Slings and Arrows (2003–2006): Season 1, Episode 6 - Playing the Swan - full transcript

It's opening night for Hamlet and though Jack has shown promise, insidious words from Richard send him running. Ellen and Geoffrey finally talk about the breakdown and the events leading up to it, and if they can find their star, the show must go on!

This is torture.

That it is, Ducky.
That it is.



Everyone is released.

Light warm-up is at seven,
half-hour is at seven-thirty.

Until then, relax.

And stay by a phone.

Is it May?
Has there been news?

No. It's Jack.
He isn't here.

- Isn't here?
- He didn't show up for rehearsal.

- We've been waiting for two hours.
- Oh, God.

Maria sent everyone home.
It's a disaster.

He's upset?

We open in eight hours,
of course he's upset!

You should just give
him a few seconds.

It's just when he's upset, he has
conversations with someone.

Just give him a few minutes,

till he comes round or whatever.

I'll go have a cigarette.


Have a coffee, too.

Cheer up, Hamlet

Chin up, Hamlet

Buck up, you melancholy Dane

So your uncle is a cad who
murdered Dad and married Mum

That's really no excuse to be
as glum as you've become

So wise up, Hamlet
Rise up, Hamlet

Buck up and
sing the new refrain

Your incessant monologizing
fills the castle with ennui

Your antic disposition
is embarrassing to see

And by the way, you sulky
brat, the answer is To Be

You're driving
poor Ophelia insane

So shut up, you
rogue and peasant

Grow up, it's most unpleasant

Cheer up, you
melancholy Dane

Slings & Arrows
1x06 Playing the Swan

Hope he's not lying
on the floor.

I can't tell ya how many of them
I've found lying on the floor.

Not just the old ones, either.

Sometimes the young ones'll take too
many drugs or what-have-ya?

Well, we know he's not
dead, his stuff is gone.

You don't pack your
bags for an overdose.

Can you get the door, dear?

Could be another woman.

Well, thank you for your help.

Well, if they're not dropping dead,
they're leavin' ya for another woman.

I don't know why
you're so mad at me.

He cracked because
I pushed him too hard,

and I learned that nifty little
directorial approach from you!

Oh, that's pathetic.

You pushed me, Oliver.

You pushed me and you
played mental games with me,

and you cajoled, you conned,
you fucked my mind

and my girlfriend,
let's not forget that!

The original sin.
Yes, Oliver.

You broke me.

- You're being ridiculous.
- Look at me!

I'm talking to you now and
you've been dead for weeks.

Look at your handiwork!

All in the name of
good theater? Fuck.

Well, first of all, Geoffrey,
you did not push him too hard.

You were much kinder with
that boy than I would've been.

If he cracked, it was probably
because the play was beyond him.

No, it wasn't.
I know that.

Fine. Secondly, all the things that
you mentioned that I did to you

the mental games,
the manipulation?

obviously that had nothing
to do with good theater.

- What are you saying?
- Oh, come on.

You're supposed to
be so perceptive.

Honestly, you can be
such a fool sometimes.

Obviously, I had issues, didn?t I?


With you.

Are you sane?

We're gonna have to cancel.

He might show up.

Do you think it was me?


- Did I scare him away?
- God, no.

You were more than kind. You
were the one who believed in him.

Well, then, what is it?
Is it the play?

Is it some kind
of evil, devil play?

- Maybe it was too much for him.
- That's what Oliver said!

Please, I can't deal
with that right now.

No, I don't think it
was the play. I don't.

I think it was something else,
but I don't know what.

Why did you run away?

Oh, come on. That was
an entirely different situation.

Yes, you ran away in the
middle of a performance.

Not! Now! Please!


It was you.

Oh, come on.

You and Oliver.

And a broken heart.

Or maybe it was just
my time to go mad.

I don't know.
I give up.

Give up!

Care to join me?

Hey, lover.
It's a beautiful day.

Jack did not show up to rehearsal.
They can't find him anywhere.

Things just keep getting
brighter and brighter.

- He doesn't have an understudy!
- Okay, well, you wait until showtime

and then, when the theater is full, have
Geoffrey make an announcement.

Holly, I wanna to talk about
what we're doing here.

Everything's on track. I'm having dinner
with the Minister of Culture before the show,

- and we pitch the board tomorrow.
- No.

I wanna to talk about
May. Specifically.

What about her?

- You went and saw her and
now she's in a coma. - Yeah.

I saw her and when
I left, she was fine.

I don't believe you.

- Are you a man, Richard?
- What?

Are you a man

or are you just a little puppy-dog
who does tricks for cookie-treats?

I'm a man.
Jesus Christ!

Then take responsibility for your actions,
because, honey, that's what men do.

All right, it's just, y'know,

I think there should
be boundaries, or...

Stop slapping me!

You're the one, honey, who's
gonna come out on top, okay?

You're the one who's gonna
be running this festival, not me.

I am just a facilitator.

I do what I have to do to
give you what you want.

Control. That is what you
want, isn't it, Richard?

- Yes. - That's right.
Now take off your pants.

Of course.

Oh, for Christ's sake.

O, my office is rank.

It smells to heaven.

To Oliver.

I was excited about this show,
Geoffrey, I have to confess.

Even with no
rehearsals and no set.

Me too.

It was very raw.
Unusual for this place.

This festival likes
its theater overdone.

Fry the life out of it
and smother it in sauce.

You are a good director.

Thank you.

- And you are a fine actress.
- Oh, really?

It was nice not to be tarted up and shifted in
and out of the light like an inflatable sheep.

I appreciated the attention.

It was, um, it was just?
like old times.

I'm trying to give
you a compliment.

Oh, sorry.
Thank you.

And I was looking forward to your
Gertrude more than you will ever know.

This isn't going to be
a compliment, is it?

You two have a lot in common,
you and the Wan Queen.

Like you, she is a willing
victim of her own sexuality.

She lives to be
an object of desire.

She's as happy with the good king
as the bad king. Doesn't matter.

The key word here,
of course, is "object".

Because once you allow
yourself to be objectified,

then you will be trundled in
and out of light like a prop.

Or you will get caught
up in someone's politics

and be forced to drink
from the poisoned chalice

or, worst fate of all,

you will be dumped by
your teenaged boyfriend.

God, you're an ugly drunk.

I'm just saying, it would have
been a marvelous performance.

What happened that night?
Where did you go?

- You really wanna know?
- Yes.

Let's get it all out.
Bring on the shit.

Fine. I'll take you
on a little tour.

But you better bring the bottle.
It's gonna be a long trip.

- Hi.
- Hi.

- Is this a bad time?
- No, no! What is it?

I just wanted to tell you that
there's still no sign of Jack.

- Really? - Yeah. Maria's called his
manager and he doesn't know anything.

- Weird.
- Yeah.

- Your lip is...
- Yeah, yeah, no, I know.

- Okay. What did you...
- Just fell on something.

Anyway, I was just wondering when
you thought we should, you know?

Well, you know,
we'll give him a few hours,

and then, if we have
to cancel, we'll cancel.

Let's hope we don't
have to do that!

- Yeah, that'd be terrible.
- Yes.

Are we done?

It all started here.

Or ended here.

Depending on whether you're talking
about my breakdown or my career.

All right.

Laertes was here.

Brian. Much thinner
then, looking dashing.

Gertrude, Barbara Connolly,
was behind me.

She had the flu, poor thing.

Claudius was next to her.
Everybody else was safely upstage.

And I was standing by the grave.

Your grave.
Oh, the irony.

I had just finished saying,

Why, I will fight with
him upon this theme

until my eyelids
will no longer wag.

O my son, what theme?

And Barbara spoke
and I turned to see her?

But I saw you instead.

I was watching from the wings.
I loved watching you.

Yeah. It's a bad habit.
It's very distracting.

I said the next lines
to you, didn't I?

I loved Ophelia.

Forty thousand brothers could not

with all their quantity
of love make up my sum.

Why did you fuck me over, Ellen?

That's what I was really asking.

Why did you sleep with him?
Why did you tell me about it?

All right.


Anyway, that's when
it all just disappeared.

The entire play went
right out of my head.

And I couldn't speak, I?

How long was I out there?

A million years.

A million years.
That's right.

O, he is mad, Laertes!

For the love of
God, forbear him.

They tried to go
on without you.

Yeah, well.

You can only go so far without your
Hamlet before you hit a speech.

Swounds, show me
what thou'lt do.

I know that now.

But then?

I could offer nothing.


I would've cut my throat,

but you're not allowed to
do that in front of subscribers,

so I jumped in there.

And you didn't come
out for seven years.

Ahoy, Captain.

Why did you go to Yong's
and not the theater bar?

I was hoping for anonymity.

I just didn't want to be stared at
anymore, I just wanted to sit and drink.

Let me guess.

Yes, I was in
costume, but really,

this whole town is filled
with Shakespearean kitsch.

It's like living in a gift shop.

You'd think they'd be
used to it by now.

Anyway, I just resented
the attention.

Fuck off!

Prince Charming.

This is a family place.

I think it was the "Prince
Charming" bit that got to me.

And what were you doing while
I was tangling with the natives?


I was in the wings with Oliver.

I die, Horatio.

The potent poison
quite o'ercrows my spirit.

And then I stole a car.

It was parked along here somewhere
with the keys in the ignition.

That was my third
crime of the evening,

but it was my first felony.

And then you
drove to my house.



I'm a little embarrassed by this next
part, because it was mainly theatrics.

- Were you planning to stab me?
- Not you.

No, I assumed
Oliver would be here.

I just wanted to wave
that knife in his face.

Maybe I wanted
to stab him, I dunno.

We'll never know
now, will we?

Anyway, I got as far as the door.
I could see the two of you in the window.

In love's fond embrace.

And I turned and I ran.

It wasn't an embrace. He
was trying to stop me crying.

He was trying to restrain me.

Why didn't you come in?
You were only five feet away.

- Did you see me?
- Yes.

If you had come in, we
could've talked about it!

You could've seen
how stupid it was.

He doesn't even like
women, for Christ's sake!

- And then you ran away again.
- How could I come in?

- I had a knife in my hand!
- So you were trying to stab me!

I would've thanked you.

Okay. Next.

I don't wanna talk about it.

- Please?
- Kate!

- We had to cancel rehearsal.
- So?

It's all bullshit, Kate.

You guys talk a good game,
but it's all bullshit in the end.

"You guys"? What're
you talking about?

I feel hurt, Kate.
Genuinely hurt.

I know I'm here to sell tickets,
but I don't need it thrown in my face.

Did someone say something
to you? Who, Claire?

Claire? Claire's
a fucking angel.

- Well, then, who?
- It was Richard, Kate.

He said it didn't matter what I did onstage,
nobody expects anything of me.

He told me that Geoffrey said the
show would sell out no matter what.

My fucking highbrow
genius director.

- Richard said that?
- Yeah.

He said it last night,
right before I went onstage.

I mean, what the hell is that?

The New Burbage Theater
Festival, y'know?

I'd rather be in L.A. where the assholes
tell you to your face that they're assholes.

Jack, that doesn't sound right.

No, it doesn't sound
fucking right, does it?

I don't wanna talk about it anymore,
I'm getting pissed off again.

- You going? - I don't know
what the fuck I'm doing.

I've gotten into three cabs today.

I keep wanting to say "airport"
but I just end up going for a ride.

You staying 'cause of me?

Kate, please. I can't deal with
relationship shit on top of all of this.


Just walk with me, okay?

Man, I feel like my
brain's gonna explode.

I read about it in the paper.

- Yes. Thank you, Basil.
- Why did...

I wanted to throttle a swan.

It seemed?
sensible at the time.

Why did you fuck Oliver?

I don't know.
He was my director.

I tried to kill myself that night.

I didn't know that.

Basil was more discreet
about my breakdown.

- Come back here, right now!
- Go away!

- Get back here, right
now! - Leave me alone!

- Ellen, stop it!
- No! No!

Get back, Basil, get back!


I wasn't thinking very
clearly, Geoffrey.

Don't laugh!
I was extremely upset!

Georgia had to stay up all
night cleaning my costume!

Oh, God.

Oliver should be here.
He would love this.

You wanna go for a ride?

I wanna steer.

All right.

Everyone's gonna hate me for
throwing a fit and running away.

No, no one's gonna hate you.
It's just a screwed up process.

So you're saying
you wanna do it?

Fuckin' right I wanna do it.
I wanted to do it yesterday.

Well, then that's
the important part.

My head's all messed up.


Who am I kidding?
I have to do it.

I'm an actor, and it's Hamlet.
What am I gonna do, walk away?

I'd feel like a loser
my whole life.

So you're afraid to do it,
but you know you have to

and if you don't, you won't be
able to live with yourself.


Well, I think you
can use that on stage.

How did you
find me, anyway?

I met you on
a bus, remember?

Hey, look, a swan boat.

There they are!
Right there!

All the losers come to the river.

- They haven't seen us yet.
- All right, duck down.

You know, we could stay
right here in this swan,

we could just drift
down the river,

eventually we'd find some
open water, we'd be free.

God. What would
we give up?

I mean, really.

What would it matter
if we didn't open this show?

In the larger sense,
it wouldn't matter at all.

In the larger sense,
nothing matters.

Seriously, Geoffrey, I think
about it all the time.

No more opening
night diarrhea,

no more explaining bad
reviews to my mother,

no more worrying and
obsessing and cramming...

I think about it all the time.

- But you haven't quit.
- No.

Why? I mean, not that
I'm encouraging it, but...

I don't know how
to do anything else.

I'd starve to death
if I left the theater.

You stay in the theater because
you don't wanna starve to death?

Now that is irony.

And I like it.

I like it when the story is good
and the audience is listening.

And you like the good reviews
and you like the standing ovations,

and you like all
of those fans...

Yes, I'm shallow.
I'm shallow!

I admit it.

I wonder what life would be like
if I could bake or something.

Well, you would be
the Bakery Queen.

And you would be constantly late,

you'd be petty and argumentative
and everyone would hate you.

But the people?

They would still line
up to buy your tarts.

Number Six, please bring your
swan in, your time is up.

You can be so sweet
when you're not raving.

- This was nice.
- Thank you for letting me steer.

Why don't you take it in

and I'll try to think of something
encouraging to say to the boy.

How about "The
show must go on"?

He might take that as a
threat, but I'll give it a shot.

Minister, I'd have to say "Dancing
Queen" was my favorite number.

Didn't you love the way they
worked "Take a Chance On Me"

into the story?
I just loved that.

- The bar?
- Oh, yeah. In there, to the left.

Stick to the Chardonnay!

Why would Richard say that?

Why would he go out of his
way to fuck with my mind?

I don't know, I don't know.

I mean, why would a man kill his
brother and marry his sister-in-law?

- It's a fucked-up world.
- Yeah, it is, it is.

Especially for actors.

Actors are entirely dependent on
other people for what they do.

They need a writer,
they need a director,

they need someone to make their
costumes and sets and props,

they need a theater and worst
of all, they need other actors.

That's a lot of people.

That's not even
including the audience.

And you bring all those
people into one place,

the odds are, you're gonna
get screwed by somebody.

Usually somebody wearing a tie.

I never looked at it that way.

Well, you can't, can you?
Otherwise you'd go mad.

Are you up to some notes?

I don't wanna overwhelm you or anything,
just blocking. I want you to be seen.

What the hell, shoot.

Break legs, everyone.

It's a good crowd out there.

Break legs.

Break your own legs.



It's past the half, you
shouldn't be back here.

Ten minutes, gentlemen!

You're drifting kind of to the
right on Osric's entrance.

So just try and keep stage left.

Y'know, if you're ever in
doubt, just find your light.

Jesus, I don't know
what that means.

- What?
- "Find your light."

I've said that to you,
like, a dozen times.

Every time you say it,
I never knew what you meant.

I just nod my head
when you say it.



Light is hot and when you're in your
light, you're gonna feel it on your face.

Look. See my hands,
they're shaking.

I feel sick.

Fucking Richard, man!

I can't get through this.
The play is too big!

I can't wrap my head around it!
I'm just a face, y'know?

Normally, I don't think I've ever had to keep
it up for more than three-eighths of a page.

And sometimes it's just
a glance, you know?

And then you do it twenty
times until you get it perfect.

Well, forget about perfection! There's
nothing more boring than perfection!

Imprecision. Fear. This is
what gets them to their feet.

- I should be brilliant, then.
- And it is not that big of a play.

Yeah, right.

Come here.
Sit down.


All right, look at me.

I want you to think of it in
terms of six soliloquies, okay?

Count 'em off with me.

O, that this too, too sullied flesh.

O, what a rogue
and peasant slave am I.

To be or not to be.

Tis now the very witching hour. That's
a short one, that's only twelve lines.

Now might I do it pat.

How all occasions do inform
against me. That's it.


And the rest, as
they say, is silence.

- I think there's some
dialogue in between. - Filler.

Nail those six soliloquies,
everyone goes home happy.

Jack. Jack.

You can do this.
I'll be there.

This is your five-minute call.
Five minutes till the top of the show.

I'll give you a moment alone.

Nahum! I've gotta
get to my seat!

It's too late. The house lights are
down. I can't let you through.

Is there another way around?

Under the stage, through the
paint room and into the offices.

And then through the front doors.

But you will have to
wait until intermission.

Through the paint room?!

Places, please, for the top
of act one. Places, please.

Okay, well, I guess I'll just watch
from here, see the actors at work.


If a farmer names his pigs, it
makes the slaughter very difficult.

Six soliloquies.

God help us.
LX-1, go.

Who's there?

Nay, answer me.
Stand and unfold yourself.

Long live the king!

- Bernardo?
- He.

You come most carefully
upon your hour.

'Tis now struck twelve.
Get thee to bed, Francisco.

For this relief much thanks.

'Tis bitter cold and
I am sick at heart.

Break we our watch up
and by my advice

let us impart what
we have seen...

First one's gonna
be easy for you.

You are so sick of the
world and all the people in it,

you just wish you could melt.

Stay up left of Laertes
on your entrance.

- I'm gonna throw up.
- Use it.

Though yet of Hamlet
our dear brother's death

the memory be green,
and that it befitted us

to bear our hearts in grief
and our whole kingdom

to be contracted
in one brow of woe.

Yet so far hath discretion
fought with nature...

- Alan's in good voice.
- I hope so. It's all he's got.

... Re-speaking earthly
thunder. Come, away!

Here we go.
Moment of truth.


that this too too
solid flesh

would melt,

thaw and resolve
itself into a dew!

Or that the Everlasting
had not fix'd

his canon 'gainst

O God!


How weary, stale,
flat and unprofitable,

seem to me all
the uses of this world!

Fie on't!

Fie! 'tis an
unweeded garden,

that grows to seed.

Things rank
and gross in nature

possess it merely.

That it should come to this!

LX-22, go.

How now, Ophelia,
what's the matter?

O, my lord, my lord,
I have been so affrighted!

With what,
i' the name of God?

My lord, while I was
sewing in my chamber,

lord Hamlet, with his
doublet all unbraced,

no hat upon his head,
his stockings foul'd, ungarter'd

and down-gyved to his ankle.

Pale as his shirt, his knees
knocking each other...

She's good.

... and with a look
so piteous in purport,

as if he had been
loosed out of hell...

- ... to speak of horrors...
- She's good.

You are disgusted
with yourself,

you are a coward,
you are not a man,

you are a weak
and passionless failure.

O, what a rogue and
peasant slave am I!

On some level, you long
for this to be over,

you long for rest.
Mental, spiritual rest.

I know this one.

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?

To die.

To sleep.

No more.

And by a sleep
to say we end

the heart-ache and the
thousand natural shocks

that flesh is heir to.

LX-48, go.

- Lady, shall I lie in
your lap? - No, my lord.

- I mean, my head upon
your lap? - Ay, my lord.

- Do you think I meant country
matters? - I think nothing, my lord.

'Tis a fair thought indeed
to lie between maids' legs.

Tis now the very
witching time of night.

When churchyards yawn
and hell itself breathes out

contagion to this world.

Now could I drink hot blood

and do such bitter business as
the day would quake to look on.

LX-57, go.

Now might I do it pat,
now he is praying.

And now I'll do't.
And so he goes to heaven.

And so am I revenged.
That would be scann'd.

A villain kills my father.

And for that,
I, his sole son,

- do this same villain send to heaven.
- Fate plays with our prince.


He cannot kill the
king while he prays.

With all his crimes broad
blown, as flush as May

and how his audit stands...

O Hamlet, speak no more.

Thou turn'st mine
eyes into my very soul.

And there I see such black and grained
spots as will not leave their tinct.


but to live in the rank
sweat of an enseamed bed,

stew'd in corruption,
honeying and making love

over a nasty sty!

O, speak to me no more!

Thy words, like daggers,
enter in mine ears!

No more, sweet Hamlet!

How all occasions
do inform against me

and spur my dull revenge!

What is a man, if his chief
good and market of his time

be but to sleep and feed?

That's number six.

I was wondering when you'd show
up. He's in the home stretch.

Very good and all that, but
you've forgotten something.


A promise made to an old man.

No, Ellen and I talked
about that this morning.

Not that one.


Examples gross
as earth exhort me.

Witness this army of
such mass and charge

led by a delicate
and tender prince.

Good job, Geoff.

And I'm sorry
about Ellen and me.

I suppose I always knew that
you were better than me and...

- Can we talk about this later?
- Sorry.

And will he not come again?

And will he not
come again?

No, no

He is dead

Go to thy death-bed

He never will come again

He is gone

Whose was it?

A whoreson mad fellow's it was:
whose do you think it was.

Nay, I know not.

A pestilence on him
for a mad rogue!

... on my head once.

This same skull, sir, was
Yorick's skull, the king's jester.

- Goodbye, Geoffrey.
- Thanks, Oliver.

Let me see.

Alas, poor Yorick!

I knew him, Horatio.

A fellow of infinite jest,
of most excellent fancy.

I die, Horatio.

The potent poison
quite o'er-crows my spirit.

I cannot live to hear
the news from England.

But I do prophesy the
election lights on Fortinbras.

He has my dying voice.

So tell him,

with the occurrents, more
and less, which have solicited.

The rest is silence.

Good night, sweet prince.

And flights of angels

sing thee to thy rest!

LX-129, go.

And fuck me blue,
we're done.

Great show.
Fantastic, great show.

Good work, great show.

That was it!

That was beautiful, beautiful.

Holy shit, man.

They're not finished with you.
Get out there, come on! Go!

That was...

I don't know what to say.
That was incredible!

You know, I saw A Chorus Line
when I was sixteen years old...

- The critics are gonna slaughter us.
- What? How can they?

Because Jack is
an American movie actor.

That's all they're gonna
write about, right?

They can't ignore what
happened on this stage tonight.

What did happen, exactly?

I don't know!
This is all new to me!

Well, please, join us again!

We do eight shows a week, matinees
on Wednesdays and Saturdays!

Great, very good,
good, good...

Thanks, it was wild.

I wish I coulda
given you a line, but...

I think if I'd had a line to
say I would've shit myself.

Maybe I should've
given you a line.

Oh, my god.
Oh, my god!

Is there anything
better than this?

Better than this?

Wonderful work.

That little shit?
She was better than me!

- Who?
- You know who.

Geoffrey, I don't know what
your plans are for next year,

but please don't make me play
the Nurse. Not yet, anyway.

You've got a couple years left
before you play the Nurse.

Well, one year, anyway.

I was thinking more
along the lines of...


I'd like that.

Very much.

Are you free
tomorrow morning?

- Yeah, it's a race day.
- A what?

I am. Why?

Well, in case I forgot to mention it...
We should meet at the place.

The spot?

Eleven o'clock,
wear something black.

Great fuckin' show, man.
Good job.

- Hey, Ellen.
- Hi.

It's showtime!
Are you ready?

I need a second.

- I need a second.
- The board is waiting!

Shake it off, honey.
Destiny calls.

Don't forget the model.


Yeah, sugar?


You're a really terrible,
terrible person.


Open the door!


Don't even think about pushing
me in. This is an Armani.

Don't worry. That's
not what I had in mind.

What's that?

The rest of Oliver. Minus his head.
It's our final obligation.

Right! He always said he
wanted to be sprinkled in the...

- What did he call it?
- Ganges North.

Ganges North, right.

We do this together?

What if he didn't really mean it?

I mean, it's not a very dignified
resting place, what with the swans.

I am the cygnet to
this pale faint swan,

who chants a doleful
hymn to his own death,

and from the organ-pipe
of frailty sings

his soul and body
to their lasting rest.

Goodbye, Oliver.


I'm dying for a coffee.

EN synchro: namuras