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Stob Perhaps motivated by the desire to avoid type-casting, David Tennant is to take time off from television, to lead the RSC's forthcoming production of Hamlet. Your correspondent sneaked into early rehearsals.

Episode I. Elsinore. The guard-platform of the Castle. Enter HAMLET, HORATIO and MARCELLUS.

Hamlet The air bites shrewdly; it is very cold.

Horatio It is a nipping and an eager air.

Hamlet What hour now?

Horatio I think it lacks of twelve.

Hamlet No, it is struck.

Horatio Indeed? I heard it not:
Then it draws near the season
Wherein the spirit held his wont to walk.

Enter Ghost.

Ghost Who-woo, who-woo woo![1]

Horatio Look, my lord, it comes!

Hamlet [Aside] Well, duh.
[To Ghost] May ministers of grace defend us!
Be thou a spirit of health, or goblin damn'd?
Bring with thee airs from heaven, or blasts from hell?
Be thy intents wicked or charitable?
Thou com'st in such a questionable shape.
A cyber-shade[2], by human mother loved,
Until thy brain was from its bony cup
Untimely ripped? [Scans with sonic screwdriver.
I see it is not so.
A gassy Gelth[3], a windy wanton wraith? [Sniffs
Not likely without calorific airs,
Nor yet sustaining suppurating flesh.
Perchance a hologram? En-bodied light
Doth dazzle blind the credent Danish eye
With smuggled tech from two millennia hence.
The projector of this apparition's shape
Must hidden lie not five and two score paces
From this not-so-haunting haunter. [More sonic screwdriver.

Ghost Oi!

Horatio It beckons you.

Hamlet Then I will follow it.

Marcellus You shall not go, my lord.

Hamlet Hold off your hands.

Horatio Be rul'd, my lord. Methinks it is a trap.

Hamlet A trap? A trap? Of course it is a trap.
A happy-rappy, clappy-sappy trap.
Still am I call'd. Unhand me, gentlemen.
Thou hast always to go when t'is a trap.

Horatio He waxes desperate with imagination.
Let's away to seek physician's help
Before his madness carries him to mischief.

Marcellus Forsooth, our addled lord assaults our ears:
His wits are fled. He's gone quite Britney Spears.
[Exeunt Horatio and Marcellus.

Hamlet Alone at last. Speak; I'm bound to hear.

Ghost I am thy father's spirit.
If thou didst ever thy dear father love
Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.

Hamlet What, murder then? How cam'st thou to be stiffed?

Ghost Brief let me be. Sleeping within my orchard,
My custom always of the afternoon,
Upon my secure hour thy uncle stole,
With juice of cursed hebona in a vial,
And in the porches of my ears did pour...

Hamlet Half a mo. Let's just rewind that tape.
Thou nappest outside in the Danish frost?
One hundred bedrooms boasts our Elsinore,
Yet thou bedst down in dirty Febr'y snow?[4]
Hebona-schmebona! As my hearts do beat,
T'was hypothermia that put paid to thee.
And I'm the one whose marbles art in doubt!
Wherefore, old mole, this fatal freezing folly?

Ghost There are more things in heaven and earth, time lord,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. The Queen
And I, at the green year, forswore the fags.
Since which sad hour, now stranger'd by our oath,
I hid ten Marlb'ro Lights behind the arras
And crept to chilly garden for a gasp.
I wish that I had striven with the patch.
Now I am done. Hast thou got a match?
[ Exit Ghost, smoking

Hamlet Come Marcellus! Come Horatio!
Come Ophelia! Come one! Come all!

Enter MARCELLUS, HORATIO, OPHELIA, CLAUDIUS KING OF DENMARK, GERTUDE THE QUEEN, POLONIUS &c. plus numerous spear carriers and grave diggers.

Hamlet Our tragedy that threatened to unfold
I have, with Gallifreyan wit, cut short:
The Ghost I hath dispatched to happiness
(He wanted just a 'ponymous cigar[5]);
The King and Queen and worthy Laertes
Have jointly not succumbed to toxic shock;
Polonius, old fool, unpunctured thrives;
Ophelia hath no need of fluffy towel.
By God I'm good! And best of all is last,
(For Russell T hath touched the RSC)
A telegram from Brighton I've just read
That Rosencrantz and Guildenstern... are wed!

[Exeunt singing and dancing to 'Hi Ho Silver Lining'.

Notes

  1. The Ghost's cries are metrical. One expects nothing less from a writer of Shakespeare's calibre.
  2. An Elizabethan term for a Cyberman, as seen in Army of Ghosts.
  3. The Gelth were the wispy monsters in The Unquiet Dead. Yes you do; it had Dickens in it.
  4. The Ghost has baffled Shakespeare scholars for years. What was Hamlet Senior doing sunbathing in the middle of the Danish winter? Tennant's authoritative interpretation finally clears up this point.
  5. Happiness, Tudor and Jacobean readers and YouTubers will recall, is Bach's Air on the G String.

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