some good.  What do you think?

Polonius: That would probably be good.  But I still think he’s just upset over Ophelia breaking up with him.  But I have a great idea.  After the play tonight, have the Queen talk to him privately and try to get him to open up.  I’ll hide somewhere where I can listen in.  After all, you’ve got to get a report from someone like me who can be objective.  If the Queen can’t get the truth out of him, send him to England, or do whatever you think is best.

King: Yeah, let’s play it that way.  (They leave.)

Act 3, Scene 2.  A hall in the castle, with a small stage and chairs or benches for the audience.  Hamlet and Horatio come in.

Hamlet: Horatio, you are one solid dude.  You are totally balanced.

Horatio: Thanks.

Hamlet: I know I can depend on you.  Now, listen.  The actors are going to stage a scene that’s just like my father’s death.  I want to gauge my uncle’s reactions, and I want you to be watching, too.  Then afterwards we’ll compare notes.  This is the only way I can be sure that the ghost was telling me the truth.

Horatio: My eyeballs will be glued to him, bro.

    (Sound of trumpets and drums.  The King and Queen come in, along with Polonius, Ophelia, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern and the rest of the audience.)

Queen: Sit by me, Hamlet.

Hamlet: No, I think I’ll sit next to Ophelia.

    (Everyone sits down.  Oboes play to introduce the actors.  They put on a pantomime as follows: a King and Queen are in a garden.  The King feels sleepy and lies down for a nap.  The Queen leaves.  Then a shrouded man comes in, takes the King’s crown, kisses it, pours something from a small bottle into the King’s ear, and leaves.  The Queen returns, finds the King dead, and gesticulates hysterically.  The poisoner returns and pretends to be horrified.  The King is carried away.  Then the poisoner woos the Queen with gifts and caresses, and after a bit of hesitation, she embraces him.)

Ophelia: I don’t get it.

Hamlet: It’s a crime drama.

King (rising): This is bullshit!  Stop this show now!  Fuck these clowns!  Show’s over!  Everyone go home!  (Everyone leaves the hall except Hamlet and Horatio.)

Hamlet: Well, you saw it.  My uncle’s a fucking murderer.

Horatio: Yep, sure looks that way, bro.

    (Polonius comes back.)

Polonius: Prince, the King is very upset, and your mother wants to see you.

Hamlet: Fine, I’ll be right there.  Bug off.  (Polonius leaves.)  Now I’m ready to settle things with my uncle!  And I have a few things to say to my mother, too!  (Hamlet leaves.)

Act 3, Scene 3.  A room in the castle.  The King, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern come in.

King: I want that punk out of the country!  That play was his idea, I know it!  He’s fucking crazy!  It’s not safe to keep him around here!  I’m going to send him to England, and you guys are going with him, so go and get ready. 

Rosencrantz: We’re outa here!  (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern leave.  Polonius comes in.)

Polonius: My lord, he’s going to see the Queen in her room.  I’ll hide behind the curtain, and I’ll give you a full report afterwards.

King: Go to it.  (Polonius leaves.  The King faces a crucifix on the wall.)  The shit has finally hit the fan.  I’m a fucking murderer.  I murdered my own brother.  If I could only pray for forgiveness…but I wouldn’t know what to say.  How can I be forgiven if I’m still wearing the crown and I still have the Queen?…Well, I could try to repent anyway.  I should force myself to pray.  (Kneels in prayer, silently.  Hamlet is passing by, walking very softly, and stops to observe the King from a distance.)

Hamlet: I could kill him now.  Get my revenge over with.  But if I kill him while he’s repenting, he’ll just go straight to heaven….No, I’d rather kill him when he isn’t looking so holy and good.  (Hamlet leaves.  The King rises from his prayer.)

King: I don’t think I prayed very good.  It felt too fake.

Act 3, Scene 4.  The Queen’s room.  The Queen and Polonius come in.

Polonius: He’s on his way.  You’ve got to tell him he’s gone way over the line.  You gotta tell him straight.

Queen: I will.  Now get out of sight.  Hurry.  (Polonius hides behind curtain.  Hamlet comes in.)

Hamlet: What is it, Mom, as if I couldn’t guess?

Queen: Hamlet, you’ve offended your father — that is, your uncle.

Hamlet: No, you’re the one who has offended my father — that is, my father.

Queen: What are you talking about?

Hamlet: You’re the Queen.  You’re the wife of your dead husband’s brother.  And, I’m sorry to say, you’re my mother.

Queen: Hamlet!  How dare you speak to me like that!

Hamlet: Just sit there and don’t move!  I’m going to prove to you how wicked you’ve been!  (Advances aggressively.)

Queen: What are you going to do, murder me?  Help!

Polonius (behind curtain): Help!  Murder!

Hamlet (drawing sword): Sounds like a rat!  Soon to be a dead rat!  (Stabs through curtain and strikes Polonius fatally.)

Polonius (behind curtain): Oh, I’m dead!

Queen: What have you done!

Hamlet: Oh, sorry.  Was that the King by any chance?

Queen: Look at the terrible thing you’ve done!

Hamlet: Yeah, terrible.  Almost as terrible as killing a king and marrying his brother.

Queen: What?  Me?  Kill a king?

Hamlet (pulls curtain aside, revealing Polonius): Oh, not the King.  A different asshole….Tough luck, you bastard.

Queen: Why do you accuse me of killing a king?  Do you mean your father? 

Hamlet: Are you blind?  Are you stupid?  Don’t you realize my uncle murdered my father?  You’ve been sleeping with a fucking murderer all this time!  Don’t tell me you didn’t know!

Queen:  No!  No!  I don’t want to hear this!

    (Ghost of the dead King appears, but only Hamlet can see it.)

Hamlet (to Ghost): Yeah, I know.  I haven’t done what you told me to do yet.

Ghost: Get on with it.  Don’t wimp out on me.

Queen: Who are you talking to?

Hamlet: My father.  He’s right there.  Can’t you see him?  (Ghost leaves.)  Oh, he’s gone now.

Queen: You’re deluded!

Hamlet: No, you’re the one who’s been deluded.  You’ve been in a state of denial.  Don’t make things worse.  Don’t sleep with my uncle any more.  Make any excuse.  I have to kill him.  It’s a matter of revenge.

Queen: I feel sick.

Hamlet: Deal with it.  Just don’t sleep with him again.

Queen: All right.

Hamlet: Now I have to go to England.  Rosencrantz and Guildenstern will be carrying sealed letters for the King of England.  I trust them like a couple of snakes.  It’s all a plot by my uncle to get rid of me.  But he won’t succeed.  I’m a step ahead of him….Now I’ll just lug your Lord Chamberlain son of a bitch out of your room.  Good night.  (Hamlet drags off Polonius.)

Act 4, Scene 1.  A room in the castle.  The King and Queen.

Queen: Hamlet’s insane!  He heard Polonius behind the curtain, and he shouted “A rat!” and then he stabbed him!

King: My God!  It could have been one of us!  We’re not safe with him around!  And we’ll be blamed for Polonius’s death because we didn’t keep a close eye on Hamlet when we knew he was crazy.  Where is he now?

Queen: He’s dumping the body somewhere.  I don’t know.

King: We’ve got to get him out of the country immediately.  Then we’ll have to come up with some explanation for Polonius’s death….Hey, Guildenstern!  Rosencrantz!  (The two of them come in.)  Listen, Hamlet’s crazy.  He just killed Polonius.  Get some guys together and try to find Hamlet.  And find that body!  (They leave.)  Come on, Gertrude, we have to round up the councillors and tell them what’s happened.  Maybe we can think of a way to avoid a political disaster.  (King and Queen leave.)

Act 4, Scene 2.  This scene is deleted.

Act 4, Scene 3.  A room in the castle.  The King and Queen.

King: Hamlet’s dangerous.  But we can’t punish him.  The people love him too much.  It would be messy.  And we don’t want to give the impression that we’re desperate to get him out of the country.  We’ve got to play it cool.

    (Hamlet is brought in, escorted by Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and attendants.)

King: Now, Hamlet, where’s Polonius?

Hamlet: He’s hidden.  If you don’t find him within a month, you’ll be able to smell him when you go upstairs.

King (to attendants): Go find the body!  (They leave.)  Now, look, Hamlet, we have to get  you out of the country.  For your own safety, you understand.  The boat’s ready to take you to England.

Hamlet: Oh, goody, I just love England this time of year.  Goodbye, Mother, I’m off to England!  (Leaves.)

King: Get going, you guys.  I want him out of here at once.  Everything’s been arranged.  (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern leave.) … And, England, if you know what’s good for you, you’ll do what it says in those letters, and (gestures with finger cutting throat)…no more Hamlet.  And that saves my royal butt.

Act 4, Scene 4.  A field near the castle.  Fortinbras, a Captain, and some soldiers.

Fortinbras: Captain, go tell the Danish King we’re passing through.  Ask him if he wants us to bring anything back from Poland.

Captain: Yes, my lord.  (Everyone except the Captain leaves in one direction.  Hamlet, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern and others arrive from the other direction.)

Hamlet (to his party): You guys can go on ahead.  I just want to talk to this dude for one minute.  (The escorts depart.)  Hey, my man, whose army is that?

Captain: We’re from Norway, sir.

Hamlet: On your way to a fight, I take it.

Captain: Yes, sir.  Against Poland.

Hamlet: Who’s in command?

Captain: Prince Fortinbras, the King’s nephew.

Hamlet: Gonna conquer the whole country, are you?

Captain: No, sir, just a small, useless patch of land that’s hardly worth the bother, especially since the Polacks have built up their defenses.  But that’s Prince Fortinbras for you.  He wants it, and goddamn it, he’s gonna take it.  (Captain leaves in the direction of the castle.)

Hamlet: Wow!  That Fortinbras is some kick-ass dude!  He doesn’t fuck around.  He doesn’t waste time thinking about it.  What do I do?  I just keep thinking about what I’m supposed to do instead of just doing it.  The Norwegian makes me look like a wuss by comparison.  Well, that’s a lesson for me to learn.  No more thinking.  I’ve got to act.  I’m out for blood now.  (Leaves.)

Act 4, Scene 5.  A room in the castle.  King, Queen, and Horatio.  A Gentleman comes in.

Gentleman: Ophelia’s extremely upset about her father’s death.  She’s babbling a lot of stuff about conspiracies, and rumors are spreading among the people.  It’s a dangerous situation.

Horatio: You should speak to her, your Majesty.

King: Bring the girl in.  (Gentleman leaves.  Ophelia comes in.)

Ophelia (singing tunelessly): He is dead and gone….He is dead and gone….At his head the grass-green turf, at his heels a stone….(speaking normally)…My father is dead in the cold ground.  My brother will hear about this.  Good night.  (She goes out, sort of skipping.)

King: What the fuck!  (To Horatio): Follow her.  Keep an eye on her.  (Horatio leaves.)  Gertrude, the shit just keeps getting deeper.  First her father gets killed.  Then your son has to be sent away.  And now the people are spreading wild rumors about Polonius’s death.  I may have been too quick to get him buried.  And now Laertes has returned from France.  God knows what kind of bullshit he’s heard by now.

    (Laertes comes in.)

Laertes: Where’s the King!…You bastard!  What did you do to my father?

King: Take it easy, Laertes!  I had nothing to do with your father’s death.

Laertes: My sister is out of her mind!  Have you seen her?  And exactly how did my father die?  And why wasn’t he given a proper funeral?  You’d better have some good answers!

King: Yes, lad!  I know how upset you are.  Believe me, I’m upset, too.  Now, come with me, and I’ll explain everything to you in private.  (They leave.)

Act 4, Scene 6.  Horatio is in a room in the castle.  A servant comes in.)

Servant: Sir, there are a couple of sailors here who have a letter for you. 

Horatio: Okay, show them in.  (Servant leaves.  Sailors come in.)

Sailor: Sir, if you’re Horatio, I have a letter for you from the ambassador that was bound for England.  (Gives letter.)

Horatio (reading letter): ‘Attacked by pirates.  I boarded their ship and was captured.  They spared me.  The sailors who delivered this have letters for the King.  Make sure he gets them.  The sailors will escort you to where I am.  Ros and Guil unharmed, continuing to England.  Saving the best till I see you.  Hamlet.’

Act 4, Scene 7.  Another room in the castle.  The King and Laertes.

King: I hope you understand we’re on the same side.  Hamlet killed your father, and he was out to get me, too.

Laertes: You’re the King.  Why didn’t you punish him?

King: It’s not that simple.  The Queen loves him too much, and I couldn’t bear to hurt her.  And the people love him so much, they would have held it against me.

Laertes: Look, all I know is, my father’s dead and my sister has lost her mind, and I sure as hell am not going to take this shit.

    (Messenger arrives.)

Messenger: Letters from Prince Hamlet, your Majesty.  (Messenger hands over letters, then leaves.)

King (reading letter): ‘Your Majesty, Returning tomorrow.  Will explain everything when I see you.  Hamlet.’  What the fuck is this supposed to mean?

Laertes:  Beats the hell out of me, but let him come.  I’m gonna settle things with him.

King: Yes, yes, lad, but don’t be hasty.  We’ll do this my way.  I have a plan to make his death look like an accident.

Laertes: Whatever it is, I want in on it.

King: You will be.  Trust me.  Your star’s on the rise.  You’re gonna come out on top.  You know a Frenchman named Lamound?

Laertes: Gus Lamound, yeah.  I know him from Paris.

King: Well, he was telling me one time that you’re unbeatable with a sword.  And Hamlet was there when he said it, and he practically shit himself.  He wanted to challenge you first chance he got.  Now he’s back in Denmark and we’ll invite him to a duel.  What do you say?  Are you up for it?

Laertes: I’ll skin him alive.

King: Of course, when gentlemen duel in a sporting way, both swords are blunt.  But here’s the trick: we’ll fix it so that Hamlet’s sword is blunt and yours is sharp.

Laertes: Brilliant!  And I’ve got some poison I can put on my sword.  There’s no cure for it.  All I have to do is stick him once and he’s dead meat.

King: Now, in case that doesn’t work, I have a back-up plan.  I’ll have a cup of poisoned wine ready.  He’s bound to get thirsty if the fight goes on too long.  I’ll get him to drink the poison.

    (Queen comes in.)

Queen: Laertes, I have some bad news for you.  Your sister has drowned.

Laertes: Ophelia?  Drowned?  Where?

Queen: In the river.  She just fell in somehow.  She didn’t even try to save herself.  She was singing while she was drowning.  I think it may have been suicide. 

Laertes: My poor Ophelia!…Goodbye, my lord.  There’s no more time for words.  (Leaves.)

King: We’d better follow him, Gertrude.  This is really going to set him off.  (They leave.)

Act 5, Scene 1.  The graveyard.  King, Queen, Laertes, a priest, and attendants stand around Ophelia’s coffin.

Queen: Poor Ophelia!  I always hoped you would marry Hamlet someday.

Laertes: I hope the bastard responsible for my sister’s death suffers the worst possible fate.  (Falls on the coffin.)  Bury me with my sister!

     (Hamlet and Horatio arrive.)

Hamlet: Dude, you are so full of shit with your fake act!  I loved her more than you did!

    (Hamlet and Laertes fight.)

Laertes: Fuck you!

Hamlet: Fuck you!

King (to attendants): Stop them!  (Attendants separate them.)

Hamlet: He’s a fucking phony, jumping on her coffin like that!

King (restraining Laertes): He’s crazy.  Don’t listen to him.

    (Hamlet stalks off angrily.)

King (to Horatio): You stick with him.  (Horatio follows Hamlet.)

King (to Laertes):  Just keep your cool.  Remember what we talked about.

Act 5, Scene 2.  A hall in the castle.  Hamlet and Horatio come in.

Hamlet: I have to tell you what happened on the ship to England.

Horatio: Tell me everything.

Hamlet: My uncle was pretty desperate to get me out of the country, so I figured I wasn’t  supposed to come back alive.  Ros and Guil were carrying sealed letters for the King of England, and I was damned worried about what was in those letters, so I swiped them when Ros and Guil were sleeping.  And guess what?  My uncle told the King to execute me immediately.

Horatio: Holy shit!

Hamlet: So you know what I did?  I replaced those letters with my own fakes telling the King to execute Ros and Guil instead.  And I had my father’s signet ring with the official seal, so I could seal the letters and make them look totally authentic.

Horatio: Dude, you are so bad!  (Slaps hands with Hamlet.)   But what about the pirates?

Hamlet: The next day this pirate ship attacked us.  When the two ships were this close I jumped over by myself to fight them.  But there was no way.  I was outnumbered, so I had to give up.  But when they found out I was the Prince of Denmark, they stopped the attack and let my ship go, with Ros and Guil still on board.  And from then on it was like, oh, ‘Can I bring you something, sir?’, ‘Are you warm enough, sir?’, ‘Is your bed to your liking, sir?’, ‘What can we do for you, sir?’  I mean, these guys may have been pirates, but they weren’t like those fucking jigaboos on the other side of Arabia.  They brought me back and turned me over to some of our sailors, and here I am, well-fed and well-rested.  I’d say we owe those pirates a favor.

Horatio: For sure.  So Ros and Guil went on to England with the fake letters.  I guess they ain’t coming back.

Hamlet: I guess not.

Horatio: Your own uncle tried to have you snuffed.  Fuckin’ unbelievable.

Hamlet: And now I’m gonna snuff him, that piece of shit.

Horatio: He’s going to find out pretty soon about Ros and Guil, though.  The limeys will send word back.

Hamlet: Not before I get him.  I only wish I hadn’t blown a head valve with Laertes at his sister’s burial.  I should try to smooth it over with him.

    (Osric, a courtier, enters.)

Osric: Glad to see you back in Denmark, my lord.   The King has laid a big wager on you.  It concerns Laertes, who is a great guy, as you know, and a perfect gentleman.

Hamlet: Yeah, for sure, Osric.  He’s right up there with the Pope.

Osric: My lord, the King is wagering that you can beat Laertes in a duel with swords.

Hamlet: Hey, tell him to get the swords out.  I’m ready, and I’ll win.  I can beat Laertes.  (Osric leaves.  A Lord enters.)

Lord: My lord, the King and Queen will meet you here in the hall.  The Queen would like you to make up with Laertes before the duel.

Hamlet: Okay.  (Lord leaves.)

Horatio: I have a bad feeling about this, bro.  Why don’t you beg off?  I’ll tell them you’re sick or something.

Hamlet: No way.  Whatever is meant to happen is gonna happen, for better or worse.

    (The King, Queen, Laertes, Osric and Lords come in, along with attendants carrying several swords.  Cups of wine are set on a table.)

King: Hamlet, shake hands with Laertes.

Hamlet: I’m sorry I acted like a jerk this morning.  You know I respect you, man.

Laertes (somewhat stiffly): Okay, well, I appreciate the words.

Hamlet: Now, let’s have a fair fight.  Give us the swords.

    (Osric offers two swords.)

Laertes: I don’t like these.  Bring me another one.  (Hamlet accepts one of the swords.  The attendants offer the others, and Laertes selects one carefully.)

Hamlet (making a few practice slashes): This one’s good.  They’re all the same length, right?

Osric: Oh, yes, my lord.

King: All ready then?  Okay, lads, go to it!

    (Hamlet and Laertes square off and begin to duel.  The fight goes back and forth for a while.)

Hamlet: Gotcha!

King: A fair hit!  Well done!  Have some wine, Hamlet.  (Offers cup.)

Hamlet: Later.  (More dueling.)  Gotcha again, Laertes! 

Laertes: Just barely.

Queen: I drink to your good luck, Hamlet!  (Picks up poisoned cup.)

King: No, please don’t drink, my dear!

Queen: Hey, I’m the Queen and I can drink if I want to.  (Drinks.)

King: Uh, oh.

Hamlet: Come on, dude, gimme your best shot!

Laertes: I been saving it!  (Laertes lunges with a flourish and sticks Hamlet on the arm.  Hamlet reacts angrily, realizing Laertes was using a sharp sword.  He leaps at Laertes, and they scuffle.  In the confusion they end up with each other’s swords.  Hamlet, now holding the poisoned sword, wounds Laertes.)

King: Stop them!  This is out of control!

    (The Queen falls over.)

Osric: The Queen has fainted!

Horatio: Hey, both these guys are bleeding!  What gives?

Laertes: Oh, shit, I’m dead!

Hamlet: What’s wrong with my mother?

Queen (gasping): The wine…poison…(Dies.)

Hamlet: This is murder!  Nobody leaves the room!

Laertes (falls to floor): Hamlet, that sword was meant to kill you.  It was poisoned.  We can’t be saved. We’re both going to die any minute.  And your mother drank poisoned wine that was meant for you.  It was the King’s idea.

Hamlet (sticks King with the poisoned sword): Die, you fucker!

King: Oh, shit!

Hamlet: And now you drink the wine!  (Pours wine on the King’s mouth.  The King gasps and dies.)

Laertes: Forgive me, Hamlet.  My death is not your fault.  And my father’s death wasn’t your fault….(Dies.)

Hamlet: I’m a dead man, Horatio.  Just make sure everyone knows the truth about me.  (Takes the poisoned cup and drinks the little bit left.)  Fuck me.

    (Sound of marching and drums outside.)

Osric: It’s Fortinbras and his army!  They’re back from Poland.  And there are ambassadors from England, too.

Hamlet: Fortinbras….There’s a man to look up to….He should be the next King, Horatio.  (Dies.)

    (Fortinbras, Color Guard, some soldiers, the English ambassadors, and attendants come in.)

Fortinbras: What the fuck happened here?  Looks like the whole royal family is dead!

Ambassador: We came from England to report that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern have been executed, as, uh….requested.

Horatio: You guys are not going to believe all the shit that’s gone down here.

Fortinbras: Tell me about it — later….Wow, this is too much.  First I beat the crap out of the Polacks, and then I come here and find everybody dead.  I guess that makes me the new King of Denmark.  Is that good timing or what?

Horatio: The people will like you, sir.  Hamlet liked you.

Fortinbras: Okay, some of you guys get these stiffs out of here.  Make sure Hamlet gets a royal burial.  (Attendants start dragging bodies.)  And tell my soldiers to fire off the cannons as a salute for him….Now…this calls for a celebration!  And since we’re in Denmark, what are we drinking?  Tuborg!  (Cheers from the Color Guard and soldiers.)  It’s party time!  We’re gonna PARTY TILL WE DROP!

    (Cheering and revelry.  As the curtain falls, the sounds of cannons are heard.)


    Copyright@ 2010 by Crad Kilodney, Toronto, Canada.  E-mail: crad166@yahoo.com     


Public Notice of Executions

September 9, 2010

The following persons shall be executed by firing squad on Sept. 30, 2010, in the yard of Monsignor Fraser College, 146 Isabella St., by order of his Grace, Lord Crad Kilodney, Minister of Justice:

Kalathevy Selvnayagam — scurrilous traduction of a Noble; gassing of the innocent.

Sivakumaran Thiruvampalam — freezing of rivers by witchcraft; broadcasting an alarming rumour abroad.

Karunesh Jahagirdar — befouling the King’s Highway; raising the dead.

Krishnapillai Manamohan — nefarious alchemy; misprision of treason by concealing some Honourable Members of Parliament under a carpet.

Ashokumar Bhattacharjee — torture of seafood; reselling a used coffin.

Narayan Chattapashaya — butchering an ox within sight of an elementary school; heresy against the Holy Trinity.

Arravinthan Pushpapalan — enchantment of a mule to sing; keeping slaves.

Kadamparasa Kanapathipillai — divining fortunes from slugs; bringing dangerous serpents aboard a sea vessel.

Dushihasan Gajendranathan — violation of the Countess of Essex and her lady-servant Miss Bunnett; uttering false documents to a Royal Commission.

Porkobi Ambikaiphakan — blighting crops by sorcery; inciting livestock to rampage.

Dismas Hategekimana — mowing blasphemous slogans in a wheat field; persistent vagabondage.

Aravinthathas Vishnusundaram — dueling with a halberd; impersonating the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Ruchiran Zelummailum — corrupt deception of juveniles by means of magical puppets; murdering a game warden.

Kalanithy Xaytomhatomhangsamac — kidnapping for ransom the Ambassador of Poland; manufacturing dangerous kitchen wares.

Kumarasamy Theivenderan — necromancy; mislabelling of sausages.

Ramakrishna Daggupaty — disturbing the peace of a cemetery; sacrificing orphans to the devil.

Jayagapal Gopalasingan — flouting of the Treaty of Ghent; circulating pornographic books to the convent of Loudon.

Yoganathan Thiyagarasa — malversation with elves, fairies, and sprites; atrocities against a mailman.

Thiyagarajah Pirapagaran — fomenting of mutiny on a carriage; digging a hole to the centre of the earth.

Chanthaphone Lunmmachak — insulting the King’s horse; intercourse with a succubus.

Prabba Kopalasingham — ejection of excreta in a public market; assassination of William, Landgrave of Hesse.

Sriskandarajah Vejdanihajafabadi — driving sheep on a Holy Day; sculpting obscene pumpkins.

Kasinathar Bobikuganathan — leading a satanic worship; enchantment of poultry.

Kanagasundaram Sockalingam — selling poisoned yogurt; forcing at gunpoint the Reverend Stokes of Uxbridge to set himself on fire.

    Copyright@ 2010 by Crad Kilodney.  E-mail: crad166@yahoo.com  


    These are the official rankings of the Big Ten colleges, based on the number of books by Crad Kilodney found in their libraries.  Online catalogue searches were done on Aug. 27, 2010.  Please note that there are now 11 colleges in the Big Ten since the addition of Penn State.  Michigan is the author’s alma mater.


1. – 2.

     Michigan (4)

     Wisconsin (4)

3. Minnesota (2)

4. – 7.

     Michigan State (1)

     Northwestern (1)

     Ohio State (1)

     Penn State (1)