“Lord, what fools these mortals be!” —Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream
For Hamlet’s plot till now, see Hamlet So Far.
Act 4 Scene 1. Claudius is in the throne room, kinglying all over the place. He’s got something to prove. Hamlet with his play has gotten to him. Now he’s got to get back his edge. The best way to do that is to throw his crown around.
“Servant, do this,” he says to one servant.
“You there,” he says to another. “Go get me something-or-rather.”
“Where is that Polonius?” he says to himself. “He’s never around when I need him.”
‘Course we know that Polonius can’t be around. He’s a corpse, boxed up and FedEx-ed to Doktor Frankenstein.
Gertie, the Queen, rushes in. Well, actually she doesn’t rush in. She’s a queen. She swishes in.
“My lord, what is that stink?” she says to Claudius.
“It’s the new cologne I am trying. It’s called It’s-Good-To-Be-The-King.”
Gertrude says, “It should be called P U.”
“My dear,” Claudius always called Gertie “my dear”. He liked the sound of it. “I have you know that it’s imported from Paris.”
“I see. So you imported Black Death from the sewers of Paris.” She takes out a big bottle of eau de coulogne and whiffed Claudius with it. “That’s better,” she says. Then she whispers, “Can you empty the room? I have news.”
“But,” Claudius is hesitant, “I am being king here. How can I be king if no one is around.”
Gertie smiles and blows in his ear. “You’re always king to me. If you know what I mean.”
Claudius definitely knows what she means.
“Everybody out,” Claudius commands.
The chamber empties.
“Rubber duckie time?” Claudius is getting excited.
“Not now. Later. After Hamlet leaves town.”
Claudius frowns, disappointed.
Gertie pats him on the cheek. “Sorry, sweetie.” Then she delivers the bad news. “Polonius isn’t Polonius any more.”
Claudius chokes. “Wh-wh-wh-at?”
“He got the P knocked out of his Olonius.”
“I hate it when that happens.” Claudius recovering.
“It’s curtains for him. Hamlet made him dead.”
“He did. And he thought it was you.”
“Well, that’s not good.” Claudius frowns his best frown. It’s time to put a hit on this kid’s head and get him out of the way. He’s become nothing but a troublemaker big time. “I guess it’s England for him. At least, temporarily. Till everything cools down here.”
“He’s going to love England. Big Ben. Winchester Abbey. The Changing of the Guard. Buckingham Palace. Maybe the queen will give him the tour. He’ll love it. I’m sure.”
“So where’s the body?”
“Oh, he FedEx-ed it over to Doktor Frankenstein.”
Claudius thought, Smart lad. Always get rid of the evidence.