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                          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-
       tiered, open to the elements and empty. On the floor, 
       roughly printed, a poster--torn, soiled, out of date.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 colas 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 (CONT'D)
                 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 n ink-
       pot and quill.

                           FENNYMAN
                 Sign here.

       HENSLOWE takes the quill and signs.

                           FENNYMAN (CONT'D)
                 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 unwiling to respond. DR. MOTH refers to his 
       notes.

                           DR. MOTH (CONT'D)
                 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 (CONT'D)
                 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 (CONT'D)
                 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 (CONT'D)
                     (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 (CONT'D)
                 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 over- throws 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 (CONT'D)
                 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 close 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 shouts for you, 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 (CONT'D)
                 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 (CONT'D)
                 I insist--and a beaker for Mr. Marlowe. 
                 The BARMAN does the business.

                           WILL (CONT'D)
                 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 (CONT'D)
                 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-
                 f-face…"

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

       WILL looks at HENSLOWE in outrage.

                           HENSLOWE (CONT'D)
                     (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 (CONT'D)
                     (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 (CONT'D)
                 "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 (CONT'D)
                 " …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 (CONT'D)
                 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 the 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 (CONT'D)
                 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)
                 Ho 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 (CONT'D)
                 Good sir… ?

       WILL has lost his tongue.

                           VIOLA (CONT'D)
                 I heard you are a poet.

       WILL nods in his trance and she smiles at him.

                           VIOLA (CONT'D)
                 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 (CONT'D)
                     (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 (CONT'D)
                 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 (CONT'D)
                 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 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 show an interest. 
       The URCHIN passes a white mouse to the cat and watches 
       the result with sober interest.

                           URCHIN (CONT'D)
                 Plenty of blood. That is the only 
                 writing.

       WILL backs away, unnerved by the boy.

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

       The BOATMAN produces his memoirs in manuscript.

                           BOATMAN (CONT'D)
                 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 (CONT'D)
                 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 (CONT'D)
                 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(CONT'D)
                 "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 (CONT'D)
                 "You kiss by th' 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 bits 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 (VO)
                 "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 (CONT'D)
                 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
                     (continuing 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…"

       We have abandoned real time. The scene continues CROSS 
       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 (CONT'D)
                 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 (CONT'D)
                 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.

       The ranting from WESSEX has continued

                           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 (CONT'D)
                 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 (CONT'D)
                 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 (CONT'D)
                 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 (CONT'D)
                     (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 (CONT'D)
                 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 (CONT'D)
                 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 (CONT'D)
                     (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 (CONT'D)
                 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 (CONT'D)
                 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 s 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 (CONT'D)
                     (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 (CONT'D)
                     (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 (CONT'D)
                 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 too. 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 (CONT'D)
                 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 (CONT'D)
                 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 (CONT'D)
                 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 (CONT'D)
                     (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 (CONT'D)
                 Oh, my love, I thought you were dead!

       She claps him to her. They told 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 (CONT'D)
                 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 (CONT'D)
                 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 (CONT'D)
                 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 (CONT'D)
                 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 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 (CONT'D)
                 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.

       But the scene is continuing with VIOLA dressed as 
       "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.

                           TILNEY (CONT'D)
                 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.

       "Put this in any liquid thing you will And…"--something

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

                           FENNYMAN (CONT'D)
                 "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.

       Onstage, the rehearsal continues. WESSEX strides in. 
       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 knocks him aside and continues.

                           WESSEX
                     (shouts)
                 Shakespeare!

       Everything stops.

                           WESSEX (CONT'D)
                 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 (CONT'D)
                 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 (CONT'D)
                 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 (CONT'D)
                 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 (CONT'D)
                 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 (CONT'D)
                 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 (CONT'D)
                 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 (CONT'D)
                     (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 (CONT'D)
                 "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 is not wearing the been hidden from us by 
       her cloak.

                           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 A 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 (CONT'D)
                 "…--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 (CONT'D)
                 You are married?

       PAUSE. She cannot answer.

                           WILL (CONT'D)
                 If you be married, my gave 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 (CONT'D)
                 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 
                 same 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 (CONT'D)
                 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 (CONT'D)
                 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, Maser 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.

                           QUEEN (CONT'D)
                     (she turns to VIOLA)
                 Lord Wessex, as I foretold, has lost 
                 his wife in the play- house--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 (CONT'D)
                     (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 (CONT'D)
                 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 (CONT'D)
                 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 (CONT'D)
                 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 (VO)
                 My story starts at sea…a perilous 
                 voyage to an unknown land…a shipwreck

       EXT. UNDERWATER. DAY.

       Two figures plunge into the water

                           WILL (VO)
                 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 (VO)
                 all save one … a lady

       EXT. UNDERWATER. DAY.

       VIOLA in the water

                           WILL (VO)
                 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 (VO CONTINUED)
                 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 (VO CONTINUED)
                 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


Shakespeare in Love



Writers :   Marc Norman  Tom Stoppard
Genres :   Drama  Romance  Comedy


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