"In writing fiction, the more fantastic the tale, the plainer the prose should be. Don't ask your readers to admire your words when you want them to believe your story." - Ben Bova [ more quotes ]

"SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE"

by

Marc Norman

&

Tom Stoppard



INT. THE ROSE THEATRE. DAY.

SKY. Over which a title "LONDON -- SUMMER 1593" appears.
Title card: In the glory days of the Elizabethan theatre two
playhouses were fighting it out for writers and audiences.
North of the city was the Curtain Theatre, home to England's
most famous actor, Richard Burbage. Across the river was the
competition, built by Philip Henslowe, a business with a
cash flow problem...

...The Rose...

Gradually a building is revealed, The Rose Theatre, three-
threetiered, open to the elements and empty. On the floor,
tiered, roughly printed, a poster -- torn, soiled, out of
date. It says:

SEPT. 7TH & 8TH AT NOON

MR. EDWARD ALLEYN AND THE ADMIRAL'S MEN AT THE ROSE THEATRE,
BANKSIDE

THE LAMENTABLE TRAGEDIE OF THE MONEYLENDER REVENG'D

OVER THIS the screams of a man under torture. The screams
are coming from the curtained stage.

VOICE (O.S.)
You Mongrel! Why do you howl When it
is I who am bitten?

INT. THE ROSE THEATRE. STAGE. DAY.

The theatre owner, PHILLIP HENSLOWE, is the man screaming.
HENSLOWE's boots are on fire. He is pinioned in a chair,
with his feet stuck out over the hot coals of a fire burning
in a brazier. He is being held in that position by LAMBERT,
who is a thug employed by FENNYMAN, who is the owner of the
VOICE. The fourth man, FREES, is FENNYMAN'S bookkeeper.

FENNYMAN
What am I, Mr. Lambert?

LAMBERT
Bitten, Mr. Fennyman.

FENNYMAN
How badly bitten, Mr. Frees?

FREES
Twelve pounds, one shilling and four
pence, Mr. Fennyman, including
interest.

HENSLOWE
Aaagh! I can pay you!

FENNYMAN
When?

HENSLOWE
Two weeks, three at the most, Aaaagh!
For pity's sake.

FENNYMAN
Take his feet out. Where will you
get --

FREES
(the mathematical
genius with a notebook)
Sixteen pounds, five shillings and
nine pence --

FENNYMAN
Including interest in three weeks?

HENSLOWE
I have a wonderful new play!

FENNYMAN
Put his feet in.

HENSLOWE
It's a comedy.

FENNYMAN
Cut his nose off.

HENSLOWE
A new comedy. By Will Shakespeare!

FENNYMAN
And his ears.

HENSLOWE
And a share. We will be partners,
Mr. Fennyman!

FENNYMAN
(hesitating)
Partners!

HENSLOWE
It's a crowd-tickler -- mistaken
identities, a shipwreck, a pirate
king, a bit with a dog, and love
triumphant.

LAMBERT
I think I've seen it. I didn't like
it.

HENSLOWE
This time it is by Shakespeare.

FENNYMAN
What's the title?

HENSLOWE
Romeo and Ethel the Pirate's Daughter.

FENNYMAN
Good title.

FENNYMAN snaps his fingers at FREES and LAMBERT. LAMBERT
unties HENSLOWE, FREES starts writing a contract.

FENNYMAN
A play takes time. Find actors...
rehearsals... let's say open in three
weeks. That's -- what -- five hundred
groundlings at tuppence each, in
addition four hundred groundlings
tuppence each, in addition four
hundred backsides at three pence --
a penny extra for a cushion, call it
two hundred cushions, say two
performance for safety how much is
that Mr. Frees?

FREES
Twenty pounds to the penny, Mr.
Fennyman.

FENNYMAN
Correct!

HENSLOWE
But I have to pay the actors and the
authors.

FENNYMAN
A share of the profits.

HENSLOWE
There's never any.

FENNYMAN
Of course not!

HENSLOWE
(impressed)
Mr. Fennyman, I think you may have
hit on something.

FENNYMAN slaps a contract down on the table next to an ink-
pot and quill.

FENNYMAN
Sign here.

HENSLOWE takes the quill and signs.

FENNYMAN
Romeo and Ethel The Pirate's
Daughter... Almost finished?

HENSLOWE
Without doubt he is completing it at
this very moment.

INT. WILL'S ROOM. DAY

A small cramped space in the eaves of a building. A cluttered
shelf containing various objects, wedged between crumpled
pieces of paper. Among those we have time to observe: a skull,
a mug that says A PRESENT FROM STRATFORD UPON-AVON.

At infrequent intervals further pieces of crumpled paper are
tossed towards the shelf. The man who is throwing them, WILL
SHAKESPEARE, is bent over a table, writing studiously with a
quill.

Now we see what he is writing: Will is practising his
signature, over and over again. "Will Shagsbeard... W
Shakspur... William Shasper..." Each time he is dissatisfied,
and each time he crumples, and tosses it away.

Suddenly WILL becomes impatient. He jumps up and goes to the
loft area in the rafters, where he sleeps, and starts to
pull on his boots. At this point the door opens and HENSLOWE
walks in. He is out of breath and his feet hurt.

HENSLOWE
Will! Where is my play? Tell me you
have it nearly done! Tell me you
have it started.
(desperately)
You have begun?

WILL
(struggling with his
boots)
Doubt that the stars are fire, doubt
that the sun doth move.

HENSLOWE
No, no, we haven't the time. Talk
prose. Where is my play?

WILL
(tapping his forehead
and heading out the
door)
It is all locked safe in here.

HENSLOWE
God be praised!
(then doubt)
Locked?

WILL
As soon as I have found my muse.

EXT. STREET. OUTSIDE WILL'S HOUSE. DAY.

WILL lives in a crowded area of the city. Hawkers are crying
their wares, tract-sellers, delivery boys, and merchants go
about their business. HENSLOWE catches up with WILL as he
strides purposefully along.

HENSLOWE
(catching up)
Who is she this time?!

WILL
She is always Aphrodite.

HENSLOWE
Aphrodite Baggot who does it behind
the Dog and Trumpet?

WILL
Henslowe, you have no soul so how
can you understand the emptiness
that seeks a soulmate?

HENSLOWE
Well, I am a dead man and buggered
to boot. My theatre is close by the
plague these twelve weeks, my company
is playing the inn-yards of England,
while Burbage and the Chamberlain's
Men are invited to court and receive
ten pounds to play your piece, written
for my theatre, by my writer, at my
risk when you were green and grateful --

WILL
What piece? Richard Crookback?

HENSLOWE
No... it's comedy they want, Will!
Comedy! Like Romeo and Ethel?

WILL
Who wrote that?

HENSLOWE
Nobody! You are writing it for me! I
gave you three pounds a month since.

WILL
Half what you owed me. I am still
due for One Gentleman of Verona.

EXT. ANOTHER STREET. DAY

HENSLOWE's hardly paused in his appeal.

HENSLOWE
Will! What is money to you and me?
I, your patron, you my wordwright!
When the plague lifts Burbage will
have a new Christopher Marlowe for
the Curtain and I have nothing for
the Rose.

WILL stops.

WILL
Mr. Henslowe, will you lend me fifty
pounds?

HENSLOWE
(staggered)
Fifty pounds? What for?

WILL
Burbage offers me a partnership in
the Chamberlain's Men. For fifty
pounds my hired player days are over.

HENSLOWE
Cut out my heart! Throw my liver to
the dogs!

WILL
(answering for him)
No, then.

WILL turns down a side street.

EXT. MARKETPLACE. DAY.

HENSLOWE and WILL are crossing a crowded marketplace where a

Puritan preacher, MAKEPEACE, is haranguing anyone who will
listen.

MAKEPEACE
And the Lord shall smite them! Yea,
harken to me. The theatres are
handmaidens of the devil! Under the
name of the Curtain, the players
breed lewdness in your wives,
rebellion in your servants, idleness
in your apprentices and wickedness
in your children! And the Rose smells
thusly rank by any name! I say a
plague on both their houses!

As he passes WILL gratefully makes a mental note.

EXT. DR. MOTH'S HOUSE. DAY.

WILL turns into a narrow street and walks toward a doorway.

HENSLOWE
Where are you going?

WILL
To my weekly confession.

As HENSLOWE arrives the door closes in his face. A sign
identifies the place as the premises of Dr. MOTH, apothecary,
alchemist, astrologer, seer, interpreter of dreams, and priest
of psyche. HENSLOWE looks puzzled.

INT. DR. MOTH'S HOUSE. DAY

A stuffed alligator hangs from the ceiling, pills, potions,
amulets and charms, star charts and mystic paraphernalia
festoon the place. Testimonials and framed degrees hang on
the walls. WILL lying on a couch, on his back. His eyes are
closed.

DR. MOTH sits by the couch, listening to WILL and occasionally
making a note on a pad he holds on his knee. What we have
here is nothing less than the false dawn of analysis. The
session is being timed by an hourglass.

WILL
Words, words, words…once, I had the
gift... I could make love out of
words as a potter makes cups out of
clay love that overthrows empires,
love that binds two hearts together
come hellfire and brimstones... for
sixpence a line, I could cause a
riot in a nunnery... but now --

DR. MOTH
And yet you tell me you lie with
women?

WILL seems unwilling to respond. DR. MOTH refers to his notes.

DR. MOTH
Black Sue, Fat Phoebe, Rosaline,
Burbage's seamstress; Aphrodite, who
does it behind the Dog and --

WILL
(interrupting)
Aye, now and again, but what of it?
I have lost my gift.

DR. MOTH
I am here to help you. Tell me in
your own words.

WILL
I have lost my gift.
(not finding this
easy)
It's as if my quill is broken. As if
the organ of the imagination has
dried up. As if the proud tower of
my genius has collapsed.

DR. MOTH
Interesting.

WILL
Nothing comes.

DR. MOTH
Most interesting.

WILL
It is like trying to a pick a lock
with a wet herring.

DR. MOTH
(shrewdly)
Tell me, are you lately humbled in
the act of love?

WILL turns towards him. How did he know that?

DR. MOTH
How long has it been?

WILL
A goodly length in times past, but
lately --

DR. MOTH
No, no. You have a wife, children.

The sand runs through the hourglass.

LATER
Not much sand left.

WILL
I was a lad of eighteen. Anne Hathaway
was a woman, half as old again.

DR. MOTH
A woman of property?

WILL
(shrugs)
She had a cottage. One day, she was
three months gone with child, so --

DR. MOTH
And your relations?

WILL
On my mother's side the Ardens --

DR. MOTH
No, your marriage bed.

WILL
Four years and a hundred miles away
in Stratford. A cold bed too, since
the twins were born. Banishment was
a blessing.

DR. MOTH
So now you are free to love.

WILL
Yet cannot love nor write it.

DR. MOTH reaches for a glass snake bracelet.

DR. MOTH
Here is a bangle found in Psyche's
temple on Olympus cheap at four pence.
Write your name on a paper and feed
it in the snake.

WILL looks at the snake bangle in wonder.

WILL
Will it restore my gift?

DR. MOTH
The woman who wears the snake will
dream of you, and your gift will
return. Words will flow like a river.
I will see you in a week.

He holds out his hand. WILL drops a sovereign into it, and
takes the bracelet.

EXT. DR. MOTH'S HOUSE. DAY.

WILL comes out. HENSLOWE is waiting, standing in a horse
trough to ease his feet. WILL walks straight past him, and
HENSLOWE follows.

HENSLOWE
Now where? Will?

WILL
To the Palace at Whitehall.

INT. WHITEHALL PALACE. BACKSTAGE. DAY.

WHITEHALL means nothing yet. We are behind closed curtains
on a stage busy with preparations for the imminent performance
of Two Gentlemen of Verona. This is not a theatre but a
banqueting hall, as we will see.

RICHARD BURBAGE is to play "PROTEUS." A BOY PLAYER will play
"SILVIA," and last minute improvements to his makeup etc.
are being applied by BURBAGE'S mistress ROSALINE. "LAUNCE,"
one of the clowns, is the famous comedian WILL KEMPE.
"LAUNCE'S" dog, CRAB is in KEMPE'S charge and is not helping
much. There is no set. A helpful placard reading VERONA --
AN OPEN PLACE, is ready to hand. MUSICIANS can be heard tuning
their instruments.

From the other side of the curtain there is an expectant
bubbub. KEMPE leads the dog into the wings and rummages in a
box of proops. He finds a skull. He has one foot on the box,
his elbow on his knee, he looks at the skull... in other
words he reminds us of Hamlet. We see this from the POV of
WILL, who is just entering through a door backstage.

WILL
(approaching)
Prithee, Mr. Kempe, break a leg. You
too, good Crab.

KEMPE
Crab is nervous. He has never played
the Palace. When will you write me a
tragedy, Will? I could do it.

WILL
No, they would laugh at Seneca if
you played it.

WILL'S attention has been caught by ROSALINE, BURBAGE'S
mistress. ROSALINE is big breasted, dark-eyed, dark-haired,
sexual.

BURBAGE
(to ROSALINE)
My sleeve wants for a button, Mistress
Rosaline, where were my seamstress's
eyes?

BURBAGE kisses her mouth and slaps her behind. He comes over
to greet WILL.

BURBAGE
There is no dog in the first scene,
Will Kempe, thank you. How goes it
Will?

WILL
I am still owed money for this play,
Burbage.

BURBAGE
Not from me. I only stole it. When
are you coming over to the
Chamberlain's Men?

WILL
When I have fifty pounds.

ROSALINE brings over the last elements of BURBAGE'S costume
and helps him into them.

BURBAGE
Are you writing?

WILL
(nods somewhat
defensively)
A comedy. All but done, a pirate
comedy, wonderful.

BURBAGE
What is the chief part?

WILL
Romeo. Wit, swordsman, lover.

BURBAGE
The title?

WILL
Romeo --

BURBAGE
I will play him. Bring it tomorrow.

WILL
It's for Henslowe. He paid me.

BURBAGE
How much?

WILL
Ten pounds.

BURBAGE
You're a liar.

BURBAGE digs under his costume for his purse, which is on a
waistband, over his corset.

WILL
I swear it. He wants Romeo for Ned
and the Admiral's Men.

BURBAGE
Ned is wrong for it.

WILL turns to see HENSLOWE approaching.

BURBAGE
(to WILL)
Here is two sovereigns -- I'll give
you two more when you show me the
pages.

WILL
Done.

HENSLOWE
(arriving)
Burbage, I will see you hanged for a
pickpocket.

BURBAGE
The Queen has commanded, she loves a
comedy and the Master of the Revels
favours us.

HENSLOWE
And what favour does Mr. Tilney
receive from you?

BURBAGE
Ask him.

The Master of the Revels (TILNEY) comes through the curtain
officiously.

TILNEY
She comes!

He disappears back through the curtains. The hubbub falls
silent, rather dramatically, and all the busy PLAYERS know
what that means: they all crowd to the curtain and find places
to peep through.

INT. WHITEHALL PALACE. BANQUETING HALL. FRONT OF
HOUSE/STAGE. DAY.

THE POV OF THE PLAYERS.

The arrival of QUEEN ELIZABETH, aged sixty, coming to take
her place in the audience at front centre. The hill is crowded
with lords and ladies, bowing ELIZABETH to her seat, which
is raised high on a pedestal, affording the QUEEN an
uninterrupted view of the play, and the audience an
uninterrupted view of the QUEEN.

Trumpets sound. Close on a small piece of paper: a quill is
writing "W. Shakespeare." WILL rolls the paper up carefully
and slips it into the mouth of the snake bangle. The curtain
draws back and CONDELL as "VALENTINE" and BURBAGE as "PROTEUS"
begin the play.

CONDELL AS VALENTINE
"Cease to persuade, my loving Proteus;
Home-keeping youth have ever homely
wits..."

INT. WHITEHALL PALACE. BANQUETING HALL. THE WINGS/BACKSTAGE.
DAY.

With BURBAGES'S presence accounted for on stage, ROSALINE
curls an arm around WILL'S neck. They kiss hungrily. After a
moment, WILL pulls back.

ROSALINE
When will you write me a sonnet,
Will?

WILL
I have lost my gift.

ROSALINE
You left it in my bed. Come to look
for it again.

WILL
Are you to be my muse, ROSALINE?

ROSALINE
Burbage has my keeping but you have
my heart.

WILL takes the snake bracelet and slips it onto her arm.
ROSALINE looks at it, then at WILL. Then they kiss again,
but WILL is distracted by the sound of coughing from the
auditorium.

WILL
You see? The consumptives plot against
me. "Will Shakespeare has a play,
let us go and cough through it."

INT. WHITEHALL PALACE. BANQUETING HALL. STAGE. DAY.

"VALENTINE" is on stage with "PROTEUS."

CONDELL AS VALENTINE
"To be in love, where scorn is bought
with groans: Coy looks with heart
sore sighs; One fading moment's mirth
With twenty watchful, weary, tedious
nights..."

As the scene continues, WILL appears at the back of the hall
and finds himself next to HENSLOWE.

WILL
I feel a scene coming on.

HENSLOWE
Is it about a pirate's daughter?

INT. WHITEHALL PALACE. BACK OF THE BANQUETING HALL/STAGE.
DAY.

Laughter. It is later, and KEMPE is now on stage with his
dog. The audience is roaring.

HENSLOWE
You see? Comedy.

QUEEN ELIZABETH'S idiosyncratic laugh rises above the others.

QUEEN
Well played, Master Crab, I commend
you.

She throws a sweetheart on the stage and the dog wolfs it
down. Everyone applauds.

HENSLOWE
Love and a bit with a dog, that's
what they like.

Now we meet VIOLA. VIOLA DE LESSEPS is twenty-five and
beautiful, and she is laughing with great natural enjoyment.
She sits slightly apart from her small family group -- her
parents, SIR ROBERT DE LESSEPS and LADY MARGARET DE LESSEPS.
Part of the group but seated behind as befits her lower status
is VIOLA'S NURSE. Elsewhere is LORD WESSEX, our villain.

WESSEX is in his forties, dark cruel, self-important. He has
noticed VIOLA. The nurse notices him.

INT. WHITEHALL PALACE. BANQUETING HALL. FRONT OF
HOUSE/STAGE. DAY. LATER.

"VALENTINE" is on stage alone. He is speaking the speech
rather more coarsely than the version we hear later.

CONDELL AS VALENTINE
"What light is light if Silvia be
not seen? What joy is joy, if Silvia
be not by? Unless it be to think
that she is by And feed upon the
shadow of perfection..."

Now we see that VIOLA knows the speech by heart, and is
silently mouthing it with the actor.

HENSLOWE
There's a lady knows your play by
heart.

But when he turns to WILL he finds that WILL has gone.

INT. WILL'S ROOM. DAY.

WILL comes into his room, goes straight to his table in the
window, and arranges pen, ink, and paper. Now he has his
ritual: he spins round once in a circle, rubs his hands
together and spits on the floor. Then he sits down, picks up
his pen, and stares in front of him. PAUSE. Then he begins
to write.

INT. DE LESSEPSES' HOUSE. VIOLA'S BEDROOM. NIGHT.

The NURSE is undressing her, though VIOLA tries intermittently
to push her away. She is still bright with excitement.

VIOLA
Did you like Proteus or Valentine
best? Proteus for speaking, Valentine
for looks.

NURSE
I liked the dog, for laughs.

VIOLA
But Silvia I did not care for much.
His fingers were red from fighting
and he spoke like a schoolboy at
lessons. Stage love will never be
true love while the law of the land
has our heroines played by pipsqueak
boys in petticoats! Oh, when can we
see another?

NURSE
When the Queen commands it.

VIOLA
But at the playhouse. Nurse?

NURSE
Be still.

Now the NURSE is cleaning VIOLA'S ears, one by one, of course.
She has an ear-cleaning implement for this. VIOLA submits.

NURSE
Playhouses are not for well-born
ladies.

VIOLA
I am not so well-born.

NURSE
Well-monied is the same as well-born
and well-married is more so. Lord
Wessex was looking at you tonight.

VIOLA
All the men at court are without
poetry. If they look at me they see
my father's fortune. I will have
poetry in my life. And adventure.
And love. Love above all.

NURSE
Like Valentine and Silvia?

VIOLA
No... not the artful postures of
love, but love that overthrows life.
Unbiddable, ungovernable, like a
riot in the heart, and nothing to be
done, come ruin or rapture. Love
like there has never been in a play.
(beat)
I will have love or I will end my
days as a...

NURSE
As a nurse.

VIOLA
(kissing her)
But I would be Valentine and Silvia
too. Good Nurse, God save you and
good night. I would stay asleep my
whole life if I could dream myself
into a company of players.

VIOLA goes over to the window.

INT. DE LESSEPSES' HOUSE. VIOLA'S BEDROOM. NIGHT.

The NURSE thrusts a twig to her face.

NURSE
Clean your teeth while you dream,
then.

Automatically, VIOLA takes the twig and begins brushing her
teeth, all the while looking downriver towards the Rose. The
NURSE attends her with a beaker of water, and a bowl.

NURSE
Now spit.

VIOLA gazes longingly towards the Rose... And, there and
then, she makes a plan.

EXT. SQUARE IN FRONT OF THE ROSE THEATRE. DAY.

HENSLOWE is making his way from the theatre to the market
place when FENNYMAN and LAMBERT appear at either shoulder
and propel him back the way he came. FREES follows behind.

FENNYMAN
This time we take your boots off!

HENSLOWE
What have I done, Mr. Fennyman?

FENNYMAN
The theatres are all closed by the
plague!

HENSLOWE
Oh, that.

FENNYMAN
By order of the Master of the Revels!

HENSLOWE
Mr. Fennyman, let me explain about
the theatre business.
(they stop)
The natural condition is one of
insurmountable obstacles on the road
to imminent disaster. Believe me, to
be closed by the plague is a bagatelle
in the ups and downs of owning a
theatre.

FENNYMAN
So what do we do?

HENSLOWE
Nothing. Strangely enough, it all
turns out well.

FENNYMAN
How?

HENSLOWE
I don't know. It's a mystery.

LAMBERT
(dumbly)
Should I kill him, Mr. Fennyman?

At this point din is heard in the background. A messenger,
ringing a bell, is running though the street.

MESSENGER
The theatres are reopened. By order
of the Master of the Revels, the
theatres are reopened.

FENNYMAN is intrigued.

FREES
Mr. Fennyman! Mr. Tilney has opened
the playhouses.

FENNYMAN
Yes I heard.

HENSLOWE plays his temporary advantage modestly, shrugging
himself free of LAMBERT'S grip.

HENSLOWE
(to LAMBERT)
If you wouldn't mind.

HENSLOWE continues on his way. FENNYMAN watches HENSLOWE,
curious.

FENNYMAN
Where is the play?

HENSLOWE
Oh, it's coming, it's coming.

INT. WILL'S ROOM. DAY.

It is. WILL is writing furiously. A burnt-down candle is
still alight, although it is day outside the window. He has
been writing all night. He has written about ten pages.
Pleased with himself and excited, he gathers them up and
leaves the room like a man with a mission.

EXT. WILL'S HOUSE. DAY.

Leaving the house, pages in hand, WILL nearly knocks down
HENSLOWE who has come to see him.

HENSLOWE
Will! The theatres are --

Before he can finish, WILL brandishes the pages in his hand.

WILL
Romeo and Rosaline. Scene One! God,
I'm good!

HENSLOWE
Rosaline? You mean Ethel.

WILL has gone.

EXT. BURBAGE'S HOUSE. DAY.

BURBAGE lives in another part of the city. WILL bangs through
the door without ceremony.

WILL
(shouting)
Richard!

INT. BURBAGE'S HOUSE. DAY.

WILL enters and calls out.

WILL
Burbage?

INT. BURBAGE'S BEDROOM. DAY.

WILL charges into the bedroom. ROSALINE is in bed. The Master
of the Revels is pulling up his breeches. WILL is shattered.

WILL
Mr. Tilney.

The unsuccessful snake bracelet glints at him from ROSALINE'S
arm.

TILNEY
Like you, I found him not at home!

WILL
So this is the favour you find in
the Chamberlain's Men.

ROSALINE
Will!

WILL
(to ROSALINE)
I would have made you immortal.
(turning to go)
Tell Burbage he has lost a new play
by Will Shakespeare.

TILNEY
What does Burbage care of that? He
is readying the Curtain for Kit
Marlowe.

WILL
You have opened the playhouses?

TILNEY
I have, Master Shakespeare.

WILL
But the plague?

TILNEY
(sighs)
Yes, I know. But he was always hanging
around the house.

A bell can be heard ringing outside.

ROSALINE
(to WILL, leaving)
Will... you're the only one, Will...
in my heart.

EXT. STREET. OUTSIDE BURBAGE'S HOUSE. DAY.

WILL emerges looking distraught. A burning brazier stands by
the wall. WILL thrusts the pages into the coals. He watches
for a moment as the pages catch fire.

INT. TAVERN. DAY.

WILL walks in to find the place in an uproar of celebration.
A handsome young serving man (NOL) is bumping through with a
tray of tankards.

NOL
(excitedly)
Mr. Henslowe!

HENSLOWE
Yes, I heard. The theatres are open.
But where is my playwright?

HENSLOWE finds a seat, and takes a tankard off NOL'S tray.

HENSLOWE
Chalk it up, Nol. I'm hungry, too.

NOL
The special today is a pig's foot
marinated in juniper-berry vinegar,
served with a buckwheat pancake which
has been --

They are interrupted by WILL who joins them. He looks
distracted.

HENSLOWE
Will! Have you finished?

WILL
Yes. Nearly.
(he taps his forehead)
It's all locked safe in here. We
need Ralph for the Pirate King. Good
morning, Master Nol. You will have a
nice little part.

NOL takes off his apron and flings it behind the bar. HENSLOWE
jumps up and embraces WILL. The entire staff and half the
customers are now crowding around, actors the lot of them.
HENSLOWE bangs the table to shut them all up.

HENSLOWE
Ned Alleyn and the Admiral's Men are
out on tour. I need actors. Those
here who are unknown will have a
chance to be known.

ACTOR
What about the money, Mr. Henslowe?

HENSLOWE
It won't cost you a penny! Auditions
in half-an-hour!

The din of excited chatter returns. He sweeps grandly to the
tavern door... where he meets RALPH BASHFORD, a big, burly,
middle-aged actor.

HENSLOWE
Ralph Bashford! I'd have a part for
you but, alas, I hear you are a
drunkard's drunkard.

RALPH
Never when I'm working.

INT. TAVERN. DAY.

WILL has remained behind, aghast now at his predicament. He
goes to the bar.

WILL
Give me to drink mandragora.

BARMAN
Straight up, Will?

VOICE
Give my friend a beaker of your best
brandy.

WILL turns towards a figure further down the bar. It's
CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE.

WILL
Kit.

MARLOWE
How goes it, Will?

WILL
Wonderful, wonderful.

MARLOWE
Burbage says you have a play.

WILL
I have. And chinks to show for it.

His drink arrives. WILL places a sovereign on the bar.

WILL
I insist -- and a beaker for Mr.
Marlowe.

The BARMAN does the business.

WILL
I hear you have a new play for the
Curtain.

MARLOWE
Not new -- my Doctor Faustus.

WILL
I love your early work. "Was this
the face that launched a thousand
ships and burnt the topless towers
of Ilium?"

MARLOWE
I have a new one nearly done, and
better. The Massacre at Paris.

WILL
Good title.

MARLOWE
And yours?

WILL
Romeo and Ethel the Pirate's Daughter.
(beat, sighs
despondently)
Yes, I know.

MARLOWE
What is the story?

WILL
Well, there's a pirate
(confesses)
In truth, I have not written a word.

MARLOWE
Romeo is... Italian. Always in and
out of love.

WILL
Yes, that's good. Until he meets --

MARLOWE
Ethel.

WILL
Do you think?

MARLOWE
The daughter of his enemy.

WILL
(thoughtfully)
The daughter of his enemy.

MARLOWE
His best friend is killed in a duel
by Ethel's brother or something. His
name is Mercutio.

WILL
Mercutio... good name.

NOL hurries back to WILL'S side.

NOL
Will... they're waiting for you!

WILL
I'm coming.

He drains his glass.

WILL
Good luck with yours, Kit.

MARLOWE
I thought your play was for Burbage.

WILL
This is a different one.

MARLOWE
(trying to work it
out)
A different one you haven't written?

WILL makes a helpless gesture and hurries after NOL.

INT. THE ROSE THEATRE. GALLERY/STAGE/AUDITORIUM. DAY.

HENSLOWE and WILL are sitting in the gallery, listening to a
YOUNG ACTOR auditioning.

YOUNG ACTOR
"...Was this the face that launched
a thousand ships, And burnt the
topless towers of Ilium? Sweet Helen,
make me immortal with a kiss!"

HENSLOWE
Thank you.

HENSLOWE and WILL look a bit deflated. The YOUNG ACTOR leaves
and is replaced by a SECOND ACTOR.

SECOND ACTOR
I would like to give you something
from Faustus by Christopher Marlowe.

HENSLOWE
How refreshing.

SECOND ACTOR
"Was this the face that launched a
thousand ships, And burnt the topless
towers of Ilium?"

HENSLOWE and WILL let him continue a bit further, but exchange
despairing looks. A succession of would-be actors offer their
version of Marlowe's lines, each as inappropriate as the
other. Among them is a small URCHIN.

URCHIN
"...the topless towers of Ilium?
Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a --
?"

HENSLOWE
(bellows)
Thank you!

The URCHIN leaves, glowering furiously, and is replaced by a
beanpole of a man (WASBASH). WABASH has a bad stutter.

WABASH
"W-w-w-w-was th-th-this th-th-the f-
f- ff- FACE..."

HENSLOWE
(unexpectedly)
Very good, Mr. Wabash. Excellent.
Report to the property master.

WILL looks at HENSLOWE in outrage.

HENSLOWE
(apologetically)
My tailor. Wants to be an actor. I
have a few debts here and there.
Well, that seems to be everybody.
Did you see a Romeo?

WILL
I did not.

HENSLOWE
Well, I to my work, you to yours.
When can I see pages?

WILL
Tomorrow.

HENSLOWE leaves him.

WILL
(a prayer)
Please God.

WILL sits brooding alone for a moment. Then he realizes he
is being addressed from the stage. ANOTHER ACTOR.

ACTOR
May I begin, sir?

WILL looks at the stage and sees a handsome young man, with
a hat shadowing his eyes.

WILL
Your name?

VIOLA AS THOMAS
Thomas Kent. I would like to do a
speech by a writer who commands the
heart of every player.

WILL can hardly manage a nod.

VIOLA AS THOMAS
"What light is light, if Silvia be
not seen, What joy is joy, if Silvia
be not by? Unless it be to think
that she is by and feed upon the
shadow of perfection.

It does not take four lines of "VALENTINE'S" speech to confirm
for us, if confirmation be needed, that THOMAS is VIOLA. For
WILL, amazement at hearing his own words soon gives away to
something else. He is captivated. He has found his "ROMEO."

VIOLA AS THOMAS
"...except I be by Silvia in the
night, There is no music in the
nightingale. Unless I look on Silvia
in the day, There is no day for me
to look upon."

WILL interrupts "him."

WILL
Take off your hat.

VIOLA AS THOMAS
My hat?

WILL
Where did you learn how to do that?

VIOLA AS THOMAS
I...

WILL
Wait there.

VIOLA AS THOMAS
Are you Mr. Shakespeare?

WILL
Let me see you. Take off your hat.

THOMAS begins to panic. WILL jumps down to ground level.
THOMAS runs offstage, to WILL'S bewilderment. WILL hurries
after him. We go with WILL as he crosses the stage, then
backstage, then into the:

INT. THE ROSE THEATRE. RETIRING ROOM. DAY.

RETIRING ROOM which is crowded with actors and HENSLOWE'S
lieutenant, property manager, copier, and general factotum
who is a new character, PETER.

ACTOR
What are we playing?

NOL
Where are the pages?

WILL enters into the middle of this.

WILL
(shouts)
Where's the boy?

NOBODY knows what he is talking about. WABASH, the stutterer,
grabs Will's hand and shakes it excitedly.

WABASH
B-b-b-b-break a l-l-l-leg!

The street door is swinging shut. WILL sees it. He fights
his way through the men to get to the door.

EXT. THE ROSE THEATRE. BANKSIDE. DAY.

WILL emerges from the theatre into a street throbbing with
nefarious life. Whores, cutpurses, hawkers, urchins, tract-
sellers, riffraff of all kinds in an area of stews (lowdown
pubs), brothels and slums. It is some time before WILL spots
THOMAS, way ahead of him in the crowded street. The chase is
taking them to the riverbank.

EXT. THE RIVER. DAY.

When WILL gets to the riverbank he sees that THOMAS is in a
smallish boat being rowed upriver and in midstream. The river
is quite busy, and among the boats there are a number of
waiting "taxis." WILL jumps into the nearest one and shouts
at the "Taxi Driver" BOATMAN.

WILL
Follow that boat!

BOATMAN
Right you are, governor!

WILL sits in the stern of the boat and the BOATMAN sits facing
him, rowing lustily.

BOATMAN
I know your face. Are you an actor?

WILL
(oh God, here we go
again)
Yes.

BOATMAN
Yes, I've seen you in something.
That one about a king.

WILL
Really?

BOATMAN
I had Christopher Marlowe in my boat
once.

EXT. THE RIVER. DAY. LATER.

The BOATMAN is puffing. WILL is looking ahead to where
THOMAS's boat has reached a jetty on the farther shore, a
private jetty attached to a rich house on the north bank.
WILL sees THOMAS jump out of his boat and run toward the
house.

WILL
Do you know that house?

BOATMAN
Sir Robert De Lesseps.

EXT. DE LESSEPSES' HOUSE. DAY.

WILL runs towards the house.

INT. DE LESSEPSES'S HOUSE. DAY.

THOMAS rushes up the back stairs, removing his hat. Her hair
tumbles down about her shoulders, so we will call her VIOLA
again.

INT. DE LESSEPSES' HOUSE. VIOLA'S BEDROOM. DAY.

Her mother LADY DE LESSEPS, is talking to the NURSE.

LADY DE LESSEPS
Where is she? Our guests are upon
us, Lord Wessex too, bargaining for
a bride. My husband will have it
settled tonight.

Behind her, the door opens revealing VIOLA as THOMAS to the
NURSES view, but only for a moment. The door closes again as
LADY DE LESSEPS turns.

LADY DE LESSEPS
Tomorrow he drags me off to the
country and it will be three weeks
gone before we return from our
estates.

A different door communicating to the next room, opens and
VIOLA comes in after a lightning dress change into a robe.
She curtseys to her mother.

VIOLA
God save you, mother.
(to NURSE)
Hot water, nurse.

The NURSE looks at her, round-eyed.

INT. DE LESSEPSES' HOUSE. KITCHEN. DAY.

From a cauldron on the stove, hot water is poured into two
pails, by the a KITCHEN BOY under the NURSE's command.

SCULLERY MAID (O.S.)
Thomas Kent, sir? No sir.

WILL (O.S.)
The actor.

NURSE
Who asks for him?

WILL has come to the kitchen door with a letter.

WILL
William Shakespeare, actor, poet,
and playwright of the Rose.

The NURSE sends the SCULLERY MAID back to work.

NURSE
Master Kent is... my nephew.

WILL
(giving her the letter)
I will wait.

NURSE
Much god may it do you.

INT. DE LESSEPSES' HOUSE. VIOLA'S BATHROOM. EVENING.

VIOLA in her bath, reads WILL'S letter. The NURSE is adding
hot water to the tub.

VIOLA
(delighted)
He sees himself in me! Romeo Montague,
a young man of Verona.

NURSE
(unimpressed)
Verona again.

VIOLA
(devouring the letter)
A comedy of quarreling families
reconciled in the discovery of Romeo
to be the very same Capulet cousin
stolen from the cradle and fostered
to manhood by his Montague mother
that was robbed of her own child by
the Pirate King!

EXT. DE LESSEPSES' HOUSE. NIGHT.

WILL waits hopefully. The kitchen door opens and a SERVANT
flings a bucket of dirty water in the general direction of
the gutter. WILL hops nimbly aside and escapes a soaking.

SERVANT
Be off!

INT. DE LESSEPSES' HOUSE. VIOLA'S BEDROOM. NIGHT.

The NURSE is helping VIOLA into her party dress.

NURSE
Your mother, and your father.

VIOLA
(gaily)
From tomorrow, away in the country
for three weeks! Is Master Shakespeare
not handsome?

NURSE
He looks well enough for a mountebank.

VIOLA
Oh, Nurse! He would give Thomas Kent
the life of Viola De Lesseps's
dreaming.

NURSE
(firmly)
My lady, this play will end badly. I
will tell.

VIOLA
(twice as firmly)
You will not tell. As you love me
and as I love you, you will bind my
breast and buy me a boy's wig!

EXT. DE LESSEPSES' HOUSE. NIGHT.

WILL spots a gaggle of MUSICIANS approaching, carrying
instruments. WILL recognizes them.

WILL
Master Plum! What business here?

MUSICIAN
A five shilling business, Will. We
play for the dancing.

The sound of hooves gives hardly any warning as a GALLOPING
HORSEMAN thunders through the MUSICIANS who have to leap out
of the way.

It is WESSEX arriving at the house, with his usual good
manners. Will watches WESSEX skid to a halt and enter the
house.

INT. DE LESSEPSES' HOUSE. BANQUETING ROOM. NIGHT.

WILL has got in with the MUSICIANS. Competently enough he
strums along with them on the bandstand. Two dozen guests
are enough to crowd the space for dancing. WILL glances
around, looking for THOMAS KENT. He stops a passing SERVANT,
helping himself to a snack off the man's tray.

SERVANT
Musicians don't eat, Sir Robert's
orders.

WILL
I seek Master Thomas Kent.

It means nothing to the SERVANT who moves on.

ANGLE ON WESSEX and SIR ROBERT.

SIR ROBERT
She is a beauty, my lord, as would
take a king to church for a dowry of
a nutmeg.

WESSEX
My plantations in Virginia are not
mortgaged for a nutmeg. I have an
ancient name that will bring you
preferment when your grandson is a
Wessex. Is she fertile?

SIR ROBERT
She will breed. If she do not, send
her back.

WESSEX
Is she obedient?

SIR ROBERT
As any mule in Christendom. But if
you are the man to rider her, their
are rubies in the saddlebag.

WESSEX
I like her.

ANGLE on WILL -- watching the dancing. Then he sees VIOLA in
the crowd. He turns to blood. Love at first sight, no doubt
about it. VIOLA has not seen him. She is doing a daughter's
duty among her parents' friends. The guests form up to begin
a changing-partners dance (the very same one you get in every
ROMEO and JULIET).

WILL
(to Musician)
By all the stars in heaven, who is
she?

MUSICIAN
Viola de Lesseps. Dream on, Will.

WILL leaves the bandstand and is moving trancelike to keep
her in view between the dancers and onlookers. VIOLA moves
through patterns of the dance until... as night follows day,
she finds WILL opposite her. He has insinuated himself into
the dance. VIOLA gasps.

VIOLA
Master Shakespeare!

WILL reacts, surprised by her reaction. The dance separates
them. VIOLA finds herself opposite WESSEX.

WESSEX
My lady Viola.

VIOLA
My lord.

WESSEX
I have spoken with your father.

VIOLA
So my lord? I speak with him every
day.

WESSEX scowls. The dance separates them. VIOLA finds herself
opposite WILL again. WILL stares at her entranced.

VIOLA
Good sir...?

WILL has lost his tongue.

VIOLA
I heard you are a poet.

WILL nods in his trance and she smiles at him.

VIOLA
But a poet of no words?

WILL tries to speak but the silver tongue won't work. He is
dumb with adoration. Suddenly WESSEX takes him affably by
the elbow and leads him into an alcove.

WESSEX
(smiling evilly)
"Poet?"

WILL
(coming round form
the anaesthetic and
not noticing the
danger)
I was a poet till now, but I have
seen beauty that puts my poems at
one with the talking ravens at the
Tower.

To his surprise he finds a lordly dagger at this throat.

WILL
(startled)
How do I offend, my lord?

WESSEX
By coveting my property. I cannot
shed blood in her house but I will
cut your throat anon. You have a
name?

WILL
(gulps)
Christopher Marlowe at your service.

WESSEX shoves him through the nearest door. VIOLA'S eyes are
searching the room for WILL. She finds WESSEX smiling at
her. She looks away.

EXT. DE LESSEPS' GARDEN/VIOLA'S BALCONY. NIGHT

There is a lighted window on the balcony. VIOLA, dressed for
bed, and the NURSE pass across the lighted space. WILL is in
the garden. He sees her. The light in the room is
extinguished. WILL sighs. Then VIOLA comes out onto the
balcony in the moonlight. WILL gasps. He watches her. VIOLA
sighs dreamily.

VIOLA
Romeo, Romeo... a young man of Verona.
A comedy. By William Shakespeare.

WILL reckons that's a good enough cue. He comes out of hiding,
and approaches the balcony.

WILL
(whispers)
My lady!

VIOLA
(gasps)
Who is there?

WILL
Will Shakespeare!

The NURSE calls "Madam!" from inside the room.

VIOLA
Anon, good nurse. Anon.
(to WILL)
Master Shakespeare?!

WILL
The same, alas.

VIOLA
Oh but why "alas?"

WILL
A lowly player.

VIOLA
Alas indeed, for I thought you the
highest poet of my esteem and a writer
of plays that capture my heart.

WILL
Oh... I am him too!

The NURSE calls again.

VIOLA
(to NURSE)
Anon, anon!
(to WILL)
I will come again.

She goes inside for a moment.

WILL
(to himself)
Oh, I am fortune's fool, I will be
punished for this!

VIOLA returns. WILL comes forward again.

WILL
Oh my lady, my love!

VIOLA
If they find you here they will kill
you.

WILL
You can bring them with a word.

VIOLA
Oh, not for the world!

The NURSE calls her again: "Madam!"

VIOLA
Anon, nurse!

But she goes inside. WILL looks around and sees that there
is, as ever a convenient tree. He starts to climb up toward
the balcony. When his head is nearly level, a soft figure
comes once more onto the balcony.

WILL pops his head over the parapet and is face to face with
the NURSE. The NURSE gives a yell. WILL falls out of the
tree.

EXT. DE LEESEPSES' HOUSE. NIGHT.

Male voice shout to each other inside the house, candle flames
appear in different windows, the garden door is flung open,
revealing SIR ROBERT with candelabra in one hand and sword
in the other. By this time WILL is on top of the garden wall
and he drops safely out of sight. He could not have written
it better.

INT. WILL'S ROOM. DAWN.

WILL is burning the midnight oil -- literally and
metaphorically. His quill has already covered a dozen sheets.
He is inspired.

INT. THE ROSE THEATRE. STAGE/AUDITORIUM. DAY.

It is day one. THE COMPANY is on stage. PETER is passing
pages around a bunch of actors. JOHN, JAMES, and NOL are
looking through their pages.

JOHN
"Draw if you be men!
(to JAMES)
Gregory, remember thy washing blow."

NOL
"Part, fools, put up your swords."

WILL is going around pumping hands and slapping shoulders,
flushed with excitement. HENSLOWE is reading his pages,
worried. RALPH BASHFORD is next to him.

HENSLOWE
It starts well, and then it's all
long-faced about some Rosaline.
Where's the comedy, Will. Where's
the dog?
(to RALPH)
Do you think it is funny?

RALPH
I was a Pirate King, now I'm a Nurse.
That's funny.

WILL pulls HENSLOWE aside.

WILL
We are at least six men short, and
those we have will be overparted,
ranters and stutterers who should be
sent back to the stews. My Romeo has
let me down. I see disaster.

HENSLOWE
We are at least four acts short,
Will, if you are looking for disaster.

WILL as notices a young scruffy thirteen-year-old actor, the
URCHIN we met before.

WILL
Who are you, master?

URCHIN
I am Ethel, sir, the Pirate's
daughter.

WILL
(furiously)
I'll be damned if you are!

And he helps the URCHIN off with a kick. The URCHIN glowers
with resentment. HENSLOWE finds himself face to face with
FENNYMAN.

FENNYMAN
Is it going well?

HENSLOWE
Very well.

FENNYMAN
But nothing is happening.

HENSLOWE
Yes, but very well.

WILL
(shouts)
Gentlemen! Thank you! You are welcome.

FENNYMAN
Who is that?

HENSLOWE
Nobody. The author.

WILL
We are about to embark on a great
voyage.

HENSLOWE
It is customary to make a little
speech on the first day. It does no
harm and authors like it.

WILL
You want to know what parts you are
to receive. All will be settled as
we go.

That's as far as he gets before there is a dramatic
interruption -- the public entrance door is flung open and
SIX MEN make a loud entrance, headed by NED ALLEYN, the actor,
who is a handsome piratical figure with a big voice and a
big sword.

ALLEYN
Huzzah! The Admiral's Men are returned
to the house!

He gets various reactions. HENSLOWE and WILL shout his name
joyfully, some of the actors are friends with the new group
and behave accordingly, others know they are out of a job.
FENNYMAN recovers, or tries to.

FENNYMAN
Who is this?

ALLEYN slaps him aside with his sword.

ALLEYN
(roars)
Silence, you god! I am Hieronimo! I
am Tamburlaine! I am Faustus! I am
Barrabas, the Jew of Malta -- of
yes, Master Will, and I am Henry VI.
What is the play, and what is my
part?

FENNYMAN is impressed.

FENNYMAN
A moment, sir!

ALLEYN
(roars)
Who are you?

FENNYMAN
(bleating)
I am the money!

ALLEYN
Then you may remain so long as you
remain silent. Pay attention and you
will see how genius creates a legend.

FENNYMAN
(respectfully)
Thank you, sir.

WILL
We are in desperate want of a
Mercutio, Ned, a young nobleman of
Verona.

ALLEYN
And the title of this piece?

WILL
Mercutio --

HENSLOWE
Is it?

ALLEYN
I will play him!

Half a dozen of the ADMIRAL'S MEN will be given roles in our
play and we meet them and identify them as WILL
enthusiastically shakes hands.

WILL
Mr. Pope! Mr. Phillips! Welcome,
George Bryan! James Armitage!
(and now greeting SAM
GOSSE, the female
star of the Admiral's
Men)
Sam! My pretty one! Are you ready to
fall in love again?

SAM
(hoarsely)
I am, Master Shakespeare.

WILL
(concerned)
But your voice...
(he thrust a hand
between SAM'S legs)
Have they dropped?

SAM
(a girlie voice now)
No, no, a touch of cold only.

We suspect he is lying but WILL has turned away.

WILL
Master Henslowe, you have your actors.

He leaves, passing by the humbled FENNYMAN.

FENNYMAN
I saw his Tamburlaine, you know.
Wonderful.

WILL
Yes, I saw it.

FENNYMAN
Of course, it was mighty writing.
There is no one like Marlowe.

WILL is used to it. He goes.

EXT. RIVERBANK. DAY.

WILL arrives in a hurry at the wharfside, and looks vainly
in the direction of the DE LESSEPSES' house: no THOMAS.

EXT. THE ROSE THEATRE. STAGE DOOR. DAY.

WILL looks down the alley: no THOMAS. He turns away. The
URCHIN, the short-lived Ethel, is sitting in the alley.

WILL
Better fortune, boy.

URCHIN
(shrugs)
I was in a play. They cut my head
off in Titus Andronicus. When I write
plays, they will be like Titus.

WILL
(pleased)
You admire it?

The URCHIN nods grimly.

URCHIN
I like it when they cut heads off.
And the daughter mutilated with
knives.

WILL
Oh. What is your name?

URCHIN
John Webster. Here, kitty, kitty.

Because a stray cat is nearby. The cat shows an interest.
The URCHIN passes a white mouse to the cat and watches the
result with sober interest.

URCHIN
Plenty of blood. That is the only
writing.

WILL backs away, unnerved by the boy.

URCHIN
Wait, you'll see the cat bites his
head off.

WILL
I have to get back.

INT. THE ROSE THEATRE. STAGE/AUDITORIUM. DAY.

On stage... the actors carry their parts.

NOL AS BENVOLIO
"See where he comes. So please you
step aside; I'll know his grievance
or be much denied."

MONTAGUE
"I would thou wert so happy by thy
stay To hear true shrift. Come, madam,
let's away."

Onstage "MONTAGUE" and "LADY MONTAGUE" make their exit.
Offstage, WILL appears next to HENSLOWE.

WILL
Cut round him for now.

HENSLOWE
(not understanding)
What? Who?

WILL
Romeo.

HENSLOWE
The one who came with your letter?

WILL
What?

NOL AS BENVOLIO (O.S.)
"Good morrow, cousin."

VIOLA AS ROMEO (O.S.)
"Is the day so young?"

The voice is THOMAS's. WILL turns back to the stage and sees
him. Today THOMAS has a wig as well as his small mustache.

NOL AS BENVOLIO
"But new struck nine."

VIOLA AS ROMEO
"Ay me, sad hours seem long. Was
that my father that went hence so
fast?"

NOL AS BENVOLIO
It was. What sadness lengthens Romeo's
hours?"

VIOLA AS ROMEO
"Not having that which, having, makes
them short."

WILL
Good.

NOL AS BENVOLIO
"In love?"

VIOLA AS ROMEO
"Out."

NOL AS BENVOLIO
"Of love?"

VIOLA AS ROMEO
"Out of her favour where I am in
love."

WILL
(interrupting)
No, no, no... Don't spend it all at
once!

The rehearsal stops.

VIOLA AS THOMAS
Yes, sir.

WILL
Do you understand me?

VIOLA AS THOMAS
No, sir.

WILL
He is speaking about a baggage we
never even meet! What will be left
in your purse when he meets his
Juliet?

HENSLOWE
Juliet? You mean Ethel.

WILL
(rounding on him)
God's teeth, am I to suffer this
constant stream of interruption?!
(to THOMAS)
What will you do in Act Two when he
meets the love of his life?

VIOLA AS THOMAS
(timidly -- looking
through his few sheets
of paper)
I am very sorry, sir, I have not
seen Act Two.

WILL
Of course you have not! I have not
written it!

Alone in the auditorium, FENNYMAN looks and listens,
fascinated. So this is theatre!

WILL
Go once more!

NED ALLEYN comes out of the wings, frowning over his
manuscript.

ALLEYN
Will... Where is Mercutio?

WILL
(tapping his forehead)
Locked safe in here. I leave the
scene in your safe keeping, Ned, I
have a sonnet to write.

WILL moves back into the wings where HENSLOWE is looking
anxious.

HENSLOWE
A sonnet? You mean a play.

WILL moves on, ignoring him. As he goes, we see that VIOLA
is love-struck by him, a riot in the heart.

INT. DE LESSEPSES' HOUSE. STAIRCASE. DAY.

VIOLA still dressed as THOMAS, sonnet in hand, runs up the
stairs to her room. From the other end of the house WESSEX
can be heard ranting.

INT. DE LESSEPSES' HOUSE. HALL. NIGHT.

LORD WESSEX is being kept waiting. The NURSE is bearing the
brunt of his impatience.

WESSEX
Two hours at prayer!

NURSE
Lady Viola is pious, my lord.

WESSEX
Piety is for Sunday! And two hours
at prayer is not piety, it is self-
importance!

NURSE
It would be better that you return
tomorrow, my lord.

WESSEX
It would be better that you tell her
to get off her knees and show some
civility to her six-day lord and
master.

VIOLA opens the door. She has changed hurriedly -- too
hurriedly: the effect of her glorious hair falling to her
bare shoulders is spoiled by her mustache.

Fortunately, the NURSE spots her before WESSEX does and by
coming forward to greet her, the NURSE manages to shield
Viola from view, communicate the problem, and announce
WESSEX'S presence, so that by the time the NURSE has passed
by VIOLA and let herself out of the room, the moustache has
disappeared.

WESSEX
My lady VIOLA.

VIOLA
Lord Wessex. You have been waiting.

WESSEX
I am aware of it, but it is beauty's
privilege.

VIOLA
You flatter, my lord.

WESSEX
No. I have spoken to the Queen.
(pause)
Her majesty's consent is requisite
when a Wessex takes a wife, and once
gained, her consent is her command.

VIOLA
Do you intend to marry, my lord?

WESSEX
Your father should keep you better
informed. He has bought me for you.
He returns from his estates to see
us married two weeks from Saturday.
(pause)
You are allowed to show your pleasure.

VIOLA
I do not love you, my lord.

WESSEX
How your mind hops about! Your father
was a shopkeeper, your children will
bear arms, and I will recover my
fortune. That is the only matter
under discussion today. You will
like Virginia.

VIOLA
Virginia?!

WESSEX
Why, yes! My fortune lies in my
plantations. The tobacco weed. I
need four thousand pounds to fit out
a ship and put my investments to
work -- I fancy tobacco has a future.
We will not stay there long, three
or four years...

VIOLA
But why me?

WESSEX
It was your eyes. No, your lips.

He kisses her with more passion than ceremony. VIOLA recoils,
and slaps him.

WESSEX
Will you defy your father and your
Queen?

VIOLA
The Queen has consented?

WESSEX
She wants to inspect you. At
Greenwich, come Sunday. Be submissive,
modest, grateful and brief.

VIOLA
(forced to submit)
I will do my duty, my lord.

INT. DE LESSEPSES' HOUSE. VIOLA'S BEDROOM. NIGHT.

She is writing to WILL. His letter-poem is on her table. We
can read part of it. "Shall I compare thee to a summer's
day..." Now we see what VIOLA is writing.

INSERT: "Master Will, poet dearest to my heart, I beseech
you, banish me from yours -- I am to marry Lord Wessex -- a
daughter's duty..." She sheds a romantic, unhappy tear.

INT. THE ROSE THEATRE. STAGE. DAY.

SAM is now "JULIET." The play has evidently reached Act I
Scene 5. We are witnessing the meeting of "ROMEO" and "JULIET"
in a simplified version of the changing-partners dance we
saw at VIOLA'S house. NED ALLEYN is in charge.

ALLEYN
Gentlemen upstage, ladies downstage!

The dance goes wrong. It is THOMAS'S fault.

ALLEYN
(furious)
Gentlemen upstage! Ladies downstage!
Are you a lady, Mr. Kent?

THOMAS mutters a blushing apology. WILL arrives the
bystanders, clutching fresh pages. He gives these to PETER.
NED ALLEYN sees him and comes over to start an argument.

WILL
(preempting)
You did not like the speech?

ALLEYN
The speech is excellent.
(he does the first
line impressively)
"Oh, then I see Queen Mab hath been
with you!" Excellent and a good
length. But then he disappears for
the length of a bible.

WILL points significantly at the pages he has given PETER.

WILL
There you have his duel, a skirmish
of words and swords such as I never
wrote, nor anyone. He dies with such
passion and poetry as your ever heard:
"a plague on both your houses!"

NED nods satisfied and turns back to work. Then he turns
back.

ALLEYN
He dies?

But the author has escaped.

INT. THE ROSE THEATRE. WRITER'S CORNER. DAY.

Up aloft, WILL has a Writer's Corner where he settle down to
work. We see his private superstition: he spins round in a
circle, rubs his hands together, and spits on the floor.
That done, he picks up his pen.

EXT. STREET. NIGHT.

WILL is charging down a narrow alley, and bumps into BURBAGE
who is emerging from the door of a tavern.

BURBAGE
Will!

WILL is in too much of a hurry to stop. BURBAGE calls after
him.

BURBAGE
And where are my pages...

WILL hurries on.

EXT. RIVERBANK. DUSK.

VIOLA as THOMAS is being rowed across the river. From behind,
in the direction of Bankside, "he" hears shouting.

WILL (O.S.)
(shouting)
Did you give her my letter?

VIOLA as THOMAS turns to see WILL some way behind, following
in another boat. She takes a letter from her coat and holds
it aloft.

VIOLA AS THOMAS
(calling)
And this for you.

EXT. THE RIVER. VIOLA'S BOAT. NIGHT.

WILL has climbed aboard VIOLA'S boat and is tearing open the
letter. What he reads causes him great pain. He collapses
into the stern seat next to VIOLA.

WILL
Oh, Thomas! She has cut my strings!
I am unmanned, unmended, and unmade,
like a puppet in a box.

BOATMAN
Writer, is he?

WILL turns on him savagely.

WILL
Row your boat.

EXT. THE RIVER. VIOLA'S BOAT. NIGHT.

WILL turns back to VIOLA. They have their conversation
intimately, disregarding the lack of intimacy. The BOATMAN
is hardly an arm's length away, but they ignore him.

WILL
She tells me to keep away. She is to
marry Lord Wessex. What should I do?

VIOLA AS THOMAS
If you love her, you must do what
she asks.

WILL
And break her heart and mine?

VIOLA AS THOMAS
It is only ours you can know.

WILL
She loves me, Thomas!

VIOLA AS THOMAS
Does she say so?

WILL
No. And yet she does where the ink
has run with tears. Was she weeping
when she gave you this?

VIOLA AS THOMAS
I... Her letter came to me by the
nurse.

WILL
Your aunt?

VIOLA AS THOMAS
(catching up)
Yes, my aunt. But perhaps she wept a
little. Tell me how you love her,
Will.

WILL
Like a sickness and its cure together.

VIOLA AS THOMAS
Yes, like rain and sun, like cold
and heat.
(collecting herself)
Is your lady beautiful? Since I came
to visit from the country, I have
not seen her close. Tell me, is she
beautiful?

WILL
Oh, if I could write the beauty of
her eyes! I was born to look in them
and know myself.

He is looking into VIOLA'S eyes. She holds his look, but
WILL belies his words.

VIOLA AS THOMAS
And her lips?

WILL
Oh, Thomas, her lips! The early
morning rose would wither on the
branch, if it could feel envy!

VIOLA AS THOMAS
And her voice? Like lark song?

WILL
Deeper. Softer. None of your
twittering larks! I would banish
nightingales from her garden before
they interrupt her song.

VIOLA AS THOMAS
She sings too?

WILL
Constantly. Without doubt. And plays
the lute, she has a natural ear. And
her bosom -- did I mention her bosom?

VIOLA AS THOMAS
(glinting)
What of her bosom?

WILL
Oh Thomas, a pair of pippins! As
round and rare as golden apples!

VIOLA AS THOMAS
I think the lady is wise to keep
your love at a distance. For what
lady could live up to it close to,
when her eyes and lips and voice may
be no more beautiful than mine?
Besides, can a lady born to wealth
and noble marriage love happily with
a Bankside poet and player?

WILL
(fervently)
Yes, by God! Love knows nothing of
rank or riverbank! It will spark
between a queen and the poor vagabond
who plays the king, and their love
should be minded by each, for love
denied blights the soul we owe to
God! So tell my lady, William
Shakespeare waits for her in the
garden!

VIOLA AS THOMAS
But what of Lord Wessex?

WILL
For one kiss, I would defy a thousand
Wessexes!

The boat scrapes on the jetty of the DE LESSEPSES' house.
The bump throws THOMAS into WILL'S arms. He holds her round
the shoulders. His words have almost unmasked her. The
closeness does the rest. She kisses him on the mouth and
jumps out of the boat.

VIOLA
Oh, Will!

She throws a coin to the BOATMAN and runs towards the house.

BOATMAN
Thank you, my lady!

WILL
(stunned)
Lady?

BOATMAN
Viola De Lesseps. Known her since
she was this high. Wouldn't deceive
a child.

WILL gets out of the boat.

BOATMAN
(reaching under his
seat)
Strangely enough, I'm a bit of a
writer myself.

The BOATMAN produces his memoirs in manuscript.

BOATMAN
It wouldn't take you long to read
it, I expect you know all the
booksellers...

But WILL has gone.

EXT. DE LESSEPSES' GARDEN. NIGHT.

WILL drops over the wall into the garden and without
hesitation starts climbing up to her balcony.

INT. DE LESSEPSES' HOUSE. VIOLA'S BEDROOM. NIGHT.

WILL comes in through the window, just as VIOLA enters by
the door. They stare at each other across the room.

WILL
Can you love a fool?

VIOLA
Can you love a player?

They run together and fall into a passionate kiss.

WILL
(springs back)
Wait! You are still a maid and perhaps
as mistook in me as I was mistook in
Thomas Kent.

VIOLA
Answer me only this: are you the
author of the plays of William
Shakespeare?

WILL
I am.

VIOLA
Then kiss me again for I am not
mistook.

They run together and fall into a passionate kiss. VIOLA
fumbles with his clothing, he with hers.

VIOLA
I do not know how to undress a man.

WILL
It is strange to me, too.

INT. DE LESSEPSES' HOUSE. OUTSIDE VIOLA'S BEDROOM. NIGHT.

The NURSE has come to listen. She puts her ear against the
door. Because she hears muffled voices, she looks startled.

INT. DE LESSEPSES' HOUSE. VIOLA'S BEDROOM. NIGHT.

WILL is half-naked. VIOLA is down to her petticoat, and
chemise. The petticoat comes away. WILL flings it aside. He
takes off her chemise. He is startled to find that she is
tightly bandaged round the bosom. WILL finds the loose end
and spins her naked.

INT. DE LESSEPSES' HOUSE. OUTSIDE VIOLA'S BEDROOM. NIGHT.

The NURSE, drags a chair -- a rocker -- outside the bedroom
door, and takes up her position. She sits down, keeping guard.
Pretty soon there comes the regular creak of VIOLA'S bed.
The NURSE fans herself furiously with her little lacy fan.
She crosses herself.

A CHAMBERMAID comes along the gallery outside the bedroom
door. She is dusting her way along. The CHAMBERMAID becomes
aware of the regular creaking. She pauses. The NURSE begins
to rock in her chair, keeping time with the creaking from
within. The CHAMBERMAID stares at the NURSE. The NURSE stares
at the CHAMBERMAID.

NURSE
Go to, go to.

INT. DE LESSEPSES' HOUSE. VIOLA'S BEDROOM. NIGHT

WILL and VIOLA have finished making love, and lie in each
other's arms.

VIOLA
I would not have thought it. There
is something better than a play.

WILL
There is.

VIOLA
Even your play.

WILL
(frowns)
Oh.

VIOLA
And that was only my first try.

WILL
Well perhaps better than my first.
(he kisses her again)

EXT. DE LESSEPSES' HOUSE. DAWN.

Dawn is breaking. The sun lacing the severing clouds with
envious streaks.

INT. DE LESSEPSES' HOUSE. OUTSIDE VIOLA'S BEDROOM. DAWN

The NURSE has fallen asleep in her rocking chair.

INT. DE LESSEPSES' HOUSE. VIOLA'S BEDROOM. DAWN.

A rooster crows at some distance. VIOLA and WILL are in bed.
She stirs drowsily. VIOLA, coming awake, speaks his name and
he kisses her.

VIOLA
Will.

Then he starts to get out of bed.

VIOLA
You would not leave me?

WILL
I must. Look... how pale the window.

VIOLA
(pulling him down)
Moonlight!

WILL
No, the morning rooster woke me.

VIOLA
It was the owl... come to bed.

She is winning. She kisses him and pulls the bedclothes around
them.

WILL
(giving in)
Oh, let Henslowe wait.

VIOLA
(pausing, pushing him
away)
Mr. Henslowe?

WILL
(persisting)
Let him be damned for his pages!

VIOLA
Oh... no, no!

WILL
(kissing her)
There is time. It is still dark.

VIOLA
It is broad day!
(the rooster crows
again)
The rooster tells us so!

WILL
It was the owl. Believe me, love, it
was the owl.

He kisses her and starts to make love to her again. VIOLA
gives him a shove which pushes him onto the floor. She sits
up and pulls on her gown.

VIOLA
You would leave us players without a
scene to read today?!

There's a knock at the door.

INT. DE LESSEPSES' HOUSE. CORRIDOR OUTSIDE VIOLA'S
BEDROOM/VIOLA'S BEDROOM. DAWN.

The NURSE is knocking. VIOLA comes to the door.

NURSE
My lady, the house is stirring, it
is a new day.

VIOLA looks beautified by the hours that have passed.

VIOLA
It is a new world!

INT. THE ROSE THEATRE. STAGE/AUDITORIUM. DAY.

The cut is to the middle of a rehearsal. We are coming up to
the moment when "ROMEO" and "JULIET" kiss for the first time

(Act I Scene V) NED ALLEYN is in charge but WILL is watching.
His life has turned perfect.

VIOLA AS ROMEO
"...Have not saints lips, and holy
palmers too?"

SAM AS JULIET
"Ay pilgrim, lips that they must use
in prayer."

VIOLA AS ROMEO
"Oh then, dear saint, let lips do
what hands to: They pray: grant thou,
lest faith turn to despair."

WILL is in her eye-line. Her eyes flash an intimate secret
look to him.

SAM AS JULIET
"Saints do not move, though grant
for prayer's sake."

And VIOLA misses her cue as a result.

SAM
(prompting her)
It's you.

ALLEYN
(roars)
Suffering cats!

VIOLA guiltily picks up her line.

VIOLA AS ROMEO
"Then move not, while my prayer's
effect I take."

In character, VIOLA kisses SAM, demurely, but apparently not
demurely enough for WILL, who gives a twitch.

VIOLA AS ROMEO
"Thus from my lips, by thine, my sin
is purg'd."

SAM AS JULIET
"Then have my lips the sin that they
have took."

VIOLA AS ROMEO
"Sin from my lips? Oh trespass sweetly
urg'd. Give me my sin again."

VIOLA kisses SAM again. WILL gives a major twitch, which in
fact catapults his body onto the stage. Everybody looks at
him in surprise.

WILL
Yes... yes... er... not quite right...
it is more... let me --
(as JULIET)
"Then have my lips the sin that they
have took."

VIOLA AS ROMEO
Sin from my lips? Oh trespass sweetly
urg'd. Give me my sin again."

VIOLA kisses WILL. They lose themselves for a fraction of a
moment. As VIOLA withdraws her lips, WILL's lips are going
for it again.

VIOLA AS ROMEO
"You kiss by the book."

ALLEYN
(to Will, sarcastically)
Well! It was lucky you were here!
Why do not I write the rest of your
play while you --

WILL
(apologising,
retreating)
Yes, yes... continue. Now the Nurse.
Where is Ralph?

RALPH has been ready and waiting.

RALPH AS NURSE
"Madam, your mother craves a word
with you."

VIOLA AS ROMEO
"What is her mother?"

RALPH AS NURSE
"Marry bachelor, Her mother is the
lady of the house..."

WILL has retreated to:

INT. THE ROSE THEATRE. BACKSTAGE. DAY.

He is behind the curtain now.

RALPH AS NURSE (O.S.)
"...And a good lady, and wise and
virtuous. I nurse her daughter that
you talk'd withal..."

During RALPH'S lines (which are continuous) WILL stands in
the shadow behind the curtain, alone, agitated.

INT. THE ROSE THEATRE. STAGE. DAY.

RALPH AS NURSE
"I tell you, he that can lay hold of
her.
(he makes the money
sign)
Shall have the chinks."

VIOLA AS ROMEO
"Is she a Capulet" Oh dear account.
My life is my foe's debt."

NOL, AS "BENVOLIO," at a party, carrying a goblet, tipsy,
enters the scene.

NOL AS BENVOLIO
(to ROMEO)
"Away, be gone, the sport is at best."

VIOLA, about to make her exit, has her hand holding the
curtain at the gap.

INT. THE ROSE THEATRE. BEHIND THE CURTAIN. DAY.

WILL is kissing her hand.

INT. THE ROSE THEATRE. STAGE. DAY.

VIOLA AS ROMEO
"Ay, so I fear; the more is my
unrest."

INT. THE ROSE THEATRE. BEHIND THE CURTAIN. DAY.

VIOLA comes through the curtain. WILL and VIOLA kiss,
dangerously -- they are in a narrow space, hidden from the
general backstage area.

SAM AS JULIET (O.S.)
"Come hither nurse. What is yond
gentleman?"

VIOLA
(to Will)
Oh let it be night!

INT. THE ROSE THEATRE. STAGE. DAY.

RALPH AS NURSE
"I know not."

SAM AS JULIET
"Go ask his name -- If he be married,
My grave is like to be my wedding
bed."

INT. THE ROSE THEATRE. BEHIND THE CURTAIN. DAY.

"JULIET'S" line hits WILL between the eyes. WILL pulls away.

VIOLA
Oh, do not go.

WILL
I must. I must.

INT. THE ROSE THEATRE. BACKSTAGE. DAY.

As WILL races up the ladder to his writer's corner, the
rehearsal can be heard continuing.

RALPH AS NURSE (O.S.)
"His name is Romeo, and a Montague,
The only son of your great enemy."

ALLEYN (O.S.)
(roaring from the
audience)
Terrible!

INT. THE ROSE THEATRE. WRITER'S CORNER. DAY.

WILL arrives at the top of the building in his writer's
corner. He spins around once in a circle, rubs his hands
together and spits on the floor. His manuscript is all over
the table. We take a peak at the lines he has already written.

INSERT MANUSCRIPT: "But soft, what light through yonder window
breaks? It is the east and Juliet is the sun." VIOLA'S VOICE
OVER speaks the line.

VIOLA (V.O.)
"But soft, what light through yonder
window breaks? It is the east and
Juliet is the sun!"

INT. DE LESSEPSES' HOUSE. VIOLA'S BEDROOM. EVENING.

VIOLA
(reading)
"Arise fair sun and kill the envious
moon Who is already sick and pale
with grief That thou her maid art
far more fair than she..."

VIOLA is in bed, reading the lines from the manuscript page.
WILL is in bed with her, reading with her.

VIOLA
Oh, Will!

WILL
Yes, some of it is speakable.

She has to speak through WILL's kisses, he is nibbling at
her neck and shoulders and she has to bat him away with the
pages.

VIOLA
(reading)
"It is my lady, O it is my love! O
that she knew she were!"

INT. THE ROSE THEATRE. STAGE. DAY.

VIOLA continues the speech, edge-to-edge, now in rehearsal,
with SAM as "JULIET" sighing on the balcony above her.

VIOLA AS ROMEO
"The brightness of her cheek would
shame those stars As daylight doth a
lamp. Her eyes in heaven Would through
the airy region stream so bright
That birds would sing and think it
were not night. See how she leans
her cheek upon her hand. O that I
were a glove upon that hand, That I
might touch that cheek."

SAM AS JULIET
(above)
"Ay me."

VIOLA AS ROMEO
"She speaks. Oh speak again bright
angel..."

CUT between the STAGE and VIOLA'S BED.

INT. DE LESSEPSES' HOUSE. VIOLA'S BEDROOM. EVENING.

WILL
(reading through
VIOLA'S kisses)
"Oh Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou
Romeo? Deny thy father and refuse
thy name."

INT. THE ROSE THEATRE. STAGE. DAY

SAM AS JULIET
"Or if thou wilt not, be but sworn
my love And I'll no longer be a
Capulet."

VIOLA AS ROMEO
(below)
"Shall I hear more or shall I speak
at this?"

INT. DE LESSEPSES' HOUSE. VIOLA'S BEDROOM. NIGHT.

WILL and VIOLA in bed.

WILL
"What man art thou that thus
bescreen'd in night So stumblest on
my counsel?"

INT. THE ROSE THEATRE. STAGE/AUDITORIUM. NIGHT.

It's become late and the rehearsal is continuing by
torchlight.

VIOLA AS ROMEO
"...By a name I know not how to tell
thee who I am: My name, dear saint,
is hateful to myself Because it is
an enemy to thee..."

We see that a group of the other actors have drifted "out
front," drawn by the scene. FENNYMAN is there entranced.
Clearly, this stuff is a cut above the normal.

INT. DE LESSEPSES' HOUSE. VIOLA'S BEDROOM. NIGHT

WILL, undressed, strides around the room, feeding "JULIET's"
lines to VIOLA in bed.

WILL
"The orchard walls are high and hard
to climb, And the place death,
considering who thou art, If any of
my kinsmen find thee here. If they
do see thee, they will murder thee."

INT. THE ROSE THEATRE. STAGE. NIGHT.

VIOLA AS ROMEO
"Alack, there lies more peril in
thine eye, Than twenty of their
swords! Look thou but sweet, And I
am proof against their enmity."

SAM AS JULIET
I would not for the world!

VIOLA AS ROMEO
I have night's cloak to hide me from
their eyes; And but thou love me,
let them find me here.

INT. DE LESSEPSES' HOUSE. VIOLA'S BEDROOM. NIGHT.

WILL and VIOLA are both out of bed, halfway though dressing.
Still rehearsing.

WILL
"Good night, good night. As sweet
repose and rest Come to thy heart as
that within my breast. O wilt thou
leave me so unsatisfied?"

VIOLA
That's my line!

WILL
Oh, but it is mine too!

INT. THE ROSE THEATRE. STAGE. NIGHT.

VIOLA AS ROMEO
"O wilt thou leave me so unsatisfied?"

SAM AS JULIET
"What satisfaction can'st thou have
tonight?"

VIOLA AS ROMEO
"The exchange of thy love's faithful
vow for mine."

INT. DE LESSEPSES' HOUSE. VIOLA'S BEDROOM. NIGHT.

WILL and VIOLA are back on the bed, kissing and making love.

WILL
"My bounty is as boundless as the
sea, My love as deep --

VIOLA AND WILL
(continuing the speech
with him)
...the more I give to thee The more
I have, for both are infinite."

Outside the NURSE is knocking on the door and calling.

INT. THE ROSE THEATRE. STAGE. DAY.

SAM AS JULIET
"I hear some noise within. Dear love,
adieu."

RALPH, the Nurse, call's "JULIET!" off stage.

INT. DE LESSEPSES' HOUSE. VIOLA'S BEDROOM. NIGHT

VIOLA
(calling to the NURSE
who is outside)
Anon, good Nurse.

INT. DE LESSEPSES' HOUSE. OUTSIDE VIOLA'S BEDROOM. NIGHT.

The NURSE listens at the door.

INT. THE ROSE THEATRE. STAGE. DAY.

SAM AS JULIET
"Anon, good Nurse -- Sweet Montague
be true."

INT. DE LESSEPSES' HOUSE. VIOLA'S BEDROOM. NIGHT.

WILL
"Stay but a little, I will come
again."

VIOLA slaps him playfully for his vulgarity, and then kisses
him.

INT. THE ROSE THEATRE. STAGE. DAY.

SAM AS JULIET
"Stay but a little, I will come
again."

SAM leaves the balcony through the curtain.

VIOLA AS ROMEO
"Oh blessed blessed night."

INT. DE LESSEPSES' HOUSE. VIOLA'S BEDROOM. NIGHT.

It is night. They have just made love. Suddenly it is very
still.

VIOLA
(almost to herself)
"I am feared, Being in night, all
this but a dream, Too flattering-
sweet to be substantial."

INT. THE ROSE THEATRE. BACKSTAGE. DAY.

Onstage, the scene continues. Backstage NED ALLEYN is working
his way upstairs. He passes by RALPH (the Nurse) who has a
couple of words "of," as it were, in "JULIET's" chamber.

SAM AS JULIET (O.S.)
"...All my fortunes at thy foot I'll
lay, And follow thee my lord
throughout the world."

RALPH AS NURSE
"Madam!"

SAM AS JULIET (O.S.)
"I come, anon... But if thou meanest
not well, I do beseech thee --"

RALPH AS NURSE
"Madam!"

SAM AS JULIET (O.S.)
By and by I come to cease thy strife
and leave me to my grief. A thousand
times good night!"

SAM exits (i.e. enters to us) through the curtain.

SAM
(to NED)
I cannot move in this dress! And it
makes me look like a pig! I have no
neck in this pig dress!
(and then hearing his
cue from "ROMEO")
Oh, she's off again! She says she's
going and then she doesn't.

INT. THE ROSE THEATRE. WRITER'S CORNER. DAY.

NED is arriving. WILL is busy writing. PETER is there, holding
the pages WILL has completed, and waiting for WILL to finish
his page. PETER is reading his pages. WILL sees NED arrive.
He gives his page to PETER.

WILL
(to PETER)
How is it?

PETER
(shrugs)
It's all right.

Typical!, says WILL'S face. Peter departs, leaving the field
to NED. WILL braces himself.

WILL
Ned... I know... I know --

ALLEYN
It's good.

WILL
Oh.

ALLEYN
The title won't do.

WILL
Ah.

ALLEYN
Romeo and Juliet -- just a suggestion.

WILL
Thank you, Ned.

The whole exchange is in ironic code, between old soldiers.
NED nods curtly and turns to descend.

WILL
You are a gentleman.

ALLEYN
And you are a Warwickshire shit-house.

INT. THE ROSE THEATRE. STAGE/AUDITORIUM. DAY.

PETER is just handing the pages HENSLOWE in the auditorium.
HENSLOWE has acquired a performing dog. The dog does
somersaults tirelessly. As PETER hands over the pages, he
shakes his head.

HENSLOWE
(in disbelief)
You mean, no dog of any kind?

FENNYMAN, the born-again theatre groupie shushes HENSLOWE
and looks daggers at him.

PETER
(to HENSLOWE)
The Friar married them in secret,
then Ned gets into a fight with one
of the Capulets, Romeo tries to stop
them, he gets in Ned's way, I mean
in Mercutio's way, so Tybalt kills
Mercutio and then Romeo kills Tybalt.
Then the Prince banishes him from
Verona.

HENSLOWE
(much relieved)
That must be when he goes on the
voyage and gets shipwrecked on the
island of the Pirate King.

FENNYMAN can't hear it. He storms over. Kicks the dog, roars
at HENSLOWE.

FENNYMAN
Cease your prattling! Get out!
(to the stage where
the action has paused)
A thousand apologies!

SAM AS JULIET
"Good night, good night. Parting is
such sweet sorrow That I shall say
good night till it be morrow."

INT. DE LESSEPSES' HOUSE. VIOLA'S BEDROOM. MORNING.

A sunbeam wakes the lovers. Sunday morning. Church bells.
VIOLA wakes with a start. Something is bothering her, she
can't think what. WILL calms her.

WILL
Sunday... it is Sunday.

He brings her back down to the pillow.

WILL
I found something in my sleep. The
Friar who married them will take up
their destinies.

VIOLA
Oh, but it will end well for love?

WILL
In heaven, perhaps. It is not a comedy
I am writing now. A broad river
divides my lovers -- family, duty,
fate -- as unchangeable as nature.

VIOLA
(sobered)
Yes, this is not life, Will. This is
a stolen season.

Suddenly there is a great racket heard from downstairs... a
man shouting.

WESSEX (O.S.)
Not ready? Where is she?

NURSE (O.S.)
Be patient, my lord, she is dressing.

WESSEX (O.S.)
Will you ask Her Majesty to be
patient?!

VIOLA remembers. She jumps up and gives a cry.

VIOLA
Sunday! Greenwich!

INT. DE LESSEPSES' HOUSE. OUTSIDE VIOLA'S BEDROOM. MORNING.

The NURSE is barring the stairs to WESSEX.

WESSEX
Now, pay attention, Nursy. The Queen,
Gloriana Regina, God's Chosen Vessel,
the Radiant One, who shines her light
on us, is at Greenwich today, and
prepared, during the evening's
festivities, to bestow her gracious
favour on my choice of wife -- and
if we're late for lunch, the old
boot will not forgive. So you get
you to my lady's chamber and produce
her with or without her undergarments.

INT. DE LESSEPSES' HOUSE. VIOLA'S BEDROOM. MORNING.

VIOLA has her dress on and is putting on her shoes. WILL, in
his underwear is in mid-argument.

WILL
You cannot! Not for the Queen herself!

VIOLA
What will you have me do? Marry you
instead?

WILL
(brought up short)
To be the wife of a poor player? Can
I wish that for Lady Viola, except
in my dreams? And yet I would, if I
were free to follow my desire in the
harsh light of day.

VIOLA
(tartly)
You follow your desire freely enough
in the night. So, if that is all, to
Greenwich I go.

WILL
Then I will go with you.

VIOLA
You cannot, Wessex will kill you!

WILL
I know how to fight!

VIOLA
(now fixing her hair)
Stage fighting!
(turn to him)
Oh, Will! As Thomas Kent my heart
belongs to you but as Viola the river
divides us, and I will marry Wessex
a week from Saturday.

INT. DE LESSEPSES' HOUSE. OUTSIDE VIOLA'S BEDROOM DOWNSTAIRS
HALL. MORNING.

WESSEX
(ranting)
By heaven, I will drag her down, by
the Queen's command.

And is cut off short as VIOLA'S door opens at the top of the
stairs.

VIOLA
Good morning, my lord!

WESSEX
(impressed by her
appearance)
Ah! My lady! The tide waits for no
man, but I swear it would wait for
you!

VIOLA comes down the stairs. Behind her WILL appears gowned
and bonneted. He has also assumed a country accent.

WILL
Here we come at last, my lord!

WESSEX
(taken aback)
Are you bringing your laundry woman?

WILL
Her chaperone. My lady's country
cousin.
(arriving with a
curtsey)
My, but you be a handsome gallant,
just as she said! You may call me
Miss Wilhelmina!

WESSEX
On a more fortuitous occasion,
perhaps.

WILL
Oh, my lord, you will not shake me
off, she never needed me more, I
sear by your breeches!

EXT. GREENWICH PALACE. NIGHT.

Fireworks explode in the evening sky over Greenwich, a royal
palace, crowded now with noble guests.

EXT. GREENWICH PALACE. TERRACE. NIGHT.

The way these royal routs work is that guest mill about,
chatting, bowing and generally behaving gallantly, while
QUEEN ELIZABETH creates a vortex around her as she passes
through the throng, occasionally honouring somebody with a
couple of words, until she arrives thankfully at the best
chair... where she establishes a headquarters.

Her current LORD IN WAITING ferries the lucky few forward to
a brief audience with the QUEEN, each giving way to the next.
VIOLA and WESSEX are, respectively, dipping and bowing as
they are greeted by people who know them...

WILL, in close attendance, joins in gratuitously, bowing
until VIOLA nudges him and reminds him to curtsey instead.
The QUEEN'S LORD IN WAITING plucks WESSEX'S sleeve.

WESSEX
(to him)
Now?

LORD IN WAITING
Now.

WESSEX
(to Viola)
The Queen asks for you. Answer well.

The LORD IN WAITING ushers VIOLA through the crowd. WILL
starts to follow. WESSEX takes him by the arm.

WESSEX
Is there a man?

WILL
A man, my lord?

WESSEX
(impatiently)
There was a man, poet -- a theatre
poet, I heard -- does he come to the
house?

WILL
A theatre poet?

WESSEX
An insolent penny-a-page rogue,
Marlowe, he said, Christopher Marlowe --
has he been to the house?

WILL
Marlowe? Oh yes, he is the one, lovely
waistcoat, shame about the poetry.

WESSEX
(venomously)
That dog!

ANGLE on the QUEEN.

The LORD IN WAITING has presented VIOLA. VIOLA speaks from a
frozen curtsey.

VIOLA
Your Majesty.

QUEEN
Stand up straight, girl.

VIOLA straightens. The QUEEN examines her.

QUEEN
I have seen you. You are the one who
comes to all the plays -- at
Whitehall, at Richmond.

VIOLA
(agreeing)
Your Majesty.

QUEEN
What do you love so much?

VIOLA
Your Majesty?

QUEEN
Speak out! I know who I am. Do you
love stories of kings and queens?
Feats of arms? Or is it courtly love?

VIOLA
I love theatre. To have stories acted
for me by a company of fellows is
indeed --

QUEEN
(interrupting)
They are not acted for you, they are
acted for me.

VIOLA remains silent, in apology.

ANGLE on WILL.

He is watching and listening. He has never seen the QUEEN so
close. He is fascinated.

QUEEN
And--?

VIOLA
And I love poetry above all.

QUEEN
Above Lord Wessex?

She looks over VIOLA'S shoulder and VIOLA realises WESSEX
has moved up behind her. WESSEX bows.

QUEEN
(To WESSEX)
My Lord... when you cannot find your
wife you had better look for her at
the playhouse.

The COURTIERS titter at her pleasantry.

QUEEN
But playwrights teach nothing about
love, they make it pretty, they make
it comical, or they make it lust.
They cannot make it true.

VIOLA
(blurts)
Oh, but they can!

She has forgotten herself. The COURTIERS gasp. The QUEEN
considers her. WESSEX looks furious. WILL is touched.

VIOLA
I mean... Your Majesty, they do not,
they have not, but I believe there
is one who can --

WESSEX
Lady Viola is... young in the world.
Your Majesty is wise in it. Nature
and truth are the very enemies of
playacting. I'll wager my fortune.

QUEEN
I thought you were here because you
had none.

Titters again. WESSEX could kill somebody.

QUEEN
(by way of dismissing
him)
Well, no one will take your wager,
it seems.

WILL
Fifty pounds!

Shock and horror. QUEEN ELIZABETH is the only person amused.

QUEEN
Fifty pounds! A very worthy sum on a
very worthy question. Can a play
show us the very truth and nature of
love? I bear witness to the wager,
and will be the judge of it as
occasion arises.
(which wins a scatter
of applause. She
gathers her skirts
and stands)
I have not seen anything to settle
it yet.
(she moves away,
everybody bowing and
scraping)
So... the fireworks will be soothing
after the excitements of Lady Viola's
audience.
(and now she is next
to WESSEX who is
bowing low. Intimately
to him)
Have her then, but you are a lordly
fool. She has been plucked since I
saw her last, and not by you. It
takes a woman to know it.

The QUEEN passes by, and as WESSEX comes vertical again, we
see his face a mask of furious realisation.

WESSEX
(to himself)
Marlowe!

INT. BURBAGE'S HOUSE. ENTRANCE. DAY.

CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE shuts the door behind him. Above him,
the ceiling creaks to the rhythm of copulation. He has a
sheaf of manuscript pages in his hand. He goes to the stairs.

MARLOWE
Burbage!

The creaking stops.

BURBAGE'S VOICE
Who's there?

INT. BURBAGE'S HOUSE. STAIRS. DAY.

MARLOWE ascends.

MARLOWE
Marlowe.

BURBAGE'S VOICE
Kit!

INT. BURBAGE'S HOUSE. BEDROOM. DAY.

MARLOWE enters, ignoring the situation on the bed where
ROSALINE is astride BURBAGE.

MARLOWE
You are playing my Faustus this
afternoon. Don't spend yourself in
sport.

ROSALINE
(working hard)
This afternoon! We'll still be here
this afternoon.

BURBAGE
What do you want, Kit?

MARLOWE
My Massacre at Paris is complete.

BURBAGE
You have the last act?

MARLOWE
You have the money?

BURBAGE
Tomorrow.

MARLOWE
(leaving)
Then tomorrow you will have the pages.

BURBAGE
Wait!
(to ROSALINE)
Will you desist!

MARLOWE
Twenty pounds on delivery.

BURBAGE
What is money to me like us? Besides,
if I need a play, I have another
waiting, a comedy by Shakespeare.

MARLOWE
Romeo? He gave it to Henslowe.

BURBAGE
Never!

MARLOWE
Well, I am to Deptford now, I leave
my respects, Miss Rosaline.

BURBAGE
I gave Shakespeare two sovereigns
for Romeo!

MARLOWE
(leaving)
You did. But Ned Alleyn and the
Admiral's Men have the playing of it
as the Rose.

BURBAGE
Treachery!

BURBAGE rouses himself violently, throwing ROSALINE off the
bed. The glass bracelet is flung from her wrist. It breaks
on the floor, releasing a strip of paper. BURBAGE picks it
up. What he reads on it does not please him: it is WILL'S
signature.

BURBAGE
Traitor and thief!

EXT. STREETS. DAY.

BURBAGE and a solid wedge of the CHAMBERLAIN'S MEND are
cleaving a path through the crowds. Their faces are grim.

INT. THE ROSE THEATRE. STAGE/AUDITORIUM/UNDER THE STAGE.
DAY.

We are in Act III Scene I. NED ALLEYN as "MERCUTIO" and NOL
as "BENVOLIO", and two "MONTAGUE" sidekicks are in occupation
of the stage, when the "CAPULETS" swagger in, four of them
headed by JAMES HEMMINGS as "TYBALT."

NOL AS BENVOLIO
"By my head, here comes the Capulets."

ALLEYN AS MERCUTIO
"By my heel, I care not."

JAMES HEMMINGS AS TYBALT
"Follow me close, for I will speak
to them.
(With bombast to
"MERCUTIO")
Gentlemen, good e'en: a word with
one of you."

NED comes out of character.

ALLEYN
Are you going to do it like that?

And before the humbled actor can reply NED continues.

ALLEYN (AS MECUTIO)
And but one word with one of us?
Couple it with something, make it a
word and a blow.

But suddenly six more men and a dog invade the stage, ready
to fight. BURBAGE and the CHAMBERLAIN'S MEN have arrived to
avenge BURBAGE'S honour with swords, clubs, and a bucket
(containing pig swill).

BURBAGE
Where is that thieving hack who can't
keep his pen in his own ink pot!?

WILL has already leapt up onto the stage.

WILL
What is this rabble?!

BURBAGE aims a blow at WILL, who ducks and grabs a stave
from the nearest actor, and parries the blow. He swings at
BURBAGE, a CHAMBERLAIN'S MAN swings at WILL, THOMAS cries
out, someone else slashes the stage hangings bringing down
the drapes, and in a moment the ADMIRAL'S MEN and the
CHAMBERLAIN'S MEN, using their much rehearsed skills, are
brawling with weapons and fist, using everything short of
unbuttoned rapiers.

CRAB, the dog, is yapping and snapping at any legs he can
reach. HENSLOWE, a little slow to catch up on the situation,
checks the page in his hand. FENNYMAN, much slower to catch
up, watches enthralled.

FENNYMAN
(to HENSLOWE)
Wonderful, wonderful! And a dog!

But now HENSLOWE has worked out that these actors don't
belong, nor does the scene. He enters the fray, but his
interest is protecting his property. Big burly RALPH is using
a couple of unlit torches as weapons; he breaks one of them
over an enemy's back and HENSLOWE turns on RALPH

HENSLOWE
Not with my props!

VIOLA is doing well enough, tripping up an enemy with a well-
judged stave, and then using it to deflect a blow aimed at
WILL.

VIOLA
Will! What?

WILL
A literary feud. Quite normal.

Then he is smashed over the head. He falls off the stage
taking VIOLA with him. Under the stage is a space (known as
Hell) and WILL shoves VIOLA into this space.

WILL
Stay hid!

He gets back onto the stage, where the goings on are worthy
of the Four Musketeers and Robin Hood combined, with SAM
GOSSE, dressed as "JULIET," fighting with the best of them.
There is a stack of cushions, stored for the expensive seats,
and as the stack is knocked over, NED ALLEYN and others grab
cushions to use as shields. Soon cushions are being ripped,
and the air is full of flying feathers. The trap door in the
stage opens, VIOLA'S head pops up. She looks around and,
surrounded by milling legs and floating feathers, a boot
catches her sideways and half knocks her wig off. In danger
of having her cover blown, she ducks down again, leaving the
trap open just nicely for Will to plummet down it.

INT. THE ROSE THEATRE. UNDER THE STAGE. DAY.

WILL
I dreamed last night of a shipwreck.
You were cast ashore in a far country.

They embrace and kiss. In a moment they are in a world of
their own.

INT. THE ROSE THEATRE. UNDER THE STAGE. DAY.

The battle rages. FENNYMAN, alone now in the auditorium,
continues to watch entranced. It's the greatest show he's
ever seen. HENSLOWE is desperately trying to rescue odd props
that have been seconded to the fight. Someone picks up a
tree that is to be used in Romeo. HENSLOWE yells.

HENSLOWE
We need that for the balcony scene!

FENNYMAN notices this, and it rings a distant bell. He looks
around the realises that some of these faces are unfamiliar.
The tree comes crashing down on RALPH'S head. FENNYMAN looks
at HENSLOWE.

HENSLOWE
(in despair)
My poor Rose!

He collapses on to a broken bench. FENNYMAN comes over to
him, grabs the script pages from his pocket, and consults
them to confirm what he has now begun to suspect: that this
scene is not in them.

FENNYMAN
(horrified)
My investment! LAMBERT!!!

LAMBERT has been sleeping peacefully through this, but wakes
to his master's call.

FENNYMAN
(points at the fray)
Vengeance!

HENSLOWE attempts to intervene.

HENSLOWE
I want no more trouble, Mr. Fennyman.
As I explained to you, the theatre
business --

FENNYMAN
Henslowe, you pound of tripe, in my
business I would be out of business
if I had your courage, so don't tell
me about business.

And he delivers a telling blow to a passing CHAMBERLAIN'S
MAN, who wheels off the stage.

LAMBERT meanwhile is making short work of the rest of the
opposition, receiving help with the thorny business of
identification from SAM. Stray members of the CHAMBERLAIN'S
MEN are running from the theatre, as BURBAGE, fighting a
heroic last stand, is tipped backwards by FENNYMAN off the
stage and into a bucket of swill.

A PAUSE. Then NED starts applauding. The others, weary from
fighting, start applauding too, from all levels of the
theatre. FENNYMAN looks around, starting to beam, as a din
of encores and bravos engulf him. A star!

INT. BROTHEL. NIGHT.

The victorious army of actors bursts into the brothel,
FENNYMAN at their head. He owns the brothel. The place is
already crowded with WHORES and CUSTOMERS. It's a party.

FENNYMAN
(shouts)
A famous victory! Kegs and legs.
Open and on the house! Oh what happy
hour!
(and grabbing a RADDLED
WHORE)
Poxy Pol! You keep yourself to
yourself I'll not have you infecting
my investment!

VIOLA AS THOMAS
(looking around
guardedly. To WILL)
Is this a tavern?

WILL
It is also a tavern.

WILL sits her down in THE COMPANY and takes the chair next
to her A PRETTY WHORE immediately sits on WILL's knee and
kisses him.

PRETTY WHORE
I remember you! The poet!

VIOLA furiously pulls the PRETTY WHORE off WILL'S lap.

PRETTY WHORE
One at a time, one at a time!

SECOND WHORE
(to VIOLA)
Oh, he's a pretty one! Tell me your
story while I tickle your fancy!

VIOLA AS THOMAS
Oh!--it's--it's--oh, it's a house of
ill-repute!

WILL
It is, Thomas, but of good reputation.
Come, there is no harm in a drink.

Glasses are shoved into their hands. Everyone has a glass.
Except RALPH.

RALPH
(declining the glass)
Never when I'm working!

The PRETTY WHORE has turned her attention to SAM. SAM looks
uncomfortable.

PRETTY WHORE
Never tried it? Never?
(groping him)
I think you are ready, Sam!

FENNYMAN shouts a toast.

FENNYMAN
(raising his glass)
You are welcome to my best house!
Here's to the Admiral's Men!

Everybody drinks. VIOLA drinks too. She decides to. She
decides to enjoy it. She bangs down her glass.

VIOLA AS THOMAS
(shouts)
The Admiral's Men!

WILL toasts with her. He sees that she feels one of THE
COMPANY.

EXT. STREET. NIGHT.

A figure is running desperately through the streets. He comes
into the square and runs towards the Rose.

EXT. BROTHEL. NIGHT.

Half THE COMPANY are singing. NOL and a WHORE are tumbling
down the stairs together. He is without his trousers. An
awful lot of drink has gone down.

SAM
(to the PRETTIEST
WHORE)
I... quite liked it.

VIOLA, bright eyed, is banging her glass on the table in
time to a song which is being drunkenly delivered by a
barbershop quartet of actors. FENNYMAN reels into VIOLA.

FENNYMAN
Master Kent! You have not dipped
your wick?

VIOLA AS THOMAS
(baffled)
My wick?

WILL
(saving her)
Mr. Fennyman, because you love the
theatre you must have a part in my
play. I am writing an Apothecary, a
small but vital role.

FENNYMAN
(embracing WILL)
By heaven, I thank you! I will be
your Apothecary!

In his general enthusiasm, he embraces the next man, who is
RALPH, stone cold sober.

FENNYMAN
I am to be in your play.

WHORE
(to RALPH)
And what is this play about?

RALPH
Well, there's this Nurse.

FENNYMAN, beside himself, shouts for silence, announcing --

FENNYMAN
Mr. Shakespeare has given me the
part of the Apothecary!

HENSLOWE
The Apothecary? Will, what is the
story? Where is the shipwreck? How
does the comedy end?

WILL
By God, I wish I knew.

HENSLOWE
By God, Will, if you do not, who
does? Let us have pirates, clowns,
and a happy ending, or we will send
you back to Stratford to your wife!

That goes down every well with the entire COMPANY... except
for VIOLA and WILL. He looks at her, helplessly, then makes
as if to say something. VIOLA ducks away from him and blunders
blindly out of the street door, in tears.

VIOLA passes PETER who is coming in from the street. WILL,
attempting to follow VIOLA, is grabbed round the shoulders
by PETER... who, we now see, is in a highly emotional state.
WILL tries to fight him off but PETER has the strength of
the news he brings.

PETER
(shouts)
Will! Mr. Henslowe! Gentlemen all!

He brings the room to silence.

PETER
A black day for us all! There is
news come up river from Deptford.

Marlowe is dead. There are general gasps and cries for
information.

PETER
Stabbed! Stabbed to death in a tavern
at Deptford!

No one is more affected than WILL. This second blow is worse
than the first. He stands horror-stricken.

WILL
Oh... what have I done?

ALLEYN
(standing up)
He was the first man among us. A
great light has gone out.

EXT. BROTHEL. NIGHT.

WILL comes staggering out into the street.

WILL
It was I who killed him! God forgive
me, God forgive me!

He falls into a stagnant puddle, a deep gutter of water and
garbage. He gets up and staggers on.

EXT. CHURCH TOWER. NIGHT.

A church tower looms up in the night sky.

INT. CHURCH. NIGHT.

This is where WILL has come. The church is empty, but for
the demented, grieving figure of SHAKESPEARE, kneeling,
praying, weeping, banging his head, in his private purgatory,
dimly lit by tallow candles, gazed upon by effigies of the
dead and images of his Redeemer. He is wet, bedraggled, weeds
and leaves in his hair.

EXT. DE LESSEPSES' HOUSE. DAY.

A lovely sunny morning. The church bells are ringing. VIOLA
and the NURSE, mounted, approach. VIOLA rides sidesaddle on
a beautiful horse, and is followed, rather like Quixote by
Sancho, by the NURSE on a less impressive animal.

Riding in the opposite direction, is WESSEX. And what a happy
day it is. He sings and hums to himself merrily. Here is a
man who has heard wonderful news. He sees VIOLA and greets
her merrily.

WESSEX
You look sad, my lady! Let me take
you riding.

VIOLA
It is not my riding day, my lord.

WESSEX
Bless me, I thought it was a horse.

VIOLA
I am going to church.

WESSEX
(recomposing his
features to solemnity)
I understand of course. It is to be
expected.

VIOLA
It is to be expected on a Sunday.

WESSEX
And on a day of mourning. I never
met the fellow but once at your house.

VIOLA
(cannot take this in)
Mourning? Who is dead, my lord?

WESSEX
Oh! Dear God, I did not think it
would be me to tell you. A great
loss to playwriting, and to dancing.

VIOLA almost faints. The NURSE steadies her.

VIOLA
(faintly)
He is dead?

WESSEX
(cheerfully solemn)
Killed last night, in a tavern! Come,
then, we'll say a prayer for his
soul.

VIOLA gives a silent cry. The NURSE is speaking to her in
distress.

NURSE
My lady... my lady... now is the
time to show your breeding.

INT. CHURCH. DAY.

The NURSE is holding VIOLA up as they enter the church. VIOLA
seems catatonic. The NURSE lowers her onto a seat and sits
down next to her. As they sit, the CHOIR enters singing.
WESSEX, who is sitting in the next pew, looks about him with
interest. He hasn't been in a church for years. What he sees
turns him to jelly. He sees WILL SHAKESPEARE.

ANGLE on WILL.

WILL is a spectral, bedraggled figure, backlit by a great
shaft of light, he would look like a ghost at the best of
times, and this is the worst. Bleeding from where he has
banged his head, bedraggled and ravaged by the night, he
stands in a side chapel staring at WESSEX. WESSEX gasps and
sweats, and sees WILL raise a quivering accusatory finger at
him. WESSEX cracks. He starts to mumble.

WESSEX
Oh, spare me, dear ghost, spare me
for the love of Christ!

Now VIOLA sees WILL. She is still paralysed, and seems at
first unable to take him in. She watches with detachment as
WESSEX starts to back out of the church, finally running in
terror.

WESSEX
(screaming)
Spare me!

The CHOIR continues to sing, but the scream brings VIOLA to
her senses and she runs to a side door where WILL is leaving.

EXT. CHURCH. DAY.

Outside, VIOLA sees WILL, staggering away from the church.
She calls his name.

VIOLA
Will!

He does not answer. She runs after him.

VIOLA
Oh, my love, I thought you were dead!

She claps him to her. They hold each other for a moment then
WILL pulls back.

WILL
It is worse. I have killed a man.

EXT. MEADOW. DAY.

VIOLA'S horse grazes. WILL lies on his back, still sobered
and full of guilt. VIOLA sits on the grass among the
buttercups and looks down at him.

VIOLA is plaiting a finger-ring from stems of grass. She has
not yet revealed her feelings.

WILL
Marlowe's touch was in my Titus
Andronicus and my Henry VI was a
house built on his foundations.

VIOLA
You never spoke so well of him.

WILL
He was not dead before. I would
exchange all my plays to come for
all of his that will never come.

VIOLA
You lie.

WILL turns to look at her.

VIOLA
You lie in your meadow as you lied
in my bed.

WILL
My love is no lie. I have a wife,
yes, and I cannot marry the daughter
of Sir Robert de Lesseps. It needed
no wife come from Stratford to tell
you that. And yet you let me come to
your bed.

VIOLA
Calf love. I loved the writer, and
gave up the prize for a sonnet.

WILL
I was the more deceived.

VOILA
Yes -- you were deceived. For I never
loved you till now.

WILL
Now?

VIOLA
(declaring herself)
I love you, Will, beyond poetry.

WILL
Oh, my love.
(he kisses her)
You ran from me before.

VIOLA
You were not dead before. When I
thought you dead, I did not care
about all the plays that will never
come, only that I would never see
your face. I saw our end, and it
will come.

WILL
You cannot marry Wessex!

VIOLA
If not Wessex the Queen will know
the cause and there will be no more
Will Shakespeare.

They kiss again, passionately.

WILL
No... no.

VIOLA
(through his kisses)
But I will go to Wessex as a widow
from these vows, as solemn as they
are unsanctified.

And as their desperate kisses turn into lovemaking we cut
to:

INT. THE ROSE THEATRE. STAGE/AUDITORIUM. DAY.

WILL
(he is mid speech)
For killing Juliet's kinsman Tybalt,
the one who killed Romeo's friend
Mercutio, Romeo is banished.

He is on the stage of the Rose. The entire COMPANY is
assembled, HENSLOWE and FENNYMAN included, holding pages of
manuscript, which they are sharing together, examining the
separated pages, passing pages to each other, etc. WILL's
mood is intense and focused.

WILL
But the Friar who married Romeo and
Juliet...

ACTOR (EDWARD)
Is that me. Will?

WILL
You, Edward. The Friar who married
them gives Juliet a potion to drink.
It is a secret potion. It makes her
seeming dead. She is placed in the
tomb of the Capulets. She will awake
to life and love when Romeo comes to
her side again.

THE COMPANY murmurs approval.

WILL
I have not said all. By malign fate,
the message goes astray which would
tell Romeo of the Friar's plan. He
hears only that Juliet is dead. And
thus he goes to the Apothecary.

FENNYMAN
That's me.

WILL
And buys a deadly poison. He enters
the tomb to say farewell to Juliet
who lies there cold as death. He
drinks the poison. He dies by her
side. And then she wakes and sees
him dead.

HENSLOWE is fascinated and appalled.

WILL
And so Juliet takes his dagger and
kills herself.

Pause.

WILL is staring at VIOLA.

HENSLOWE
Well, that will have them rolling in
the aisles.

FENNYMAN
Sad and wonderful! I have a blue
velvet cap which will do well, I
have seen apothecary with a cap just
so.

ALLEYN
(to WILL)
Yes... it will serve. But there's a
scene missing between marriage and
death.

WILL is still staring at VIOLA. Aware, suddenly, of the others
watching, she breaks his gaze and drops her head. WILL looks
at NED.

INT. DE LESSEPSES' HOUSE. VIOLA'S BEDROOM. EVENING.

WILL and VIOLA. VIOLA dressed as THOMAS. He has a present
for her -- a neatly written manuscript of his play, on sheets
folded to octavo size.

WILL
The play. All written out for you. I
had the clerk at Bridewell do it, he
has a good fist for lettering.

She wants to accept the present with joy, but something in
his mood restrains her.

WILL
There's a new scene.

He turns the pages and shows her.

VIOLA
Will you read it for me?

WILL
(he knows it)
"Wilt thou be gone? It is not yet
near day It was the nightingale and
not the lark That pierced the fearful
hollow of thine ear. Nightly she
sings on yon pomegranate tree. Believe
me, love, it was the nightingale."

VIOLA
(reading)
"It was the lark, the herald of the
morn, No nightingale. Look, love,
what envious streaks Do lace the
severing clouds in yonder east.
Night's candles are burnt out, and
jocund day Stands tiptoe on the misty
mountain tops. I must be gone and
live, or stay and die."

The words of the scene become WILL's and VIOLA's, their way
of saying the farewells they cannot utter.

WILL
"Yon light is not daylight, I know
it, I. It is some meteor that the
sun exhales To be to thee this night
a torchbearer..."

INT. THE ROSE THEATRE. BACKSTAGE. DAY.

"THOMAS." Somewhere behind and up above the stage, in a
deserted corner among rigging, bits of scenery, etc., they
speak the lines and we hardly know ourselves whether it is
rehearsal or lovemaking. But after a few moments it is
definitely lovemaking. Their clothes start coming away, their
words interrupted by kisses.

WILL
"...thou need'st not to be gone."

VIOLA
"I have more care to stay than will
to go. Come death, and welcome. Juliet
wills it so. How is't my soul? Let's
talk. It is not day."

By now, her loosened bosom-bandage has been pulled away and
WILL passionately embraces her nakedness. And into this
heaving composition comes a little white mouse, unseen my
them, climbing through a knot hole in the planking behind
VIOLA'S head. An adjacent knot hole reveals a human eye and
we do not need to be told it is JOHN WEBSTER's. WEBSTER takes
his eye away from the peephole, and frowns, thinking it out.

EXT. ALLEWAY. DAY.

TILNEY puts a coin in WEBSTER's hand.

TILNEY
You will go far, I fear.

WEBSTER
I hope we work together again.

Tilney walks away.

EXT. THE ROSE THEATRE. DAY.

A man is pacing up and down, in a sort of agony. He is
muttering. He is glancing at a sheet of paper. He is FENNYMAN
rehearsing the important role of the Apothecary, for which
he has a special voice.

FENNYMAN
"Such mortal drugs I have but Mantua's
law Is death to any he that utters
them." Then him. Then me.

FENNYMAN
"Put this in any liquid thing you
will And..."

He has dried up. He curses -- the terror and despair.

FENNYMAN
"Such mortal drugs I have..." What
is it? What is it?

He is so wrapped up in all this that he simply does not notice
when WESSEX rides up to the main entrance dismounts and walks
inside.

INT. THE ROSE THEATRE. STAGE/AUDITORIUM. DAY.

Among the audience are HENSLOWE, a few actors... and JOHN
WEBSTER... who sees WESSEX and jumps up and goes to him.

WEBSTER
My lord!

WESSEX
(shouts)
Shakespeare!

Everything stops.

WESSEX
You upstart inky pup! Now I will
show you your place, which is in
hell!

WILL
You are on my ground.

WESSEX
(drawing his sword)
By God, I'll fight the lot of you.

WILL draws his sword.

WILL
I am more than enough.

VIOLA reacts. She almost gives herself away. But the fight
has started.

WESSEX slashes at WILL. WILL knows how to fight. He parries
and thrusts. WESSEX is surprised.

The fight goes fast and furious around the stage, until WILL
thrusts accurately at WESSEX'S chest... and would have killed
him but for the button on his sword-point.

WESSEX grapples with him, and now it becomes a parody of the
Hamlet duel; WESSEX'S unbuttoned sword falls to the ground,
WILL puts his foot on it, tosses WESSEX his own safe sword,
picks up Wessex's sword and continues the fight until he has
WESSEX at his mercy.

WILL has fought with a passionate rage that has everybody
staring at him. Now the look in his eyes is merciless.

WILL
Absent friends!
(to the assembly)
This is the murderer of Kit Marlowe!

NED ALLEYN comes forward looking worried and dubious.

ALLEYN
Will!

WESSEX
I rejoiced at his death because I
thought it was yours. That is all I
know of Marlowe.

ALLEYN
It's true, Will... it was a tavern
brawl... Marlowe attacked, and got
his own knife in the eye. A quarrel
about the bill.

HENSLOWE
The bill! Oh, vanity, vanity!

ALLEYN
Not the billing, the bill!

WILL steps back, and sinks to his knees. His relief could
not be greater.

WILL
(to the heavens)
Oh God, I am free of it!

WESSEX gets to his feet. TILNEY enters the auditorium from
the public entrance.

WESSEX
Close it!

TILNEY
My Lord Wessex!

WESSEX
(foaming)
Close it! Take it down stone by stone!
I want it ploughed into the ground,
and sown with quick lime!

WESSEX storms out past the bewildered TILNEY.

HENSLOWE
Mr. Tilney, what is this?

TILNEY
Sedition and indecency!

HENSLOWE
What?!

WEBSTER
Master of the Revels, sir, over here,
sir.

TILNEY
(to WEBSTER)
Where, boy?

WEBSTER
(points)
I saw her bubbies!

TILNEY
(shocked and gratified)
A woman on the stage? A woman?

WEBSTER
I swear it!

THE COMPANY of actors are dumbstruck. None more than VIOLA.

TILNEY
So, Henslowe! I say this theatre is
closed! On the authority of the powers
invested in my by the court -- I
close this theatre!

HENSLOWE
Why so?

TILNEY
(triumphantly)
For lewdness and unshamefacedness!
For displaying a female on the public
stage!

TILNEY is unstoppable. He jumps on the stage... and seizes
SAM GOSSE. Before WEBSTER or anyone can intervene, TILNEY
pulls up his skirt, ignoring SAM's rather gutteral yell of
protest and pulls down SAM's drawers.

TILNEY's face is a study. So is everybody else's. WEBSTER
rolls his eyes (oh, these stupid grown-ups!) and deftly throws
one of his mice onto "ROMEO's" hair.

VIOLA gives a shrill scream, the startled mouse descends her
neck via VIOLA's ear, and seeks an entry into her collar. By
which time VIOLA has gone berserk and torn off her wig. Her
hair is pinned up but there is no question her gender. WILL
is paralysed. VIOLA gives him a look of terrible despair and
apology.

WEBSTER
(pointing at SAM)
Not him.
(pointing at VIOLA)
Her!

HENSLOWE
He's a woman!

By now the scene is playing to a crowded theatre, or so it
seems.

TILNEY
That's who I meant! This theatre is
closed! Notice will be posted!

SAM has picked himself up, and his drawers.

HENSLOWE
(to NED)
Ned, I swear I knew nothing of this!

VIOLA
(hoping to protect
WILL)
Nobody knew!

WEBSTER
(pointing at WILL)
He did! I saw him kissing her bubbies!

Everybody looks at WILL, who stares at VIOLA, helpless.

TILNEY
Closed! Closed, mark you, Henslowe!

TILNEY turns on his heel and leaves in triumph. THE COMPANY
is still polaxed.

HENSLOWE
(in despair)
It is over.

VIOLA
I am so sorry, Mr. Henslowe. I wanted
to be an actor.
(she turns to WILL)
I am sorry, Will.

WILL shakes his head. This cannot be the end. VIOLA walks
away, leaving by the public entrance. They all let her go,
watching her silently. As she passes WABASH

WABASH
Y-y-y-you w-w-w-were w-w-w-w-
wonderful.

VIOLA
Thank you.

As she is leaving, WILL comes to life. He starts off towards
her... but his progress is halted by a sock to the jaw from
NED ALLEYN. WILL falls down in the dust.

FENNYMAN enters, still bent over his sheet of paper, mumbling
his precious lines. When he reaches the groundlings yard, he
finds to his surprise the whole COMPANY is standing about in
attitudes of despair or worse. FENNYMAN looks around.

FENNYMAN
Everything all right?

EXT. THE ROSE THEATRE. EVENING.

The closure notice is nailed to the door.

INT. DE LESSEPSES' HOUSE. VIOLA'S BEDROOM. NIGHT.

VIOLA, in her nightdress, is reading by candlelight. She is
reading her private manuscript of Romeo and Juliet... and
rereading. Next to her is a tray of covered dishes.

The NURSE enters and looks at her sympathetically. She lifts
the tray. She realises it is heavy. She puts it down and
raises the covers and sees that VIOLA has eaten nothing. She
looks at VIOLA's tears, but there is nothing to be said.

INT. TAVERN. DAY.

They are all there -- the ADMIRAL'S MEN, including WILL and
HENSLOWE, drowning their sorrows. Everyone is drunk. FENNYMAN
is also there, taking the disaster somewhat selfishly.

FENNYMAN
(muttering)
I would have been good... I would
have been great.

He hands a flask to RALPH who is in a similar mood.

RALPH
So would I. We both would.

RALPH contemplates the flask, and, since he's not working,
takes a swig. A moment later, he keels over, rigid as a pole.

The street door crashes open. BURBAGE enters. Behind him
enter a solid wedge of the CHAMBERLAIN'S MEN, sober-faced,
several with black eyes and bandages round their heads.

FENNYMAN
(shouts)
Lambert!

LAMBERT, FENNYMAN'S henchman and killer, puts down his tankard
and comes forward, casually kicking chairs and tables out of
his way.

FENNYMAN
Kill him!

LAMBERT reaches up to the wall over the bar and takes down
once of the ceremonial weapons hanging there -- a battle-
axe. But BURBAGE has flintlock pistol stuck into his sash.
BURBAGE draws and the pistol roars, shooting flame, LAMBERT
curses, drops the axe, nurses his wounded hand. BURBAGE puts
the pistol back into his sash. NED ALLEYN is half-drunk at a
table. He staggers to his feet. He faces BURBAGE.

ALLEYN
Well, Burbage -- you never did know
when your scene was over.

BURBAGE
That can wait. The Master of the
Revels despises us for vagrants,
tinkers, and peddlers of bombast.
But my father, James Burbage, had
the first licence to make a company
of players from Her Majesty, and he
drew from poets the literature of
the age. Their fame will be our fame.
So let them all know, we are men of
parts. We are a brotherhood, and we
will be a profession. Will Shakespeare
has a play. I have a theatre. The
Curtain is yours.

EXT. THE CURTAIN THEATRE. DAY.

A strong wind is blowing through the trees. A BOY with a
paste-pot and a bundle of flyers, is having trouble pasting
a flyer on the wall of the building. A gust of wind scatters
the bundle and sends a couple of dozen flyers flying into
the sky. The BOY with the paste-pot runs around, trying to
recover those he can. We look at the poster. It says:

BY PERMISSION OF
MR. BURBAGE
A
HUGH FENNYMAN PRODUCTION
OF
MR. HENSLOWE'S PRESENTATION
OF
THE ADMIRAL'S MEN IN PERFORMANCE
OF
THE EXCELLENT AND LAMENTABLE TRAGEDY
OF
ROMEO AND JULIET
With Mr. Fennyman as the Apothecary.

WILL comes out of the theatre, and passes the poster. He
walks on without looking at it. A voice calls after him:

HENSLOWE
Will!

WILL does not turn to look at him.

HENSLOWE
We'll be needing a Romeo.

WILL carries on walking.

EXT. STREETS. DAY.

WILL is pushing through the crowds on his way to the river.

INT. DE LESSEPSES' HOUSE. VIOLA'S BEDROOM. DAY.

The NURSE is helping VIOLA to dress -- in a wedding dress.
The NURSE is in tears. VIOLA submits to the task impassively.

EXT. THE RIVER. DAY.

WILL is climbing down the ladder to the waiting boats.

INT. DE LESSEPSES' HOUSE. HALL. DAY.

WESSEX, dressed to be a bridegroom is concluding his
negotiations with DE LESSEPS, while LADY DE LESSEPS weeps.
DE LESSEPS is signing papers. There is a money chest, too.

WESSEX
My ship is moored at Bankside, bound
for Virginia on the afternoon tide --
please do not weep, Lady De Lesseps,
you are gaining a colony.

DE LESSEPS
And you are gaining five thousand
pounds, my lord... by these drafts
in my hand.

WESSEX
Would you oblige me with fifty or so
in gold? Just to settle my accounts
at the dockside?

DE LESSEPS sighs and unlocks his money chest. WESSEX places
his empty purse on the desk.

WESSEX
Ah! Look, she comes!

VIOLA has appeared at the top of the stairs with the NURSE.

VIOLA
Good morning, my lord. I see you are
open for business so let's to church.

EXT. DE LESSEPSES' HOUSE. DAY.

WILL is running across the grass towards the house. As he
crosses the bridge over the moat, a carriage bears down on
him, and he has to flatten himself against the wall of the
gatehouse as the carriage passes, taking WESSEX and his bride
to church. WILL'S face, as he watches the carriage disappear.
Distant bells begin to peal.

EXT. CHURCH DOOR. DAY.

The bells announce the completion of the marriage -- as WESSEX
and the new LADY WESSEX leave the church. VIOLA's veil is
flying in the wind, and beneath it we can just see VIOLA's
unhappy face. The DE LESSEPS FAMILY entourage is applauding.
WESSEX beams with satisfaction.

Suddenly the sky and the wind deliver a message -- a flyer
from the Curtain slaps against WESSEX'S face. He claws at it
and tries to throw it away. The wind delivers it to VIOLA's
bosom. She takes it up and reads it. And passes it to the
NURSE.

WESSEX descends the steps to where the curtained carriage
awaits the bride and groom. He gallantly holds the door for
VIOLA to enter. She climbs aboard. WESSEX makes to follow
her.

NURSE
My lord!

The NURSE grasps him in a moving embrace, to WESSEX'S
discomfort.

NURSE
Be good to her, my lord!

WESSEX
I will.

He tries to disengage. She won't have it.

NURSE
God bless you!

WESSEX
Thank you. Let go, there's a good
nurse.

After a couple of further attempts, WESSEX extricates himself.

WESSEX
The tide will not wait. Farewell!

WESSEX pulls aside the curtain and gets in.

INT. CARRIAGE. DAY.

It takes a moment for WESSEX to realise he is alone in there.
He looks around but VIOLA has fled.

EXT. THE CURTAIN THEATRE. DAY.

Hundreds of people are converging on the theatre. Among them
is the Puritan MAKEPEACE, vainly exhorting the crowds to run
away from sin.

MAKEPEACE
Licentiousness is made a show, vice
is made a show, vanity and pride
likewise made a show! This is the
very business of show.

But MAKEPEACE is being carried inexorably through the main
doors of the theatre.

INT. THE CURTAIN THEATRE. BACKSTAGE. DAY.

The ADMIRAL'S MEN are all in costume, and are in a buzz of
nervous excitement. ALLEYN, dressed for "MERCUTIO," is giving
last minute instructions to PETER. JAMES and JOHN HEMMINGS
are arguing about the timing of their entrance. FENNYMAN in
his apothecary's cap is agonising over his lines. WABASH is
stuttering over his. Alone in his dejection in the midst of
all this, is WILL, dressed for "Romeo." FENNYMAN approaches
him, apothecary's cap in hand.

FENNYMAN
Is this all right?

WILL nods, miserable. SAM has found a private corner. He is
gargling into a basin. He looks worried and furtive.

INT. THE CURTAIN THEATRE. AUDITORIUM. DAY.

The audience is gathering.

EXT. THE CURTAIN THEATRE. DAY.

Word has got around. Even rich people are coming. They arrive
by carriage and by palanquin. Some of them are cloaked and
hooded, slumming incognito. A cannon booms from the Curtain.
The flag of the ADMIRAL'S MEN flutters above.

EXT. THE CURTAIN THEATRE. ENTRANCE. DAY.

LAMBERT and FREES are taking the entrance money.

INT. THE CURTAIN THEATRE. AUDITORIUM. DAY.

The auditorium is now packed. Among them, sheepish, is
MAKEPEACE.

INT. THE CURTAIN THEATRE. BACKSTAGE. DAY.

Everything is ready. NED signals the musicians. Trumpets and
drums sound. The house falls silent.

INT. THE CURTAIN THEATRE. THE WINGS. DAY.

WABASH seems to be important at the beginning. We have never
been told what part he plays. He is still muttering lines
and stuttering them.

WABASH
(mutter)
T-t-t-two h-h-households b-both alike
in d-d-d-dignity.

WILL listens to him in agony. He finds HENSLOWE next to him.

WILL
(to HENSLOWE)
We are lost.

HENSLOWE
No, it will turn out well.

WILL
How will it?

HENSLOWE
I don't know, it's a mystery.

And off we go. HENSLOWE claps WABASH on the shoulder and
sends him through the curtain.

ANGLE ON WABASH

INT. THE CURTAIN THEATRE. STAGE. DAY.

The audience waits expectantly. WABASH gathers himself.

WABASH AS THE CHORUS
T-t-t-t-two.

INT. THE CURTAIN THEATRE. BACKSTAGE. DAY.

WILL shuts his eyes and prays.

INT. THE CURTAIN THEATRE. STAGE/AUDITORIUM. DAY.

WABASH launches himself into a perfect audacious delivery
like a star.

WABASH AS THE CHORUS
"...Household both alike in dignity
[in fair Verona where we lay our
scene] From ancient grudge break to
new mutiny, Where civil blood makes
civil hands unclean. From forth the
fatal loins of these two foes A pair
of star-cross'd lovers take their
life, Whose misadventured piteous
overthrows Doth with their death
bury their parents' strife..."

EXT. STREET. DAY.

VIOLA and the NURSE, hurrying toward the Curtain.

INT. THE CURTAIN THEATRE. BACKSTAGE. DAY.

HEMMINGS BROTHERS are ready to go on as "SAMPSON" and
"GROCERY," Act I Scene I. They shake hands. Beyond the
curtain, the audience applauds the Prologue as WABASH comes
through the curtain backstage.

WILL
(to WABASH)
Wonderful!

WABASH
W-w-w-was it g-g-g-good?

The HEMMINGS BROTHERS enter the arena and the play begins.

POV: FROM THE WINGS:

JOHN HEMMINGS AS SAMPSON
"Gregory, on my word we'll not carry
coals."

JAMES HEMMINGS AS GREGORY
"No, for then we should be colliers."

WILL looks as if he would rather be dead. SAM GOSSE approaches
WILL, nervously.

SAM
(nervously -- in a
deep bass guttural
hoarse voice)
Master Shakespeare --

WILL
(absently)
Luck be with you, Sam.
(as the awful truth
gets through to him)
Sam...?

SAM
(in the same voice)
It is not my fault, Master
Shakespeare. I could do it yesterday.

WILL
Sam! Do me a speech, do me a line.

SAM
(the effect is horrible)
"Parting is such sweet sorrow..."

HENSLOWE has been overhearing.

HENSLOWE
Another little problem.

WILL
What do we do now?

HENSLOWE
The show must... you know --

WILL
Go on.

HENSLOWE
Juliet does not come on for twenty
pages. It will be all right.

WILL
How will it?

HENSLOWE
I don't know. It's a mystery.

And he makes his way towards the front of the house.

EXT. STREET. DAY.

A furious WESSEX is hurrying along the road to the theatre.

INT. THE CURTAIN THEATRE. AUDITORIUM/STAGE. DAY.

VIOLA and the NURSE are arriving, and looking for a seat in
the gallery.

BURBAGE and his MEN are standing at the back, behind the
people seated in the gallery. The first scene of the play is
continuing

ARMITAGE AS ABRAM
"Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?"

JOHN HEMMINGS AS SAMPSON
"I do bite my thumb, sir."

BURBAGE finds HENSLOWE plucking agitatedly at his sleeve.

HENSLOWE
Can we talk?

They are standing behind the back row of the gallery seats.
The spectator in front of them is the NURSE. She turns round
and shushes HENSLOWE up.

HENSLOWE
(whispering to BURBAGE)
We have no Juliet!

BURBAGE
(forgetting to whisper)
No Juliet?!

VIOLA
(turning)
No Juliet?!

HENSLOWE
It will be all right, madam.

VIOLA
What happened to Sam?

HENSLOWE
Who are you?

VIOLA
Thomas Kent!

Their whispers are causing black looks and hushing noises
from the neighbours. HENSLOWE pulls VIOLA from her seat,
luckily an aisle seat.

HENSLOWE
Do you know it?

VIOLA
(showing the manuscript)
Every word.

HENSLOWE and BURBAGE look at each other.

CUT TO:

INT. THE CURTAIN THEATRE. STAGE. DAY.

PHILIP AS LADY CAPULET
"Nurse, where is my daughter? Call
her forth to me."

RALPH AS NURSE
"Now by my maidenhead at twelve year
old, I bade her come. What, lamb.
What ladybird."

INT. THE CURTAIN THEATRE. THE WINGS/STAGE. DAY.

SAM who gathers himself, to make his entrance, quietly and
horribly practising "How now, who calls?"

RALPH AS NURSE
(on stage)
"God forbid. Where's this girl?"

The author and star, WILL SHAKESPEARE, has his back to the
stage, his hands over his ears. He is cowering in dread
anticipation.

RALPH AS NURSE
"What, Juliet!"

As SAM is about to enter HENSLOWE's hand yanks him by the
collar, and VIOLA overtakes him and steps on stage. Enter
"JULIET."

VIOLA AS JULIET
"How now, who calls?"

RALPH AS NURSE
"Your mother."

VIOLA AS JULIET
"Madam. I am here, what is your will?

INT. THE CURTAIN THEATRE. AUDITORIUM. DAY.

There is a collective gasp. Nobody has ever seen a BOY PLAYER
like this.

INT. THE CURTAIN THEATRE. THE WINGS. DAY.

WILL takes his hands from his ears, and turns round in
amazement at the sound of VIOLA's voice.

INT. THE CURTAIN THEATRE. AUDITORIUM/STAGE. DAY.

WESSEX has just arrived in the auditorium and jumps as if he
has been shot. He seems about to intervene, but looking around
at the rapt faces he realises he cannot.

INT. THE CURTAIN THEATRE. THE WINGS. DAY.

HENSLOWE and BURBAGE look at each other.

BURBAGE
We will all be put in the clink.

HENSLOWE
(shrugs)
See you in jail.

INT. THE CURTAIN THEATRE. BACKSTAGE. DAY.

FENNYMAN, oblivious to the drama, is practising his lines in
a fever of nervousness.

FENNYMAN
"Such mortal drugs I have but Mantua's
Law Is death to any he that utters
them." Then him. Then me.

INT. THE CURTAIN THEATRE. STAGE. DAY.

Swordplay. An amazing performance that holds the audience
spellbound. "TYBALT" kills "MERCUTIO."

ALLEYN AS MERCUTIO
(to ROMEO)
"I am hurt.

WILL AS ROMEO
Courage man. The hurt cannot be much.

ALLEYN AS MERCUTIO
Ask for me tomorrow and you shall
find me a grave man."

A roll of thunder. Over the heads of the audience, far above
the thatched roof of the theatre, clouds are gathering in
the sky. On stage "MERCUTIO" is in 'ROMEO's" arms, but the
tone of the playing is unlike anything we have seen before:
without bombast, intense and real. And the audience is quiet
and attentive.

ALLEYN AS MERCUTIO
"...Why the devil came you between
us? I was hurt under your arms."

EXT. THE CURTAIN THEATRE. DAY.

In the semirural view towards the City of London, there can
be discerned a gaggle of approaching MEN and three is
something orderly about them. As they come closer, we see
that they are a company of PIKE MEN, marching toward the
theatre, led by the Master of the Revels, TILNEY. Thunder
rolls.

INT. THE CURTAIN THEATRE. STAGE. DAY.

Figures are running across the stage, in the panic that
follows "TYBALT" death.

ACTOR AS BENVOLIO
"Romeo, away, be gone! The citizens
are up and Tybalt slain. Stand not
amazed. The prince will doom thee
death If thou art taken. Hence, be
gone away!"

WILL AS ROMEO
"I am fortune's fool!"

ACTOR AS BENVOLIO
"Why dost thou stay!"

INT. THE CURTAIN THEATRE. BACKSTAGE. DAY.

WILL has just 'killed' "TYBALT." He is still breathless from
fighting. He stands face to face with VIOLA.

WILL
I am fortune's fool.

They stare at each other, transfixed.

WILL
You are married?

PAUSE. She cannot answer.

WILL
If you be married, my grave is like
to be my wedding bed.

The implication of her silence fills the air. WILL does not
move.

INT. THE CURTAIN THEATRE. STAGE. DAY.

We cannot tell whether this is the play or their life. The
audience, and the rest of the world, might as well not exist.
WILL turn from her and begins to descend from the 'balcony.'

VIOLA AS JULIET
"Art thou gone so?

WILL stops.

VIOLA AS JULIET
Love, lord, ay husband, friend, I
must hear from thee every day in the
hour, For in a minute there are many
days. O, by this count I shall be
much in years Ere I again behold my
Romeo..."

WILL as "ROMEO" seems unable to speak. Then he says:

WILL AS ROMEO
"...Farewell..."

All other sounds drain away, and time seems to stop.

VIOLA AS JULIET
"O think'st thou we shall ever meet
again...? Methinks I see thee, now
thou art so low, As one dead in the
bottom of a tomb. Either my eyesight
fails, or thou lookest pale."

WILL AS ROMEO
"Trust me, love, in my eyes so do
you. Dry sorrow drinks our blood.
Adieu. Adieu"

INT. THE CURTAIN THEATRE. STAGE. DAY.

Now the FRIAR is giving "JULIET' his potion.

EDWARD AS FRIAR
"No warmth, no breath shall testify
thou livest And in this borrow'd
likeness of shrunk death Thou shall
continue two and forty hours And
then awake as from a pleasant
sleep..."

INT. THE CURTAIN THEATRE. STAGE. DAY.

It's FENNYMAN's moment. The "APOTHECARY" and "ROMEO."

WILL AS ROMEO
"Come hither, man. I see that thou
art poor. Hold, there is forty ducats.
Let me have a dram of poison --"

FENNYMAN AS APOTHECARY
"Such mortal drugs I have but Mantua's
law is death to any he that utters
them!"

FENNYMAN has cut in several lines early, but his conviction
is astonishing.

FENNYMAN AS APOTHECARY
"My poverty but not my will consents."

WILL AS ROMEO
"I pay thy poverty and not thy will."

EXT. STREET. NEAR THE CURTAIN THEATRE. DAY.

TILNEY, on the march. His hand grips a copy of the Curtain
flyer.

INT. THE CURTAIN THEATRE. STAGE. DAY.

"JULIET" lies "dead." She lies on top of her tomb, "lying in
stage," her best dress, her hair done, her hands in prayer
at her breast, her eyes closed. "ROMEO" has found her like
this.

WILL AS ROMEO
"Eyes, look your last! Arms, take
your last embrace! and lips, Oh you
The doors of breath, seal with a
righteous kiss A dateless bargain to
engrossing death! Come, bitter
conduct; come, unsavory guide! Thou
desparate pilot, now at once run on
The dashing rocks thy seasick weary
bark!"

As WILL embraces her, VIOLA's eyes flicker open (shielded by
WILL from the audience) and the lovers look at each other
for a moment as WILL and VIOLA rather than as "ROMEO" and
"JULIET." Their eyes are wet with tears.

INT. THE CURTAIN THEATRE. AUDITORIUM. DAY.

BURBAGE and ROSALINE are watching.

INT. THE CURTAIN THEATRE. AUDITORIUM. DAY.

KEMPE is watching.

INT. THE CURTAIN THEATRE. AUDITORIUM. DAY.

We see that in the audience are several of the WHORES we
recognise from the brothel. They are weeping openly.

INT. THE CURTAIN THEATRE. STAGE. DAY.

WILL is raising the fatal drug in a last toast.

WILL AS ROMEO
"Here's to my love
(he drinks)
O true Apothecary."

INT. THE CURTAIN THEATRE. THE WINGS. DAY.

FENNYMAN, moved but proud in the wings.

FENNYMAN
(whispers to himself)
I was good. I was great.

INT. THE CURTAIN THEATRE. STAGE. DAY.

WILL AS ROMEO
"Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a
kiss I die."
(and he dies)

INT. THE CURTAIN THEATRE. AUDITORIUM. DAY.

The NURSE is weeping too.

INT. THE CURTAIN THEATRE. STAGE. DAY.

"JULIET" wakes up with a start.

VIOLA AS JULIET
"...Where is my lord? I do remember
well where I should be, And there I
am. Where is my Romeo?"

INT. THE CURTAIN THEATRE. AUDITORIUM. DAY.

NURSE
(involuntarily)
Dead!

INT. THE CURTAIN THEATRE. STAGE. DAY.

VIOLA AS JULIET
"What here? A cup clos'd in my true
love's hand? Poison, I see, hath
been his timeless end."

INT. THE CURTAIN THEATRE. STAGE. DAY.

"JULIET" takes "ROMEO's" dagger.

VIOLA AS JULIET
"...O happy dagger This is thy sheath.
There rust, and let me die."

She stabs herself and dies. The "inner curtain" closes over
the tomb.

INT. THE CURTAIN THEATRE. STAGE/AUDITORIUM. DAY.

HIGH ANGLE on audience and stage. "THE PRINCE" played by
WABASH is having the last word.

THE PRINCE
"For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo."

The end. There is complete silence. The ACTORS are worried.
But then the audience goes mad with applause.

INT. THE CURTAIN THEATRE. THE INNER CURTAIN/STAGE. DAY.

The inner curtain opens, but WILL and VIOLA, are in a play
of their own... embracing and kissing passionately, making
their own farewell. HENSLOWE is too stunned and moved to
react at first. Then he looks at the audience and the penny
drops. It's a hit.

INT. THE CURTAIN THEATRE. AUDITORIUM/STAGE. DAY.

The audience roars. WILL, VIOLA, and THE COMPANY come forward
to meet the applause. TILNEY and his MEN burst in. TILNEY
jumps up onto the stage, where the ADMIRAL'S MEN are taking
their bows. TILNEY'S "COPS" ring the stage, facing inwards.

TILNEY
(shouts triumphantly)
I arrest you in the name of Queen
Elizabeth!

The AUDIENCE goes quiet. BURBAGE jumps out of the audience
onto the stage.

BURBAGE
Arrest who, Mr. Tilney?

TILNEY
Everybody! The Admiral's Men, The
Chamberlain's Men and everyone of
you ne'er-do-wells who stands in
contempt of the authority invested
in me by her Majesty.

BURBAGE
Contempt? You closed the Rose -- I
have not opened it.

TILNEY is at a loss but only for a moment.

TILNEY
(he points a "j'accuse"
finger at VIOLA)
That woman is a woman!

The entire audience and the actors, recoil and gasp. The
NURSE crosses herself.

ALLEYN
What?! A woman?! You mean that goat?!

He points at VIOLA, brazening it out without much chance.

TILNEY
I'll see you all in the clink! In
the name of her Majesty Queen
Elizabeth.

And an authoritative voice from the audience interrupts him.

VOICE
Mr. Tilney...!

It is QUEEN ELIZABETH herself, descending now, her hood and
cloak thrown back. She is an awesome sight. A shaft of
sunlight hits her.

QUEEN
Have a care with my name, you will
wear it out.

There is a general parting of the waves, soldiers and actors,
a general backing off and bowing as QUEEN ELIZABETH takes
the limelight.

QUEEN
The Queen of England does not attend
exhibitions of public lewdness so
something is out of joint. Come here,
Master Kent. Let me look at you.

VIOLA comes forward, and is about to curtsey when she catches
the QUEEN's eye, an arresting eye, which arrests the curtsey
and turns it into a sweeping bow.

QUEEN
Yes, the illusion is remarkable and
your error, Mr. Tilney, easily
forgiven, but I know something of a
woman in a man's profession, yes, by
God, I do know about that. That is
enough from you, Master Kent. If
only Lord Wessex were here.

VOICE
He is, Ma'am.

The voice belongs to JOHN WEBSTER. He points firmly at a
figure in the audience, WESSEX, trying to look inconspicuous.

WESSEX
(weakly)
Your Majesty.

QUEEN
There was a wager, I remember... as
to whether a play can show the very
truth and nature of love. I think
you lost it today.
(turning to WEBSTER)
You are an eager boy. Did you like
the play?

WEBSTER
I liked it when she stabbed herself,
your Majesty.

The QUEEN fixes WILL with a beady eye.

QUEEN
Master Shakespeare. Next time to you
come to Greenwich, come as yourself
and we will speak some more.

WILL bows deeply. The QUEEN turns to leave. The waves part
for her.

INT. THE CURTAIN THEATRE. MAIN ENTRANCE. DAY.

The QUEEN is bowed out through the doors.

EXT. THE CURTAIN THEATRE. DAY.

A gaggle of the QUEEN'S favoured courtiers wait by her
carriage.

WESSEX is hurrying down the exterior staircase as the QUEEN
emerges from the theatre. During the following a general
egress from the Auditorium is taking place, including some
of the actors crowding to see her off. WESSEX bows out of
breath.

WESSEX
Your Majesty!

QUEEN
Why, Lord Wessex! Lost your wife so
soon?

WESSEX
Indeed I am a bride short. How is
this to end?

VIOLA has come out of the theatre, amongst some of the other
players. The QUEEN catches her eye.

QUEEN
As stories must when love's denied --
with tears and a journey. Those whom
God has joined in marriage, not even
I can put asunder.
(she turns to VIOLA)
Lord Wessex, as I foretold, has lost
his wife in the playhouse -- go make
your farewell and send her out. It's
time to settle accounts.
(to WESSEX)
How much was the wager?

WESSEX
Fifty shillings.
(the QUEEN gives him
a look)
Pounds.

QUEEN
Give it to Master Kent. He will see
it rightfully home.

WESSEX gives his purse to VIOLA.

QUEEN
(to VIOLA)
And tell Shakespeare something more
cheerful next time for Twelfth Night.

The QUEEN proceeds towards her carriage. There is an enormous
puddle between her and her carriage.

The QUEEN hesitates for a fraction and then marches through
the puddle as cloaks descend upon it.

QUEEN
Too late, too late.

She splashes her way into her carriage, which departs.

INT. THE CURTAIN THEATRE. STAGE. DAY.

WILL
(heartbroken, testing
her name)
My Lady Wessex?

VIOLA nods, heartbroken too. For a long moment they cannot
say anything to each other. The she holds up Wessex's purse.

VIOLA
A hired player no longer. Fifty
pounds, Will, for the poet of true
love.

WILL
I am done with theatre. The playhouse
is for dreamers. Look where the dream
has brought us.

VIOLA
It was we ourselves did that. And
for my life to come I would not have
it otherwise.

WILL
I have hurt you and I am sorry for
it.

VIOLA
If my hurt is to be that you will
write no more, then I shall be the
sorrier.

WILL looks at her.

VIOLA
The Queen commands a comedy, Will,
for Twelfth Night.

WILL
(harshly)
A comedy! What will my hero be but
the saddest wretch in the kingdom,
sick with love?

VIOLA
An excellent beginning
(a beat)
Let him be... a duke. And your
heroine?

WILL
(bitterly)
Sold in marriage and half way to
America.

VIOLA
(adjusting)
At sea, then -- a voyage to a new
world? She lands upon a vast and
empty shore. She is brought to the
duke... Orsino.

WILL
(despite himself)
Orsino... good name.

VIOLA
But fearful of her virtue, she comes
to him dressed as a boy --

WILL
(Catching it)
And thus unable to declare her love.

Pause.

They look at each other. Suddenly the conversation seems to
be about them.

VIOLA
But all ends well.

WILL
How does it?

VIOLA
I don't know. It's a mystery.

WILL half smiles. Then he's serious. They look deeply at
each other... and rush into each other's arm.

WILL
You will never age for me, nor fade,
nor die.

VIOLA
Nor you for me.

WILL
Good bye, my love, a thousand times
good bye.

VIOLA
Write me well.

She kisses him with finality. Then turns and runs from him.
WILL watches as she goes.

INT. WILL'S ROOM. DAY.

A blank page. A hand is writing: TWELFTH NIGHT. We see WILL
sitting at his table.

WILL (V.O.)
My story starts at sea... a perilous
voyage to an unknown land... a
shipwreck...

EXT. UNDERWATER. DAY.

Two figures plunge into the water.

WILL (V.O.)
...the wild waters roar and heave...
the brave vessel is dashed all to
pieces, and all the helpless souls
within her drowned...

INT. WILL'S ROOM. DAY.

WILL at his table writing.

WILL (V.O.)
...all save one... a lady...

EXT. UNDERWATER. DAY.

VIOLA in the water.

WILL (V.O.)
...whose soul is greater than the
ocean... and her spirit stronger
than the sea's embrace... not for
her watery end, but a new life
beginning on a stranger shore.

EXT. BEACH. DAY.

VIOLA is walking up a vast and empty beach...

WILL (V.O.)
It will be a love story... for she
will be my heroine for all time.

INT. WILL'S ROOM. DAY.

WILL looks up from the table.

WILL
And her name will be... Viola.

He looks down at the paper, and writes: "Viola." Then: "What
country friends is this?"

EXT. BEACH. DAY.

DISSOLVE slowly to VIOLA, walking away up the beach towards
her brave new world.

THE END

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