Shakespeare in Love
Viola de Lesseps
Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard
David Parfitt, Donna Gigliotti, Harvey Weinstein, Edward Zwick, Marc Norman
Bob Weinstein, Julie Goldstein
Miramax Films, Universal Pictures and Bedford Falls Company
Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actress in a leading role (Gwyneth Paltrow), Best Actress in a supporting role (Judi Dench), Best Original Muscial Score, Best Costume Design, Best Art Direction
Screenplay version according to movie produced by Beate Herrmann, May - August 1999
with the help of Kristine Kellermann and Elizabeth Knapp
Shakespeare in Love
(Intercut: "London 1593". Sky, then intercut:
"In the glory days of the Elizabethan theatre two playhouses were fighting it out for writers and audiences. North of the city was the Curtain Theatre, home to England’s most famous actor, Richard Burbage. Across the river was the competition, built by Philip Henslowe, a businessman with a cash flow problem... the Rose..."
A run-down building is revealed, open to the elements. Inside there are lying a few props, on the ground an old, soiled, out-of date poster of "The Lamentable Tragedie of the Moneylender reveng'd." We are hearing the screams of a man under torture. Behind the stage three men are standing round a man who is tied up hand and foot to a chair, his feet being held over hot coals. The man who is being tortured is Henslowe, the unlucky theatre owner. Fennyman, his creditor, is accompanied by his bookkeeper Mr. Frees and his henchman Mr. Lambert.)
Fennyman: Henslowe! Do you know what happens to a man who doesn't pay his debts? His boots catch fire! Why do you howl? When it is I who am bitten? What am I, Mr. Lambert?
Lambert: Bitten, Mr. Fennyman.
Fennyman: How badly bitten, Mr. Frees?
Frees: Twelve pounds, one shilling and four pence, Mr. Fennyman, including interest.
Henslowe: Aagh, I can pay you!
Henslowe: Two weeks, three weeks at the most. Aagh! For pity’s sake!
Fennyman: Take them out. Were will you find...
Frees: ...sixteen pounds, five shillings and nine pence...
Fennyman: ... including interest in three weeks?
Henslowe: I have a wonderful new play!
Fennyman: Put them back in.
Henslowe: It is a comedy!
Fennyman: Cut off his nose.
Henslowe: It's a new comedy by William Shakespeare!
Fennyman: And his ears.
Henslowe: And a share! We will be partners, Mr. Fennyman!
Fennyman (hesitating): Partners?
Henslowe: It is a crowd tickler. Mistaken identities, a shipwreck, a pirate king, a bit with a dog, and love triumphant!
Lambert: I think I’ve seen it. I didn’t like it.
Henslowe: But this time it is by Shakespeare!
Fennyman: What's it called?
Henslowe: "Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate's Daughter".
Fennyman: Good title! (He goes to the curtains and opens them with a swing, thus revealing the theatre.) A play takes time. Find the actors...rehearsals...let's say we open in two weeks. That's - what - five hundred groundlings at tuppence a head, in addition four hundred backsides at three pence - a penny extra for cushions, call it two hundred cushions, say two performances for safety - how much is that Mr. Frees?
Frees (who did the addition at the same time): Twenty pounds, to the penny, Mr. Fennyman.
Henslowe: But I have to pay the actors and the author!
Fennyman: A share of the profits.
Henslowe: There’s never any!
Fennyman: Of course not!
Henslowe (impressed): Oh Mr. Fennyman, I think you might have hit upon something!
Fennyman: Sign there!
(Frees holds out a paper to Henslowe and moves it to and fro, so that Henslowe, his hands still tied up, can knock together something like a signature.)
Fennyman: So, "Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate's Daughter". - Almost finished?
Henslowe: Oh, without doubt he is completing it at this very moment!
(Henslowe walks with aching feet towards Will's dwelling. We see Will sitting at his desk, writing studiously. But all he does is practising his signature in all unlikely variations and constantly crumpling up papers and tossing them around. They land near to a skull, in a chest full of documents and in a mug with the inscription "Present of Stratford-upon-Avon". As the clock strikes on the hour, Will dumps his quill into a rather ill-looking apple and climbs up the ladder to his bed under the roof angle to put on his boots. He seems to have an appointment. Henslowe bursts in.)
Henslowe: Will! Will! Where is my play? Tell me you have it nearly done! Tell me you have it started!
Will (struggling with his boots): Doubt that the stars are fire, doubt that the sun doth move... (He will later use this quote for "Hamlet".)
Henslowe (rummaging around on his desk): No, no! We haven't the time! Talk prose! Where is my play?
Will (tapping his forehead): It is all locked safe in here.
Henslowe (falling on a chair, relieved): God be praised! (then, doubtingly) Locked?
Will: As soon as I have found my muse...
Henslowe: Who is she this time?
Will (jumping down from his bed): She is always Aphrodite!
Henslowe: Aphrodite Baggot who does it behind the Dog and Trumpet?
Will (putting money in his pocket and with his foot kicking the chair away on which Henslowe has propped up his feet): Oh Henslowe, you have no soul so how can you understand the emptiness that seeks a soulmate?
Henslowe (running after Will who leaves the house): Will, I am a dead man and buggered to boot! My theatre is closed by the plague these twelve weeks, my actors are fourced to tour with the inn-yards of England, while Mr. Burbage and the Chamberlain's Men are invited to court and receive ten pounds to play your piece, written for my theatre, by my writer, at my risk when you were green and grateful!
Will (turning to him): What piece? "Richard Crookback"?
Henslowe: No, it's comedy they want, Will, comedy, like "Romeo and Ethel"!
Will (giving a laugh): Who wrote that?
Henslowe: Nobody! You were writing it for me! I gave you three pounds a month since!
Will: Half what you owed me. I am still due for "One Gentleman of Verona"!
Henslowe: Will, what is money to you and me, I, your patron, you, my wordwright. When the plague lifts Burbage will have a new play by Christopher Marlowe for the Curtain. I will have nothing for the Rose!
Will (stopping and folding his hands, begging): Mr. Henslowe, will you lend me fifty pounds?
Henslowe (bewildered): Fifty pounds, what for?
Will: Burbage offers me a partnership in the Chamberlain's Men. For fifty pounds my days as a hired player are over!
Henslowe (outraged): Oh! Cut out my heart! Throw my liver to the dogs!
Will (answering for him): No, then.
(Will and Henslowe cross a crowded market place on which Makepeace, a puritan preacher, is haranguing everybody who is passing.)
Makepeace: ...The players breed lewdness in your wives and wickedness in your children! (pointing into the direction of the Rose Theatre) And the Rose smells thusly rank by any name! I say a plague on both their houses!
(In passing him Will gratefully makes a mental note and files the words away for later use.)
Henslowe: Where are you going?
Will: My weekly confession.
(He stops at a door which several signs identify as the place of "Dr. Moth", "Apothecary", "Alchemist", Astrologer", "Interpreter of Dreams" "Priest of Psyche".He seems to be a kind of psychatrist. Will enters. Henslowe stays behind, baffled.)
Will (has draped himself over the sofa of the psychatrist): Words, words, words.... Once I had the gift... I could make love out of words as a potter makes cups of clay. Love that overthrows empires. (sitting up) Love that binds two hearts together come hellfire and brimstone. For Sixpence a line, I could cause a riot in a nunnery. But now...
Dr. Moth: And yet you tell me you lie with women... (consulting his book) Black Sue, Fat Phoebe, Rosaline, Burbage's seamstress, Aphrodite, who does it behind the...
Will (indignantly): Yes, now and again, but what of it? I have lost my gift!
Dr. Moth: I am here to help you. Tell me, in your own words.
Will (leaning back and closing his eyes): It's as if my quill is broken. As if the organ of my imagination has dried up. As if the proud tower of my genius has collapsed.
Dr. Moth (sensing something): Interesting!
Will: Nothing comes.
Dr. Moth: Most interesting!
Will: It is like trying to pick a lock with a wet herring!
Dr. Moth (expressing his suppositon): Tell me, are you lately humbled in the act of love? (Wills looks at him in astonishment. His face says "How could he know that?") How long has it been?
Will (doesn't understand the question): A goodly length in times past, but lately...
Dr. Moth: No, no. You have a wife, children?
(The hourglass which times the session has not much sand left.)
Will: Aye. I was a lad of eighteen, Ann Hathaway was a woman half as old again...
Dr. Moth: A woman of property?
Will (shrugging): She had a cottage. And one day she was three month gone with child, so...
Dr. Moth: And your relations?
Will: On my mother's side the Ardens...
Dr. Moth: No. Your marriage bed?
Will: Four years and a hundred miles away in Stratford. A cold bed too, since the twins were born. Banishment was a blessing.
Dr. Moth: So now you are free to love...
Will: ...yet cannot love nor write it.
Dr. Moth (thinking for a moment, then taking a glassy snake bracelet from a drawer.) Here is a bangle found in Psyche‘s temple on Olympus. Cheap at four pence. Write your name on a paper and feed it into the snake.
Will (looking fascinated at the bangle): Will it restore my gift?
Dr. Moth: The woman who wears the snake will dream of you, and your gift will return. Words will flow like a river. See you next week.
(Will hands him four pennies.)
Henslowe (who has waited outside and has cooled his aching feet in a water trough): And now, where?
Will (walking straight past him): To the Palace at Whitehall!
(Will has reached the palace through a back door, where the Chamberlain's Men are preparing for their appearances. He winks at two players disguised as women and approaches Mr. Kempe, the clown, who, skull in hand, looks like a parody of Hamlet.)
Will: Prithee, Mr. Kempe, break a leg. (to the dog) You too, good Crab.
Kempe: Crab's nervous. He has never played the Palace. When will you write me a tragedy, Will? I could do it!
Will (giving a laugh): No, they would laugh at Seneca if you played it!
Burbage (in the tow of the lovely Rosaline who smiles furtively at Will): There is no dog in the first scene, Mr. Kempe, thank you. How goes it, Will?
Will (with arms akimbo): I am still owed money for this play, Burbage.
Burbage: Not by me, I only stole it. (to Rosaline) My sleeve wants for a button, Mistress Rosaline, where were my seamstress’s eyes? (again to Will) When are you coming over to the Chamberlain's Men?
Will: When I have fifty pounds.
Burbage: You writing?
Will (looking in a mirror in admiration of himself and slapping his cheeks): A comedy, all but done. Pirate comedy, wonderful.
Burbage: Bring it tomorrow.
Will: It’s for Henslowe. He paid me.
Burbage: How much?
Will (closely examining his fingernails): Ten pounds.
Burbage: You’re a liar.
Will: I swear. He wants "Romeo" for Ned and the Admiral's Men.
Burbage (sighing): Ned's wrong for it.
Henslowe (rushing in): Will !
Burbage (to Will, in a low voice): Here's two sovereigns. I’ll give you another two when I see the pages.
Henslowe (infuriated): Burbage, I will see you hanged for a pickpocket!
Burbage: The Queen has commanded it, she loves a comedy, and the Master of the Revels favours us.
Henslowe: And what favour does Mr. Tilney receive from you?
Burbage: Ask him.
Tilney (coming through the curtain officiously, announcing): She comes!
(Sounds of trumpets. The Queen arrives and sits down on her throne. All invited guests, among them Lord Wessex, Sir and Lady de Lesseps with daughter Viola and her nurse, take their seats. Two players, one of them Burbage, enter the stage with a bow. The performance of the "Two Gentleman of Verona" begins.)
Condell as Valentin: Cease to persuade, my loving Proteus. Home-keeping youth have ever homely wits...
(Behind the stage Will writes "William Shakespeare" on a piece of paper, folds it and stuffs it into the mouth of the snake bracelet. Rosaline curls an arm around Will's neck and kisses him.)
Rosaline: When will you write me a sonnet, Will?
Will: I have lost my gift.
Rosaline: You left it in my bed. Come to look for it again!
Will (slipping the bangle on her arm): Are you to be my muse, Rosaline?
Rosaline: Burbage has my keeping - but you have my heart!
(Coughing from the audience interrupts their renewed kiss.)
Will (indignantly): You see? The consumptives plot against me. Will Shakespeare has a play, let's go and cough through it!
(The play has progressed.)
Kempe ("desperately" wrestling with the dog): My father weeping, my mother wailing, our maid howling, our cat wringing her hands, and this poor dog doesn't shed one tear!
(The audience is rolling on the floor laughing. The Queen laughs the loudest.)
Henslowe (roaring with laughter, to Will who is yawning): You see? Comedy! Love and a bit with a dog! That’s what they want!
(The only one who is not amused is Lord Wessex. His attention has been caught by the sight of beautiful Viola de Lesseps, who doesn't notice it, but her nurse does. Viola has noticed Will who in the meantime is standing at the edge of the room, lost in thoughts. The expression on her face shows that she finds him very attractive.)
Queen Elizabeth (throwing a nut to the dog on the stage): Well played, Master Crab, I commend you!
Condell as Valentine:
What light is light, if Silvia be not seen?
What joy is joy if Silvia be not by?
Unless it be to think that she is by
And feed upon the shadow of perfection.
Except I be by Silvia in the night,
There is no music in the nightingale.
Unless I look on Silvia in the day,
There is no day for me to look upon.
She is my essence...
(The Queen falls asleep, bored to death. But Viola is enthusiastic and does silent lipsynching. It is obvious that she knows the lines by heart. )
(Will comes home, throws away his jacket and takes a quill from his desk. Then he spins around once in a circle like a dog, rubs the quill between his palms and spits into the right corner. He sits down and, after a short moment of thought, begins to write.)
Viola (making herself ready for bed and talking to the nurse): Did you like Proteus or Valentine best? Proteus for speaking, Valentine for looks.
Nurse: Oh, I liked the dog, for laughs.
Viola: Silvia I did not care for much. His fingers were red from fighting and he spoke like a schoolboy at lessons. (sighing) Stage love will never be true love while the law of the land has our heroines being played by pipsqueak boys in petticoats! - Oh, when can we see another?
Nurse: When the Queen commands it.
Viola: Oh, but at the playhouse, nurse?
Nurse (cleaning Viola‘s ears): Be still. Playhouses are not for well-born ladies.
Viola: Oh, I am not so well-born!
Nurse: Well-monied is the same as well-born, and well-married is more so. Lord Wessex was looking at you tonight.
Viola: All the men at court are without poetry. If they see me they see my father’s fortune. I will have poetry in my life. And adventure. And love. Love above all.
Nurse: Like Valentine and Silvia?
Viola: No! Not the artful postures of love! But love that overthrows life. Unbiddable. Ungovernable, like a riot in the heart, and nothing to be done, come ruin or rapture. Love as there has never been in a play. I will have love or I will end my days as a...
Nurse: ...as a nurse?
Viola: Oh, but I would be Valentine and Silvia too. (kissing the nurse) Oh good nurse, God save you and good night. (She goes over to the window and looks out longingly.) I would stay asleep my whole life if I could dream myself into a company of players.
Nurse (holding a twig out to her): Clean your teeth while you dream, then. - Now spit.
(Viola smiles dreamily while cleaning her teeth with the twig. She is making a plan.)
(The day is breaking. Will has fallen asleep at his desk, exhausted. On his way to him, Henslowe is suddenly grabbed by two figures who are dragging him back the way he came.)
Fennyman: This time the boots are coming off!
Henslowe (startled): What have I done, Mr. Fennyman?
Fennyman: The theatres have all been closed down by the plague.
Henslowe: Oh, that!
Fennyman: By order of the Master of the Revels!
Henslowe: Mr. Fennyman, allow me to explain about the theatre business. (He bangs his head on a column.) O-hh! The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster.
Fennyman: So what do we do?
Henslowe: Nothing. Strangely enough, it all turns out well.
Henslowe: I don't know. It's a mystery!
Lambert (dumbly): Should I kill him, Mr. Fennyman?
Messenger (swinging a bell): The theatres are reopened. By order of the Master of the Revels, the theatres are reopened!
Frees: Mr. Fennyman, Mr. Tilney has reopened the playhouses!
Henslowe (modestly using the situation to his advantage, shrugging himself free of Lambert's grip and leaving the danger zone in a hurry): If you wouldn’t mind...
Fennyman (calling after him): Where is the play?
Henslowe (placating): Oh, it‘s coming, it’s coming!
Fennyman (to Frees and Lambert, as if to reassure himself): It’s coming.
(It is indeed. Will who has written all night long, is running out of the house, manuscript pages in hand, thereby almost knocking Henslowe down.)
Henslowe: Will! Will, I have wonderful news!
Will (enthusiastically kissing the pages in his hands while hurrying on): So have I ! "Romeo and Rosaline", Scene One. God, I am good!
Henslowe (irritated): Rosaline? You mean Ethel?
(But Will is already gone.)
(Will bangs through the door of Burbage's house without ceremony and runs upstairs.)
Will: Richard! - Burbage!
(He bursts into the sleeping room. Tilney and Rosaline, startled by his sudden appearance, hastily disengange. Rosaline covers her body with the bed sheets.)
Will (shocked): Mr. Tilney!
Tilney (pulling up his breeches): Like you, I found him not at home!
Will (to Rosaline): I would have made you immortal. (to Tilney) Tell Burbage he has lost a new play by Will Shakespeare.
Tilney: What does Burbage care of that? He is readying the Curtain for Kit Marlowe.
Will: You have opened the playhouses?
Tilney: I have, Master Shakespeare.
Will: But the plague?
Tilney: Yes, I know. But he was always hanging around the house...
(Will leaves this place. When passing a paper basket with a fire burning inside he throws in his pages.)
(Will enters a tavern, where, apart from Henslowe, a lot of actors are sitting.)
Waiter: The special today is a pig's foot marinated in juniper-berry vinegar served on a buckwheat pancake which has been...
Henslowe: Will? Have you finished?
Will (pulling himself together): Yes, nearly. Good morning, Master Nol. You will have a nice little part!
Nol (beaming): Yes!
Will: We need Ralph for the Pirate King!
Henslowe (standing on the table, whistling): Ned Alleyn and the Admiral's Men are out on tour. I need actors! Those of you who are unknown will have a chance to be known!
Player: What about the money, Mr. Henslowe?
Henslowe: It won’t cost you a penny! Ha ha ha ha! Auditions in half-an-hour!
(There's a general departure. Will buries his face in his hands, full of grief.)
Henslowe: Ralph Bashford, I’d have a part for you, but alas I hear you are a drunkard’s drunkard?
Ralph (offended): Never when I’m working!
(Everybody is laughing. The tavern empties within seconds.)
Will (to the barkeeper): Give me to drink mandragora.
Barkeeper: Straight up, Will?
Voice: Give my friend a beaker of your best brandy.
(Will turns around to the man who is sitting further down the bar. It is Christopher Marlowe, his stiff competitor.)
Marlowe: How goes it, Will?
Will: Wonderful, wonderful.
Marlowe: Burbage says you have a play?
Will (holding up a coin): I have, and the chinks to show for it. (to the barkeeper) I insist, a beaker for Mr. Marlowe. (to Marlowe) I hear you have a new play for the Curtain?
Marlowe: Not new, my "Dr. Faustus".
Will: Ah. I love your early work! (quoting) "Was this the face that launched a thousand ships and burnt the topless towers of Ilium?"
Marlowe: I have a new one nearly finished, and better. "The Massacre at Paris".
Will (panting impressed): Good title.
Marlowe: And yours?
Will: "Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate's Daughter." (sighing) Yes, I know, I know.
Marlowe: What is the story?
Will (evasively): Well, there's this pirate... (admitting) In truth, I have not written a word.
Marlowe (thoughtfully): Romeo? Romeo is... Italian, always in and out of love...
Will: Yes, that's good. Until he meets...
Will: Do you think?
Marlowe: The daughter of his enemy.
Will (thoughtfully): The daughter of his enemy!
Marlowe (gets going): His best friend is killed in a duel by Ethel’s brother... or something. His name is Mercutio.
Will: Mercutio! Good name!
Henslowe: Will, they are waiting for you!
Will: Yes, I’m coming! (to Marlowe) Good luck with yours, Kit!
Marlowe: I thought your play was for Burbage?
Will (caught): This is a different one.
Marlowe: A different one you haven’t written?
(Will makes a helpless gesture and runs after Henslowe.)
(The audition is in full swing. Will and Henslowe are sitting in the gallery, while one actor after the other tries his luck, all reciting the same lines.)
Player: Was this the face that launched a thousand ships and burnt the topless towers of Ilium?
Henslowe: Thank you!
Streetboy: Was this the face that launched a thousand ships and burnt the top... topless towers of Ilium?
Henslowe (shouting): Thank you!
Second player: Was this the face that launched a thousand ships and burnt the topless towers of Ilium?
Third player: I would like to give you something from "Faustus", by Christopher Marlowe.
Henslowe: How refreshing! (He takes a look to Will who has turned his eyes to the ceiling in desperation.)
Third player: ...topless towers of Ilium? Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss!
Wabash (with a bad stutter): W-w-w-was t-this the f-f...
Henslowe (unexpectedly): Very good, Mr. Wabash. Excellent. Report to the property master! (apologetically to Will who looks at him outraged) My tailor. Wants to be an actor. I have a few debts here and there. Well, that seems to be everybody. Did you see Romeo?
Will: I did not!
Henslowe: Well, I to my work, you to yours.
(Will has stretched himself on a bench, exhausted. Thus he does not notice at first that another player has arrived on the stage.)
Viola (in boy's costume and wearing a hat): May I begin, sir?
Will (turning his head): Your name?
Viola: Thomas Kent. I... I would like to do a speech by a writer who commands the heart of every player.
(Will is just sighing. "Not Marlowe again!" says his face.)
What light is light, if Silvia be not seen?
What joy is joy if Silvia be not by?
Unless it be to think that she is by
And feed upon the shadow of perfection.
Except I be by Silvia in the night,
There is no music in the nightingale.
Unless I look on Silvia in the day,
There is no day for me to look upon.
She is my essence, and I leave to be,
If I be not by her....
Will (has stood up and is looking spellbound down to the stage. His amazement about hearing his own verses has soon given way to excitement over the acting talent of the boy.): Take off your hat!
Viola (startled): My hat?
Will: Where'd you learn how to do that?
Viola: I - I...
Will: Let me see you, take off your hat!
Viola: Are you Ma... Master Shakespeare?
Will (suddenly full of enthusiasm): Wait there! Wait there!
(He thumps down the stairs at speed of light while Viola is fleeing past the other players. Will is hard on her heels. He rans past the players.)
Nol: Will! Where are the pages?
Will: Where is the boy?
Wabash (enthusiastically shaking Will's hands): B-b-break a leg!
(Will storms out of the theatre and, while running, buttons up his jacket.. He follows Viola through the busy quarter down to the riverbank. Viola has entered a boat and is being rowed home. Will jumps into the nearest water taxi.)
Will: Follow that boat!
Boatman: Right you are, governor! (taking a close look at him) I know your face! Are you an actor?
Will (grumpily): Yes!
Boatman: Yes, think I’ve seen you in something. That one about a king!
Boatman (proudly): I had that Christopher Marlowe in my boat once!
(Will rolls his eyes. A private jetty comes into sight. Thomas alias Viola jumps out of the boat and runs towards a noble-looking house.)
Will (standing up and pointing at it): Do you know that house?
Boatman: Sir Robert de Lesseps‘.
(Viola runs breathlessly upstairs to her room. While running she removes her hat, the long blond curls are falling down. Will runs towards the estate of the de Lesseps'.)
Lady de Lesseps (to the nurse): Where is she? Her guests are upon us! Lord Wessex, too, bargaining for a bride. My husband will have it settled tonight, stamped, sealed and celebrated. (Viola, still in breeches, opens the door, sees her mother and closes the door hastily. Lady de Lesseps hasn't noticed her.) Tomorrow he drags me off to the country and it will be three weeks gone before we return from our estates.
(Viola opens the door again. She has changed her clothes in a hurry and now curtsies to her mother.)
Viola: God save you, mother. Hot water, nurse. (The nurse looks at her, round-eyed.)
Will (at the kitchen door): I seek Master Thomas Kent.
Kitchen maid: Who, sir?
Will: The actor.
Nurse (sending the kitchen maid away): Who asks for him?
Will: Will Shakespeare. Poet. Playwright of the Rose.
Nurse: Master Kent... is my nephew.
Will (pressing a letter into her hand): I will wait.
Nurse: Much good may it do you.
(Then she shuts the door in his face.)
(The nurse pours hot water into Viola's bath tub. Viola is wrapped in a bath towel.)
Viola (reading Will's letter): Romeo Montague, young man of Verona.
Nurse (not impressed): Verona? Again?
Viola: A comedy of quarrelling families reconciled in the discovery of Romeo to be the very same Capulet cousin stolen from the cradle and fostered to manhood by his Montague mother that was robbed of her own child by the Pirate King!
Nurse (helping Viola into her dress): Your mother and your father...
Viola (beaming): ...from tomorrow away in the country for three weeks! Is Master Shakespeare not handsome?
Nurse: He looks well enough for a charlatan.
Viola: Oh nurse! He would give Thomas Kent the life of Viola de Lesseps‘s dreaming!
Nurse: My lady, when your parents return I will tell !
Viola (imploringly seizing her nurse's hands): You will not tell! As I love you and as you love me, you will bind my breast and buy me a boy‘s wig!
Will (on his way back, meeting a few musicians): Master Plum, what business here?
Plum: A five shilling business, Will. We play for the dancing.
(A galloping horsemann thunders thoughtlessly up the drive. The musicians and Will have to jump aside, in order not to get stamped flat by the horse's hooves. The horseman is Lord Wessex, showing his usual good manners. He throws the reins to a servant and walks into the house.)
(Inside the party is in full swing. We see Will standing on the bandstand. He has sneaked in with the musicians, playing along with them and now helping himself to a snack of a passing servant's tray.)
Will (to the servant): I seek Master Thomas Kent.
Servant (referring to the snacks): Musicians don’t eat. Sir Robert’s orders.
(De Lesseps and Wessex are talking "business".)
De Lesseps: She is a beauty, my lord, as would take a king to church for the dowry of a nutmeg.
Wessex: My plantations in Virginia are not mortgaged for a nutmeg. I have an ancient name that will bring you preferment when your grandson is a Wessex. Is she fertile?
De Lesseps: She will breed. If she do not, send her back.
Wessex: Is she obedient?
De Lesseps: As any mule in Christendom - but if you are the man to ride her, there are rubies in the saddlebag.
Wessex (nodding): I like her.
(He goes to the dance floor. Will's eyes are searching the room for Thomas Kent when they catch Viola who is leading a changing-partners dance. It is love at first sight.)
Will: By all the stars in heaven, who is she?
Plum: Viola de Lesseps. Dream on, Will.
(Will, like in trance, leaves the bandstand and mixes with the other dancers, always keeping her in view, until he stands opposite Viola. She recognizes him at once, her feelings in turmoil.)
Viola (gasping): Master Shakespeare!
(Then the dance leads her to Lord Wessex.)
Wessex: My lady Viola.
Viola (trying hard to keep her composure): My lord?
Wessex: I have spoken with your father.
Viola: So, my lord? I speak with him every day.
(The dance brings Viola and Will together again. They take a deep look into each other's eyes.)
Viola (to Will): Good sir, I heard you are a poet. (She smiles at him, but Will is not able to utter a single word. He is dumb with adoration.) But a poet of no words?
(Will tries to say something, as Wessex seizes his arm and drags him off the dance floor. Viola looks after him, deeply stirred.)
Wessex (smiling grimly): A poet?
Will (slowly coming round from the anasthetic, but not noticing the danger): I was a poet till now, but I have seen beauty that puts my poems at one with the talking ravens in the Tower.
(Wessex holds a dagger to his throat.)
Will (startled): How do I offend, my lord?
Wessex: By coveting my property. I cannot shed blood in her house, but I will cut your throat anon. You have a name?
Will (gulping): Christopher Marlowe, at your service.
(Wessex pushes him out of the room.)
(Later in the evening. Will has been hiding in the garden. Viola steps out on the balcony.)
Viola (dreamily): Romeo, Romeo. A young man of Verona. A comedy by William Shakespeare.
Will (calling from below): My lady!
Viola (startled): Who is there?
Will (coming off from his hiding place and running to the balcony): Will Shakespeare!
Nurse (calling from inside): Madam!
Viola (to the nurse): Anon, good nurse, anon! (to Will) Master Shakespeare?
Will: The same, alas!
Viola: But why alas?
Will: A lowly player!
Viola: Alas indeed. For I thought you the highest poet of my esteem and a writer of plays that capture my heart!
Will: Oh, I am him too!
Viola: Anon! (to Will) I will come again! (She goes inside.)
Will (flattening himself to the wall): Oh I am fortune's fool! I will be punished for this!
(He places himself under the balcony again, his arms outstretched to Viola who is just reappearing.)
Will: Oh my lady, my love!
Viola: If they find you here they will kill you!
Will (spreading both arms): You can bring them with a word!
Viola: No, not for the world!
(She goes inside again and Will begins to climb up a tree. When his head is nearly level to the parapet and he pops his head over it, he finds himself suddenly face to face with the nurse who begins to yell terribly.Will falls out of the tree and lands in the brush-wood. He rans home as fast as he can, where he burns the midnight oil and in an attack of inspiration writes the first scenes of his new play.)
(First day of rehearsals. Manuscript pages are being handed out. Fennyman is also there.)
John Hemmings as Simson: Draw if you be men! Gregory, remember thy washing blow!
Nol as Benvolio (reading from the page): Part, fools, put up your swords, you know not what you do!
Henslowe (flipping nervously through the pages, to Will): It starts well, then it's all long-faced about some Rosaline. Where‘s the comedy, Will? Where‘s the dog?
(Will doesn't listen but greets the players enthusiastically.)
Henslowe (to Ralph): Do you think it is funny?
Ralph: I was a Pirate King, now I‘m a Nurse. That's funny.
Will (taking Henslowe aside): We are at least six men short, and those we have will be overparted, ranters and stutterers who should be sent back to the stews. My Romeo has let me down, I see disaster.
Henslowe: We are at least four acts short, Will, if you are looking for disaster!
Will: Who are you, master?
Streetboy: I am Ethel, sir, the Pirate's daughter.
Will (furiously snatching the cap off his head): I’ll be damned if you are!
(The boy picks up his cap, and we see a hurt look on his face. This boy could become dangerous later on.)
Will (jumping onto the stage and addressing the players): Your attention, please! Gentlemen! Thank you! You are welcome! Welcome! Welcome.
Fennyman (mistrustfully): Who is that?
Henslowe: Nobody. It's the author.
Will: We are about to embark on a great voyage.
Henslowe (to Fennyman): It is customary to make a little speech on the first day. It does no harm. Authors like it.
Will: You want to know what parts you are to receive. All will be settled as we go...
Fennyman (jumping on the stage and pushing Will aside): I’ll do it! Now listen to me, you dregs! Actors are ten a penny, and I, Hugh Fennyman, hold your nuts in my hand...
(This is as far as he gets when the door of the Rose is suddenly swung open with a bang and a handful men enter the room noisily, in front of them Ned Alleyn, the vain star of the company.)
Alleyn (full of pathos): Huzzah! The Admiral's Men are returned to the house!
Henslowe (pleased): Ned!
(Many of the players have run towards the newcomers, and a general greeting starts.)
Fennyman (crossly for having been interrupted): Who is this?
Alleyn (drawing his sword half from its sheath, putting it back again and bellowing theatratically): Silence, you dog! I am Hieronimo! I am Tamburlaine! I am Faustus! I am Barrabas, the Jew of Malta! (turning to Will) Oh yes, Master Will, I am Henry VI. (spreading his arms) What is the play and what is my part?
Fennyman: Ah... one moment, sir...
Alleyn (rounding on him): Who are you?
Fennyman (intimidated): I’m ah….I’m the money.
Alleyn (graciously): Then you may remain so long as you remain silent. Pay attention, you will see how genius creates a legend!
Fennyman (respectfully): Thank you, sir!
Will (to Alleyn): We are in desperate want of a Mercutio, Ned, a young nobleman of Verona.
Alleyn: Hmm-hmm. And the title of this piece?
Henslowe (baffled): Is it?
Will (shooting him a look): Ssh!
Alleyn: I will play!
(This is much to the relief of everybody, and Will fervously starts to welcome the newly arrived players.)
Will: Mr. Pope, Mr. Philips, welcome! George Bryan! James Armitage! (Then he spots a young actor and grasps his chin.) Oh Sam, my pretty one! Oh! Are you ready to fall in love again?
Sam (a bit hoarse): I am, Master Shakespeare!
Will (putting a hand between Sam's legs, concerned): Your voice, have they dropped?
Sam (in a slightly higher voice than before): No! No. A touch of cold only!
Will: Master Henslowe, you have your actors. Except Thomas Kent.
Fennyman (to Will): I uh - I saw his Tamburlaine, you know. That's wonderful.
Will: Yes, I saw it.
Fennyman: Of course, it was mighty writing. There is no one like Marlowe.
(Will rolls his eyes.)
(Will is pacing restlessly up and down in front of the theatre, looking for Thomas Kent. The streetboy who wanted to play Ethel is sitting on a corner, mice are clambering about him.)
Will (affably): Better fortune, boy.
Streetboy (shrugging): I was in a play. They cut my head off in "Titus Andronicus". When I write plays, they will be like "Titus".
Will (flattered): You admire it?
Streetboy: I liked it when they cut heads off. And the daughter mutilated with knives.
Will: What is your name?
Streetboy: John Webster. (holding up a mouse on her tail) Here, kitty, kitty! (A cat comes nearer.) Plenty of blood, that's the only writing!
Will (disgusted): I have to get back. (The mouse screams.)
(Will gives up waiting and returns to the theatre where the rehearsal is in full swing.)
Nol as Benvolio: See where he comes. So please you step aside; I’ll know his grievance or be much denied.
Montague: I would thou wert so happy by thy stay to hear true shrift. Come madam, let's away.
Will: Cut round him for now.
Henslowe (alarmed): What? Who?
Henslowe: Oh, the one who came with your letter?
(Henslowe points to the stage.)
Nol as Benvolio: Good morrow, cousin.
Viola as Romeo (in boy's clothes, with wig and moustache): Is the day so young?
Nol as Benvolio: But new struck nine.
Viola as Romeo: Ay me, sad hours seem long!
Nol as Benvolio: What sadness lenghtens Romeo’s hours?
Viola as Romeo: Not having that which, having, makes them short.
Will (impressed): Good!
Nol as Benvolio: In love?
Viola as Romeo: Out!
Nol as Benvolio: Of love?
Viola as Romeo (full of enthusiasm): Out of her favour where I am in love!
Will (interfering): No, no, no, no, don’t spend it all at once! (He jumps on the stage.)
Viola (hesitantly): Yes, sir.
Will: Do you understand me?
Viola: No, sir.
Will: He is speaking about a baggage we never even meet. What will be left in your purse when he meets his Juliet?
Henslowe: Juliet? You mean Ethel!
Will (rounding on him, unnerved): God's teeth, am I to suffer this constant streem of interruption? (to Viola) What will you do in Act Two, when he meets the love of his life?
Viola (timidly): Ah, I am very sorry, sir, I have not seen Act Two.
Will (stopping short): Of course you have not. I have not written it. Go once more!
(He heads towards the exit and passes Ned who frowns over his page with the scene.)
Alleyn: Will, where is Mercutio?
Will (tapping his forehead): Locked safe in here. I leave the scene in your safe keeping, Ned. I have a sonnet to write.
Henslowe (worried): Sonnet? You mean a play!
(Will ignores him and goes upstairs to his little writing corner. Viola looks after him, a riot in the heart. He begins a sonnet: "For Lady Viola de Lesseps. By the hand of Thomas Kent")
Viola (still dressed as Thomas, runs upstairs to her room, sonnet in hand. She leans herself to the wall and reads the beginning of the sonnet): "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate." (She heaves a happy sigh.) "Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May..."
(Suddenly a loud excited voice can be heard.)
Wessex (to the nurse): Two hours at prayer?
Nurse: Lady Viola is pious, my lord.
Wessex (annoyed): Piety is for Sunday! And two hours at prayer is not piety, it is self-importance!
Nurse: It would be better that you return tomorrow, my lord.
Wessex (crossly): It would be better if you tell her to get off her knees and show some civility to her six-day lord and master!
(Viola enters, wearing a dress, but still her moustache. The nurse manages to pluck it away just in time before Lord Wessex turns to look at Viola.)
Wessex (bowing): My lady Viola!
Viola (curtsying): Lord Wessex! You have been waiting!
Wessex: I am aware of it! - But it is beauty's privilege.
Viola: You flatter, my lord.
Wessex: No. I have spoken to the Queen. Her majesty’s consent is requisite when a Wessex takes a wife, and once given, her consent is her command.
Viola (unsuspectingly): Do you intend to marry, my lord?
Wessex: Your father should keep your better informed. He has bought me for you. He returns from his estates to see us married two weeks from Saturday. (Pause) You are allowed to show your pleasure.
Viola (stunned): But I do not love you, my lord!
Wessex (painfully embarrassed): How your mind hops about! Your father was a shopkeeper! Your children will bear arms, and I will recover my fortune. That is the only matter under discussion today. You will like Virginia.
Viola (in amazement): Virginia?
Wessex: Oh, yes. My fortune lies in my plantations - the tobacco weed. I need four thousand pounds to fit out a ship and put my investments to work. I fancy tobacco has a future. We will not stay there long - three or four years...
Viola (heaving a tortured sigh): Why me?
Wessex: It was your eyes. No, your lips.
(He approaches and kisses her inspite of her vehement resistance. She gives him a resounding slap.)
Wessex: Will you defy your father and your Queen?
Viola: The Queen has consented?
Wessex: She wants to inspect you, at Greenwich, come Sunday. Be submissive, modest, grateful and brief.
Viola (closing her eyes in desperation): I will do my duty, my lord.
(Viola writes to Will. His sonnet lies on her desk. She is weeping.)
Viola: "Master Will, poet dearest to my heart, I beseech you, banish me from yours - I am to marry Lord Wessex - a daughter's duty, and the Queen's command."
(Rehearsal of the dance scene in Act One, Scene Five. The dance goes wrong, and it's Viola's fault who is without any concentration.)
Alleyn (who is being in charge, furiously): Gentlemen upstage, ladies downstage! Gentlemen upstage, ladies downstage! Are you a lady, Mr. Kent?
Viola (murmuring): I'm very sorry, sir.
(She casts a longing look at Will who is just passing her.)
Will (to Alleyn): You did not like the speech?
Alleyn: No, the speech is excellent. "Oh then I see Queen Mab hath been with you." Excellent, and a good length. But then he disappears for the length of a bible!
Will (giving him some newly written pages): There, you have this duel, a skirmish of words and swords such as I never wrote, nor anyone. He dies with such passion and poetry as you ever heard. (reciting with pathos) "A plague on both your houses!"
(He slaps Ned's back, nods cheeringly and then clears off. It takes Ned a while to understand his words. Then he looks up in disbelief.)
Alleyn: He dies? (But the author has escaped.)
(Will rushes out of the theatre and bumps into Burbage.)
Burbage: Will, where are my pages?
(Will jumps and throws up both arms in a "How on earth am I to know this?"-gesture. While he hurries on Burbage looks after him in wonder.)
(Viola, dressed as Thomas, is being rowed home in a boat. Then she hears a voice behind her. It is Will following her in another boat.)
Will: Did you give her my letter?
Viola (holding up her letter): And this is for you.
(Will changes boats, seizes the letter, drops on the bench next to her, reads and is shocked.)
Will: Oh Thomas, she's cut my strings! I am unmanned, unmended and unmade, like a puppet in a box!
Boatman (amused by his choice of words): Writer, is he?
Will (rounding on him): Row your boat! (to Viola) She tells me to keep away. She is to marry Lord Wessex! What should I do?
Viola: If you love her, you must do as she asks.
Will: And break her heart and mine?
Viola: It is only yours you can know!
Will: She loves me, Thomas!
Viola: Does she say so?
Will: No. And yet she does where the ink has run with tears. Was she weeping when she gave you this?
Viola: Ah, her letter came to me by the nurse.
Will: Your aunt?
Viola: Yes, my aunt. - But perhaps she wept a little. - Tell me how you love her, Will.
Will: Like a sickness - and its cure together.
Viola (breathlessly): Oh yes. Like rain and sun. Like cold and heat. Is your lady beautiful?
(pulling herself together) Hm, since I came here from the country, I have not seen her close. - Tell me, is... is she beautiful?
Will (effusively, moving very close to Viola): Thomas! If I could write the beauty of her eyes! I was born to look in them and know myself!
(He is looking directly into her eyes.)
Viola (moved): A... a... and her lips?
Will (moving even closer): Her lips? The early morning rose would wither on the branch, if it could feel envy!
Viola (hardly able to control herself anymore): And her voice? Like lark song?
Will: Deeper. Softer. None of your twittering larks. I would banish nightingales from her garden before they interrupt her song.
Viola: Oh, she sings too?
Will: Constantly, without doubt. And plays the lute, she has a natural ear. - And her bosom! Did I mention her bosom?
Viola (trying to pull herself together): What of her bosom?
Will (enraptured): Oh Thomas! A pair of pippins, as round and rare as golden apples!
Viola: I think the lady is wise to keep your love at a distance, for what lady could live up to it close to, when her eyes and lips and voice may be no more beautiful than mine? Besides, can a - can a lady of wealth and noble marriage love happily with a Bankside poet and player?
Will (ardently): Yes, by God! Love knows nothing of rank or riverbank! It will spark between a queen and the poor vagabond who plays the king, and their love should be minded by each, for love denied blights the soul we owe to God! So tell my lady, William Shakespeare waits for her in the garden!
(He has grabbed Viola's shoulders and has given her a short shaking. She nearly faints of excitement. She has only one last counter-argument left.)
Viola: But what of Lord Wessex?
Will (convinced): For one kiss I would defy a thousand Wessexes!
Viola (being not able to control herself anymore, kissing him): Oh Will!
(Then she jumps out of the boat and throws a coin to the boatman, while Will is looking totally perplexed. He doesn't understand anything anymore.)
Boatman: Thank you, my lady!
Will (stunned): Lady?
Boatman: That is Viola de Lesseps. Known her since she was this high. Wouldn't deceive a child! (Then he produces a manuscript from under his seat and holds it out to Will.) Strangely enough, I'm a bit of a writer meeself. It wouldn't take you long to read it! I expect you know all the booksellers?
(But Will has already jumped out of the boat and is running after Viola. Without hesitating he climbs up the tree to her balcony. He enters her room through the balcony door at the very same moment as Viola steps in through the regular door. Her long hair is already falling down. They stare at each other.)
Will: Can you love a fool?
Viola: Can you love a player?
(Then they run to each other and fall into a passionate kiss. Suddenly Will pulls back.)
Will: Wait! You are still a maid and perhaps as mistook in me as I was mistook in Thomas Kent!
Viola: Are you the author of the plays of William Shakespeare?
Will (nodding): I am.
Viola: Then kiss me again for I am not mistook!
(They start again to kiss each other. The nurse comes to Viola's door. When she hears excited giggling she stops and puts her ear to the door. Will and Viola mutually fumble at the buttons of their jackets.)
Viola: I do not know how to undress a man.
Will: It is strange to me, too.
(They start to laugh and kiss again. The nurse drags a wooden rocker with arms to the door and is on guard that nobody disturbs the two. She is feeling very uneasy and is sliding restlessly on her chair. The situation is too much for her. Will and Viola are now half-naked. Will slips off her shirt over her head and is astonished at seeing that her breast is wrapped tightly with a bandage. He finds the loose end and Viola begins to turn around until the bandage is unwrapped. The nurse in front of the door has nervously begun to fan air to herself. Will kisses Viola and pulls her down to the bed. Soon a rhythmic creaking from the wooden bed can be heard outside. A chamber maid with a tray in her hand approaches the room and stops astonished at hearing this sound. The nurse begins to creak with the rocking chair in intervals to drown the sound. She waves at the chamber maid to go on.)
Nurse: Go to, go to!
(Will and Viola are lying beside each other, both slightly breathless.)
Viola: I would not have thought it. There is something better than a play!
Will (agreeing): There is!
Viola: Even your play!
Will: Mmh. (then, wounded in his vanity, with a frown) Hmm?
Viola: And that was only my first try!
(She leans over to him and they start to kiss again.)
(It is early morning. The nurse has fallen asleep in her rocker. A rooster crows. Will wakes up and moves, which causes Viola to wake up also, for she is lying cuddled up on him.)
Viola (still half asleep): Will... You would not leave me?
Will (turning to her): I must. Look how pale the window.
Will: No, the morning rooster woke me.
Viola (pulling him down to her): It was the owl - come to bed !
Will (giving in and starting to kiss her): Oh, let Henslowe wait!
Viola (pausing and pushing him away): Mr. Henslowe?
Will (nibbling at her): Mmh. Let him be damned for his pages!
Viola (determined): Oh no, no, no, no!
Will (protesting): There is time! It is still dark!
Viola: It is broad day. The rooster tells us so!
Will: It was the owl! Believe me, love, it was the owl!
(Viola gives him a shove which has him fall out of the bed. She sits up.)
Viola: You would leave us players without a scene to read today?
(Will sits up. His look is full of renunciation.)
Nurse (knocking at the door): My lady, the house is stirring. It is a new day.
Viola (wrapped in the bed sheet, opening the door cheerfully): It is a new world!
(Rehearsal of the first kiss scene between Romeo and Juliet. Romeo throws himself well and truly to Juliet. Will clings to a column. He holds it in an embrace, gazing adoringly at his Viola.)
Sam as Juliet: Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much, which mannerly devotion shows in this, for saints have hands that pilgrims' hands do touch, and palm to palm is holy palmers' kiss.
Viola as Romeo: Have not saints lips, and holy palmers too?
Sam as Juliet: Ay, pilgrim, lips that they must use in prayer.
Viola as Romeo: Oh then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do. They pray; grant thou, lest faith turn do despair.
Sam as Juliet: Saints do not move, though grant for prayer’s sake.
(Will is in Viola's field of vision. She gives him an intimate secret look, thus promptly missing her cue.)
Sam: It's you!
Alleyn (furiously): Suffering cats!
Viola as Romeo (looking guiltily on her lines): Then move not while my prayer’s effect I take.
(She places a gentle kiss on Sam's lips, it is not a very ardent kiss. But it is already too much for Will who abruptly breaks away from the column and makes a few steps into her direction.)
Viola as Romeo: Thus from my lips, by thine, my sin is purg’d.
(Will twirls his hair, he is jealousy in person.)
Sam as Juliet: Then have my lips the sin that they have took.
Viola as Romeo: Sin from my lips? Oh trespass sweetly urg‘d! Give me my sin again!
(She leans forward to kiss Sam once more.)
Will (cannot stand it any longer and interrupts): Yes! Yes, er... not quite right, it is more... let me.
(He shoves Sam out of the way and places himself opposite Viola.)
Will as Juliet: Then have my lips the sin that they have took.
Viola as Romeo: Sin from my lips? Oh trespass sweetly urg‘d! Give me my sin again!
(They lose themselves in a passionate kiss, Sam looks astonished.)
Viola as Romeo (smiling subtly, speaking Juliet's line): You kiss by th' book!
(Will who has completely forgotten himself is leaning forward to kiss Viola once again, but Ned stops him.)
Alleyn (sarcastically): Well, Will! It was lucky you were here! Why do not I write the rest of your play while you...
Will (apologising): Yes, yes, uh...continue. Now the Nurse. Where is Ralph?
Ralph as Nurse (stumbling in): Madam, your mother craves a word with you.
(Will has fled behind the curtain and tries to compose himself. He presses his chin to the wall. Viola has him in her eye-line.)
Viola as Romeo: What is her mother?
Ralph as Nurse: Marry bachelor, her mother is the lady of the house. And a good lady, and wise and virtuous. I nursed her daughter that you talk‘d withal. I tell you, he that can lay hold of her shall have the chinks!
Viola as Romeo: Is she a Capulet?
(Ralph the Nurse nods in agreement.)
Viola as Romeo: Oh dear account, my life is my foe’s debt!
(She takes a few steps towards the curtain behind which Will is standing and puts her hand through. Will takes and kisses it.)
Nol as Benvolio: Away, be gone, the sport is at the best!
Viola as Romeo: Ay, so I fear, the more is my unrest!
(She whirls behind the curtain and rushes into an embrace with Will who only waited for this.)
Sam as Juliet (to Ralph the Nurse): Come hither, nurse. What is yond gentleman?
Ralph as Nurse: The son and heir of old Tiberio.
Viola (behind the curtain to Will): Oh, let it be night!
Sam as Juliet: What's he that follows here that would not dance?
Ralph as Nurse: I know not.
Sam as Juliet: Go ask his name! If he be married, my grave is like to be my wedding bed!
(Will disengages from Viola. She protests.)
Viola: No, do not go!
Will: I must. I must!
Alleyn (off): No! Simply terrible!
(Will runs upstairs to his little writing corner. Once again follows his little ritual: he spins around, rubs the quill between his palms and spits on the floor. Then he begins to write.)
(Viola sits in her bed, half dressed. Will lies in her lap.)
Viola (reading): But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun. Arise fair sun and kill the envious moon who is already sick and pale with grief that thou her maid art far more fair than she. (moved) Oh Will!
Will (modestly): Yes, some of it is speakable.
Viola (goes on reading): It is my lady, o it is my love. O that she knew she were! The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars as daylight doth a lamp.
(While she is reading Will gently strokes her cheek. She smiles at him. The scene is being continued as rehearsal in the theatre.)
Viola as Romeo: Her eyes in heaven would through the airy region stream so bright that birds would sing and think it were not night. See how she leans her cheek upon her hand! O that I were a glove upon that hand, that I might touch that cheek!
Sam as Juliet: Ay me!
(The scene now jumps back and forth between the theatre and Viola's room.)
Will as Juliet (speaking under Viola's kisses): Oh Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo? Deny thy father...
Sam as Juliet (standing on the theatre balcony and reading from his page): ...Deny thy father and refuse thy name. Or if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, and I'll no longer be a Capulet!
Viola as Romeo: Shall I hear more or shall I speak at this?
(Will blows out the candle and pulls down Viola's night-gown.)
Will as Juliet: What man art thou that thus bescreen‘d in night so stumblest on my counsel?
Viola as Romeo: By a name I know not how to tell thee who I am: My name, dear saint, is hateful to myself because it is an enemy to thee. Had I it written, I would tear the word!
(Will with both his hands goes up Viola's naked shoulders.)
Will as Juliet: The orchard walls are high and hard to climb, and the place death, considering who thou art, if any of my kinsmen find thee here. If they do see thee, they will murder thee.
(It is late. The rehearsal is being continued at torchlight. A lot of players are watching.)
Viola as Romeo: Alack, there lies more peril in thine eye, than twenty of their swords! Look thou but sweet, and I am proof against their enmity.
Sam as Juliet: I would not for the world they saw thee here.
Viola as Romeo: I have night's cloak to hide me from their eyes. And but thou love me, let them find me here.
(Will and Viola lie down.)
Will as Juliet: Good night, good night. As sweet repose and rest come to thy heart as that within my breast. - O wilt thou leave me so unsatisfied?
Viola (protesting softly): That's my line!
Will: Oh, but it is mine too!
Viola as Romeo: O wilt thou leave me so unsatisfied?
Sam as Juliet: What satisfaction can'st thou have tonight?
Viola as Romeo: The exchange of thy love's faithful vow for mine.
(Will and Viola are making love.)
Will as Juliet: My bounty is as boundless as the see, my love as deep. The more I give to thee...
Will and Viola together: ... the more I have, for both are infinite.
Viola's Nurse (knocking at the door): Madam!
Sam as Juliet: I hear some noise within, dear love, adieu.
Ralph as Nurse: Juliet!
Viola: Anon, good nurse!
Sam as Juliet: Anon, good nurse! Sweet Montague be true!
Will (in the throes of passion): Stay but a little, I will come again!
Sam as Juliet: Stay but a little, I will come again!
Viola as Romeo: Oh blessed, blessed night!
(Will and Viola lie beside each other. Will has already fallen asleep. Viola twirls her hair and looks at him.)
Viola as Romeo (like to herself): I am afeard, being in night, all this is but a dream, too flattering sweet to be substantial.
Sam as Juliet: ...to cease thy strife and leave me to my grief. A thousand times good night!
Viola as Romeo: A thousand times the worst to want thy light.
Sam (to Ralph): I cannot move in this dress! And it makes me look like a pig! There’s no neck in this pig dress!
(Will finishes a page and gives it to Peter, the stage manager. Ned enters the writing corner.)
Will (to Peter): How is it?
Peter (shrugging): Oh, it’s all right.
(As Peter leaves the room Will makes a face. It says "Typical !".)
Will (forearming himself): Ned, I know, I know...
Alleyn (unexpectedly): It is good.
Will (surprised): Oh?
Alleyn: The title won't do.
Alleyn: "Romeo and Juliet", just a suggestion.
Will (ironically): Thank you, Ned. You are a gentleman.
Alleyn (while leaving): And you are a Warwickshire shit-house.
(Downstairs the rehearsal continues.)
Sam as Juliet: At what o'clock to-morrow shall I send to thee?
Viola as Romeo: By the hour of nine.
Sam as Juliet: I shall not fail. 'Tis twenty years till then. I have forgot why I did call thee back...
(Henslowe and Peter are sitting on the edge of the stage, Peter has just given Henslowe the new pages. An ugly dog is sitting beside them.)
Henslowe (in disbelief): You mean, no dog of any kind?
Fennyman (killing them with looks): Ssh! Silence!
Peter: The Friar marries them in secret, then Ned gets into a fight with one of the Capulets, Romeo tries to stop, and then he gets in Ned’s way, I mean in Mercutio‘s way, so Tybalt kills Mercutio, then Romeo kills Tybalt. And then the Princes banishes him from Verona.
Henslowe (relieved): That must be when he goes on the voyage and gets shipwrecked on the island of the Pirate King!
Fennyman (who has been watching the rehearsal spellbound, annoyed): For God’s sake! Cease your prattling and get out! Get out! (He kicks the dog. Then he turns to Sam and Viola who have interrupted their rehearsal.) A thousand apologies! Please!
Sam as Juliet: ...and with a silken thread plucks it back again, so loving-jealous of his liberty.
Viola as Romeo: I would I were thy bird!
Sam as Juliet: Sweet, so would I. Yet I should kill thee with much cherishing! Good night, good night!
Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall say good night till it be morrow.
(Behind the stage a duel is rehearsed, Ralph in his nurse's costume whiles away the time with juggling.)
(It is morning. Will and Viola lie beside each other. Church bells are ringing. Will opens his eyes. Viola wakes with a start and sits up. Something is bothering her, but she can't think what it is. Will pulls her back to the pillow.)
Will: Sunday. It is Sunday. (They snuggle up to each other.) I found something in my sleep. The Friar who married them will take up their destinies.
Viola: But it will end well for love?
Will: In heaven, perhaps. It is not a comedy I am writing now. A broad river divides my lovers - family, duty, fate - as unchangeable as nature.
Viola (sobered): Yes, this is not life, Will. It is a stolen season.
(Suddenly voices can be heard.)
Wessex (furiously): Patient? Will you ask Her Majesty to be patient?
Nurse: My lord, I will go to her...
Viola (remembering): Sunday! Greenwich!
(She sits up with a cry. Will looks uncomprehendingly. The nurse and Wessex are running upstairs, the nurse trying to reach Viola's room before him.)
Wessex (stopping): Now pay attention, Nursy. The Queen, Gloriana Regina, God's Chosen Vessel, the Radiant One, who shines her light on us, is at Greenwich today, and prepared, during the evening's festivities, to bestow her gracious favour on my choice of wife - and if we're late for lunch, the old boot will not forgive. So get you to my lady's chamber and produce her with or without her under garments!
(Will and Viola are dressing while Will desperately tries to win Viola round.)
Will: You cannot! Not for the Queen herself!
Viola: What will you have me do? Marry you instead?
Will (hurt): To be the wife of a poor player? Can I wish that for Lady Viola, except in my dreams? And yet I would if I were free to follow my desire in the harsh light of day!
Viola (tartly): You follow your desire freely enough in the night. So, if that is all, to Greenwich I go.
Will: Then I'll go with you.
Viola: You cannot! Wessex will kill you!
Will: I know how to fight!
Viola: Stage fighting! (She stands up and takes his head into her hands.) Oh Will! As Thomas Kent my heart belongs to you but as Viola the river divides us, and I must marry Wessex a week from Saturday.
Wessex (still ranting): Then I'll drag her down, by the Queen’s command!
(The door to Viola's room opens, she walks out. She is wearing a beautiful dress.)
Viola: Good morning, my lord.
Wessex (impressed by her appearance): My lady, the tide waits for no man, but I swear it would wait for you.
(Will appears behind her in dress and bonnet, the bonnet drawn half before his face to hide the beard.)
Will (in a high voice): Oh, here we come at last, my lord!
Wessex (taken aback): Are you bringing your laundry woman?
Will (giggling foolishly): Her chaperone. My lady‘s country cousin. (Viola can't help grinning. The nurse closes her eyes in horror. Will curtsies.) My, but you be a handsome gallant, just as she said. (graciously) You may call me Miss Wilhelmina!
Wessex (taking Viola’s arm): On a more fortuitous occasion, perhaps.
Will: Oh my lord, you will not shake me off, she never needed me more, I swear by your breeches!
(Wessex, Viola and Will have arrived in Greenwich. Fireworks are being let off. The Queen appears. Will bows until Viola pokes him and reminds him to curtsy. A lord in waiting approaches Wessex.)
Lord in waiting: Now!
Wessex (to Viola): The Queen asks for you. Answer well. (taking Will aside) Is there a man?
Will: A man, my lord?
Wessex: There was a man, a poet, a theatre poet, I think. Does he come to the house?
Will: A theatre poet?
Wessex: Yeah, an insolvent penny-a-page rogue, Marlowe, he said, Christopher Marlowe! Has he been to the house?
Will (pretending to think): Marlowe? Oh yes, he is the one. Lovely waistcoat, shame about the poetry!
Wessex (infuriated): That dog!
Viola (freezed in a curtsy): Your Majesty!
Queen Elizabeth: Stand up straight, girl. (looking closely at her) I have seen you. You are the one who comes to all the plays at Whitehall, at Richmond...
Viola (smiling affirmatively): Your Majesty.
Queen Elizabeth: What do you love so much?
Viola (taking a run-up): Your Majesty...
Queen Elizabeth: Speak up, girl! I know who I am! Do you love stories of kings and queens, or feats of arms? Or is it courtly love?
Viola: I love theatre. To have stories acted for me by a company of fellows is indeed...
Queen Elizabeth (reprimandingly): They are not acted for you, they are acted for me! - And?
Viola: And I love poetry, above all.
Queen Elizabeth: Above Lord Wessex? (The courtiers giggle.) My lord, when you cannot find your wife you had better look for her at the playhouse. (They giggle again.) Playwrights teach us nothing about love. They make it pretty, they make it comical, or they make it lust. They cannot make it true.
Viola (blurting out): Oh, but they can! (The courtiers whisper. The Queen considers her thoughtfully. Wessex pants stunned. That's when Viola notices what she has said and tries to save.) I mean, your Majesty, they - they do not, they have not, but I believe there is one who can!
Wessex (intervening): My lady Viola is young in the world. Your Majesty is wise in it. Nature and truth are the very enemies of playacting. I'll wager my fortune.
Queen Elizabeth: I thought you were here because you had none?
(There is more giggling, Wessex smiles tortured.)
Queen Elizabeth: Well, no one will take your wager, it seems.
Will (calling in a high voice): Fifty pounds!
(A whisper goes through the crowd.)
Queen Elizabeth (amused): Fifty pounds? A very worthy sum on a very worthy question: Can a play show us the very truth and nature of love? I bear witness to the wager, and will be the judge of it as occasion arises. (The courtiers applaud.) I have seen nothing to settle it yet. (raising from her throne and stepping down) Are no more fireworks? They'll be soothing after the excitements of Lady Viola’s audience. (confidentally to Wessex) Have her, then, but you're a lordly fool. She's been plucked since I saw her last - and not by you. It takes a woman to know it.
Wessex (freezed in sudden realization): Marlowe!
(Marlowe, manuscript in hand, enters Burbage's house.)
(A creaking bed is being heard from above. Rosaline sits astride Burbage.)
Burbage: Who’s there?
Marlowe: Marlowe! (He goes upstairs and enters the bedroom.) You are playing my "Dr. Faustus" this afternoon. Don't spend yourself in sport!
Burbage: What do you want, Kit?
Marlowe (ignoring the picture of Rosaline and Burbage in bed): My "Massacre at Paris" is complete.
Burbage: What, you have the last act?
Marlowe: If you have the money?
Marlowe: Then tomorrow you shall have the pages.
Burbage (to Rosaline): Oh! Will you desist, Madam!
Marlowe: Twenty pounds on delivery.
Burbage: Now, what is money to men like us? Besides, if I need a play, I have another waiting, a comedy by Shakespeare.
Marlowe: Oh, "Romeo"? (shaking his head) He gave it to Henslowe.
Marlowe (already half out of door): Well, I am to Deptford. I leave you my respects, Miss Rosaline.
Burbage: I gave Shakespeare two sovereigns for "Romeo"!
Marlowe: You did. But Ned Alleyn and the Admiral's Men have the playing of it at the Rose.
Burbage: Treachery! Traitor and thief!
(He jumps up, catapulting Rosaline out of bed. She falls and the glassy snake bracelet breaks at the wall. She begins to collect the pieces. The mouth of the snake has rolled before Burbage who picks it up and unfolds the paper still stuck inside. He doesn't like what he reads. It is Will's signature.)
(The Chamberlain’s Men, lead by Burbage, including the dog, are on their way to the Rose Theatre. Their faces are grim. In the Rose the Montagues and the Capulets are meeting one another.)
Nol as Benvolio: By my head, here comes the Capulets.
Alleyn as Mercutio: By my heel, I care not.
James Hemmings as Tybalt: Follow me close; I will speak to them. (bombastically, with arms akimbo) Gentlemen, good e’en, a word with one of you.
Alleyn (nagging): Are you going to do it like that? - Positions!
(The scene is being repeated.)
Nol as Benvolio: By my head, here comes the Capulets.
Alleyn as Mercutio: By my heel, I care not.
James Hemmings as Tybalt: Follow me close, I will speak to them. Gentlemen, good e’en, a word with one of you.
(The door is swung open with a resounding noice, the Chamberlain’s Men storm in. Will looks alarmed.)
Alleyn as Mercutio (is not to be disturbed): And but one word with one of us? Couple it with something, make it a word and a blow!
(Burbage storms onto the stage.)
Burbage: Where is that thieving hack who can't keep his pen in his own ink pot?
Will (jumping onto the stage as well): What is this rabble?
(Burbage flings him to a column and draws his sword.)
Burbage: Draw if you be a man!
(Will grabs Ned's sword, the Chamberlain’s Men leap onto the stage, and in no time the nicest brawl is going on. Crab, the dog, yaps and snaps at every leg that comes near him. A baffled Henslowe flips through the manuscript pages, looking for the scene.)
Fennyman (being even slower in the uptake, to Henslowe): Wonderful! Wonderful! (pointing to the stage) And a dog! (He rubs his hands. What a great show!)
Henslowe (has now realized that neither the scene nor the additional actors are part of the play and jumps on the stage): Please, actors, please! Not with my props!
(Viola is doing well enough, using an unlit torch to fend off an attacker.)
(Will kicks an attacker right between his legs and fights his way through to her.)
Will: A writers quarrel! Quite normal.
(Suddenly he gets a rough shove. He falls off the stage taking Viola with him. Under the stage is a space. He pushes Viola in.)
Will: Stay hid!
(Then Will leaps onto the stage again. The battle is in full swing. The cushions are being used as shields, and so the air soon is full of flying feathers. Ralph spits a lot of them. Henslowe is desparately trying to rescue his props and is thereby nearly knocked over. Viola opens the trap door of the space which leads to the stage. Will has just received a sword blow and plops thankfully through the trap door.)
Viola (touching his wound): You are hurt!
(They lose themselves in a kiss.)
Will: I dreamed last night of a shipwreck. You were cast ashore in a far country.
Viola (giving a sob and embracing him): Oh, not yet! Not yet!
(Somebody is swinging a trunk through the air.)
Henslowe: No, we need that for the balcony scene!
(Now it dawns on Fennyman that something is rotten here. He fights his way to Henslowe and snatches the manuscript off his hands. There he finds the confirmation.)
Fennyman: My investment! Lambert! VENGEANCE!
(Lambert and Fennyman make short work of the remaining Chamberlain’s Men. Burbage is groggy. He staggers. Fennyman takes a skull out of Henslowe's hands and punches Burbage with it. Burbage falls off the stage and ends up lying unconsciously on the ground. The brawl is over.)
(In a victorious mood the players burst into the brothel owned by Fennyman.)
Fennyman (spreading his arms): A famous victory! Kegs and legs open and on the house! Oh what
Viola (looking around her cautiously): This is a tavern?
Will: It is also a tavern.
Whore (sitting down on Will's lap): I remember you! The poet!
(Will's first reaction is painful embarrassment with Viola at his side, but then he is flattered.)
Will: Yes, William the Conqueror!
(Viola furiously pulls the whore off Will's lap.)
Whore: Oh, one at at time, one at a time!
(She walks on. A second whore approaches the table. She carries mugs of wine which she now distributes.)
Second whore (to Viola): Oh, he’s a pretty one! Tell me your story while I tickle your fancy.
Viola (gasping): It's a house of ill-repute!
Will (grinning): It is, Thomas, but of good reputation! Come, there is no harm in a drink!
(A conspiratorial grin is spreading over Viola's face. What an adventure !)
Fennyman: You are welcome to my best house! Here’s to the Admiral's Men!
All (raising their mugs, also Viola): The Admiral's Men!
(A figure is running through the dark narrow streets of London, he looks desperate. It is Peter.)
Sam (to a whore who is smooching his face): Really, I quite liked it.
Fennyman (already considerably drunk, sitting down next to Will and Viola): Master Kent, you have not yet dipped your wick.
Viola (baffled): My wick?
Will (amused and slightly tipsy, saving her): Mr. Fennyman, because you love the theatre you must have a part in my play. I am writing an Apothecary, a small but vital role.
Fennyman (overwhelmed): My heavens! I thank you!
Whore (to Ralph): And what's the play about?
Ralph: Well, there’s this nurse...
(Peter approaches our "tavern", running all the way.)
Fennyman (with a thick tongue): Silence, silence, silence! Master Shakespeare has asked me to play the part of the Apothecary!
(Will slides downwards in his seat, trying in vain to make himself invisible. Several of the actors roll their eyes or give a suppressed laughter.)
Henslowe (confused): The Apothecary? Will, what is the story? Where is the shipwreck? How does the comedy end?
Will (good-tempered): By God, I wish I knew!
Henslowe: By God, if you do not, who does? Let us have pirates, clowns, and a happy ending, or we shall send you back to Stratford to your wife!
(That goes well with the entire company, except for Will and Viola. Will looks at her helplessly and makes as if to say something, but she ducks away from him and runs outside, tears in her eyes. Will runs after her through the tavern, but is being stopped at the door by Peter who has just entered. He tries to get rid of him, but Peter won't have it. His news is too important. He is in a highly emotional state.)
Peter: Will, Mr. Henslowe, gentlemen all! A black day for us all! There is news from a tavern in Deptford! Marlowe is dead! (All of a sudden there is complete silence. Everyone is staring at Peter in disbelief.) Stabbed! Stabbed to death in a tavern in Deptford!
Will (horror-stricken): What have I done?
Alleyn: He was the first man among us. A great light has gone out.
(Will frees himself from Peter and staggers outside. He falls into a puddle. He is shaking uncontrollably.)
Will: God forgive me! God forgive me!
(He stands up and staggers along the street. He has reached a church and kneels in front of the altar, his hands highly risen, weeping and praying. He beats his chest with his hands a couple of times. He is quite beside himself. His own personal purgatory.)
Will: ...For Jesus Christ's sake...
(Wessex is riding on his horse, singing merrily. This is a man who has received wonderful news.)
Wessex: ...In the month of May, from my cock astride. Just at the dawning of the day, I met with a charming maid... (Viola and her nurse are approaching on their horses.) You look sad, my lady! Let me take you riding.
Viola: It is not my riding day, my lord.
Wessex: Bless me, I thought it was a horse.
Viola: I am going to church.
Wessex (in an effort to sound understandingly): Yeah, of course, I - I understand. It is to be expected.
Viola: Yes, it is to be expected. On Sunday.
Wessex: And on a day of mourning. I never met the fellow but once at your house.
Viola (with a blank look): Mourning? Who is dead, my lord?
Wessex: Oh, dear God, I did not think it would be me to tell you! A great loss to playwriting, and to dancing.
Nurse (horrified): My lady!
Viola (nearly fainting): He is dead?
Wessex: Killed last night, in a tavern. Come, then, we’ll say a prayer for his soul.
(Viola closes her eyes in despair, a tear is running down her cheek.)
(The nurse supports Viola on her way to the church benches. Viola is apathetic, like paralysed. The Choir enters the church singing. Apparently Wessex has not been in church for a while. He looks around with interest. But what he sees lets his blood run cold. A ragged figure emerges from a side chapel. It is Will. He points an accusing finger at Wessex.)
Wessex (horrified): Spare me, dear ghost. Please spare me, dear ghost - spare me - for the love of Christ! Spare me!
(He flees from the church with coat-tails flapping. Now Viola has noticed. She raises her head and sees Will who looks at her with pain in his eyes and then staggers out of the church. It takes her a moment to understand, but then she gathers up her dress and rushes after him.)
Viola: Will !
(He spreads his arms, she rushes in.)
Viola: Oh my love! I thought you were dead!
Will: It is worse. I have killed a man.
(Viola looks at him horrified.)
(Viola's horse is grazing on a meadow at the riverbank. Will is lying on his back, still full of guilty feelings. Viola is sitting beside him on the meadow.)
Will: Marlowe's touch was in my "Titus Andronicus" and my "Henry VI" was a house built on his foundations.
Viola: You never spoke so well of him.
Will: He was not dead before. I would exchange all my plays to come for all of his that will never come.
Viola (with red-rimmed eyes): You lie. You lie by this river as you lied in my bed.
Will (sitting up and looking at her): My love is no lie. I have a wife, yes, and I cannot marry the daughter of Sir Robert de Lesseps. It needed no wife come from Stratford to tell you that, and yet you let me come to your bed.
Viola: Calf love. I loved the writer and gave up the prize for a sonnet.
Will: I was the more deceived.
Viola: Yes, you were deceived. For I did not know how much I loved you. I love you, Will - beyond poetry!
Will (kissing her): Oh, my love! You ran from me before!
Viola (taking his face into her hands): When I thought you dead I did not care about all the plays that will never come, only that I would never see your face. I saw our end, and it will come...
Will: You cannot marry Wessex!
Viola: If not you, why not Wessex? If not Wessex the Queen will know the cause, and there will be no more Will Shakespeare.
Will (trying to choke her arguments with kisses): No. No!
Viola (in tears): But I will go to Wessex as a widow from these vows, as solemn as they are unsanctified!
(We are in the Rose Theatre. Will is handing out pages to the assembled company of players sitting around him. He is composed and concentrated.)
Will: For killing Juliet’s kinsman Tybalt, the one who killed Romeo‘s friend Mercutio, Romeo is banished. But the Friar who married Romeo and Juliet...
Edward: Is that me, Will?
Will: You, Edward. The Friar who married them gives Juliet a potion to drink. It is a secret potion. It makes her seeming dead. She is placed in the tomb of the Capulets. She will awake to life and love when Romeo comes to her side again.
(The company murmurs in approval.)
Will: I have not said all. By malign fate, the message goes astray which would tell Romeo of the Friar's plan. He hears only that Juliet is dead. And thus he goes to the Apothecary...
Fennyman (in joyful realization): That's me!
Will: ...and buys a deadly poison. He enters the tomb to say farewell to Juliet who lies there cold as death. He drinks the poison. He dies by her side. And then she wakes and sees him dead and so Juliet takes his dagger and kills herself.
(Breathless silence. Viola has closed her eyes. Only Henslowe does not approve.)
Henslowe (discontented): Well, that will have them rolling in the aisles!
Fennyman (moved): Sad - and wonderful! - I have a blue velvet cap that'll do well, I have seen just such a cap on an apothecary, just so...
(He stops embarrassed as Henslowe looks at him indignantly.)
Alleyn (acknowledging): Yes, it will serve. But there’s a scene missing - between marriage and death...
(Will looks at him, he has to think.)
(Will places a manuscript on Viola's bed. Viola is still wearing her boy's costume.)
Will: The play - all written out for you. I had the clerk at Bridewell do it. He has a good fist for lettering.
(Viola loosens the ribbon which holds the pages together. Will turns over a certain page.)
Will: There‘s a new scene.
Viola (holding the manuscript out to him): Will you read it for me?
Will as Juliet (knowing it by heart): Wilt thou be gone? It is not yet near day. It was the nightingale and not the lark that pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear. Nightly she sings on yon pomegranate tree. Believe me, love, it was the nightingale.
Viola as Romeo (reading): It was the lark, the herald of the morn, no nightingale. Look, love, what envious streaks do lace the severing clouds in yonder east. Night's candles are burnt out, and jocund day stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops. I must be gone and live, or stay and die.
(She looks at him, moved. The scene is being continued behind the stage of the Rose Theatre. Will and Viola speak the lines, kiss each other and begin to undress.)
Will as Juliet: Yond light is not daylight, I know it, I. It is some meteor that the sun exhales to be to thee this night a torch-bearer, to light thee on thy way to Mantua. Therefore stay yet, thou need’st not to be gone!
Viola as Romeo: Let me be ta'en, let me be put to death, I am content, so thou wilt have it so. I have more care to stay than will to go. Come, death, and welcome! Juliet wills it so.
(Will begins to undo her bossom bandage. A mouse comes through a hole in the wall. Behind it we see John Webster who watches the scene and frowns. He has to think. A little later Tilney presses a coin into his hand.)
Tilney: You will go far, I fear. I hope we work together again!
Fennyman (standing in front of the theatre, rehearsing): Such mortal drugs I have but Mantua’s law is death - death to any he that utters them. Then him. Then me. Put this in any liquid thing you will and... (He is stuck.) What is it? What is it? What is it?
(Wessex is galloping to the front of the theatre, pressing the reins into Fennyman's hands and hurrying inside.)
Viola as Romeo: How silver-sweet sound lovers' tongues by night. Like softest music...
(Wessex storms through the door and draws his sword.)
Wessex: Shakespeare! (Will grabs a sword and approaches. Wessex with a well-directed swordblow hits the manuscript out of his hand.) Upstart inky pup! Now I'll show you your place, which is in hell!
Will: You are on my ground now!
Wessex (to the Hemmings' brothers who try to intervene): By God, I’ll fight the lot of you!
Will: I am more than enough!
(They start to fight and jump onto the stage.)
(Alarmed the players jump into different directions. A bitter fight breaks out. Wessex hits Will's sword out of his hands. Will grabs one which is lying handy in the wings and makes a big step forward. He would have killed Wessex, had it not been a prop sword with a button instead of a sharp blade. Will in fending off takes a few steps backwards and falls off the stage rather hard. Wessex approaches him slowly and threateningly. But Will who is lying on the ground, doesn't give up. They wrestle with each other. Will forces Wessex to the ground and cuts off a part of his cloak with his sword. Now the look in his eyes is merciless.)
Will: Absent friends! This is the murderer of Kit Marlowe!
(Ned and Peter exchange a baffled look. Ned takes a few steps towards Will.)
Wessex: I rejoiced in his death because I thought it was yours. That is all I know of Marlowe!
Alleyn: Will, uh, it's true. It was a tavern brawl. Marlowe attacked, and got his own knife in the eye. A quarrel about the bill...
Henslowe: The bill? Oh vanity, vanity!
Alleyn (rounding on him): Not the billing! The bill!
Will (dropping his sword in relief and exhaustedly resting his hand on a column): Oh God! I am free of it!
(Tilney enters the theatre.)
Tilney: Where is she?
Wessex (struggling to his feet): Close it!
Tilney (taking off his cap, startled): My lord Wessex!
Wessex (humiliated and hopping mad): The Rose harbours the arse that shits on my name ! Take it down stone by stone! I want it ploughed into the ground, and sown with quick lime!
(And with this strong words a limping Wessex leaves the theatre.)
Henslowe (confused): Mr. Tilney, what is this?
Tilney: Sedition and indecency!
Webster: Master of the Revels, sir, she's over here!
Tilney: Where, boy?
Webster (pointing to Viola standing next to Sam who is wearing his Juliet costume with wig): There! I saw her bubbies!
Tilney (marching on the stage): So, a woman on the stage? A woman! I say this theatre is closed!
Henslowe: Why, sir?
Tilney (with scarlet head and foam at the mouth): For lewdness and unshamefacedness! And for displaying a female on the public stage!
(He approaches Sam and lifts his costume. The players watch in disbelief. But now Tilney has noticed his error. Viola has tiptoed to the edge of the stage. Unfortunately she is within Webster's reach there, who decides to intervene. He throws one of his mice between her neck and the collar of her costume. Viola screams in horror and frantically tries to shake off the mouse. Thereby she loses her wig, her long blond hair is revealed.)
Webster (pointing at Viola): Not him! Her!
Tilney: That’s who I meant!
Henslowe (aghast): It's a woman!
Tilney: This theatre is closed! - Notice will be posted!
(He sweeps out. The troupe stands thunderstruck.)
Henslowe: Ned, I swear I knew nothing of this!
Viola (trying to protect Will): Nobody knew.
Webster (pointing at Will): He did! I saw him kissing her bubbies!
Henslowe (desperately): It is over.
Viola (slowly leaving the stage, detaching her moustache): I am so sorry, Mr. Henslowe. I wanted to be an actor. I am so sorry, Will!
(Will closes his eyes in desperation. He cannot say anything. Viola makes her way to the exit. Nobody holds her up, everybody is freezed. She passes Wabash.)
Wabash: You were w-w-w-wonderful!
Viola (touched): Thank you.
(She casts a last look back. Then she runs outside. Ned takes a few pages of the manuscript and rips them to tiny pieces. Fennyman walks in, still murmuring his precious lines. He looks uncomprehendingly at all the desperate faces.)
Fennyman: Everything all right?
(The nurse enters Viola's room to remove her dinner plate. Viola hasn't touched it. She is sitting on her bed reading her own personal manuscript of "Romeo and Juliet". She is dissolved in tears. The nurse takes the full tray and leaves the room.)
(The whole company of players, including Henslowe, Fennyman and Will are sitting in a tavern, drowning their sorrow. Everybody is in depressed mood. Fennyman is taking it somewhat selfishly.)
Fennyman: I would have been good. I would have been great!
Ralph: So would I. We both would!
(Then he takes a gulp, rolls his eyes and bangs with his head on the table. His end of a long booze-up. All of a sudden the door is being pushed open and the Chamberlain’s Men enter, some of them wearing head bandages. Burbage bears his right arm in a sling. Fennyman turns around.)
Fennyman: Lambert! Kill him!
(Lambert grabs a dangerously looking weapon hanging at the wall. Burbage stretches out his left arm in an attempt of fending off.)
Burbage: That can wait! - The Master of the Revels despises us all for vagrants and peddlers of bombast. But my father, James Burbage, had the first license to make a company of players from Her Majesty, and he drew from poets the literature of the age. We must show them that we are men of parts. Will Shakespeare has a play. I have a theatre. The Curtain is yours.
(Everybody is looking at him, speechlessly. Henslowe gives a touched sob.)
(It is windy outside. A man with a bucket of lime and a heap of posters tries to stick them to walls. A lot of them are flying away. He manages to stick one to a post. We are reading the inscription:
Hugh Fennyman Production
Mr. Henslowe's Presentation
The Admirall's Men in performance
The excellent and Lamentable Tragedy
ROMEO and JULIET
With Mr. Fennyman as the Apothecary
at Three of the Clocke in Th‘Afternoon
(Will leaves the theatre and buttons up his jacket. Henslowe runs after him.)
Henslowe: Will, we'll be needing a Romeo!
(Will ignores him. He walks on, pushing people out of the way. He is on his way to the river. The nurse helps Viola into her wedding dress. She is weeping. Viola undergoes the procedure apathetically. Her tears are long gone. Wessex and de Lesseps settle the bargain. De Lesseps signs papers. Lady de Lesseps sobs into her handkerchief).
Wessex: My ship is moored at bankside, bound for Virginia on the afternoon tide. Please do not weep, Lady de Lesseps, you are gaining a colony!
De Lesseps: And you, my lord, are gaining five thousand pounds, by these drafts in my hand.
Wessex (throwing his purse on the table): Would you oblige me with fifty or so in gold? Just to settle my accounts at the dockside.
(De Lesseps sighs and unlocks his money chest.)
Wessex: Ah, the bride!
(Viola and her nurse have entered the room. Viola is wearing a cloak over her wedding dress. She looks sad and beautiful.)
Viola: Good morning, my lord. I see you are open for business, so let's to church.
(Will is running towards Viola's house like a madman. A carriage is just leaving the de Lesseps' estate when he arrives there. He has to flatten himself to the wall to make way for the carriage which takes Wessex and his bride to church. He looks after it breathlessly and in despair. Church bells are ringing.)
(Lord and Lady Wessex are leaving the church, applauded by the bystanders. A gust of wind carries a poster in Wessex' face. He furiously tears it away, and it lands in Viola's hands. She takes it and reads the announcement of "Romeo and Juliet". Without a word she presses it into the hands of her nurse. Wessex gallantly keeps open the door of the carriage for her. After Viola has climbed in, the nurse throws herself to his chest. Viola takes her advantage to flee unnoticed from the carriage through the opposite door.)
Nurse: Oh my lord! Be good to her, my lord!
Wessex: I will.
(He tries to free himself, but the nurse won't have it.)
Nurse: And God bless you!
Wessex: Thank you. Let go, there’s a good nurse. (He strikes a pose and shouts to the bystanders.)
The tide will not wait! Farewell! You will all be welcome in Virginia!
(Then he enters the carriage. It takes him a moment to understand that he is alone in there.)
(People flock to the Curtain Theatre in masses. The theatre fills quickly. A woman sells apples to the audience. The ordinary people throng in the standing room in front of the stage, the nobler people go to their seats on the gallery. Behind the stage nervosity and stage fright are ruling. Alleyn is rehearsing his Queen Mab speech. Will fastens the belt of his Romeo costume. Fennyman approaches him with a blue velvet cap in his hand.)
Fennyman: Sir, is this all right?
(Will nods unhappily. Henslowe sees Sam gargling.)
Makepeace (trying to hold back the masses): Licentiousness is made a show! Vice is made a show, vanity and pride likewise made a show! This is the very business of show!
(But the crowd inexorably drags him along into the theatre. He finds himself in front of the stage, there is no way out. He will have to watch the play. Will is nervously biting his fingernails. His look falls on Wabash.)
Wabash (rehearsing): T-t-t-two households...
Will (looking at him aghast, to Henslowe): We are lost!
Henslowe: No, it will turn out well.
Will (pointing at Wabash): How will it?
Henslowe: I don't know. It‘s a mystery!
(A trumpeter announces the beginning of the play. The audience gets quiet. The prologue begins. Henslowe shoves Wabash on the stage. He takes a deep breath and hesitantly takes some steps forward. The audience stares at him in expectation. The tension grows. Will closes his eyes and begins to pray.)
Wabash (stuttering): T-t-t-two... (then all of a sudden commencing an impressionable recitation)
Two households, both alike in dignity, in fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes a pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life,
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows doth with their death bury their parent’s strife.
(Viola and her nurse are rushing to the theatre.)
... The which if you with patient ears attend, what here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.
(Will has reopened his eyes in surprise. The audience applauds. On Wabash's return behind the stage, Will grabs his arm.)
Wabash (beaming): W-w-was it g-good?
(The play begins. The Hemmings' brothers enter the stage.)
John Hemmings as Simson: Gregory, on my word, we‘ll not carry coals!
James Hemmings as Gregory: No, for then we should be colliers!
John Hemmings as Simson: I mean, an we be in choler, we'll draw...
Sam (in a broken voice): Master Shakespeare?
Will (in thoughts): Luck be with you, Sam. (stopping short) Sam?
Sam (his voice is breaking without doubt): It is not my fault, Master Shakespeare. I could do it yesterday!
Will (horrified): Do me a speech. Do me a line!
Sam (stumbling): Parting is such sweet sorrow...
(Will pushes him aside and grasps his head in despair.)
Henslowe (who has overheard): Another little problem.
Will (completely finished): What do we do now?
Henslowe: The show must - you know...
Will: Go on?
Henslowe (trying to soothe him): Juliet does not come on for twenty pages. It will be all right.
Will: How will it?
Henslowe: I don't know. It's a mystery!
(Viola and her nurse have reached the theatre and are looking for seats on the gallery. They sit down close to Burbage and Rosaline, who are standing at the edge. On the stage the scene is being continued.)
James Hemmings as Gregory: I will frown as I pass by. Let them take it as they list.
John Hemmings as Simson: Nay, as they dare. I will bite my thumb at them, which is disgrace to them if they bear it.
Armitage as Abraham: Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?
John Hemmings as Simson: I do bite my thumb, sir.
Henslowe (pushing his way through the audience): Excuse me, excuse me, thank you, thank you, thank you, excuse me, excuse me. (having reached Burbage) Can we talk?
Henslowe (whispering): We have no Juliet!
Burbage (forgetting to whisper): No Juliet?
Viola: No Juliet?
Henslowe (turning to her): It will be all right, Madam.
Viola: What happened to Sam?
Henslowe (perplexed): Who are you?
Viola: Thomas Kent!
Henslowe (having a sudden inspiration): Do you know it?
Viola (beaming): Every word!
(Henslowe and Burbage exchange a look. Wessex is galloping to the theatre. The play draws near to the point at which Juliet has her first onstage appearance.)
Will as Romeo (to Benvolio): I'll go along, no such sight to be shown, but to rejoice in splendour of mine own.
(He goes behind the stage and collapses in desperation.)
(Philips and Ralph enter the stage. The audience bursts out laughing.)
Philips as Lady Capulet: Nurse, where is my daughter? Call her forth to me!
Ralph as Nurse: Now by my maidenhead at twelve years old, I bade her come. What, lamb! What, ladybird! God forbid. Where’s this girl? What, lamb! What, ladybird! What, Juliet!
(Will covers his ears and ducks like in expectation of a hit. He has buried his face in his hands - in short: he is a picture of misery. Sam who has been quietly giving himself courage behind the stage, wants to enter the stage on his cue. But Henslowe grabs him and pulls him back. Past him Viola steps onto the stage. She has taken off her overcloak, removed the hoop skirts and loosened her hair. Her beautiful wedding dress is now displayed.)
Viola as Juliet: How now? Who calls?
(The audiences whispers. The actors on the stage wince. Wessex, who has just arrived, doesn't believe his eyes. Will removes his hands from his ears in surprise. The nurse crosses herself.)
Burbage (behind the stage): We will all be put in the clink!
Henslowe (unmoved): See you in jail.
Ralph as Nurse (after a short moment of shock): Your mo... your mother!
Viola as Juliet: Madam, I am here, what is your will?
Philips as Lady Capulet: This is the matter... Nurse, give leave awhile, we must talk in secret. - Nurse, come back again, I have rememb'red me, thou's hear our counsel. Thou knowest my daughter's of a pretty age.
Ralph as Nurse: Faith, I know her age unto an hour.
Philips as Lady Capulet: She's not fourteen.
Ralph as Nurse: I'll lay fourteen of my teeth. And yet, to my teen be it spoken, I have but four! How long is it now to Lammas-tide?
(Will has struggled to his feet and is running to a place where he can look onto the stage. A smile begins to spread on his face as he sees his beloved Viola. He can't believe it. He swallows touched. The dialogue onstage is not audible anymore. You only see Will's face, and then Viola looks into his direction and smiles at him. Time seems to stand still.)
Philips as Lady Capulet: Tell me, daughter Juliet, how stands your dispositions to be married?
Viola as Juliet: It is an honour that I dream not of.
(Swordfight between the Montagues and the Capulets. Romeo tries to separate Mercutio und Tybalt. In that very moment Tybalt's sword hits Mercutio under Romeo's arm.)
Will as Romeo: Good Mercutio!
Alleyn as Mercutio (collapsing): I'm spent!
Will as Romeo (holding him round the shoulders): Courage man, the hurt cannot be much!
Alleyn as Mercutio (with pain in his voice): Aye. Ask for me tomorrow and you shall find me a grave man...
(A detachment of sinister looking men with halberds, commanded by Tilney, march in step towards the theatre. Fennyman is still rehearsing behind the stage.)
Fennyman: Such mortal drugs I have but Mantua’s law is death to any he that utters them. Then him. Then me.
(Onstage Romeo has just killed Tybalt.)
Nol as Benvolio: Romeo, away, be gone! The citizens are up and Tybalt slain! Stand not amazed! The Prince will doom thee death if thou art taken! Hence! Be gone away!
Will as Romeo (dropping his sword): Oh, I am fortune's fool!
Nol as Benvolio: Why dost thou stay?
(Will runs behind the stage and finds himself face to face with Viola. On the stage the scene continues.)
First citizen: Which way ran he that killed Mercutio? Tybalt, that murderer, which way ran he?
Nol as Benvolio: There lies that Tybalt.
Will (to Viola): Oh, I am fortune's fool. You are married?
(They stand rooted to the ground. Viola is unable to answer.)
Will: If you be married, my grave is like to be my wedding bed.
(That breaks her freeze. She gives a sob and runs towards him, they fall into each other's arms. When they disengage again, they are standing in the middle of the stage. It is the farewell scene. Will as Romeo begins to climb down the balcony.)
Viola as Juliet: Art thou gone so? Love, lord, ay husband, friend! I must hear from thee every day in the hour, for in a minute there are many days. O, by this count I shall be much in years ere again I behold my Romeo.
Will as Romeo: Farewell!
Viola as Juliet: O think‘st thou we shall ever meet again? Methinks I see thee, now thou art so low, as one dead in the bottom of a tomb. Either my eyesight fails, or thou lookest pale.
Will as Romeo: And trust me, love, in my eyes so do you. Dry sorrow drinks our blood. Adieu. Adieu.
(The Friar gives Juliet the potion.)
Edward as Friar: Take thou this vial, being then in bed, and this distilling liquor drink thou off. No warmth, no breath shall testify thou livest, and in this borrow’d likeness of shrunk death thou shalt continue two and forty hours and then awake as from a pleasant sleep.
Will as Romeo: What, ho! Apothecary! (It is Fennyman's big moment. He hesitantly walks onto the stage.) Come hither, man. I see that thou art poor. Hold, there is forty ducats. Let me have a dram of poison...
Fennyman as Apothecary (cutting him short): Such mortal drugs I have but Mantua’s law is death to any he that utters them.
Will as Romeo: Art thou so...
Fennyman as Apothecary (again too early): My poverty but not my will consents.
Will as Romeo (pressing money into his hand and taking the phial): I pay thy poverty and not thy will.
(Tilney and his soldiers are approaching the theatre.)
Will as Romeo (holding the seemingly dead Juliet in his arms): Eyes, look your last. Arms, take your last embrace. And lips, oh you the doors of breath, seal with a righteous kiss a dateless bargain to engrossing death. (taking the phial and unscrewing it) Come, bitter conduct. Come, unsavory guide. Thou desperate pilot, now at once run on the dashing rocks thy seasick weary bark. (raising the drug in a last toast) Here's to my love! (drinking the poison and beginning to cough) Oh true Apothecary! Thy drugs are quick. (kissing Juliet for the last time) Thus with a kiss I die.
(He falls back and dies. The audience is moved. The nurse sobs into her handkerchief.)
Viola as Juliet (waking with a start): Where is my lord? I do remember well where I should be, and there I am. Where is my Romeo?
Viola's Nurse (from the auditorium, deeply moved): Dead!
Viola as Juliet (seeing dead Romeo beside her:) What’s this? A cup clos’d in my true love’s hand?
Poison, I see, hath been his timeless end. (taking his dagger) O happy dagger! This is thy sheath! There rust, and let me die!
(She stabs herself, falls on Romeo and dies. You could hear a penny drop in the auditorium.)
Wabash as Prince (speaking the final monologue):
A glooming peace this morning with it brings.
The sun for sorrow will not show his head.
Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things,
Some shall be pardon'd and some punished.
For never was a story of more woe
Than this - of Juliet and her Romeo!
(Wabash makes a deep bow and waits for the applause. But it remains dead silent. He remains in stoop. The actors behind the stage exchange worried looks. Then Mr. Kempe begins to applaud. The audience wakes up from their freeze. Deep emotion is followed by frenetic cheers. The whores are crying openly. Makepeace enthusiastically blows kisses to the stage and shouts "YES! YES!" Henslowe looks around in wonder. The penny drops: It is a smash hit. The actors step on the stage. Will and Viola sit up and immediately start to kiss again until they realize that they'd better join the others. They go to the front together and bow with the others. Henslowe whistles and stretches out his arms in triumph. Suddenly Tilney's men enter the stage, stamping three times with their helbards and shouting: "God save the Queen"! Frightened the actors scatter in different directions.)
Tilney: I arrest you in the name of Queen Elizabeth!
Burbage (jumping on the stage, pushing one of the guards out of the way): Arrest who, Mr. Tilney?
Tilney (in murderous frenzy): Everyone! The Admiral's Men, the Chamberlain's Men and everyone of you ne‘er-do-wells that stand in contempt of the authority invested in me by her Majesty!
Burbage: Contempt? You closed the Rose, I have not opened it!
Tilney (pointing accusingly at Viola): That woman is a woman!
Alleyn (trying to save): What? A woman? You mean that goat?
Tilney (in a rage): I’ll see you all in the clink! In the name of her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth...
(An authoritative voice can be heard from the upper balconies.)
Queen Elizabeth: MR. TILNEY ! (She takes off her hood. The entire theatre freezes in a deep bow.) Have a care with my name, you’ll wear it out! ( (She steps down from her seat on the gallery. The waves part for her. She walks on the stage.) The Queen of England does not attend exhibitions of public lewdness, so something is out of joint! (to Viola) Come here, Master Kent, let me look at you. (Viola takes some steps forward and begins a female curtsy, remembers herself and changes it to a male bow. The Queen takes a close look at her.) Yes, the illusion is remarkable and your error, Mr. Tilney, is easily forgiven. (Tilney bows perplexed and submissive.) But I know something of a woman in a man's profession, yes, by God, I do know about that... (gently) That is enough from you, Master Kent. (Viola steps back again.) If only Lord Wessex were here!
(Wessex tries to make himself invisible.)
Webster (pointing at him): He is, Ma'am!
Wessex (weakly): Your Majesty...
Queen Elizabeth: There was a wager, I remember, as to whether a play could show the very truth and nature of love. I think you lost it today.
Queen Elizabeth (to Webster): You are an eager boy. Did you like the play?
Webster: I liked it when she stabbed herself, your Majesty.
(The Queen considers him thoughtfully, whereupon he looks to the ground in embarrassment.)
Queen Elizabeth: Master Shakespeare! (Will steps forward and makes a deep bow.) Next time you come to Greenwich, come as yourself and we will speak some more.
(Will's face shows the touch of a smile. She leaves the theatre, Wessex hurries outside over the outer stairs and holds her up.)
Wessex (bowing breathlessly): Your Majesty!
Queen Elizabeth: Why, Lord Wessex? Lost your wife so soon?
(Almost the whole company of players, among them Viola, have gone outside to watch the Queen. Also the audience are pressing curiously out of the theatre.)
Wessex: Indeed I am a bride short. And my ship sails for the new world on the evening tide. How is this to end?
Queen Elizabeth: As stories must when love’s denied: with tears and a journey. Those whom God has joined in marriage, not even I can put asunder.
(Viola closes her eyes in desperation.)
Queen Elizabeth (to Viola): Master Kent! (Viola steps forward and makes a deep bow.) Lord Wessex, as I foretold, has lost his wife in the playhouse. Go make your farewell and send her out. It‘s time to settle accounts. (Viola tries to hold back her tears.)
Queen Elizabeth (to Wessex): How much was that wager?
Wessex: Fifty shillings. (The Queen gives him a look.) - Pounds.
Queen Elizabeth: Give it to Master Kent, he will see it rightfully home.
(Wessex gives Viola his purse.)
Queen Elizabeth (to Viola): Tell Master Shakespeare, something more cheerful next time. For Twelfth Night.
(The Queen goes to her carriage. She reaches a deep puddle, but until the fawning courtiers have finally taken off their cloaks and thrown them over the puddle, she's already splashed through.)
Queen Elizabeth: Too late, too late.
(Viola enters the room behind the stage where Will is standing alone in his grief.)
Will: My Lady Wessex...
(First they cannot say anything. Then she holds Wessex' purse out to him.)
Viola: A hired player no longer. Fifty pounds, Will, for the poet of true love.
Will (shaking his head): I am done with theatre. The playhouse is for dreamers. Look where the dream brought us!
Viola: It was we ourselves did that. And for my life to come I would not have it otherwise.
Will: I have hurt you and I am sorry for it.
Viola: If my hurt is to be that you write no more, then I shall be the sorrier. - The Queen commands a comedy, Will, for Twelfth Night.
Will (bitterly): A comedy! What would my hero be? The saddest wretch in all the kingdom, sick with love?
Viola: It's a beginning. Let him be a duke, and your heroine...
Will (inconsolably): ... sold in marriage and half way to America!
Viola: At sea, then. A voyage to a new world.
Will (must be wishful thinking). A storm... All are lost!
Viola: She lands on a vast and empty shore. She is brought to the duke... Orsino.
Will: Orsino? Good name!
Viola: But fearful of her virtue, she comes to him dressed as a boy.
Will: And thus is unable to declare her love...
Viola: But all ends well.
Will: How does it?
Viola (smiling in tears): I don't know. It's a mystery!
(Will nods and half smiles. Then they rush into each other's arms.)
Will: You will never age for me, nor fade, nor die.
Viola: Nor you for me!
Will: Good bye, my love! A thousand times good bye!
Viola: Write me well!
(Will nods, Viola gives him a last kiss and runs from the theatre, Will looks after her.)
(Will is sitting at his desk and begins to write his play "Twelfth Night - What you will".)
Will (voice only): My story starts at sea. A perilous voyage to an unknown land. A shipwreck. The wild waters roar and heave. The brave vessel is dashed all to pieces, and all the helpless souls within her drowned.
(Bodies and ship parts are whirling under water.)
All save one. A lady whose soul is greater than the ocean and her spirit stronger than the sea's embrace.
(Viola is struggling her way to the surface of the water.)
Not for her a watery end, but a new life beginning on a stranger shore.
(She is walking along a vast and empty beach. A smile appears on Will's face.)
It will be a love story, for she will be my heroine for all time, and her name will be Viola.
(He writes: "Viola: What country..." During the final credits Viola is still walking to the horizon, towards her brave new world.)