Thursday, March 29, 2007

His Dying Voice

[While we're on the subject of Shakespeare adaptations (and no, it isn't meant to be funny)]

Hamlet is the lead singer for a heavy metal band. He pens soulful yet obscure lyrics about Death and worms and patricide and such like, spends his days in a drug-induced haze, and talks a lot about killing himself. Everyone knows he won't do it, though. He has too big an ego.

Ophelia is a groupie, a 60's-throwback, an authentic California flower-child who is madly in love with Hamlet and follows him everywhere. She burns incense, listens to the Grateful Dead a lot, spends most of her time lost inside her own thoughts. She isn't too bright, has nervous fits and bouts of depression, but she's precocious and beautiful and has a kind of otherworldly innocence that makes you reluctant to hurt her.

It would be the perfect match, but for one thing: Hamlet is gay. He doesn't dare acknowledge this in public, though - it would lose him too many fans - so he keeps his sexuality a secret and contents himself with the scattered one night encounters that Horatio, his lead guitarist and close friend, arranges for him.

One day, depressed by the news that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, his drummer and his bass, are leaving to form their own band, Hamlet confesses his secret to Ophelia, telling her that if she's going to wait for him to have sex with her she might as well join a nunnery. Shocked and heartbroken by Hamlet's coming out (and by the revelation that he wears women's underwear), Ophelia goes on a wild drug trip, which ends with her drowning in a motel bathtub.

Cut to Ophelia's funeral. It's a cold, rainy day. Hamlet and Horatio are standing at the back, discussing a potential replacement drummer called Yorick, who's a real fun guy but a bit of a numbskull. Suddenly Laertes, Ophelia's younger brother who has flown in from New York (where he works in a law firm) for his sister's funeral, slips and falls into the grave. Hamlet lunges forward to rescue him. As the two grapple their way out of the pit together, they feel an instant chemistry between them. Hamlet, wracked by guilt over his part in Ophelia's death, sees in her brother the lineaments of the lover she could have been if only she'd been born a man. Laertes, despite his bitterness against Hamlet, feels himself drawn towards the older man's rock star magnetism, his black hole like intensity. The two men exchange phone numbers. Two weeks later they become lovers.

Then one day Laertes shows up backstage at one of Hamlet's concerts. He has bad news. He has tested positive for HIV. Hamlet is probably infected too. Soon Laertes dies, and the play closes with Hamlet lying in a hospital bed, telling the weeping Horatio that he must keep the band alive and suggesting young Fortinbras (whose warlike music he particularly admires) as his replacement.

The rest is silence.


Tabula Rasa said...

she listens to the dead a lot but isn't too bright?

methinks you need to work on your character development here.

DoZ said...

What, no evil bitch of a manager who made them what they are, and then quits to take on a rival band?

Chevalier said...

There should've been a war somewhere...

pasadena said...

a war of the DJs?
Rock Idol?
Stonewall-esque riots?

Raoul said...

This Hamlet guy sounds a bit like Rob Halford.

Anonymous said...

And the title track is called "Soliloquy".

And I agree with TR on the character development: Ophelia should be listening to Elton John a lot.


Falstaff said...

tr: Sure. You don't need to be bright to listen to the Dead. You just need to have good taste. It isn't necessarily the same thing, you know.

doz: You know, I actually thought of that one, then was torn between that and a transvestite drug dealer who showed up at the funeral offering sweets for her sweets.

chevalier: Hmmm...I suppose I could throw something like that in.

pasadena: not DJs. Never DJs.

raoul: Ah, you noticed, did you?

n!: No, no. You're supposed to feel sympathy for the woman, and NOT want to hurt her. People who like Elton John deserve what they get, and worse.

km said...

You got an interesting angle there. But please don't post these ideas in public. You never know if Andrew Lloyd Weber reads your blog.

What the world doesn't need is another ALW musical.

Tabula Rasa said...

well that's just like, your opinion, man.


J. Alfred Prufrock said...

You're losing your touch, young Jowett. Donnish humour that I can comprehend? What next, a Joel sonnet?