(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.

END

    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.)

End

    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.)

End

    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.)

END

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