Sunday, March 4, 2012

An excerpt from Outrageous Fortune by Rebecca Salomonsson

HAMLET:  Soft you now, the fair Ophelia.—Nymph, in thy orisons

Be all my sins remembered.

Hamlet’s Fatal Flaw steps out of the shadows and stops him.

HFF:  Hold on there, cowboy.  Where do you think you’re going?

HAMLET:  What—who the devil are you and what do you mean by interrupting this pivotal scene in the play?

HFF:  I’m your Fatal Flaw, and I just think you should pause a moment and consider what you’re about to do.

HAMLET:  What exactly is my Fatal Flaw?

HFF:  Heck if I know.

HAMLET:  You don’t know what you are?

HFF:  Not really.  Some scholars say that your Fatal Flaw is your indecisiveness, your inability to act.  If you would just murder Claudius when you have the chance, you might save yourself from your own death, what with the poison and the treachery and all that unpleasant business.  But I don’t really think that’s your problem.

HAMLET:  You don’t, huh?  And what do you think is my problem?

HFF:  What isn’t your problem, really?

HAMLET:  You’ve got some nerve, you know?  What say you get out of my way and let me deal with Ophelia?

HFF:  See, there’s one problem right there.  You and Ophelia.  She’s such a sweet girl, and you know you love her, and yet I, your Fatal Flaw, drive you to curse her and abuse her.

HAMLET:  She betrays me.

HFF:  She doesn’t betray you.  Her father and Claudius put her up to it, and whether or not she even knows about it entirely depends on the director’s choice.

HAMLET:  She rejects me. 

HFF:  Me, me, me – it’s all about you, isn’t it? Maybe I am Ego.  That could be your Fatal Flaw.  All you care about is yourself. 

HAMLET:  And avenging my father’s death.  Now if you’ll excuse me…

HFF:  Maybe I’m Existentialism.  That’s what that whole “To be or not to be” speech is about, right? What’s life really mean? Why don’t we just end it all?  You over think everything. (Hamlet walks toward Ophelia.)  Wait!  I’m having an identity crisis here! I need you to help me figure out what exactly causes your undoing.  The other Fatal Flaws are making fun of me!

HAMLET:  Good luck with that.

He turns to Ophelia and Hamlet’s Fatal Flaw stays to watch the scene. Ophelia looks up from her book and stands to meet Hamlet.

OPHELIA:  Good my lord, How does your Honor for this many a day?

HAMLET:  I humbly thank you, well.

OPHELIA:  My lord, I have remembrances of yours that I have longéd long to redeliver.  I pray you now, receive them.

HAMLET:  No, not I.  I never gave you aught.

OPHELIA:  My honored lord, you know right well you did, and with them words of so sweet breath composed as made the things more rich.  Their perfume lost, take these again, for to the noble mind rich gifts wax poor when lovers prove unkind.  There, my lord.

HAMLET:  Haha, are you honest?

OPHELIA:  My lord?

HAMLET:  Are you fair?

OPHELIA:  What means your lordship?

HAMLET:  That if you be honest and fair, your honesty should admit no discourse to your beauty.

OPHELIA:  Wait a minute, we need to stop for a minute.

HAMLET:  Stop?  You can’t just stop in the middle of our scene. What is it with all these interruptions today?  You’re messing with my chi.

OPHELIA:  Your chi?

HAMLET:  That’s right, my chi.  My life force, my balance.

OPHELIA:  Wow.  Okay, well, sorry about that, but we have to have a talk.  I can’t do this anymore.  I can’t let you treat me this way.

HAMLET:  What are you talking about?

OPHELIA:  I’m talking about the way you treat me.  You rant and rave at me, you physically and verbally abuse me.  It’s wrong.  Did you know I’m in therapy because of you?

HAMLET:  It’s not my fault.  It’s his fault. (Points to HFF)

OPHELIA:  Who is that?

HAMLET:  My Fatal Flaw.

OPHELIA:  What is your Fatal Flaw, anyway?

HAMLET:  We can’t put a finger on it.

OPHELIA:  Whatever.  Don’t use him as a scape goat.  You’re responsible for your own actions.

HAMLET:  No, I’m really not.  In the first place, I’m written this way.  I can’t change my etymological make-up.  And yes, I’m completely at the mercy of my Fatal Flaw.

OPHELIA:  You can’t even identify your Fatal Flaw, so how can you be at the mercy of it?

HAMLET:  Ask him.

HFF:  It’s true.  I have him completely in my power.

OPHELIA:  Shut up.  This is a private conversation.

HFF:  No, actually it’s not.  Claudius and Polonius are overhearing every word.


Claudius and Polonius come out of hiding.

CLAUDIUS:  It’s true.  Hamlet’s physical and emotional response to you are excellent indications of his madness.

HAMLET:  I am but mad north-north-west.  When the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw.

POLONIUS:  You might as well know it, Ophelia, Claudius and I set this whole meeting between you and Hamlet up in order to determine whether or not he is mad. 

OPHELIA:  Yes, I already know.  You use me.  Your own daughter.  You use me like a mouse to catch a cat.

POLONIUS:  Well, in a manner of speaking, yes.  But it is for the good of all parties involved.  You included.

OPHELIA:  Really?  Do you know that in trying so hard to figure out if Hamlet is mad, you drive me mad in the process?

POLONIUS:  I know some repercussions are to be expected.

OPHELIA:  Do you know that I die?  I drown, for your information. 

POLONIUS:  Oh, my darling girl.  And I’m not there to save you because I die first.

OPHELIA:  Precisely.  Are you all aware that we are all on the same downward spiral to destruction?  Not one of us gets out of here alive.  Don’t you think that’s obscene?

HAMLET:  Yeah, bummer.

OPHELIA:  You all set yourselves on a path of deceitfulness, destruction, and death, and you’re so caught up in it that you don’t care who you take with you.  I am the only innocent one here.  Look, Hamlet.  I’ve done a lot of internal work to accept my fate.  All I’m asking for is some explanation.  What happened between us?

HAMLET:  I did love you once.

OPHELIA:  Indeed, my lord, you made me believe so.

HAMLET:  You should not have believed me.  I loved you not.

OPHELIA:  I don’t want to do the scene now, Hamlet.  I’m trying to talk to you on an honest level here.  I’m asking you to open up to me like you used to and tell me your true feelings.

HAMLET:  Can’t do it.


HAMLET:  Because then we’d be Romeo and Juliet.

OPHELIA:  Tell me how you really feel about me or I’m walking.

HAMLET:  What?  You can’t go rogue!

CLAUDIUS:  Ophelia, don’t be a foolish girl.  There’s a harsh penalty for characters who go rogue, you know that.  Polonius, talk some sense into your daughter.

POLONIUS:  Daughter, this is ridiculous.  You wouldn’t put all of us in danger of non-existence, would you?

OPHELIA:  I’m thinking about it.  All I want is for you all to own up to what you do to me. 

CLAUDIUS:  You really are to blame, Polonius.  She’s your daughter, after all.  You should stand up for her.

POLONIUS:  Excuse me, but you’re my king.  I pretty much have to go along with anything you say. 

CLAUDIUS:  That isn’t entirely true.  You have a mind of your own, right? I’ve always respected you for your good council.  There’s a possibility I would listen to it if you went against my plan here.

POLONIUS:  Yeah, right!  You’re so focused on not getting caught for the murder of the previous king that you’ll use anyone to get Hamlet out of the way.

CLAUDIUS:  Oh, I didn’t know you knew about that.

POLONIUS:  Of course I know about it!  I may be old, but I’m not stupid or blind!

OPHELIA:  Father, Claudius, please.  This is about me.  Focus on me for a minute.  Hamlet?  What do you have to say to me?

HAMLET:  Fine.  Ophelia, this whole scene we do here is poppycock.  I’m madly in love with you the whole time, okay?

OPHELIA:  Okay.  Thank you.

HAMLET:  I mean, I’m only cruel to you because I know the king and your father are watching, and I want them to think I’m mad.  But this scene kills me.  The whole time I’m cursing you and throwing you to the floor and stuff, I’m thinking “I love you!  Marry me!”  But of course I can’t say that.

OPHELIA:  Okay, I understand now.

HAMLET:  And when you die, I about die with you.  Seriously, I want to jump in that grave and be buried with you.  I hate that my last words to you are “To a nunnery, go.”  I hate that I can never tell you how I truly feel about you.

OPHELIA:  Okay, Hamlet, point taken.  You love me.  That’s all I wanted to know.

HAMLET:  You complete me.

OPHELIA:  We can go back to the scene now.

POLONIUS:  (Throwing himself at her feet) Daughter, forgive me!  If I had known how all this would have turned out, I would have taken you away from this place.

OPHELIA:  Good.  As long as you know you’re wrong.

POLONIUS:  I would do anything if only I could right it.

OPHELIA:  Great.  I forgive you.  Now back to your hiding place.  (he goes) Claudius, have you anything to say?

CLAUDIUS:  No.  I have no regrets.

OPHELIA:  Really?  Okay, well two apologies out of three is not bad.  I’m ready to move on.

Claudius returns to hiding place.

OPHELIA:  (cont.) Now where were we?

HAMLET:  Let’s take it from, “I loved you not.”  You should not have believed me.  I loved you not.

OPHELIA:  I was the more deceived.

HAMLET:  Get thee to a nunnery.  Why woulds’t thou be a breeder of sinners? I am myself indifferent honest, but yet I could accuse me of such things that it were better my mother had not borne me:  (lights start to fade) I am very proud, revengeful, ambitious, with more offenses at my beck than I have thoughts to put them in…

Slow fade to blackout.

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