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Elsinore Hotel (2007)

CLAUDIUS What do you call the play?
HAMLET The Mousetrap.

‘Hamlet’: Act III Sc 2

GILES/ANDREW was played by Chris Newland. MOLLIE/INGRID by Jude Barrington. DETECTIVE SERGEANT TROTTER by Ben Martin.

THE ENTRANCE HALL OF THE ELSINORE HOTEL, 1952.

UPON CLOSE EXAMINATION OF THE SCENE IT CAN BE SEEN THAT, IN PLACES, THE FIXTURES AND FITTINGS BEAR SIGNS OF WEAR AND TEAR. IT WILL FURTHER BECOME APPARENT THAT THESE MARKS OF DISTRESS ARE CAUSED BY THE REPEATED PASSAGE OF THE CHARACTERS OF THE PLAY THROUGH A SERIES OF POINTS AT WHICH THEY ALWAYS PERFORM CERTAIN ACTS. THOSE PARTS OF THE SCENE NOT REGULARLY VISITED BY THE CHARACTERS BEAR NO SIGNS OF WEAR AT ALL.

SEATED SEPARATELY AROUND THE LOBBY ARE THREE RESIDENTS OF THE HOTEL. ONE IS KNITTING, ANOTHER IS READING, THE THIRD IS LOADING A PIPE THAT IS NEVER SMOKED. THESE FIGURES ARE PLAYED BY EXTRAS. THEY HAVE NO LINES AND DO ABSOLUTELY NOTHING THROUGHOUT THE PLAYLET.

FROM AN INTERIOR DOOR ENTERS GILES RALSTON, THE PROPRIETOR OF THE NEW ELSINORE HOTEL. HE BLOWS ON HIS HANDS AND SLAPS HIMSELF WITH HIS ARMS AS IF HE HAD ENTERED FROM A COLD PLACE.

GILES IS ALSO THE DIRECTOR OF THE PLAY. HIS REAL NAME IS ANDREW. HE WILL INTERRUPT THE ACTING FROM TIME TO TIME IN ORDER TO DIRECT THE ACTORS AROUND HIM.

IN COMMON WITH ALL CHARACTERS AT ALL TIMES, GILES MOVES, WITH A MEASURED DELIBERATION, ALONG A PATHWAY WORN INTO THE CARPET. HE ARRIVES AT THE RECEPTION DESK, WHERE HE CONSULTS THE REGISTER.

THE VARIOUS POINTS AND PLACES USED BY THE ACTORS ARE KNOWN AS ‘POINTS OF POWER’.

FROM ANOTHER INTERIOR DOOR ENTERS MOLLIE RALSTON, GILES’ WIFE. SHE BLOWS ON HER HANDS AND SLAPS HERSELF WITH HER ARMS AS IF SHE HAD ENTERED FROM A COLD PLACE.

EVERY TIME A SPEECH IS DELIVERED, THE CHARACTER WILL MOVE AROUND THE SET, AS IF HYPER-BLOCKED BY AN EXCITABLE DIRECTOR. THIS WILL ENABLE THE ACTOR TO COVER A NUMBER OF ‘POINTS OF POWER’.

MOLLIE Hello, darling. Beastly weather.
GILES Have you been outside?
MOLLIE No.
GILES What’s it like, Mollie?
MOLLIE Utterly silent. Now and then, despite what I have just said, a bird pipes piteously. The black sticks of the copse are damp. Those leaves that have not yet dropped drip. Thither between the chill stands of ash run the traceries of birds’ feet – tiny, skittering stars on the bleak bowl of the forest floor. The sky is slate. The swirls are sudden. Squirrels chitter in frigid fugue.
GILES I won’t be going out.
MOLLIE Did you hear the radio?
GILES Where?
MOLLIE Apparently there has been a murder of Mister Rex Lyon.
GILES We don’t know him.
MOLLIE That there are murders is enough in itself.
GILES Sometimes they are unfortunate accidents.
MOLLIE Sometimes there are loose killers roaming.
GILES I don’t like that, Mollie.
MOLLIE At least we have each other.
GILES I suppose we do.
MOLLIE No suppose, Giles. It’s a ‘do have’.
GILES And we do have this new hotel enterprise and idea of ours to do our best with and look forward to.

THERE IS A KNOCK AT THE FRENCH WINDOW.
GILES GOES TO SEE WHO IS THERE.
A SNOW COVERED GENTLEMAN GESTURES. HE IS CARRYING SKI STICKS (ARE THEY CALLED SKI STICKS? I HAVE ONLY SKIED ONCE, IN NORWAY, IN 1975. WE HAD STICKS BUT THEY WERE IN NORWEGIAN).
GILES GESTURES TO THE MAN TO COME ROUND TO THE DOOR.
WHEN HE OPENS THE DOOR SNOW SWIRLS INTO THE ROOM FOLLOWED BY A MAN COVERED IN SNOW AND WEARING SKIS. IT IS THE SAME MAN, DETECTIVE SERGEANT TROTTER.

TROTTER I’m a bobbie.
GILES A bobbie! Mollie – a bobbie is here!
MOLLIE Why a bobbie?
TROTTER May I come in?
GILES Please do, bobbie.
TROTTER Detective Sergeant Trotter. Thank you.

TROTTER ENTERS THE HALL.

MOLLIE What’s it like outside?
TROTTER I’m afraid I have something more important.
GILES I’m startled.
TROTTER Have you now or do you know a Mister Rex Lyon?
MOLLIE He is dead.
TROTTER How did you know that?
GILES We didn’t. He isn’t.
MOLLIE It was on the radio, Inspector.
TROTTER The roads are deep with snow. Conventional landmarks are difficult to make out. Passage cannot be taken lightly.
GILES Thus your skis. (AS ANDREW) Actually, Terry, can you do that a little slower? You tend to rush it out.
TROTTER Sorry.

TERRY, MOLLIE AND GILES MOVE BACK TO THE POSITIONS THEY INHABITED PRIOR TO TERRY’S DELIVERY OF THE LINE IN QUESTION. EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE MERELY RETRACING THEIR STEPS, THEY TOUCH, IN REVERSE ORDER, ALL THE PREVIOUSLY USED LANDMARKS BETWEEN THE TWO POINTS.

TROTTER The roads are deep with snow. Conventional landmarks are difficult to make out. Passage cannot be taken lightly.
GILES (AS ANDREW) Much better. (AS GILES) Thus your skis.
TROTTER We have reason to believe that the murderer of Mister Rex Lyon may be heading in the direction of the Elsinore Hotel.
MOLLIE Heavens!
GILES Why?
TROTTER A curious disconnection prevails outside. Throughout the country there is skidding.
GILES Are people slipping?
TROTTER A man was seen falling near the apartment of Mister Rex Lyon. He was wearing a dark overcoat, a light scarf and a felt hat.
GILES Felt?
MOLLIE It’s common in millinery, Giles.
GILES I would have thought it was too soft.
MOLLIE No. Did the man get up, Inspector?
TROTTER No, I…damn. He man…what is it?
MOLLIE He managed to right himself?

THE THREE CHARACTERS RETRACE THEIR STEPS TO A POINT PRIOR TO THE DELIVERY OF THE LINE.

TROTTER He managed to right himself. Unfortunately in giving chase our constable himself took a tumble.
GILES (AS ANDREW, SYMPATHETICALLY) It’s a funny line. Tell you what, we actually do know this pretty well. I’d like to go right to the last scene and take it from there.
TROTTER Right to the end? Why?
GILES It’s shakey. It was yesterday. I think we all relax too much.
TROTTER I find it very difficult, jumping about. It’s not the way to do it.
MOLLIE I hate it, Andrew. We’ve never done it. There’s really no need.
GILES Can’t you just, for once, just try?
MOLLIE Andrew – it’s fine, it’s perfectly fine. We know it.
TROTTER Going back is manageable, if we absolutely have to, but jumping forward, not going through it properly…I think it’s dangerous, frankly.
GILES Dangerous!?
MOLLIE Yes – it only works if it’s all done, you know that. If you don’t do it all then it could fall to bits.
GILES But this is rehearsal!
TROTTER No difference.
MOLLIE It’s you.
GILES What do you mean it’s me?
MOLLIE Well, since your father died.
GILES He didn’t die, Ingrid. Somebody killed him.
MOLLIE Yes. Maybe. Quite probably. But it seems to be getting into the work. I mean, we all know it must be so terrible but when you let it into the work it just upsets everybody. I’m sorry.
GILES Perhaps if we just walked through, you know, just from point to point.
MOLLIE That’s a great idea!
TROTTER Wouldn’t take too long.
MOLLIE That’s so much better! Because it’s not the words, is it?
GILES No…I suppose not.
MOLLIE Well, it isn’t for me.
TROTTER Nor me. It’s…
MOLLIE The journey!
TROTTER Exactly!
GILES Terry – can you just kick it off with the line.
TROTTER He managed to right himself. Unfortunately in giving chase our constable himself took a tumble.

THE ACTORS START TO MOVE THROUGH THE ACTION OF THE PLAY THAT THEY KNOW SO WELL. AT FIRST THEY MOVE THROUGH THE ‘POINTS OF POWER’ AT A NATURALISTIC PACE THEN THEY GRADUALLY SPEED UP.

THIS EPISODE IS BASED ON THE SAFE ASSUMPTION THAT THE AUDIENCE IS NOT FAMILIAR WITH THE PLOT IN ANY DETAIL. THE ACTORS WILL THEREFORE ONLY SKETCH OUT ELEMENTS OF THE ACTION. THE EPISODE WILL LAST ONLY A FEW MINUTES.

EACH OF THE THREE EXTRAS IS VISITED IN TURN AND (MUTE) DISCUSSIONS, LED BY DETECTIVE SERGEANT TROTTER, ARE CARRIED OUT BESIDE THEM, AS IF TROTTER IS SUMMING UP HIS DEDUCTIONS ABOUT THEM BEFORE MOVING ON TO THE NEXT ONE.

AS THIS ODD, SILENT ENACTMENT MOVES TO ITS CONCLUSION THERE WILL COME A POINT WHEN TROTTER UNEXPECTEDLY PRODUCES A REVOLVER AND THREATENS MOLLIE. (THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS IN THE REAL ‘MOUSETRAP’.) HE IS STANDING BEHIND THE SOFA WHEN HE DOES THIS.

GILES SUDDENLY BREAKS THE RULES. HE SPRINTS ACROSS THE CARPET, IGNORING THE ‘POINTS OF POWER’ AND THE PATHWAYS, AND PUNCHES TROTTER IN THE STOMACH. TROTTER FALLS DOWN BEHIND THE SOFA.

MOLLIE (AS INGRID) Andrew! What are you doing?
GILES (AS ANDREW) It was him! It was fucking him!

HE KICKS TERRY VICIOUSLY. (WE CAN’T SEE TERRY’S BODY.)

MOLLIE Andrew! Don’t!
GILES CONTINUES TO KICK SAVAGELY AT TERRY THEN STARTS STAMPING ON HIS HEAD OVER AND OVER AGAIN.

GILES He fucking did it! He fucking did it!
MOLLIE I don’t understand. Andrew! Stop it, stop it! How do you know? How do you know?

GILES, IN A FRENZY BY NOW, GRUNTING AND GASPING, CONTINUES TO KICK AND STAMP ON TERRY’S LIFELESS BODY.
EVENTUALLY HE STOPS. HE STANDS PANTING BY TERRY’S BODY.

MOLLIE WALKS DOWNSTAGE AND ADDRESSES THE AUDIENCE.
SAD MUSIC BEGINS.

MOLLIE Andrew didn’t realise what he was doing. He didn’t understand that we are not unbounded creatures. That we are who we are because of the limits that we place upon ourselves. That without these limits we are vapour. Andrew had many admirable qualities: he sought to flush out the stagnant in order that freshness might prevail. He brought to others an example of enthusiasm that they might emulate – he showed them that fear has no place in the bright, forward everyday. But his energies carried him into unmapped terrain. Places that he was not ready for. Andrew kicked against the checks and stops, he railed against the small satisfactions that kept Terry and myself in some sort of place, in some sort of time. He went to places where everything has meaning. But if everything has meaning then meaning is in flight. The winds rush in, the pterodactyls sweep from the sky. Andrew – it weren’t broke but you tried to fix it!
(THE WRITER AND DIRECTOR DAVID GALE WALKS QUIETLY ONSTAGE AND SITS DOWN TO THE SIDE SOMEWHERE.
MOLLIE TURNS TO HIM.)
David, can you make me a sandwich or something?
DAVID Of course. Would you like peanut butter?
MOLLIE That would be lovely.

DAVID PRODUCES (FROM SOMEWHERE PRESET ON THE SET) A WHITE SLICED LOAF, A JAR OF PEANUT BUTTER, A KNIFE AND A PLATE.
HE STARTS TO MAKE A SANDWICH.
MOLLIE LOOKS INTO THE AUDIENCE.
THE SAD MUSIC CONTINUES.
ANDREW COMES ROUND THE FRONT OF THE SOFA AND SITS DOWN ON IT.

DAVID (TO MOLLIE) At Christmas I got this wire puzzle in a cracker. You had to try to get this ring off these two linked loops. It wouldn’t slide off, the loops were too big. You had to manipulate it and then the ring would suddenly slip off. It was really satisfying. But I couldn’t get it to do it again. It was really frustrating.
MOLLIE You should practise more. Do it every day. If you do it every day you can be satisfied every day.
ANDREW Could I have a sandwich too?
DAVID Sure.

DAVID STARTS TO MAKE ANOTHER SANDWICH.

MOLLIE (TO ANDREW) You alright?
ANDREW Fine.

DAVID HANDS THE SANDWICH TO ANDREW.
ANDREW Thank you.
PAUSE.
MOLLIE AND ANDREW EAT THEIR SANDWICHES.

DAVID (TO MOLLIE) Jude. I really like what you do.
MOLLIE Do you? Thank you.
DAVID (TO ANDREW) And Chris. I like what you do. I really do.
ANDREW Thank you. I enjoy it.
MOLLIE And Ben?
DAVID Ben’s great. I like what he does.
ANDREW Did.
DAVID Yes.

NOBODY SAYS ANYTHING ELSE.
PEOPLE FINISH THEIR SANDWICHES.
THE SAD MUSIC CONTINUES.
DAVID WALKS OFF.
A FEW MOMENTS LATER JUDE AND CHRIS WALK OFF.
THEN MAYBE BEN GETS UP AND WALKS OFF. I CAN’T DECIDE.
THE EXTRAS ARE STILL THERE.
BLACKOUT.

END

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