Dramatis Personae:

• 3 women, sitting at the bar

• Barman


1st woman [sarcastically]    What a piece of work is a man!

2nd woman                             Man delights me not.

Barman [aside]                       That’s a fair thought to lie between maids’ legs.

3rd woman [tone of disgust]   In the rank sweat of an enseam’d bed, stewed in corruption, honeying and making    love over the nasty sty!
1st woman                                 No more.

2nd woman                               Use every man after his desert, and who should ‘scape whipping?

3rd woman                                To be honest, as this world goes, is to be one man picked out of ten thousand.

[1st woman gets up to leave]

Barman                                      You go not till I set you up a glass wherein you may see the inmost part of you.

[Barman serves drink]

2nd woman                              I doubt some foul play. Would the night were come!

Barman                                      There is nothing either good nor bad but thinking makes it so. Though this be madness, yet there’s method in it.

1st woman                                To be or not to be, that is the question.

3rd woman                               Thou turn’st mine eyes into my very soul.

Barman                                     The play’s the thing.

2nd woman [to 1st woman]  Get thee to a nunnery!

1st woman                                 I could accuse me of such things that it were better my mother had not borne me.

Barman                                      I shall in all my best obey you, madam.

2nd woman                              O wicked wit and gifts that have the power so to seduce.

3rd woman                               Won to this shameful lust!

Barman                                      The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

3rd woman                               These are wild and whirling words, my lord.

1st woman                                I know not, my lord, what I should think.

2nd woman                              He waxes desperate with imagination.

1st woman                                I say away. Go on, I’ll follow thee.

[Exit barman with 1st woman. She re-enters, dishevelled and upset]

3rd woman                               What in the name of God!

2nd woman                              How now Ophelia, what’s the matter?

1st woman                                He took me by the wrist and held me hard.
                                                      No hat upon his head, his stockings foul’d,
                                                      Ungarter’d and down-gyved to his ankle
                                                      Pale as his shirt, his knees knocking each other,
                                                      And with a look so piteous in purport –
                                                      To speak of horrors – he comes before me!

3rd woman                               Break my heart for I must hold my tongue.

[Re-enter Barman]

2nd woman                              How now? A rat?

1st woman                                My soul is full of discord and dismay.

Barman                                     Do not believe it. A touch, a touch, I do confess it.

2nd woman [to 1st woman] Come, let me wipe thy face.

3rd woman                               He is justly served.




Note: this play was written by a small group of students on an English Literature degree, taught at an FE College in the north of England, validated by a local university. The task was to produce a short sketch consisting entirely of quotes from Hamlet, exploiting the resonances of Shakespeare’s lines and exploring more levels of potential meaning in them. The college has since shut down the course and made its teachers redundant.

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