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Vader has lost the helmet and is now old and fat and speaks in a tenor voice. He’s obviously the smartest guy in the room.
I am not the first to mess with Shakespeare. In 1680, a hack named Nahum Tate rewrote King Lear to give it a happy ending (Cordelia marries Edgar and they assume the throne), and in 1699, Colley Cibber “adapted” Richard III. In the 19 th and 20 th centuries, Shakespeare’s plays were operacized, balletized, and Broadwayized ( The Boys from Syracuse; Kiss Me, Kate; West Side Story) In 1868, French operatic composer Ambroise Thomas wrote a Hamlet in which Ophelia sings a long aria and dies. After wild applause, she gets up and sings some more. I’ve seen this opera. I’ve also seen the Reduced Shakespeare Company in person and on DVD—they do the complete works in an hour and a half—and there’s also The Troubadour Theater Company that does Fleetwood Macbeth, which I’ve seen. They wear kilts and Hobbit feet, Duncan does standup comedy before they kill him, and Lady Macbeth sings Stevie Nicks songs. I have also seen Pulp Shakespeare (“If Shakespeare Wrote Pulp Fiction”), which is based on one of Quentin Tarantino’s hyper-violent—and in this case, also hyper-conversational—movies, which I quit watching after about 20 minutes. The rest of the audience got it, though. They laughed a lot. It’s good to have fun with Shakespeare.
Tongue of Jackal. Eye of Newt. Or,
Damn’d be him that first cries, “Hold, enough!”
Scene 1: The piney woods of a red state. Thunder and lightning. Enter three Witches carrying their cauldron, into which they throw the ingredients as they speak their spell.
Scarlett. Streak of skunk. Fin of shark.
Melanie. Tooth of termite. Spur of cock.
Mammy. Tongue of jackal. Eye of newt.
All. Blam, gol-dangit! Blammety-blam! Our charm’s wound up!
Enter Lord Vader, Bilbo Baggins, and other warriors. Vader has lost the helmet and is now old and fat and speaks in a tenor voice. He’s obviously the smartest guy in the room.
Scarlett. One of you will be king. The rest of you guys can go home and become TV pundits.
Vader. Sparrows and lions are we. I’ll be king!
Baggins. New honors come upon you and only you? Not in my lifetime! Exeunt.
Scene 2: The dark castle in the red state. Domestic thunder and lightning. Enter Lady Vader, who wears a helmet of blond hair and is very well preserved for her age.
Lady Vader. Just gotta letter from my hubby. He says he won the war.
Enter Vader. The old king’s coming for supper, Sweet-chucks. He’ll need a bed for the night, too.
Enter the King and his knights.
King. What’s for supper? Lady, you’re lookin’ as good as ever. Quite a dish. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Exit.
Vader. If it were done, when ’tis done, then ’twere done right now. Exeunt.
Enter Vader. Well, that’s done and I won. Who’ve thought he had so much blood in him?
Enter Lady. Yuck! Gotta go wash my hands. Hey, Lover, you know there’s still gonna be a lot of competition to be king. Whatcha gonna do?
Vader. Honey-babe, I’ll defeat the rest a those guys with my wit and wisdom. Let’s just scatter a lot of gold and jewels on the streets and in the airwaves and see what shakes out.
He summons his varlots and gives them elaborate, if ambiguous, instructions.
Scene 3. Somewhere in the piney woods. Bilbo Baggins and his nephew (who is like a son to him) Frodo enter. As they are walking from here to there, Vader’s varlots enter and kill them both. Exeunt.
Scene 4. A manor house in another red state. Enter Lady Toad of Toad Hall and all her tadpoles. They sit down to watch CNN.
Lady Toad. Look, kiddies! There’s your daddy. He says the witches said you tads’re gonna grow up to be king.
Tadpoles. All of us? At the same time? Right on!
Vader's varlots enter and kill them all.
Chief Varlot. Let’s get back to the castle. Vader’s throwing a big barbecue tonight. With toad on the menu. LOL. Exeunt.
Scene 5. Back at the dark castle. Enter Vader, wiping his sword.
Vader. Just stabbed another one in the back. Yeah, we were friends, but I can’t let anyone beat me to the throne.
Enter Lady Vader. Come to the barbecue, Sweet Meat. The company’s all sittin’ ’round the table. They’re waitin’ on you.
Vader. Is that a dagger I see before me? Reaches out, cuts his fingers on the invisible dagger. Oh! Look there! It’s a ghost! It’s Bilbo Baggins’ ghost. What?? Don’t you guys see him?
Lady Vader. Sit down, dear. To guests. Pay no attention. He’s suffering from PTSD. That came from being the Speaker all those years ago. It got to him Big time. To her husband. Yo, Vader! Get off the table!
Vader. It will have blood, they say. Blood will have blood.
The ghost of Bilbo threatens Vader, Vader fights back. It’s a draw. Exeunt.
Scene 6. Cave of the Witches.
Scarlett. By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.
Enter Vader. What’ve you girls got to show me this time? Any good jewelry for the missus?
Apparitions rise out of the cauldron. First, an armed Head.
Vader. Yep. That's for sure. I know my history. I’m the smartest guy in the room.
Second, a bloody Child.
Vader. My varlots didn’t pay for all this blood, y’know. No one born of woman will get me!
Additional apparitions: a child carrying a tree, three wannabe kings, the Knight of Clubs, the Red Queen. They're all running for office.
Scarlett. There’s your dumb show, King o'History. You used to be Speaker. You’re so smart, you figure it out.Tell us all about it.
Witches dance in a circle and vanish.
Scene 7. The dark castle. Enter the Doctor.
Vader. Yo, Doc, how’s my wife doing?
Doctor. She’s having a nervous breakdown.
Vader. That’s what OCD’ll do. I had to hide the soap, you know.
Doctor exits. Enter Lady Vader.
Lady Vader. No soap, no soap, no soap! Dies.
Vader. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Doctor ( calling from offstage right). That’s for sure!
Enter Toad of Toad Hall.
Toad. Yo, Vader! You’re gonna get what’s coming to you now.
Vader. No way. The piney woods’ll walk up and ring my doorbell before anything can happen to me. The doorbell rings. Like I said, no way!
Toad. Way! Turn, hell-hound, turn!
Vader. Down, boy! What did your momma teach you about respecting authority?
Toad. What momma? I’m a cyborg warrior on the Light Side! You represent the Dark Side. You can’t beat me. And you’re gonna lose everything you’ve ever won.
They do battle with many weapons. Toad hits Vader with a tree, then cuts his head off with a light saber. The head explodes and the ingredients of the witches’ spell fly out and splatter the stage. (Members of the audience are advised to duck.)