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Help me, William! Help me, please!
Help me, William, save me!
'William had recently had a change of heart about girls.'
Help me, William!
'Or about one girl, anyway.'
'A distaste for girls had been one of William's many foibles.
'Shyness, however, had never been a problem.
'Nor was lack of energy.
Elbows off the table.
-I was just finishing a poem about how false and bland our suburban lives are.
-Were you, dear?
'Nor was William good at sitting still for long periods.'
Who was that?
'Above all, William wasn't lacking in confidence.'
They just make me want to cry.
Oh, that's perfectly normal.
I look at William Brown and think
you're not bad, or dim,
so how can you manage to be so infuriating?
-I've had an idea.
Mr Attwater, this is Mr Wellbecker, school governor, Shakespeare expert.
And all-round clever-clogs.
An annual prize for the class who stages the best Shakespeare scene.
Children love Shakespeare.
That's a terrific idea.
Isn't it? I have a clever theory about teaching,
it shouldn't be left to teachers.
And I have a theory about children.
Well, don't waste it on us. Let's try it out on a class right now.
Fight, fight, fight, fight!
Boys, this is Mr Wellbecker,
who has come to talk to you about Shakespeare.
Whom you love.
Mr Attwater and I will leave you to it.
-Whilst we get on with important...
Last thing we need,
some hair-brained Shakespeare competition every year.
-Tiny pre-luncheon sherry?
-Oh yes, please, Headmaster.
Fight, fight, fight!
I'm going to count to ten... Then...
Hello. Yes, I am an expert on the Bard,
-indeed I've written a book about him.
-I've written a book.
Perhaps, but you've not had it published, have you?
No, I've not tried.
-And it wasn't about Shakespeare, was it?
It was about someone a jolly sight more interesting.
-The greatest writer of plays who has ever lived?
-I wrote a play once.
-It was about a pirate.
My book has a clever theory that Shakespeare's plays
-were in fact written by Bacon.
-Sounds more like a stupid theory to me.
A man called Francis Bacon,
who lived at the same time as Shakespeare.
Why's Shakespeare got his name on all the books?
-Yes, let Mr Wellbecker speak.
-So did this Ham...?
Well, it's nearly the same.
I am instituting a prize for the class
that stages the best scene from Shakespeare.
Now, the play you'll be performing.
A man called Hamlet.
When I called him Ham you said it was Bacon,
and now you're calling him Ham.
That was a different man. Listen!
This man was called Hamlet and his uncle had killed his father
because he wanted to marry his mother.
Why did he want to marry his mother?
It was Hamlet's mother he wanted to marry.
-Oh, that man who you think wrote the plays.
-No that was Bacon.
But you just said it was Ham!
Look, so we're not muddled, let's call them both Eggs. All right?
I'm going to be in a play at school.
-Who are you going to be?
-The most important person in it.
I was the only person that knew anything about plays so they've given me the biggest part.
It's by... Eggs.
Oh, William. I think you're wonderful!
No, Stanley I'm afraid I don't love you.
Your sticking-out teeth don't help, no.
Is William reading a proper book?
That's never happened before.
He's suddenly keen on Hamlet.
Yes, you can still buy me a present.
I hate this house. It's so damn tidy and "nice".
I know, dear, it's hateful.
Why are his lips moving?
To be or not to be, that's...
It's actually the most famous speech in the English language.
Good to see you showing an interest in literature, William.
-So this Hamlet wants to kill someone.
-Well, that's a bit daft.
Or his uncle, who killed his father by pouring poison
in his ear and turned him into a ghost.
Because he loved Hamlet's mother.
So, did any of that ever happen to you?
To be or not to be.
With a bare bodkin how do these fardels bear?
-What is that rubbish?
It's actually the most famous speech in the English language.
Do you want to hear real poetry which I wrote?
See the tight people in their suits, their uniforms.
Howl at the moon.
Howl at the lawnmowers which are so self-congratulatory.
Now it doesn't rhyme or anything, but that is deliberate.
To grunt and sweat under a weary life.
Soft you now! Fair Opp-heliya!
It's a play, Jumble. I'm Hamlet.
That's the best part.
The part of Hamlet
will be played
-William Brown, Attendant.
Douglas, the Queen.
-Please don't make me a woman, sir.
I'm sure Dalrymple will make a great Queen.
No, no, no, you've made a mistake.
The Attendant doesn't speak.
Doesn't he? Oh, dear.
I want to say something.
I've no doubt you do.
It's not fair! I just stand there while horrible Dalpimple is Hamlet.
Why are you so upset about this?
But I told Dorinda I'd have the biggest part.
Greenfly. Work of Beelzebub.
Everyone can't be Hamlet, William.
I know. But it should be me. I've learnt the speech and everything.
Hamlet was on recently in town and the main actor
-fell ill so another one stepped into the breach.
-Why did he do that?
-Step into the thing you said.
You said an actor stepped in something.
Let's start again.
The sick actor's part was played by another actor.
At least you're not playing a queen, and have to wear a dress.
I'd rather that than an attendant who just stands there.
I'd rather just stand there.
But I am going to play Hamlet
because Dalrymple's going to fall ill and I'll step onto the...
And what if he doesn't fall ill?
-We could pour poison in his ear, like in the play.
-Not to kill him.
No, killing gets you into all sorts of trouble.
-What would make him ill but not kill him?
-A rotten fish?
How are we going to get a rotten fish in Dalrymple's ear?
Wait till he's asleep?
Tell him it's good for hearing.
I know. We could pour gin in his ear.
Well, I accidentally drank some once and I felt like I was going to die.
I can get some gin. My dad drinks it.
It's got to be bad, it did make him fall into the cellar.
Do I smell of greenfly repellent?
I prefer it to that cologne you bought in Torquay.
Is there a problem, Robert?
-Been turned down again?
-I hate them.
I'm going to throw myself into my poetry.
DOOR SLAMS UPSTAIRS
I think William's keen on that girl Dorinda.
William likes a girl?
I thought he wanted to send them all to an island.
She is quite a tomboy. It's very sweet.
Maybe girls will tame him.
-DOOR SLAMS AGAIN
-Will you stop slamming your stupid door!
What do you mean, "Turned down again"?!
-How's your school play?
Very good. How's your frog?
-Not very well.
Are you really going to be the hero in the play?
Yes. I have a speech that goes on for hours and hours and hours,
the longest there's ever been in a play.
-I talk for hours.
-I'm coming to see it.
No, you don't want to do that.
-No, you don't.
-It might be the last chance I have to see you.
Why? Are you going blind?
No, we're moving house.
This one's rented, and we're buying one miles away.
-I'll look after your sick frog if there's no room for it in your new house.
-Thank you, William.
To be or not to be, that is the question.
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows...
Oh, and, Douglas, I want you to bring out the Queen's burgeoning sense of parental malaise.
-I could bring that out if you like.
On you go.
I shall obey you and for your part...
You sound like you're trying to shout an old aunt to death.
-You said be loud.
-Yes, loud and good, not loud and bad.
Everyone have a break and try to feel your way into your characters.
I have a clever theory that...
-I'll tell you another time. Ophelia.
-How are you feeling?
Do you, by any chance, have any diseases in your family?
-None of your business.
-I've got goat flu in my family.
-Have you got the gin?
Goat flu makes you turn purple, and you lose your voice
so you can't be in plays.
Do you perhaps have anything like that?
No, because my family eat well and I have a big clean house.
-Look, the Headmaster with a bucket on his head!
-Aghh! It stings.
Hold him still!
Put the Prince of Denmark down!
They've squirted something wet in my ear.
He still looked awfully healthy at the end of the day.
-Ah, come on. It's not so bad, not saying anything in the play.
We can't let Dalrymple play Hamlet.
I've learnt all the lines, I've made promises to people.
-It can't be that hard to make someone ill. How do people get sick?
By getting sneezed over.
I'm not wasting a good sneeze on Dalrymple.
You're not ill anyway.
My cat's got a cold.
He keeps sneezing.
I can't bring my cat into school, it's not allowed.
Tell Mr Attwater you're bringing him in because he's a magic talking cat.
But he talks really quietly -
more of a magic murmuring cat than a magic talking cat.
So Dalrymple leans in to hear what he's murmuring about,
the cat sneezes on him, he catches a bad cold, and I play Hamlet.
MUSIC PLAYS: SHAKE RATTLE AND ROLL
To grunt and sweat under a hairy wife.
Soft you now, fair Opp-helia.
Turn that down!
-This conscience does make custard of us all.
Turn that blasted music down or find something with a tune!
Sorry, Daddy, can't hear you!
don't think you know everything when you know nothing
except how to look nice and
not always even that, in some cases.
You make me...
angry because, because...
because your bark is worse...
..than your bite.
-I took the plug off Ethel's gramophone.
I ran into little Dorinda.
-She seems to think William has a huge part in this school play competition.
Rather than his actual role of non-speaking Attendant.
-What is he playing at?
-You know what he's like.
-He gets carried away. I'm sure you were the same as a boy.
-Don't be absurd.
No, there's a sound missing.
-Robert slamming something?
Ethel on the phone to some poor sobbing youth?
The grandfather clock isn't ticking.
I'll fix it in the morning.
Henry, don't throw paper,
unless you want me to confiscate your so-called mumbling cat.
Murmuring cat, sir.
A mumbling cat would be ridiculous, sir.
Right, break in a minute or two, and afterwards I want you to... No, no!
Dalrymple, come and listen to the cat.
He can't talk, you idiot.
Well, you'll never know, will you?
-He's thinking of something to say.
Come on Spangle, sneeze.
I mean speak.
Pepper makes him chatty.
You have to put your head in, or you might not hear what he's murmuring.
Yes! Did we say "magic talking cat"?
We meant "magic sneezing cat".
To be or not to be...
...that is the question.
Whether 'tis nobler in the slings to suffer the mind and arrows.
-That's not quite right.
-It's as sensible as what's in the book.
-But is the boy playing Hamlet ill?
We thought he was going to be, but by some miracle he isn't.
So we'll be coming along later.
You will go straight to school, won't you, or they'll be anxious?
-Coming to the play?
-I'd rather die. I'm a modernist.
I'm not interested in conventional theatre. And I'll tell you why.
This is a gate. It's an intriguing device most of us use for getting in and out of the garden.
'William disliked arriving early for anything.
'Especially when he had a humiliating evening ahead,
'and a present to make for the only girl he'd ever met whom he liked.'
Thank you, Sir.
-Can't I do it like this, sir?
-No, Shakespeare's queens did not wear trousers, even at weekends.
-Come on, quickly.
-Thank you, sir.
-Thank you, sir.
Um, Headmaster, Mr Wellbecker's a little over-stretched. should we be helping?
I'm not sure we should be, really.
We have to ask ourselves what will we achieve by helping a rather pompous big-head who, if this goes well,
will pop up every year offering his confounded shield and disrupting the smooth running of the school.
Why don't you come and watch William in his play? It might cheer you up.
-Would you like to read me your latest poem?
There might be some girls there tonight.
All right, I'll come.
Round the rock the rugged rascal ran. Round the rock the rugged...
Where is William Brown?
'William had inadvertently set fire to the Outlaws' Den,
'which made him even later than he'd intended.
'It could have happened to anyone.'
Good evening, Headmaster.
Sit down, Robert.
Everyone here is either under 12 or over 35.
Well, you can concentrate on the Shakespeare, dear.
Good old Shakespeare.
Never less than thought-provoking.
Do nudge me if I nod off.
Where on earth have you been?!
-Oh, am I a bit late?
-Quickly, get this on!
Dalrymple, help him with his trousers.
Hat, Douglas. Come on, quickly.
Out, come on, quickly, quickly.
Good evening, everyone. Thank you for coming.
I'm sure there are other things you could be doing.
So tonight, what a joy, sees the awarding of the Wellbecker Shield for Shakespearian acting.
I hope you can read that.
To start the proceedings, Mr Attwater's class, who rarely disappoint.
Act Three, Scene One
You. Go on first and stand by the throne, as I told you.
The others will follow you on. Quickly! Come on.
'William had never been hugely good at obeying orders
'and, now, faced with the girl he wanted to impress,
'and a captive audience, he couldn't help himself.'
To be or not to be,
that is the question.
-Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer, you know, slings and arrows...
Or to take arms in a sea of bubbles.
-And, by opposing, end there, dying to sleep.
The heartache and national shock of the fleshy hair-do.
To dine two sheep. Two sheep. Purchase a dream!
Aye, here's the rub! A-har!
The undiscovered country from whose bum no traveller ever returns.
-Lower the curtain!
-There isn't a curtain.
-There isn't a curtain.
More! He's breaking down the fourth wall.
So, to be or not to be, as I think I've already mentioned...
It's terribly innovative.
Sorry. Left the gas on at home.
For in that sheep of death what dreams may come
when we have shuffled off this immortal doily, that is so soft.
This is an outrage!
I wouldn't dream of presenting my shield to a school of this kind.
Judas! I shall be having words with the school governors...
-Er, should I carry on?
Well, I may have muddled up one or two words,
but I think it went pretty well.
-Shame we didn't see Douglas being the Queen.
Let's go to the den.
-No, I'm sick of that den.
Let's build another one, a long way away.
-Got to rush.
William, you were wonderful.
-Thank you very much.
-Why didn't you say it was the funniest ever comedy?
Yes, I should've mentioned that.
Oh, and there's marvellous news.
We're only moving across the village.
But I've got a going away present for you anyway.
The dead frog. That's the nicest present anyone's ever got for me.
I've stuffed it, but not very well.
'Although William now had more time for girls, if they were the kind of
'girl who'd have a go at stuffing a frog,
'the long, glorious summer stretched ahead
'and William planned to spend it with his friends, the Outlaws.
'And, as far as possible, to avoid his family.'
Joyce, it's Robert.
We just met at the play.
DIALLING TONE Joyce?
HANGS PHONE UP
What have I done wrong?
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