THE LOWDOWN ON HAMLET
performed
by
Bernard Miles


This 'Amalet is quite a serious play.
It all takes place in Denmark where young 'Amalet is the Prince of
Wales. His dad's ghost appears to him on the castle battlements
and 'Amalet says: "Blimey Dad, you didn't 'arf give me a turn."
Then he says: "You're lookin' a bit peeky, Dad," but the old ghost
says: "Oh I feel all right in meself." Well then 'e starts
beckonin' 'Amalet to lead the way to somewhere a little bit more
secluded but 'Amalet says "No," 'e says "After you Dad," and
follows the ghost out.
Well in the next scene the old ghost doesn't 'arf start tellin'
young 'Amalet the tale.
'E says: "I don't know if you're aware of it, Son," 'e says,
"but there's been some dirty work goin' on."
'E says: "It's been goin' the rounds that I was stung to death by
a snake but in point of fact I was stung by your Uncle Claud who
now wears the crown."
'E says: "It was like this son. I was 'avin' a little kip down in
the orchard just after tea, we know it was after tea because
'Amalet says ‘He took my father grossly full of bread'; this is
called internal evidence y' see—when your Uncle Claud stole up
be'ind me an' emptied some poison in me ear'ole."
Well the old ghost goes on: "To cut a long story short, I was
took queer on the Sunday an' I was dead on the Monday."
An' 'Amalet says: "Go on."
Then the ghost says: "Well, so long Son. I must be getting
back now," and back 'e goes.
By the way I ought to ’ave mentioned that young ’Amalet’s
mother, the widow of the ghost, ’as gone and married the very man
’oo caused ’er former husband all this inconvenience. And when
young ’Amalet has had this interview with the ghost he comes over
all funny and ’e ’as to take some of his tablets in order to get
it down.
Well in the middle of all this unpleasantness poor ’Amalet ’as no
friend to turn to. Orphelia, ’is young lady, ’as turned out a big
disappointment. Somehow or other she doesn’t seem to be able to
come up to the scratch.
I don’t know ’ow it is—I think it’s mostly on account of ’er
upbringing. She’s been made thoroughly cowed by her father
Polonius. He’s the Prime Minister and Head of the Secret
Service Department.
’Amalet ’its ’im off a treat. “Oh ’im,” he says. “’E is all
for a joke or a tale of bawdy or ’e sleeps.”
How well we know that type!
Anyway at the finish Chance steps in.
Young ’Amalet sits moping about you see. ’E doesn’t seem to
’ave any go in ’im somehow. So the old king says to ’im: “Look,
cousin ’Amalet.” Cousin means nephew in Shakespeare you see.
He says: “You’re properly run down. What about a few days at the
seaside?”
But ’Amalet says: “No, I tell you what I would like Uncle Claud,”
he says: “Could we ’ave the local repertory company in to do a show?”
And the old king says to Rose and Crantz and Guild and Stern,
only two people you see: "Why not?" he says. "It might take 'im
out of 'imself a bit."
Well now Chance steps in again because young 'Amalet arranges
with this theatrical company to enact a copy of a play in which
the story is so similar to the circumstances of his own dad's
death it's positively uncanny.
"Now then," 'e says to Horatio, "while this play is progressing
keep your eye on Uncle Claud. If 'e blenches we shall know 'e's
the guil'y par'y."
Well, believe it or not, in the middle of this play the king
goes and blenches. No, it's right honestly. And 'Amalet
immediately shouts out "Wormwood! Wormwood!" meaning "I reckon
you ought to be locked up."
And then all the lights fuse and the old king rushes out in a
panic, shouting for an electrician.
Well, be that as it may, in the next scene young 'Amalet slays
Polonius. 'E stabs 'im through the arrahss, y'see, where 'e's
secreted 'imself in order to satisfy 'is curiosity.
And so Polonius dies as Aristotle laid down some years before
through 'is weak spot. And young 'Amalet pushes 'is body into
a little cupboard on the back stairs and leaves it there.
Well a few days later the king says to Amalet: 'Ere,' e says,
I 'avent seen Polonius lately.'
And Amalet says: I know, 'e says. I reckon 'e'll be getting
imself into bad odour.'
Anyway now Chance rears its head, because at the finish the
old king sees es up against a dangerous man and e sends for
Laertes, the brother of Amalets young lady, who, by the bye,
has just done away with erself by a watery death because she
cant hold out any longer.
An e says to Laertes: Look old man,' he says, I want you to
challenge Amelet to a duel with a poisoned tip.' So Laertes
dips the tip of is rapier into unction — no its right — and
old Claudius puts a poisoned pill into a goblet of wine in
case this poisoned tip misses fire—a couple of right baskets
I can tell you. Well anyway in the middle of the fight the
old queen thinks shed like a quick one so she goes and drinks
some of the poisoned cup.
The king shouts out to her Dont touch it Gert,' e says.
Its poison.'
But es too late.
Then Laertes give Amalet a poisoned tip but Amalet puts is
foot on it and gets it away from im and gives im one back.
Then e says e smells treason an e rushes up to the king an
e gives im a fourpenny one. Then e tips the dregs of the wine
right down is throat and then they all die — the king and the
queen and Laertes and young Amalet.
And then just to round it all off Fortinbras comes in. 'Es just
come back from the pole ysee, or one or other o them. An e comes
in without so much as a 'By-your-leave or a 'May-I? an e sees
them all laid out there an e says: Ullo,' e says. Have they been
quarrelling again?
And down comes the curtain.
The end