Sunday, January 6, 2013
Other Hamlets: Swing with Scooter
The plot is pretty simple and rather silly, and has absolutely nothing to do with the cover. Miss Bluff, the German drama teacher, puts the kids in rehearsals for Hamlet, and has some real trouble getting them to focus. They giggle, they start doing lines from other plays (one girl, Penny, confuses Hamlet with Romeo and Juliet, which could be an interesting idea for a mash-up since the Prince of Denmark and Ophelia are also star-crossed lovers; maybe something with the Ghost of Mercutio), fight for roles, or destroy props and sets. By the time they're selling tickets, everyone's heard it's to be a disaster and no one wants to come. Then, the comic's titular hero, Scooter/Hamlet, is inspired to turn the tragedy into... a musical comedy?
And finally, there's the matter of the competing Ophelias, a joke from rehearsals taken to its logical punchline on opening night. In the panel following the above page, the last we'll see of the play, there are two simultaneous fights. Hamlet and Laertes, of course, and the two Ophelias (neither dead, it seems). They're breaking character, of course, but doubling up on characters in a more serious attempt at the play could create the image of a girl battling herself. There's the dutiful daughter and Hamlet's lover, and their struggle leads to her madness and death. Unfortunately, both sides of Ophelia are dominated by men, which makes this metaphor far less useful than the Cynthia/Penny rivalry would seem to suggest.
"Hamlet and Eggs" only plays it for laughs (or frankly, for the thin, occasional smile), but the play is rich enough that even a silly pastiche of it can still uncover staging ideas and meaning.