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Ophelia Soiled (2007)

A RESPONSE TO ‘HAMLET’. HAMLET BEGINS TO SUSPECT THAT HIS FATHER MAY BE DEAD AND THAT HIS UNCLE, CLAUDIUS, MAY BE SLEEPING WITH HIS MOTHER. OPHELIA, ALREADY HURT BY HAMLET’S REJECTION OF HER, IS THEN MADDENED WHEN HAMLET ACCIDENTALLY KILLS HER FATHER POLONIUS.

Cast:
Hamlet Christopher Newland
Claudius Ben Martin
Ophelia .Jude Smuts

THE SET IS A THREE-SIDED BOX. PLATFORMS HAVE BEEN BUILT BEHIND EACH SIDE SO THAT STAGE HANDS CAN STAND ABOVE THE SET, LOOKING DOWN ON THE ACTION. WHEN OPHELIA ENTERS THEY WILL SHOWER THE SET WITH BLACK CRUMB – CRUMBLED BLACK FOAM RUBBER – TO SUCH AN EXTENT THAT THE PERFORMERS BELOW ARE GRADUALLY ENGULFED. THE STAGE HANDS ARE VISIBLE TO THE AUDIENCE.

HAMLET AND CLAUDIUS ARE SITTING IN A DOMESTIC SPACE.
THREE LARGE JUGS OF WATER AND A GLASS ARE AVAILABLE. ALSO TO HAND BUT CONCEALED IN A CUPBOARD ARE SEVERAL LARGE TINS OF COCA-COLA.

HAMLET Have you put on a bit of weight, Uncle?
CLAUDIUS Yeah. Every time I fuck your mother she gives me a biscuit.
PAUSE
HAMLET What sort of biscuit?
CLAUDIUS Err…shortbread.
HAMLET They are delicious.
CLAUDIUS I certainly can’t resist them.
PAUSE
HAMLET I didn’t think my mother liked them, though.
CLAUDIUS It’s me that likes them. She keeps them in a jar.
HAMLET Oh. Where?
CLAUDIUS By the bed, of course.
HAMLET Her bed.
CLAUDIUS Well, yes.
HAMLET So you’re sleeping with my mother.
CLAUDIUS That’s how I get the biscuits.
HAMLET Does my father know?
CLAUDIUS I haven’t seen him for a while, I have to say.
HAMLET I wonder where he is?
CLAUDIUS Didn’t he have earache or something?
HAMLET Yes, he did. But that wouldn’t make you not be around, would it?
CLAUDIUS I’m not a doctor.
HAMLET True.
PAUSE
So you’re sleeping with my mother.
CLAUDIUS How do you feel about that?
HAMLET Well. It’s not something I’ve ever wanted to do.
CLAUDIUS Well, no. I don’t want to fuck my mother.
HAMLET How is Granny, actually?
CLAUDIUS She’s well. For her age. Very incontinent, of course. She loved the cardigan.
HAMLET Oh good. I am glad.
PAUSE
Is it a bit stuffy in here?
CLAUDIUS I find it comfortable.
HAMLET You wouldn’t mind if I…
HE INDICATES A WINDOW
CLAUDIUS Be my guest.
HAMLET It’s my house.
CLAUDIUS But I am fucking your mother.
HAMLET I suppose it’s a bit like having another father.
CLAUDIUS We were very close, your Dad and I.
HAMLET You don’t think he’s dead, do you?
CLAUDIUS You can never rule that sort of thing out.
HAMLET I will open that window.
HE MOVES TO THE WINDOW AND TRIES TO OPEN IT.
IT WON’T OPEN.
HE SITS DOWN AGAIN.
Not to worry.
CLAUDIUS They swell up.
PAUSE
HAMLET Do you use fairly conventional sexual positions with my mother?
CLAUDIUS When I’m banging her?
HAMLET Yes.
CLAUDIUS Oh yes. I get on top and she lies underneath, legs akimbo.
HAMLET Akimbo?
CLAUDIUS Apart. Very natural. Nothing fancy.
HAMLET Not round the back or anything?
CLAUDIUS Heavens, no.
HAMLET That’s comforting.
CLAUDIUS Not at all.
ENTER OPHELIA
OPHELIA You walk all day, the flags are out, there’s the red one that you like, there’s the yellow one you always see, there’s that striped one that was new but now you know it. And you’re walking and it’s ‘Hello, missy’, ‘How are you my fine bird today my pet?’ Oh I’m very well thank you. ‘Hello chuck’, ‘Hello chicken’, ‘Good day Miss Littlepoppin Brighteyes’, ‘Are you well Miss Felicity Grace Charming?’ Oh I’m doing fine Mister and Mrs thank you so very much for asking and all the brighter for it. Oh and there’s the dogs that I know and that like me. Just by the polka dot blue that’s flapping they dash across they want to lick my hands and jump up I don’t mind. Up boys! Up girls! Rruff! Rruff! (SHE BARKS) Hello Punch! Hello Sultan who’s my boy? Who’s my boy? Who’s my boy? Oh, down, down! Where’s my girl? Up Daphne! Up Daisy! Up Dina! Ohhhh! (AS IF HER FACE IS BEING LICKED) And how are your children, Tina Dina Tina? And how is that tummy, warm jumpy Floss? Oh! You’ve had them! They’re out! Everything is out! Clever girl! Clever girl! She’s such a clever girl! Aren’t the girls clever today! Oh yes. Oh yes. What with one thing and another. Yes they are.
CLAUDIUS (TO HAMLET) That’s your girlfriend, isn’t it?
HAMLET Well, you know… we…we were…
OPHELIA What a to do! What a calamity, Jane! What a harum scarum sort of weekend it was. What with everything. What with the business about the business and the trouble with the trouble.
HAMLET (TO OPHELIA, INDICATING THE WATER JUG AND GLASS) Would you like a glass of water?
CLAUDIUS Lovely girl like you…getting thirsty.
OPHELIA POURS A FULL GLASS AND DRAINS IT IN ONE GO
HAMLET It can really help. I’ve found that.
OPHELIA So I went back. It was time to go. There was nothing for me there. The basket was empty. Nothing to keep me. Popocateptl.
HAMLET I’m sorry…?
OPHELIA In the cellar. In the catacombs. You’ve killed the cat-who-combs in here at night. Boom-boom. Boom-boom. Poor Tom. Poor TomPop. Poor Tom Pop Cat. Boom. Poor Top Cat. (TO HAMLET) What have you to say?
HAMLET Er…
CLAUDIUS Let me get you a drink.
HE POURS A FULL GLASS OF WATER AND HANDS IT TO OPHELIA.
SHE DRAINS IT IN ONE GO.
HAMLET I’m not sure…
OPHELIA No. How true. How untrue. And then the men came round. On the way back. As I was saying. As I was going. And all the flags were down. And the road was up. And you know, when they take the road up, all the black top off, it’s the icing on the cake! Did you know that? And do you know what pops up? It all pops up, Pop! Red hot and running down a street near you! All because of the boys with the black stuff! (TO THE TUNE OF ‘ELEANOR RIGBY’) Where do they all come from? The London Borough of Poland! (TO THE TUNE OF ‘IT’S RAINING MEN’) It’s raining men, tyrannosaurus! And when they take it up, there’s no going back! You can’t go along. No flags. No hello. No dogs. It stands to reason. Somebody has to.
HAMLET Look – I’m really sorry I accidentally killed your father. I feel really bad about it.
CLAUDIUS (TO OPHELIA) It’s true – he told me himself. He’s devastated.
HAMLET Gutted. To say the least.
CLAUDIUS As anyone would be.
HAMLET God knows – if I could put the clock back…
CLAUDIUS Which you can’t, of course.
HAMLET I think another glass is in order.
CLAUDIUS Splendid. I’ll do it. Happy to.
HE POURS A FULL GLASS OF WATER AND HANDS IT TO OPHELIA.
SHE DRAINS IT IN ONE GO.
HAMLET That’s much better.
CLAUDIUS You can just feel it, can’t you? I can. There you go.
HE POURS A FULL GLASS OF WATER AND HANDS IT TO OPHELIA.
BY THIS TIME THE ACTRESS MAY FEEL SHE NEEDS TO SPILL THE WATER DOWN HER FRONT AS SHE APPEARS TO DRAIN THE GLASS YET AGAIN.
HAMLET I think I’m getting yoors.
CLAUDIUS What’s yoors?
HAMLET What have you got?
CLAUDIUS Cheeky bugger! Just like your Dad!
HE OPENS A CUPBOARD, PRODUCES TWO LARGE CANS OF COCA-COLA AND HANDS ONE TO HAMLET.
HAMLET Oh, great! I love the fizzy ones! Cheers, Uncle!
THE MEN BREAK OPEN THE CANS AND DRINK EAGERLY. THEY SHOULD DRINK IN SUCH A WAY AS TO MAXIMISE THE INGESTION OF AIR WHICH WILL SHORTLY BE EXPELLED IN A SUCCESSION OF FORCEFUL ERUCTATIONS.
IT IS TO BE EXPECTED BY NOW THAT ALL THREE PRINCIPALS ARE PARTIALLY BURIED IN BLACK CRUMB.
AS THE LIGHTS FADE, THE MEN CONTINUE TO DRINK, TAKING TURNS TO BELCH LOUDLY OVER AND OVER WHILE OPHELIA DRINKS DESPERATELY FROM JUG AFTER JUG OF WATER.

END

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