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Steven Breese. Hamlet on Trial
Îïóáëèêîâàë(à) Dasha 02/12/2008 (9072 ïðî÷òåíèé)

The Trial of Hamlet

(Dramatis Personae)

All the characters, except Shayla, are inspired by and closely
resemble their Shakespearean counterparts.

Hamlet Prince of Denmark.

Horatio Hamlet’s friend.

Claudius The new King of Denmark, Hamlet’s uncle.

Gertrude Queen of Denmark, Hamlet’s mother.

Rosencrantz Prosecuting attorney.

Guildenstern Prosecuting attorney.

Polonius* Member of the King’s cabinet.

Ophelia Polonius’ daughter, Hamlet's lover.

Shayla Spire Defense council. Smart, savvy, dedicated.

Trial Analyst TV news commentator for the Global News Network (GNN).

Laertes* Polonius’ son.

All the action takes place in and around the royal

castle at Elsinore, Denmark

* Note: Laertes and Polonius (father/son) are played by the same actor.


The Trial of Hamlet

ACT I, SCENE I: A cold evening in late Autumn.

SETTING: The Castle at Elsinore, Denmark; The time is the present and
Twelfth Century Denmark. Design elements (reflective of the
play's language), are modern with anachronistic elements. A rear
projection video screen or TV monitors might be employed to
magnify The Analyst, "sound-bite sequences" and all courtroom
scenes. In any event, The Analyst should appear live and be
placed somewhat apart from the action at the castle. All other set
elements are simple/flexible. As the lights go to black THE
ANALYST in voice-over addresses the audience: "THE
FOLLOWING DOCUMENTARY PRESENTATION WOULD
NOT BE POSSIBLE WITHOUT VALUABLE
CONTRIBUTIONS FROM THE ELSINORE HISTORICAL
SOCIETY, THE DANISH LITERARY ARCHIVES AND
WITTENBURG UNIVERSITY. WHAT YOU ARE ABOUT
TO WITNESS IS TRUE. THE CHARACTERS ARE REAL.
NO ACTORS WERE USED IN RECONSTRUCTING THIS
DRAMA. WE HOPE YOU FIND OUR PROGRAM BOTH
ENTERTAINING AND ENLIGHTENING."

AT RISE: Claudius, Gertrude, Hamlet, Ophelia, Horatio, Rosencrantz,
Guildenstern and Polonius are seated staring directly at the
audience. They are intently interested in what they are
watching. Hamlet finally speaks:

HAMLET

Madam, how like you this play?

GERTRUDE

The lady doth protest too much methinks.

HAMLET

O, but she’ll keep her word.

CLAUDIUS

Have you heard the argument? Is there no offense in’t?

HAMLET

No, no, they do but jest--poison in jest. No offense i’ th’ world!


CLAUDIUS

What call you this play?

HAMLET

The Mouse-trap. Marry, how? Tropically. This play is the image of a murder
done in Vienna. ‘Tis a knavish piece of work: but what of that? Your majesty and
we that have free souls, it touches us not. Ah-ha! Here comes the nephew to the
king.

OPHELIA

You are as good as a chorus, my lord.

HAMLET

Begin Murderer! Come, the croaking raven doth bellow for revenge! Do you see
my lord, he poisons him i’the garden for his estate. You shall see anon how the
murderer gets the love of his brother’s wife!

(The king stands)

OPHELIA

The king rises!

HAMLET

What!? Frighted with false fire?

GERTRUDE

How fares my lord?

POLONIUS

Give o’er the play!

CLAUDIUS

Give me some light!

POLONIUS

Lights, lights, lights!

(Chaos! The king—obviously angered—is joined sidestage by
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Polonius comforts Ophelia,
Gertrude studies Hamlet as Hamlet pulls Horatio aside. . . )

HAMLET

Good Horatio, I’ll take the ghost’s word for a thousand pounds! Did’st perceive?

HORATIO

Very well, my lord.

HAMLET

Upon the talk of the poisoning?

HORATIO

I did very well note him.


(Rosencrantz and Guildenstern cross to Hamlet and Horatio.
Claudius exits in a furry.)

G'STERN

Good, my lord, vouchsafe me a word with you.

HAMLET

Sir, a whole history.

G'STERN

The king, sir—

HAMLET

Ay, sir, what of him?

G'STERN

Is in his retirement marvelous distempered.

HAMLET

With drink, sir?

G'STERN

No, my lord, with choler.

HAMLET

Your wisdom should show itself more richer to signify this to the doctor; for, for me
to purgation would perhaps plunge him into more choler.

(Gertrude whispers to Polonius—exits abruptly. Polonius
moves toward Hamlet.)

G'STERN

Good my lord, put your discourse into some frame and start not so wildly from my
affair!

HAMLET

I am tame, sir; pronounce.

G'STERN

The queen, your mother, in most great affliction of spirit hath sent me to you.

HAMLET

You are welcome. (Seeing Polonius.) God bless you sir.

POLONIUS

Lord Hamlet, the queen would speak with you and presently.

HAMLET

Do you see yonder cloud that’s almost in shape of a camel?

POLONIUS

By the mass, and ‘tis like a camel, indeed.


HAMLET

Methinks, it is like a weasel.

POLONIUS

It is backed like a weasel.

HAMLET

Or like a whale?

G'STERN

Very like a whale.

HAMLET

Then I will come to my mother by and by. (Aside.) They fool me to the top of my
bent. (Aloud.) I will come by and by.

POLONIUS

I will say so.

HAMLET (Verse.)

By and by is easily said. Leave me, friends.

(All exit except Hamlet.)

‘Tis now the very witching time of night,

When Churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out

Contagion to this world. Now could I drink hot blood,

And do such bitter business as the day

Would quake to look on. Soft! now to my mother!

O heart, lose not thy nature; let not ever

The soul of Nero enter this firm bosom.

Let me speak daggers to her, but use none.

My tongue and soul in this be hypocrites:

How in my words somever she be shent,

To give them seals never, my soul, never consent!

(Hamlet exits. Claudius, R'Crantz and G'Stern re-enter immediately.)

CLAUDIUS

I like him not, nor stands it safe with us

To let this madness range. Therefore prepare you—

(Enter Polonius, out of breath.)

How now, what’s here?

POLONIUS

My lord, he’s going to his mother’s closet.

CLAUDIUS

What of that?


POLONIUS

Behind the arras I’ll convey myself

To hear the process. I’ll warr’nt she’ll tax him;

And, as you said, and wisely was it said,

‘Tis meet that some more audience than a mother,

Since nature makes them partial, should o’erhear

The speech, of vantage. Fare you well, my liege.

I’ll call upon you ere you go to bed

And tell you what I know.

CLAUDIUS

Thanks, dear my lord.

(To Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.)

More of this later.

(All exit but the king.)

O my offense is rank, it smells to heaven!

It hath the primal eldest curse upon‘t;

A brother’s murder. Pray can I not.

Though inclination be as sharp as will

My stronger guilt defeats my strong intent.

My fault is past. But, O, what form of prayer

Can serve my turn? Forgive me my foul murder?

That cannot be, since I am still possess’d

Of those effects for which I did the murder,

My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen.

Until my heart does fly from these with deference,

Let guilt fore’er be one with my indifference.

( Exits. Scene ends, fade to black.)


ACT I, SCENE 2: Immediately following.

SETTING: The Queen’s Chamber.

AT RISE: Gertrude is alone and restless. She quickly downs a glass of
wine as Polonius enters hurriedly.

GERTRUDE

What news, Polonius? Have you spoke with Hamlet?

POLONIUS

He’ll be here presently. Look you lay home to him.

Tell him his pranks have been too broad to bear with,

And that your Grace hath screen’d and stood between

Much heat and him. I’ll silence me e’en here.

Pray you be round with him.

HAMLET (Within.)

Mother, mother, mother!

GERTRUDE

Fear me not. Withdraw, I hear him coming.

(Polonius hides behind the curtains. Enter Hamlet.)

HAMLET

Now, mother, what’s the matter?

GERTRUDE

Hamlet, thou hast thy father much offended.

HAMLET

Mother, you have my father much offended.

GERTRUDE

Come, come you answer with an idle tongue.

HAMLET

Go, go you question with a wicked tongue!

GERTRUDE

Why how now Hamlet?

HAMLET

What’s the matter now?

GERTRUDE

Have you forgot me?


HAMLET

No, not so.

You are the queen, your husband’s brother’s wife;

And—would it were not so—you are my mother.

GERTRUDE

Nay then, I’ll send those to you that can speak.

(She starts to exit—Hamlet stops her. A brief struggle.)

HAMLET

Come, come, and sit you down; you shall not budge.

You go not till I set you up a glass

Where you may see the inmost part of you.

GERTRUDE

What wilt thou do? Thou wilt not murder me?

Help, help, ho!

POLONIUS (From behind curtains.)

What, ho! Help! Help! Help!

HAMLET

How now! A rat? Dead for a ducat, dead!

(Hamlet draws and kills Polonius through curtain.)

POLONIUS

Oh, I am slain!

GERTRUDE

Oh, what hast thou done?

HAMLET

Nay I know not. Is it the king?

GERTRUDE

O, what a rash and bloody deed is this!

HAMLET

A bloody deed! Almost as bad, good mother

As kill a king and marry with his brother.

GERTRUDE

As kill a king?

HAMLET

Ay lady, twas my word.

(Hamlet lifts the arras—discovers Polonius.)

Thou wretched, rash intruding fool, farewell!


I took thee for thy better. Hold. Leave wringing

Of your hands. Peace! Sit you down,

And let me wring your heart; for so I shall

If it be made of penetrable stuff.

GERTRUDE

What have I done that thou dar’st wag thy tongue

In noise so rude against me?

HAMLET

Such and act that blurs the grace and blush

Of modesty. Calls virtue a hypocrite!

GERTRUDE

What act, that roars so loud and thunders in the index?

(Hamlet sees ghost—we do not.)

HAMLET

Save me, and hover o’er me with your wings,

You heavenly guards! What would your gracious figure?

GERTRUDE

Alas! He’s mad!

HAMLET

Good father. Do you not come your tardy son to chide?

V/O GHOST

Hamlet. Do not forget. This visitation

Is but to whet thy almost blunted purpose;

Avenge my foul and most unnatural murder!

HAMLET

It has not been forgotten, most dear father.

V/O GHOST

But look amazement on thy mother sits.

O, step between her and her fighting soul.

Speak to her Hamlet.

HAMLET

How is it with you lady?

GERTRUDE

Alas, how is it with you,

That you do bend your eye on vacancy

And with th'incorporeal air do hold discourse?

O gentle son, whereon do you look?


HAMLET

On him, on him!

V/O GHOST (Overlapping)

Do not forget!

HAMLET

Look you, how pale he glares!

Do you see nothing there?

V/O GHOST (Overlapping)

Do not forget!

GERTRUDE

Nothing at all; yet all that is I see.

V/O GHOST

Do not forget!

HAMLET

Nor did you nothing hear?

GERTRUDE

No, nothing but ourselves.

HAMLET

Why look you there. Look, how it steals away!

My father, in his habit as he lived.

GERTRUDE

This is the very coinage of your brain:

This bodiless creation ecstasy

Is very cunning in.

HAMLET

Ecstasy!

My pulse, as yours, doth temperately keep time.

It is not madness that I’ve uttered.

HAMLET (Continued.)

For thine own part; Confess yourself to heaven;

Repent what’s past; avoid what is to come:

And do not spread the compost on the weeds

To make them ranker.


GERTRUDE

O Hamlet, thou hast cleft my heart in twain.

HAMLET

O, throw away the worser part of it,

And live the purer with the other half.

Good night: but go not to my uncle’s bed;

Assume a virtue, if you have it not.

Once more good night. For this same lord I do

Repent. But heav’n hath pleased it to be so.

I will bestow him, and will answer well

The death I gave him. So again, good night.

I must be cruel only to be kind:

Thus bad begins and worse remains behind.

(Hamlet exits, dragging Polonius. Gertrude picks up phone and
dials. Waits—slams phone back down. She begins to cry.)

GERTRUDE

O my son, my son, my gentle son;

Upon the heat and flame of thy distemper

Sprinkle cool patience. Thou art mad,

Beyond the scope and depth that time can heal.

What’s done, cannot by wishing be undone.

(She dries her tears.)

Therefore wish not; tis but an insubstantial

Weakness of the soul not to be endured.

(Enter Claudius. Gertrude runs and embraces him.)

CLAUDIUS

There’s matter in these sighs. These profound heaves.

You must translate. Where is your son?

GERTRUDE

Ah, my lord, what have I seen tonight!

CLAUDIUS

What Gertrude? How does Hamlet?

GERTRUDE

Mad as the sea and wind, when both contend

Which is the mightier. In his lawless fit,

Behind the arras hearing something stir

Whips out his rapier cries, "a rat! a rat!"

And in this brainish apprehension kills

The unseen good old man.


CLAUDIUS

Polonius? O heavy deed!

It had been so with us had we been there.

His liberty is full of threats to all;

To you yourself, to us, to every one.

Alas, how shall this bloody deed be answered?

It will be laid to us. Where is he gone?

GERTRUDE

To draw apart the body he hath killed,

And weeps for what is done.

CLAUDIUS

Come away.

The sun no sooner shall the mountains touch

But we will see this bloody deed at trial.

We must with all our majesty and skill

Not countenance but punish. Ho, Guildenstern!

(Enter Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.)

Friends both. Go join you with some further aid.

Hamlet in madness hath Polonius slain,

And from his mother’s closet hath he dragged him.

Go seek him out; speak fair, and bring the body

Into the chapel. I pray you haste in this.

(Exit Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.)

Come Gertrude, we’ll call up our wisest friends;

And let them know both what we mean to do

And what’s untimely done. Now, come away,

My soul is full of discord and dismay;

But Hamlet’s deed will not allow us rest

‘Til justice, truth and honor is bequest.

From this day forth, we will not time beguile

Until young Hamlet’s brought to stand at trial.

(Transition to voice-over, then live commentary by The Analyst. This
device is used throughout to give the trial authenticity.)


VOICE-OVER

We interrupt your regularly scheduled program to bring you this special Global
News Network update: "ELSINORE: A CASTLE IN CRISIS."

ANALYST

(Ted Kopel, Larry King, et al.)

The shocking announcement came just hours ago—arguably the most beloved
royal figure of all time—Hamlet, Prince of Denmark—accused of violently
murdering a ranking cabinet official and royal advisor to Denmark's King Claudius.
Press from all over the world are currently assembling outside the castle at
Elsinore and we are expecting a statement shortly.

There are many questions that need to be answered as this story develops, but
we can currently confirm that the victim's body—one Mr. Polonius—was
recovered just minutes after the slaying and rushed to Denmark's First Royal
Hospital, where he was pronounced dead some thirty minutes later. We have
also just learned that Prince Hamlet has been taken into custody and formally
charged.

Stay tuned for continuing updates and live coverage as this tragic story develops.
Again, it now appears that Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, has been taken into
custody and will stand trial for murder.


ACT I, SCENE #3: Soon after.

SETTING: A cell, somewhere in the bowels of the Castle Elsinore.

AT RISE: Hamlet, alone, is seated on a bench. Voices are heard (off),
then Horatio enters escorted by a menacing guard. The guard
takes Horatio’s rapier.

GUARD

Turn around. Spread ‘em out.

(Guard frisks Horatio—confiscates a dagger.)

Ten minutes.

(Guard exits.)

HORATIO (Bowing.)

My lord.

HAMLET

My friend!

(They embrace.)

HAMLET

It’s good to see you.

HORATIO

And you. How are you?

HAMLET

Given the circumstances—well, well, well.

HORATIO

I can't believe that son-of-a bitch locked you up!

HAMLET

As sons-of-bitiches go, my uncle is the soniest.

HORATIO

But without a hearing, without bail?

HAMLET

He’s the King.

HORATIO

That doesn’t give him—

HAMLET

I’m a threat.

HORATIO

You still have the right to—


HAMLET

A suspect.

HORATIO

That doesn’t matter—

HAMLET

Not to you perhaps.

HORATIO

To anyone who knows the truth!

HAMLET

Who’s truth—mine or mine uncle’s?

HORATIO

It’s not fair, it’s not right, it may not even be legal!

HAMLET

With power comes privilege. Just ask the press camped out on the front steps.

HORATIO

You’ve heard?

HAMLET

Rumors. I’ve heard rumors.

(Horatio looks uncomfortable.)

HORATIO

Last night—after Polonius was . . . after you were accused and…uh…

HAMLET

. . . And dungeonated?

HORATIO

Arrested . . . the king’s press secretary issued his official statement.

(Handing Hamlet a newspaper clipping.)

I thought you might like to see it.

(Hamlet scans it quickly.)

HORATIO

It doesn’t leave much room for interpretation. The press is making good use of it.

(Hamlet crushes clipping.)

HAMLET (Verse.)

Who calls me a villain? Gives me the lie of the throat

As deep as the lungs? Who does me this?

Ha! ‘zounds, I should take it, for it cannot be

But I am pigeon livered. Bloody, bawdy villain!

Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villain!

Vengeance!!!


HORATIO (Sarcastically.)

This is most brave.

HAMLET

Why, what an ass am I!

That I, the son of a dear father murdered,

Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell,

Must, like a whore, unpack my heart with words

And fall a-cursing like a very prostitute!

HORATIO (Return to prose.)

It’s okay to be pissed off. Your uncle is an ass.

HAMLET

And corrupt. Contaminated. Debased.

HORATIO

Which is why you have to respond.

HAMLET

False. Polluted. Depraved.

HORATIO

The press is waiting for something—

HAMLET

Libertine. Praetorian. Lubricous.

HORATIO

Waiting for anything!

HAMLET

Grist for the proverbial mill?

HORATIO

As long as you’re silent they’ll continue to arrange and re-arrange what happened
last night in your mother's bedroom. It might help if you made a statement.

HAMLET

And I should say, what, “I did it?”

HORATIO

Not my first choice.

HAMLET

It’s the truth.

HORATIO

You should see an attorney. You should talk to an attorney.


HAMLET

Done and done.

HORATIO

Good!

HAMLET

Appointed by the court.

HORATIO

Okay . . .

HAMLET

The King’s court.

HORATIO

There are other lawyers—some you can even trust.

HAMLET

A trustworthy lawyer? The definition of oxymoron.

HORATIO

You don’t get it. You don't know what is going to happen here, do you? This is
the trial of a lifetime—Hell, it might be the trial of all time. You can get any lawyer
you want!

HAMLET

And do what? Mount a defense?

HORATIO (Obviously.)

Uh . . . yes!

HAMLET

You don’t understand, my friend, I did it. I—did—it! My mother watched me do it.
What is there to defend?

HORATIO

I don’t know. But I brought someone along that might.

HAMLET

And he would be . . . ?

HORATIO

Not a lawyer.

HAMLET

I don't believe you.

HORATIO

Not anymore.


HAMLET

So far I like him.

HORATIO

No, you don’t.

HAMLET

I don’t?

HORATIO

So far you like her.

HAMLET

And this is why—my friend—you are here?

HORATIO

I am here because I am your friend. I am here to help if you’ll let me.

HAMLET

Let us meet this ex-oxymoron.

HORATIO

Great. Good!

(Pounding cell door.)

Holla, ho!

(To Hamlet.)

You won’t regret this.

(Pounding again.)

Come on! A little help here!

GUARD (Unlocking cell door.)

Alright, alright.

(Horatio confers confidentially with the Guard.)

HAMLET (Aside in verse.)

I will speak with her. For what is a man,

If his chief good and market of his time

Be but to sleep and feed? A beast, no more.

While yet I live to say, “This thing’s to do,”

Sith I have cause, and will and strength to do’t,

Will, in pale resoluteness, persevere

To satisfy a friend; her council hear.

(Guard exits.)

HORATIO

She was speaking at Wittenburg when . . . I think you’ll like her. She’s very
smart—very smart.

(Guard returns with a handsome woman in her late 30’s. She
speaks in British dialect.)


GUARD

Wait a second. Turn around.

SHAYLA

I’m not carrying a weapon if that is what—

GUARD

If you’re going in there, I'm going to pat you down.

SHAYLA

I assure you officer, I am here only to speak with. . .

(She stops and lifts arms. Shayla is frisked—slowly.)

GUARD

Hey, you’re right, you ain’t got nothin’.

(Guard exits. Hamlet and Shayla scrutinize one another.)

HAMLET

Horatio tells me you're not a lawyer.

SHAYLA

I was.

HAMLET

You know, the practice of law seems to me to be an elaborate game concocted by
the privileged, protected by politicians, perpetuated by perturbation, proliferated
by profits with the sole purpose of propagating the profession.

SHAYLA

In a perfect world the first thing we would do is kill all the lawyers.

HORATIO (Introducing.)

Shayla Spires—Lord Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.

HAMLET

The novelist?

SHAYLA

I'm a writer, now.

HAMLET

Book sales down?

SHAYLA

Perhaps this was a bad idea.

HORATIO

No. It's a good idea. Yes. A very good idea to meet.

HAMLET

Met we have. Now what?


HORATIO

Ms. Spire thinks—and I do too—that she might be able to help you.

SHAYLA

I don’t know that I can—but you’re going to need someone. You’re going to need
someone soon.

HAMLET

Why you?

SHAYLA

A very good question.

HAMLET

Horatio tells me half the lawyers in the world want to defend me—the other half
want to prosecute me. Why should I entertain unsolicited advice from a novelist?

SHAYLA

Because no one you choose could understand your situation better than I.

HAMLET

What do you know of my situation? What does she know of my situation?

HORATIO

I only told her what everyone already knows—

SHAYLA

I know you are alone! And when the world tunes in to watch you turned on the
legal spit, you’re going to need someone in your corner who understands what
that feels like.

HAMLET

Special providence in the fall of a sparrow?

SHAYLA

If it be now, ‘tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet
it will come. The readiness is all.

(A moment.)

HAMLET

Why did you quit ?

SHAYLA

I . . . didn’t quit.

HAMLET

It quit you?

SHAYLA

I was asked to leave—rather unceremoniously.


HAMLET

Which means . . . ?

SHAYLA

I am to refrain from further practice of English law.

HAMLET

Which means . . . ?

SHAYLA

This is a bad idea. (Calling.) Guard?

HAMLET

Which means . . . ?

SHAYLA

I am no longer a practicing member of the English Bar Association!

HAMLET

“Disem’barred,” huh?

HORATIO

It was political—It had nothing to do . . . tell him!

SHAYLA

I’m not here to defend myself, you shouldn’t feel compelled to either.

(Guard enters.)

GUARD

Time. Let’s go!

SHAYLA

I came here to offer service in Lord Hamlet’s defense. Quite obviously, these
services are unwelcome.

HAMLET

Unwelcome when offered by the unwelcome.

GUARD

Both of you, let’s go!

SHAYLA

But know who you are, young prince. And know you must offer a defense.

GUARD

Time!

SHAYLA

You’re Hamlet, for the love of God! Hamlet! Not just the Prince of Denmark! Think!
No matter what you have or haven’t done, the world wants to hear from you. Do not
be silent—the world needs your voice. You have no idea how badly the world needs
your voice.


GUARD (Grabbing her.)

Let’s go lady, don’t make me drag you outa’ here!

(She pulls away—very close to Hamlet.)

SHAYLA

We want to understand you—we need to believe in you. To believe you had a
reason!

HAMLET

For stabbing at the arras?

SHAYLA

I am not asking that you tell me anyth—

(Guard pushes Horatio out.)

GUARD

I said, let’s go. Now!

HAMLET

For putting a knife in the good old man.

SHAYLA

I am not asking for an explain—

HAMLET

For killing my lover's father?

SHAYLA

I never said you killed—

HAMLET

Yes, I had a reason.

SHAYLA

Then let the world hear it!

HAMLET

I thought it was the King! I wanted to kill the King!

(Silence.)

Now aren’t you glad you’re not defending me?

(Shayla is muscled out by Guard, leaving Hamlet alone.)

HAMLET (Alone. In verse.)

Reason enough have I. If vengeance were disease,

Live I with pestilence. Yet lies my heart,

As winter’s perfect blanketing of white,

In icy stillness silent; sterile, staid

In desperate solitude. How can I move?

What reasonable reason might upon

My drooping conscience strike so loud that action

Awake a drowsy cause? To kill a King?

Perchance I rail and rant sometime or two,


And catch the ear of one or other some;

But what of that? The court hath not those ears!

It is but what it is—not that it should be!

The King in judgment sits; himself alone!

What chance have I against his ‘credible power?

Should hell itself in righteousness decide

The fate of those who try, as I have tried,

At heaven’s justly turn? Pray, tell me truly,

O ghostly father mine; for thou from heaven

Must sure have leaped, or else the universe itself

Hath drowned its goodness altogether. I’st so?

I cannot tell. Unrest the day yet not

To sleep; what sorrows come when weary days

Give way to weighty nights. ‘Tis better far

To lie awake and conjure dreams that ne’er

Have crossed the sane man’s brow, than sleep and lose

The consciousness that haunts my better part;

‘Tis logic’s curse. O come apace thou morn;

Avail thy means! not I with patience torn.

(Fade to black as scene ends.)


ACT I, SCENE 4: The following days.

SETTING: Before the courtroom: A press conference.

AT RISE: We see several groupings of individuals around the stage all
holding press conferences simultaneously. We hear their
answers only. The groups are:

1. Claudius and Gertrude
2. Ophelia (alone)
3. Hamlet and Horatio
4. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern


If video is used, as each character speaks, his/her image is
simultaneously seen on the monitor. The effect should be should be
as though flipping channels quickly—catching sound bites from
various networks during the evening news.

CLAUDIUS

. . . Due to the precedent-setting nature of the trial, I will soon be ruling on issues
concerning the press. But, regardless, I promise Hamlet will receive every possible
courtesy given the gravity of the situation. I’d like to open it up now for a few
questions.

G'STERN

No, we have not been contacted by anyone representing Lord Hamlet.

R'CRANTZ

Not yet.

GERTRUDE

I think I speak for us both when I say the last twenty-four hours have been—well. . . trying.

OPHELIA

I’m not going to answer any questions, but I'd like to read a short statement.

CLAUDIUS

. . . The nation and the world have both an interest and a right to know what goes on
in that courtroom. If I allow cameras, they will be closely monitored so not to interfere
with the proceedings.

G'STERN

No, I can’t speculate on his plea, but I will say the prosecution is—

R'CRANTZ

Optimistic. . .we’re very optimistic.

CLAUDIUS

I have no doubt the prince can receive an impartial trial.

OPHELIA (Reading.)

There will be a candlelight memorial service open to the public to honor my father. . .

(She breaks down.)

I sorry, I’m sorry. . . to honor my father in the main cathedral at Elsinore. The public is
invited to attend.


HORATIO

His attorney? No—right now I’m helping, but . . . what? Wait, wait, I can’t—I wasn't
planning on answering any questions.

CLAUDIUS

Not at all. This is a matter of grave import, and Hamlet, under the law, is guaranteed
the right to a speedy trial.

HORATIO

No, I’m just his friend! Yes! No . . . schoolmates; Not mates—-Schoolmates!

OPHELIA

The last time I "saw" him? My dad or Hamlet?

HORATIO

Yes, I would say we've been close. . .

R'CRANTZ

That’s correct, Guildernstern and I have been appointed by the king to represent the
state in these proceedings.

HORATIO

What kind of. . . ? No, I have never slept with the defendant!

G'STERN

We see no conflict of interest. Yes, we’ve been acquaintances. . . but our loyalty has
always been to God, king and country.

R'CRANTZ

In that order.

OPHELIA

Well, just the other day. . .

HORATIO

No, we just have a normal . . . not anything other than . . . we're just friends.

OPHELIA

Well, he was upset. No, not when we were watching the play. It was a good play.

GERTRUDE

Are you asking me as a mother or a Monarch?

HORATIO

For the last time; No, I am not defending him—Yes, I believe he was justified—and,
no, I am not gay!

GERTRUDE

I have always been very proud of my son, but the last few weeks have been hard on
him. Loosing his father, suddenly. . .

HORATIO

I don’t see how my sexual preference has anything to do with anything!


CLAUDIUS

I think it would be inappropriate to comment on any statement Hamlet might have
made when he was taken into custody.

OPHELIA

I honestly don’t know.

G'STERN

Yes, I understand the defendant made a statement.

R'CRANTZ

Yes.

HAMLET

No comment.

G'STERN

We have not read the statement. We do not know what Hamlet was doing in his
mother’s room the night of the murder.

R'CRANTZ

But we've all heard the rumors.

HORATIO

He just said, "No comment." Why does he have to have a comment? Hamlet
doesn't have to talk. The preliminaries begin today—that’s it!

OPHELIA

How can I answer that? I wasn’t there.

G'STERN

We don’t want to speculate on that—

R'CRANTZ

Couldn’t speculate.

CLAUDIUS

We have to move on—

R'CRANTZ

We’re due in court—

OPHELIA

No more questions, please?

HORATIO

No more questions.

(Transition to GNN voice-over, then The Analyst.)


V/O

We return now to GNN’s continuous coverage of: "THE TRIAL OF HAMLET."

ANALYST

In this, the tenth day pre-trial deliberation, the key question continues to be:
what's really going on in Hamlet's mind? Speculation continues that Hamlet
may not offer any defense whatsoever. As of today Hamlet has not secured a
lawyer, entered a plea, or offered any clue as to what direction his defense
might take. Attorneys and legal scholars from around the world have made
numerous public and (we understand) private offers to assist the prince in his
defense—but the question remains: how long will the King be patient with this
enigmatic young man?

We return you now to the courtroom for day ten of: "THE TRIAL OF HAMLET."


ACT I, SCENE 5: The Trial.

SETTING: Interior, the courtroom. The setting is familiar—a defense
table, prosecution table, judge's bench and witness box.
Distinctive silver water goblets are available at each table and
on the witness stand.

AT RISE: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are at prosecution's table, Hamlet
and Horatio at defense table, Claudius sits in judgement with
Gertrude at his side. The courtroom is in an uproar. . .

G'STERN (Overlapping.)

Your grace; If Lord Hamlet wishes to defend himself, the State sees no reason to
delay these proceedings.

HORATIO (Overlapping.)

Your Grace, Lord Hamlet will mount a defense, but more time is necessary in
order to better examine all the issues and to find a suitable attorney. . .

GERTRUDE (Overlapping.)

Hamlet, surely you understand the importance. . . for me Hamlet? Husband—My
King—you cannot let the trial begin without. . .

(Ad-lib, etc. Claudius pounds gavel and asks for order.)

CLAUDIUS

Ten days has it been Hamlet, and this court must know your answer; will you or
will you not seek to be represented?

HAMLET

What answer can I give to a question that cannot be answered?

G'STERN

Why can it not be answered-ed?

HAMLET

After all, what is representation but the appearance of what is not.

R'CRANTZ

If it please the court, this foolishness. . .

HAMLET

A painting may represent a man's face, and yet not be the man. So, I may ask
the court in return—what can represent itself but itself? And yet not "represent"
itself, for it is itself? Therefore, how can any man be truly represented?

G'STERN

Was that an answer? Did he answer the question?

R'CRANTZ

No.


G'STERN (Overlapping.)

Your grace, I demand that he answer your question . . . humbly demand, rather.

HORATIO (Overlapping.)

He needs more time, your grace—

G'STERN (Overlapping)

For what? More nursery riddles? Your grace, we have come here day after day
for nearly two weeks and listened to the same rhetoric and stall tactics from the
defendant. Now I insist—

CLAUDIUS

You will insist on nothing.

G'STERN

I request.

CLAUDIUS

You will request nothing.

G'STERN

I humbly implore. . . ?

CLAUDIUS

Councilor, sit down.

(Rosencrantz rises.)

You too, councilor.

(Rosencrantz sits—Claudius smiles at Hamlet.)

Hamlet, you may find this clever ploy amusing—a grand joke holding this court in
abeyance.

HAMLET

I assure you, I do not find it funny. I have of late, but wherefore I know not, lost all
my mirth. . .

CLAUDIUS

Then pray tell us, why do you insist on delaying your argument?

HAMLET

Is it my argument you desire? I thought it was merely my lawyer.

CLAUDIUS

To present your argument!

HAMLET

But the argument is obvious!

CLAUDIUS

Ah, then you will argue your own case?!


HAMLET

The obvious need not be argued!

CLAUDIUS

Do not insult the integrity of this court with—

HAMLET

Would you say your queen sits on your right?

CLAUDIUS

It is customarily where the queen sits.

HAMLET

And would you say my father was my mother's King?

CLAUDIUS

When he was alive, he was.

HAMLET

And I, my mother's son, yet not the son of the King?

CLAUDIUS

Sadly so.

HAMLET

Then my argument is obvious.

G'STERN

What's obvious! I don't understand; what's obvious?!

HAMLET

That one cannot debate what cannot be won.

G'STERN

What is he talking about? Do you know what he's talking about?

R'CRANTZ

No idea.

CLAUDIUS

Are you inferring that this court is prejudiced?

HAMLET

Everyone is prejudiced. This court is not immune.

CLAUDIUS

Pray, tell us why. Tell us what prejudices this court?

HAMLET

Shall I mother?


GERTRUDE

I cannot instruct you, my son.

HAMLET

Then I shall instruct you—I shall instruct you all.

G'STERN

Now we're getting someplace!

HORATIO

Hold, my friend.

HAMLET

We are here to resolve a murder—a murder of opportunity—in cold blood and
without conscience. This is the sole and final purpose of this court! And 'tis true,
there is a murderer here! And 'tis true, he is without remorse! And 'tis true, 'tis not
I. Nay, not for a moment I.

CLAUDIUS

Then I understand your plea to be "not guilty."

G'STERN

See, we are getting somewhere.

HAMLET

I am not free of guilt but not guilty of my father's murder!

G'STERN (Overlapping.)

Objection!

GERTRUDE (Overlapping.)

Father's murder!

R'CRANTZ (Overlapping.)

Objection!

CLAUDIUS (Pounding gavel.)

That is out of order.

GERTRUDE (Overlapping.)

Why say you murdered! Alas, do not say so!

CLAUDIUS

Defendant's comment will be stricken from the record!

HAMLET

Object and strike at will! But this trial will go on! And I will affix justice where
justice is best served.

CLAUDIUS (Pounding gavel.)

Out of order, you are out of order!


HORATIO

Hold Hamlet, think about what—

HAMLET

Surely you are not afraid of justice, uncle? Is that not why we are here—for
justice? And is not revenge a form of justice?

(Hamlet approaches the bench.)

CLAUDIUS

You are not at liberty to approach the bench. Guard! You have not been given
permission—

HAMLET

For justice is all any of us can hope for in this life time. Isn't that right, Father?

V/O GHOST

Do not forget!

GERTRUDE (Overlapping.)

Be still, my son.

HAMLET (Overlapping.)

I shall not, Father.

CLAUDIUS (Overlapping.)

Someone restrain the defendant.

V/O GHOST (Overlapping.)

Do not forget!

HAMLET (Overlapping.)

I shall not!

CLAUDIUS (Overlapping.)

"Shall not" what?

G'STERN (Overlapping.)

Objection! Objection! The prosecution is confused!

R'CRANTZ (Overlapping.)

We're very confused!

HAMLET

You asked for my argument—my plea! You have asked if I am guilty or innocent!
Well, let us end this masquerade! Let us begin the trial of truth, where innocence
is a myth and guilt is a matter of degree!

GERTRUDE (Overlapping.)

Oh, my son. My son.

HORATIO (Overlapping.)

Hamlet, I beg you, peace!


HAMLET

For the murder of Polonius, member of the King's court and father to my beloved
Ophelia, I, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, do enter the plea of—

(Suddenly, Shayla interrupts from the audience.)

SHAYLA

Not guilty.

(Shayla pushes her way into the courtroom and locks eyes with
Hamlet—silence.)

CLAUDIUS

Who is this woman?! Who are you, and what are you doing in my court?

R'CRANTZ

Objection!

G'STERN

What are you objecting to? Shut up!

CLAUDIUS

Remove this woman from the courtroom.

(Guard steps forward—Hamlet turns his back on Shayla.)

SHAYLA

That won't be necessary, I was just leaving.

(She starts to go.)

HAMLET (Verse.)

No, not a whit. I choose to soar above

Where sparrows nest and nightly fly and fall.

If it be now, 'tis not to come.

SHAYLA

If it be not to come it will be now.

HAMLET

If it be not now, yet it will come.

BOTH

The readiness is all.

HAMLET (Introducing.)

Councilor Spire—mine Uncle, the King. (Aside.) A little more than kin and less
than kind.

CLAUDIUS

Welcome, councilor.

SHAYLA

Thank you.


CLAUDIUS

The plea is not guilty?

SHAYLA

That is correct.

CLAUDIUS

Of course, you will like a postponement to council your client.

SHAYLA

I would like a postponement to determine my client's ability to stand trial.

CLAUDIUS

You question your client's clarity of thought?!

SHAYLA

My client has been under a tremendous amount of stress. Accused of murder—
jailed for the past ten days, losing his father just two months ago—

HAMLET

Nay, not so much, not two!

SHAYLA

. . . Less than two months ago, the wedding of his mother falling hard upon—

HAMLET

Within a month. Frailty, thy name is woman—

SHAYLA

. . . Coupled with stress in his love life, have taken a heavy toll. Your grace, my
client's behavior of late would be considered "antic" at best.

CLAUDIUS

What exactly are you proposing, councilor?

SHAYLA

A hearing to determine my client's competency—his state of mind.

CLAUDIUS

A competency hearing—I will take it under consideration. We will reconvene in
two days.

SHAYLA

Three.

CLAUDIUS

Three days, no more.

R'CRANTZ

Objection!


CLAUDIUS

Mr. Rosencrantz, sit down.

R'CRANTZ

Yes sir.

G'STERN

Your grace, may I—

CLAUDIUS

You may not! Guard! Remove the defendant.

SHAYLA

Just a moment—if it please the court?

CLAUDIUS

Nothing today has pleased the court—perhaps this will be a refreshing change.
What is your request?

SHAYLA

I ask that the court set appropriate and reasonable bond for my client.

CLAUDIUS

No bond—prisoner will remain in custody.

(Strikes gavel.)

Court is adjourned until—

SHAYLA

I won't accept that, your grace.

CLAUDIUS

You won't accept. . . ? I beg your pardon, councilor—need I remind you of what
has transpired here today? And now you claim Hamlet may not be mentally or
emotionally sound?

SHAYLA

Your honor, my client is not a threat—

CLAUDIUS

Can you be sure of that?

SHAYLA

I can.

CLAUDIUS

I cannot.

(Strikes gavel.)

Court is adjourned until—

SHAYLA

I insist that my client be granted liberty of the castle!


G'STERN

You see, you can't insist! She can't insist, can she?

CLAUDIUS

House arrest?

SHAYLA

There is precedent, your grace!

CLAUDIUS

Cite it!

SHAYLA

Julius Caeser—Act IV, Scene 2, Cymbeline—Act V, even Romeo was banished,
not imprisoned after slaying Tybalt—Act III, Scene 2.

CLAUDIUS

Thank you, councilor. But I regard the defendant as flight risk as well as a
potential threat. Request denied!

SHAYLA (Verse.)

It must not be, it cannot be denied!

Surely these walls, the strength and pow’r of your

Not inconsiderable arms and men

Might hold abeyance over one young prince,

Whose rapier, sword and dagger by this court

Hath stripped to naked vulnerability.

What threat? What magic key could Hamlet try

To slip the latch your majesty has secured?

And ‘scape this fortress, nay, the world—whose eyes

Lay tender e'en now upon our every move.

Good and noble King, let justice speak:

Say to the world this court fears not a one,

Not he—a student youth, a boy, a son.

Protect the day! Be justice not removed,

For one lives innocent till guilty proved!

(Silence)

CLAUDIUS (Prose.)

Bail is set at one million ducats.

SHAYLA (Overlapping.)

One million—!?

CLAUDIUS

The defendant is confined to the castle and its grounds! Careful watch on your
client, councilor, for if he violates these perimeters or is seen within ten meters of
a weapon, he will forfeit both his privileges and his bail. Say thank you, councilor.


SHAYLA

Thank you, your grace.

CLAUDIUS

Press is restricted to five hundred meters from the castle grounds. Members of
the press, do not test me on this—keep your distance. Court is adjourned until
nine A.M. Friday.

(Gavel. Exit all but Hamlet, Shayla and Horatio. The guard
returns weapons to Rosencrantz, Guildenstern and Horatio.)

HAMLET

We did well.

SHAYLA

I did well. You were lucky.

HAMLET

Why did you come back?

SHAYLA

Why did you take me back?

(A moment.)

HAMLET

You speak my language.

SHAYLA (Smiling.)

Yes. We have a lot of work to do.

HAMLET

We'll start tomorrow.

SHAYLA

We'll start tonight. Your chambers—seven o'clock.

HAMLET

As you wish, councilor.

HORATIO

He'll be there.

SHAYLA

'Til then, try to stay out of trouble. No, don't try—just stay out of trouble. Rest, shave,
put on a suit—look like a prince, not a punk. If the King grants us a competency
hearing and if you are found unfit, there will be no trial. But the cameras are watching
and your uncle knows it—it's time you did too.

(Shayla exits. A quiet moment.)

HORATIO

What is it, my lord?

HAMLET

How far have we come, Horatio?


HORATIO

My lord?

HAMLET

Have we traveled a distance in our droplet of time?

HORATIO

And it is time well spent.

HAMLET

I wonder. . . will any of this—any of us be remembered tomorrow? A week from
tomorrow?

HORATIO

Five times forever, my lord.

HAMLET

I wonder on't. But now, for freedom's sake, let us exercise our new-found wings and
fly this place.

HORATIO

Surely you jest! Nay, shed your truant disposition, my lord, and exact discipline. You
must needs remain here.

HAMLET

You tutor how like a teacher! I obey. But come—we have a hundred skulking acres
to call our own, and the day not half done. Will you follow?

HORATIO

I will, my lord, 'til I must lead.

(They exit. Transition to The Analyst.)


ANALYST

In a stunning and dramatic reversal of fortune, Hamlet has taken on former British
attorney and renowned author Shayla K. Spire to assist in his defense. Former
attorney Spire is best known for her legal novel—Nothing Is Good or Bad, but
Thinking Makes It So—which has topped the international best seller list for the
past twenty-three weeks. Recognized once as a gifted trial lawyer, Councilor
Spire was asked to leave the English Bar Association nearly four years ago under
a cloud of controversy. But her dramatic and timely reappearance today is a
reminder that, though her reputation may be tarnished, her trial skills appear as
brilliant as ever. By any account, this was a good day for the defense.

When we come back, we'll review the day's activities and ask our legal panel what
this could mean for the future of the trial. Should the King grant Hamlet a
competency hearing? What exactly is "house arrest" and what are its ethical and
legal ramifications? All this, plus your questions on our toll-free, when we return.

(Music and transition to. . . )


ACT I, SCENE 6: Soon after.

SETTING: Interior. Castle Chapel.

AT RISE: Hamlet and Horatio enter quickly, laughing and joking.
Hamlet is carrying a skull.

HORATIO (Verse.)

I pray you, give the scoundrel back that which

In faith he lent to you.

HAMLET

A gift! A gift!

I warrant you, the man to which this bone

Belongs hath no good use for it today.

HORATIO

And what will you to do with the cartilage?

HAMLET

I'faith, converse! He hath more wag and twice

The wit than learned men at Wittenberg.

Look you—with hat and pipe and three piece suit,

This pate would best professors I have heard!

Indeed, add collar, tie and wing tip shoes,

Methinks this empty skull would academes

Mistake for honored peers or pompous deans.

(Hamlet tosses skull to Horatio.)

HORATIO (To skull.)

O learned one, what think you on the trial?

(Horatio tosses it back.)

HAMLET (Manipulating jaw.)

A difficult and timely case indeed!

Profound beyond the scope that man has wit

And substance, sense or thought to reason it.

'Tis clear that charges made are counterfeit

And clearer still the King's a total shit!

HORATIO

But break it off—see where the King draws near.

(Enter Claudius. Horatio and Hamlet hide/watch.)

CLAUDIUS

Again and still again I stand unmoved

By wrongful death this hand untimely wrought,

And look beyond this world our senses know

At reaches everlasting. I will be tried,

CLAUDIUS (Continued.)

Not here, where power's mine and justice can


Be weighed deceptively and balance not,

But on the larger point and plane of time

To come, where judgment is what judgment finds,

And want, nor man, nor king may push asunder.

In the corrupted currents of this world

Offense’s gilded hand may shove by justice,

And oft ‘tis seen the wicked prize itself

Buys out the law; but ‘tis not so above.

There is no shuffling, the action lies

In his true nature, and we ourselves compell’d

Even to the teeth and forehead of our faults

To give the evidence. What then? What rests?

Try what repentance can. What can it not?

Yes what can it, when one cannot repent?

O wretched state! O bosom black as death!

O limed soul, that struggling to be free

Art more engaged! Help, Angels! Make assay!

Bow stubborn knees; and heart with strings of steel

Be soft as sinews of the new-born babe.

All may be well.

(Claudius kneels and prays.)

HAMLET

Horatio, now might I do it pat, now he is a-praying

And now I’ll do it!

(Hamlet grabs Horatio’s dagger.)

HORATIO

And so he goes to heaven!

HAMLET

And so I am avenged!

(Hamlet lunges toward the King. Horatio prevents him.)

HORATIO

That should be scanned!

A villain kills your father, and for that

You, his sole son, do this same villain send to heaven?!

(Hamlet struggles to free himself.)

HORATIO

Why, this is hire and salary, not revenge.

HAMLET

He took my father grossly!

HORATIO

Full of bread,

With all his crimes broad blown, as flush as May;


And how his audit stands, who knows save heaven?!

HAMLET

But might not this the final moment be,

To bring the reckoning of my soul and of

His life an end? It must be ta’en, or else

A coward’s lie my rightful purpose dies.

(Again, Hamlet goes at the King—Horatio overpowers him.)

HORATIO

Nay, hear me! Better time awaits your keeping!

My dearest friend, most honored gentle lord,

Thou must upon thy patience set and hold

Desire a’bay! We must obey the time!

Look! Make good view of him! The King yet prays!

Look upon’t! What see you in his face, his eyes?

Repentance? Worser still—sublime salvation?

Now tell me truly, if thou hast a voice,

Is’t now the choicest time to slay this devil?

HAMLET

But in our circumstance and course of thought,

‘Tis heavy with him: and am I then revenged,

To take him in the purging of his soul,

When he is fit and seasoned for his passage?

HORATIO

No.

(Hamlet relents.)

HAMLET

Up sword, and know thou a more horrid hent.

HORATIO

When he is drunk asleep, or in his rage.

HAMLET

Or in the incestuous pleasure of his bed,

HORATIO

At game a-swearing—

HAMLET

—Or about some act

That has no relish of salvation in’t—

HORATIO

Then trip him, that his heels may kick at heaven—

HAMLET

And that his soul may be as damned and black


As hell, whereto it goes.

HORATIO

Give me the dagger. Come, thy lawyer stays.

HAMLET

This physic but prolongs my sickly days.

(Horatio and Hamlet exit. The King rises.)

CLAUDIUS

My words fly up, my thoughts remain below.

Words without thought never to heaven go.

(Enter Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Return to prose.)

R'CRANTZ

Pardon, my liege.

CLAUDIUS

What are you doing here?

G'STERN

We have a problem.

CLAUDIUS

Are you alone?

G'STERN

I'm with him.

R'CRANTZ

He's with me.

CLAUDIUS

Are you sure you weren't followed!?

R'CRANTZ

We know it would be . . . uncomfortable for you to be seen 'tutoring' us outside
the courtroom. We were careful.

CLAUDIUS

What is it you want?

G'STERN

About the hearing.

CLAUDIUS

What hearing? I may not even allow it.

G'STERN

Oh, I think you'll have to allow it.

CLAUDIUS

Will I? Why?


G'STERN

Everyone's making a big deal about it They think Hamlet's sanity needs to be
tested . . especially after what happened today in court.

R'CRANTZ

The media's digging in. It would be bad for you to deny the request.

CLAUDIUS

This case is being tried in my courtroom, not the press!

R'CRANTZ

With all due respect, my liege, the press is precisely where this trial will be won
and lost.

CLAUDIUS

Then make damn sure we win in the courtroom, let me handle the court of public
opinion. Good night.

(Claudius starts to leave.)

G'STERN

I don't think that's going to be possible . . . to win in the courtroom, I mean.

CLAUDIUS

Are you a fool? Am I talking with fools? I am the court—I pass the judgments.
All you need to do is make it reasonable for me and there won't be a problem.

R'CRANTZ

Our case is weak.

CLAUDIUS

Weak?

G'STERN

Poor.

CLAUDIUS

He killed the old man, remember?! The queen will testify that Hamlet pulled his
dagger and—

G'STERN

Yes, yes—but if, and only if, we make it to trial!

R'CRANTZ

The problem is, Hamlet's emotionally . . . uh . . . well he's. . .

G'STERN

He's nuts.

R'CRANTZ

I mean, just look at the way he's acting! He staged that strange play for you!
He's got a really bizarre relationship with his girlfriend, he's hearing voices, talking


to himself—and he does that a lot—and now he claims his father was murdered!
Murdered! I mean, how crazy is that?

CLAUDIUS

Yes, I. . . uh, I see.

R'CRANTZ

I mean, everyone knows your brother laid down, took a nap, never woke up.

CLAUDIUS

Yes.

R'CRANTZ

You know the worst part is—he's getting a lot of support.

G'STERN

Sympathy.

CLAUDIUS

From whom?

R'CRANTZ

Well, uh. . . the queen, for starters.

G'STERN

Not in so many words, but she sure isn't helping our cause.

R'CRANTZ

And most of the media—maybe they just feel sorry for him—but the media seems
to like him a lot.

G'STERN

Well, he is Hamlet.

R'CRANTZ

But your popularity is holding well—your numbers are still good.

G'STERN

Very good—82% approval rating from women ages thirty to thirty-five.

R'CRANTZ

But we're getting nervous the honeymoon may be just about over. You've been in
power now a few weeks. Yes, the support after your brother's death was
tremendous, you handled that very well, but. . .

CLAUDIUS

But. . . ?

R'CRANTZ

But this situation needs special care. The way you handle this hearing—a
poor choice here or there could mean real trouble politically.


CLAUDIUS (Aside.)

Ah, 'sblood! Should I e'en have put him on trial

As other opportunes awaited charge?

How dangerous it was that this man gets loose!

Yet might have I put the strong law on him:

He's loved of the distracted multitude,

Who like not in their judgment, but their eyes

And where 'tis so, th'offender's scourge is weighed

But ne'er the offense. To bear all smooth and even

A sudden sending him away or death

Were not the choicest chance. The trial was all.

G'STERN

But, my liege, there is opportunity here—-real upside.

CLAUDIUS

Yes.

G'STERN

I mean, could there be a better stage? A larger arena? You're sharing the
world's hottest limelight with young prince Hamlet.

CLAUDIUS

Opportunity. . .

G'STERN

Opportunity to command attention. Every television in every living room
everywhere in the world is tuned to you.

R'CRANTZ

Your fifteen minutes, my liege.

CLAUDIUS (Resolved.)

We have to get through the hearing. This case must go to trial.

R'CRANTZ

Easier said than done—

CLAUDIUS

I don't think you heard me; this case must go to trial!

R'CRANTZ

This is precisely the problem, my liege, we have no case!

CLAUDIUS

Find one. Fabricate one. Invent one! Get to the people who will testify. Friends,
doctors—buy them if you have to, but by the end of the hearing I want there to be no
doubt whatsoever that HAMLET—IS—SANE!

R'CRANTZ

Then we need the queen.


CLAUDIUS

Why?

R'CRANTZ

She was there. She was with him. She can speak to his state of mind at the time of
the murder. Without her testimony, we have no chance.

(Gertrude enters.)

GERTRUDE

Claudius! (Seeing R'crantz and G'stern.) Husband.

CLAUDIUS (Off balance.)

Gertrude! How long have. . . how nice to see you.

R'CRANTZ

We take our leave, my leige.

(Rosencrantz and Guildenstern bow and exit. Return to verse.)

CLAUDIUS (Verse.)

Gertrude, my love. How go'st with you this night?

GERTRUDE

Some distance better now that you are found.

CLAUDIUS

O heavy weight of wonder. What sighs are these,

That gleaming eyes of drenched salt should stream

And stain thy beauty's air with moistened pearls?

GERTRUDE

A burden grave that mothers yet may live

To mourn their children.

CLAUDIUS

How is't you mourn, my love?

Is Hamlet not within these walls and safe

From those that would incite to do him harm?

GERTRUDE

Ay, safe he stays, save from his inner foe.

I fear a madness keeps a fixed clench,

That stifles that which reason comprehends,

And makes himself, no more himself than I

To shy and unwed virgins be.

(She embraces him—crying.)

CLAUDIUS

Peace. Peace.

Or cry 'til untamed cascading tears run dry,

And warmer comforts ease thy painful ache.

My kisses sweet shall thy salt tears replace


And warm thy sensual soul in my embrace.

(He kisses her lightly, then passionately.)

Now Gertrude, my only love and only queen,

The time is nigh we must agree betwixt

Ourselves of that which touches near us both.

GERTRUDE

Say so and I shall listen.

CLAUDIUS

'Tis I must list to thee,

For 'tis perceptions you do own that interest

The most in me.

GERTRUDE

Say so and I shall speak.

CLAUDIUS

You know but well the hearing draws apace.

So tell me love (and tell me truly too);

What wilt thou say (if one should ever ask),

Of those occurrences—what words or deeds

Within thy room the night your son did visit?

GERTRUDE

Husband, I have foretold, and oft these weeks,

Of fear and torment—of loathing, loving tears

That did transpire th'eventful night of woe.

CLAUDIUS

Indeed, and listened well did I to every

Several anguished horror spoke. But what did'st thou

Perceive of that which now you call a madness?

To me relate the points of facts observed;

Did putrid foam spew forth from out his mouth

As oft we see in dogs with rabid madness?

Or was he wont to harm himself? Inflict

With stabs and thrusts or claw at throat and brow

As patients bound in state asylums do?

If madness seized control on him that day,

What symptoms, sure, say would you say you saw?

GERTRUDE

What symptoms? Physic I am none. Nor can

Precisely list that which my mind doth know.


I might, 'twere in my power, with readiness

Give swift recount of each and several actions

That Hamlet did perform—that can I not.

One may not read a madness like a menu:

"Now two of these from here or there, and one

From somewhere else and thus is ordered madness!"

'Tis not a rightful way to make assessment!

For sense and feeling oft can truer judge

That which a thousand words cannot relate.

CLAUDIUS

So, true enough. I do not ask you name

Them all at once, nor ask I lightly you

Displace your passion or exchange your love

With sole sterility of reasoned thought.

But memory sure can find one case to serve

As answer.

GERTRUDE

Of what I saw, I can exact

But one thing sure. The rest revolves around

This thing alone: that Hamlet (oh my son),

Hamlet did see, as clear as I this moment you

Perceive, his father; and to him did speak.

If this be not a madness, then I know not what.

CLAUDIUS

Pray love—how did he hear his father speak?

GERTRUDE

How? How but with his ears? How else may he?

CLAUDIUS

Nay, you mistake me, love. I ask but how

He looked when with his ghostly father spoke?

GERTRUDE

If memory serves, obediently calm formost.

But when the apparition did recede,

In then confused state, became he angry,

Swearing oath on oath to break a mother's heart.

CLAUDIUS

Nay, you mistake me yet. I ask how Hamlet

Did look—in what direction did he look

When speaking to his unseen phantom father?


GERTRUDE

Why to the air—th'incorporeal air did he discourse.

CLAUDIUS

Like this he spoke? As I now speak to you?

GERTRUDE

If truth be told, he was some distance closer.

A step or two. Perhaps a third. Forth. There.

CLAUDIUS

Then this is how you saw his madness strike?

With face as thus? And spoke in manners thus?

GERTRUDE

'Tis true, but different than conversing now.

CLAUDIUS

Different? How? Am I not in proper place?

You claim he was becalmed, when first he spoke?

GERTRUDE

Calm, yes.

CLAUDIUS

Then different how, my dearest love?

I wish to know how madness is professed.

I speak you now with calming voice and caring

CLAUDIUS (Continued.)

As you yourself did say so even now.

Might madness be about to strike at me?

Should I prepare my soul and self in fear

I may be ripe for losing half my wits?

GERTRUDE

Husband, your mind is sharp and not distracted

With burdens. ‘Tis not so with Hamlet. My son

Conversed in some degree with one not there!

CLAUDIUS

His father's spirit?

GERTRUDE

Yes—invisible.

A spirit seeming to him truth! A vision!

Of nothing made—of substance blank! The air!

The wind! The empty nothingness of no thing!


CLAUDIUS

Perhaps he did so. Or perchance young Hamlet,

His father gone, and he in grief did miss

Him dear, as I do dearly miss mine own.

Dear queen, my wife—I know not how to say:

If I, a simple truth confess, might you

In judgement think me similarly ill?

Should I declare that I oft pray, nay, speak

To mine own father. Pray tell—think you me mad?

For I do speak aloud (and oft in fear),

Of how another might perceive my words.

GERTRUDE

Faith, husband. I cannot fault there find;

Rather it seems an act of admiration

To honor one in memory. As family

Or friends loved too well—too soon departed.

CLAUDIUS

Then why think Hamlet mad to honor one

Of no less consequence to he? A father

Is to a boy as near as god to man.

I beg, reflect again on what you know;

Or what you think you know; or think might know;

Is't possible your mind could have mistook?

GERTRUDE

But Hamlet clearly saw—not merely spoke!

The apparition he did see! And so he said!

CLAUDIUS

Cannot one sometime see that which the mind

Doth in some waking dreams remember well?

Dear love, this so-called madness you foretold

Is not the best or only explanation

Of Hamlet's deeds or of his strange behavior.

GERTRUDE

Did I not see the scene I thought I saw?

Is't possible? I can no longer say—

Memory is short—I can no longer think

What I did know I knew. Or thought to know.

CLAUDIUS

Come Gertrude, now 'tis time to rest awhile.

Our bed awaits—and bodies weary call

For us to lay us down—to lay and sleep.

(Kisses her sensually.)


GERTRUDE

A comfort you have been to me this night,

Now I shall comfort thee in ways that wives

Do comfort husbands.

CLAUDIUS

As is your desire.

Tomorrow we will think on this again.

Together we'll discover all the truths

That lie within your rightful memory.

(They begin to exit.)

GERTRUDE

No. No! 'Tis not what I believe.

CLAUDIUS

Come Gertrude—

GERTRUDE

I will not come away!

I am no child! No fool at game to sway.

My mind is sound and eyes full vision clear!

My ears still comprehend what words I hear!

And must to all the simplest truth pronounce

For Hamlet's madness I cannot renounce.

CLAUDIUS

But lovely wife—

GERTRUDE

I know not why you wish

To alter my perceptions.

CLAUDIUS

Nay, not so.

GERTRUDE

To stir in me self doubt and bogus confusions!

I am the queen before you wore a crown.

I have my wits and faculties about me;

If dare you, test me now and you shall learn

Exactly what was said, acted, done

That fateful night.

CLAUDIUS (With growing fury.)

I test you not, my queen;

I rather ask that you remember well

And that which you remember not, invent

With thoughtful heed in deliberation.

Justice will Hamlet find, or else find him;

And you, my ancient queen, will serve it up.


GERTRUDE

Not I, i'faith, I have no stomach for it.

CLAUDIUS

The taste of lasting power, you'll learn in time

Is swallowed bitter-sweet and well absorbed

If garden fresh or rotting pulp. If thou

Cannot digest this well, look to other rations,

For I must feed for mine own nourishment!

Your story will in suitable fashion be

As you desire a future bound to me!

GERTRUDE

Another witness must vouchsafe for thee.

And while, I doubt it not, you bait and troll

Dark seas for some another serpent to tell

Your tale, I'll not for thee or any man.

Thou art my husband-king, and I thy queen

Together mated to black oblivion.

What I conject I will for now ignore,

Knowing thee honest in all things heretofore.

But know my love for thee is matched by one

Exacting truth; my son remains my son.

(She exits leaving Claudius alone—fade to black.)


ACT I, SCENE 7: Soon after.

SETTING: Interior. Hamlet's Chamber.

AT RISE: Shayla, Hamlet and Horatio are embroiled in a strategy
meeting. Shayla makes notes as they speak:

SHAYLA

. . . And standing on the battlements, moments before the dawn, as you gazed
upon this figure, he spoke to you?

HAMLET

Yes.

SHAYLA

What did he say?

HAMLET

I cannot tell you.

SHAYLA

Why can you not?

HAMLET

I swore I would not.

SHAYLA

Respecting your loyalty and discretion, Lord Hamlet, but I must needs know the
substance of the discussion you had with uh . . . with. . .

HAMLET

My dead father?

SHAYLA

Your father. How brief was this conversation?

HAMLET

If by "this conversation" you mean this conversation, it is becoming tediously brief.
But if you rather mean, "this conversation" with my father, I would reply, several
short minutes.

SHAYLA

Why no longer?

HAMLET

The sun was coming up—he was fairly concerned about that. There wasn't time
for idle chit-chat, if that's what you're asking.


SHAYLA

I am asking for your story! We walk into that courtroom in some very few days,
and whether it's for your competency hearing or your trial, I need your help. I
cannot defend you without your help.

(Hamlet weighs the situation.)

HAMLET

He told me to kill my uncle.

SHAYLA

Your father told you?

HAMLET

Implored. Instructed.

SHAYLA

To kill your uncle? Only that?

HAMLET

It seemed enough.

SHAYLA

And did he tell you why he wanted you to do so?

HAMLET

To ". . . avenge his most foul and unnatural murder."

SHAYLA

Murder?

HAMLET

". . . foul, strange and unnatural murder." That was all in all. And he did tell me
how.

SHAYLA

How to avenge—?

HAMLET

How he was murdered. Sleeping in the orchard—as was his custom always of the
afternoon—my uncle poured some quantity of poison in his ear.

SHAYLA

In his ear? And you truly believe these words came from your father? You
believe this thing you saw to be your father?

HAMLET

Only he.

SHAYLA

And these "instructions" he gave you, you believe to be truth?

HAMLET

I did and do.


SHAYLA

I take it, no one else saw this vision?

(Silence.)

HORATIO

Why do you ask?

SHAYLA

Did someone else see it?

HORATIO

Why is that important?

SHAYLA

It's a simple question: did anyone else see this apparition?

HORATIO

I don't see how that is relevant to what you—

SHAYLA

The court will find it relevant! Lord Hamlet, if you are the only one to have seen
this vision—it will most likely be concluded a delusion. Created by your mind—
from your mind.

HAMLET

It was no delusion.

SHAYLA

But for the sake of the hearing—

HAMLET

It was my father.

SHAYLA

As you say—but surely you understand that conversing with the dead is not a
daily activity for most of us! If you are suffering from delusions—

HAMLET

It was not—

SHAYLA

No matter what the cause—this will be sufficient! We will bring sufficient evidence
to prove you incompetent and unfit to stand trial!

HORATIO

And if others saw this apparition?

SHAYLA

Then we have a problem. Then the ghost exists.


HORATIO (Aside.)

Then we go to trial.

SHAYLA

Corroboration is a powerful argument. One cannot plea "collective insanity."
Delusions don't exist except in the mind of the deluded. So what say you? Did
anyone else see this vision?

(A moment—Horatio and Hamlet connect.)

HORATIO

No.

HAMLET

No.

SHAYLA

No.

(Long pause as Shayla writes. Horatio and Hamlet again connect.)

SHAYLA

How did you find yourself on the watch tower, and alone, at five o'clock in the
morning?

HAMLET

I couldn't sleep.

SHAYLA

And strolled alone to the watch platform?

HAMLET

The King was in his wonted temper, taking his customary rouse—

SHAYLA

Customary?

HAMLET

A custom more honored in the breach than the observance. He and his queen
caroused, drank deeply, engaging music and song. I could not sleep and took a
walk.

SHAYLA

Who was on the watch that night?

HAMLET

I don't remember—

HORATIO

Does it matter? Is there a problem, councilor?

SHAYLA

I endeavor only to ascertain an accurate accounting of what happened the first
night Lord Hamlet saw his ghost.


HORATIO

He has told you everything—

SHAYLA

I don’t think so.

HORATIO (Verse.)

What more dost thou require?

(Horatio pulls Shayla aside.)

Think his account tolls not a candid truth?

What further proof or argument must needs

You hear from out his tired and tortured soul?

Think not "what might" or "if wilt, what then?"

Imagination strong cannot defend

Those who cannot of sound and reasonable thought

Grant goodly answer. You have enough! Enough

At hand to stay the court from trial withal.

Witness hast thou several at thy beck and call,

With mettle enough to serve in apt defense.

Hamlet, the Queen, myself and, yea, Ophelia

To name but few, will all, with righteous tongue,

Exclaim stark evidence of Hamlet's fantasies.

Let it alone.

SHAYLA

And keep the truth concealed

Against the chance it may not be revealed?

Nay, not for pins would I elect to conjure

Deep lies and empty oaths to 'scape the wrath

Of King and court. A lie defensed is but a lie—

No less perilous than bleeding wounds that spew

With gleaming scarlet covering marred flesh.

Unnoted it will infect and grow in gross

Amounts until, at last, the wound itself

Consumes that which at once grew fit and healthy.

So will a lie i'the throat be cancer to those

Who choose to swallow truth and speak but tainted

Lexis to wanting ears. I have not binds

Of legal tether. My bonds I knot alone—

Imbued with strength of self informed stature.

SHAYLA (Continued.)

I cannot be re-stripped of that which has

Already been removed—in chief, the lawful

Title to claim and call me "councilor."

I cannot choose but set a compassed course

That sails tightly sheeted to th'inconstant air;


Gales strong and mighty winds will bow the vessel

Of our true purpose, but honesty will billow

And fill our mainsail; holding course, sans leeway,

Or else I will my steerage to another give o'er.

So much is my commitment to this trial,

And to integrity.

HORATIO

I do perceive

Your council well. But for a time let's leave

These pointed questions and examine general

Accumulation of the evidence.

I thank thee for thy council and thy speed.

(To Hamlet—aloud.)

What ho, my good lord Hamlet!

HAMLET

Hast forgot me?

HORATIO

Nay good my lord, we have forgot ourselves.

But patience pray, hear council submit thy treatise.

SHAYLA

I will be brief.

(Spoken as an "opening statement" in rhymed couplets.)

This case will we present in open court

Is not complex, nor lacking in support.

Witnesses have we with content clear,

So one can understand this case with mere

Perfunctory exams—and judgment quick.

In faith, good King, our argument is politic.

What we present will bend toward only one conclusion;

That Lord Prince Hamlet suffers from delusion.

A temporary madness made him do

One violent act that some might misconstrue

As criminal, but not so in this case

SHAYLA (Continued.)

With Hamlet. He could not commit so base

A crime, were all his wits and judgment soundly

In tact. Alas, his loved father's death profoundly

Did shake his reason. His mother's marriage meant

Another cause for strong disparagement.

And to conclude, the prince should not stand trial


On this account. There will be time to reconcile

All matters that surround Polonius' death—

And those that guilty are will answereth!

For this time let our troubled Hamlet free

To cleanse his mind—regain his sanity.

(She continues in blank verse.)

This is the bone and sinew of our argument.

Its strength is in its truth—if truth it is.

HORATIO

What say you? How can'st offer a strong defense

If thou hast yet a suspect disposition?

SHAYLA

I have—and with good cause.

HAMLET

What cause hast thou?

Come, say it timely, plainly and to the purpose!

SHAYLA

I do suspect that thou hast lied to me.

As evidence support I do present

This manuscript—received not two hours since.

(She produces a thick book.)

Within these pages tells a tale too similar

To that which you recount—yea, the same!

Yet not the same. I'faith, 'tis not the same.

HAMLET

What book is this, and whereby came it you?

SHAYLA

My publisher hath sent it me to peruse.

The author yet unknown to me or any man.

HAMLET

A phantom author? So what considerable

Or weighty consequence might be there writ?

SHAYLA

Of consequence to you, dear prince, if what

This script contains is truth!


HORATIO

What then contains it?!

SHAYLA

I shall not now to that command remark,

But opt you take this play to read and mark!

(Handing Horatio the book.)

HAMLET

Ah! So now (and once again) "The play's the thing?"

HORATIO (Showing Hamlet the book.)

Here read this title—cease thy witty bant'ring!

SHAYLA

Speak it out! Before discussions we embark!

HAMLET (Reading the title.)

"The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark."

(Blackout. End of Act I.)


The Trial of Hamlet

ACT II, SCENE 1: The following morning.

SETTING: Somewhere in the Castle. As the lights fade to black, The
Analyst appears (as in the opening of the play), and addresses
the audience: "SPECULATION CAME TO AN ABRUPT
CONCLUSION TODAY, AS JUDGE CLAUDIUS
UNEXPECTEDLY GRANTED THE DEFENSE THEIR ALL
IMPORTANT COMPETENCY HEARING. HIS DECISION
HAS SPARKED HEATED DEBATE ON BOTH SIDES OF
THIS CONTROVERSIAL ISSUE. AN UNDISCLOSED
SOURCE CLOSE TO HAMLET WAS QUOTED AS
SAYING: "REGARDLESS OF THE HEARING'S
OUTCOME, HAMLET WILL CONTINUE TO SUIT HIS
ACTION TO THE WORD, HIS WORD TO THE ACTION."
THE PROSECUTION, HOWEVER, HAS REMAINED
ODDLY SILENT STATING ONLY: "THAT THOUGH A
CRAFTY MADNESS KEEPS HAMLET ALOOF, THEY
WILL BRING HIM TO SOME CONFESSION OF HIS
TRUE STATE." SO IT APPEARS THAT BOTH SIDES
ARE READY TO DO BATTLE. WE'D LIKE TO KNOW
WHAT YOU THINK—IS THERE METHOD TO HAMLET'S
MADNESS? AND SHOULD HAMLET'S COMPETENCY
HEARING BE, OR SHOULD IT NOT BE? THAT'S OUR
QUESTION. LET US KNOW YOUR ANSWER BY
CALLING: 1-800-2B OR NOT. THAT'S: 1-800-2-B-O-R-N-
O-T. OR YOU CAN LOG ON TO OUR WEB-SITE AT
www.trialofhamlet.com . AND REMEMBER TO STAY
TUNED TO AS WE PROVIDE COMPLETE, CONTINUOUS
COVERAGE FROM THE COURTROOM TO YOUR
LIVING ROOM OF THE TRIAL OF HAMLET."

AT RISE: Laertes and Ophelia are in the middle of a heated discussion.

LAERTES

You will not! Under no circumstances will I allow. . .

OPHELIA

But, good brother, I have no choice.

LAERTES

Good conscience, good sister, will grant you your choice.


OPHELIA

I have been summoned!

LAERTES

By whom? For whom? Pray tell me true—good, good sister—who has
summoned you?

OPHELIA

Why, the court. The court demands that I testify—

LAERTES

Not lord Hamlet?

OPHELIA

I have not spoken to the prince.

LAERTES

But you will speak on his behalf!?

OPHELIA

I have been summoned!

LAERTES

And you will say . . . what? I wonder what?

OPHELIA

As do I—

LAERTES

That you loved him? That—against all good advice and the prudent wishes
of our poor murdered father—still you loved him!

OPHELIA

No.

LAERTES

Are in love with him!?

OPHELIA

No.

LAERTES

You are not? Have not?

OPHELIA

I cannot.

LAERTES

Lies are most unbecoming from one so young and so innocent.

OPHELIA

Lies?!


LAERTES

Or perhaps young and not-so-innocent.

(A moment.)

OPHELIA

I have not lied to you.

LAERTES

It is said—rumored about—that lord Hamlet has made many tenders of his
affection toward you.

OPHELIA

Tenders. . . ?

LAERTES

. . . And that you have taken these tenders for true pay (which are not sterling).

OPHELIA

But well paid and well intended.

LAERTES

Tender yourself more dearly, sister!

OPHELIA

My lordly brother, Hamlet hath importuned me with love in honorable fashion—

LAERTES

Go to, wench. Go to!

OPHELIA

. . . And hath given countenance to his speech with almost all the holy vows of
heaven.

LAERTES

Ay, that "almost" is well spoke—for in that "almost" is most all in all. Give me up
the truth—if truth thou still can speak—has Hamlet taken from you that which you
can never regain?

OPHELIA

One cannot take that which is more willingly given withal.

(Silence—then in verse.)

LAERTES

Then you have taken to bed with him?

OPHELIA

We've taken one the other in equal sted,

Received each the other in loving, sharing bed.

LAERTES

You will not testify!


OPHELIA

It's not my choice—

LAERTES

And will not, in plain terms, from this time forth

Have you so slander any moment leisure

As to give words or talk with the Lord Hamlet!

OPHELIA

I cannot promise that which I cannot keep!

Hamlet, in house arrest, still roams unbound

Remaining free within the castle's grounds.

And I—

LAERTES

You hear me not, young sister mine!

I ask you not, implore you not, beseech

You not in terms polite, nor hope obedience

Curbs your luxurious whetted appetite!

If you will not my judgement good respect

Then let you, locked within your room awhile,

Remind you of your duty to our father

Who's dry and rotting corse cries still for justice!

OPHELIA

Ha! Lock me up!? As though a nursery babe;

Naive to slap and scold, confine to room?

I am the chosen love of Hamlet—heir;

One most immediate to the throne of Den—

LAERTES

Enough! I've heard enough! You'll come with me!

OPHELIA

I'll go alone!

LAERTES

Tempt not my worser temper!

You'll come with me, or with me you will go

Enforced sway—whether thou wilt or no!

(He drags her out—Exit as we fade to black.)


ACT II, SCENE 2: Immediately following.

SETTING: Interior, the courtroom.

AT RISE: Horatio, alone, is reading the manuscript. He is absorbed, then
finally closes the play, turns to the audience and speaks. . .

HORATIO

Could ever man speak words of yearning thus,

As Hamlet hath, here writ? or might the prince

Have found a sweeter tune on which to play

His bitter grief? He may (as sure as not)

Ne’er thought nor spake the like as found here writ;

His words (true ornaments of anguish) hang

About our ears, as yokes do burden oxen,

Slumping amid the muck and mire of well

Manured fields or season soaked plains.

And though I love him well, I must confess,

Hamlet hath not the gift of brevity,

The proof whereof lies here within this brief;

These words might Hamlet suit and wear but well.

Can words change thoughts to thoughts that never were?

As Hamlet might reflecting on these words

Construe their meaning with what truth he knows?

Or can some words, in minds of others placed,

Make those we speak seem less endowed with truth

Than fabled fictions; falsely conjured verse;

Dishonest thoughts by truant voices quoted?

I’st possible? perchance e’en probable?

Methinks there’s more belief disguised in what

One man conceives is said, than all the truth

That spews from honest lips of honest men.

I’faith, I cannot tell. Thus much is so:

Since others, yea the world, believe it so,

It will be so! Perception is our truth,

And what is thought to be (or not to be),

Will ever more the solemn truth become.

(A sound is heard off-stage.)

HORATIO (Continued.)


But mark! she comes apace. Retire thy musing,

And frame some words to compass thoughts more near

The argument at hand; The trial awaits!

Practiced persuasion be my subtle tool;

Her reason to re-teach; thoughts to re-school.

(Shayla enters.)

SHAYLA

You asked to see me.

HORATIO (Referring to script.)

Interesting reading, no?

SHAYLA

I thought you might find it so.

HORATIO

Think there's any truth in it?

SHAYLA

Oh, I think there are many truths in it.

HORATIO

Where did you say you got it?

SHAYLA

It was delivered to my publisher. He delivered it to me.

HORATIO

And no one knows where it came from. . . ?

SHAYLA

Oh, someone knows. . . we just don't know the someone who knows.

(A moment.)

HORATIO

I have a confession to make.

SHAYLA

A confession?

HORATIO

Yes. I think Hamlet's guilty.

SHAYLA

That's conjecture, not confession.

HORATIO

Call it what you will, I think he is.

SHAYLA

Why are you telling me this?


HORATIO

Because you need to know that I would do anything to help him in spite of the fact I
think he's guilty.

SHAYLA

Anything?

HORATIO

Yes.

SHAYLA

Why?

HORATIO

Why?

SHAYLA

Why.

HORATIO

He's my friend.

SHAYLA

That's all?

HORATIO

It's enough.

SHAYLA

Perhaps.

HORATIO

It's enough. You don't believe me.

(Shayla starts to exit.)

You don't have someone that you would do most anything for?

(She stops.)

HORATIO

Someone for whom you would sell your very soul to protect? Someone or
something worthy of the very best you have and nothing less?

SHAYLA

I have.

HORATIO

And. . . ?

SHAYLA

And he's no longer important.


HORATIO

I see.

SHAYLA

No you don't; how could you?

(She decides to go on.)

Five years ago—when I was a practicing member of the bar—one of our senior
partners Joshua Franklin. . . Josh. . . called on me in my office. He shut the door
behind him and asked me to take my phone off the hook. The next fifteen minutes
I have rethought fifteen hundred times over the past five years. He told me that
his brother—the other senior partner—was ill. Cancer—but for business and
political reasons very hush-hush. He was not expected to make it through the
year. Josh told me that when his brother passed on, he wanted me to take his
place. Me! Still a child (in attorney's years), and Franklin & Franklin the oldest,
most prestigious law firm in Great Britain. I would have done anything to have my
name on that door. I was bright, I was eager, I was young and idealistic and for
the next six months I was given control of half a dozen of the firm's most important
clients, including the multi-million dollar account with Cyber-Systems—yes, the
software giant. Josh and I spent a lot of time together—professional time, but we
became close. Very close. I would have done anything for him. Almost anything.
So when Cyber-Systems was accused of unethical and illegal business practices,
I did everything in my power to stop the bleeding—for the client, for the firm,
mostly for Josh. But the bleeding could not be stopped; Cyber-Systems was
found guilty, dismantled, and I soon found myself telling this story in front of a
peer-review at the bar association.

HORATIO

I take it they didn't believe you?

SHAYLA

My own firm—both senior partners in my own firm—testified that, ". . . they knew
nothing of my illegal and unethical practices." And that (quote), I was the only
cancer in their firm (end of quote). Who would you believe?

HORATIO (Putting together.)

He didn't die?

SHAYLA

He was never sick.

HORATIO

Oh, my God.

SHAYLA

I was disbarred and Franklin & Franklin were slapped on the wrist—instructed,
"To be more careful with their future hires. After all, integrity is the backbone of
the British Empire."

HORATIO

I see.


SHAYLA

Yes, now you do. If you'll excuse me.

(She again starts to leave.)

HORATIO (Verse.)

I saw him.

SHAYLA

I beg your pardon?

HORATIO

Him.

What Hamlet saw, I saw.

SHAYLA

The ghost?

HORATIO

His father.

SHAYLA

The manuscript is right.

HORATIO

Yea, mostly right.

SHAYLA

You spoke to him?

HORATIO

I did, but answer made it none.

SHAYLA

It spoke to Hamlet alone. Tis strange.

HORATIO

As I do live, good councilor, tis true,

And I now think it writ down in my duty

To let you know of it.

SHAYLA

Hold. Someone comes.

HORATIO

Is it the king?

SHAYLA

Ay, marry 'ist.

And with appointed councilors in tow.

We must take leave. I'll visit with you straight.


HORATIO

Nay, hold. Perchance they speak some consequence

Come stand aside to overhear their conference.

(Shayla and Horatio hide as Claudius, Rosencrantz and
Guildenstern enter in haste.)

R'CRANTZ

. . . And now that Laertes is back from France, that gives us at least ten strong
witnesses for the hearing.

G'STERN (Quickly.)

Not including the Queen.

CLAUDIUS

Include the Queen.

R'CRANTZ

And we've just got the results from the psychological exam—

G'STERN (Quickly.)

Which are mixed.

R'CRANTZ

But with strong expert testimony we'll get a good spin on it—

G'STERN

Of course.

CLAUDIUS

And the defense?

R'CRANTZ

Well, their list isn't very long; we think their star witness will be Ophelia.

G'STERN

His girlfriend.

CLAUDIUS

Thank you. I was afraid of that.

R'CRANTZ

But we think we can discredit her in our cross.

G'STERN

Yeah, she's kind of a flake.

CLAUDIUS

Alright, but go easy on her in the courtroom. Remember, the cameras are rolling
and we don't want her too sympathetic.

R'CRANTZ

Alright.


G'STERN

Will do.

CLAUDIUS

Anyone else on the witness list we need to worry about?

(An uncomfortable moment.)

R'CRANTZ

Well. . .

G'STERN

The Queen's on their list too.

CLAUDIUS

Is she. . . ?

R'CRANTZ

And, of course, their doctor as expert witness to refute our expert witness—

G'STERN

One expert cancels the other.

CLAUDIUS

Can we get to him to. . .influence his testimony?

R'CRANTZ

I doubt it.

CLAUDIUS

Try.

G'STERN

Dubious.

CLAUDIUS

TRY!

R'CRANTZ

Honestly, your grace? We feel that public opinion will hinge on the performance
of just two key witnesses—Ophelia and the Queen.

CLAUDIUS

Then handle Ophelia, I'll handle the Queen.

(Enter Laertes, still dragging Ophelia. He flings her to her knees
in front of the King. Return to verse.)

CLAUDIUS (Verse)

How now, Laertes?!

LAERTES

O thou vile King

Where is my father?


CLAUDIUS

Calmly, good Laertes.

LAERTES

That drop of blood that's calm proclaims me bastard!

Cries cuckold to my father, brands the harlot

Even here between the chaste unsmirched brow

Of my true mother!

CLAUDIUS

What's the cause Laertes?

That thy rebellion looks so giant-like?

LAERTES

Profoundest torment in both heart and mind!

My temperate nature lost in waves of brine.

But sorrow dries in anger's sharpening heat,

Hardened and crammed whole in fulsome choler.

CLAUDIUS

Peace, peace Laertes, till thou know'st our full

And plainful purpose.

LAERTES

Ha! I know not "peace"

Till he—whose very name offends my mouth,

Infects my lips and tongue with cankers rank—

Till he, that "Hamlet," joins my father's flesh,

But ne'er his soul; for heav'n, where my dear father

Resides (were it not so), would'st not abide

So Hellish fiend as found in Elsinore.

CLAUDIUS

Digest the venom of your spleen awhile—

LAERTES

Wherefore is he—a rogue and peasant slave,

A lustful thief of precious maidenhood,

A barbarous, murderous maker of lonely sons—

Given his leave to haunt these grounds and cheat

The larger part of justice! How and wherefore

Do madmen freely act and strut sans fear

That Denmark's flaccid laws will hold account?!

Or is't that princes—brother's sons—can rise

Above the laws where honest men are bound!?


CLAUDIUS

Transform thyself, if thou thy father e'er loved!

As beasts entrapped scrap and claw at bars,

Exhausting outward strength, transform with reason,

Facing their iron foe with calm resolve.

So must revenge that births in fiery hearts

Amend to passion cool, still resolute;

Commanded by a clarity of wit!

LAERTES

Patience for madness signifies a fool!

I loved my father! He respected me,

In all things honest. She—this sister who

Hath lost her purity, has by the by,

Been raped of maidenhead and family!

Pronounce, my sister, all your heart doth hold;

Of secret time with him alone defiling

Thy wasted sacred shrine—virginity.

Pronounce!

(Ophelia in tears.)

CLAUDIUS

Ophelia, fear not the powerful

Station of this esteemed company,

But answer gently to your brother's charge.

OPHELIA

What would you have me say?

CLAUDIUS

Why, but the truth.

Dost thou still meet with Hamlet since thy father,

God rest his soul, has passed? Fear not the court,

For now as friends we speak in partnered grief.

OPHELIA

I do perceive divided truth and duty.

To my dear brother, yea, I owe allegiance,

And near as much to my dead father's memory.

But he who stands accused is part of me

As dusty blush is to the morning rose;

Together bound in blessed trust as fast

As clinging ivy climbing orchard walls.

Pleasing the one cannot but hurt another,

So stand I mute until the court demands

I answer all that must be answered.


CLAUDIUS

Your duty, child, commends your goodly honor.

Go now and rest. The trial resumes apace.

No more of this.

LAERTES

My liege—

CLAUDIUS

I say, no more!

Let gentle dreams receive more gentle rest.

(Ophelia exits.)

LAERTES

I am lost in this, my lord—

CLAUDIUS

Quiet Laertes.

LAERTES

I will be heard, my lord! For now the cat's

At large and will at leisure lap its milk!

CLAUDIUS (To R&G.)

Depart each separate way, for walls have eyes

That spy the smallest chink in close decorum.

(They begin to exit.)

LAERTES

I will be satisfied! My injury's great,

Full-blown and bloody, inducing charge

Of desperate sort! If thou wilt not my plea

Take heed—my sword shall strike the winning bargain,

Effecting thus; the present death of Hamlet!

(Pulls his rapier.)

CLAUDIUS

Put up thy weapon!

LAERTES

Conscience cannot stay

A course that's doomed. O, from this time forth

May all my thoughts be bloody or nothing worth!

CLAUDIUS

Can'st thou not words conceive?! Or have thy wits

Been exorcised since thou returned from France?!

Hamlet is marked and will not 'scape just verdict!


LAERTES

A scoundrel's justice keeps the prince alive,

Gives leave and leisure 'stead of lock and key!

Had I thy crown with means to apprehend;

As waning candles melting wax portend

A flame's last glow—so too his light an end.

CLAUDIUS

It shall be done! Waste not thy effort musing!

It shall be done, in fashion lawfully exposed!

Such terms and keen invention will appease

The hungry press and hold us innocent

In eyes of those who'd have us held account.

Ask not the means; ask not the time nor place;

Nor ask not "if" that he—my brother’s son

Should guilty die the death—it shall be done!

(Enter Gertrude with a glass wine—drunk.)

GERTRUDE

What husband!? And a father's son no more.

Yea, more! Two others in cahoots makes four!

One. . . two. . . three. . . four!

There's one—-no hold—a twosome prosecutor,

A third, most rudely churlish, needs a tutor,

And fourth (most task of all), the executor.

CLAUDIUS

Dear, whither hast thou been?

GERTRUDE

Today, my lord?

CLAUDIUS

Whither? Alone in chamber?

GERTRUDE

No, my lord.

CLAUDIUS

With whom, then?

GERTRUDE

Whom, my lord? Why with Sir Cup!

Sir Stoop! Madam Champagne! Monsieur Bordeaux!

CLAUDIUS

Practice restraint, dear Gertrude, do not drink.


GERTRUDE

I will, my lord, I pray you pardon me.

The Queen carouses to thy fortune, Hamlet!

(She drinks.)

CLAUDIUS

Amen! Amen say all and every one.

We must excuse ourselves, kind gentlemen.

LAERTES (Leaving.)

Your grace.

GERTRUDE

How so?! Good gentles, do not go!

Though night's dim canopy hangs drearily

O'erhead—with sweet distilment, granting strength,

May we shrug off its dismal weight and find

A pleasantness with which to wrap ourselves.

CLAUDIUS

Nor time, nor place as here or now is't fit

My Queen—

GERTRUDE

Laertes, you will sup with me!

For we are kindred spirits locked in misery,

And shared mis'ry is company well kept.

LAERTES

You knew my father well.

GERTRUDE

And in him you,

A goodly man.

LAERTES

He was.

GERTRUDE

Some good men die;

At least I'm sure it may be so in Denmark.

Drink with thy Queen to goodly men, to fathers,

To sons, and brothers all! For that, thou art!

(She drinks—then purposefully spits out the wine.)

Wine hath no palette for a "brothers" toast;

Offended, turned to rancid vinegar;

Fermenting spoiled for that one word, "brother."

Forgive me, dear Laertes, for thou might love


Thy sister (as some brothers do), diluting

That venom brothers spew on loving brothers.

CLAUDIUS

Hold thy well liquored tongue—

GERTRUDE

A threat, my liege?

CLAUDIUS

Sweet, no! I ask with doting, gentle patience—

GERTRUDE

My husband is a gentle-man, unflawed

Save that thou art a brother. Nay, not so!

Thou wer't a brother, now thou hast thine lost!

'Twere my dear husband, "brother;" who hath been lost!

CLAUDIUS

And for that loss we weep—have wept.

GERTRUDE

Hast thou?!

CLAUDIUS

Indeed! As have we everyone, for he—

GERTRUDE

Dry tears of sand! Of bleached chalk enscar

That countenance—a fallow dust that desert-like

Remain unmoved—unshamed by sedition.

(Gertrude sings.)

There once was a man,

Who cried tears of sand,

Sing hey, hidy—hey hidy ho.

GERTRUDE (Continues singing.)

For lack of another,

He had but one brother,

Sing hey dilly—hey dolly doe.

Then one day he died,

The brother he lied,

Sing hey filly, hey folly hey.

He never thought further,

And no one cried murder,

Sing silent, sing silent all day.

(She exits. A moment as Claudius thinks. . . he thinks very hard.)

CLAUDIUS

Excuse me gentles, for the Queen's unwell,

And needs attention. Thank you for your pains.


R'CRANTZ AND G'STERN

We take our leave.

(They exit.)

CLAUDIUS

Laertes, will you stay?

LAERTES

My lord, I will not.

CLAUDIUS

Go then and be satisfied—

It shall be done.

(Laertes exits. )

I am resolved. I cannot choose but stay

This fixed course for better or for worse,

And brave the picky winds of fate traversed

In breezes fair or tempest-tossed most foul.

For Hamlet must not live! And now my wife—

How fares my wife and love? The Queen his mother

Lives almost by his looks, and for myself—

My virtue or my plague, be it either which—

She is so conjunctive to my life and soul,

That, as the star moves not but in his sphere,

I could not but by her. Yet there it is—

As crystal is to coal, as sun to shade,

The choice of Hamlet's fate is now a hist'ry

Soon written in this hand—by this same hand

That executes the law or with it breaks!

For like the hectic in my blood he rages,

And thou must cure me. Till I know 'tis done,

Howe'er my haps, my joys were ne'er begun.

(He exits. Horatio and Shayla come forward from hiding.)

SHAYLA

That one may smile and smile and be a villain.

HORATIO

Ha! 'Zounds! Hast thou e'er heard such chat as this?

Something is rotten in the State of Denmark!

SHAYLA

That rotting "something" is the State of Denmark!

Whose musty, dank and wretched stench infects

My very bowels, convenes from every bodily

Member my all and every will commanded!

O villain! Villain! Smiling, damned villain!

HORATIO

We must expose injustice where 'tis found!


SHAYLA

Fear now! Fear, thou art now my mortal friend!

Embrace me here with all thy loathsome essence,

Else shall I ne'er in this, or any life, find trust

In justice! Fear injustice! Quake i'the presence

Of damned treach'ry! Face it out! Expose

Thyself to that same paralyzing fear

That interrupts our action—stays our grounds,

Ensconces noble suits and mighty acts!

Yet live in fear—in mortal fear and longing

Till righteousness buys out our trepidation,

By setting Hamlet free, sets right this world.

We are but pawns—might we in sacrifice,

Decide the winning check!? The game is flush

With Kings and Queens—no longer played fairly,

On even-handed terms, but with mendacious

Moves astute, the Master checks to mate!

Shall we, as pawns, these same deceitful games,

Compete—and learn if justice can be won

(But lost), with counterfeiting lies corrupt?

No. No. No.

Corruption in the name of justice still corrupts,

And sets aside that which is truly tried.

This court no longer judges only Hamlet—-

Integrity sits now in our defense!

As Hamlet goes, so goes that truth and hope

Which laws and courts are fashioned to preserve!

O, mark me well: Ours must the future be!

Of right and wrong, let now the world decide,

If politics or justice be our final guide.

For every sake, this judgement we must win—

Hamlet's fate is ours! Let the trial begin!

(Blackout—end of Act II, Scene 2.)


ACT II, SCENE 3: The following days.

SETTING: Before the courtroom: A press conference.

AT RISE: Sound-bite Montage (same as Act I, Scene 4). The groups are:

5. Claudius and Gertrude
6. Ophelia with Laertes
7. Hamlet, Horatio, Shayla
8. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern

CLAUDIUS

. . . It was not a hasty decision and I stand by it: I will continue to move this
competency hearing ahead as swiftly and efficiently as is prudently possible. Justice
delayed is justice denied.

G'STERN

Well, if you ask me, his attorney keeps confusing the issues with the facts.

R'CRANTZ

The facts with the issues!

LAERTES

There's no doubt that he's guilty! As this hearing and the trial will prove!

SHAYLA

I'd like to reserve any new statements for the courtroom—but I do expect there will be
a few surprises.

OPHELIA

Nervous? Well, I do testify today. . .

CLAUDIUS

And I will not allow this court—or legal system—to be abused by stall tactics!

OPHELIA

So, yes—I think I'm nervous. I think I am. Do you think so?

SHAYLA

I believe I answered that yesterday, the day before and at least three times the past
week—and the answer remains, "No." I see no good purpose of having Hamlet
testify at this hearing. Next question.

LAERTES

He's as sane as you or I, no matter what the defense or their quack doctors say! He
killed my father, and he'll pay for it!

G'STERN

Our psychological expert did extremely well in establishing Hamlet's state of mind as
sound and reasonable.

R'CRANTZ

At least reasonably sound.


GERTRUDE

I have no comment before my testimony, except to say that I love my son and I
am loyal to my husband and that I will tell the truth as best I know the truth.

SHAYLA

One last question. . . ?

CLAUDIUS

Last question. . . ?

HAMLET

Do I have to answer that?

HORATIO

You don't have to talk—how many times do we have to say that?! Hamlet doesn't
have to talk!

HAMLET

No comment.

CLAUDIUS

Justice is our sole and solitary purpose. . .

SHAYLA

Thank you for your questions, but we're due in court. . .

G'STERN

We're due in court. . .

R'CRANTZ

We're due.

GERTRUDE

I won't answer that. . .

OPHELIA

I can't answer that. . .

CLAUDIUS

In closing let me just say that regardless of our personal bias—where the offense
is, let the great axe fall!

(Transition to GNN voice-over, then The Analyst.)


V/O

We now return to our continuous coverage of: "THE TRIAL OF HAMLET."

ANALYST

Day sixteen—the day we have all been waiting for. Today we expect Ophelia to
take the stand and tell her side of this fascinating story. We've heard the doctors
testify and we've heard from the experts. But what will Ophelia say? What does
she know? And how will she respond on the witness stand under pressure?
Under oath? Although we have been unable to speak with her personally,
sources close to Ophelia indicate that she is extremely anxious. She arrived at
the courtroom some 30 minutes ago looking a bit distracted—even sickly. It has
been rumored—although unconfirmed—that Ophelia is currently under a doctor’s
care. We'll bring you more on this developing story as information becomes
available.

But now, let's return to the courtroom for day sixteen of: "THE TRIAL OF HAMLET."


ACT II, SCENE 4: The Trial.

SETTING: Interior, the courtroom—same as Act I, scene 5.

AT RISE: The cameras are rolling as Shayla questions Ophelia in the
witness box.

SHAYLA

And how did he tell you to do this?

OPHELIA

How. . . ?

SHAYLA

What I mean is—how did he sound, how did he look as he spoke to you?

R'CRANTZ

Objection!

G'STERN

Objection!

R'CRANTZ

Speculation and opinion. Question requires the witness to draw a conclusion!

SHAYLA

Your grace—the question goes to the heart of Hamlet's emotional state just a few
short hours before the alleged murder! It is relevant and necessary testimony in
understanding Hamlet's state of mind.

CLAUDIUS

I'll allow it—witness will answer the question.

SHAYLA

How did Hamlet appear to you during this encounter?

OPHELIA

He was angry and he cried some.

SHAYLA

He cried?

OPHELIA

Some.

SHAYLA

Would you describe his behavior as volatile?

OPHELIA

Yes . . . oh, yes.


SHAYLA

In what way?

OPHELIA

He screamed at me . . . and then told me he loved me—once.

SHAYLA

Did he?

OPHELIA

Indeed. He made me believe so.

SHAYLA

And. . . ?

OPHELIA

And then he grabbed me . . . and . . . and cried . . . and. . .

SHAYLA

Yes. . . ?

OPHELIA

And he kissed me—at least once—and then tossed me to the ground.

SHAYLA

He tossed you—violently?

OPHELIA

No. Yes. I wasn't hurt—but I didn't understand! I was confused!

SHAYLA

By his unusual and volatile behavior?

G'STERN

Objection!

R'CRANTZ

Objection!

G'STERN

Leading the witness!

CLAUDIUS

Sustained!

SHAYLA

You were confused?

OPHELIA

Yes. Yes, he was acting crazy!


G'STERN

Move to strike!

CLAUDIUS

Sustained—witness will not jump to conclusions.

OPHELIA (Breaking down.)

He—He told me to go to a nunnery!

SHAYLA

He wanted you to enter the convent?

OPHELIA (In tears.)

Get thee to a nunnery! Get thee to a nunnery! To a nunnery, go! He probably
said it five or six times!

SHAYLA

And do you have any idea why he said this?

OPHELIA

No, I didn't understand! It didn't make any sense. . . especially considering that. . .

SHAYLA

What?

OPHELIA

No . . . no, nothing.

SHAYLA

What, Ophelia.

OPHELIA

No, I shouldn't . . . I can't.

SHAYLA

You shouldn't—or you can't?

OPHELIA

I don't think it's something I should say in court.

(A moment as Shayla considers.)

SHAYLA

Can you whisper it to me? Can you just whisper it quietly in my ear.

(A moment as she does. Shayla listens, then stunned—backs
away from the witness box.)

I'd like to request a recess, your grace.

CLAUDIUS

Request denied.

SHAYLA

A short recess, your grace, so the defense may take stock of this new information.


CLAUDIUS

Request denied, councilor—you will advise the court what the witness has
imparted to you.

SHAYLA

Your grace, it is not relevant testimony to this hearing.

CLAUDIUS

Let the court be the judge of that—you will deliver to this court what the witness
said.

(A moment.)

Five seconds more and I will hold you in contempt, councilor!

(A moment.)

Three, two, one—-councilor, I find you in contem—

OPHELIA (Quietly.)

I might have been pregnant.

HAMLET (Quietly.)

What?

OPHELIA

I mean, there was a chance that I was. . . (To Hamlet). I wanted to tell you—I
wanted to, but my father—

G'STERN

Objection!

R'CRANTZ

Objection!

CLAUDIUS

Sustained! Witness will not speak directly to the defendant!

OPHELIA

My father—he wouldn't let me see you to tell you. I'm sorry . . . I'm so sorry—

G'STERN

Objection!

R'CRANTZ

Objection!

CLAUDIUS

Sustained! Sustained! Sustained! Councilor, you will control your witness!

SHAYLA

Ophelia—look at me. Look at me. Why did you think you were pregnant?


OPHELIA

Why do you think?

SHAYLA

Did you think it was Hamlet's child?

OPHELIA

I did. . .

SHAYLA

Did Hamlet know of this?

OPHELIA

He might have. I don't know. He called me a breeder of sinners—I didn't know
what that meant.

SHAYLA

A breeder of sinners?

OPHELIA

And that he was indifferent . . . honest.

SHAYLA

And now, what? Is there still a chance that—?

OPHELIA

No. No there is not.

SHAYLA

So, Hamlet's behavior—given everything that passed between you—seemed. . . ?

OPHELIA (Crying.)

Craz. . . Volatile. Indeed, a noble mind o'erthrown.

SHAYLA

Thank you. Is there anything else you remember about your encounter with
Hamlet that you would like the court to hear?

(A moment. Ophelia shakes her head no. Then, as Shayla
turns away. . .)

OPHELIA

Yes.

SHAYLA

Something . . . more that's new?

OPHELIA

Yes.


SHAYLA

Your honor, I beseech you, may we have a recess? Although this is my witness, I
am not entirely prepared to—

CLAUDIUS

Are you telling me, Councilor, that your witness is not presenting her rehearsed
script?

SHAYLA

I am saying only that much of what this witness is presenting is not mentioned in
her deposition.

CLAUDIUS

Well, councilor, that was the risk you took, wasn't it? This witness will proceed
with her statement.

(A moment.)

SHAYLA

Ophelia, are you sure what you are about to say is important and relevant to this
hearing?

OPHELIA

Yes, I think so.

SHAYLA

Alright. Was it something Hamlet said or did during this "Nunnery Scene" you
played with him?

OPHELIA

No, it was immediately before that scene.

SHAYLA

Explain.

OPHELIA

I was about to re-deliver the remembrances he gave to me—letters and a ring that
my father told me I had to give back to the defendant. But as I approached him, I
noticed he was talking to himself.

SHAYLA

Talking. . . ?

OPHELIA

So, I stopped and listened for a while.

SHAYLA

Was Hamlet aware of you?

OPHELIA

No, he couldn't see me—I was out of his sight lines.


SHAYLA

And could you hear what he was saying?

OPHELIA

He was having an argument . . . with himself.

SHAYLA

What was he arguing about?

HAMLET (Quietly.)

To be or not to be. . .

OPHELIA

. . . That was his question.

G'STERN

Objection!

R'CRANTZ

Objection!

CLAUDIUS

Sustained!

SHAYLA (Driving on.)

What, Ophelia. . . ? What was he arguing about?

OPHELIA

To be or not to be—To live or not. . .

SHAYLA

Are you saying that Hamlet was contemplating suicide?

G'STERN

Leading the witness, my liege!

CLAUDIUS

Sustained!

OPHELIA

To die, to sleep—and by a sleep to say we end the heartache.

HAMLET

'Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished.

G'STERN

Objection!

R'CRANTZ

Objection!


CLAUDIUS (To Hamlet.)

One more outburst and I'll have you removed from my courtroom!

SHAYLA

He wished . . . to die?

OPHELIA

To sleep—to sleep perchance to dream.

HAMLET (Quietly.)

Ay, there's the rub.

OPHELIA

And he wondered if he. . . "might his quietus make with a bare-bodkin."

SHAYLA

But he did not . . . why?

OPHELIA

He was afraid. . .

HAMLET (Quietly.)

Conscience does make cowards of us all.

SHAYLA

And this "argument"—it was short?

OPHELIA

Some thirty or thirty-five lines—but it seemed pretty important. I didn't want to
interrupt.

SHAYLA

Thank you. Your witness.

(Guildenstern rises slowly with great importance.)

G'STERN

To be or not to be. Hmm. A little vague, don't you think?

OPHELIA

Vague?

G'STERN

To be or not to be, what? A plumber? A poet? What? Isn't it possible that
Hamlet could have been talking about any one of any number of things?

OPHELIA

He wasn't.

G'STERN

In fact, Hamlet might have been contemplating just about anything!


OPHELIA

I suppose, but—

G'STERN

Six little words! (Counting on his fingers.) To be or not to be—and you'd like us
to believe that from those six little words that Hamlet was crazy and wanted to
kill himself?

OPHELIA

That was just the beginning of—

G'STERN

And isn't it possible that all this talk about sleeping and dreaming was exactly
what it appeared to be—talk about sleeping and dreaming?

OPHELIA

No, no—there was more to it than that!

G'STERN

So you say. (New tactic.) What's a bodkin?

OPHELIA

A bodkin?

G'STERN

Yes, bodkin.

OPHELIA

Well, it's a sword or a dagger.

G'STERN

Uh-huh. Any other meaning for "bodkin?"

OPHELIA

Well. . .

G'STERN

Doesn't it sometimes refer to a small pin? Specifically a hair or hat pin?

OPHELIA

Yes . . . but Hamlet was referring to a drawn sword—a bare-bodkin. "His quietus
make with a—"

G'STERN

Just answer the question—could a bare-bodkin be a harmless little hairpin?

OPHELIA

I suppose. . .

G'STERN

And might he even have said "hair-bodkin" not "bare-bodkin?"


OPHELIA

I don't think so. . .

G'STERN

Exactly how close were you?

OPHELIA

I stood at some distance so he was not aware of me.

G'STERN

Yet you say there is no possibility you might have misunderstood?

SHAYLA

Objection. Asked and answered!

CLAUDIUS

Overruled!

G'STERN (In for the kill.)

MIGHT HAMLET HAVE SAID "HAIR-BODKIN?!"

OPHELIA

I suppose it's possible. . .

G'STERN

Possible, indeed! Hamlet wasn't contemplating suicide, was he? Wasn't he just
tired, needing a little sleep and mumbling to himself about any one of a number of
things including (perhaps), buying you a hat pin!?

OPHELIA

No, no that's not what I—

G'STERN (Overlapping.)

Isn't that what you overheard before your "Nunnery Scene?"

SHAYLA (Overlapping.)

Objection! Prosecutor is badgering the witness!

OPHELIA (Overlapping.)

I don't know . . . you're confusing me . . . I can't think. . . !

CLAUDIUS (Overlapping.)

Overruled! Quiet councilor!

OPHELIA (Overlapping.)

I can't think . . . I can't think!

(Ophelia cries. . . a moment.)

SHAYLA

I implore you, your grace, may we please take a recess?

(Ophelia drains her water goblet.)


G'STERN

Just a few more questions, my liege.

CLAUDIUS

Keep it brief, Mr. Rosencrantz. More water for the witness!

G'STERN

Mr. Guildenstern.

R'CRANTZ

I'm Rosencrantz.

CLAUDIUS

Just get to it, councilors.

(Rosencrantz gives up his water to Ophelia. Guildenstern
continues cross-exam with gusto.)

G'STERN

This "Nunnery Scene" that you and Hamlet played—you said he seemed upset?

OPHELIA

Very upset, yes.

G'STERN

Wouldn't you be?

SHAYLA

Objection!

CLAUDIUS

Overruled.

G'STERN

I mean, you were breaking up with him, weren't you? Put yourself in his shoes—a
beautiful, young woman—perhaps his first love, his first lover—suddenly returns
his letters. Wouldn't you be upset?

OPHELIA

It wasn't that simple. . .

G'STERN

Oh, it's never "that simple"—but it's pretty close, isn't it?

OPHELIA

What are you saying—that we had a little lover's spat?

G'STERN

I'm suggesting that perhaps you've exaggerated the significance of this meeting!

OPHELIA

I'm not exaggerating!


G'STERN

You said, you thought you may have conceived a child with the defendant—

OPHELIA

But I didn't—

G'STERN

But you weren't sure! You wanted out! He got angry—

OPHELIA (Overlapping.)

It's not that simple! It's not that simple!

G'STERN

Why!? Because it's Hamlet and Hamlet can' t be that simple?!

OPHELIA (In desperation.)

Because I knew who he was! Because I loved who he was. Because he loved
me as he was!

(Verse—nearly out of control.)

I'll not believe that Hamlet is my Hamlet!

Now see that noble and most sovereign reason

Like sweet bells jangled, out of time and harsh,

That unmatched form and feature of blown youth

Blasted with ecstasy. O, woe is me

To have seen what I have seen, see what I see!

(The courtroom erupts—everyone speaking at once.)

SHAYLA (Overlapping / Leaping to her feet.)

For the last time I beg your grace to recess this court! The witness is exhausted
and needs some time to consider her answers carefully! It is unfair and unjust to
continue this line of combative questioning under the present conditions!

CLAUDIUS (Overlapping / Pounding gavel.)

Order in my courtroom. This courtroom will come to order at once! The defendant
will keep quiet! You have not been given permission to speak! Councilor, sit
down! I will not entertain any requests until this court comes to order!

G'STERN (Overlapping / Approaching bench.)

The witness is entirely out of order, your grace! I request that she be instructed to
answer only the questions that are asked of her. She is tangential in her response
and has taken liberties with the witness stand—amplifying the question beyond
the scope of a reasonable response!

I request that the whole of her last statement be stricken from the record!

HAMLET (Overlapping / To Horatio.)

Look you: What a piece of work is man, how noble in reason, how infinite in
faculties in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an
angel, in apprehension how like a god; the beauty of the world the paragon of
animals; and yet to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me;
nor woman neither, though by your smiling you seem to say so.


R'CRANTZ (Overlapping / To anyone listening.)

Objection! Objection! Objection! Objection! Objection! Objection! Etc. . .

(A scream is heard over the chaos, followed by hysterical
laughter. . . it is Ophelia.)

GERTRUDE

How now, Ophelia?

OPHELIA (She sings.)

By Gis and by Saint Charity,

Alack, and fie for shame!

You men will do't if they come to't

By Cock, they are to blame.

Quoth she, "Before you tumbled me,

You promised me to wed."

He answers, "So would I 'a' done, by yonder sun,

An thou hadst not come to my bed."

GERTRUDE

Alas, sweet lady, what imports this song?

OPHELIA (Continues singing.)

They bore him barefaced on the bier

Hey non nony, nony, hey nony!

And in his grave rained many a tear—

And will not come again?

And will not come again?

No, no he is dead

Go to thy deathbed,

He never will come again.

GERTRUDE

Alas, look here, my lord.

(Stillness as the distracted Ophelia presents imaginary flowers
around the courtroom.)

OPHELIA

There's rosemary, that's for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember. And there
is pansies, that's for thoughts. There's rue for you and here's some for me. O,
you must wear your rue with a difference. There's a daisy. I would give you some
violets, but they withered all when my father died. My brother shall know of it; and
so I thank you for your good counsel. Come my coach! Good night, ladies, good
night. Sweet ladies, good night, good night.

(She faints in the center of the court. Hamlet leaps over the
table and holds the distracted Ophelia.)

HAMLET

Now what my love is, proof hath made you know

And as my love is sized, my fear is so.

Where love is great, the littlest doubts are fear;

Where little fears grow great, great love grows there.

(Stunned stillness, as the lights fade. Transition to The Analyst.)


ANALYST

As day sixteen of "THE TRIAL OF HAMLET" comes to a most dramatic
conclusion, the world looks on astounded and bewildered. Doctors at Denmark's
First Royal Hospital indicate that although Ophelia's condition has stabilized—she
will remain under observation overnight. She is expected to be released under
her brother's care as early as tomorrow morning.

Meanwhile, reaction continues to pour in from around the world—dignitaries,
heads of state and numerous legal and political scholars render sharp criticism of
Judge Claudius' handling of his courtroom. The King, in marked contrast to his
typical behavior, remains unavailable for comment—but in a written statement he
offered; ". . .this is poison of deep grief; it springs all from her father's death."

Does it? Or was Ophelia's breakdown—as many believe—the result of the
prosecution's insensitivity? Regardless, today was the best day so far for the
defense. A recent CNN/Time Warner poll indicates that less than 37% of the
viewing audience believe Hamlet is incompetent to stand trial—while nearly 83%
would like to see all charges against him dropped.

Yes, Hamlet remains an enigma—though his competency is still very much in
question, his eloquence and sensitivity have captured the world's imagination.

In a moment, our legal panel will discuss how today's event's will impact the
momentum of the trial and what Claudius must do to restore order to the court
and repair his damaged reputation. All this and your questions on our toll-free
when we return.

(Music transition to. . . )


ACT II, SCENE 5: Late that same night.

SETTING: Interior. A dark hallway deep within the Castle.

AT RISE: The tower clock tolls in the distance. Claudius enters
cautiously, carrying a candle. Then out of the darkness. . .

VOICE

Who's there?

CLAUDIUS

Nay, answer me. Stand and unfold yourself.

VOICE

Long live the King.

CLAUDIUS

Laertes?

LAERTES

He.

CLAUDIUS

You come most carefully upon your hour.

LAERTES

'Tis now struck twelve.

CLAUDIUS

Ay, marry is't—the very witching time of night.

LAERTES

Pray, why have you sent for me?

CLAUDIUS (Return to verse.)

Hast thou a stomach?

LAERTES

My lord, with taste for vengeance.

CLAUDIUS

I must be brief! If it be so, Laertes,

Will you be ruled by me?!

LAERTES

Ay, my lord.

So you will not o'verrule me to a peace.

CLAUDIUS

Nay, fear me not. 'Tis Hamlet will rest in peace.


LAERTES

Say on.

CLAUDIUS

Thou know'st the queen will stand tomorrow.

LAERTES

Today, my liege—'tis past sixth hour of night.

CLAUDIUS

Indeed. And weighs most heav'ly on the verdict

Her each and every word and silence spoke.

LAERTES

So says the press.

CLAUDIUS

Indeed, and say they well.

I fear, the queen, intends to free her son,

With testimony strong, might force my judgment.

LAERTES

But thou has't final say as king and judge.

CLAUDIUS

Though I have pow'r to sentence and pronounce,

'Tis they, the press, that hold me to account.

LAERTES

But how?! 'Tis—

CLAUDIUS

Soft you now! They can and do!

Without the press' support, no verdict I proclaim

Will e'er, in any court, withstand acute appeal!

LAERTES

Then 'tis the queen that has the final say?

CLAUDIUS

I fear it, yea. What she relates upon

The stand this day determines Hamlet's fate,

And mine—to free or else condemn to trial.

LAERTES

He mustn't e'er be free—


CLAUDIUS

And to that end

Summoned you here tonight. There is a poison

Not known by name or designate to any

Physic in Denmark. I have used this poison—

Inquire not how—but if the smallest droplet

Pass o'er the lips, a death is swift and sure.

This potion will I mix, and to the courtroom

Will you convey in formal silvered chalice.

This must be done in stealth, and mark you now,

At dawn before the court and staff convenes,

This cup replace where my cup now resides.

I will construct the rest. Hold, take this now.

(Giving Laertes the cup.)

Depart by private means, for thou and I

Ne'er whisper spoke nor e'er this chalice touched.

LAERTES

As dark to night, so I in silence bound.

CLAUDIUS

Before the morn in russet mantle clad

Walks o'er the dew of yon high eastern hill,

Haste thee to my chamber for th'mortal dram.

LAERTES

It shall be done, my lord.

CLAUDIUS

Here is the key.

I shall excuse the guard before his watch.

With careful speed replace this cup for mine.

LAERTES

I will, my lord.

CLAUDIUS

Enough, depart away.

Our trap is sprung with lighting of the day.

(They exit separately.)


ACT II, SCENE 6: Midnight.

SETTING: Interior. Hamlet's Chamber (as in Act I, Scene 7).

AT RISE: As the tower clock tolls in the distance, Hamlet and Horatio speak
by candlelight. Hamlet lies on his bed holding the skull. He stares
intently into its "eyes."

HORATIO

Your father's jester?

HAMLET

A fellow of infinite wit. (To skull.) Where be your gibes now? Your gambles, your
songs? Your flashes of merriment?

HORATIO

Where be yours?

HAMLET

Buried, with this fellow's bones, deep in the earth.

HORATIO

The trial is not yet over—

HAMLET

The king is not yet dead—

HORATIO

Your councilor serves you well—

HAMLET

My deceased father have I served ill—

HORATIO

The press embraces you—

HAMLET

My conscience rejects me—

HORATIO

Come, come—tomorrow might you be freed—

HAMLET

Go, go—today might I die and not done the deed.

HORATIO

No more! No more! Thou art too keen to battle wits.

HAMLET

Too keen for thee? Thou art a scholar, thou art a poet—

HORATIO

Thou art Hamlet.

( A moment.)


HAMLET

No, not a jot, Hamlet is not here! Look if thou mayst—here or some other wheres,
you will not find that one—that Hamlet of whom you speak! He hath lost his way, as
merchant seamen sometimes do when great storms rage all about them. Blinded and
lost in that dark sea—their tiny bark wandering without purpose. Untamed and
indifferent to their separate commands! "What ho! Ready the tiller, sheet tight the
mainsail! Course tight to the weather, tight to the weather." But the vessel does not
answer—and tempest-tossed all hands are lost.

HORATIO

We are not those men.

HAMLET

Yea, they are not us—they struggle while we, who are free to reason our fate,
stagnate within a storm of damned debauchery.

HORATIO

We have not yet lost.

HAMLET

But even in winning will I lose that which should have been my fate.

HORATIO

Our fate is yet to be.

HAMLET

My fate was writ in the volume of my dead father's looks and will be read according to his
decree. It cannot be but what it is—and what it is, is now to be. Leave me, Horatio.

(Horatio starts to leave.)

HORATIO

Mark well your words, my friend—for they will be remembered.

HAMLET

As seeds on stone live only if someone collects them.

(Horatio exits.)

HAMLET (Continues in verse.)

Now might time stop and fate control my will,

And live five hundred years this endless night.

Burn, burn thou flickering soul and melt away

All thoughts of hate and love and staid revenge.

Thou gentle flame release me from ordeals,

Seducing certain peace with amber glow.

Burn, burn, but fuel not the fire of retribution

Smoldering still within heart's hellish kiln.

Now fate, hold sway o'er what my mind details,

My spleen reviles, and all my heart conceals.

If thou, good fate, can'st one night time unmake,

In sleepless peace, my purpose reawake.

(Transition to Analyst—Hamlet remains onstage, “listening to
broadcast.” )


ANALYST

The shocking news came early this morning—Ophelia, less than twelve hours
after her emotionally charged testimony, was found dead on the bank of a small
stream just a few hundred yards from Denmark's First Royal Hospital. Unofficial
word from the coroner's office indicates she was a victim of a drowning accident.
The details of this tragic event are yet unknown, but her brother—unusually
calm—offered in his simple statement: "Too much of water hast poor thou
Ophelia, and therefore I forbid my tears." Although investigation of the accident
began before dawn, there is already controversy over security at The Royal
Hospital. We expect more from a hospital spokesperson shortly—we'll, of course,
bring that to you live.

But now, let's return to the courtroom for the Queen's much anticipated testimony.
Day seventeen of: "THE TRIAL OF HAMLET!"

(Hamlet exits as we transition to. . . )


ACT II, SCENE 7: The Trial.

SETTING: Interior, the courtroom.

AT RISE: The cameras are rolling as Gertrude, in the witness box is
sworn in by Claudius.

CLAUDIUS

. . . And do you solemnly swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so
help you God?

GERTRUDE

I do.

CLAUDIUS

Be seated.

SHAYLA

State your name and relationship to the defendant.

GERTRUDE

Gertrude, Queen of Denmark. Mother to the defendant, Hamlet, Prince of
Denmark.

CLAUDIUS

I remind the witness, that you are testifying here of your own volition. Under the
strict rule of Danish law, no King or Queen need testify in any court action
regardless of the gravity of the case.

(A pause. Shayla continues.)

SHAYLA

Would you please describe to the court the events surrounding the night your son
visited you in your chamber?

GERTRUDE

May I first say that I love my son—

R'CRANTZ

Objection!

GERTRUDE (Quietly.)

My only son—

G'STERN

Objection!

GERTRUDE

And only child—


CLAUDIUS

Overruled. The Queen, aware of her duties and responsibilities, will be allowed to
complete her statement . . . in brief.

GERTRUDE

. . . I am forever bound to my son—as mothers are—however, I am equally bound
to Denmark, to the crown and to all for which it stands. I have these many days
searched my soul for how I might describe that fateful night—how any mother
might describe such terrifying words and deeds presented in that most desperate
hour.

SHAYLA

And have you found your answer?

GERTRUDE

It is impossible to find an answer. For if I relate detail for detail what occurred that
cheerless night, the world will surely view the melancholy in my son's soul as
madness. And though a troubled mind, I do not believe my son is wholly mad.

(Court responds.)

However, if I choose not to disclose that which I know is true—as some might
prefer—my son will surely be condemned a murderer.

SHAYLA

And yet I ask again—have you found your answer for this court?

GERTRUDE

I have.

(A pause as she surveys the room.)

CLAUDIUS

Would the Queen care to share it with this court!?

GERTRUDE

There are many things I might share with this court!

SHAYLA

If it please your grace—

CLAUDIUS

Remember your duty, my queen, is to serve this court and this case.

SHAYLA (To Claudius.)

Your grace, I implore you—!

GERTRUDE

What I disclose may serve the greater good of Denmark!

SHAYLA (Still to Claudius.)

Direct examination of this witness is my responsibility! I must demand that your
grace keep any comments or side-bars—-


CLAUDIUS

I beg your pardon, councilor!?

SHAYLA

I would . . . ask to be given leave to conduct this examination as I see fit!

CLAUDIUS

Are you asking me to "butt-out" councilor?

SHAYLA

That is my suggestion.

CLAUDIUS

I see. Gertrude, would you care for some water?

(She waves it off.)

Why has this witness no water!? Water, I say! Here, give her my cup.

(The guard takes the cup from Claudius and delivers it to
Gertrude who accepts it, but does not drink.)

SHAYLA

How did Hamlet's behavior frighten you that night?

G'STERN

Objection!

R'CRANTZ (Overlapping.)

Objection!

G'STERN (Overlapping.)

The witness has not established she was frightened!

CLAUDIUS (Overlapping.)

Sustained! Councilor, don't try that again!

SHAYLA

Gertrude, were you frightened?

GERTRUDE

Yes.

SHAYLA

And how did Hamlet's behavior frighten you?

GERTRUDE

It was not Hamlet that frightened me.

SHAYLA

But you just stated for the record that you were frightened—

GERTRUDE

I was . . . and I am.


SHAYLA

Of what?

(A moment of intense silence as Shayla puts together what is
about to happen. She looks at Horatio and Hamlet, the Queen
looks at Claudius, who realizes he's in trouble. Then. . . )

Tell this court what frightens you?

CLAUDIUS (Losing control.)

She may not—stick to the facts of the case, councilor.

SHAYLA

You said something or someone frightens you—tell us who!

GERTRUDE

Husband?

SHAYLA

Now is your chance! Let this court, nay, let the world hear it!

CLAUDIUS

Out of order—you are defiantly out of order!

SHAYLA

For the love of all that's good and just and right—

CLAUDIUS

I find you in contempt of this court!

SHAYLA

You may, indeed! For I am full of contempt for this court!

CLAUDIUS (Pounding gavel.)

Arrest this woman! I am suspending this trial pending investigation! This court is
recessed until—

GERTRUDE

No! Not yet, husband!

CLAUDIUS

Calm yourself, my queen, we will adjourn while. You may drink and quiet your nerves.

GERTRUDE

There is no need for drink, I am quite, quite well—

CLAUDIUS

But this court is not longer in session.

GERTRUDE

Hamlet? How fares my son?

HAMLET

Well. Well. Well.


GERTRUDE

He is well and I am well. Are you well, husband?

CLAUDIUS

This is not the time, we will—

GERTRUDE (On a roll.)

I say it is! I have sworn to tell the truth—the whole truth—and the whole of it I will
reveal! My son Hamlet is not mad, nor should he be on trial for any crime!

CLAUDIUS

Enough I will not allow—

GERTRUDE

There are crimes to be tried in this state—crimes of such proportion that would
fright the devil back to hell—for he has, of late, taken residence in Denmark.
Hamlet knows of these crimes, I know of them, and yea, my husband knows well
of them too. So I ask you: shall this trial go forward, when they—guilty of the
foulest offense—are yet free? What, oh husband, hast thou to say? Pray, let it
now be known for I am ready.

(The cameras zoom in very tight on Claudius. Stillness as
Claudius decides what to do. Then. . . )

CLAUDIUS

After careful consideration the court finds it unproductive to continue these
proceedings. Let it be known that all charges against the defendant are
summarily dropped. The defendant is free to go.

(Gavel! Horatio and Hamlet celebrate, Rosencrantz and
Guildenstern protest. Then. . . )

GERTRUDE

Hamlet! I raise, as queen, my noble glass thee!

Thy fortune good awaits our future King to be.

(Gertrude raises the glass—courtroom acknowledges the toast
as Hamlet locks eyes with Claudius. SUDDENLY THE
ACTION STOPS—FULL STAGE FREEZE. The Analyst
enters to his desk. As he narrates the courtroom action moves
forward, occasionally stopping as described in the stage
directions.)

ANALYST

Good evening. "Unprecedented," "violent" and "bloody"—words that describe
what no one could have predicted on this the final day of THE TRIAL OF
HAMLET.

(Courtroom Resumes: Gertrude drinks, Horatio, Shayla
congratulate one another. Hamlet begins to leave when
suddenly, Laertes comes forward from audience. Freeze.)

ANALYST (Continued.)

In an astonishing move, Judge Claudius, abruptly (and inexplicably) ended the
trial. But as Hamlet walked from the courtroom a free man—Laertes took matters
into his own hands.


(Courtroom Resumes Action. Laertes draws his dagger.)

LAERTES

The devil take thy soul. Justice!

HORATIO

Nooooo!

(Laertes stabs Hamlet. The Courtroom Action Again Freezes:
Hamlet wincing in pain, Laertes' knife imbedded in Hamlet's
abdomen, Gertrude—still holding cup—looks faint.)

ANALYST

Not since Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald has there been such dramatic and
timely reversal of fate. What must have gone through the young prince's mind as
his newly granted freedom was stolen in a vigilante's rage?

(Courtroom Action Resumes: Laertes and Hamlet part—
blood soaked. Hamlet reels and falls.)

SHAYLA

Look to the Queen, there, ho!

(Gertrude staggers. Hamlet, with a burst of energy, disarms
the guard and advances on Laertes. Hamlet stabs Laertes.)

HORATIO

They bleed on both sides!

(Hamlet and Laertes fall. Courtroom Action Freezes.)

ANALYST

As cameras captured this gruesome scene, people around the world sat glued to
their televisions—infatuated by the impromptu spectacle, and helpless. Not
knowing what was yet to come.

(Courtroom Action Resumes: Horatio to Hamlet, Guard to Laertes.)

HORATIO

How is't my lord?

GUARD

How is't Laertes?

LAERTES

I am justly killed with my own treachery.

HAMLET (Seeing Gertrude fall.)

How does the Queen?

CLAUDIUS

She swoons to see them bleed!

GERTRUDE

No, no, the drink, the drink! I am poisoned.

(She dies. R’crantz and G’stern exit. Claudius tries to exit.)

SHAYLA

O, villainy! Ho! Let the door be locked!


HAMLET

Treachery seek it out!

LAERTES

Thy mother's poisoned. I can no more.

The King, the King's to blame!

(Laertes points at Claudius. Courtroom Action Freezes.)

ANALYST

And with this one word from the wounded Laertes—Hamlet's decisive and
deliberate action would forever obscure the chain of events leading to this
horrifying moment.

(Courtroom Action Resumes: Hamlet takes sword and stabs
Claudius. Claudius falls. Hamlet gets poisoned cup.)

CLAUDIUS

O, yet defend me, friends, I am but hurt!

HAMLET (With cup.)

Here, thou incestuous, murderous, damned Dane,

Drink off this potion. Is thy union here? Follow my mother!

LAERTES

He is justly served.

(As Analyst narrates, courtroom continues in pantomime: Claudius dies.
Hamlet staggers to Laertes, they reconcile, Laertes dies. Hamlet,
overcome, falls. Horatio comforts Hamlet who slowly, silently dies. . . )

ANALYST

It seems from watching the video that both Hamlet and Laertes were aware of
their impending fates. But ironically, it was Laertes that made the first gesture
of reconciliation. That gesture appeared to be accepted and returned by
Hamlet. Did Laertes ask for forgiveness, and did Hamlet return the offer? We
may never know for certain. Ambulances arrived at the bloody scene just
moments later. Claudius and the Queen were given immediate treatment and
rushed to Denmark's First Royal Hospital. Hamlet and Laertes followed shortly
thereafter. All would be pronounced dead upon arrival.

(As the lights fade in the courtroom. . . )

HORATIO

Goodnight, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

(Analyst continues. . . )

ANALYST

Already three separate governments have appointed commissions to
investigate this tragedy. Video tapes and documents pertaining to the trial
have been confiscated and/or subpoenaed awaiting further analysis. It is
unclear how soon we can expect results from these investigations, but if The
Warren Commission or The Watergate Probe are any indication, it will be a
very long winter of our discontent. And though we, members of the media, are
occasionally guilty of sensationalizing stories, this trial speaks for itself;
unaltered and unembellished, it is a story of incomparable drama and
unparalleled intrigue—like Hamlet himself. Will we ever know his secrets? The
whys and wherefores of this trial? This reporter thinks not—but hope remains


that someone will step forward and offer the best truth that can be offered.
Yes, even in this sad hour, there is hope. From all of us here, we hope you
have a good night.

(Music. As lights fade on Analyst, transition to. . . .)


ACT II, SCENE 8: The following morning.

SETTING: The empty courtroom.

AT RISE: Shayla is leaning against the defense table—distraught. Her
traveling coat and brief case are nearby. Horatio enters. They
look at each other a long moment.

HORATIO

Well.

We shall never rest.

Never is long.

What will you tell them?

Who?

Them that will hang on your every, every word. Immortality in one short lifetime;
forever remembered as the perfect friend, the perfect foil—he that, in his arms,
cradled the dying Hamlet.

I was only his friend.

And now his only story-teller. Don't underestimate that power—that curse. What
will you tell them?

The truth.

As tricky as it is illusive.


You wrote this, didn't you?

I'm ashamed of it.

Why? It's very good.

It doesn't do him justice.

Why did you write it? Why didn't you claim it?

It was to be my '"fast-track to success." But once the trial began, I realized I
couldn't steal success from my friend's sorrow.

Even if it's the truth?

Everyone knows the truth! The whole trial is on video tape—every bloody scene!

Are you suggesting—?

Tell the truth! But in your way—on your terms.


A play.

The story?

The truth?

His truth.

My story, his truth.

And we need not be ashamed. For the Hamlet we reveal will be the true Hamlet.

We?

You'll need help—I'm a writer.

We'll tell it my way.

Of course.

My story.

Your story.

Your words.

My words, your way.

"The Trial of Hamlet—"


As told by Horatio—

As written by Shay K. Spire.

Shay?

Always published under Shay K. Spire.

Councilor.

Partner.

Your death, my friend, shall not have been in vain—

Your words we'll use, your soul in them remain.

And here it shall for evermore be writ!

(He raises the manuscript slowly, as the lights fade. The end.)

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