For my Shakespeare final this year, I had to write a piece compiling characters from several Shakespeare plays and place them in a situation where they’d be forced to interact.
Naturally, I stuck ‘em all in an elevator. Here is said piece.
Friar Lawrence plodded slowly over to the elevator, a gigantic weight seated firmly on his shoulders. The friar had always tried to maintain a positive spirit, but on this particular day he was having a bit of difficulty, as just a few days earlier two young people to whom the Friar had been very close had tragically done themselves in. It was awful, really. Still, Friar Lawrence knew he must continue with his life as he paused in front of the shiny metal doors. A young man was already loitering in front, so the Friar politely greeted him as he reached across to push the button. The young man made no coherent response, though he did mutter something along the lines of “uncle…incestuous, wrathful rule…vengeance”. This prompted Friar Lawrence to want to take a closer look at this unfortunate individual, but as soon as he gathered the nerve to speak to him again, the elevator doors slid open to reveal a space already stuffed with people.
“Dear me,” wondered the Friar aloud. “There wouldn’t happen to be room to squeeze in two more, would there?” The elevator patrons grunted and shuffled around, reluctantly making room for the newcomers. The Friar and the young man stepped in, and the Friar immediately noticed the elderly woman standing to his right. He smiled at her, and she responded with a sneer so terrible that Friar Lawrence took a step back. Or he would have, if there’d been any room in the elevator.
What the Friar hadn’t known was that the rather frightening elderly woman was actually Queen Margaret, the banished old Queen who never really did anything, but always seemed to be around when you needed her least. That particular day she’d taken to riding around in the elevators and upsetting all those who happened to look at her the wrong way. So when Margaret saw the Friar in his ridiculous little outfit and his shaggy, morose and uncouth companion, she’d felt it was her duty to look upon him with as much obvious contempt as she could muster. Meanwhile, completely oblivious to the entire matter, mainly due to the fact that his face was smashed up against the wall, Benedick prayed silently that the elevator would reach his floor soon, preferably before his nose became permanently flattened to his forehead. He sighed with much dejection.
“Oh, dear, Benedick, what on Earth is the matter?” Asked his least favorite female, Beatrice. “Did you happen to catch a glimpse of your own reflection again?” Benedick found it difficult to respond with his face allowed so little range of movement, but he managed to utter “No, Beatrice, I caught a glimpse of yours.” The Friar, who had been listening, stifled a laugh at this.
All of the sudden, the elevator thudded loudly with the sounds of screeching cables and sparks flying punctuating the deep resounding boom as it slammed to a halt. The lights powered down and the small space was lit only by an emergency bulb and the cell phones many held in their hands. When the mechanical noises ceased, they were replaced immediately with a cacophony of voices rising in panic.
“What on earth happened?? I can’t see anything!”
“Shut up, Gloucester, you can never see anything! You have no eyes, for Pete’s sake!”
“It’s my uncle! He did this! And soon he’ll take over Denmark in its entirety! Oh, what a piece of work is man! (II, ii, 294).
“Insolent little crows, squawking and yammering. If I were but still queen I’d have you all banished!” Finally, a louder, stronger voice broke through the din.
“Everybody hush! We’ll all be fine, we just need to figure out how to get someone’s attention and let them know that they’re in here, and then they can get help.” The bluish light from the closest cell phone revealed the speaker to be an older, bearded man with strong shoulders and heavyset brow. There was a murmur of agreement in the dark room once he finished speaking, and right away the people began opening cell phones and holding them up, trying to get enough service to call for help. When all methods seemed to be useless, other means of getting attention were brought up. The young scruffy man spoke first, and after introducing himself as Hamlet, he called to attention a small knife at his belt.
“Well, I do have my dagger here. Perhaps we could use this to pry the doors open…or perhaps not. No, definitely not. That wouldn’t be safe. But what even IS safe, anyway? What does it mean to be safe? I think we’d all be better off dead….but I don’t want to kill myself….though the sweet release would be most dear…” Hamlet trailed off as he realized everyone else in the elevator was looking at him with much confusion.
“That will never work,” Beatrice piped up. “Perhaps one of us could somehow get up and open the service panel to the elevator. That would at least help us figure out where we are.” Gloucester and the Friar nodded readily at that, but Benedick was of an alternative opinion.
“Oh really? Oh yes, so clever, especially when you go right over the edge and fall to your death! Tell me Beatrice, why don’t you try saying something intelligent and shock us all!”
“Oh, that’s rich, coming from you, Benedick! I do believe that’s the first time a real thought has crossed your mind. Must’ve been a long and lonely journey!”
“Quiet,” The bearded gentleman interrupted smoothly. “Now is not the time for arguing. I learned Morse code in the Navy; perhaps I can contact someone outside by banging out a message for help on this wall.” He then proceeded to tap out a series of rhythms on the wall of the elevator, listening intently every few to try and hear a response. And for a few minutes, all was quiet aside from the tapping and the ever-present offensive mumblings of Queen Margaret off to the side.
“I don’t really know if this is going to work,” began the Friar. “But I think a good way to get some attention would be to pretend we’re dead, like the elevator has crashed or something. I mean, if that won’t get someone’s attention, nothing will!” The others stared at him in disbelief, except Hamlet who looked to be contemplating the idea with honest consideration.
“Haven’t you tried this before, Friar?” Asked Gloucester.
“Why, yes I have.”
“Now, tell me. How did that work out for you, hmm?” Gloucester maintained a straight face while the Friar looked annoyed, then rather crestfallen. “Point made.” He responded dejectedly.
All of the sudden, the bearded man stopped tapping, as a scraping and banging sound could be heard from the outside of the elevator, as well as voices speaking of rescue.
“Wow, you actually managed to get us out!” Exclaimed Beatrice. “Thank you so much, good gentleman! Now, why don’t you tell us your name, so we can thank you our savior properly?” The bearded man slowly turned to look at Beatrice in the dim light, his eyes glinting slightly.
“The name’s Swain. Boatswain.”
Because Boatswain should have been the hero of every play.
See ya, bros.