Why do I think I can toss out jokes based on Hamlet (Act 5, Scene II if you want to be particular) and expect people to get them? Seeing as we're all "angry Black guys" who no doubt eschew the work of Dead White Males?
Christ. Have the idiots finally left? Can I get out the Lysol and disinfect the place?
GUIL (quietly): Where we went wrong was getting on a boat. We can move, of course, change direction, rattle about, but our movement is contained within a larger one that carries us along as inexorably as the wind and current. . .
ROS: They had it in for us, didn't they? Right from the beginning. Who'd have thought that we were so important?
GUIL: But why? Was it all for this? Who are we that so much should converge on our little deaths? (In anguish to the PLAYER:) Who are we?
PLAYER: You are Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. That's enough.
GUIL: No it is not enough. To be told so little to such an end and still, finally, to be denied an explanation
PLAYER: In our experience, most things end in death.
GUIL (fear, vengeance, scorn): Your experience! Actors!
He snatches a dagger from the PLAYER's belt and holds the point at the PLAYER's throat; the PLAYER backs and GUIL advances, speaking more quietly.
I'm talking about death and you've never experienced that. And you cannot act it. You die a thousand casual deaths with none of that intensity which squeezes out life . . . and no blood runs cold anywhere. Because even as you die you know that you will come back in a different hat. But no one gets up after death there is no applause there is only silence and some second-hand clothes, and that's death
And he pushes the blade in up to the hilt. The PLAYER stands with huge, terrible eyes, clutches at the wound as the blade withdraws; he makes small weeping sounds and falls to his knees, and then right down.
While he is dying, GUIL, nervous, high, almost hysterical, wheels on the TRAGEDIANS
If we have a destiny, then so had he and if this is ours, then that was his and if there are no explanations for us, then let there be none for him
The TRAGEDIANS watch the PLAYER die; they watch with some interest. The PLAYER finally lies still. A short moment of silence. Then the TRAGEDIANS start to applaud with genuine admiration. The PLAYER stands up, brushing himself down.
PLAYER (modestly): Oh, come, come, gentlemen no flattery it was merely competent
The TRAGEDIANS are still congratulating him. The PLAYER approaches GUIL, who stands rooted, holding the dagger.
PLAYER: What did you think? (Pause.) You see, it is the kind they do believe in it's what is expected.
He holds out his hand for the dagger. GUIL, slowly, puts the point of the dagger on to the PLAYER's hand, and pushes. . . the blade slides back into the handle. The PLAYER smiles, reclaims the dagger.
For a moment you thought I'd cheated.
ROS relieves his own tension with loud nervy laughter.
ROS: Oh, very good! Very good! Took me in completely didn't he take you in completely (claps his hands) Encore! Encore!
PLAYER (activated, arms spread, the professional): Deaths for all ages and occasions! Deaths by suspension, convulsion, consumption, incision, execution, asphyxiation and malnutrition ! Climactic carnage, by poison and by steel ! Double deaths by duel ! Show!
ALFRED still in his Queen's costume, dies by poison; the PLAYER, with rapier, kills "KING" and duels with a fourth TRAGEDIAN, inflicting and receiving a wound. The two remaining TRAGEDIANS, the two "SPIES" dressed in the same coats as ROS and GUIL, are stabbed, as before.
And light is fading over the deaths which take place right upstage.
(Dying amid the dying tragically; romantically.) So there's an end to that it's commonplace; light goes with life, and in the winter of your years the dark comes early. . .
GUIL (tired, drained, but still an edge of impatience; over the mime): No. . . no. . . not for us, not like that. Dying is not romantic, and death is not a game which will soon be over. . . Death is not anything. . . death is not. . . It's the absence of presence, nothing more. . . the endless time of never coming back. . . a gap you can't see, and when the wind blows through it, it makes no sound. . .
The light has gone upstage. Only GUIL and ROS are visible as ROS's clapping falters to silence.
ROS: That's it, then, is it?
No answer. He looks out front.
The sun's going down. Or the earth's coming up, as the fashionable theory has it.
What was it all about? When did it begin?
Pause. No answer.
Couldn't we just stay put? I mean no one is going to come on and drag us off. . . They'll just have to wait. We're still young. . . fit. . . we've got years. . .
Pause. No answer.
(A cry.) We've done nothing wrong! We didn't harm anyone. Did we?
GUIL: I can't remember.
ROS pulls himself together.
ROS: All right, then. I don't care. I've had enough. To tell you the truth, I'm relieved.
And he disappears from view. GUIL does not notice.
GUIL: Our names shouted in a certain dawn. . . a message. . . a summons. . . There must have been a moment, at the beginning, where we could have said no. But somehow we missed it. (He looks round and sees he is alone.)
He gathers himself.
Well, we'll know better next time. Now you see me, now you (and disappears).
Immediately the whole stage is lit up, revealing, upstage, arranged in the approximate positions last held by the dead TRAGEDIANS, the tableau of court and corpses which is the last scene of Hamlet.
That is: The KING, QUEEN, LAERTES and HAMLET, all dead. HORATIO holds HAMLET. FORTINBAS is there.
So are two AMBASSADORS from England.
AMBASSADOR: The sight is dismal;
and our affairs from England come too late.
The ears are senseless that should give us hearing
to tell him his commandment is fulfilled,
that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead.
Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead.
Still haven't managed to see a live version. The film doesn't quite use the same script, but it's definitely worth the rental if you've got a video store with a decent selection.
Familiarity with Hamlet, although not required, adds a few dozen shades of meaning to otherwise perplexing events and dialog.
Update: Forgot Stoppard co-authored the script for Brazil. Great, now I'm his bitch, too.
Ok, think the italics tags are all matched up now. Some browsers cut 'em off with a paragraph tag, others don't. Go figure.
Web standards my ass.