Directed by Jaime Lee Currier
With Sean Garahan & Amy Lizardo
Setting: Purgatory’s Gay Bar, “The Elephant”
Antonio, a hyper-masculine sailor, played by a female actor in drag Hamlet, a sensitive young man
There are two stools, a bar, many empty beers or shots glasses. A blinking neon sign that says “The Elephant.” A low-tech A-frame sign will do as well. ANTONIO, a gruff sailor type played by a female actor in drag, sits at the bar. He’s been there for some time. Perhaps four hundred years. Perhaps for eternity.
A pre-recorded voice (God’s? Satan’s? Shakespeare’s?), hereafter known as “Voice.”
VOICE. Wouldst thou like one more?
ANT. Jokest you with me? Here I sit, drinking til the crack of doom,
O’er come by fiery loins unquenchable,
Whilst in life was my love ne’er requited
By him – them – him, I loved more than myself.
VOICE. Meanest thou yond exalted Sebastian?
ANT. Does it matter which young man caught mine eyne? Each sev’ral swain contributes to my doom.
HAMLET enters. He is disheveled and a bit lost. He makes lusty eye contact with Antonio who quickly looks away.
HAM. Perchance I have been hereby promoted?
In this place no devils or fire resides.
The air is cool, albeit dank and – he sniffs once, suspiciously, to resolve his last iamb Methinks this is a mortal quaffing here.
Good day, good rogue, canst tell me where I am?
ANT. Be it more like “good eterne,” fair young lad. Thou’st found thyself in damnation’s disco, Beezlebub’s bar, great yawning Time’s pub.
Pull up a stool, and orderest thou a drink.
HAM. Aqua-vitae —
ANT. — The options here are sack, Ale, or something far more strange they call here
“Shots,” though I hear it’s spelled with a “z.” (Zed? Actors choice)
HAM. I’ll try one of the wondrous sounding shots.
Antonio hands him one that happens to be full, he shoots it back.
This after life is rife with fantastic Spellings, visions, smells – he sniffs once, again – and characters. My friend you look as though you’ve been here long.
ANT. Indeed, and so lonely am I in this Desperate place, this hot liquor Does nothing to cool my enflamed – soul.
Hamlet makes eyes at Antonio.
HAM. I shall be frank with you my swarthy friend, For murders rank I previously was damned,
But this new fate brings me a kind of hope, Perhaps the big guy has reviewed my file?
He looks around.
I’ve heard tell Purgat’ry had a gay bar —
There is a reason I have found me here.
See, in life was love my primary game;
I like “both,” as they say, a Herc’les and
Diane have fanned my passions to a heat.
What say you to a little fun, good man,
Surely that’s what this place is for, n’est-ce pas?
ANT. Though thou be’st my type, young, fair, and clever, Since death I have sworn off you bisexuals,
Nothing but trouble hast thou brought to me.
HAM. It’s only for a tryst, though what meaning Has time in such a place as this. Come on,
I can do wond’rous things with my —
ANT. Whoa, there, Lad, there is another reason —
HAM. Reason, Schmeason, let’s go find a corner, us two.
Hamlet grabs Antonio.
ANT. Recognizest thou not me??
Hamlet looks at him, as though with new eyes.
Though in death I returned to my nascent shape, In life
Was I beknown unto you as “Mother.”
Hamlet is agape.
HAM. I thought your brow was familiar to me, But such cruel trick in this contemned place As paints all potential lovers with the
Ghastly visage of one’s own dear Mother.
ANT. This is no trick, my beloved Hamlet.
I started life as one “Antonio,” Low born, rough-bred, and fated for the seas. But in my heart bore I a precious jewel, For I could see the beauty in each rogue
That heaved and groaned under life’s heavy toils. Was not petticoats and creamy bosoms
That caught my staff’s attention, but instead
A doublet tightly laced, or handsome calves.
A brow beaten with sun, or bristly beard.
Too often was I soon forgotten by
These young men with their sights set on the stars. I resolved to take fate into my hands.
A change profound I surgeoned on myself
And henceforth was known to all as “Gertrude.”
In time I won the king’s am’rous favour,
Queen of Denmark I soon did call myself,
Hamlet the elder never knew my tale.
But old Ham grew weary and rank on me,
A younger brother caught this girl’s fancy.
For years we plotted on his kingly life,
— Well, you know the rest.
HAM. Mother, mother, mother!
ANT. How now, Hamlet?
HAM. Your tale does wrack my brain with tangled thoughts, I took you for a willing sex partner,
And now I do bethink me, back in life,
There was something impure in my feelings
Towards you whom I should have had chastest Thoughts and none of those rousings I did fight.
ANT. And fight them still you must —
HAM. But mother dear, Or perchance now in this restored form,
I can “Antonio,” “lover,” call you,
This manly outward show of yours suits well.
ANT. No my son, though never from mine own womb Didst thou form into a man, for surely
Such womb there never was, in Death let us
Preserve such sanctity belonging to
Our familial bond. From one Flavinia
I took you as a babe, she was mother
To Ophelia, wife of Polonius.
You were their first born but destined for King, I cared for you as though you were my own.
HAM. No wonder everyone was so opposed To my liaison with Ophelia!
Suddenly everything make so much sense.
ANT. Of your affair I never did approve; Incest aside, I thought her too vapid And obsessed with botanical pursuits To be considered equal to a Prince.
VOICE. If I might interrupt, you both should know The Elephant has its own set of rules.
What happens in Purgatory stays in
Purgatory, as I have thus written.
HAM. Did He really write that?
ANT. So no judgment?
HAM. No divine register recording us?
VOICE. Just a friendly pub with bottomless drinks. Beat. They lock eyes, then vigorously make out.
End of Play.