Hamlet: Entrapment

Whence is that knocking?
How is’t with me, when every noise appalls me?
What hands are here? Hah! They pluck out mine eyes.
Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood
Clean from my hand? No; this my hand will rather
The multitudinous seas incarnadine,
Making the green one red.
Macbeth Act 2 Scene 2.

Act 3 Scene 2 (continued). Remember that camel through the eye of a needle thing Jesus talked about. Hamlet had a plan. He set a trap for Claudius. But there was only problem with it. That problem wasn’t small like the eye of a needle. It was as big as the Arc de Triumph. Hamlet should have seen it but he didn’t. Hamlet was so into his plan it would be like cutting the nose off to spite the face for him to recognize the easily recognizable.

Basically the plan went like this. He asked the acting troupe to re-enact the crime as the Ghost related it to him. There was a king poisoned by his nephew the way Claudius poisoned Hamlet’s daddy. Then the villain woos the queen. If Claudius is guilty, he will protest such a plot. If Claudius is not guilty, he won’t have a problem with the play. At least, that was how Hamlet saw it.

Claudius saw the scene and he was out of there. Which didn’t prove he did it or he didn’t do it. It only proved that he was upset. He had been set up. If the FBI set such a trap, it would be called entrapment.

Wouldn’t you have left? Say Claudius was innocent of the accusation. He sat, watching a play that accused him of a crime he didn’t commit. Not only was he accused but Hamlet rubbed it in his face. It was out there for all of Castle Elsinore to see, including his wife, the Queen.

What does Claudius do? He storms out. He is angry at Hamlet. Hamlet has forced Claudius to show his hand. But Claudius isn’t showing any hand. ‘Cause a man guilty or innocent would have done the same as Claudius.

Hamlet puts on a play, nyah nyah nyah

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts…
As You Like It. Act 2 Scene 7.

Act 3 Scene 2 (continued).


Dear Reader, I know you have been anxious to hear all the news at the Castle. Your Auntie Yorick is Johnny-on-the-spotsky with the latest. Last night there was a murder. A real live murder. It was the piece de resistance “The Murder of Gonzago”, and that play was something else. And I’m talking a capital Something and a capital Else.

Over the years, I’ve seen all the plays. “A Spanish Tragedy” by Tommy Kyd. Chris Marlowe’s “Doctor Faustus”. (That was a really good’un.) Romeo and Juliet by that guy from Stratford. I never can remember his name but he’s written some great ones. Anyway R&G has a real bummer of an ending.

I must tell you the prince himself directed this one. That Hamlet, he is turning into to a man with many talents. Now he’s given us this play, and wow. I mean, double wow. And the actors. I got to tell you the players in this “Gonzago” were almost as good as our own Richard Burbage and his gang of Chamberlain’s Men. If actors ever strutted their stuff on stage, these players had stuff they knew how to strut. Boy, did they ever.

Both their Magnanimousnesses were in attendance. They entered with the trumpets trumpeting a root-a-toot-toot. The king’s wear was designed by none other than Giorgio Armani. His Magnanimousness wore the finest purple with gold and scarlet trim from his itsy bitsy toesies to his fur-lined hat reaching for the ceiling. The colors were so bright they would blind a person if one looked at him straight-on.

There was only one person who upstaged the king. Queen Gertrude. She wore a black Azzaro Couture gown revealing enough queenly skin to make everybody blush. The glass slippers alone were a revelation. The skirt to her dress was so transparent that you could get a gander on her long, thin legs. The top on her dress had an oval opening that showed a belly-button button of solid gold. The top draped over the queen and unbuttoned, barely covering her bosoms. The crown on the tippy top of her head was bejeweled in jewels that would make the crown jewels in the Tower of London envious.

Normally their Magnanimousnesses would have sat on their royal tushes on the royal furniture. Not this time. I was informed that, if they sat, their clothes would break. Then the emperor would have no clothes. So they chose to stand. As they stood their stand, they were dignified in their standing as royals are wont to do.

I have to say that it was good to see the Prince back with the lovely Ophelia. She wore a simple white country dress, covered in bouquets of flowers. Hamlet, as usual, showed no fashion sense at all. He was in regular black. He may be a prince, but his fashion-sense is downright serf. While the couple watched the play, they were like two turtledoves, turtledoving as if turtledoving was going out of style.

The play opens with a prologue in pantomime. A murder occurs. A king is poisoned. The murderer takes his place beside the king’s bride. Then the play begins. During the performance, the prince kept talking over the actors’ lines. I guess he was throwing out his jokes to impress his ladylove. He sure had her laughing. Sometimes it was hard to hear the players’ words over the prince’s jabs. But he kept coming out with the funniest lines. That Prince Hamlet, he’s a riot sometimes.

Just as the play was getting interesting, the king’s man, Polonius, interrupted and threw the lights on. The king had displeasure written all over his face. He did one of his world class trumpisms, made a lewd comment about immigration and left the performance. Could it be that his feet were hurting in those tight pointy shoes on his feet? One thing is for sure. Those shoes squeaked as the king waddled out of the hall, an unpleasant frown on his face.

As she followed the king in his exit, Queen Gertrude threw Hamlet a face that said, “Just what are you up to?” I have to tell you it was not a nice face. I do hope that the prince will be forgiven for his rudeness during the play. He has had a rough time of things since his daddy died.

Since they irked king’s displeasure, will the players get paid? I hope so. They performed their performance of murder so well, so realistic. They deserve a bonus in addition to the equity they normally receive.

The king ran through the castle halls, calling out, “Lights, lights.” It was as if he were in some interminable darkness. I love that word “interminable”. Always wanted to use it in a column. One of my New Year’s resolutions. Now I can lay it to rest.

‘Til next time.
Your Auntie Yorick.

Hamlet: A Comedy Tonight

And, like a strutting player, whose conceit
Lies in his hamstring, and doth think it rich
To hear the wooden dialogue and sound
‘Twixt his stretch’d footing and the scaffoldage.
Troilus and Cressida Act 1 Scene 3.

Act 3 Scene 2 (continued). Hamlet wanted to be king. Since he couldn’t have that, he’d settle for director. Director of a little play called “The Murder of Gonzago”.

You’d think that would be enough. But, no, he’d produce it too. Claudius didn’t know it yet but Hamlet was using his uncle’s money. First Elsinore, then maybe Broadway. Soon he’d be a famous Broadway producer.

The Hamster could see the Broadway marquee. There it was. “The Murder of Gonzago” all lit up. Then maybe a movie. Before anybody knew it, he would be up for an Oscar. He liked the sound of “Academy-Award-winning director”.

Hamlet wanted to do a musical but the actors couldn’t sing. Not a note. So he settled for a mousetrap play.

Not only did Hamlet think he could direct and produce, he thought he could write as well. He’d gone and rewritten the darn thing. But things weren’t working out the way he’d planned. Hamlet had gotten himself into a pickle. A real deal pickle.

The actors were perfectly happy doing “The Murder of Gonzago”. Hamlet put a ghost in the new version.

“There’s no ghost in that play,” Rufus yelled. Ghosts were old school. A fifteenth century superstition. Their Elizabethan audience would laugh them off the stage. The entire troupe ixnayed that idea right out of existence.

Hamlet overheard Jack Pierre, “I’ll never remember my lines.” Hamlet had a cure for that. He’d turn the play into a pantomime.

J P may not have been a royal but he  was royally p.o.ed. “What do you mean? I don’t get to speak? I don’t think so. It specifically says in my contract that I get at least seven lines. I didn’t spend years developing my wonderful voice to allow some pipsqueak to take out my lines.” Hamlet lost that battle too.

The actress Brunhilda came to Hamlet, “I am not going on in this dress. It makes me look fat.”

Rufus wanted to know, “So what is my motivation?”

Dealing with actors was worse than a room full of theologians. He hadn’t been this frustrated since he had taken on Martin Luther in a debate back in Wittenburg U. He had lost that one and he was about to lose this one too. Here he had this play, “The Murder of Gonzago”, going on tonight. The actors were not playing nice. In fact, they were driving him bananas, and this was before anyone knew what a banana was. They knew what a chiquita was but not a banana.

Only goes to prove that Robbie Burns was right when he wrote,” The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men Gang aft agley, An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain, For promis’d joy.”

Hamlet and the Speakeasy

I can counterfeit the deep tragedian;
Speak and look back, and pry on every side,
Tremble and start at wagging of a straw,
Intending deep suspicion.
Richard III Act 3 Scene 5.

Act 3 Scene 2. Every actor in the world wants to be the director. With one exception. Michael Caine. Sir Michael knows an easy road when he sees one. He learned during his working-class odd-job early life not to make waves. Directors make waves. Partially because it’s their job to piss people off, especially actors and producers. Partially they can’t help themselves.

Now here’s Hamlet. Right up front he wants to piss the actors off. By telling them how to do their job. Here he’s telling them to speak the speak and speech the speech. As if they don’t know how to speak the speech and speech the speak. They ought to. They have done it something like one thousand and fifty-four and a half times.

That half time is stretching it a bit. This visiting acting troupe hadn’t done a good job at the halftime celebrations of the Superbowl between the Martin Luthers and the Torquemada Inquisitors. They did a bit on the Ninety-five Theses. They called it the Ninety-six Thesis because it was the thesis that the Martin Luthers left out. This thesis claimed that Jesus was six feet seven and had played pro basketball for the Nazareth Carpenters. That went against the Church’s teaching.

According to the Church teaching on Jesus’ basketball career, the Good Lord was seven feet tall and had played for the Bethlehem Cradles. The Church had stained glass to prove it. They had Jesus’ contract for forty-five shekels for his rookie year. He played three games, then he was out for the season. He had injuries in his two palms. Something about splinters. Basically it put him out for good. Jesus never played pro basketball again. A little touch football with His Boys but never anything pro. As they say, everybody has a cross to bear and that was His.

Except for that screw-up, this acting troupe had standing room audiences at all its performances. Now here was the Hamster, an amateur, trying to tell them how to do their job. But he was paying the bill, so they let him do his thing. They just didn’t listen and went about their acting biz the way they always did. Professionally.

Hamlet must have thought he was William Shakespeare. Had Hamlet lived it is very likely that he would have gone to London and started his own theater troupe. Now that would have been a hoot. Not.

Hamlet was so good at tragedy he could have been the next Chris Marlowe. When it came to comedy, it was an ix-nay on that. From the evidence we have seen in the play so far, all Hamlet could do was sad, really sad. He would have made “The Massacre at Paris” look like a children’s play.

The Elizabethans would have run from his plays, barfing. ‘Course that would have made him even more popular since the Elizabethans loved to barf. Francis Bacon wrote three treatises on the subject. Queen Elizabeth, for whom the era was named, had contests at court to see who the best barfer was. Leicester won them hands down. Guess that was why he was the Favorite-in-Chief.

Hamlet would have been the one that all those scholars think was The Bard. Alas, it was not to be. But Hamlet still made his mark anyway. Thanks to Horatio, his story became the most popular in all the world. Folks as far away as Cathay would get a taste of it. It would be seen by more audiences than any other drama, except The Game of Thrones. So Hamlet can take his bow.

Now Hamlet gets the chance to produce, direct, and playwright. Who knows? He may even have played the ghost. Just like William the Playwright played the ghost but not the lead. Oh, that’s right. There isn’t a ghost in the Gonzago play. But no worries. Hamlet has written a part for himself. He will Olivier this little tragedy the actors perform. Talk about Multiple Personality Syndrome. Hamlet was a regular Orson Welles. A Mr. Multiple Personality.