Where Threads Come Loose
"You Are Welcome To Elsinore

The Recording Script

• Written and directed by Christopher Bahn, with additional dialogue by William Shakespeare. Copyright 1996.
• From Episode 10 (1997 Edition) of the radiodrama series Where Threads Come Loose
• Originally broadcast on KUOM-AM, March 1994.

• Narrator; Hamlet; Don Vito Corleone; Claudius; Gertrude; Rosencrantz; Guildenstern; Polonius; Rocky; Guido; Elliot Ness; O'Malley, an FBI agent

Author's Notes
• Inspired about equally by Woody Allen and Tom Stoppard, I got the idea for this story when I read a quote from some literary critic whose name I've now forgotten to the effect of "I could turn Hamlet into a comedy by casting Hamlet as a 400-pound man."
SCENE I: Don Corleone's office
(SFX: Italian music starts and plays for a few seconds to establish where we are. It then dims, but continues throughout the scene.]

Hamlet: Mayst I speak with thou, Godfather?

Corleone: You wish to speak with me? Why do you invade my privacy at the wedding of my only daughter. I do not wish to talk business during this happy time.

Hamlet: Don Corleone, thou must help me, please. I art desperate. I wilst do-eth anything.

Corleone: Well... alright. Tell me your problem, and I will take it under consideration. But first, tell me why you speak so strangely. And why do you wear that doublet? Are you some kind of weirdo, come to disrupt my daughter's wedding by wearing tights? I didn't invite no ballet people.

Hamlet: I willst tell thou plainly, Godfather. I come from Shakespeare.

Corleone: Shakespeare? Where's that?

Hamlet: William Shakespeare. He's not a where, he's a who. The most famous playwright in the English language.

Corleone: Well, how was I supposed to know that? I was written by Mario Puzo. He's Italian.

Hamlet: So whateth? I'm Danish.

Corleone: What are you talking about?

Hamlet: I am Hamlet. Prince of Denmark!

Corleone: Who?

Hamlet: Hamlet. The main character from Shakespeare's play.

Corleone: Which play?

Hamlet: Hamlet! The tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. I'm the title character.

Corleone: You're in a play? I don't like actors.

Hamlet: No, no, I'm a character from a play. My name is Hamlet. I'm a fictional character.

Corleone: Sorry, I don't read too much. What are you doing here? This is a movie. It won a Best Picture Oscar, but it's still pretty far out of your regular territory.

Hamlet: Thou art the only one who canst help me, Godfather. My father, King Hamlet, recently died under mysterious circumstances. I should have ascended to his place on the throne, but his brother didst take the crown for himself. To make matters worse, he's been...

Corleone: What?

Hamlet: Well, it's kind of embarrassing...

Corleone: Go ahead and say it, Mr. Hamlet. We're all friends here.

Hamlet: He's been screwing around with my... mother.

Corleone: He killed your father and married your mother... that's not a very nice thing he did. Why do you let him get away with such a thing?

Hamlet: It's just not the way my character's written. I want to, verily. But I keep being indecisive, and nothing gets accomplished until it's too late. Every time it's performed, it's always the same thing. For five acts I can't make up my mind, I rush about the stage without accomplishing anything, keep mumbling to myself about the nature of futility, death, or what have you -- far too much of that morbid speechifying, if you ask me, but blame Shakespeare -- and then in the last five minutes everybody except that twit Horatio gets poisoned or impaled or both. I'm not allowed any freedom! I canst not get anything done.

Corleone: Have you tried to just leave?

Hamlet: Yes, several times. But the other characters always come find me. Once I spent six weeks pretending to be Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman, and they found me. (Histrionic) Every time I try to get out, they draaaaaaaw me back in!

Corleone: I know the feeling. My son has the same problem. But what's that got to do with me?

Hamlet: It hast everything to do with thou! Don Corleone, thou hast the muscle, thou hast the organization, to accomplish my revenge when I canst not do anything but talk to myself and behave like unto an ass.

Corleone: Are you saying you want me to --

Hamlet: Indeed. Godfather, I'm asking you to take my place in the play.


Corleone: What's in it for me?

Hamlet: I'm rightful heir to the throne of Denmark. If thou canst put cement shoes on the usurper Claudius, thou willst be king!

Corleone: I dunno. I'm not much for politics. I'd rather buy a politician than be one. Ha ha ha, that's a pretty good joke, huh?

Hamlet: (knows it's not, but polite) Ha ha. Yes. As king, Godfather, you get a share of the money from the taxes on exports from Denmark.

Corleone: Really? What kind of goods do youse guys have in the Danish economy?

Hamlet: Danishes, mostly. We're very big in the breakfast-food business.

Corleone: I dunno...

Hamlet: Trusteth me, Godfather, there's millions involved there.

Corleone: Danishes, huh? Alright. I will do this thing for you.

Hamlet: Thank you, Godfather.

Corleone: Are you certain you wish to abdicate your role?

Hamlet: Verily! I have thoughteth it over muchly, and I have no desire to return to that benighted castle. It appeareth nothing more to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapors! Thou canst have it all! You are welcome to Elsinore.

Corleone: Very well. What are you planning to do instead?

Hamlet: My agent doth say I've got a chance at a guest spot on Melrose Place. Confused, murderous young Danes are very hip these days.

Corleone: I see. Thank you for coming, Mr. Hamlet. On your way out, please ask my associates Rocky and Guido to come see me. I will need to begin planning immediately.

Hamlet: As thou wishest, Godfather. Oh, by the way, here is a wedding gift for thine daughter.

Corleone: You are most generous, Mr. Hamlet. What is it?

Hamlet: The skull of Yorick, my court jester.

Corleone: A skull?

Hamlet: It haveth great sentimental value to me.

Corleone: Well, sure, but --

Hamlet: Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Godfather. A fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. He hath borne me on his back a thousand times. And now how abhorred in my imagination it is! My gorge rises at it. Here hung those lips I have kissed I know not how oft. Where be your gibes now? your gambols? your--

Corleone: (cuts him off) Yes, very tasteful. I will make sure she receives it.

Hamlet: It will look most lovely on her mantelpiece, Godfather.

Corleone: Goodbye, Mr. Hamlet.

Hamlet: Fare thee well, Godfather.

SCENE II: Elsinore castle, outdoors, spanning Hamlet Act I, Scenes II, IV and V.
(Medieval lutes or something in BG]

Narrator: And now, The Tragedy of Don Vito Corleone, Prince of Denmark, Act One.

(SFX: Car pulls up, stops. Doors open.]

Rocky: We've arrived at Elsinore castle, Godfather.

Corleone: Good. We've got to be careful. From now on, both of youse two gotta address me as "Hamlet," or "my lord." We don't want to step out of character too much at first.

Rocky and Guido: Yes, my lord.

Corleone: Rocky, get the tommy guns out of the trunk.

Rocky: Yes, my lord.

(SFX: Trunk opens, some things are taken out, the noise of which can go underneath next few lines]

Corleone: Guido, have you got the script?

Guido: Yes, my lord.

Corleone: What's on the agenda?

Guido: Well, we're behind schedule. We took a wrong turn a while back and got lost in Macbeth.

Corleone: I wondered about all those men in dresses.

Guido: Kilts, my lord.

Corleone: Whatever.

Guido: Anyway, It took some time to find our way to the right play.

Corleone: OK. What did we miss?

Guido: Just the beginning of Act I, nothing major. You were supposed to meet the King, who killed your father and married your mother. All you have to do is kill the current king, and we'll be fine. But... (pause) Godfather, I'm a bit worried about your lack of preparation. You haven't memorized the script yet. You've barely even read it.

Corleone: I don't need to read no books. I play things by ear, like I always do. You think I get to my place in the Sicilian Brotherhood by doin' a lot of readin'?

Guido: But Godfather --

Corleone: I said call me Hamlet. I been thinking about this character I'm playin', tryin' to get into his head. I can't understand why he don't do nothin' about his problems. I'm a man of action, Guido. Somebody hit me with his fist, I hit him back with a baseball bat. None of this monologue-speech garbage for me. And nobody screws around with my mother. Nobody. It's a Sicilian thing. I take this king down a few pegs, Guido.

Guido: Well, it's probably for the best we missed the first scene. Gives us the advantage of surprise. (quickly) Uh oh. Here comes Horatio.

Corleone: Who?

Guido: Couldn't you have at least scanned the script on our way here, Godf-- Hamlet?

Corleone: I was busy. I'm a busy man.

Guido: Well, just hold the script open, and try to read along as we go. I'll prompt you if you get into trouble.

Horatio: Hail to your lordship!

Corleone: I am glad to see you well... (pause. He's forgotten who he's addressing)

Guido: (whispers) Horatio.

Corleone: Horatio. Or I do forget myself.

Horatio: The same, my lord, and your poor servant ever.

Corleone: Good, I like a man with loyalty.

(pause. He's ad libbing, and Horatio doesn't know what to do.)

Horatio: What sayest thou, my lord?

Guido: (hissing whisper) That's not your line, sir!

Corleone: Excuse me... I'm not feeling well. It's affecting my concentration.

Horatio: (not sure what to think) Ah... Yes, my lord.

Guido: (Whisper) Skip ahead a bit, Godfather.

Corleone: But what is your affair in Elsinore?

Horatio: (flustered) Indeed... um... oh... I, uh, think I saw him last night.

Corleone: Saw? Who?

Horatio: My lord, the king your father.

Corleone: What? My father was a greengrocer in Queens. He wasn't no king!

Guido: (whisper...alright, dammit, until further notice all his lines are whispers) Sir, you're breaking character!

Corleone: Sorry... the King my father?

Horatio: Season your admiration for awhile with an attent ear, till I may deliver this marvel to you.

Corleone: You're talking about that ghost, right?

Horatio: What?! How didst thou know that?

Guido: Yes, how did you? I thought you hadn't read the play!

Corleone: I think I saw the movie version with Laurence Olivier a few years ago... It's all coming back to me now.

Horatio: Who's Laurence Olivier?

Guido: (aloud) Nobody important.

Corleone: See, I was just thinking, if I already know about the whole thing about avenging my father's death, and my uncle diddling my mother, we can just skip over the ghost scenes.

Horatio: (horrified) Skip over?!

Corleone: Well, we're kind of pressed for time, you know, and I'm a busy man...

Horatio: But... But... You can't skip the ghost scenes! That's sacrilege! The ghost will be crushed.

Corleone: I'll make it worth your while.

Horatio: Worth my while?

Corleone: Let's just say that for skipping over the spectral visitation, you shall receive such thanks as fits a king's remembrance.

Guido: Oh, excellent ad lib, sir!

Corleone: Thank youse, Guido.

Horatio: What if I refuse?

Corleone: My associate Rocky will go to work on you.

Rocky: Ha ha! Violence.

Corleone: This is not the sort of offer that you're normally allowed to refuse. Besides, look at it this way. We know what King Claudius is up to. There's ne'er a villain dwelling in all Denmark but he's an arrant knave. There needs no ghost, Horatio, to tell us that. And so, without more circumstance at all, I hold it fit that we shake hands and part.

Hamlet: I... see your point, my lord. But it's all so confusing. These are but wild and whirling words, my lord.

Corleone: I am sorry they offend you, heartily. Aren't we sorry, Rocky?

Rocky: Yes, faith, heartily. Verrrrry heartily.

Horatio: (quickly) There's no offense, my lord.

Corleone: Yes, By Saint Patrick, but there is, Horatio, and much offense too. Give me one poor request.

Horatio: (frightened) What is't, my lord?

Corleone: Never to speak of this which you have seen. I don't want the king to get wind of what I'm doin' before I'm ready, you know?

Horatio: O day and night, but this is wondrous strange! The lord Hamlet become a man of action!

Corleone: And therefore as a stranger give it welcome. There are more things on heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in you philosophy.

Horatio: I saw that one coming, my lord.

Corleone: So you did. You're a good kid, Horatio. A smart kid. Don't screw things up for yourself.

Horatio: I swear, my lord.

Corleone: Good. Guido, Rocky, let's move on to the next act.

SCENE III: Elsinore castle, the king's court room, Act II, Scene II
Narrator: We now continue with Corleone, Act Two

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern: Hail to thee, King Claudius, great sovereign of all Denmark!

Claudius: Welcome, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Stop groveling, will you? Moreover that we much did long to see you, the need we have to use you did provoke our hasty sending. Something have you heard of Hamlet's transformation? So I call it, sith nor the exterior nor the inward man resembles that it was. What it should be --

Gertrude: Oh, stop beating around the bush, Claudius. Hamlet's not himself anymore --he's an old, fat Italian who mumbles too much.

Rosencranz: What?

Guildenstern: A fat Italian?

Rosencranz: What idiotic casting agent hath committed this heinous travesty?

Claudius: We knoweth not, but we shall have to deal with the situation as it is. It's going to ruin the entirety of Act V. He's not the right physical type to pull off all that swordplay and grave-hopping.

Gertrude: And to make matters worse, he hath brought two ugly men in badly cut suits with him. With tommy guns.

Guildenstern: Tommy guns! But this is the sixteenth century!

Claudius: We know -- it's terrible. People have no respect for the classics anymore.

Rosencranz: So what do you want us to do about it?

Claudius: The same thing you always do, you moron! Glean what afflicts him! Except this time, really glean! Glean like you've never gleaned before. I want you to make a glean sweep of Hamlet and his cronies!

Guildenstern: That's a horrible pun, my lord.

Claudius: Indeed. However, the fact remains Hamlet is up to something, and none of us like it. If he messes around with the structure of this play, we'll never be performed in repertory again.

Gertrude: Not just that -- no more movie deals! You think Mel Gibson is going to want to play this new Hamlet? Yuck! I mean, his character used to be sexy! Tight doublets, mother-lust, angst-ridden speechifying -- this guy had more youth appeal than Morrissey and Johnny Depp combined!

Rosencranz: That's true... He's Kurt Cobain without the heroin, but with homicidal bloodlust and a thing about jumping into people's graves.

Claudius: If we don't do something about this new development, we'll be ruined!

Gertrude: I beseech you instantly to visit my too much changed son.

Guildenstern: Heavens make our presence and our practices pleasant and helpful to him!

Claudius: Yeah, yeah, whatever, just go talk to the kid, willya?

Rosencranz: Yes, my lord.

(SFX: Door opens, closes]

SCENE IV: Elsinore castle, hallway or somewhere
Guildenstern: My honored lord!

Rosencranz: My most dear lord!

Corleone: My most excellent good friends! How dost thou, Guildenstern, and, um...

Guido: (whisper) Rosencrantz.

Corleone: Ah, Rosencrantz! Good lads, how do ye both?

Rosencranz: As the indifferent children of the earth.

Guildenstern: Happy in that we are not over-happy.

Corleone: Youse guys must be a hit at parties. My good friends, I would like to make you an offer you cannot refuse.

Rosencranz: What?

Corleone: I would like to make you an offer you cannot refuse.

Guildenstern: That's not your line, sir!

Rosencranz: Yes, we're supposed to be gleaning you! You're not supposed to be making us any offers.

Corleone: So I'm ad-libbing. You wanna make somethin' of it, punk?

Rosencranz: (pause) Nay, my good lord. What ist thine offer so filled with irrefusableness?

Corleone: If you two get out of the play to make room for my boys here, Rocky and Guido, I'll get you a starring role in your own play.

Guil and Rosencranz: Verily?

Corleone: Yeah, no kiddin'. Take a look at this script.

Rosencranz: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard.

Guildenstern: Can't say I like the title.

Corleone: Take it or leave it.

Rosencranz: What happens if we refuse?

Corleone: My boys will be forced to perform dental work on youse. And since this is the 16th century, we don't have any modern equipment. We'll have to use oaken clubs.

Guildenstern: (quickly) We'll take the play, my lord.

Corleone: I knew youse two would see reason.

Rosencranz: What shall we telleth King Claudius? We art charged to discover the root of thy distemper'd spirit, determine fully thy plans against the king. What art thou rebelling against?

Corleone: Whaddaya got?

Guildenstern: I suppose that's as good an answer as any...

Corleone: But youse ain't gonna tell the king nothin'. You're out, my boys is in. That was the deal.

Rosencranz: We'll leave, my lord. Oh, I didst almost forgetteth -- we're supposed to tell you about some actors that will perform for the king later on tonight.

Corleone: Skip it. I don't need 'em.

Guildenstern: But -- my lord! These are the actors! You twist their play around to get a rise out of Claudius -- the play's the thing wherein you catch the conscience of the king!

Corleone: Aaaaaah, that's stupid, that pussyfootin' around. Fie on't! I don't need to provoke no guilty reaction. It's too complicated. Bad for business. I'm just gonna lean on the king. If that don't woik, then I'm gonna have his legs broken.

Guildenstern: So thou aren't going to skewer him with a sword and force a goblet of poison down him throat?

Corleone: Nah, that's too baroque for my tastes. Maybe make him swim with the fishes, but not that. Now amscray. I got stuff to do, I don't want to waste my time on minor characters like youse.

Rosencranz and Guildenstern: Farewell, my lord.

SCENE V: Elsinore Castle, king's court room
Claudius: Ah, good Polonius! Welcome!

Polonius: The ambassadors from Norway, my good lord, are joyfully returned.

Claudius: Thou hast been the father of good news.

Polonius: Have I, my lord? Assure you, my good liege, I hold my duty as I hold my soul, both to my God and my gracious King --

Claudius: Yes. Skip ahead a bit, would you, Polonius? We've only got half an hour. The whole bit about the Norwegian ambassadors will have to go.

Polonius: Sorry, my liege.

Claudius: What news of Hamlet?

Polonius: It's a complete disaster.

Claudius: What? Already? But it's still only the second act!

Polonius: My lord, hast thou ever heard the quote "I could turn Hamlet into a comedy by casting Hamlet as a 400-pound man"? Imagine a 350-pound gangster.

Claudius: The mind doth boggle most extremely.

Gertrude: Polonius, we must do something!

Polonius: Never fear, my good queen. I hast a plan. Come closer, my good sovereigns, that I may whisper it in your ear and thus keep up the suspense.

(SFX: Whispering, but what exactly is said is indeterminable]

Gertrude: Excellent!

Claudius: Thou art truly a most wise counselor, Polonius.

Polonius: And the best thing is, I don't get skewered behind that curtain again.

Claudius: Make what preparations are necessary! We will await thee anon.

Polonius: Thank you, my lord. I'll see you in Act V.

SCENE VI: Elsinore Castle, king's court room, Act V.
Corleone: Guido, where's that throne room?

Guido: Here, my lord.

(SFX: Big door creak]

Corleone: OK, I'm Hamlet and I'm ready for some action. Who's king around here?

Ness: Dost thee know me no more, Hamlet? I am thine uncle.

Guido: I got a bad feeling here, boss.

Corleone: Shh. Just play it by ear, Guido, we'll be OK. (To "Claudius") Claudius, let me make things very simple for you. Step down from the throne, and step away from my mother. Otherwise I'll make things rotten in the state of Denmark.

Ness: Thou canst not frighten me, Hamlet. I think you'll find I'm somewhat... untouchable.

Corleone: What do you mean by that?

Ness: I know thou art not really Hamlet.

Corleone: You do? Good, then I can stop pretending. Yeah, I'm da Godfather. So what?

Ness: So I art not Claudius neither.

Corleone: What?! Where is he?

Ness: He's in the federal witness protection program. You'll never get to him. The next time you see him is at your trial -- which is also the last time you'll see a window without bars.

Corleone: What? Who are you?

Ness: Your worst nightmare, Corleone. The Feds. The coppers. I'm Elliot Ness. The people around me aren't from the play either -- they're all employees of the FBI.

Corleone: But wait -- ain't you supposed to be Al Capone's enemy? And besides that, you sound more like Joe Friday than Elliot Ness.

Ness: After twenty minutes of stumbling through the script you're gonna complain about an implausibility? I don't care who you are, you're breaking the law.

Corleone: What law?

Ness: Acting with too much dramatic license. I'm going to revoke it. (with the trademark flat Joe Friday intonation) The play is out of joint. O cursed spite! that ever I was born to set it right. Cuff him, O'Malley. And get his goons too.

Corleone: You can't do this!

Ness: Why not? Just because it's not in the script?

O'Malley: Vito Corleone, you have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you do not have an attorney, one will be provided for you. You have the right to an autographed picture of J. Edgar Hoover. You have the right to fluoride toothpaste. If you do not have proper access to such toothpaste, a brand with baking soda will be substituted. You have the right to watch unlimited episodes of Baywatch. You have the right to be a natural woman, if such is your desire. (Corleone's next line interrupts him in the beginning of his speech, but he keeps going. He's just quieter in the mix. I don't foresee the exchanges before O'Malley's next line extending past what he says here, but if it does we'll ad lib. Not all of us, that is, but just O'Malley will. God bless you, O'Malley. Glad to have you on board.)

Corleone: Give me your pardon, sir! What I have done that might your nature, honor, and exception roughly awake, I here proclaim was... um... madness! I'm crazy as a loon! Don't even know a hawk from a handsaw! Was't Hamlet wronged Claudius? Never Hamlet!

Ness: You're not Hamlet. You already admitted that. As for the insanity plea, save it for the judge. Get this vermin outta here, O'Malley.

O'Malley: (interrupts his "Miranda") Yes sir, Mr. Ness. (Back to "Miranda." His voice fades back down underneath again, but is the last thing we hear before the credits start.) You have the right to matching socks and sport coats. If you do not have matching socks, fill out requisition form XJ-29b and socks will be provided for you.