Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Twentieth Night

Olivia (Linda Schuler) and Viola (Karla Rothan) in a reading at Stonewall Columbus

Place: the castle of the Dukes of Illyria Time: eighteen years after the action of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night

Two comfortably dressed women, Olivia and Viola, sit doing handwork. Olivia is embroidering a square, while Viola is crocheting what will eventually be a gray and scarlet scarf. The sound of a harpsichord and recorder duet is heard.

VIOLA: Well, at last some peace and quiet. And to think I used to wonder what I could possibly do in Illyria.
OLIVIA (laughing): Now you know what happens when you live in a beautiful place on the seashore with a glorious climate! You have houseguests! Everybody wants to come south for the winter.
VIOLA: Why do they all think they can visit us here?
OLIVIA: Well, it’s a big house, dear.
VIOLA: It’s a castle, dear. Much too grand to be called a house. You don’t get all these huge embroidered wall tapestries in a house.
OLIVIA: Nor do you need them. Not to mention the d
rafts. And the heating bills. But you’re right. A castle. Have it your way.
VIOLA: There are times I certainly wished it was just a house. Particularly this winter. Full of people, half of whom couldn’t stand the other half.
OLIVIA: Yes. That sweet Perdita and her husband … what was his name? I get all those Germanic princelings mixed up.
VIOLA: Florizel, dear.
OLIVIA: That’s right. Perdita wouldn’t stay in the same room with Imogen and her husband, whatever he was called—

VIOLA: Posthumus. You remember. Funny name.
OLIVIA: He certainly was pale as a ghost.
VIOLA: Not that we saw much of them, thank goodness.
OLIVIA: Of course most of the men spent all the time playing billiards or hunting with Sebastian and Orsino.
VIOLA: A lot of help they were! Invite all those people, and never gave a thought of how we’d feed them or house them and all their servants.
OLIVIA: The servants! Remember that bunch from
Syracuse and Ephesos? Loud! And smelly--all that garlic! Couldn’t tell them apart.
VIOLA: And do you believe that Orsino actually told Lear he could send those three little girls to us for the summer, without mentioning it to us? First I knew of it was when they turned up, with nurses and servants.
OLIVIA: Not to mention all those knights! What do little girls need with a hundred knights apiece? And Orsino had the nerve to laugh about it!

VIOLA: At least he got rid of the knights. Made them go back to England. But we had to feed them before they left, and find places for them to sleep overnight.
OLIVIA: Oh, don’t remind me. What odd children. Regan and Goneril certainly had a lot a spirit, while I thought for the longest time that Cordelia must be a little dimwitted-- she was always smiling and so sweet all the time no matter how nasty her sisters were to her.

VIOLA: You might call Regan and Goneril spirited. I call them demons. Remember the way they tortured that cat? And what they tried to do to my corgi? Remember when we figured out why there were all those wingless flies staggering about?
OLIVIA: Well, at least the guests have all left. And Sebastian and Orsino wasted no time in getting back to Messalina. At last we’ve got the house (Viola starts to speak)—sorry, castle--to ourselves.
VIOLA: And the children.

OLIVIA: Yes, and the children, of course. I’m so looking forward to a quiet evening at home. No guests, no fuss—just us.
VIOLA: A quiet evening? With teenagers? Speaking of them, they are being awfully quiet. Do you suppose something’s wrong?
Seb and Young Livvy run in with a great clatter; both are about sixteen.
OLIVIA: Apparently not!
SEB: Mother, would you … .
LIVVY: Mama, can’t you ….
VIOLA: One at a time, please!
OLIVIA: Yes. Livvy, let your cousin speak.
LIVVY: Why does he get to speak first? Because he’s a boy?
SEB: No. It’s because I’m more sensible!
Sensible???? Whose idea was it to put honey on the keys?
SEB: Oh? And who wanted to see if the kittens could play in the first place?
OLIVIA: Quiet! Or you both lose fencing lessons for a month! And now that I remember how long it took Margaret to clean the harpsichord, I’ve a mind to make that two months.
LIVVY: Mother!
SEB: Aunt Livvy!
VIOLA: You heard her. Now, Sebastian, what did you want to say?
SEB: Livvy doesn’t want to go to Wittenberg.
LIVVY: That’s not what I said!
SEB: Yes you did. You said you wouldn’t go to Wittenberg if it was the only university in Europe that allowed women to sit in on lectures.
LIVVY: I did not!
SEB: Did so!
LIVVY: Did not!
OLIVIA: Quiet! Livvy: what did you say about Wittenberg?
LIVVY: I just said that if I was only going to be allowed to sit in on lectures and not be a regular student because I’m a girl, I didn’t see the point of going. Especially if that creepy Prince Hamlet’s going there also.
SEB: You did not! You said you wouldn’t go. And you called Prince Hamlet a nutcase.

LIVVY: Well, he is a nutcase. A creepy nutcase. Always going on about his mother and how beautiful she is. And how he’s saddled with that dim-witted girl that his mother keeps shoving at him. What was her name? Octavia, wasn’t it?
SEB: You know perfectly well it’s Ophelia. Why do you always pretend you don’t know her name? You’re just jealous?
Jealous!! Of that wimp? Do you think I want to hook up with Hamlet?? You’re as stupid as she is!
SEB: (In a singsong) Livvy’s in love with Hamlet! Livvy’s in love with Hamlet!
LIVVY: Shut up! Shut up! You cretin!

VIOLA: All right, you two. Whether Hamlet is a – what did you call him, Livvy?
LIVVY: A nutcase.

SEB: A creepy nutcase. But he isn’t. Only a little bit. Creepy that is.
VIOLA: Well, whatever you called him, you shouldn’t. He’s a prince, after all, and his father’s a close friend of both your fathers. That’s why King Hamlet sent Hamlet here for his midwinter holidays; he wanted him away from all that cold and gloom in Denmark. Prince Hamlet’s our guest. And you need to be polite.
LIVVY: I am polite. But I don’t have to be nice about him when he’s not here. I hope he doesn’t come back here after he visits father. Having all those other people around all the time was bad enough.
Yeah. Having to be polite to everybody all the time. Hamlet’s not coming back, is he?
OLIVIA: We’re not sure about that. Your fathers haven’t let us know yet. But if he does come here for a few days before he goes back to college, you’ll both be polite, understood?
LIVVY: Yes, mother.
SEB: Yes, Aunt Livvy.
OLIVIA: Now what were you both so fired up about when you came barging in here? Look—all this jangling has made me sew this red in the wrong place. Titania looks like she’s bleeding!
SEB: Sorry.
LIVVY: I’m really sorry, Mama. But Seb said he wasn’t going to practice fencing with me any more. He said I fence like a girl!
VIOLA: Well, you are a girl. So it’s not surprising you’d fence like what you are! I had my problems with fencing when I was young myself. Took a lot of hard training to overcome them.
SEB: I just meant you don’t attack enough, Livvy. You’re great on defense, but you don’t press me enough. I don’t get enough practice on defense myself.
OLIVIA: Show us what you’re talking about, Seb. We’ve only seen you practice a little bit the last few weeks, what with all these house guests. Go get your gear and your foils.

Seb (Alex Coccia) and Young Livvy (Rhea Khavari) argue while Olivia (Linda Schuler) and Viola (Karla Rothan) look on--and Osric (Adam Peal) waits his turn. Reading at Stonewall Columbus, 2007.

Sebastian and Young Livvy dash off.
VIOLA: Good thinking, Livvy. Need to get them occupied with something more physical than music to burn off some of that energy. Young Livvy’s right. Prince Hamlet is a bit creepy. I was glad when Orsino and Sebastian invited him to join them in Messalina.
OLIVIA: They didn’t want him. I demanded they ask him. “You’re not going away and leaving Hamlet here with us!” I said. He was driving me crazy—always moping about, feeling sorry for himself. For heaven’s sake: he’s a prince, he’s good looking, he’s at a good school, he’s got a lovely young girl madly in love with him.
VIOLA: Not to mention that handsome young hunk, Horatio, mooning after him. What that boy has going for him in unbelievable. Does he appreciate it, and enjoy it? No.
OLIVIA: And what does he do? Sits about all day worrying about whether he should do this, or do that, or go back to college, or marry Ophelia, or go to Paris, or visit the Macbeths in Scotland, or his school friend Orlando in Arden. Indecision, nothing but indecision.
VIOLA: Not to mention his narrow mindedness. So judgmental! He seemed horrified when you suggested that Horatio might be more than a friend. And I resented having to watch what we said around him.
OLIVIA: Think how shocked he’d be if he realized what our friendship actually is! Not to mention Sebastian and Orsino.

VIOLA: Well, we weren’t much better, any of us, when we were that young. Think how long it took the four of us to realize our initial instincts were the right ones. You loved me, not Sebastian. And Orsino loved Sebastian, not me. Sebastian couldn’t take his eyes off Orsino. But we all convinced ourselves to do the expected thing.
OLIVIA: But how wonderful it was, after the children were born, that we realized we belonged together. Thank heavens for that old grouch, Malvolio. He saw what was going on with Orsino and Sebastian.

VIOLA: He really thought, poor fool, that we’d be shocked to find out! Remember that letter?
OLIVIA: Malvolio always did have a thing for letters. And this one was so silly. “Some are great,” it said, “and some of the great are inverts. Watch and see. What are the Duke and his brother-in-law really up to? Where do they go at night? What happens at that Inn by the seaport? T B A F!”
VIOLA: Remember how we laughed and laughed? “Inn at the seaport!! T B A F!!” And how relieved we were when we finally figured it out?
OLIVIA: At last I understood why Sebastian was spending so much time with Orsino.
VIOLA: And I realized Orsino wasn’t lying when he said he was out with Sebastian all the time. Though it was silly to think nobody recognized them.

OLIVIA: When we talked about it, that’s when we first kissed each other. Sheer bliss! “At last,” I thought. “Now I know what was missing. A woman’s touch. Not a man’s.”
VIOLA: Me, too.
They sigh. Olivia reaches out a hand to Viola, who clasps it. They sit quietly for a beat, holding hands.
OLIVIA: You were wise to suggest that Sebastian and Orsino move back to your family home in Messalina, and let you reign as regent here until Seb’s of age. It’s a pity the Illyrians wouldn’t accept Sebastian as Orsino’s consort.
VIOLA: Well, they hadn’t been all that discreet, had they? I mean, coming in matching ball gowns to that masked ball, and not thinking anyone would recognize them! The whole port district knew about them. And since same sex marriages aren’t legal, they can’t marry each other anyway—even if divorce were possible in Illyria.
OLIVIA: It’s funny. The Illyrians never seem to have a problem with two respectable women sharing a house –

VIOLA: It’s not a house—
OLIVIA: Oh, sorry, a castle – but I still think it’s odd. Sir Toby and Maria and Valentine and everybody were just horrified at the thought of Orsino and Sebastian being together, but find it perfectly all right for you and me to share our lives and a . . . castle.

VIOLA: Yes, it is odd. And it seems to be just the Illyrians and the English. When Orlando and Charles got together, they were forced to leave court and go back to the forest in Arden. But there’s Celia and Rosalind, sharing the Duchy as co-rulers and partners, and nobody bats an eyelash.
OLIVIA: Why do you think it’s so different in the south? The Venetians didn’t seem to have a problem when Othello realized why Iago was so jealous, and discovered he was much more interesting than that droopy Desdemona. Othello’s still their general, with Iago as his even closer lieutenant. It’s even more efficient—they only need one tent now.

VIOLA: True. But the Venetians have always been more understanding. Think how nice they’ve been to Shylock, once he got over that pound of flesh business and forgave his daughter. Didn’t even make him convert.
OLIVIA: Well, the English always have been odd. Just like the Illyrians. I sometimes wonder if the English are maybe the lost tribe of
VIOLA: Or the Illyrians the lost English tribe—some Saxons who wandered off and got lost at seas and washed up here. Just like Sebastian and I did, all those years ago.
OLIVIA: For which I’m grateful.
She kisses Viola’s hand. You’ve brought me such joy. And, of course, Sebastian brought me young Livvy, my other joy.
VIOLA: Speaking of which, I think I hear our joys coming back. Why are teenagers always so noisy? Do you think they think they need to make up for there not being a house full of people?
With a great clatter, Seb and Livvy rush on. They carry fencing masks, foils, sabers, and gloves. Both are wearing padded jackets.
SEB: Mom, Aunt Livvy, let me show you.
He hands a foil to young Livvy, who puts down the sabers. They both put on their masks, gloves, and then salute each other.
LIVVY: I’m going to drive you into a corner, Seb. No offense! You’ll see.
SEB: Oh, you’ll fold, Livvy. You always do.
They fence. They’re both good. But Seb is right. Livvy tends to be defensive; she parries well, and deflects his attack—and she holds her ground, but doesn’t advance.
OLIVIA: (to Viola, sotto voce) He’s right. Do you mind?
VIOLA: (sotto voce): Be my guest.
Olivia picks up one of the sabers, then brings it up between Seb and young Livvy, stopping them short.
OLIVIA: Livvy, give me your mask and foil.

Livvy takes off her mask and glove, giving them to Olivia, then hands her the foil.

OLIVIA: Ready, Seb?
SEB: Don’t you want a jacket?
OLIVIA: I don’t think I’ll need it, Seb. You’ve got great control.
They touch foils, then begin. Olivia’s terrific! Although Seb puts up a great defense, she slowly backs him across the room, then, with a sudden side thrust, disarms him. His foil clatters on the floor. He bows to his aunt, admitting defeat.
SEB: See, Livvy? Your mother just attacks and advances. And I don’t have enough practice defending myself if you just keep blocking and parrying, and never attack.
OLIVIA: Ring for more foils, would you Livvy? I think we need some serious practice to try to get you up to speed.
Young Livvy pulls a bell chain. Margaret immediately appears. Young Livvy whispers to her; she curtseys and runs off.
OLIVIA: Meanwhile, Livvy, you need to lunge and attack Seb’s blade more directly. Seb—stand over here if you would. (She salutes him, then brings her blade sharply around. Seb parries.) Good. Now, Livvy, watch. (She attacks. Seb stands his ground, but she forces him back. Margaret reenters with more foils, two larger jackets and another pair of masks.) Vi, won’t you join us? Viola puts on a jacket and takes a mask and foil from Margaret. Livvy puts on a new mask and takes a foil, while Olivia dons a jacket.
OLIVIA: Vi, if you’ll work with Seb on his defense, I’ll try to get Livvy to be a bit more aggressive.
VIOLA: Sure.
En garde, Seb.
SEB: Oh, mom!

The two women start working with the kids. Viola also backs Seb across the stage, then begins showing him how to better stand his ground. Meanwhile, Olivia demonstrates thrusts and advances to Livvy. This goes on for several minutes, with appropriate improvised dialogue from the characters: “Good!” “Watch out!” “Got you!” “Try this” – and so forth. Eventually Olivia’s and Viola’s movements slow. Viola stops, puts down her foil, and removes her helmet.
VIOLA: Phew! I’m worn out. Getting too old for this.
OLIVIA: (also removing her helmet). Not too old. Too out of shape. It’s been too long since we’ve had time to practice ourselves. We must get back to this. You’re too good to let your sword get rusty. So to speak. (chuckles)
VIOLA: (laughs lightly) Perhaps you’re right. But right now, I need to sit down and get back to our quiet evening, which seems to keep getting interrupted! I have a scarf to finish crocheting.
SEB: Thanks, mom. And thanks, Aunt Livvy. That was great.
LIVVY: Yes, thanks. And Seb, let’s go into the courtyard. I want to have some room to attack you in, where I don’t have to worry about destroying furniture and vases.
SEB: In your dreams, Livvy!

Seb and Young Livvy kiss first their mother, then their aunt, on the cheeks. Then they dash offstage. Soon the clang of sword against sword is heard from offstage. Olivia and Viola take off their fencing jackets, and settle back down with their sewing. After a few moments of companiable silence.
OLIVIA: I’ve been meaning to ask you, Vi—who’s that scarf for? I hope not me—I’ve more scarves now than I can ever possibly wear. And you know teenagers wouldn’t been caught dead in a hand-crocheted scarf—especially one made by a mother or aunt, no matter how much they love you.
VIOLA: Oh, I know all that. This is for Prince Hamlet. That’s why it’s in the Wittenberg colors—gray and scarlet.
OLIVIA: Vi, dear. You know perfectly well Hamlet will never wear that. He wears only black.
VIOLA: Yes, I know. You know, I asked him about that after he’d been here a couple of weeks. “why do you always wear black, Hamlet?” I asked. “You’ve got that wonderful bright blond hair. You’d look terrific in lighter colors.” You know what he said?

OLIVIA: I can’t imagine. And I’m a bit afraid to ask.
VIOLA: He said, pretentiously, I might add, “‘I’m in mourning for my life!” “That sounds like a line from a particularly gloomy play,” I said, trying to make him laugh. “My life is exactly like a particularly gloomy play. I’m Scandinavian,” he said. Can’t you just hear him? He does enjoy suffering so much, it’s almost obscene.
OLIVIA: So why the scarf? He’ll never wear it.
VIOLA: Of course not. But he’ll feel tremendously guilty about it. I wanted to give him something real to worry about. And since we had to hide our feelings all summer, I wanted to make him suffer just a bit for the way he made us suffer!
(laughing) Oh, Vi, that’s delicious. Cruel, but delicious. Do you suppose Sebastian and Orsino are having to hide their relationship while the creep’s visiting them?
VIOLA: Olivia! Calling that sweet prince a creep! (They both roar with laughter.) But I doubt it. Hamlet wouldn’t recognize true love – not enough anquish for him!
Margart enters. Curtsies to Viola.
MARGARET: A gentleman, your ladyship. He asked for Prince Hamlet, then asked for you when I said the Prince was not here.
VIOLA: Did he give his name?
MARGARET: No, my lady.
VIOLA: I guess you'd better show him up. Let Feste know we have a visitor.
MARGARET: Yes, my lady.
OLIVIA: Well, how mysterious! Who do you suppose it can be?
VIOLA: I don’t know. But it’s yet another interruption! How annoying!
(calls offstage) Seb! Livvy! Can you come in here, please? Sounds of fencing stop. Seb and Livvy rush in.
VIOLA: We have a visitor. I wanted you to be present. With your swords. We don’t know who he is, only that he asked for Prince Hamlet.
SEB: That’s not cheering!

LIVVY: He asked for the creep?
VIOLA: I wish you’d stop that!
OLIVIA: One at a time, please!
Viola and Olivia glance at each other and laugh. Margaret returns, ushering in a young man, foppishly dressed and over decorated with lace. Seb and Livvy glance at each other, then lower their swords.
YOUNG MAN: Am I in the presence of the Duchess Viola?

VIOLA: I am Viola.
YOUNG MAN: (bows, all but genuflecting): Your grace. (bows with extravagant gestures to Olivia) Madam. (bows with sweeping gestures, although slightly less ceremoniously, to Seb and Livvy) Young master and mistress. (Seb and Livvy suppress, none too successfully, giggles. Olivia and Viola shoot them stern looks.)
VIOLA: May I know who has entered our quiet home (Olivia mutters "castle!" under her breath) and greets us with such --studied courtesy?
YOUNG MAN: Certainly, your grace. My name is Osric; I have the honor of being an usher to the Royal Court of Denmark. I am on a diplomatic mission. I seek the Prince Hamlet. I bear sad news.
VIOLA: The Prince is visiting my husband, the Duke, and his lover, the Lord Sebastian, at their home in Messalina.
OSRIC: Oh? I pray pardon, therefore. (Bows deeply and ceremoniously.) I must make my way to Messalina as soon as possible. I assume your steward can give me directions?
VIOLA: Certainly. And he will see that your provisions are replenished. May we know your news? The Prince has been our guest and, I trust, our friend (a smothered snort from Seb and Livvy, which gets a sharp glance from Olivia) and we would share his news, both good and bad.
OSRIC: I pray pardon, again, your grace. I would not have my news reach my Prince before I do.
VIOLA: I can assure you that none here present will communicate with the Prince other than through you.
OSRIC. I thank your grace for your courtesy. May I know the identities of the gentle folk now here?

VIOLA: Certainly. This is the Lady Olivia, my life partner and wife to the Lord Sebastian, and these are our children, Sebastian the younger and Olivia the younger.
All nod to Osric. He bows again to each, a bit more fulsomely to Olivia and the children this time, although his most elaborate bow is reserved for Viola.
OSRIC: Again, your grace, my thanks. My news is momentous, and gravely sad. My lord, King Hamlet, is dead.
Sharp intakes of breath.
VIOLA: Then Prince Hamlet is now King of Denmark. You must inform him of this as quickly as possible. I understand your need for speed. (She pulls bell rope)
OSRIC: It is not quite so simple, I fear, your grace. Queen Gertrude, my Prince’s mother, has married Prince Claudius, the brother of the late king. He has now assumed the throne and title of King. King Claudius sent me to escort the Prince back to Elsinore as soon as possible.
(raising one eyebrow) That seems most unusual. (Servant enters) Margaret, please show Prince Hamlet’s servant Osric to Feste, and see that he is provided with horses and provisions for a quick journey to Messalina. Osric, godspeed. Tell the Prince he always has friends in Illyria, and we share his grief.
OSRIC: Much thanks, your grace, for your kindness to a stranger.
(And with many, many elaborate bows, Osric makes his way from the room.)
LIVVY: (explodes into giggles) What a funny little man! And so much lace! Are all Danes like that?
VIOLA: Now, Livvy. You’ve just spent a month with Prince Hamlet, who’s decidedly not like that. Don’t generalize.
LIVVY: You’re right. Hamlet’s just creepy and nutty, not silly and nutty.
VIOLA: Livvy! Remember, we’ve just learned of the death of a king. A king who’s been a friend to your father, and an ally.
SEB: You’re right, mamma. Do we need to do anything?
VIOLA: I can’t think of anything. But this will have international repercussions. Especially if Claudius has seized the throne. I must say I never trusted Claudius—those shifty and beady little eyes.
SEB: How can he do that? I thought the son always succeeded.
OLIVIA: Not necessarily. Particularly if he’s not there. And if Claudius really has married Gertrude, he has a major claim. Though it’s odd she’d marry so soon after her husband’s death.

VIOLA: Well, some women just can’t exist without a man, more fools they.
LIVVY: Do you think that, Mama?
OLIVIA: Well, think a moment, Livvy. Remember how much fun your friend Katarina was before her father demanded that she had to get married before her younger sister could?
LIVVY: She turned into a real wimp after she got married!

VIOLA: Kate was much better off when she was self sufficient, and didn’t have to be reliant on anybody at all. And what a relief when she finally dumped that fortune-hunting clod Petruchio after her father died and she finally had her own money! Take my advice and learn to be on your own. Your mother and I certainly learned that.
LIVVY: But you have each other.
SEB: Just like our dads have each other.

VIOLA: Yes, dear. But that’s a blessing and a joy, not a necessity.
OLIVIA: That’s why I want you to go to university—even if you do have to sit in and not be a regular student. Even so, you can learn just as much as any man. And learn to think and act for yourself.
SEB: She does that already, Aunt Livvy.
OLIVIA: Yes, she does.
LIVVY: So I don’t need to go to university! Especially if they don’t want me—I don’t like to go where I’m not wanted!
OLIVIA: Sometime you need to go where you’re not wanted, to prove that they’re wrong.
SEB: And stupid. You’re smarter than any of the guys in my classes, Livvy. And you fence better than most of them—at least on defense.
LIVVY: Oh yeah? Watch out! En garde!
She picks up her foil and salutes Seb. He salutes back.
VIOLA: Seb! Livvy! Your masks!
SEB: Sorry, mama. (Seb and Young Livvy put on their masks. And begin fencing. Young Livvy is, at first, defensive, but soon moves onto the attack. And slowly drives Seb offstage. As they exit, we hear her laugh, triumphantly.)
OLIVIA: chuckling. Looks like Livvy’s picked up some tricks from us!
Just then Seb and Young Livvy reappear. This time Seb is driving Young Livvy across the stage. They stop, center page.
SEB: Draw?
LIVVY: Draw!
They touch foils, and salute each other. Then drop their foils and hug each other. Olivia and Viola look on, smiling.
OLIVIA: (takes Viola’s hand) I’m glad you washed up in Illyria, Vi.
VIOLA: (kisses Olivia’s hand) And to think I wondered what I could do in Illyria! (frowns) But now I must write Orsino. We have to plan how to deal with the situation in Denmark.
OLIVIA: Why don’t you write Don Pedro and ask his advice as well? He’s always been able to see the larger picture.

VIOLA: Good thinking, as always, Livvy! I can always rely on you to know which of our neighbors we can count on. I’ll write Pedro tonight But I certainly won’t bother writing Duke Vincentio. Remember the mess he made in Vienna?
OLIVIA: Yes. And that poor Isabella. All she wanted was to be a good nun. Instead she gets passed around like a garden gnome.
VOILA: I’ll never understand women who let themselves be treated like chattel!
(she pauses, then laughs.) Well, thank goodness for one thing.
VIOLA: At least that young idiot Fortinbras is safely in
Poland, terrorizing peasants again. Imagine the problems if he got involved with the Danish court!
OLIVIA: (laughing) Oh, Vi! That’s unlikely! Fortinbras isn’t bright enough to even notice any difference between old Hamlet or Claudius, or young Hamlet for that matter! His father is smart to keep him careering about eastern Europe and out of Norway. With any luck he’ll wander into Russia and freeze!
VIOLA: Yes! Seb, Livvy, will you play some more music or something? Something quiet and soothing?
SEB: Yes, mama.
LIVVY: Yes, auntie Vi.
Seb and Livvy exit. Shortly, the harpsichord and recorder duet starts.
OLIVIA: A nice quiet evening at home!
Olivia and Viola hold hands.
VIOLA: Just the four of us!
OLIVIA: Finally!

They sigh; Viola picks up a writing portfolio and begins a letter, while Olivia returns to her handwork.
Margaret enters.
MARGARET: Beg pardon, my lady. Titus Andronicus is waiting in the hall to see you. Says he’s brought you some meat pies as a gift.
OLIVIA: (Sighs.) So much for the quiet evening! What on earth do you suppose brings that old prig here?
VIOLA: Margaret, show him to the kitchen. We’ll meet him there, with his pies.

OLIVIA: Pies! What sort of meat do you suppose they are? And why would he think we’d want meat pies? He’s clearly forgotten that we’re both vegan.
VIOLA: Whatever they are, I hope they’ve spoiled on the trip from Rome! And I hope he’s alone. Can’t stand that Goth he married, let alone those sons of hers.
VIOLA: I’d rather have Hamlet come back! At least Danes are civilized!

OLIVIA: Homophobic and a bit creepy, but civilized!
Exeunt, laughing.