MINUS ONE: A Skit by Val Manwill

I obviously love stage mishaps so much, I mean, I’ve dedicated the whole last two months on it. But you know what’s even better than stage mishaps? A stage play ABOUT mishaps! Noises Off anyone??

Well anyway, a handful of years ago, I tried to write my own play within a play. And this is what I ended up with. It’s called Minus One. It’s quite an amateur piece of playwrighting, so that’s fine, just look past that. It was intended to be performed by 9th – 11th graders, if that gives you some kind of an idea. But I thought that it would be fun to share! So HERE YOU ARE:

 

 

 

 

MINUS ONE

By Val Manwill

 

 

 

 

 

ACT ONE

 

“Hamlet” rehearsal. SERVANT 4 enters, sets a sword and goblet on a table, then leaves. CLAUDIUS & LAERTES enter.

 

CLAUDIUS:          Here, young Laertes. A sword unbated.

LAERTES:              Heh, heh, heh. I’ll anoint my sword with an unction so mortal that there is none that can save the thing from death that is but scratched withal.

CLAUDIUS:          Let’s further think of this, if this should fail—

 

Enter HAMLET

 

HAMLET:              Dearest Laertes! Give me your pardon, sir.

DIRECTOR:          (interrupting from the audience) Stop! Stop!

 

The actors groan.

 

DIRECTOR:          Hamlet. You were early. Again. I don’t know how you manage to be a perfect seven seconds early – every. Single. Time.

HAMLET:              I am sorry, but it’s incredibly hard to hear from the wings. I think it’s that air vent.

HORATIO:            (pokes his head from the curtains) It’s true. You really can’t hear a thing back here.

DIRECTOR:          Do you understand what’s going on in this scene?

HAMLET:              I, uh—

DIRECTOR:          They’re plotting your murder.

HAMLET:              Yeah…

DIRECTOR:          Isn’t that kind of hard to plot your murder if YOU’RE STANDING RIGHT THERE!?

HAMLET:              … Oh.

DIRECTOR:          I’m done with excuses. If you can’t hear the lines then count to 30 in your head and come out on stage. Take it again.

 

THE ACTORS reset and begin again.

 

CLAUDIUS:          Here, young Laertes. A sword unbated

LAERTES:              Heh, heh, heh. I’ll anoint my sword with an unction so mortal that there is none that can save the thing from death that is but scratched withal.

CLAUDIUS:          Let’s further think of this, if this should fail, I’ll have prepared him a chalice.

 

CLAUDIUS takes the poison from LAERTES and pours it into the cup. LAERTES dips his sword into the poison cup. There is an awkward pause and then enter HAMLET.

 

HAMLET:              Dearest Laertes! Give me your pardon, sir. I’ve done you wrong.

LAERTES:              I am satisfied in nature.

DIRECTOR:          Okay. Better!

 

Enter HORATIO, GERTRUDE, and SERVANT 4 who is carrying Hamlet’s sword. SERVANT 4 hands Hamlet the sword. LAERTES does a super goofy fencing maneuver but has one hand holding up his pants.

 

DIRECTOR:          Stop. Laertes why are you only using one hand?

LAERTES:              My fencing pants are too big. I’m trying to hold onto them.

DIRECTOR:          Safety pin it.

LAERTES:              I can’t reach back there.

DIRECTOR:          Where’s Angie? (Calls) Angie!

HORATIO:            She’s helping the army of Fortenbras change in the green room.

DIRECTOR:          Then grab one of the servants running around back there to help you. We are grown adults, people! This shouldn’t be that hard! Continue please.

 

HAMLET and LAERTES fence.

 

DIRECTOR:          Servant 4 move to the back please. Further please. Thank you.

GERTRUDE:         The queen carouses to thy fortune, Hamlet.

 

GERTRUDE picks up the cup

 

CLAUDIUS:          Gertrude, do not drink.

GERTRUDE:         I will, my lord. I pray you, pardon me. (drinks)

LAERTES:              (aside to CLAUDIUS) My lord, I’ll hit him now.

 

LAERTES stabs HAMLET. They fight, HAMLET stabs LAERTES with the poisoned sword.

 

CLAUDIUS:          Part them! They are incensed!

HORATIO:            They bleed on both sides!

GERTRUDE:         (overdramatic) The drink! I am poisoned.

 

GERTRUDE dies in the most over the top way possible. THE OTHER ACTORS roll their eyes. THE DIRECTOR stands and applauds.

 

DIRECTOR:          My dear! Brilliant as always. That was fabulous! You were flawless.

GERTRUDE:         Well, of course it was. Would you expect anything else?

DIRECTOR:          Absolutely not. Please go on.

HORATIO:            (continuing) Treachery! Seek it out.

LAERTES:              It is here, Hamlet. Hamlet, thou art slain. No medicine in the world can do thee good. The king, the king’s to blame.

HAMLET:              Here, thou incestuous, murderous, damnèd Dane, Drink off this potion. Follow my mother.

 

HAMLET forces CLAUDIUS to drink the poison. CLAUDIUS dies.

 

LAERTES:              He is justly served. Forgive me, noble Hamlet. (dies)

HAMLET:              Horatio, I am dead. Thou livest. If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart—

 

Suddenly, HAMLET makes the most obvious and ridiculous ‘blank face’ as he forgets his line.

 

DIRECTOR:          Stop! (To himself) So close. We were SO close!

HAMLET:              I forgot what comes next.

DIRECTOR:          How do you NOT have your lines memorized 2 hours before we OPEN THIS SHOW!

HAMLET:              I’m sorry. I just kind of freeze up you know?

DIRECTOR:          Trust me, I know. Everyone in the audience knows! It’s that stupid face that you make.

CLAUDIUS:          I can’t work like this.

HAMLET:              I’m sorry, really. I just don’t know how to improvise Shakespeare.

DIRECTOR:          I feel so unappreciated right now. I have given you the most coveted role in all of the last 500 years of theatre. I made you. When I met you, you were in a public library reciting The Night Before Christmas.

HAMLET:              That’s not fair. . . everyone loved my rendition of The Night Before Christmas.

DIRECTOR:          Just do this show – THE RIGHT WAY! Please! Surprise me for once. Continue.

HAMLET:              Draw thy breath in pain To tell my story. dies

HORATIO:            Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince, And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!

DIRECTOR:          Aaaaaand curtain! Good. Well, almost good. I feel like – things are too cluttered in this ending. Uh Servant 4?

SERVANT 4:         Yes?

DIRECTOR:          I don’t think we’ll be needing you for this ending scene. It doesn’t work with you there. You’re blocking most of the action.

GERTRUDE:         I think this scene should be for leads only.

DIRECTOR:          That’s just what I was thinking. Servant 4, thank you, but you’re cut. Everyone else, let’s set for this show.

 

Everyone leaves the stage except for SERVANT 4 who is almost in tears.

 

SERVANT 4:         “Cut”? Fine. I’m going home!

 

SERVANT 4 runs off the stage

 

 

ACT TWO

 

THE DIRECTOR stands on stage this time acknowledging the audience.

 

DIRECTOR:          Ladies and gentlemen, thank you all so much for coming to our version of the beloved play Hamlet. I wanted to give a quick message regarding the final scene- Act 5 scene 2. This scene is a very, very serious part of the play and we would appreciate it if all cell phones were turned off and uh, no talking please. Without further ado – The finale of Hamlet.

 

THE DIRECTOR sits down, and CLAUDIUS & LAERTES enter.

 

CLAUDIUS:         Here, young Laertes. A sword unbated—

 

CLAUDIUS & LAERTES look down at the table realizing the key props are missing.

 

CLAUDIUS:          Here is not a sword unbated.

LAERTES:              (scoots closer to the curtain and speaks loudly) Uhhh- Perhaps Lord Hamlet could bring me my sword.

CLAUDIUS:          Hamlet is going to bring YOU a POISIONED SWORD?

LAERTES:              Or perhaps I’ll fetch the sword myself! (Runs off stage)

CLAUDIUS:          (calls after LAERTES) Hey a chalice too. A chalice! (Follows LAERTES off stage)

 

Enter Hamlet

 

HAMLET:              Dearest Laertes! Give me your pardon, sir… I have … done you wrong?

 

HAMLET looks around confused at finding himself alone on stage.

 

LAERTES:              I have the sword!

 

 HAMLET ducks down behind a chair as LAERTES enters with a sword from stage right and CLAUDIUS with a bottle of water from stage left.

 

LAERTES:              I’ll anoint it with an unction so mortal that there is none that can save the thing from death that is but scratched withal.

CLAUDIUS:           I’ll have prepared him a chalice.

LAERTES:              A bottle?

CLAUDIUS:          A CHALICE!

 

CLAUDIUS takes the poison and puts it into the bottle. LAERTES tries to get his sword in the bottle but the opening is too small.

 

LAERTES:              (whispering)  It won’t go!

 

From behind the couch, HAMLET silently counts to 30 on his fingers..

 

HAMLET:              Dearest Laertes!

 

HAMLET pops up from behind the chair startling CLAUDIUS and LAERTES who violently spills the water in the bottle.

 

HAMLET:              Give me your pardon, sir. I’ve done you wrong.

LAERTES:              (sarcastically) I am satisfied in nature.

 

Enter HORATIO and GERTRUDE

 

CLAUDIUS:          (to HORATIO) Give him his foil.

HORATIO:            What, Me?

CLAUDIUS:          (through his teeth) Just get it.

 

Exit HORATIO. LAERTES begins his elaborate and goofy fencing move.

 

LAERTES:              Come, my lord.

HAMLET:              I – I can’t fight you without a sword.

 

LAERTES’ pants drop to his ankles.

 

LAERTES:              Very well. I shall fight you… when you have… a sword. If you’ll excuse me just a moment.

 

With his pants still around his ankles he waddles off stage. HAMLET sits in the chair, waiting.

 

GERTRUDE:         (slightly panicked) Uhh the queen carouses to thy fortune, Hamlet.

 

GERTRUDE picks up the water bottle.

 

CLAUDIUS:          Gertrude, seriously. Do not drink.

GERTRUDE:         I will, my lord. I pray you, pardon me. (drinks)

 

THE DIRECTOR crawls “inconspicuously” on the stage and places a new cup on the table. GERTRUDE begins her dramatic over the top death scene.

 

GERTRUDE:         The drink! I am poisoned. (dies)

CLAUDIUS:          Um, actually dear. (Pointing to the new cup) I believe this is the poisoned one.

GERTRUDE:         Oh.

 

Gertrude gets up, walks over to the new cup and takes a sip.

 

GERTUDE:           Oh NO! The drink! I am poisoned. (Re-dies)

 

THE DIRECTOR drags Claudius offstage by his robe.

 

CLAUDIUS:          I will return. Delay the sword fight. Tarry!

 

CLAUDIUS and THE DIRECTOR exit stage left as HORATIO runs in stage right.

 

HORATIO:            I’ve got the sword. I’ve got it!

 

HORATIO trips on the water spill and is knocked unconscious. HAMLET turns around and breaks the fourth wall, making the same ridiculously blank face as earlier. He stands up.

 

HAMLET:              (attempting to improvise)  Tis . . . tis . . . twas . . . the night before Christmas and all through the house. Not a creature was stirring not even a mouse. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care-

 

Suddenly LAERTES rushes in with the original goblet and splashes HAMLET in the face.

 

LAERTES:              Aha! It is here, Hamlet. Hamlet, thou art slain. No medicine in the world can do thee good.

 

Re-enter CLAUDIUS with another sword.

 

CLAUDIUS:          Part them! They are incensed.

 

THE DIRECTOR enters stage right and picks up HORATIO’s limp body. He moves him around like a puppet.

 

DIRECTOR:          (as Horatio) They bleed on both sides!

GERTRUDE:         (from the ground) The cup! I am poisoned!

DIRECTOR:          (as Horatio) Now cracks a noble heart.—Good night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing me to my rest! CURTAIN! CURTAIN!

 

THE ACTORS freeze and SERVANT 4 enters, addressing the audience.

 

SERVANT 4:         The moral of our little play is that no one person is bigger than another. No matter how small of a part you think you do, you can make a GIANT difference!

 

fin

 

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