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A monologue from the play by Paul Rudnick
Act 2, Scene 2
Last night, right from the start, I knew I was bombing. I sounded big and phony, real thee and thou, and then I started rushing it, hi, what’s new in Denmark?
I just could not connect. I couldn’t get a hold of it. And while I’m…babbling, I look out, and there’s this guy in the second row, a kid, like 16, obviously dragged there.
And he’s yawning and jiggling his legs and reading his program, and I just wanted to say, hey kid, I’m with you, I can’t stand this either!
But I couldn’t do that, so I just keep feeling worse and worse, just drowning. And I thought, okay, all my questions are answered —
I’m not Hamlet, I’m no actor, what am I doing here? And then I get to the soliloquy, the big job, I’m right in the headlights, and I just thought, oh Christ, the hell with it, just do it!
To be or not to be, that is the question;
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
and by opposing, end them.
And I kept going, I finished the speech, and I look out, and there’s the kid — and he’s listening. The whole audience — complete silence, total focus.
And I was Hamlet. And it lasted about ten more seconds, and then I was in Hell. And I stayed there. But for that one little bit, for that one speech —
I got it. I had it. Hamlet. And only eight thousand lines left to go.
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