Monday, September 16, 10:28 CDT

Another Shakespeare Journal

Interior of a large van; Jack, in passenger's seat, reading Titus Andronicus; Kenshi, driving; Flynn, leaning forward between passenger and drivers seats, listening to the radio.

Flynn: This is just bad doctrine.

Jack (still reading TA): Flynn, you're an atheist.

Flynn (ignoring him): "I never sinned", look, I don't care how catchy it is, it's just not right. The whole point is everybody sins. This is like some kind of goofy-ass works-righteousness meets influence peddling plan of salvation for morons.

Kenshi: Oh, come on. Must be millions of people whose basic concept of Christianity isn't any more complicated than that.

Flynn: Doesn't make 'em right. Name me one body of serious doctrine in a Christian church that argues people are even capable of avoiding sin.

Kenshi: I'm changing the station.

Jack (singing softly): Gonna set me up with the spirit in the sky...

Flynn (glaring at Jack): I can't believe you're still reading that.

Jack: I finished Atlas Shrugged, and we're five-hundred miles from the nearest bookstore. I already read the owner's manual. You got any better ideas?

Kenshi: 358.

Flynn and Jack (together): What?

Kenshi: It's more like 358 to the nearest bookstore.

The Proclaimers' "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" is suddenly audible on the radio. All stare briefly at the tuner, and conversation resumes.

Flynn: Right. So stare at the road or something. I mean, it's got to be the worst play the man ever wrote. In fact, it might be the worst play I've ever read.

Kenshi: You weren't in highschool one-acts, were you?

Flynn: I didn't say it was the worst play I'd ever seen. It comes close, but that thing with everyone in OR scrubs and the weird crucifixion scene was worse. Barely.

Kenshi: There's a difference though. At least Titus is entertainingly bad. All those pretentious pseudo-arty one-acts were just boring. I mean, look at...

Flynn: At what? The rape scene? That's entertaining? That is some sick shit, is what that is.

Jack (staring out window): Technically, there isn't a rape scene. There're sort of pre-and-post-rape scenes.

Flynn: Awright, true. It's still some sick shit.

Kenshi: You have a point there. Something about that whole thing just felt totally... Off.

Flynn: What, something besides the only halfway innocent major character, who happens to be one of like two significant chicks in the whole thing, being gleefully gang-raped and brutally maimed for the sheer fun of it, then offed by her own nutjob of an uptight father to salve his wounded look-at-me-I'm-the-pride-of-fucking-Rome sense of honor?

Kenshi: Ok, yeah, that's bad enough. But that's not what I mean. That shit happens. You can write a play about it and say something honest, even if it is disturbing. Right?

Flynn: Maybe. Hell, I don't know. Yeah, I'll give ya it could be done.

Kenshi: So it's not that. It's how everyone else responds to it. That's what was off. It's like you've got this act of unspeakable brutality, and all anyone can do is make nice long speeches while Lavidia stands there bleeding.

Jack: Lavinia.

Kenshi: Right. Lavinia.

Flynn: And the bastards stand around talking about how it makes them feel. Oh, woe is me, my sorrows multiply greatly. I never really thought about it before, but now I'm even more convinced Titus sucks.

Kenshi: Yeah... If it wasn't for that, I'd think of it as Shakespeare's Plan 9 from Outer Space or something and just take it at face value. MST3K the hell out of it.

Flynn: Wasn't Plan 9 Ed Wood's masterpiece? If anything is Shakespeare's Plan 9 from Outer Space, it's Hamlet.

Kenshi: Ignoring the assertion that Hamlet's his best work, I'll buy that. But anyway. Titus. That's what's wrong with Titus. There are some things you can only respond to with...

Jack (still looking out window): Silence.

Several minutes pass. Oncoming headlights flash past, briefly illuminating the faces in the van. Jack has clearly given up on reading, although it's impossible to tell if this is due to the diminished light or a growing lack of interest in the much-abused paperback, which he now tosses onto the dash.

Jack (singing, badly, with accent): I would walk five hundred miles...