All that glistens is not gold. Merchant of Venice.

Act 1. Scene 3.
Dear Auntie Yorick:
Are we going to have another bout of the plague. I mean, another bout of the you-know-what?

Dear Fearful:
Stock up on cats and you should be okay.

Dear Aunitie Yorick:
I don’t know what to do. I just don’t know what to do. First I get it from Laertes. He’s my big brother. Avoid Hamlet like the plague. Then he takes off for Paris where he can do what the damned well he pleases. Excuse my “damned”. But damn it. Then my daddy tells me to avoid Hamlet like Henry VIII avoided Catherine of Aragon. What’s a girl to do?

Hamlet is so dreamy I just gush all over myself when he comes into the room. I mean he is a prince and all and the closest thing to Elvis this side of Graceland. If that ain’t enough, he’s the only eligible bachelor in the castle. Of course, I could go after Horatio. Only he’s such a commoner. Dirt poor too. If he wasn’t Hamlet’s buddy, he wouldn’t even get in the castle. And the clothes he wears. Ewwww.

I know. I know. Daddy and Laertes say I ain’t got a shot with my Ham. You know, he calls me his Eggs. Together we do make a nice Omelette. That’s French, by the way, for Ham and Eggs.

Hamlet will be king someday and he has to marry some prune faced princess from LaLaLand to keep the peace. Well, I am sorry. I just don’t believe it. Hamlet has told me he loves me big time. And we did do the—oops, almost spilled the beans. Anyway I think I would make an awesome Kate Middleton, don’t you think?

Dear O:
On the one hand, Dahling, y’all can follow your head and do what Daddy says. On the other hand, y’all can follow your heart and elope with your prince. Looks like it’s a lose-lose situation. You are caught between the proverbial Iraq and a hard place. Only one thing to do. Follow the advice of Yogi Berra, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

Just be careful or ya”ll will turn this into another “Romeo and Juliet”. We wouldn’t want that, now would we? Richard Burbage has already insisted he won’t play Romeo ever again.

Perhaps the best advice is to get thee to a nunnery.

Dear Auntie Yorick:
What am I going to do? Normally I am as loyal and obedient as any father could want his son to be. After all my name is Laertes. I tried to walk the straight and narrow. But how was I ‘sposed to act. I get to Paree and it’s spring. You know what spring is like in Paree I’m sure. There’s nothing like it anywhere else in the world. Not London. Not Moscow. Not even Rome. And definitely not Elsinore which rhymes with snore.

I was at this party, see. I met this girl. She said to me, “Why don’t you come up and see me sometime. We could parlez vous francais, if you know what I mean, Big Boy.” So I did and yadda yadda yadda. Before I knew what happened, I woke up, tied all spread-eagled across a bed. She stole all my money. I just couldn’t resist her. It was the Big Boy that did it.

So here I am in Paree without a dime to my name. I am afraid to ask Daddy for more cash. But these guys are pounding on my door, threatening to break my legs if I don’t give them the cash I lost at the races. What should I do?

Dear Laertes:
To thine own self be true but neither a borrower nor a lender be. Better yet. Follow the Bard’s advice from ” All’s Well That Ends Well”: “Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.” That seems to be a winner.

Now a word from our sponsor:
Next month Auntie Yorick is leaving the nest and going on tour. She may be coming to a town near you. So get your tickets. And expect some unexpected guests. I am not saying who but one of them has the initials W S.

Auntie Yorick:
I can’t get no respect. I mean, c’mon. I go and get His Magnanimousness elected king. I raise two kids so that they grow up to be decent human beings. Their mother had to run off with a door-to-door salesman. Left a note saying that I was such a bore. Here I was working my fingers to the bone to put meat on the table. At least, I did end up with two wonderful kids, Laertes and Ophelia.

The problem is that those kids won’t listen to me. It isn’t like it used to be. In my father’s day, you put a chastity belt on your daughter and that did the trick. No, kids today won’t listen.

My Ophelia wants to date that no-good bum of a prince. Always sitting thinking. He’s not done a day’s work in his entire existence. His mama has done nothing but mollycoddle that boy since the day he was born. All he does is sit around and feel sorry for himself. Sure wish I could set her up with that Young Fortinbras. Now that would be a match made in heaven.

On top of that, Laertes goes and gets in trouble in Paris. Paree, he calls it. Can you believe that? Wants more money. That boy is going to bankrupt me before he’s done. What should I do?

Damned if I know. All I can say is one man’s Paris is another man’s Paree.

Hamlet: To Soliloquy or Not To Soliloquy

My words fly up, my thoughts remain below: Words without thoughts never to heaven go. (Hamlet. Act 3. Scene 3.)

Act 1. Scene 2. A soliloquy is like an aria in opera. Or that solo in a musical such as Julie Andrews doing “The Sound of Music” on top of that mountain.

It’s when an actor lets loose and shows his stuff. It doesn’t happen in drama that much these days. Modern dramatists prefer the strong, silent type. You know, the James Dean type of acting.

A soliloquy is like a gift under the Christmas tree for an actor. Christmas is the play.

It’s like the comedian doing stand-up. The actor is out there on a tightrope and there’s no net. It is an aside. That moment in a play when the actor takes the audience into his confidence and says, “You have to hear this.”

It’s that jazzman’s solo. He takes off in the middle of a piece and scats for twenty minutes, then returns to the conversation he has been carrying on with his fellow mates.

We’ve all heard soliloquies in everyday life. A co-worker tells a joke. A teacher gives a lecture. A mother shares a recipe with her daughter. A friend tells you a secret.

While we’re on to soliloquies, we can suggest that perhaps Shakespeare’s Sonnets were one hundred fifty-three soliloquies. After all, each of the sonnets makes a very fine monologue.

So there you are. Enough of my soliloquying. Now back to the show.

Enter Hamlet

A little touch of Harry in the night. Henry V Act 4 Prologue.

Act 1. Scene 2. On one side of the stage, there is a party going on. King Claudius and Queen Gertrude and a roomful of courtiers, dancing, boogeying to the music of The Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Five. It’s a bit James Brown, Rick James and ABBA, thrown into one big stew. The crowd is really getting down as Rosencrantz sings their signature hit, “By the Time I Get To Wittenberg”.

Out on the dance floor, Claudius and Gertrude are so happy. Maybe they are like Ronald and Nancy Reagan. They love each other to an extreme, even above the children, and always singing, “I only have goo-goo eyes for you.” One thing is for sure. They are one happy couple. Of all the couples in Shakespeare, they may be the happiest. Happier than Romeo and Juliet or Anthony and Cleopatra anyway. And they put the Macbeths to shame.

The folks on their side of the stage are really with it. The booze is good. So is the food. And the comradery is the comraderyest. Folks are lining up to shake hands with the king and get a good gander at the queen’s new dress.

Alone on the other side of the stage sits a man in black. I would call him the Man in Black but Johnny Cash already laid a claim to that one. He has such a gloom on his face that it would make one think he invented melancholy. His name is Hamlet. He is the son Gertrude and the Daddy Hamlet, a Prince and heir to the throne, nephew to the current king. He is also the star of the show. He is the reason the play is called “Hamlet”. Otherwise it would have been called “Laertes” or “Ophelia” or “Claudius and Gertrude Make Whoopee Big Time” or “All’s Not Well That Ends With All The Main Characters Dead”.

Claudius glares over at Hamlet. He is thinking, “That young snot of an s.o.b. Who does he think he is? Sitting over there in the corner and taking the spotlight off Claudius.”

Hamlet glares back. To understand what Hamlet is going through, imagine that your daddy suddenly dies. In two shakes, your uncle moves in and marries his wife, then the Board of Directors votes him Honcho-in-Chief to run the family business.

Hamlet (mimicking the crowd): Blah. Blah. Blah.

Hamlet (speaking to the audience): So why am I sitting my ass over here in this downright uncomfortable chair? And with a big frown on my face? They are saying that I look so unhappy Bergman could make an entire film of my sulking. It would show the Swedes a thing or two about melancholy.

Gertrude (to the audience): Gertrude here. But you can just call me Gertie. Everybody does.

Gertie’s thinking a Jack Nicholson kind of thinking when he played the President of the United States in “Mars Attacks” and said to the Maritans, “Why can’t we just get along?” Could be that she is a Libra on the cusp of Scorpio.

Gertie (To Ham): Why are you always spoiling the party? You’d think somebody went and died around here. Don’t you know that this is the very reason your dad and I gave you to poor Yorick to raise. Thinking you would cheer up some. But, no. Your sulk did even him in.

Hamlet: Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah.

Gertie (to Ham): Sure, your father is deceased. But he paid no never mind to me. And to you neither. We were just fodder in his crown. A trophy wife and a trophy son. Do you know how many dumb blondes that man slept with? I don’t know either. I do know it was a lot. He kept a slew of lawyers settling paternity suits. And now you mourn for him.

Gertie (To the audience): Hamlet was a hard birth, you know. Took eighteen hours, and finally there he was. The doctors told me I couldn’t have any more children. I considered it a fair exchange for this one. (Points to Ham.) He was a handsome baby boy. He has his father’s red hair and my eyes and the cutest little dimple.

Hamlet: If I was such a favored son, why did you give me to a clown to raise?

Gertie: It was not my choice but your daddy’s. You were such a sulker he wanted to do something to cheer you up. I can see that it didn’t work. Maybe it’s all that thinking you do.

Gertrude (to the audience): That clown, Yorick, almost cured him of the sulks. Almost but almost only works in horseshoes. Unfortunately Yorick had to get a hold of some bad stew and die from food poisoning. Something called salmonella. That is English for bad stew. Hamlet was seven.

Claudius (to the audience): Claudius here. (To Gertrude) What Hamlet needs is a girl friend. A little whoopee never hurt no one.

Gertie: He had one. Ophelia. Polonius put a nix on that.

Claudius: I am going to have to talk to that Polonius about that.

Ham (again): Blah. Blah. Blah.

Gertie: That’s no way to talk your new daddy.

Ham: He ain’t nuttin’ but a hound dog. Cryin’ all the time. He ain’t never caught a rabbit and he ain’t no friend of mine.

Gertie: What’d I tell you about that sass.

Claudius: Now Ham, Gertie, can we not reason together?

Ham: Isn’t that what LBJ said when he got the USA into that Vietnam? “Can we not reason together?”

Claudius: There’s reasoning together, and then there’s reasoning together.

Ham: Go away. I have a soliloquy to do. I don’t need you listening in. It’s for the audience only.

Claudius (pouts): How come you get to hog all the soliloquies?

Ham: ‘Cause I am the main dude.

Claudius and Gert (together): Well, be that way.

Claudius (to Ham): We’ll leave only if you promise to stay in town. Your mother has missed you a lots and I want to teach you the king business.

Ham looks at his mother. There is a pretty please in her face.

Ham: I’ll stay just to please Mom. But I won’t like it.

Gertie: That’s a good boy.

Claudius and Gertie head for the door.

Claudius: Maybe I can arrange for you to have a soliloquy in “The Murder of Gonzaga”, Dollface.

Gertie: You would do that for me, Sugar Pops?

Claudius: I would even go downtown with you.

Gertie (giggles): Oh, that’s great. I love shopping.