PLAYHOUSE OF THE DAMNED
& Juliet: The Happy Ending Version"
by Richard Nathan
The spotlight is up on our host, GUS THE GHOUL.
GUS THE GHOUL
Our next story is a classic - with the emphasis on
sick! We're going to take one of William
Shakespeare's immortal tragedies, and give it
a happy ending! Do you doubt my word?
Watch what we do with Romeo and Juliet!
Gus remains on stage while lights come up on JULIET and FRIAR LAURENCE.
GUS THE GHOUL
Let's pick up the story as Shakespeare wrote it
in Act 4, Scene 1. Romeo has been banished
from Verona for killing Juliet's cousin Tybalt.
Juliet's parents, who don't know their daughter
is secretly married to Romeo, insist that she
marry a young man named Paris. Let's
listen to Shakespeare's version as Juliet
speaks to Friar Laurence:
Juliet and Friar Laurence perform their lines as though they were doing a piece in Playhouse of the Damned (which, in fact, they are).
O, bid me leap, rather than marry Paris,
From off the battlements of yonder tower,
Or walk in thievish ways; or bid me lurk
Where serpents are; chain me with roaring bears;
Or shut me nightly in a charnel-house,
O'er-cover'd quite with dead men's rattling bones,
With reeky shanks and yellow chapless skulls;
Or bid me go into a new made grave
And hide with a dead man in his shroud!
Friar Laurence gives her a vial.
Tomorrow night look that thou lie alone;
Take thou this vial, being then in bed,
And this distilled liquor drink thou of;
When presently though all they veins shall run
A cold and drowsy humor, for no pulse
Shall keep his native progress, but surcease:
No warmth, no breath, shall testify thou livest;
The roses in thy lips and cheeks shall fade
To paly ashes, thy eyes' windows fall
Like death, when he shuts up the day of life.
Each part, deprived of supple government,
Shall, stiff and stark and cold, appear like death;
And in this borrow'd likeness of shrunk death
Thou shalt continue two and forty hours,
And then awake as from a pleasant sleep.
... and that very night
Shall Romeo bear thee hence to Mantua.
Lights go down on Friar Laurence and Juliet. A spotlight remains on Gus.
Let's skip ahead to Act 4, Scene 3. Juliet is
alone in her bedroom.
Lights come up on Juliet, holding the vial.
How, if when I am laid into the tomb,
I wake before the time that Romeo
Come to redeem me? There's a fearful point!
Shall I not, then, be stifled in the vault,
To whose foul mouth no healthsome air breathes in,
And there die strangled ere my Romeo comes?
Or, if I live, is it not very like,
The horrible conceit of death and night,
Together with the terror of the place, --
As in a vault, and ancient receptacle,
Where, for these many hundred years, the bones
Of all my buried ancestors are packed:
Where bloody Tybalt, yet but green in earth,
Lies festering in his shroud; where, as they say,
At some hours in the night spirits resort, --
Alack, alack, is it not like that I,
So early waking, what with loathsome smells,
And shrieks like mandrakes' torn out of the earth,
That living mortals, hearing them, run mad --
O, if I wake, shall I not be distraught,
Environed with all these hideous fears?
And madly play with my forefather's joints?
And pluck the mangled Tybalt from his shroud?
And, in this rage, with some great kinsman's bone
As with a club dash out my desperate brains?
O, look! Methinks I see my cousin's ghost
Seeking out Romeo, that did split his body
Upon a rapier's point. Tybalt, stay!
Romeo, I come! This do I drink to thee.
Juliet drinks from the vial and falls unconscious. Lights go out on her. She exits in the darkness. The spotlight remains up on Gus. In the darkness, a large stone door, representing the door of the tomb, is brought on and left center stage.
GUS THE GHOUL
"With some great kinsman's bone as with a club
dash out my desperate brains!" Why do so many
productions cut that speech? It's the best one in
the entire play!
Now here's where we depart from Shakespeare's
version. You'll recall that in the original tragic
version, Romeo doesn't learn that Juliet's death
was faked. He sneaks back to Verona, finds
her lying in her tomb, and drinks poison. Juliet
awakes, sees her dead husband, stabs herself and
But in our Playhouse of the Damned happy ending
version, Romeo knows Juliet faked her death. He
hurries to her tomb in time to be reunited with his
love. We wrote this part.
Lights come up on the door of the tomb. Enter ROMEO. He runs to the door of the tomb. He carries a crowbar in his upstage hand.
Sweet Juliet! My wife! My only love!
Your husband Romeo has come to take
You from this rot-encompassed crypt.
Romeo tries to open the door with his downstage hand, but it is locked.
The marble door is locked! It bars me from
My Juliet! But I have here a crow
Of iron might. This bar will now unbar
The door to Juliet's tomb. A moment of
Exertion and behold.... The door moves not!
Alas! How can I fail? My love! My life!
I'm here! Without! I've come! But cannot reach
The hand, the face, the wife I must embrace!
Why did I not foresee the Capulets
Who fear the very thought a Montague
Might desecrate the corpses of their kin
Unsheltered from a vandal with a bar
Who might break down a door and leave behind
An open tomb where any rat or cur
May gnaw upon the bones of those within.
From within the tomb we hear Juliet's voice!
(behind the door)
Oh! Where am I? I think... Yes I recall!
I'm in the tomb! I'm buried here alive!
No! Juliet! I'm here! Your Romeo
Is here outside! I'm locked outside your tomb!
If you're locked out, then I am locked within!
Inside this tomb! Locked in! Entombed alive!
I fear my Juliet will lose her mind!
Enter Friar Laurence!
Ah! Romeo! I've come to break into
The crypt wherein your wife has been entombed.
Tonight I called upon the Capulets
And stole this key. I pray that we
Are not to late to late to save fair Juliet!
Friar Lawrence opens the door. Out comes Juliet, quite mad, chewing upon the dead hand of Tybalt.
My Juliet chews on dead Tybalt's hand!
Can heaven play so cruel and rank a joke?
Alas! Words fail! It's over! Good Lord! Choke!
Lights fade out Romeo, Juliet and Friar Lawrence. A spotlight is up on Gus.
Juliet became Ghouliet! I told you it was
a happy ending! Or don't you like ghouls????
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© 2006 by Richard Nathan. All rights reserved
The author grants all internet uses to print these scripts for their own, personal, non-commercial use. No other use may be made without the author's permission. Without limiting the foregoing, the plays may not be staged without the author's express permission.
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