Shakespeare Redux

by the Bedlam Players

Cast of Characters:
(roughly in order of appearance)

(For a shorter version with fewer cast members, the portions with Cyrano, Richard, and Henry can be snipped.)

Note: All references to Shakespeare's plays denote either direct or somewhat mutilated quotes.

HAMLET is on the ground, face down, dead, with a sword in his hand. He wakes up, dazed and confused, and looks around. He checks himself for sword wounds. Almost immediately, ROMEO and JULIET come on from opposite sides of the stage, looking sorrowful until they see each other. They rush into each other's arms (passing in front of HAMLET).

JULIET: Here! Here thou art, Romeo!

ROMEO: It is the East, for here is fair Juliet, the sun!

[Romeo and Juliet, Act II, scene 2]

The two sit down at a bench in the back, absorbed in each other, and talk silently.

HAMLET: To die, to sleep? To sleep, perchance to dream...what sort of nightmare is this?

[Hamlet, Act III, scene 1]

While HAMLET is still confused, PETRUCHIO wanders in, with KATHERINE a few steps behind. He notices HAMLET and others, so he preens and shows off.

PETRUCHIO: Ah, Kate, sweet gentle Kate, kiss me!

KATHERINE leans forward, obediantly, when she suddenly realizes something interesting...

KATHERINE: Wait...pause a moment. Did we not just die?

PETRUCHIO: 'Tis but a small matter...kiss me, Kate.

[Taming of the Shrew, Act V, scene 1]

KATHERINE: (leaning back, thinking, during his advances) I seem to recall the phrase "Till death do us part"?

PETRUCHIO: (wrapping his arms around her, trying to trap her) Do you recall how I pointed to the sun and named it the bright full moon, and you echoed every word I said? That is what befits a wife.

[Taming of the Shrew, Act IV, scene 5]

KATHERINE: A wife no more, I am a widow now!

KATHERINE pushes PETRUCHIO away and turns her back on him, facing instead HAMLET, who looks at them oddly. Immediately thereafter, OPHELIA enters, spits out some water into a cup (representing her death by drowning), and dances around PETRUCHIO.

OPHELIA: (in an insane, sing-song voice)

And will 'a not come again?
And will 'a not come again?
No, no, he is dead,
Go to thy deathbed,
He never will come again.
(She stops and looks at PETRUCHIO.) I would give you some violets, but they withered all when Denmark died.
[Hamlet, Act IV, scene 5]

HAMLET gets whapped by the clue-by-four and realizes that OPHELIA is here. He rushes over to her.

HAMLET: Soft you now, the fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons be all my sins remembered, you are alive!

[Hamlet, Act III, scene 1]

OPHELIA, still dazed, dances around him, insane.... Cut back to ROMEO and JULIET where they are seated and holding hands, gazing lovingly and disgustingly into each other's eyes.

JULIET: My life is now complete with you in my arms.

ROMEO: Without hindrance from our feuding houses, our future will rival that of Cupid and Psyche.

JULIET: Oh yes, Romeo, our hearts are one!

ROMEO: We shall walk with joined arms in the moonlight, and you the sky's brightest star.

JULIET: Yes, dear Romeo, excepting that lounging by the fire with you its hottest ember is more to my liking.

ROMEO and JULIET continue discussing a bit more agitated...


MACBETH: Stop your hand wringing, are your eyes so cloaked in fear that you still see blood on them?

LADY M: (wringing hands) Here's the smell of the blood still. All--

OPHELIA prances over and grabs LADY M's hand, interrupting her.

OPHELIA: All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand.

[Macbeth, Act V, Scene 1]
(She offers LADY M an imaginary flower.) There's rosemary, that's for remembrance.
[Hamlet, Act IV, scene 5]

LADY M glares at OPHELIA and starts forcefully stating phrases that OPHELIA happily finishes. This will snap LADY M out of her funk.

LADY M: What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our pow'r to accompt?!

OPHELIA: Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him!

[Macbeth, Act V, scene 1]

LADY M: A horse! A horse!

OPHELIA: My kingdom for a horse!

[Richard III, Act V, scene 6]

LADY M: All the world's a stage...

OPHELIA: ...And all the men and women merely players!

[As You Like It, Act II, scene 7]

LADY M: Will you stop?! Cease your assaults!

OPHELIA: He is dead and gone, Lady, he is dead and gone!

[Hamlet, Act IV, scene 5]

OPHELIA prances away while LADY M fumes.

KATHERINE: I love thee not, therefore pursue me not. Get thee gone and follow me no more!

PETRUCHIO: You draw me, you hard-hearted adamant!

KATHERINE: Tempt not too much the hatred of my spirit; for I am sick when I do look on thee.

PETRUCHIO: And I am sick when I do look not on you. The more you beat me, I will fawn on you. Use me but as your spaniel--spurn me, strike me, neglect me, lose me; only give me leave to follow you.

KATHERINE: I'll run from thee and hide me in the brakes and leave thee to the mercy of wild beasts.

[A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act II, scene 1]

Exit KATHERINE, running away in front of LADY M. PETRUCHIO's attention is drawn and he contemplates making his move on LADY M.

MACBETH: Confusion now hath made his masterpiece.

[Macbeth, Act II, scene 3]

Enter FATES.

HAMLET: Who be these foul crones that have semblence in spirit and countenance to my dead father?

FATES: Fair is foul and foul is fair...

OPHELIA: (popping her head over one of the Fates' shoulders before moving on) ...Hover through the fog and filthy air.

[Macbeth, Act I, scene 1]

FATES ignore OPHELIA as she bounces to PETRUCHIO.

MACBETH: These are imperfect speakers of nothing and everything, with what seems reason melted, as breath into the wind.

[Macbeth, Act I, scene 3]

HAMLET (to crones): Speak if you can, what are you?

[Macbeth, Act I, scene 3]

FATES take center stage and begin proclaiming their purpose in gathering all together.

FATES: I have heard (but not believed) the spirits of the dead may walk again.

[The Winter's Tale, Act III, scene 3]
Go together you precious winners all; your exultation partake to everyone.
[The Winter's Tale, Act V, scene 3].
And thus the whirligig of time brings in his revenges.
[Twelfth Night, Act V, scene 1]

MACBETH: I pray thee cease thy counsel, which falls into mine ears as profitless as water in a sieve.

[Much Ado About Nothing, Act V, scene 1]

CYRANO enters and looks around, dazed.

CYRANO: Where am I? (to the FATES) Tell the truth--I can bear it. In what quarter of the globe have I descended like a meteorite?

[Cyrano de Bergerac, Act III]

FATES: How now, spirit, whither wander you, and what do you do?

[A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act I, scene 2]

CYRANO: What would you have me do?
[Pointing to MACBETH] Seek for the patronage of some great man, and like a creeping vine on a tall tree crawl upward, where I cannot stand alone? No, thank you!
[Pointing to OPHELIA] Be a buffoon in the vile hope of teasing out a smile on some cold face? No, thank you!
[Pointing to PETRUCHIO] Make my knees callous, and cultivate a supple spine, wear out my belly groveling in the dust? No, thank you!
[To ROMEO and JULIET] Shall I go leaping into ladies' laps and licking fingers?--or--to change the form--navigating with madrigals for oars, my sails full of the sighs of dowagers? No thank you!
[To LADY M] Calculate, scheme, be afraid, love more to make a visit than a poem, seek introductions, favors, influences? No, thank you!

[Cyrano de Bergerac, Act II]

OPHELIA, who has taken an interest in the new arrival, interrupts CYRANO'S soliloquy and hands him an imaginary flower.

OPHELIA: ...And there is pansies, that's for thoughts.

[Hamlet, Act IV, scene 5]

CYRANO: No thank you! No, I thank you!

OPHELIA and CYRANO: And again, I thank you!

OPHELIA (escorting him out): There are more things in heaven and earth, Cyrano, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. But come!

[Hamlet, Act I, scene 5]

CYRANO: (as he leaves): My mind is troubled like a fountain stirr'd, and I myself see not the bottom of it.

[Troilus and Cressida, Act III, scene 3]

The FATES attempt to explain their motivations a little better, since no one seems to understand what they intended. They wanted everyone to have a chance to be happy, for once.

FATES: The gods today stand friendly, that you may, lovers in peace, lead on our days to age!

[Julius Caesar, Act V, scene 1]
Honor, riches, marriage-blessing, long continuance, and increasing, hourly joys be still upon you!
[The Tempest, Act IV, scene 1]

Still absorbed in each other, ROMEO and JULIET are finding that their relationship is not all it's cracked up to be.

ROMEO: Indeed, fair Juliet, you are the sun, the moon, the stars to me!

JULIET: But Romeo, you said that to me oft before, speak the words of a new day...

ROMEO looks at her blankly, and tries to think.

Enter RICHARD III and HENRY V, with the FATES introducing them.

FATES: As in a theatre the eyes of men, after a well-grac'd actor leaves the stage, are idly bent on him that enters next.

[Richard II, Act V, scene 2]

RICHARD: (as they walk in): For god's sake let us sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the death of kings!

[Richard II, Act III, scene 2]

They begin to swap pieces of kingly wisdom and advice, from respective Richard/Henry plays.

HENRY: Heat not a furnace for your foe so hot that it do singe yourself.

[Henry VIII, Act I, scene 1]

RICHARD: True hope is swift and flies with swallow's wings; kings it makes gods, and meaner creatures kings.

[Richard III, Act V, scene 2]

HENRY: But Hercules himself must yield to odds; and many strokes, though with a little axe, hews down and fells the hardest-timber'd oak.

[Henry VI, Act II, scene 1]

RICHARD: We were not born to sue, but to command.

[Richard II, Act I, scene 1]

HENRY: Neither a borrower nor a lender be!

[Hamlet, Act I, scene 3]

RICHARD looks at HENRY oddly for breaking the pattern.

HENRY: That is, I mean to speak: A man can die but once; we owe God a death.

[Henry IV, Act III, scene 2]

RICHARD (as they begin to stroll offstage): A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!

[Richard III, Act V, scene 6]

OPHELIA: [hands on hips, glaring] Neither a borrower nor lender of lines, indeed!

HENRY and RICHARD walk off, still deep in discussion.

HENRY (while leaving): I could be well content to entertain the lag-end of my life with quiet hours.

[Henry IV, Act IV, scene 1]

Back to R&J...

ROMEO: Shall I compare thee to a summer's day...

JULIET (interrupting): No, and not to a rose, a glove, or a nightingale!

ROMEO: That if you be honest and fair, your honesty should admit no discourse to your beauty.
[JULIET turns her back on ROMEO]
I did love you once.

[Hamlet, Act III, scene 1]

JULIET (turning back with boredom and almost disgust): Shall I believe that unsubstantial Death is amorous, and that the lean abhorred monster keeps thee here in dark to be her paramour?

[Romeo and Juliet, Act V, scene 3]

ROMEO: Thou canst not speak of that thou dost not feel.

[Romeo and Juliet, Act III, scene 3]

The FATES are perplexed by the characters' behavior--no one seems to be getting along. OPHELIA is upset that "her" line was quoted, R&J are almost completely fed up with each other, and PETRUCHIO has been trying to flirt with LADY M, setting up a potential conflict.

FATES: For it so falls out that what we have we prize not to the worth whiles we enjoy it, but being lack'd and lost, why then we rack the value, then we find the virtue that possessions would not show us whiles it was ours.

[Much Ado About Nothing, Act IV, scene 1]

PETRUCHIO finally makes up his mind and hits on LADY M.

PETRUCHIO: For by this light whereby I see thy beauty, thy beauty that doth make me like thee well.

[The Taming of the Shrew, ??]

MACBETH: [in an aside to HAMLET] He that comforts my wife is the cherisher of my flesh and blood; he that cherishes my flesh and blood loves my flesh and blood; he that loves my flesh and blood is my friend: ergo, he that kisses my wife is my friend.

[All's Well That Ends Well, Act I, scene 3]

PETRUCHIO forces a kiss from LADY MACBETH, who swoons after a moment.

HAMLET (laughing): Frailty, thy name is woman!

[Hamlet, Act I, scene 2]

OPHELIA bops HAMLET on the noggin.

HAMLET: But break my heart, for I must hold my tongue.

[Hamlet, Act I, scene 2]

JULIUS CAESAR walks through, pulling daggers from his body and dropping them on the stage.

CAESAR (muttering): And graves have yawn'd and yielded up their dead.

[Julius Caesar, Act II, scene 2]

HAMLET (observing the goings-on): If this were played upon a stage now, I could condemn it as an improbable fiction.

[Twelfth Night, Act III, scene 4]

All characters except HAMLET and OPHELIA start to bicker and fight with each other. They get daggers from CAESAR's walkthrough. People die, then realize that they can't die, since they are already dead. This does not improve their tempers.

LADY M: I will not trust you...

JULIET: Nor longer stay in your curst company.

MACBETH: Your hands than mine are quicker for a fray...

PETRUCHIO: My legs are longer though, to run away.

[A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act III, scene 2]

ROMEO (to JULIET): Alack, there lies more peril in thine eye than twenty of their swords!

[Romeo and Juliet, Act II, scene 2]

HAMLET is attacked by PETRUCHIO, although he can't be hurt.

HAMLET: Oh the play is out of joint, oh cursed spite, that ever I did die to set it right!

[Hamlet, Act I, scene 5]

FATES: Why, how now, Hamlet? You look angerly.

[Macbeth, Act III, scene 5]

HAMLET: Thou fond mad women, wilt thou conceal this dark conspiracy? A dozen of them here have ta'en the sacrament, and interchangeably set down their hands, to kill each other!

[Richard II, Act V, scene 3]

Characters stop fighting each other and (except HAMLET and OPHELIA) turn against the FATES and run them offstage, shouting.

PETRUCHIO: Now are we well resolv'd, and by God's help and yours, the noble sinews of our power, Fate being ours, we'll bend it to our awe, or break it all to pieces.

[Henry V, Act I, scene 2]

LADY M: You cram these words into mine ears against the stomach of my sense.

[The Tempest, Act II, scene 1]

ROMEO: Our wills and Fates do so contrary run that our devices still are overthrown...

JULIET: ...Our thoughts are ours, their ends none of our own.

[Hamlet, Act III, scene 2]

ALL leave except HAMLET and OPHELIA.

OPHELIA (amused by the other characters): Foolery, sir, does walk about the orb like the sun; it shines everywhere.

[Twelfth Night, Act III, scene 1]

HAMLET (standing proud, this is his moment): To be, or not to be. That is the question: whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing, end them.

[Hamlet, Act III, scene 1]

OPHELIA snaps out of her insanity at hearing his soliloquy. She's rather annoyed at him.

OPHELIA (shouts to stop him): My lord, I have remembrances of yours that I have longed long to redeliver, I pray you now receive them!

HAMLET: Go to, I'll no more on't, it hath made me mad!

[Hamlet, Act III, scene 1]

OPHELIA (teasing): Wherefore was I to this keen mockery born? When at your hands did I deserve this scorn?

[A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act II, scene 2]
Once my beauty did stir thee...

HAMLET (coming to the realization that he can be happy with OPHELIA): I must be cruel...only to be kind.

[Hamlet, Act III, scene 4]

OPHELIA (now that he's finally admitted it): Could beauty, my lord, have better commerce than with honesty?

[Hamlet, Act III, scene 1]

HAMLET: Come away, come away, death, and in sad cypress let me be laid. Fly away, fly away, breath; I am slain by a fair cruel maid. My shroud of white, stuck all with yet, O, prepare it! My part of death, no one so true did share it.

[Twelfth Night, Act II, scene 4]

OPHELIA (taking HAMLET's hands and looking into his eyes, smiling, and sane): I shall the effect of this good lesson keep as watchman to my heart.

[Hamlet, Act I, scene 3]

HAMLET: Thou art as wise as thou art beautiful.

[A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act III, scene 1]

And they, exist...happily ever after. THE END


© 1997 The Bedlam Players.