(Index to the Series appears on Oct. 7, 2010 — https://cradkilodney.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/ )

Main Characters

King Richard II

John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster — Richard’s uncle

Henry Bolingbroke, Duke of Hereford (later Henry IV) — son of John of Gaunt, and Richard’s first cousin (The name Bolingbroke comes from the castle he was born in.)

Queen to King Richard (In some texts she is unnamed, and in others she is named Isabel.  She is actually a fictional composite of Richard’s two wives, Anne and Isabella.)

Two Waiting-ladies to the Queen

Duke of York (Edmund of Langley) — brother of John and uncle to Richard

Duchess of York (York’s wife)

Duke of Aumerle (Earl of Rutland) — York’s son and first cousin to Richard

Duchess of Gloucester (Eleanor of Bohun) — widow of Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester, another uncle of Richard’s

York’s Servant

Bushy, Bagot, and Green — friends of Richard

Earl of Salisbury — supporter of Richard

Bishop of Carlisle — supporter of Richard

Sir Stephen Scroop — supporter of Richard

Lord Berkeley — supporter of Richard

Abbot of Westminster — supporter of Richard

Welsh Captain — supporter of Richard

Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk

Duke of Surrey

Lord Marshal

Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland — supporter of Bolingbroke

Harry Percy — son of Henry Percy (In other texts he is given the nickname Hotspur.)

Lords Ross and Willoughby — supporters of Bolingbroke

Lord Fitzwater


Gardener’s Helper


Keeper of the prison at Pomfret Castle

Sir Pierce (of) Exton

Exton’s Servant

Death (This silent figure does not appear in the original.)

Gist of the story: A little historical background will help.  Richard II was the last King of the House of Plantagenet.  He was the son of Edward, the “Black Prince”, who was the eldest son of King Edward III.  Prince Edward died before King Edward, however, so Richard inherited the throne directly from his grandfather at the age of ten.  That was in 1377.  In the early years of his reign, he was greatly influenced by his uncle, John of Gaunt, but that relationship cooled off later.  Shakespeare starts the story around the beginning of 1398, roughly two years before Richard’s death.  Richard is in his prime, and his uncles are old.  Richard’s cousin, Henry Bolingbroke, has accused Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, of having caused the death of Henry’s uncle, Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester.  (Shakespeare’s story line suggests that Mowbray was involved in some way, but it was Richard who ordered Gloucester killed.)  The antagonists are ready to duel it out to settle the matter, but Richard stops the duel and exiles both of them.  When John of Gaunt dies, Richard seizes his property to help pay for a war against rebels in Ireland.  When he leaves the country, Bolingbroke returns with an army to regain control of his late father’s estate.  More than that, however, he takes advantage of Richard’s unpopularity to overthrow him.  He becomes King Henry IV.  Richard is imprisoned in Pomfret Castle.  He is assassinated by Sir Pierce of Exton, who believes he is acting on King Henry’s wishes.  But when Richard’s body is presented to King Henry, he disclaims responsibility and sends Exton away.  Out of guilt, King Henry declares he will go on a Crusade to the Holy Lands.  The epilogue by Richard’s ghost does not appear in the original.  It’s my invention.

    (This is the first modernized version of Richard II ever published.  Richard II is important in that it marks the end of the House of Plantagenet and the beginning of the House of Lancaster, which includes Henry IV, V, and VI.  It’s not a widely-read or performed play, however.  The one difficulty for the audience or reader is that there’s no hero to root for.  We like John of Gaunt, but he dies early in the play.  We sympathize with Bolingbroke at first because his lands have been confiscated, but later on we see him as just another power-grabber.  We dislike Richard initially, but by the Fourth Act we are feeling sorry for him.  Shakespeare really treats him quite gently considering the historical facts.  Shakespeare scholars regard Richard as a poet.  All his poetic speeches in the original play are scrapped in this version, but in my ending he delivers a poetic epilogue as a ghost.  Throughout Shakespeare’s histories we find people at war with each other and killing each other over control of the throne, and the principal figures were all related to each other!  Henry IV was Richard II’s first cousin.  The Wars of the Roses were fought between the Lancasters and the Yorks, who were cousins.  The well-defined rules of succession in the English Monarchy didn’t prevent any of this bloodshed.  As long as the King had real power, the throne was worth fighting for.  What this proves is that all history is about power and nothing else.  Keep that in mind as you read Shakespeare’s other histories.)

Act 1, Scene 1.  Windsor Castle.  King Richard comes in with John of Gaunt and other Nobles and Attendants, including the Lord Marshal.

Richard: So–my venerable uncle John of Gaunt.  Your son Henry has some sort of accusation against Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk.

Gaunt: Yes, my lord.

Richard: Is this a legitimate accusation, or does he just hate the guy for personal reasons?

Gaunt: No, he’s quite sincere.  He feels it’s something you ought to know about.

Richard: Are they both here?

Gaunt: Yes.

Richard (Reluctantly): All right.  Better bring them in.

    (Gaunt leaves and comes back with Thomas Mowbray and Henry Bolingbroke.)

Bolingbroke: Long life to you and every day a happy one, my lord!

Richard: Thank you, cousin.

Mowbray: May every day be better than the one before, my lord!

Richard: Thank you, Mowbray.–Cousin, what is this accusation all about?

Bolingbroke: First thing, my lord, I want you to understand that I come here as a loyal and loving subject, thinking only of your well-being.  And the second thing, I want you to hear me say this.  (Turning to Mowbray) Mowbray, you are a traitor and a criminal, and I am prepared to back my words with my sword.  (Places hand on hilt of sword)

Mowbray (To Richard): My lord, I’m going to make a supreme effort to control my anger, out of respect for you.  After all, Bolingbroke is your cousin.  However, I must say that he is a dirty, despicable liar, and I will gladly defend my honour on his terms, any time, anywhere.  (Places hand on hilt of sword)

Bolingbroke: It doesn’t matter that I’m the King’s cousin.  (He throws his glove at Mowbray’s feet.) If you have any guts, pick it up.

    (Mowbray picks it up.)

Mowbray: I accept your challenge.  And if I am what you say I am, let God take my life.  Otherwise, let him take yours.

Richard: I’m still waiting to hear what this is all about.

Bolingbroke: Mowbray took eight thousand nobles in coin, supposedly for your soldiers, and he spent it on himself.  That’s for starters.  Furthermore, all the treasonous plots that have been brewing for the past eighteen years are his doing.  And finally–he killed the Duke of Gloucester–our uncle Thomas of Woodstock.  (Richard reacts nervously to the mention of Gloucester’s name, and he and Mowbray exchange a guilty look.)  And for that he’s going to pay.

Mowbray: Lies! Lies! Lies!  My lord, this man pours poison and filth into your ears.

Richard: I’m not taking sides here, even though he’s my cousin.  You have your chance to speak, and you can speak freely.

Mowbray: Then I will.  (To Bolingbroke) Bolingbroke, you are full of shit.  As far as the money goes, I disbursed three quarters of it properly to the soldiers, and the rest was money owed to me for past expenses, which the King knew about and agreed to.  As for Gloucester, I didn’t kill him.  (Hesitates)  I feel bad about him.  If I was remiss in any way–and perhaps I was–that’s a matter for my own conscience and nothing to do with you.  (To Gaunt) And to the Duke of Lancaster, I admitted to you already that on one occasion I plotted against you–which I sincerely regret–and I apologized to you.–But as for these ugly accusations–(Turning to Bolingbroke) they are the ravings of a degenerate.  They are malicious and contemptible–(Throws his glove at Bolingbroke’s feet) and I will defend my honour.

    (Bolingbroke picks up the glove.)

Richard: Please, gentlemen.  You are much too angry.  I don’t want this to lead to a trial by combat.  (To Gaunt) Neither do you, I hope.

Gaunt: No, I don’t.  (To Bolingbroke) Son, drop his glove.

Richard: Mowbray?

Mowbray: Don’t ask me to, my lord.  This is a matter of honour.  I’ve been slandered, and I can’t let it pass.

Richard: Come now, Mowbray.  I’m your King.  Give me his glove.

Mowbray: You might as well ask for my life.  Honour is everything to a gentleman.

Richard (To Bolingbroke): You first, then, Henry.  Come on.

Bolingbroke: No, my lord.  I’m not going to disgrace myself.

    [Author’s note: In some editions, such as Signet Classic, Gaunt leaves at this point; in others, such as Folger Library, he stays.  I’m following Folger on this and leaving Gaunt onstage.]

Richard: Well–since you both insist on fighting it out–I’ll let you settle it on Saint Lambert’s day, September seventeenth.  (To the Lord Marshal)  Lord Marshal, I leave it to you to make the arrangements.

    (They all leave.)

Act 1, Scene 2.  Gaunt’s house in London.  John of Gaunt comes in with his sister-in-law, the Duchess of Gloucester.

Gaunt: Eleanor, don’t you think I’d like to see your husband’s death avenged?  Gloucester was my brother.  But there’s nothing we can do.  We can only have patience and leave it to God to punish his murderer.

Duchess: Is that all you can say?  His blood was your blood–the blood of King Edward.  When my dear Gloucester died, part of you died, too.  Don’t you see?  You must take revenge.

Gaunt: No.  It’s not in my nature.  I’m not going to get revenge on the King.  The King is God’s agent on earth.

Duchess: Richard?  Richard killed Gloucester?

Gaunt: I’m sure he gave the orders.

Duchess: What about Mowbray?

Gaunt: He may have been involved.  I don’t know.

Duchess: Where do I go with my grievance, then?  Who will listen?

Gaunt: Only God.

Duchess: So–you’re going to Coventry to see your son duel Mowbray?

Gaunt: Yes.

Duchess: All good luck to the Duke of Hereford.  May he kill Mowbray.–Goodbye, Gaunt.

Gaunt: Goodbye, sister.

Duchess: Give my greetings to your brother Edmund.  Tell him–oh, what?–To come and visit me?  What’s the use?  Why bother to visit a widow who grieves day and night in an empty house?  It’s not home any more.–It’s just a place for me to die.

    (They leave.)

Act 1, Scene 3.  Coventry.  The Lord Marshal and the Duke of Aumerle come in on the field of combat.

Marshal: Are both the combatants armed and ready, Lord Aumerle?

Aumerle: Yes, they’re ready to fight.  We’re just waiting for the King.

    (Trumpets.  The King comes in with Gaunt, Bushy, Bagot, and Green.  Then Mowbray comes in.)

Richard: Marshal, do the formalities.

Marshal (To Mowbray): Before God and the King, state your name and explain the reason why you are here to do combat.

Mowbray: My name is Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk.  I am here to defend my honour against Henry Bolingbroke, Duke of Hereford, a false accuser.  I fight with truth on my side and place my trust in God to grant me victory.

    (A trumpet.  Bolingbroke comes in.)

Richard (To the Marshal): Go ahead.

Marshal (To Bolingbroke): Before God and the King, state your name and explain the reason why you are here to do combat.

Bolingbroke: I am Henry Bolingbroke, Duke of Hereford and Earl of Derby.  I come to accuse Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, that he is a traitor to God and the King.  May God protect me to the same degree that I speak the truth.

Marshal: All spectators shall keep well away from the combat and not interfere.

Bolingbroke: Let me take my leave of the King now in case I should die.

    (He kneels before the King and kisses his hand.)

Richard: Good luck, cousin.  Let him whose cause is right prevail.

Bolingbroke: Sir, you give me courage.

Gaunt: You are the stronger.  You’ll win.

    (Mowbray kneels before the King and kisses his hand.)

Mowbray: No gentleman in all of England is happier than I am now, my lord–to do combat honourably before the eyes of my beloved King.

Richard: You are as brave as you are noble, Mowbray.  (To the Marshal) Now, let the trial begin.

    (Two Heralds present the combatants with lances and then leave.)

Marshal: Stand ready, combatants!  (Calls)  Sound the trumpets!

    (Trumpets.  The two combatants poise to attack.  Then the King rises and throws a baton to the ground.)

Richard: Stop!  Trumpets!  Stand down!


Marshal (To the Combatants): Stop!  No combat!  Weapons down!

    (The Combatants drop their lances.)

Richard (Nervously): Honour has been satisfied on both sides.  I will confer.  (He gestures to Gaunt and the other Lords.  They huddle and confer inaudibly.  Then the Kings speaks with some hesitation.)  It is my wish that neither man should die.–I would find it painful–and there would be–bad feelings–among many people.–For the same reason, I cannot allow these gentlemen to remain in England.–Their feud might result in–civil unrest.–Therefore–the only wise course of action–is to banish both of them–and forbid them to have any contact with each other.  (To Bolingbroke) My cousin Duke of Hereford, you are banished from England for ten years.  (To Mowbray) Duke of Norfolk, you are banished for life.

Mowbray: For life?  Never to see England again?  To live among strange people?

Richard: I’m sorry, but that’s the way it is.  (To both of them) Now–both of you.  You must swear to me that you will never see each other again–neither to fight nor to reconcile.  You will not meet for any purpose or make any plans against us.

Bolingbroke: I swear.

Mowbray: I swear.

Bolingbroke: Norfolk, one of us should have been dead right now.  Before you leave, confess your guilt, and your exile will be easier to bear.

Mowbray: No.  I won’t.  And as for you, I know what you are.  And someday the King will know, too.

    (Mowbray leaves.  Then Bolingbroke starts to leave, but Richard calls him back.)

Richard: Cousin!–I don’t want to be too harsh with you.  I reduce your exile from ten years to six.

Bolingbroke (With mock happiness): Well!  Four years done with in the blink of an eye!

Gaunt (To Richard): My lord, thank you for your consideration to my son.  But six years or ten, it hardly matters to me.  I won’t live long enough to see him again.

Richard: Oh, come now, uncle.  You still have many years to live.

Gaunt: Not without my son.

Richard: I did confer with you.  You did agree to his banishment.

Gaunt: I didn’t want to show any partiality.  But now I wish I had.

Richard (To Bolingbroke): Goodbye, cousin.

    (Richard leaves with the other Lords.)

Aumerle (To Bolingbroke): Goodbye, cousin.  Write to me and let me know what your intentions are.

Marshal (To Bolingbroke): I will escort you to a ship, my lord.

Gaunt (To Bolingbroke): What’s the matter?  You have nothing to say to your cousin?

Bolingbroke: What’s to say?  There goes six years of my life.

Gaunt: Pretend it’s a long vacation.  Pretend you banished the King, not the other way around.  Pretend you’re getting a much-needed change of scenery.

Bolingbroke: I’m not going to pretend anything.  I’ll be well aware at every moment where I am and why.

Gaunt: Come on, I’ll walk with you. 

    (Gaunt gestures to Aumerle to come along, and they all leave.)

Act 1, Scene 4.  In the King’s court.  The King comes in with Bagot and Green from one side, having an inaudible conversation.  They meet Aumerle coming in from the other side.

Richard (To Aumerle): You’ve seen him off, have you?

Aumerle: I walked with him as far as the first highway.

Richard: So, was it a sad goodbye?

Aumerle: Not really.  We just said goodbye.  I just wanted to get it over with and see him go.

Richard: Yes.  I’m glad to see him go, too.  Bagot and Green and I could see him in the street, the way he was working the crowd.  He was all chummy with the low-lifes–you know, getting right down with the plebeians.  That’s not the way a lord should behave.  Lords should keep a certain distance between themselves and the commoners.  (Bagot and Green grunt in agreement.)  I’ll tell you what I think.  I think he was testing the crowd.  He wants to know how popular he is–for the future–eh?  Know what I mean?

Aumerle: To be King someday, you mean.

Richard: Exactly.

Green: Well, he’s out of our hair for six years, at least.  And that’s good because we have those damned Irish rebels to deal with.

Richard: Quite so.  And I intend to take the army and go deal with them myself.

Bagot: You’ll need money.

Richard: Hell, I always need money.  I’ve got a thousand people in the household, you know.  So, where do you think I could get money?

Bagot: Ohh–

Richard: I’ll soak the rich.  I’ll lease out the crown lands to them.  Make them pay now for a future benefit.  I’ve got it all figured out.  There’s always money out there, Bagot.  You just have to be willing to bend people’s arms.  And the King can do anything, you know.  He’s God’s agent, right? 

    (Bushy comes in, agitated.)

Richard: Bushy, wassup?

Bushy: Your uncle John of Gaunt is very sick, my lord.  He’s at Ely House.  I don’t think he’s going to live much longer.

Richard (Happily): What luck!  (Looking up)  And I didn’t even have to pray!–Gaunt’s loaded.  When he kicks, we’ll take everything he’s got.  (With mock concern) Shall we go see the sick man?

Others: Yes, yes.

Richard: With any luck, he’ll be dead by the time we get there.

    (They leave.)

Act 2, Scene 1.  Ely House in London.  The ailing John of Gaunt comes in with his brother the Duke of York, the Earl of Northumberland, and Attendants.

Gaunt: Is the King coming?  There are a few things I’d like to say to him.

York: He won’t listen.

Gaunt: Perhaps now that I’m dying, my words will make some impression on him.

York: He only listens to those who flatter him.

Gaunt: He’s headed for disaster, and he’s going to drag the whole country down with him.–My beloved England.  A gem in the ocean.  The whole world cares about England.  Every square foot of it is blessed–even where blood has been shed.  Walk anywhere in England and you’ll find history, York.  You’ll find triumph–courage–inspiration.–I love this country so.

York: So do I.

Gaunt: And Richard has sold it out.  Leasing out the kingdom to support his out-of-control spending.  It’s a disgrace.–I don’t mind dying.  I believe in heaven.  What I mind is seeing what’s happened to this country.

    (Richard comes in with the Queen, Aumerle, Bushy, Bagot, Green, Ross, and Willoughby.)

York (Discreetly to John): Don’t get into an argument with him.

Queen: Lancaster, dear uncle, how are you feeling?

Richard: How’s it going, Gaunt, old chap?

Gaunt: Gaunt, indeed.  Gaunt from fasting and from grief.  Just throw my bones in the grave.

Richard: Well, at least you haven’t lost your wit.

Gaunt: No, I haven’t.  I have wits enough to know who’s really dying.  You are, Richard.

Richard: Me?–Ha, ha!–I’m perfectly well.

Gaunt: No, you’re not.  Your reputation is dead from the way you’ve ruined this country.  But you’re too blind to see it.  What are you, a king or a landlord?  My father–your grandfather–King Edward–is turning over in his grave.

Richard: You’ve lost your mind, uncle.  Your sickness has gone to your head.  And if you weren’t my uncle, I’d separate that head from the sick body it’s stuck on.

Gaunt: Yes, you’re quite good at killing uncles, aren’t you?

Richard: What!

Gaunt: Thomas Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester.  You think we don’t know?  We know.  And your shame will follow you to your grave and then stand over it forever to mark the spot.  You won’t need a headstone at all.

    (Gaunt leaves, supported by Northumberland and Attendants.)

Richard (Calling after him): Damn you, Gaunt!  Die, and good riddance!–I swear,  what a bloody lot of nerve that guy’s got.

York: He didn’t really mean it, my lord.  He’s sick.  He’s not himself.  Really, he does love you–just as much as Hereford does.

Richard (Ironically): Oh, I’m sure of that!  Well, then, hunky dory.  We’re one big, happy family.

    (Northumberland returns.)

Northumberland: He’s dead.

York: My poor brother!–I’ll be next.

Richard: Poor, my ass.  He was loaded.  And he’ll be paying for our Irish war even when he’s six feet under.

    (York turns away to hide his resentment.  [Shakespeare doesn’t give any stage direction here, and neither the Signet nor Folger editions provide any guidance, but it is clear that York’s following speech is meant to be spoken aside.])

York (Aside): How much do I have to put up with?–Gloucester’s murder–Hereford sent into exile–angry citizens.–Ah, Richard–your father was my brother, and you look just like him, but you’re not like him at all.  Edward was a gentleman.  He was honourable–true–loyal–and never stained by one single drop of guilty blood.  But you, Richard–

Richard: What are you brooding about, uncle?  Is something bothering you?

York: Yes, my lord, there is.  Do you really intend to seize Gaunt’s property?  Because, rightfully, it still belongs to Henry Bolingbroke, even if he is in exile.  If you seize it, a lot of good people will turn against you.

Richard: Nonsense.  It’s my royal prerogative.  If I want to take it, I’ll take it.

York: Then I’ll take my leave for the time being, if you don’t mind.  I don’t know how this is going to play out for you, but I don’t want to be around to see it.  Goodbye.

    (York leaves.)

Richard: A bit thin-skinned, isn’t he?–Never mind.–Bushy, I want you to go to the Earl of Wiltshire.  He’s the treasurer.  Have him come here and take care of this business.  Tomorrow I want to be on the march to Ireland.  While I’m gone, I’ll designate York as Lord Governor of England.  I know I can trust him.–Come, my Queen.

    (The King and Queen leave with Aumerle, Bushy, Bagot, and Green, but Ross tugs Willoughby discreetly on the sleeve as a signal to stay.  Ross, Willoughby, and Northumberland are left onstage.)

Ross: Well, we have a new Duke of Lancaster, don’t we?

Willoughby: In exile–and with no lands or money to go with the title.

Northumberland: It’s unfair–totally unfair.

Ross: If there were some way–(He stops himself.)

Northumberland: Go ahead, Ross.  Say what you want to say.  We’re all friends here.

Willoughby: He means–if there were some way to help Henry Bolingbroke.

Ross: Yes, Willoughby.  But what can we do?

Northumberland: Nobody’s safe any more, except the King’s friends who kiss his ass.  We’re not safe if somebody puts an idea in the King’s head about us.

Ross: He’s gone right off the deep end, you know.  He’s taxing people left and right.  He’s fining the nobles for one stupid thing or another.  I think most people must hate him by now.

Willoughby: He doesn’t know it.  He lives in a bubble.  He’s God’s agent, so he can do anything.  Extorting money to maintain his overstuffed court–and now a war with the rebels in Ireland.

Northumberland: He used to just make deals with his enemies.  That was cheaper.

Ross: I don’t think he had enough money to pay for his court and the war both.  So he just helped himself to Lancster’s estate.

Northumberland: He’s a rotten King, lads.  He’s no good.

Willoughby: But like Ross says, what can we do?

Northumberland (After a pause): Relief may be closer than you think.

Ross: Oh?

Willoughby: Northumberland, do you know something we don’t?

Ross: Come on, Northumberland, out with it.

Northumberland: Our friend Henry Bolingbroke, Duke of Hereford–and now Duke of Lancaster–is getting some help in exile.

Ross: From whom?

Northumberland: The Duke of Brittany–and others.

Willoughby: How do you know?

Northumberland: Let’s just say I have my sources.

Ross: Go on.  What else?

Northumberland: Young Henry has made some new friends–Rainold Lord Cobham, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Sir Thomas Erpingham, Ramston, Norberry, Waterton, Coint.  The Duke of Brittany has furnished them with eight ships and three thousand men.  They’re already on their way.  As soon as Richard is out of the country, they’ll land on the north shore.  And then we’ll soon be rid of Richard forever.

Ross and Willoughby: Yes! Yes!

Northumberland: We’ll go to Ravenspurgh and join up with them.  What do you say?

Ross: I’m with you!

Willoughby: So am I!

    (They leave.)

Act 2, Scene 2.  Windsor Castle.  The Queen comes in with Bushy and Bagot.

Bushy: What’s the matter, madam?  You promised the King you’d keep your spirits up while he was gone.

Queen: I told him what he wanted to hear.  But I have a bad feeling something’s going to happen.  I don’t know what, but I feel it.

Bushy: It’s all in the mind, madam.  If you allow gloomy thoughts into your mind, they only grow.

Queen: Of course, you’re right, Bushy.  But I just have this premonition.

    (Green comes in, looking upset.)

Green: God save the Queen!–Gentlemen, has the King left for Ireland?

Queen: Yes.  What’s the matter, Green?  You look upset.

Green: Madam–Bolingbroke has landed with an army at Ravenspurgh.

Bushy and Bagot: What!

Queen: Oh, God, I knew it!

Green: And to make things worse, a lot of lords have defected to him.

Queen: Who?

Green: Northumberland, his son, Ross, Beaumond, Willoughby, and their friends.

Bushy: They’re traitors!

Green: And, madam, Northumberland’s brother, the Earl of Worcester, resigned and took almost all the household with him.

Queen: My own Lord Steward?  He’s gone?  With the servants?

Green: Yes.  And the nobles, too.

Queen: Who’s going to protect us?  The King’s taken the army.

    (York comes in, looking upset.)

Queen: Uncle!  Is there any hope for us?

York (Flustered and uncertain): Madam, I–I’m not sure.–The King left me in charge, but I don’t know what to do.  If I were a younger man, I’m sure I’d–I’d do something, but–I’m an old man, madam.  I can’t deal with this.

     (A Servant of York comes in.)

Servant (To York): My lord, I looked for your son, but he’s gone.

York: Oh, God, nobody’s here when I need help.  We can forget Parliament.  They’re probably on Bolingbroke’s side.–Listen, go to Lady Gloucester and tell her I need a thousand pounds so I can raise some sort of an army.

Servant: My lord, Lady Gloucester died a little while ago.

York: Oh, no–What in God’s name can I do?–All right, go home and collect all the armour you can find.

Servant: Yes, my lord.

    (The Servant leaves.)

York: What am I supposed to do?  The King is my nephew, and so is Bolingbroke.  Am I supposed to take sides?  (To the Queen) Madam, for your safety, I’ll take you to my home.  (To the Lords) Gentlemen, try to raise whatever forces you can and meet me at Berkeley Castle.–Come, madam.

    (York and the Queen leave.)

Bushy: It’s pointless.  There’s no way.

Green: Lads, we’re on the wrong side of this affair.  When Bolingbroke arrives, we’re dead.

Bagot: The Parliament will welcome him with open arms.  They hate Richard.  They might even attack us.

Green: We have to get out of here.  We can go to Bristow Castle.  The Earl of Wiltshire is there.

Bushy: What about York?  Maybe he can raise an army.

Green: I doubt it very much.  Let’s go to Bristow.

Bagot: Yes.

Bushy: All right.

    (They leave.  [Author’s note: In the original play, Bagot flees to Ireland, but this is inconsistent with later events.])

Act 2, Scene 3.  In Gloucestershire.  Henry Bolingbroke comes in with Northumberland and Soldiers.

Bolingbroke: How far are we from Berkeley Castle?

Northumberland: I’m not sure.  I don’t know this part of the country.  With any luck, we ought to meet up with Ross and Willoughby.  They were supposed to come with me to Ravenspurgh, but they changed their plans.  They’ll be happy to see you, I know that.

    (Harry Percy, Northumberland’s son, comes in.)

Northumberland: It’s my son, Harry.  My brother Worcester must have sent him.–Harry, what’s the news from your uncle Worcester?

Percy: I thought he was with you.

Northumberland: You mean he’s not with the Queen?

Percy: No.  He quit and took the household with him.

Northumberland: Why?

Percy: Because you were denounced as a traitor.  He went to Ravenspurgh to look for the Duke of Hereford, and he sent me to scout out Berkeley Castle and find out what the Duke of York had in the way of forces.  York is still loyal to the King.

Northumberland: Harry, you’ve never met the Duke of Hereford, have you?

Percy: No.

Northumberland: This is the Duke of Hereford–and now the Duke of Lancaster (Indicating Bolingbroke).

Percy (To Bolingbroke): Your servant, sir.  I’m on your side.

    (Bolingbroke shakes Percy’s hand.)

Bolingbroke: Thank you, Harry.  I’m very encouraged to know I have so many friends.  And now I’m your friend, too.

Percy: Thank you, my lord.

Northumberland (To Percy): How far are we from Berkeley, and how many men does York have?

Percy: You’re practically there already.  York has only about three hundred men, including Lord Berkeley and Lord Seymour.

    (Ross and Willoughby come in.)

Northumberland: Here’s Ross and Willoughby.

Bolingbroke: Welcome, lords.  (Humourously) So, you’re throwing in your lot with a bunch of traitors, are you?

Ross: King Richard would say so, but we don’t care.

Bolingbroke: I have no treasury to pay you out of–at least not without my estate.

Willoughby: We’re already paid enough just by standing here with you.

    (Berkeley comes in.)

Northumberland: Lord Berkeley?

Berkeley: Yes.  (To Bolingbroke) My lord of Hereford–

Bolingbroke: Lancaster.  I’m now the Duke of Lancaster since the death of my father.

Berkeley: As you say, sir.  No disrespect intended.  The Duke of York wants to know why you have–how shall I put it?–

    (York comes in.)

York: Invaded.  That’s the word.

Bolingbroke: Ah, my noble uncle.  (He kneels) And regent of England in the absence of the King.

York: Oh, stand up.  I don’t care about formalities.

    (Bolingbroke rises.)

Bolingbroke: I still owe respect to my uncle, regardless.

York: You mean, regardless of whether you’re a traitor or not.  You were banished by the King, and now here you are with an army, taking advantage of the King’s absence.  I have every right to be angry with you.  If I were in my prime, I’d give you a proper thrashing.

Bolingbroke: Oh–uncle–what have I done wrong?

York: What have you done wrong?  Nephew, we have trouble enough in England without you taking up arms against the King.  You were banished.  Do you understand?  Banished!

Bolingbroke: I was Duke of Hereford when I was banished, but now I return as Duke of Lancaster to claim what is mine.  My father was your brother, and now I look upon you as a father.  Would you see me disinherited from my lands and denied my proper title?  You have a son–Aumerle–my cousin.  If you had died instead of my father, and the King had banished Aumerle and stolen his estate, my father would have helped him without any hesitation.  Now what else am I supposed to do?  How else am I supposed to recover my lands?

Northumberland (To York): He’s right, you know.  He’s been treated horribly.

Ross (To York): You should take his side, my lord.  What’s right is right.

Willoughby (To York): The King’s been bad to the wrong people.

York: I know he’s been treated badly.  I tried to talk to the King, believe me.  But to take up arms like this–it’s–it’s rebellion.  I’m the Lord Governor in the King’s absence.  How can I condone rebellion? 

Northumberland: But he’s only here to reclaim his lands–nothing else.

York: You gentlemen have put me in an impossible position.  If I had a proper army to deal with you, I would do my duty and arrest all of you.–Unfortunately, I’m not able to do that.–Therefore, I have no choice but to remain neutral in this dispute.  You can leave if you want, or you can stay in the castle overnight.

Bolingbroke: Thank you, uncle.  That’s quite fair.  We’ll accept your hospitality–for tonight.  But we’d like you to join us when we go to Bristow Castle.  That’s where Bushy, Bagot, and Green are supposed to be hiding out.  They’re vermin, and I intend to get rid of them.

York: I–I don’t know.–I don’t really want to get mixed up in all this.  At my age, what’s the point?–Anyway, come along to the castle.

    (They all leave.)

Act 2, Scene 4.  In Wales.  The Earl of Salisbury comes in with a Welsh Captain.

Captain: My Lord Salisbury, we’ve been waiting ten days without any word from the King.  The men are getting very restless.  They want to go home.  And frankly, I don’t see why we should stay any longer.

Salisbury: No.  Please, Captain.  You’ve got to stay.  The King’s counting on you.

Captain: I have to tell you, my lord, that the general belief among my men is that the King is dead.  We’ve seen signs–withered trees, meteors falling from the sky, strange behaviour among the people.

Salisbury: Oh, come now.  You Welsh are too superstitious.

Captain: No, I don’t think we’re any more superstitious than anyone else.  But my men are spooked.  I can’t keep them here any longer or the discipline will break down completely.  They’re convinced the King is dead.

Salisbury: Captain, if you would just be patient a bit longer.  Perhaps tomorrow we’ll know something.

Captain: My lord, with all respect to you, we’ve reached the limit of our patience.  We’re going.  I’m sorry.

    (He leaves.)

Salisbury: Richard–this is the end.–A meteor falling from the sky.–That’s you.

    (He leaves.)

 Act 3, Scene 1.  Before the castle at Bristow (Bristol).  Bolingbroke comes in with York, Northumberland (and optionally other Lords and Soldiers), plus Bushy and Green as prisoners.

Bolingbroke: Bushy and Green–you have misled the King and spoiled the happiness of his public life, as well as his private life.  You turned him against me when I was his loyal subject and then plundered my estate and possessions.  For these offenses, and many others too numerous to list, I condemn you to death.

Bushy: I’d rather die than see England fall into your hands.

Green: God will welcome me to heaven, and the devil will welcome you to hell.

Bolingbroke: Northumberland–(He gestures with a hand across his throat.  Northumberland takes the prisoners away.  Then, to York)  Uncle, you have the Queen at your house?

York: Yes.

Bolingbroke: I want her treated nicely.  Send her a letter reassuring her of my love.

York: I already have.

Bolingbroke: Fine.–All right, everyone.  The only threat we have left to deal with is those Welshmen–that is, if they’re still on Richard’s side.  After that, I think we can relax.

    (They all leave.)

Act 3, Scene 2.  The coast of Wales, near Barkloughly Castle.  King Richard comes in with Aumerle, the Bishop of Carlisle, Soldiers and Colours (flag-bearers).

Richard: Are we near Barkloughly Castle?

Aumerle: Yes, my lord.  Are you glad to be on dry land again?  You were a bit seasick on the way.

Richard: Dry land–yes.  And not just any dry land.–My kingdom–England.–I love it so.  And as it comforts me, so may it discomfort my enemies.  Let them break their bones on the rocks.  Let them be stung by nettles and bitten by spiders and snakes.  Let them sink into the bogs.  This land loves me and hates my enemies.  It must be so–isn’t that right, Aumerle?

Aumerle: Yes, my lord.

Richard: What do you say, my lord Bishop of Carlisle?

Carlisle: My lord, it was God’s will that made you King, and He will provide the means to defeat your enemies.  But we must still help ourselves, otherwise we go against God’s will.

Aumerle: I think what his Grace means is that we have allowed Bolingbroke to become too powerful.  That was our mistake.

Richard: Cousin, Bolingbroke is like a criminal who works by night and fears the light of day because he will be exposed.  Now the day has returned.  I am the King, by God’s will, and Bolingbroke must fall.  And those who have taken his side will perish.  God will send his avenging angels to destroy them.

    (Salisbury comes in.)

Richard: Salisbury!  Where’s the army you promised me?

Salisbury: My lord, if you just could’ve gotten here one day sooner–

Richard: What’s the matter?  Are they gone?

Salisbury: They thought you were dead.  They’ve gone over to Bolingbroke.

Richard (Upset): Bolingbroke!

Aumerle: Have courage, sir.  After all, you’re still King.

Richard: Yes–of course.–It’s a minor setback.  We’ll still prevail.  I still have York on my side.  He’ll have soldiers for us.–Oh!–Here’s Sir Stephen Scroop.

    (Scroop comes in.)

Scroop: My lord, I have news, but it’s not good.

Richard: What’s happened, Scroop?  Have we lost already?

Scroop: It’s a general rebellion, my lord.  People everywhere are going over to Bolingbroke.

Richard: Where’s Wiltshire?  Where’s Bagot, and Bushy, and Green?

Scroop: You can forget about them, sir.

Richard: Did they defect?  Those traitors!

Scroop: No, sir.  They’re dead.

Aumerle: Dead?  How?

Scroop: They were executed at Bristow by Bolingbroke.

Aumerle: What about my father?  He could still save us.

Richard (Grimly): Forget it.  We’re finished.  (He removes his crown and regards it.)  A fool’s cap.  That’s what this is.–For fools to wear and imagine that they are–powerful–invincible.–Gentlemen, you thought I was a King.  I thought I was a King.  But now I’m just another man– a man of no particular power–a man with the same weaknesses as everyone else.

Carlisle: Don’t say that, my lord.  Don’t give in to despair.  It only helps your enemies.

Aumerle: My father will help us.  You’ll see, my lord.

Richard: Yes.–Of course.–York’s still out there.–Scroop, where is York with his army?

Scroop (Hesitates): My lord–York will not fight Bolingbroke.  He’s gone over to his side.  He had no choice.  He had no army to speak of.  And all the castles in the north and all the lords in the south are with Bolingbroke, too.

    (Aumerle is stunned and embarrassed.  Richard gives him a twisted smile.)

Richard: Then it’s over.–Don’t anyone try to comfort me now.  I’d only resent it.  I’ll go to Flint Castle–and just wait–for whatever happens.–Let the rest of our soldiers go home to their families and their fields.–Bolingbroke has won.

    (They all leave.) 

Act 3, Scene 3.  Before Flint Castle in Wales.  Bolingbroke, York, and Northumberland come in with Soldiers (including Colours) and Attendants.

Bolingbroke: So, the King doesn’t have anyone except Salisbury and a few friends, is that it?

Northumberland: That’s right, my lord.  Everything’s worked out perfectly for you.  You didn’t even have to fight.  (Indicates the castle) Richard’s holed up in there.

York (Annoyed): Richard?  You’re referring to the King.

Northumberland: Well–you know who I mean.

York: There was a time when if you’d referred to him by his first name, you’d have been taught a lesson in manners.

Bolingbroke: It’s all right, uncle.  Nobody means any disrespect.

York: I hope not, nephew.  There’s still a heaven and a King above us, and we should all know our place.

    (Harry Percy comes in.)

Percy (To Bolingbroke): My lord, the King has locked himself in the castle.

Bolingbroke: Yes, I know.  Who’s with him?

Percy: Lord Aumerle, Lord Salisbury, Sir Stephen Scroop, and some clergyman–I’m not sure who.

Northumberland: Probably the Bishop of Carlisle.

Bolingbroke: Northumberland, take a trumpeter and get the King’s attention.  Tell him–tell him that his loving cousin Bolingbroke comes to reconcile and make peace with him–provided that my banishment is repealed and all my lands and property are restored to me.–Or else I will have to slaughter him and all his friends–which I certainly would prefer not to do.  He’ll be able to get a good look at my army.

Northumberland: Yes, my lord.

    [Author’s note: This staging is very compressed–i.e., distance is implied.  Northumberland goes to one end of the stage and looks up at the wall of the castle.  He makes a signal behind him and a trumpet sounds offstage.  A fainter trumpet replies from within the castle.  Richard appears at the wall with Aumerle (and optionally Scroop, Carlisle, and Salisbury).]

Bolingbroke (To York): There he is.  Look at him.  He knows he’s finished.

York: He still looks like a King to me.  (A significant look to Bolingbroke) I wouldn’t want to see any harm come to him.

Richard (To Northumberland): What’s the matter, Northumberland, you don’t kneel to me any more?  Or has God taken away my royal symbols?  Certainly no mortal man could take them away, unless he were a usurper.  Or perhaps you assume we are defenseless.  God above is rousing his powers in my behalf and will strike dead those who oppose me.  Tell Bolingbroke, the traitor, that before he should ever wear this crown, ten thousand men shall die.

Northumberland: No, no, my lord.  Your cousin Henry Bolingbroke has no intention of stealing the crown.  He loves you, as he loved your father and grandfather.  He seeks only what is rightfully his, and he asks you humbly to repeal his banishment.  Then he can send his soldiers home.  You can believe that, my lord, and as a gentleman I assure you of his kind intentions.

Richard: All right.  Tell him he’s welcome here, and I’ll grant his requests.  Tell him that I, his cousin, send my love.

Northumberland: Thank you, my lord.

    (Northumberland returns and confers inaudibly with Bolingbroke.)

Richard (To Aumerle): What do you think, Aumerle?  Does it make me look weak to give in to him?  Or should I defy him, and then we’ll all die?

Aumerle: I would say temporize, my lord.  Buy time until someone can rescue us.

Richard: Someone?  Like who?

Aumerle: I don’t know.

Richard: Oh, God–To think that I cast him out, and now I have to grovel to him.  What a humiliation.  But what choice do I have?  None.

    (Northumberland returns to his previous position before the castle wall.)

Richard (Talking to himself and indirectly to Aumerle): Do I have to give up the crown?  All right.  Let him have it.  Let him have everything.  I’ll live like a peasant and live in a shack and eat from a wooden bowl.  And when I die, just throw me into a peasant’s grave.  (Aumerle starts to weep.)  Go ahead and cry, Aumerle.  We’ll both cry as we dig our own graves and then jump in and say, “Cover us up and forget us.”  We’ll be remembered as the two cousins who dug their own graves.–Oh, hell, forget it.  I don’t know what I’m saying any more.  I’m spouting gibberish.  (To Northumberland, below)  Well, Northumberland, what does King Bolingbroke have to say?  Will he let me die of old age, or not?

Northumberland: My lord, would you please come down to the courtyard?  He wants to speak to you.

Richard: Down to the courtyard.  Indeed.  Down I come.  Down from the high place to the low place.  Down, down, down comes the King.

    (Richard disappears from the wall.)

Bolingbroke: What does he say?

Northumberland: He’s coming down, sir.  I think he’s losing his mind.

    (Richard comes in below with his Attendants.)

Bolingbroke: Everyone kneel to the King.

    (They all kneel.)

Bolingbroke: My gracious lord.

Richard: Don’t dirty your knees for my sake, cousin.  I’d rather have your love than a bow.

    (Bolingbroke rises, then the others.)

Bolingbroke: My lord, I am here only for what is rightfully mine.

Richard: What’s yours is yours–and what’s mine is yours.

Bolingbroke: No, no, my lord.  I will still deserve your love when all is done.

Richard: The strong deserve to get what they want.  (To York, who is in tears) Now, now, uncle, don’t cry for me.  There’s no point.  (To Bolingbroke) Cousin, you can have whatever you want.  I’m in no position to refuse.–Are we going to London now?

Bolingbroke: Yes, my lord.

Richard: Yes–London–lovely town this time of year–jolly good.

    (They leave.)

Act 3, Scene 4.  In the Duke of York’s garden.  The Queen comes in with her two Waiting-ladies.

Queen (Unenthusiastically): What shall we do to amuse ourselves?

First Lady: We could play lawn bowling.

Queen: No.  Lawn bowling makes me think of ruin and despair.

Second Lady: We could play nine men’s morris.

Queen: No.  It makes me think of the utter hopelessness of life–futility–agony–And I always lose.

Both Ladies: Oh, dear.

Queen: I see the gardeners coming.  Let’s hide and hear what they say.  We may find out something.

    (The Queen and her Ladies step into a place of concealment.  A Gardener and his Helper come in.)

Gardener (To his Helper): I want you to pull out all the weeds.  There’s too many damn weeds in this garden.  They suck all the nutrients out of the soil and leave the pretty flowers hungry for nourishment.

Helper: What’s the point of keeping this garden neat when the rest of the country is choking with weeds?–not to mention disgusting caterpillars–the kind I like to squash under my shoe and pretend it’s somebody I hate.

Gardener: Never mind.  The one who  is the root cause of all the disorder has been plucked out–by Henry Bolingbroke.  And we’ll have no more filthy caterpillars like Bushy, Green, and the Earl of Wiltshire.

Helper: Oh?  Are they dead?

Gardener: Yes.  And Bolingbroke has captured King Richard.  If he’d been as good a King as we are gardeners, this land would be fruitful and happy.  But he was a lousy King, and look what’s become of him.

Helper: So he’s been overthrown, then?

Gardener: If he isn’t by now, he soon will be.  The Duke of York’s friend received a letter about the King’s capture.

    (The Queen jumps out of hiding.)

Queen: What do you mean by this!  How dare you tell such lies about the King!

Gardener: I’m sorry, madam.  I didn’t know you were there.  But what I said is true.  The King’s been captured by Bolingbroke, and all the lords are on Bolingbroke’s side.  It’s common knowledge by now.  If you go to London, you’ll find out for yourself.

Queen: No!–No!–(To her Ladies) Come, ladies!  We must go to London!  (To the Gardeners) I hope all your plants die!

    (The Queen and her Ladies leave.)

Gardener: Poor Queen.  I don’t blame her for being upset.  Let’s plant some bitter herbs to remember her by.

    (They leave.)

Act 4, Scene 1.  Parliament in Westminster Hall.  A bench along the backstage suggests Parliament.  Bolingbroke comes in with Aumerle, Northumberland, Harry Percy, Lords Fitzwater and Surrey, the Bishop of Carlisle, the Abbot of Westminster, and other Lords and Attendants.

Bolingbroke: Call Bagot.

    (Officers come in with Bagot.)

Bolingbroke: Now, then, Bagot, tell us what you know about Gloucester’s death.  Who persuaded the King to do it, and who actually did it? 

Bagot: It was Aumerle.

Bolingbroke (To Aumerle): Cousin, you’d better stand right here and face your accuser.

    (Aumerle faces Bagot.)

Bagot: Aumerle, I heard you brag that you killed Gloucester in Calais, where he was in prison.  And I also heard you say you’d sooner turn down a hundred thousand crowns than see Bolingbroke return to England, and how we’d be better off if he were dead.

Aumerle: Lies!  Slander!  I won’t take that from you!  (He throws down his glove.)  There!  I challenge you, Bagot, you liar!

Bolingbroke (Cautioning Bagot): Don’t pick it up.

Fitzwater (To Aumerle): Bagot is below your rank, but I’m not.  (He throws down his glove.)  I heard you brag about Gloucester’s death.  And if you deny it, you’ll face my sword.

Aumerle (Picking up Fitzwater’s glove): And you’ll face mine, Fitzwater, you coward.

Fitzwater: I’m ready to fight you right here, right now!

Aumerle: You’ll rot in hell for your lies!

Percy: No, you’re the liar, Aumerle!  Fitzwater is telling the truth!  (He throws down his glove.)  There!  I dare you to pick it up!

Aumerle (Picking it up): With pleasure!  And more pleasure to come when I stick my sword in your guts!

Another Lord (Throwing down his glove): I never did like you, Aumerle!  I’ll fight you, too!

Aumerle (Picking up the glove): Why not?  I don’t care!  I’ll fight a thousand of you if I have to!

Surrey: Fitzwater, I remember when you and Aumerle were talking about Gloucester.

Fitzwater: That’s right.  You were there.  (To the Others) Surrey will back me up.

Surrey: No, I’m not backing you up.  What you said about Aumerle isn’t true.

Fitzwater: Surrey, you lying bastard!

Surrey: You’re the liar, and I’ll fight you to prove it.  (He throws down his glove.)  Pick that up if you dare.

Fitzwater (Picking up the glove): You’ll get the point of my sword in your black heart, Surrey!  (He throws down his own glove.)  There!  I say Aumerle is guilty.  (To Aumerle) Mowbray told me.  Mowbray said you sent two of your men to Calais to murder Gloucester.

Aumerle (Searching himself for another glove): Fuck–I’m out of gloves.–Somebody lend me a fucking glove.  (A shower of gloves comes out from both wings.  He picks one up and throws it down before Fitzwater.)  There!  That says Mowbray is a liar!  And if he ever comes back from exile, he can face me in a duel!

Bolingbroke: All right, enough!  Everybody stop.  All these qauarrels will have to wait.  I’m going to repeal Mowbray’s banishment.  Then we’ll settle things between him and Aumerle.

Carlisle: My lord, I’m afraid that won’t be possible.  Sir Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, was killed fighting in the Crusade.

Bolingbroke: What?  Norfolk is dead?

Carlisle: Yes.

Bolingbroke: God rest his soul.–As for the rest of you, we’ll deal with your quarrels later.

    (The Duke of York comes in.)

York: Good nephew, Duke of Lancaster.

Bolingbroke: Duke of York, beloved uncle.

York: King Richard has made you his heir and has relinquished the throne to you.  You are now King Henry, and God save you, sir.

Bolingbroke: In God’s name, I accept.

Carlisle: No!–This is wrong.  No man can remove the King from his throne.  The King is God’s agent.  He is God’s anointed ruler.  If you overthrow the King, then no King shall ever be safe.  And the countgry will forever be at risk of civil war.  This is–mutiny!  It’s treason!

Northumberland: The treason is yours, Carlisle.  You’re under  arrest.  (To the Abbot of Westminister) My lord of Westminster, you’ll take custody of him.  (To the Others) I believe Parliament is agreed to this change of regime.

    (Vague grunts of agreement in the background.)

Bolingbroke: Yes.  Let’s do this openly right here in Parliament so no one can accuse us of anything later.  Bring Richard here.

York: I’ll get him.

    (York leaves.)

Bolingbroke: Those of you who intend to duel must find someone to guarantee that you’ll be there at the appointed time and place.  I have no intention of intervening in anyone’s behalf.

    (York returns with Richard and two or three Officers.)

Richard (To York, and indirectly to the Others): It pains me to be sent for when I was the one who sent for others.  All these men used to bow to me and say “God save the King”.  Who shows me that respect now?  No one.–What do they want of me, York?

York: They want to, you know, make it official–to give up the crown–which you agreed to.

    (Richard removes his crown and holds it out to Bolingbroke.  But when Bolingbroke puts his hand on it, Richard does not let go.   They are frozen in this pose, looking at each other.)

Richard (Gravely): How can I?–But I must.–Give up my crown, my lands, my sacred position–my very being.–Let those who broke their oaths to me be forgiven, and may all oaths to the new King be unbroken.  (He lets go of the crown.)  And may you sit long on the throne where I used to sit.  Long life to King Henry.  (Looking around)  Is there anything else?

Northumberland: Only that you must confess your crimes and those of your followers so that the people will have no doubt that you have been deposed for good reason.  (Northumberland holds out a paper, which Richard does not take.)  It’s all written down.  You must read it aloud.

Richard: Oh, read it  aloud, must I?  How would you like to have someone hand you a record of your sins and tell you to read them aloud?  Would you confess to breaking your oaths and deposing your King?  (To the Others) You’re a fine lot of lords–all of you.  Some of you look almost sympathetic, but you’re willing to go along with this anyway.  Like Pontius Pilate, you wash your hands of it and send me off to die on my cross.  But you will be remembered the same way he is remembered.

Northumberland: Please, my lord, just read these articles.

Richard: I have no eyes for your damned articles!  All I can see are traitors!–And I, too, must be a traitor, because I agreed to this treason.

Northumberland: My lord–

Richard: I’m not your lord any more!  I am no man’s lord any more!–I am nothing.  I am like a man of snow melting before the bright sun of Bolingbroke.  Is there anything left of me?–Bring me a mirror.  I want to see.

Bolingbroke (To an Attendant): Go fetch a mirror.

    (The Attendant leaves.)

Northumberland: You must read this paper–

Richard: Oh, damn your paper!

Bolingbroke: It’s okay, Northumberland.  Forget it.

Northumberland: But the Parliament must hear him read it.

Richard: Read! Read! Read!–What is there to read?–Only myself.

    (The Attendant returns and gives Richard the mirror.  He looks into it.)

Richard: Is this me?  Where is the sorrow?  Where are the wounds?  They should be written all over this face.–The mirror lies.  It shows me as I was–a King feared and obeyed by all–not as I am–a mere mortal whose heart is broken.  (He throws the mirror down, breaking it.)  Sorrow has destroyed this face.

Bolingbroke (Condescendingly): But it’s just the appearance of your sorrow, and the reflection of your face.

Richard: Eh?  The appearance of my sorrow?  Yes, of course.  The appearance is what can be seen.  But the real sorrow is unseen, buried in the tortured soul.  And there it is not just an appearance but something of substance.–Thank you, King Henry.  You not only give me cause for grief but teach me to find the cause within myself.–Now do me one last favour, won’t you?

Bolingbroke: Of course, fair cousin.

Richard: Fair cousin!  Well!  Now a King flatters me.  Surely I can have whatever I want.

Bolingbroke: Yes, you can.

Richard: Just let me go away.

Bolingbroke: Where?

Richard: Wherever you’d like me to go, to be out of your sight.

Bolingbroke (To the Officers): Take him away to the Tower.

Richard: Take me away!  Splendid!  Take me away like a bundle of stolen goods, and hide me in the Tower!

    (Richard is escorted out by the Officers.)

Bolingbroke: Next Wednesday we’ll hold the coronation.  You’ll all be there.

    (They all leave, except Westminster, Carlisle, and Aumerle, who linger.)

Westminster: Well, that was an ugly show if ever I saw one.

Carlisle: The worst is yet to come.  Historians will write about this as one of England’s darkest days.

Aumerle: Isn’t there anything we can do?

Westminster: Yes, there is.  But I will swear you to secrecy about my plans.  Come to my house for supper, and I’ll tell you what I have in mind.

    (They leave.)

Act 5, Scene 1.  A London street.  The Queen comes in with her two Ladies.

Queen: This is the way he’ll come–to the Tower.  We’ll wait.  This may be the last time I ever see him alive.

    (One of the Ladies points.)

Lady: Madam.

Queen: Oh!–My husband.

    (Richard comes in with his escort.)

Richard: Don’t cry for me, my dear.  Pretend you only dreamed we were King and Queen.  I’ll go to the Tower to meet my fate.  And you should return to France and live in a convent.  Perhaps if you pray hard enough, my sins will be forgiven.

Queen: You talk like a beaten man.  What has Bolingbroke done to you–cut out your heart?  My King was always a man of courage–a lion–the king of beasts.

Richard: Beasts, indeed.  That’s what they are.  Now, my good Queen, return to France and consider me dead.  And when others tell you their tales of woe, you can tell them yours–how a rightful King was wrongfully overthrown.

    (Northumberland comes in.)

Northumberland: My lord, there has been a change of  plans.  You will not go to the Tower after all.  Bolingbroke is sending you to Pomfret Castle in Yorkshire.  (To the Queen) And, madam, arrangements have been made to send you to France at once.

Richard: You’re pretty happy with yourself now, aren’t you, Northumberland?  You and Bolingbroke–buddy, buddy, eh?  Well, it won’t last.  That’s my prediction.  You’ll start to think you haven’t been rewarded enough for all you’ve done for him.  And then he’s going to worry that if you could help him overthrow me, you could just as easily help someone else overthrow  him.  If you trust the love of a wicked man, you’ll end up dead.

Northumberland: Never mind about that.  I can take care of myself.  Now  just say your goodbyes so we can get going.

Richard (Embracing the Queen): This is goodbye, my dear.

Queen: No!  Don’t leave me!  (To Northumberland)  Why can’t he come to France with me?

Northumberland: It’s not up to me, madam.

Richard: It’s all right, my dear.  Even though we’re far apart, our hearts will still be joined.

Queen (Clinging to him): No–no–no–

Richard: My dear, the longer we drag this out, the worse it is.  Now gather up your sorrow and wrap it up tightly and put it away, and stand tall like a brave Queen.

    (A final kiss, then they all leave.)

Act 5, Scene 2.  The Duke of York’s house.  The Duke and Duchess come in.

York: It was terrible–terrible.  People were throwing dirt and garbage from the windows on Richard as he was being led through the streets.  And there was Bolingbroke on his horse–Richard’s horse, mind you!–and everyone was shouting “Hurray for Bolingbroke!  God save Bolingbroke!”  And he waved back and said, “Thank you, countrymen!”  And there was Richard walking proudly, holding back his tears.  Any other man would have crumbled into dust from such humiliation.

Duchess: The poor man!

York: But heaven has a hand in all human affairs.  We have to recognize that.  Henry Bolingbroke is our King now–God’s agent–and we must be loyal to him.

    (Aumerle comes in.)

Duchess: Aumerle, my son.

York: No longer Duke of Aumerle.  He’s been stripped of that title.  Now he’s just the Earl of Rutland.  And I have had to guarantee his loyalty personally.

Duchess: Oh, well–a new King must bring some changes, I  suppose.–And who are the favourites of the court now?

Aumerle: I don’t know and I don’t care.

York: Well, just you be on your best behaviour with the new King.  What’s happening at Oxford?

Aumerle (Startled reaction): Oxford?

York: You know–the celebrations–the tournaments.

Aumerle (Relieved): Oh–that.–I suppose they’re going ahead as planned.

York: I expect you’ll be there.

Aumerle: Oh, yes, I’ll be there.

    (York notices a letter inside Aumerle’s shirt.)

York: What’s that letter sticking out of your shirt?

Aumerle (Trying to hide it): Nothing.  It’s nothing.

York: If it’s nothing, why are you trying to hide it?

Aumerle: It’s private.  That’s all.

York: I want to read it.  Give it to me.

Aumerle: No, no.  Please.

York: If I don’t read it, I’m going to worry about it.

Duchess: What’s there to worry about?  It’s probably just gossip between young men.

York: I want to see it anyway.

Aumerle: N0–don’t–

    (York snatches the letter and reads it.)

York: My God!  This is treason!

Duchess: What’s the matter?

York: What’s the matter?  It’s a bloody disaster, that’s what’s the matter!  I’ve got to stop this!  (Calling)  Saddle my horse!–My God, I have to see the King at once!

Duchess: What is it?  What’s wrong?

York: Don’t ask. (Calling)  Bring my boots!

Duchess: Aumerle, what’s this all about?

Aumerle: I don’t want to tell you.  I’m sorry.

    (A Servant comes in with the boots.  York puts them on.)

York: It’s a good thing I saw this–otherwise–(To Aumerle) You traitor!  How can you be my son?

Duchess: I’m his mother, and I demand to know what this is all about!

York: It’s a plot against the King, and he’s in on it!

Duchess (Stricken): Ohh!–(To York)  Don’t go!  He’ll be executed!

York: Don’t go?  A dozen traitors are plotting to kill the King at Oxford!  What do you expect me to do, keep quiet about it?

Duchess: He won’t go to Oxford!  He’ll stay here!

York: I won’t have a traitor for a son!

Duchess: He’s my only son!  You can’t betray him!

York: I can’t help it!  I have to go!

    (York leaves.)

Duchess: Aumerle, you must get to the King before your father does.  That’s your only chance.  Beg the King to forgive you.  Tell him it was a mistake.  You didn’t mean it.  You didn’t understand what it was about.  Get on your horse and go as fast as you can.  I’ll follow you.  I’ll beg the King myself if I have to.–Go!

    (They leave.)

Act 5, Scene 3.  Windsor Castle.  Bolingbroke is now King Henry.  He comes in with Lords, including Harry Percy.  [Author’s note: Following the example of the Folger edition, from this point on, Bolingbroke is designated by the speech prefix King Henry.]

King Henry: Where the hell is Prince Hal, that no-good son of mine?  I haven’t seen him for three months.  He’s probably with those juvenile delinquent friends of his, hanging around in bars and getting into trouble.

Percy: I saw him two days ago, my lord.  I told him about the games we’re having at Oxford.

King Henry: Oh, did you?  And what did he say?

Percy: He said he was going to go to a whorehouse and steal a glove from some whore and wear it as a good luck charm in the games.

King Henry: Ach!–The kid’s a degenerate.  He’s undisciplined, arrogant, impulsive, and he’s addicted to vice.  Still, I have hopes that he’ll be a good King someday.

    (Aumerle rushes in, out of breath.)

Aumerle: I must speak to the King!

King Henry: Whoa!  Take it easy, cousin.  What’s the matter?

Aumerle: God save your Majesty.  I must speak to you privately.

King Henry: All right, if you insist.  (He nods to the others to leave, which they do.)  Now, what’s on your mind?

    (Aumerle kneels before him.)

Aumerle: You must pardon me!  You must forgive me!  You must, you must, you must!  I won’t get up until you do!

King Henry: What the hell?  Is this something you’ve already done or only intended to do?

Aumerle: Not done, my lord.  Only intended–stupidly.  I’m sorry.

King Henry: Oh, well, then, no harm done, is there?  I forgive you.  Now what is it?

Aumerle: I must lock the door before I can tell you.

King Henry: Whatever.

    (Aumerle locks the door.  At that moment, York bangs on the door and calls.) 

York (Within): Watch out, my lord!  He’s a traitor!

King Henry: What!  A traitor?  (He reaches for his sword.)

Aumerle: No! No!  I’m not here to do any harm!

York (Banging on the door): Let me in, your Majesty!  For your own sake!

    (King Henry opens the door and admits York, then relocks the door.)

King Henry: Uncle!  What’s the matter?

York: You’d better read this.

    (York hands the King the letter.)

Aumerle: I’m sorry, my lord!  I’m not part of it any more!  I’m through with them!  You promised to forgive me!

York: Ha!  You’re sorry now, aren’t you, boy?–Don’t forgive him, your Majesty.  He’s a traitor.

King Henry (Reading the letter): This is very bad.  Very bad.–Uncle, you are loyal, and I love you for it.  And since your son obviously regrets his mistake, I will forgive him.

York: But I can’t forgive him.  He has disgraced me.  For the sake of my honour, you must put him to death.

Aumerle: Dad!

    (The Duchess bangs on the door.)

Duchess (Within): Your Majesty, let me in!

King Henry: Who’s banging out there?

Duchess (Within): Your dear auntie, the Duchess of York!  Please let me in!

King Henry: What the–(To Aumerle) Let your mother in.

    (Aumerle opens the door for his mother.)

York: If you just pardon anyone who asks for pardon, God knows where it’ll lead.  You have to know when to punish people, too.

Duchess: Don’t listen to him, your Majesty.  He’s a cold-hearted man.

York: What are you doing here?  Come to plead for your miserable son?

Duchess: Quiet, husband!  (To King Henry) Now, your Majesty, good nephew.

    (She kneels.)

King Henry: Please, auntie, you’re embarrassing me.

Duchess: I’m not getting up until you forgive him.

    (Aumerle kneels beside her.)

Aumerle: For my mother, my lord, and for me.  Please forgive me.

    (York kneels.)

York: No! No! No!  You can’t forgive such treason! 

    (The Duchess slaps York.)

Duchess: Oh!  You would have your own son executed, you monster?–Don’t listen to him, your Majesty.  It’s two against one here–my son and I.

King Henry: Yes, yes, yes.  Now please get up, auntie.

Duchess: I have to hear you say it with my own ears that you forgive him.

York: Tell her no.

Duchess: Say yes!

King Henry: Yes.  Yes.  Yes.  He’s forgiven.  All right?

Duchess: Oh, thank you!

    (The Duchess, Aumerle, and York rise.)

King Henry: But everybody else in this plot is going to get it.–Uncle, I leave it to you to send some men to Oxford to round them up.–Cousin, your mother has saved your life.

Aumerle: Thank you, my lord.

Duchess (To Aumerle): Come along, son.  And from now on you’ll have nothing to do with radicals and anarchists.

    (They all leave.)

Act 5, Scene 4.  In Windsor Castle.  Sir Pierce Exton comes in with his Servant.

Exton: Did you hear what the King said?  He said, “If only I had a friend who would rid me of this living fear?”

Servant: Yes, sir, that’s exactly what he said.

Exton: “If only I had a friend.”  He said it twice.

Servant: That he did, sir.

Exton: And he was looking straight at me when he said it.  Did you notice?

Servant: Yes, sir, I did notice that.

Exton: And who or what do you suppose is the living fear that he would like to be rid of?

Servant: I hesitate to say, sir.

Exton: It can only be Richard–locked up in Pomfret Castle.  King Henry wants me to go to Pomfret and–do him that little favour.  Isn’t that so?

Servant: Mm–apparently, sir.

Exton: It’s obvious.  And I’m sure he’ll reward me handsomely.–Yes.  Of course, he will.  He’s good to his friends.

Servant: Yes, sir.

Exton: Come on.  We’re going to Pomfret.

    (They leave.)

Act 5, Scene 5.  In Pomfret Castle, which is a prison.  Richard comes in alone.  He paces back and forth slowly, mumbling and gesturing to himself, studying the walls, touching them.  A distant chime like a church bell is heard.  He stops to listen, counting the chimes.

Richard: I wasted time.–Now time wastes me.–I can mark the time–but it’s really time that is marking me.–And when I am become nothing–time will still be here–ticking away.

    (A Groom of the stable comes in.)

Groom: Hail, good King!

Richard: King?–Ha!–But thank you anyway.  Who are you?

Groom: I was a groom in your stable, my lord.  I looked after your favourite horse, Barbary.

Richard: Oh, ho!  Did you, now?

Groom: Yes, my lord.  I took good care of him.  Made sure he always looked his best.  And a few times I was able to watch your Majesty ride him.  It made me so proud.–Now Bolingbroke rides Barbary.  It makes me sad.

Richard: And he’s able to?  Doesn’t the horse throw him off?

Groom: No, my lord.  The horse is perfectly well-behaved with him.

Richard: Ah, well, the horse doesn’t know a villain, I suppose.

    (The Keeper comes in with food for Richard.)

Keeper (To the Groom): You be gone now.  No visitors allowed.

Groom: Yes, yes.

    (The Groom bows to Richard and leaves.)

Keeper: Your food, my lord.  You must be hungry.

Richard: You taste it first, just so I know it isn’t poisoned.

Keeper: Oh–I would, sir.  However, Sir Pierce of Exton said not to.  He just came from King Henry.

Richard: To hell with King Henry, and to hell with Exton–and you, too!

    (He strikes the Keeper.)

Keeper: Oh!  Help!  Help!

    (Exton rushes in with a half dozen or so men armed with knives or similar weapons.  They attack Richard.)

Richard: Murderers!  Damn you!

    (Richard seizes a weapon from one man and kills two or three of them.)

Richard: Rot in hell!–And you, too!–Bastard!–Exton!  My blood will be on Henry!

    (Exton stabs him.  Richard dies.  There is a painful moment while Exton regards what he has done.  The suggestion to the audience is that Exton is highly conflicted.)

Exton (To his Men): Take these men and bury them.  I’ll take Richard’s body to King Henry.

    (They leave with the bodies.)

Act 5, Scene 6.  Windsor Castle.  A trumpet flourish.  King Henry comes in with the Duke of York and other Lords and Attendants.

King Henry: Uncle, I’ve heard that rebels are setting fire to towns in Gloucestershire, but I don’t know if they’ve been captured yet.–Ah, here’s Northumberland. 

    (Northumberland comes in.)

King Henry: What news, sir?

Northumberland: Lords Salisbury, Spencer, Blunt, and Kent have been executed.  Their heads have been sent to London.

King Henry: Well done.  You’ll get a reward for this.

    (Fitzwater comes in.)

King Henry: What news, Fitzwater?

Fitzwater: We caught two more–Brocas and Seely.  They’ve been executed.  Their heads have been sent to London.

King Henry: Excellent.  I’ll reward you for this.

    (Harry Percy comes in with the Bishop of Carlisle as a prisoner.)

King Henry: Harry Percy!  Well, well–and the Bishop of Carlisle.

Percy: My lord, the ringleader of the pack, the Abbot of Westminster, is dead.  I brought Carlisle back alive.

    (King Henry takes his time considering Carlisle.)

King Henry: Carlisle, even though you never liked me, I don’t see you as the same sort of villain as the others.  Find yourself some little religious retreat far away from here and go live a quiet life.

Carlisle: Thank you, sir.

    (Exton comes in with Attendants bearing Richard’s coffin.  King Henry is shocked.)

Exton: Your Majesty, I did what you wanted me to do.–Your enemy–Richard.

King Henry: What!  I never told you to kill him!

Exton: But you did, sir.  You looked right at me and said, “If only I had a friend who would rid me of this living fear.”

King Henry: But you misunderstood!–I didn’t mean literally–I mean, I may have wished he was dead, but–Exton, you’ve done me a lot of harm with this.  Let this death be on your conscience.  Now get out of my sight.  I never want to see you again.

    (Exton leaves.  King Henry rubs his hands unconsciously, symbolizing washing blood from the hands.)

King Henry: My lords–I’m sure you all share my grief over Richard’s death.  We will observe a proper period of mourning out of respect for him.–As for me, I must do something to atone for this terrible deed–for I do feel stained with Richard’s blood.  I will lead a Crusade to the Holy Lands in the service of God and the Saviour.–Now let us go to the chapel and pray.

    (They all leave, but the coffin remains.  [Author’s note: In the original play, they carry the coffin out, and the play ends.]  After a moment, the figure of Death walks slowly out from the side and helps Richard out of the coffin.  He is shrouded and ghost-like.  He comes to the front of the stage and delivers the following epilogue, while Death stands slightly behind and to the side.)

Richard: England–

    Behold the cycles of thy seasons–

    Murder, victory, guilt, and treason,

    Place thine ear to the hollow crown

    And hear within the sounds of grief and rage,

    The storms of pride and temper

    That send rains of steel upon the troubled land.

    Put sword in hand,

    Let flesh kill flesh and leave the end to Fate,

    For wisdom never comes, or comes too late.

    Call the King villain, agent of God, or any other term–

    It’s all the same, for we’re all food for worms.

    The pomp and ceremony and all pretense

    Shall crumble like old monuments,

    And where the cycle ends, no man can say–

    The stain of blood is hard to wash away.

    (Death leads Richard offstage slowly.)


    Copyright@ 2011 by Crad Kilodney.  E-mail: crad166@yahoo.com 



(Index to the Series appears on Oct. 7, 2010 — https://cradkilodney.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/ )

Main Characters

King John — King of England

Queen Eleanor — John’s mother; widow of Henry II.  (Her spelling may vary)

Arthur — John’s nephew, by his brother Geoffrey

Constance — Arthur’s mother

Prince Henry — son of John

Bigot, Essex, Pembroke, Salisbury — English lords

Robert Faulconbridge — son of Sir Robert Faulconbridge; half-brother of Philip Faulconbridge

Philip Faulconbridge (The Bastard) — illegitimate son of Richard the Lion-Hearted.  (His speech prefix will start as Philip Faulconbridge and then switch to Bastard.  After he is knighted as Sir Richard Plantagenet, he will be addressed by others as Sir Richard.)

Lady Faulconbridge — mother of Robert and Philip

Hubert — citizen of Angiers and (later) attendant to King John

King Philip — King of France

Louis — Crown Prince (also called the Dauphin) of France.  (In some texts the spelling is Lewis, which is strictly an English spelling, however.  The speech prefix in other texts is Dauphin, but I prefer Louis.)

Duke of Austria — allied to France.  (In some texts he is referred to as Lymoges.)

Cardinal Pandulph — the Pope’s legate, or representative.  (Spelling may vary.)

Chatillion — French ambassador

Blanche — John’s niece, by his sister Eleanor.  (Blanche’s spelling may vary.)

Count Melun — French lord

Peter of Pomfret — a prophet

(James Gurney is deleted)

Gist of the story: Some historical context first.  John was the youngest of  five sons of Henry II, of the House of Plantagenet, so it is a fluke that he ever became King.  (There were also three daughters, but they were not really in the order of succession.)  Three sons — William, Henry, and Geoffrey — died young.  Richard is the one who succeeded Henry II.  This was Richard I, or Richard the Lion-Hearted (also referred to as Coeur de Lion or Cordelion).  He went off to fight in a Crusade.  John took advantage of his absence to proclaim himself Regent (substitute king) and heir to the throne, and many people resented this.  If you remember Robin Hood from books, movies, or TV, you’ll recall that there were occasional references to Richard, the good king, whom Robin Hood loved, and John, the bad king,  whom Robin Hood regarded as a usurper.  The bad king was supposedly going to be punished by the good king when he returned from the Crusade.  Historically, however, Richard forgave John.  Richard died in 1199 while fighting against the French, and that left John as King.  However, theoretically, someone else was ahead of him in the order of succession, and that was Arthur, son of John’s older brother Geoffrey.  Shakespeare picks up the story shortly after 1200.  (Please bear in mind that Shakespeare’s historical plays are not necessarily accurate in all the details, since it was more important to deliver a good story than accurate history.  For instance, the references to cannons in this play are wrong.  Cannons weren’t in use yet in Europe.)  The French are backing Arthur’s claim to the throne because they want to regain control of certain territories in France currently held by England.  English and French forces confront each other at Angiers, France, fight to a stalemate, and then cut a deal: Prince Louis of France is married off to John’s niece, Lady Blanche of Spain, and the French forget about Arthur.  But then the Pope’s legate, Cardinal Pandulph, shows up and excommunicates John over a dispute regarding the appointment of the Archbishop of Canterbury.  The French King, Philip, is pressured into reneging on the peace agreement he has just made with John.  The armies clash, the English get the better of it, and Arthur is captured and taken back to England.  Pandulph goads the French into invading England on the dubious pretext of claiming the throne for Louis, since he is now married to Blanche.  But Pandulph’s real agenda throughout the play is to get England back under the authority of Rome.  Arthur is imprisoned, and John orders his attendant Hubert to kill him.  Hubert can’t bring himself to murder the boy and gives John a false report that he has done so.  Arthur tries to escape from the prison and dies in an accidental fall.  Everyone is convinced John ordered him killed, and several lords are outraged and defect to the French.  John patches up his differences with Pandulph and pleads with him to stop the French invasion.  The French persist, but neither side is able to claim a victory.  The English lords return when they find out that Louis intends to execute them once they’ve served their purpose.  John is poisoned by a monk and dies.  The lords now throw their support to John’s young son, Prince Henry, who is only mentioned now for the first time.  Pandulph brokers a final peace treaty between the English and French.  The play ends on a hopeful note, with the lords pledging loyalty to the child-king Henry.

    (Historically, Henry was nine years old at this time and went on to rule as Henry III.  Although he ruled for a long time, he was not a great king.  The hero of Shakespeare’s play is Philip the Bastard, who was not a historical figure but an invention of Shakespeare’s.  The Bastard, who is the son of Richard the Lion-Hearted, serves to articulate the theme of  “Commodity”, which is greedy self-interest.  He starts out having a cynical respect for commodity, but by the end,  he steadfastly puts honour first by pledging loyalty to young Prince Henry.  Shakespeare does not elaborate on the political circumstances that put Henry on the throne, and I have resisted the temptation to “build out” Act 5 to emphasize them.  But the reader should bear in mind the fickle loyalty of the English lords, Pandulph’s agenda in behalf of the church, the interests of the French in having some ongoing influence with the new king, and the fact that Philip the Bastard probably could have usurped the throne for himself but instead sacrificed his own interests and supported Prince Henry, whose prospects and ability were completely unknown.  King John is one of Shakespeare’s least-known plays.  It is rarely staged.  And Shakespeare scholars don’t regard it as a great play.  However, there is a great story line here, and for Shakespeare, who had the best plots of any writer in the English language, King John was a historical figure too juicy to pass up.  He was a terrible king, whose reign was marked by war and internal conflict.  He is remembered chiefly as the signer of the Magna Carta — which he only signed because he was forced to by the enraged English barons.  The Magna Carta, however, is not even referred to in the play.  Neither are certain details of John’s personal life.  This is the first modernized version of King John ever published.  I hope acting companies will now be encouraged to stage it more often.  The entire series “Shakespeare For White Trash” is Shakespeare simplified and modernized by Crad Kilodney.  It is designed to bring Shakespeare to the many millions of people who have little or no knowledge of him, and to prove to them that the stories contained in his plays are superb.  Read my versions and you will become an instant Shakespeare fan.  Enjoy!)

Act 1, Scene 1.  In the King’s castle.  King John, Queen Eleanor (his mother), the Lords Pembroke, Essex, and Salisbury, and the French ambassador Chatillion come in.

King John: All right, Chatillion, what does your government want with me?

Chatillion: The King of France sends his greeting to the so-called King of England.

Queen Eleanor (Angrily): What do you mean, so-called?

King John: It’s all right, mother.  I want to hear what the so-called ambassador has to say.–Go on, Chatillion.

Chatillion: King Philip of France, in behalf of your nephew Arthur Plantagenet, claims the throne of England, which you stole from Arthur.  The King of France demands that you relinquish the throne to Arthur, who is the rightful heir, being the son of your late brother Geoffrey.

King John: Ah.  Really.  And suppose I say no?

Chatillion: Then I’m afraid there will be war between France and England.  My country will put Arthur on the throne by force, if that is necessary.

King John: Well, you can tell your King that he can sit on his thumbs and rotate.

    (Chatillion is momentarily confused and then understands the insult.)

Chatillion: Oh!–Quelle insulte!

King John: Right.  So get back in your rowboat and go report to your King.  Tell him if he wants a fight, he can expect the worst from me.  And don’t look back, or you’ll see our army right behind you.–Pembroke, escort the ambassador back to his boat.

    (Pembroke nods and takes Chatillion out.  Queen Eleanor goes to her son and speaks to him in a confidential tone.  The audience must get the suggestion that she is a dominant mother who tells him what to do.)

Queen Eleanor: I told you this would happen.  Arthur’s mother, Constance, is behind this.  I told you she would go to the French and get them on Arthur’s side, and they would do it because of the territories they want to get back from us.  You could have prevented this if you’d sweet-talked her a little.

King John: I’ve got the throne.  That’s all that matters.

Queen Eleanor: But Arthur has a claim, too.  Geoffrey was older than you, so technically Arthur precedes you.

King John: I’m not interested in technicalities.  Besides, he’s just a kid.

    (A Sheriff comes in and speaks aside to Essex.)

Essex: My lord, the Sheriff says that two young men are here to see you.  They have a dispute.

King John: All right.  Send them in.

    (The Sheriff goes out.  Then Robert Faulconbridge and Philip Faulconbridge come in.)

King John: And who are you?

Philip Faulconbridge: Your Majesty, I am Philip Faulconbridge, the eldest son of Sir Robert Faulconbridge–allegedly.  Sir Robert served your brother, King Richard.

King John: Ah, yes.  And who’s this? (Indicating Robert)

Robert Faulconbridge: Robert Faulconbridge, your Majesty.  I am the son and heir of Sir Robert.

King John: Huh!–Funny, you don’t look like brothers.  Maybe you have different mothers.

Philip Faulconbridge: No, my lord.  The same mother.  But as to my real father–you’d have to ask her.

Queen Eleanor: Oh!  Shame on you!  What a thing to say about your mother!

King John: That’s my mother–Queen Eleanor.

Philip Faulconbridge: Madam, it wasn’t I who raised the issue.  My brother raised it.  He’s the one who’s insisting that I’m–what’s the word?–a bastard.  He wants to take my inheritance.  It’s worth five hundred quid a year to him.

King John: Ah, so that’s it.  I hear that a lot.  Not from the poor, of course.  They aren’t fussy about paternity.  But when there’s money involved–ha, ha!–So, then, Philip Faulconbridge, tell me straight.  Was Sir Robert your father, or not?

Philip Faulconbridge: He was not, sir–as you can tell by our faces.  And that’s fine with me, because I certainly wouldn’t want to look like him.  (Indicating Robert)

Queen Eleanor (Aside to King John): He looks so much like Richard, don’t you think?

King John: Yes.  He does.

Robert Faulconbridge: Your Majesty, when my father was alive, your brother King Richard made good use of him–

Philip Faulconbridge (Butting in): Even better use of my mother.

Robert Faulconbridge: Ahem–Your Majesty, King Richard employed my father in important matters of diplomacy.  My father was away in Germany, and King Richard stayed at our house.  And–well–I don’t want to talk about what actually happened–

King John: How could you?  You weren’t even born yet.

Robert Faulconbridge: No, sir.  But my father told me before he died that King Richard was the real father of Philip.  And my father left everything to me in his will.  So that’s why I’m here, sir–to ask you to uphold my rightful claim.

Philip Faulconbridge: I’m older, so I’m the rightful heir.

Robert Faulconbridge: But you’re illegitimate.

King John: Well, now, not so fast.  Your father raised him and accepted him like his own son, didn’t he?

Robert Faulconbridge: Well–yes, my lord.

King John: He never hid him away, did he?  Never said anything, did he?

Robert Faulconbridge: No, my lord.

King John: Even if my brother Richard fathered him, so what?  These things happen.  Your parents were married when he was born.  I don’t have a problem with it.

Robert Faulconbridge: But my father’s will, sir–

Philip Faulconbridge: He had as much will to disown me as he did to beget me.

King John (Laughing): A spunky fellow!

Queen Eleanor: Tell me, young Philip.  If you had a choice between being the landed heir of Sir Robert or the son of King Richard with no lands at all, which would you choose?

    [Author’s note: From this point on Philip’s speech prefix will be “Bastard”, following the example of the Folger Shakespeare Library edition.  Other editions, such as Signet Classic, use “Bastard” from the very beginning.]

Bastard: Madam, that’s a no-brainer.  I’d choose to be King Richard’s son any day.

Queen Eleanor: I like your answer, Philip Faulconbridge.  Would you be willing to give up your inheritance to your brother and join us in a war against France?

Bastard: Madam, as the son of your son, I would follow you into hell if I had to.  (To Robert) Go ahead.  Take everything.  (To the King and Queen)  To you, sir–and to you, madam–I pledge my everlasting loyalty.

King John: What a fine fellow!

Queen Eleanor: He’s Richard’s son, all right.

King John: Now, then, good fellow Philip Faulconbridge, kneel before me.

    (The Bastard kneels, and King John taps him on the shoulder with his sword.)

King John: I dub you Sir Richard Plantagenet, knight of England.–Arise.

    (The Bastard stands up.)

King John (To Robert): Well, then, Robert Faulconbridge, I trust that you are satisfied with this resolution.

Robert Faulconbridge: Yes, your Majesty.

    (The Bastard shakes hands with his brother.)

Bastard: Good luck, brother.

Robert Faulconbridge: Good luck to you, too.

King John: And now, lords, let’s get ready for war with the French.

    (The King leads everyone out except the Bastard, who lingers.)

Bastard: Well!  A knight!  How do you like that!  Now I get to rub shoulders with the movers and shakers.  Learn their ways.  Learn what they know.  All their polite manners, all their smooth words, all their refined tastes.  Nobody has to know I’m poor.  I can fake it.  It’s all about appearances.–Sir Richard Plantagenet–I like the sound of that.  (He has an imaginary encounter.)  What?  Who are you calling a bastard?  I am Sir Richard Plantagenet, son of King Richard the Lion-Hearted.  (Draws his sword)  How many pieces shall I cut you into?–Ha, ha, just kidding.  I don’t kill white trash.  Just get out of my my sight, okay?  (Puts his sword away)  I’m going to learn all the things that the powerful people know.  Not to abuse anyone, mind you.  Just to make sure nobody abuses me.

    (Lady Faulconbridge comes in.  [James Gurney is deleted from this scene.])

Bastard: Mother!

Lady Faulconbridge: What has Robert been saying about me?

Bastard: Robby?  You mean the son and heir of old Sir Robert?

Lady Faulconbridge: You are his son, too.

Bastard: Oh, am I?  Which part of me is his?  (He points to different parts of his body.)  Are these his eyes?  His nose?  His ears?  Is this his chin?  How about these arms–and legs?  Is this his figure?–Come, now, mother, you mustn’t lie to me.

    (Lady Faulconbridge is painfully silent and then speaks with much difficulty.)

Lady Faulconbridge: Um–your father–what I mean is–King Richard was your father.  He was staying in the house while Sir Robert was away.  And he–I didn’t want to, but–you see–he was so persistent–he seduced me.–I–I just gave in.–I couldn’t help it–that’s all.–I’m so ashamed.  I can imagine what you must think of me now.

Bastard (Cheerfully): You’re wrong.  What guy wouldn’t want a king for a father?  I’d say you did me a great favour. 

Lady Faulconbridge: Do you really think so?

Bastard: Of course.  I’m very proud to be the son of King Richard the Lion-Hearted.  And–I am now a knight.

Lady Faulconbridge: A knight?  Have you been knighted?

Bastard: Yes.  By the sword of King John.  I am now–Sir Richard Plantagenet.

    (He takes his mother by the arm and walks her out.)

Act 2, Scene 1.  France.  Before the gates of the town of Angiers.  King Philip, Louis the Dauphin (Crown Prince), Constance, Arthur, and their Attendants come in from one side.  The Duke of Austria and his Attendants come in from the other side.  Austria is wearing a lion skin.  [Arthur is in his early teens.]

King Philip: Duke of Austria!  Right on time!

Austria: King Philip!  Wonderful to see you!–So this is Angiers.

King Philip: Yes.  Nice, little town–even though it’s English.

Austria: What’s that slang name you call them–maudits Anglais?

King Philip: Shh!  Not so loud.  They don’t like that–ha, ha.  (To Arthur) Arthur, this is the man who killed your uncle, King Richard.  And now he’s come to help us put you on the throne of England.

Arthur (To Austria): I forgive you, sir.  And I appreciate your coming here to help us.

Louis: You see, Arthur?  Everyone loves you.

Austria: And I most of all, Arthur.  I promise you I will not go home until we have beaten those bloody English bastards–um, that is, those who are your enemies–and made you King Arthur.

Constance: As his mother, I thank you so much.

Austria: It is a fine work that we do.  And we do it for honour!  For principle!

    (Attendants mumble “Hear! Hear!”)

King Philip: Indeed!  And this where we will begin–Angiers.  These are stubborn people, believe me.  But a few well-placed cannon shots should persuade them to acknowledge Arthur as their rightful King.

Constance: My lord, shouldn’t you wait for your ambassador, Chatillion, to return from England?  Perhaps it won’t be necessary to fight.

King Philip: Eh?–Oh, yes, I suppose.

    (Chatillion comes in.)

King Philip: Ah, here he is!–So how did it go, Chatillion?  What did King John have to say?

Chatillion: My lord, he said you should sit on your thumbs and rotate.

King Philip: Eh?  What’s that mean?

    (Austria whispers in his ear.)

King Philip: What the devil!  That son of a bitch!

Chatillion: My lord, forget about Angiers.  The English army is on its way.  And that mother of his, Queen Eleanor, is a bloodthirsty bitch.  She wants to fight, too.  And she’s got her niece, Lady Blanche of Spain, who has her forces, too.  And–a bastard son of King Richard.  And all the English rabble who think they can make a buck out of a war.  They’ll be on us like a plague of locusts any moment.

    (Sound of drums.)

King Philip: Good God!

Chatillion: I told you.

Austria: Hell, I thought I’d have time for a coffee and a croissant.

    (King J0hn comes in with the Bastard, Queen Eleanor, Blanche, Pembroke, and others.)

King John: King of France!  This is English territory.  If you dispute it, then it’s war.

King Philip: Peace or war, it’s up to you.  Our grievance with you is that you have stolen the throne from this boy, Arthur, the son of your late brother Geoffrey.  This land that you call English is rightfully his, and all of England, too.

King John: And why is any of this your business?

King Philip: God himself has moved me to support Arthur.  I do it from the purest motives–faith, honour, and principle!

    (French Attendants mumble “Hear! Hear!”)

King John: So you would usurp the throne of England, would you?

King Philip: You are the usurper.

Queen Eleanor: No, you are.

Constance: What!  Your son stole the throne from Arthur!

Queen Eleanor: Oh, shut up!  You want him on the throne so you can be the Queen Mother.  He’s a bastard anyway.

Constance: Bastard?  Bastard?  What are you accusing me of?  My husband, Geoffrey, was your son, and I was always faithful!  But I don’t think you can say the same.  I always wondered whether Geoffrey was legitimate or not.

Queen Eleanor (To Arthur): Do you hear that?  Listen to how your mother insults the good name of your father.

Constance (To Arthur): There’s your grandmother!  She’s the one keeping you off the throne of England.

Austria: Stop it, both of you!

Bastard (Sarcastically): Oh!  The Duke of Wienerschnitzel speaks!

Austria: What?  Who the hell are you?

Bastard: I’m the guy that’s gonna kick your ass in a minute.  That lion skin you’re wearing belonged to King Richard.

Blanche: That’s why they called him Richard the Lion-Hearted.  He killed that lion.

Bastard (To Austria): Why don’t you have a robe made of chicken feathers.  It would suit you better.

Austria: Of all the nerve!–King Philip, what should I do with this guy?

King Philip: Okay, everyone just calm down.  Just cool it, all right?–John, here’s what we want.  Arthur gets the throne of England, including Ireland, and the territories in France.

King John: Ha!  In your dreams!  (Sweetly to Arthur) Arthur, now be a good boy.  I’m your uncle.  You come back to England, and I’ll give you a lot more than the French will.

Queen Eleanor: Yes, Arthur.  And grandma loves you, too.

Constance (Mimicking her): Grandma loves you, too!  And she’ll give you a nice plum, and a fig, and some cherries for being a good, little boy.

Arthur (On the verge of tears): Please, mother!  I don’t want to be in the middle of all this fighting!

Queen Eleanor (To Constance): See how you’re upsetting him?  A fine mother you are!

Constance: Me?  You’re the one who’s caused him all this grief!

Queen Eleanor: Oh!  The devil should rip out your tongue for all your lies!

Constance: He should take yours first–and your black heart to go with it!

King John: Stop it!  I don’t want to hear this!

Constance: Why did the plague come to England?  Because of her!  It was God’s punishment for her wickedness!

Queen Eleanor: You foolish woman!  I can show you Richard’s will!  He named John as his heir!

Constance: I’m sure it’s in your handwriting!

King Philip: Enough of this!–These people here in Angiers are loyal to England.  Let’s see whom they prefer as King–Arthur or John.  (Calls)  Sound a trumpet to the people of Angiers.

    (A trumpet sounds.  Hubert leans over the wall.  [In some editions, such as Folger, an unnamed citizen appears; in other editions, such as Signet, Hubert appears.])

Hubert: Who blows the trumpet for us?

King Philip: France!

King John: England–the country that loves you most!

King Philip: Good people of Angiers, hear our plea in behalf of Arthur, who would be your King–

King John: Don’t listen to him.  I’m already King.  Now, look over there.  You see all those French troops with all their cannons?  They came here to destroy you.  But we’ve come to save you from them.  Don’t trust the French.  They’re liars.  Give me your support.

King Philip: No, no.  He’s the liar.  We come for the sole purpose of upholding the claim of Arthur, the rightful heir to the throne.  We want to be your friends.  All we ask for is your support for Arthur.  If you choose John, you’ll be sorry.  Now, what’s it going to be, then?

Hubert: Angiers is loyal to the King of England–whoever it happens to be.

King John: Then open your gates to me.  I am King.

King Philip: No, Arthur is.

Hubert: We won’t open the gates to anyone until we know for sure who the King is.

King John: But look here.  I’m wearing the crown.  And look at all the lords and all the soldiers–

Bastard: And bastards.

King John: Eh?–Yes, all right.  Them, too.

King Philip: We have just as many on our side who stand with Arthur.

Bastard: Including French bastards.

King Philip: What?

Hubert: You people settle the matter and then let us know.  We’re not stupid.  We want to make sure we’re on the winning side.

    (A pause.  King John and King Philip look at each other grimly.)

King Philip: Fine.  We’ll fight it out, then.  All right?

King John: Suits me.  I’ll take my forces over to this side (Indicates one side).

King Philip: Then I’ll take mine to the other side (Indicates the other side).  In the name of God and our rightful claim, and all that is honourable and true!

King John: In the name of God, Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, and our rightful claim!

Bastard: Don’t forget the bastards.

King John: Yes, them, too.

    (Everyone leaves separately in two groups.  Then the stage goes dim and there are flashes of light, sounds of cannons, drums, etc.  After a minute, the battle stops, the stage returns to normal, and a French Herald appears before the gates and blows a trumpet.)

French Herald: Men of Angiers, open your gates to Arthur, for the French are victorious!

    (An English Herald comes in with a trumpet.)

English Herald: Hey, fuck off.  (Blows his trumpet)  Men of Angiers, open your gates to King John, for the English are victorious!

    (Hubert reappears at the wall.  He looks left and right studiously.)

Hubert: We-l-l-l–You know, it’s hard to say.  It looks like a draw.

    (The opposing Kings and their parties come in from opposite sides.)

King John (To King Philip): Well?  Do you give up?  I’d say we’ve beaten you.

King Philip: I don’t think so.  I’d say you got the worst of it.  I’m prepared to keep fighting indefinitely.

King John: So am I.  Your soil will be enriched by French blood.

King Philip: By English blood, more likely.

Bastard (Aside): These guys are both nuts.  And these are the masters of the world?

King John (To Hubert): Well?  Have you made up your minds yet?

Hubert: We support the King of England.

King John: That’s what you said before.

Hubert: The situation hasn’t changed, as far as we’re concerned.

Bastard: My lords, may I say something?

King John: Yes?

Bastard: This town doesn’t love either one of you, so why keep killing each other just to win them over?  Why don’t you join forces and get rid of this miserable town altogether.  They’re all assholes.  Then, if you want to resume fighting each other, let Fortune decide who wins.

    (A pause as the Kings consider.)

King John: That’s a very wise suggestion, Sir Richard.

King Philip: Yes.  I agree.  How do you want to attack?

King John: We’ll attack from the west side.

King Philip: I’ll have my cannons shoot from the south.–Austria, you can shoot from the north, all right?

Austria: Yes, yes.

Bastard (Aside to the audience): The French brainiacs–firing from the north and south.  They’ll shoot each other.

Hubert: Uh–wait a minute!  Hold on!  (Hubert disappears briefly and then returns.)  Hey, we love you both, okay?  So we have a suggestion.  (To King John) My lord, you have your niece here–Lady Blanche of Spain, daughter of your sister Eleanor.  (To King Philip) And you, my lord, have your son here–Prince Louis, the Dauphin.–Why not marry them off and make peace?  Then we can open our gates to both of you and have the wedding right here, and everyone will be happy.  How’s that?

King Philip: Let me confer with my son.

    (King Philip and Louis move apart and confer confidentially.  Constance takes Arthur by the hand and walks out, shaking her head and looking disgusted.)

Bastard (Smacks his forehead.  Aside to the audience): What the hell was all this fighting for?

Queen Eleanor (Aside to King John): Do it.  We’ll give Blanche a good dowry to make the French happy, and you won’t have to worry about the throne any more.

Hubert: Well?  Is it a deal?

    (King Philip and Louis return to the others.)

King John (To King Philip): We’ll give you Volquesson, Anjou, Touraine, Maine, and Poitiers as Blanche’s dowry.

Bastard (Aside): And Baltic Avenue and the Water Works.

King Philip (To Louis): Well, son?  What do you think?  Do you like her?

Louis: Yes.  I like her a lot.  She is the sun that casts my shadow.

Bastard (Aside): I think I’m gonna barf.

King John (To Blanche): Niece?

Blanche: Uncle, for your sake, I will agree.  (To Louis) Prince Louis, I won’t pretend that I do this for love.  All I will say is that I don’t have anything in particular against you.

Bastard (Aside to the audience): Now there’s an endorsement.

King John (To King Philip): Tell you what.  I’ll throw in thirty thousand marks in gold.

Bastard (Aside): And a Get Out of Jail Free card.

King Philip: We like it.  We accept.  (To Louis and Blanche) Now join hands to show you agree.

    (Louis and Blanche join hands.  Attendants clap and cheer.)

King Philip (To Hubert): Now, then, citizens of Angiers, open the gates and we’ll go straight to your church and get these two married at once.–Oh!  Where’s Constance?  And Arthur?

Louis: I don’t think she’s very happy.      

King Philip: Oh, dear.  And we were supposed to–(To King John) John, what’ll we do about Arthur?

King John: Oh, I’ll give him a title.  I’ll make him Duke of Brittany–and Earl of Richmond.  That should make him happy.  Somebody should go after Constance and bring her to the church.  I’ll send one of my lords.

King Philip: Yes.  All right.

    (They all leave except the Bastard.)

Bastard (To the audience): Un-fucking-believable.–Honour!  Principle!  God!  The Virgin Mary!–Oops, never mind.  We’ll do a deal.  What a world!  It’s such a fucking crock.  You know what I call it?  Commodity.  Everything’s for sale.  It’s all about self-interest.  It’s all bullshit.  Nothing rally matters to the rich and powerful except wealth and power.  It’s all a game–like Monopoly.–So, okay, then.  This is a lesson for me, right?  I can be poor and curse the rich, or I can be rich and look down on the poor.  Which would you choose?  (He pauses as if waiting for an answer.)  Right.  Obviously.

    (He leaves.)

Act 3, Scene 1.  [Author’s note: This is either Act 3, Scene 1, or Act 2, Scene 2, depending on the edition.  I am following the example of the Folger edition.]  King Philip’s tent.  Constance, Arthur and Salisbury come in.

Constance (Angrily to Salisbury): I can’t believe it!  They’ve cut a deal?  Louis marries Blanche?  And John stays on the throne?  I think I’m going to be sick!

Salisbury: Don’t be angry with me, madam.  I’m just telling you what’s happened.

Constance: I feel so betrayed.  And my son, Arthur.  This is treachery.

Arthur: Please, mother.  Don’t be upset.

Constance: You were meant to be King.  It’s all I think about, day and night.  I live for nothing else.

Salisbury: Madam, please.  They want you to attend the wedding.

Constance: No.  I have my pride.

    (King John and King Philip come in, with Louis, Blanche, Queen Eleanor, the Bastard, Austria, and Attendants.  [The marriage has already taken place.])

Constance (To King Philip): What have you done to me!  And to Arthur!  I trusted you!

King Philip: Lady Constance–please.  Have I not given you my word of honour as the King of France?

Constance: What word of honour?  Where is the honour?  I’ve been duped.  My husband must be turning over in his grave.  I pray to God to punish you–

Austria: Please, madam!  This is for peace.  Don’t you understand?

Constance: I don’t want this kind of peace!  I want war!

Austria: Madam!  Shame on you!

Constance: No!  Shame on you, Austria!  You wear Richard’s lion skin, but you’re not half the man he was.  You’re a coward.  You swore to help me and Arthur, and you’ve gone back on your word.  Better you should wear the skins of rabbits!

Austria: If you were a man, I’d strike you for such an insult.

Bastard: Better you should wear the skins of rabbits.

Austria: What!–How dare you!

King John: Stop!  (To the Bastard) You keep quiet.

    (Pandulph comes in.)

King Philip: Cardinal Pandulph!  What a surprise!

King John: Your Eminence, welcome.

Pandulph: Greetings.–King John.  I come in behalf of His Holiness Pope Innocent.  He is very displeased, I’m sorry to say, and he demands to know why you refuse to appoint Stephen Langton as Archbishop of Canterbury.

King John: Oh, the Pope demands to know, does he?  Well, I don’t take orders from the Pope–or any other wop priest.

Pandulph: What!–How dare you!

Bastard (Aside to the audience): He’s another one.

King John: Your boss is a corrupt bastard.–(To the Bastard) No offense.  (The Bastard shrugs.)–So go back and tell His Ugliness not to meddle in English affairs.  I will appoint who I damn well please.

King Philip: King John, you are talking blasphemy.

Pandulph: Blasphemy, indeed.–King John, by the authority granted to me by His Holiness, I hereby excommunicate you as a heretic.  And I bless any man who kills you.

Constance: Amen to that!  And the King of France is now his friend.

Pandulph (To King Philip): Is that true?

King Philip: Well–yes.

Pandulph: Philip of France, you must break off with this heretic.  I order you in the name of the Pope.

King Philip: But, you see, I–

Queen Eleanor: Don’t do it, Philip.

Constance (To Queen Eleanor): Ha!  There goes your peace treaty!

Austria (To King Philip): My lord, you should obey.  Excommunication means damnation.

Bastard (Aside to the audience): Somebody write that down.

Austria: What did you say?

Bastard: I wasn’t talking to you.

    (Austria looks toward the audience, perplexed, but sees nothing.)

Louis: Father, don’t break off with King John.  I might lose Blanche.

Constance: Louis!  The devil is leading you astray–through her (Indicating Blanche).

Blanche: Madam, you are speaking from self-interest, not religious faith.

Constance (To King Philip): I have faith, and so do you, my lord.  You wouldn’t violate your faith, would you?

    (King Philip hesitates.)

King John (Sternly): Philip?  We had a deal.  Kings don’t break their word.

Constance (To King Philip): Break off with him now!

Austria: Yes, my lord.  You should.

King Philip: I don’t know.–If I just had more time to think–

Pandulph: In hell you will have time enough to think about your mistakes.

King Philip: But, your Eminence, put yourself in my place.  England and I have just made peace.  Prince Louis has just married Lady Blanche.  There would have been all-out war otherwise.  Surely you can understand the situation.  Surely there’s some other course you can take that will allow us to keep this peace.

Pandulph: There is no compromise with heresy, good sir.  To stand with the heretic is to be one yourself.  England has made itself an outlaw to the church.  And it is France that must take up arms to defend the church against heresy.

King Philip: But I have given my word.

Pandulph: Your first loyalty is to the church.  Any word given that goes against that loyalty may be broken.  And it must be broken.  You cannot be true to England and the church at the same time.  If you choose England, you shall be excommunicated.

Austria: Yes.  It would be rebellion against the church.

Bastard: Oh, fuck off.

Louis: Father, I think the Cardinal is right.  We must be true to the church and take up arms against England.

Blanche: No, Louis!  You mustn’t!  We’re married! 

Constance: Don’t listen to her, Louis!  This is God’s will!

Blanche: Now I get to see what sort of a man I married.

Constance: For your faith, Louis!  Think of faith!

Louis: Father?

    (King Philip, very grim, turns away from King John.)

King Philip: Very well.  I break my tie to England.

Constance: Thank God!

Queen Eleanor: You fickle Frenchman!

King John: King of France, we could have been friends.  You will regret this.

Blanche: And where do I go now?  No matter which side wins, I lose.

Louis: You’ll stay with me.

Blanche: And die.

King John (To the Bastard): Gather our army.

    (The Bastard leaves.)

King John: France, I am so angry, the fire inside me can only be quenched by French blood.

King Philip: Let your anger burn, then–and burn England to ashes!  You dig your own grave.

King John: You’re holding the shovel.  Dig yours first.

    (All leave, in two groups separately.)

Act 3, Scene 2.  A battlefield near Angiers.  Sounds of battle.  The Bastard comes in holding Austria’s head.

Bastard (Looking up at heaven and showing off the head): Hey, dad!  King Richard!  I got the fucker!  The Duke of Austria!

    (King John, Arthur, and Hubert come in.)

King John: Ha! Ha!  The head of Austria!  Well done, Sir Richard Plantagenet!

Bastard: Do I get to keep it, my lord?

King John: Why not?–Hubert, you keep Arthur close to you at all times.–Sir Richard, take some men and check on my mother.  I’m a little worried about her.

Bastard: There’s no need, my lord.  I’ve already made sure she’s safe.  We’ve almost got the French beat.  We should press the attack.

King John: Yes, yes.  Come along.

    (They all leave.)

Act 3, Scene 3.  [Author’s note: This scene break does not occur in all texts.  I am following Folger’s example and putting it in.]  The battlefield.  Alarms of retreat by the French.  King John comes in with Queen Eleanor, Arthur, the Bastard, Hubert, and Lords.  Arthur is very upset.

King John: Mother, I’ll leave you here in charge of our French territories.  You’ll be well-protected.  (To Arthur) Now, now, Arthur, don’t be frightened.  Don’t cry.  I’ll take care of you.  We’re going back to England.

Arthur: What about my mother?  She’ll die of grief without me.

King John: Don’t worry.  It’ll just be a temporary separation.  Your Uncle John will take good care of you–just as if you were my own son.  (To the Bastard)  I’ve got a job for you.  I want to go on ahead of us and go to all the abbeys.  Those monks all have cellars full of gold.  I want you to collect as much as you can haul away to pay for this, uh, hunting party.   Know what I mean?

Bastard: Extort money from the church?  Great idea, sir.  Damnation doesn’t scare me.

King John: Ha, ha!  Me neither!–Farewell, cousin.  [Author’s note: In Shakespeare’s English, “cousin” is a general term for a relative.  In this play, it is used affectionately.]

    (The Bastard leaves.  King John takes Hubert aside and speaks to him confidentially.)

King John: Hubert, you’ve done me a big favour getting your hands on Arthur.  I won’t forget it.  You’ll be well rewarded.

Hubert: Thank you, my lord.  I anticipated you would want him close to you–to take care of him, of course.

King John: Heh, heh–of course.  You’re a smart fellow.  You catch on fast.  I know I could trust you with any sensitive business, couldn’t I?

Hubert: Without question, my lord.

King John: From this point on, I’m putting you in charge of Arthur.

Hubert: Yes, my lord.

King John: He’s a problem, you understand.  He’s in my way.  If there was a  snake in my path, you’d kill it, wouldn’t you?

Hubert: Of course, I would, my lord.

King John: Good.  This boy is a snake, Hubert.  See what I’m getting at?

Hubert: Yes, my lord.

King John (Patting him on the shoulder): You’ll be in for a big reward.  (To Queen Eleanor) Mother, we’re going now.  I’ll send you the troops you’ll need.

Queen Eleanor: I’ll keep everything under control, don’t worry.  Good luck, my son.

    (The King hugs his mother briefly.)

King John (To Arthur): Come, Arthur.  We’re going to England.  Won’t that be exciting?  You’ll have lots of fun.  And Hubert will be your personal servant.  He’ll be with you all the time.

    (They all leave.)

Act 3, Scene 4.  In King Philip’s tent.  King Philip comes in with Louis, Pandulph, and Attendants.

King Philip: I can’t believe our rotten luck!  I send out our fleet and it gets hammered by a storm!

Pandulph: Don’t be discouraged, my lord.

King Philip: Don’t be discouraged!–What else can go wrong?  We lost Angiers.  Arthur’s a prisoner.  And the English got away from us.

Louis: And their territories are all reinforced–and so quickly, too.  It’s amazing.

King Philip: Are they really that much better than us?  Tell me.

    (Constance comes in, disheveled and miserable.)

Constance: I hope you’re satisfied.  This what comes of trying to make peace with England.

King Philip: Now, Lady Constance, please.  Try to be patient.

Constance: I have nothing left to live for.  I pray for death to end my suffering.

King Philip: No, madam, you mustn’t say that.

Constance: Death!  Death!  Death!–This widow is all yours.  I’ll make a wedding dress of thorns and soak it in blood.

Pandulph: Madam!  You’re speaking like an insane person.

Constance: Insane?  Oh, no.  If only I were.  Then I wouldn’t know what to grieve about.  I lost my husband, and now I’ve lost my son.  I’m sane enough to feel all this pain–and sane enough to think about ending it all.

King Philip: Lady Constance, I beg you.  Have courage.  We are all your friends.

Constance: I’ll never see my boy alive again.  I’ll see him in heaven–and my dear Geoffrey.

Pandulph: Madam, such grief is un-Christian.

Constance: What do you know of grief?  You’ve never had a wife or a son to lose.

King Philip: Madam, our hearts are with you, believe me.  You must try to be brave.

Constance (Weeping): My poor Arthur!  My only boy!  Such a lovely boy!  My only reason for living!

    (She leaves.)

King Philip: Oh, Christ.–I’d better go after her and make sure she doesn’t do anything stupid.

    (He leaves with his Attendants, leaving Pandulph and Louis alone.)

Louis: I’ve never felt so bad in my entire life.  Everything seems hopeless.

    (Pandulph takes Louis by the arm in a paternal way.)

Pandulph: Ah, my young Prince, it is in our worst moments that we find our real strength.  Now tell me, what have you actually lost today?

Louis: Everything–glory–happiness–everything.

Pandulph: Not so.  Fortune has a way of disguising herself.  When she means well, she looks threatening.  And when she means ill, she smiles.

Louis: How do you mean?

Pandulph: King John thinks he has won, but in truth he is walking blindly toward a deep, dark pit.

Louis: He is?

Pandulph: Yes.  Tell me, are you sorry that he has taken Arthur prisoner?

Louis: Of course.

Pandulph: Now, young Prince, listen carefully, for I can see far ahead of everyone else.  I am seeing your path to the throne of England.

Louis: My path to–?

Pandulph: Shh–just listen and consider.  King John has Arthur, but what will he do with him?  As long as Arthur lives, he is a threat to John.  Therefore, John will have to kill him.

Louis: Do you think so?

Pandulph: I’m sure of it.  And Arthur’s death will be to your benefit.

Louis: How?

Pandulph: You are married to King John’s niece.  Whatever claim Arthur has made to the throne of England, you can make just as easily.

Louis: I would end up the same way as Arthur.

Pandulph: Ah, Prince, you are still somewhat innocent to the ways of the world.  King John will clear your path to the throne when he murders Arthur.  The people will be outraged.  His enemies will come out of the woodwork.  They will look for any opportunity to get rid of him.  And you will be the instrument of their rebellion.

Louis: But what if he doesn’t kill Arthur?

Pandulph: He will when he finds out you’re coming.  He’ll assume you’re coming for Arthur’s sake.  The people will rise up against him.  What do you think that bastard Faulconbridge is doing right now?

Louis: I don’t know.

Pandulph: He’s looting the monasteries to pay for King John’s military expenses.  Looting the church, my boy!  Think of that!  But if the French came to put a stop to it, everyone would rally to your side.  Don’t you see?

Louis: Yes.

Pandulph: Now, my good Prince, let’s go have a word with your father.  He’ll see it my way.  King John is a ripe apple ready to fall.  You will be the next King of England.

Louis: Thank you, your Eminence!

    (They leave.)

Act 4, Scene 1.  In King John’s castle.  A prison is suggested–a bare room with a chair.  Hubert comes in with two Executioners holding a rope and an iron.

Hubert: You heat that iron and hide behind the curtain.  When I stamp my foot, you come out and tie the boy to the chair.

Executioner: I hope you have written orders for this.

Hubert: I have orders.  You just do what I say.

    (The Executioners leave.)

Hubert: Arthur!  Where are you, boy?

    (Arthur comes in. [Throughout this scene he is child-like and innocent.])

Arthur: Good morning, Hubert.

Hubert: Good morning, Prince.

Arthur: I don’t feel like a Prince.–You look sad.

Hubert: Perhaps I am.

Arthur: I’m the one who should be sad.  I miss my mother.  I don’t like this place.  I’d just as soon trade places with some shepherd and be outside in the fresh air.  I’m afraid of Uncle John.  And I think he’s against me.  Just because I’m Geoffrey’s son.  I’d rather be your son.  Then you’d love me.  You would, wouldn’t you?

    (Hubert looks away, unable to respond.)

Arthur: You don’t look well today.  Shall I sit with you until you feel better?  I don’t mind at all.

Hubert: Arthur–I–You must read this.  (He thrusts a paper into Arthur’s hand and looks down, very grim.)  Do you understand what I have to do?

    (Arthur reads the death warrant.  [The ensuing conversation must be done slowly, with pauses.])

Arthur: You’re going to burn out my eyes with a hot iron?

Hubert: I’ve been ordered.

Arthur: And you’re going to?

Hubert: I must obey your uncle.

Arthur: Would you really do that to me?  Burn out my eyes?  Did these eyes ever cast a mean look at you?  Haven’t I always been your friend?  Didn’t I stay up with you all night when you were sick?  Didn’t I bring you water, and hold your hand, and give you my own pillow?  Haven’t I always treated you as I would my own father?

Hubert: It’s not because I want to.  It’s because I have to obey your uncle.

Arthur: Am I a criminal, that I must be tortured?  I can’t believe you would do this.

    (Hubert stamps his foot.  The Executioners appear with the rope and iron.)

Arthur: No!  Hubert!

Hubert: Give me the iron.  Tie him.

    (He takes the iron.  The Executioners begin to tie Arthur to the chair.)

Arthur: No!  Hubert!  Make them go away!  If you have to do it, I’ll stand still and let you do it yourself!  I won’t struggle!

Hubert (To the Executioners): I’ll do it myself.  You go.

Executioner: Gladly.

    (The Executioners leave.)

Arthur: Is this how it ends between us?

Hubert: Be quiet.  You’re only making it harder for me.   

Arthur: Shall I be quiet, too?  Does my tongue offend as much as my eyes?  Then perhaps you should cut it out first.

    (Hubert is unable to reply.  Arthur reaches out and grabs the iron.)

Arthur: It’s gone cold.

    (Hubert snatches it back.)

Hubert: I’ll put it in the coals again.

Arthur: No, Hubert.  The angels have made it cold–for the sake of my eyes–and your eternal soul.

    (Hubert throws down the iron and covers his face and sobs.)

Arthur: Now are you my friend again, Hubert?

    (Hubert collects himself.)

Hubert: Damned if I’ll obey your uncle.  To hell with him.

Arthur: Thank you, Hubert.

Hubert: He mustn’t know, or it’ll be the end of me.  I’ll tell him you’re dead.  Come on, I have to hide you someplace until I can figure out how to get you out of the castle.

    (They leave.)

Act 4, Scene 2.  In the castle.  King John comes in with Pembroke and Salisbury and sits on his throne.

King John: Well!  Now I feel better.  Another coronation was just the thing to get around that excommunication.  New pledges of loyalty just to make sure everyone’s on board.–Right, Pembroke?

Pembroke: It was totally unnecessary, my lord.

Salisbury: Worse than unnecessary.  It’s potentially a source of trouble.

King John: How so?

Salisbury: People are wondering what’s the reason for it.  Their minds might be turning in the wrong direction.

King John: Oh, nonsense.

Pembroke: Listen to Salisbury, my lord.  You should have left well enough alone.

Salisbury: Pembroke and I do our best to advise you, my lord, but you never listen.

King John: Oh, well, of course, I value your advice.   Both of you.  This second coronation was the right thing to do.  I’m sure of it.  In any case, please feel free to say whatever you think.  Anything you think I should do.  I’ll listen.

Pembroke: My lord, speaking for all of us who have your best interests at heart, I sincerely recommend that you set Arthur free.  There is a lot of talk going around concerning Arthur and his imprisonment.  If your right to the throne is indisputable, then there’s no reason for him to be locked up, now, is there?

King John: Well–if you put it that way–I suppose not.

Salisbury: And we would let it be known that you set him free on your own initiative, not because we advised you to.

    (Hubert comes in.  [Author’s note: Editors disagree as to whether Hubert comes in now, or two lines from now, when King John addresses him.  It’s a subtle point that affects how we should take King John’s next two lines.  I’m choosing to follow Signet on this.])

King John: Oh–yes–of course.  You can look after him.–Hubert?  Did you have something to tell me?

    (King John takes Hubert aside for some private words.)

Pembroke (Aside to Salisbury): That’s his henchman.  Hubert.  A friend of mine told me he had a warrant from the King to kill Arthur.  And from the look on his face, I think he’s already done it.

Salisbury: The King looks guilty, too.  This is going to be bad.

    (King John returns to Salisbury and Pembroke.)

King John: Well–gentlemen–I have some grave news.   It appears that young Arthur died last night–of an un–an unnat–a natural illness.  A natural illness.

Salisbury (Ironically): Yes.  We heard he was sick.

Pembroke (Ironically): Yes.  We heard he was close to death–even before he knew he was sick.

King John: What–what do you mean by that?

Salisbury: We’re not stupid.  I hope you’re proud of yourself.  Goodbye, my lord.

Pembroke: I’m coming with you, Salisbury.  We’ll go look for the boy’s grave–if we can find it.  (To King John)  This is going to end very badly for you, my lord.  Goodbye.

    (Salisbury and Pembroke leave.  King John is very upset.)

King John: Oh, my God–what have I done?

    (A Messenger comes in, looking frightened.)

King John: Do you have news from France?

Messenger: My lord, the French have raised an army.  They’re already on English soil.

King John: What!  Why wasn’t I told anything?  What about my spies?  What about my mother?  Why didn’t she warn me?

Messenger: My lord–I’m sorry, but–your mother has died.

King John: Died!–My mother!

Messenger: And I understand Lady Constance died shortly before her.

King John: I need time to think–time to think.–Everything just slow down for me–slow down.–My lands in France–must have been captured.–Who’s leading the French army?

Messenger: Prince Louis, the Dauphin, my lord.

King John: Louis.–I’ll bet Pandulph is behind this–that son of a bitch.

    (The Bastard comes in with Peter of Pomfret.)

King John: Cousin!  You’re a sight for sore eyes.  I’ve had nothing but bad news.  Please don’t give me any more.  I couldn’t take it.

Bastard: You can plug your ears if you want, my lord.

King John: Give me a moment.  (He takes a deep breath.)  All right.  Tell me.

Bastard: Well, I hit up all the abbeys like you told me, and I collected a lot of money.

King John: Good.

Bastard: However–there are a lot of angry people out there.  And there’s a lot of strange stuff going on, too.

King John: Strange how?

Bastard: People have become very superstitious all of a sudden.  Everywhere I went, I kept hearing a lot of talk about signs and omens.  People are afraid.  Of what, I don’t know.  They’re listening to prophets–like this guy (Indicating Peter of Pomfret).

King John: Who’s he?

Bastard: He calls himself Peter of Pomfret.  He was talking to a big crowd.  He told them you would give up your crown on Ascension Day.

King John (To Peter, angrily): Is that so!

Peter: My lord, I look into the future, and that’s what I see.

King John (To Hubert): Hubert, take this asshole and lock him up.  On Ascension Day I’ll have him hanged.  Go now and come right back.

Hubert: Yes, my lord.

    (Hubert takes Peter out.)

King John: You’ve heard the news about the French?

Bastard: It’s all over the place.–Oh, by the way.  I bumped into Lord Bigot and Lord Salisbury and a few others.  They were looking for Arthur’s grave.  They were pretty angry.  They said you had him killed.

King John: No, no, I–cousin, listen.  You must go to them.  I need to explain things to them.  It’s very important.  Please bring them back.

Bastard: I’ll go look for them.

King John: Do it quickly.  I don’t want my own people turning against me when I have the French to worry about.

Bastard: I’ll go at once, my lord.

King John: Wait.  Take this messenger with you in case you need him.

Bastard (To the Messenger): Come on, then.

    (The Bastard and the Messenger leave.  King John is alone for the moment.  He looks up toward heaven in anguish.)

King John: Mother!  Tell me what to do!   

    (Hubert returns.)

Hubert: My lord, there are strange portents.

King John: Eh?

Hubert: Five moons in the sky.

King John: What?

Hubert: People said there were five moons in the sky.  Four were stationary, and the fifth moved around the others.

King John: It’s rubbish!  Don’t believe it!  People are idiots!

Hubert: Everyone is talking about Arthur’s death.  They say it’s a bad thing.  And now the French have come.  They’re in Kent–

King John: Shut up!  I don’t want to hear about the French!  And I don’t want to hear another word about Arthur!  I had nothing to do with Arthur’s death!  You did it!

Hubert: On your orders, my lord.

King John: No!–No, I–I never ordered any such thing.–I don’t remember what I said.  Sometimes I say things but I don’t really mean them.  You should know me by now.  Sometimes I get angry, that’s all.  But I never actually told you to kill him.

    (Hubert produces the death warrant.)

Hubert: This is the death warrant for Arthur, my lord–in your handwriting and sealed with your seal.

    (King John glances at it and knocks it to the floor.)

King John: It was a mistake!  It was an impulse!  It’s because of you!

Hubert: Because of me, my lord?

King John: Yes!  Your ugly face drove me to do it!  You are ugly, you know.  I always thought you were cursed.  You look like a murderer.  You really do.  And I looked at you, and a thought flashed through my mind.  I could get you to kill Arthur.  It was a whim, that’s all.  I don’t know what came over me.

Hubert: My lord–

King John: If you’re so bloody loyal, why didn’t you stop me, eh?  Eh?  But you didn’t speak up.  You could have, but you didn’t.  You deliberately let me make this mistake.  And now look what’s happened.  The nobles have turned against me.  And now the French are coming.  This country is going to pieces!  I’m going to pieces!  All because that boy is dead!

Hubert: My lord, please listen.  The French are the only thing you have to worry about.  Arthur is alive.

King John: Alive?  He’s alive?

Hubert: Yes.  You think I look like a murderer.  Maybe I do, I don’t know.  But I’m not one.  I would certainly never kill an innocent boy.

King John: Then–you didn’t carry out–(Indicates the warrant on the floor)–that.

Hubert: No, my lord, I didn’t.  For once, I disobeyed you.

King John: Oh, thank God!  Thank God!–Oh!–Oh!–You must go and tell everyone!  Tell them it was all a misunderstanding!  Tell them he’s not dead!  (He pauses to calm himself.)  Hubert–I’m sorry for what I said.  It was just–my mind–I–If mother were here, I–Oh, please just go talk to all the lords.  You must.  Every minute counts.

Hubert: Yes, I will, my lord.

    (Hubert leaves.)

Act 4, Scene 3.  [Author’s note: With apologies to Shakespeare, the story line has to be tweaked in this scene to make Arthur’s death more properly accidental.  In the original play, Arthur attempts to escape by jumping from the wall of the castle, believing he can make the jump.  He dies from the fall.  This is not at all credible, and Shakespeare has lost points for it.  In this version, Arthur considers whether to jump and falls accidentally.  Also, the Messenger is added to the scene to help Hubert carry Arthur’s body.  The Bastard took the Messenger along with him, so it is credible for him to appear here.  Shakespeare’s stage directions are also inadequate, as they apparently leave Arthur’s body in plain sight for some time before he is noticed.  My staging solution is a suggestion to the Director.  The stage is dimly lit.  Arthur is kneeling or standing on the wall of the castle, facing the wing.  The wall spans most of the stage, and one corner of the wall is close to the wing.  Arthur is near that corner, and he is sideways to the audience.  This allows him to fall onto a cushion that the audience can’t see.  When he falls, his hand will stick out in front of the wall just a little.  This way he will be inconspicuous and will only be noticed belatedly.]

Arthur (Looking down): I have to get away from here.–I don’t know.–That’s a bit of a drop.–I wonder–(He is distracted by a wasp and swipes at it.)  Bloody wasp!  Get away!–Oh!

    (He falls and dies.  His hand is just barely sticking out at the front of the wall.  Then Pembroke, Salisbury, and Bigot come in from the other side.)

Salisbury: I’m going to meet Prince Louis at Saint Edmundsbury.  We really have no choice.  We have to go over to the French side.

Bigot: Yes, yes.  We’ll go with you.

Pembroke: Who brought you that letter from Pandulph?

Salisbury: Count Melun.  He made it very plain that Prince Louis wants us to join him.

Bigot: We’ll go tomorrow, then.

Salisbury: The sooner the better.  It’ll take us two days to get there.

    (The Bastard comes in with the Messenger.)

Bastard: Ah, there you are–Salisbury–Pembroke–Bigot.  I’m glad I found you.

Salisbury: Hello, Sir Richard.

Bastard: Are you guys still angry?

Salisbury: Yes.

Bastard: Look, the King wants you to come back.  He wants to talk things over with you.

Salisbury: Not a chance.  We’re through with him.

Pembroke: We don’t consort with murderers.

Bigot: That’s right.

Bastard: Look, whatever it is you believe, at least give him a chance to explain.

Salisbury: We don’t want to hear his lies.  We’ve made up our minds.  We’re leaving him for good.

Bastard: Come on, now.  You’re gentlemen.  You’re lords.  This is a time for reason and diplomacy.  Don’t let your feelings run away with you.

Pembroke: Our feelings are based on honour.

Bastard: Don’t break off with the King.  Please.

Salisbury: This is where Arthur was imprisoned.  Perhaps we’ll find–(He notices the hand sticking out.)  Hold it.  (He goes over and looks around the corner of the wall.)  Pembroke!  Bigot!

    (All the others rush over.  They pull Arthur’s body forward into plain sight.)

Pembroke: My God!

Salisbury: Murdered.

Bigot: The poor boy.  This is terrible.

Salisbury: Now what do you think of your beloved King, Sir Richard?

Bastard: I’m shocked.  This is too horrible–if it really is murder.

Salisbury: If!–We expected something like this to happen.  Hubert did it on the King’s orders.  And I swear to God they will both pay for this crime.

Pembroke and Bigot: Yes!  Yes!

    (Hubert comes in at the other side and doesn’t notice Arthur’s body.)

Hubert: My lords!  The King wants to see you.  Arthur is alive.

Salisbury (Drawing his sword): Murderer!

Bastard: No!  Put that away!

Hubert: Lord Salisbury!  What do you mean by this?

Salisbury (Indicating Arthur’s body): Here’s your boy!–Dead!  Murdered!

    (Hubert approaches.)

Hubert: I don’t understand!  He was alive when I saw him only an hour ago!

Pembroke (To Salisbury): Go on, kill him.

    (The Bastard stands in front of Hubert and draws his sword to defend him.)

Bastard: No!  There’s not going to be any killing until we find out what really happened.

Bigot: You would defend a murderer?

Hubert: Lord Bigot, I swear to you I didn’t kill Arthur!

Bigot: Then how did this happen?  Someone killed him.

Hubert: I don’t know what happened, but I swear to you I had nothing to do with it.  I loved that boy.

    (Salisbury puts his sword away.)

Salisbury: This crime will be punished–one way or another.  (To Pembroke and Bigot) Come on, let’s get away from this miserable place.

Bigot: We’ll go straight to Louis right now.

Pembroke (To the Bastard): If the King wants us, we’ll be at Saint Edmundsbury–with the Prince of France.

    (The three Lords leave.)

Bastard: Well–Hubert–If you had anything to do with this–

Hubert: No!  No!  I didn’t–

Bastard: If you killed this boy, you’re the worst villain that ever walked the earth, and your soul will rot in hell.

Hubert: Sir Richard, you must believe me.

Bastard: I wish I could.

Hubert: Sir Richard, if I killed this boy, may the devil take me and torture me for eternity.  I swear to you he was alive when I last saw him.

Bastard: All right.  Pick him up.

    (Hubert and the Messenger pick up Arthur’s body.)

Bastard: That’s England you’re holding in your arms.  He might have been King.  All hell is going to break loose now.  And I can’t imagine how it’ll end.–Come on.  I have to get back to the King immediately.

    (They leave.)

Act 5, Scene 1.  In the castle.  King John stands with Pandulph and Attendants.  King John is very pleased with himself and speaks directly to the audience, showing off.

King John: Watch this, everyone!  (He takes off his crown.  To Pandulph)  Cardinal Pandulph, I repent of my heresy and hand over my crown and acknowledge the supremacy of the church.

    (He hands over the crown to Pandulph.)

Pandulph: King John, in the name of the Pope, I forgive your heresy and accept you back into the church.  Your crown is returned, and you remain King of England.

    (Pandulph gives back the crown.)

King John (Claps his hands once with delight): Oh!  Great!  (He puts his arm around Pandulph and shakes him by the shoulder like a friend.)  And now that we’re friends again, you’ll tell the French to call off their invasion like you promised–right?

Pandulph: I will do my best.  On this glorious holiday, Ascension Day, remember your obedience to the church.  Now I go to the French.

    (Pandulph leaves.  King John stands there smiling for a moment.  Then a frightened look crosses his face.)

King John: Ascension Day?  Did he say Ascension Day?–Yes, this is Ascension Day.  What did that guy Peter say?–I would give up my crown on Ascension Day?–Oh, but it was just for a moment.  And it was voluntary.  So it doesn’t count.  I’m okay, then.  Never mind.

    (The Bastard comes in.)

Bastard: My lord, Kent has gone over to the French, and so has London.  (King John groans.)  The lords won’t speak to you.  They’ve gone over to the French side.  And there’s so much confusion out there, frankly, I have no idea who’s still on your side.

King John: But I sent Hubert to tell the lords Arthur is still alive.  Why didn’t they come back?

Bastard: Because they found Arthur dead–probably murdered.

King John: But Hubert told me Arthur was alive.

Bastard: It’s possible that he was, for all Hubert knew.

    (King John looks exremely troubled.)

Bastard: What’s the matter, my lord?

King John: I don’t feel entirely well.

Bastard: My lord, this is a time to be tough.  The French are coming.  You’ve got to face them.  You’ve got to kick their butts.

King John: No, it’s all right.  There won’t be any war.  Pandulph was here.  I’ve smoothed everything over with him.  He’s going to tell the French to go home.

Bastard: What!–You made a deal with that piece of shit?  The French are already here on our soil!  And guess who’s leading them?  That candy-assed Prince Louis, who never got his shoes dirty in his entire life.  And what if Pandulph can’t send them back?  You’re going to have to fight.  And even if he does send them back, what’ll people think?  They’ll think you cut a deal because you were afraid.  No.  Let them think it was the French who cut the deal because they were afraid.  You’ve got to put up a show of force no matter what.

    (King John is very perplexed.  He sits down unsteadily.)

King John: Cousin–I–I don’t know–I leave it all to you.  You do what you think is best.–I’m not myself today.

Bastard: All right, then, my lord.  I’ll be King for a day, then, shall I?

King John: Yes–yes–You’re capable.–Just do what you can, cousin.  I depend on you.

Bastard: I’ll deal with it, my lord.

    (The Bastard leaves.)

Act 5, Scene 2.  Prince Louis’s camp at Saint Edmundsbury.  Louis comes in with Salisbury, Pembroke, Bigot, Count Melun, and Soldiers.

Louis (Handing a paper to Melun): Count Melun, make a copy of this, and give the original to our English friends.  By this agreement we pledge our faith to each other.

Salisbury (Emotionally): My lord Prince, we will be true to our word.–But it hurts me deeply that it has come this–to take arms against English people on English soil.  What a terrible time it is that France must come to England to right a wrong.  From the bottom of my heart, I tell you, sir, I wish it were otherwise.

Louis: Lord Salisbury, you have a noble heart–a good heart.  I understand how you and the other lords feel.  Now lift up your spirits.  What you seek will be delivered, and you will be rewarded handsomely for your service to France.

    (Pandulph comes in.)

Louis: Ah, the good Cardinal–no doubt come to give his blessing to our noble cause.

Pandulph: Hail, Prince, obedient subject of the church!  I’ve just spoken to King John.

Louis: Yes–and?

Pandulph: King John has reconciled himself with Rome.  Therefore, I ask you to return to France.

Louis: Return to France?  But you’re the one who urged me to invade England.

Pandulph: Well, yes, but–

Louis: You spoke to my father and laid out all the reasons why we should invade.

Pandulph: Yes, my lord Prince, but that was then.  Things have since changed.  I’ve settled everything with King John.

Louis: I don’t give a shit what you’ve settled with King John.  The matter isn’t settled with me.  My forces already control half the country.  I’ve claimed the crown.  And now you come and tell me to forget it?  You got what you wanted for the Pope, which is England back in your pocket, and now I’m supposed to go home–is that it?  What do I owe the Pope?  Who paid for this fucking army?  I did!  He didn’t put up a single penny!

Pandulph: Oh, now, sir–

Louis: I’ve heard English people cheering when we marched into their towns!  They’re with us!  And if you think I’m going to turn around and go home now that I’ve got the crown of England practically in my hands, you’re crazy!

Pandulph: Oh, my good Prince, you are eager, you are sincere, but you are still young and inexperienced.   This is a matter that must be put into perspective.

Louis: Perspective!  Here’s my perspective!  I’ve got ten thousand soldiers out there who are ready to fight.  If I tell them, never mind, we’re not going to fight because the Pope’s representative made a deal with King John, how does that make me look?  I might as well be Prince of Penguin Island.  Do you think we French have no pride or sense of honour?

    (A trumpet sounds.  The Bastard comes in, escorted by a French soldier.)

Soldier: My lord, an emissary from King John.

Louis: I remember you.  You’re–

Bastard: Sir Richard Plantagenet.  King John sent me.

Louis: All right.  Speak.

Bastard: You speak first, sir.  What have you and Cardinal Pandulph decided to do?

Pandulph: I have asked the Prince to make peace, but he refuses.

Bastard: Good for him.  You’re a weasel, and you don’t speak for King John.  I do.  (To Louis)  King John is ready and able to smash every French skull on English soil.  He will cut you into pieces and feed you to his hogs.  He will ruin you.  He will destroy you.  He will descend upon you like an eagle and rip out your livers and spleens and cook your hearts for dinner.  (To the English lords)  And you, you traitors–you’ll be slaughtered by your own families, and your servants will sleep in your beds, take all your money, and drink all the wine in your cellars, and then you’ll be buried in a ditch, and dogs will piss on you.

Louis: That’s enough.  You came all this way to insult us?  Fine.  Go back to your King and tell him you put on a good show.  But we are not impressed.

Pandulph: Um, please, if I might say a word.

Bastard: Pandulph, you’re an asshole.

Louis: Save your breath, both of you.  I don’t care about words.  This matter will be settled on the battlefield.

Bastard: That suits us fine.  Whatever King John said to this guy, he wasn’t serious.  He never wanted any deal.  He’ll fight you, and it’ll be death for all of you.

Louis: Brave words, sir, but that’s all they are–words.

Bastard: The last word always belongs to the winner.–Goodbye.

    (The Bastard leaves.)

Act 5, Scene 3.  On the battlefield.  Trumpets and alarms.  King John comes in with Hubert.

King John: Hubert, what’s happening?

Hubert: It’s not going well for us.  How do you feel, my lord?

King John: Sick.

    (A Messenger comes in.)

Messenger: My lord, your kinsman Faulconbridge urges you to leave for your own safety.  I’m supposed to report to him which way you intend to go.

King John: Tell him–to Swinstead–to the abbey.  [Author’s note: Shakespeare got this from an erroneous source.  There was no abbey at Swinstead.  John probably went to Swineshead.  But all texts leave it as Swinstead.]

Messenger: Faulconbridge also has some good news for you, my lord.  The French fleet bringing reinforcements got wrecked in a storm.

King John: Good–good–God, I feel so sick.–Hubert, help me.

    (King John and Hubert leave one way, the Messenger the other.)

Act 5, Scene 4.  Elsewhere on the battlefield.  Salisbury, Pembroke, and Bigot come in.

Salisbury: The English forces are putting up a hell of a fight.  I didn’t think John had this many friends left.

Pembroke: We have to help rally the French.  If they lose, we lose.

Salisbury: That bastard Faulconbridge is out there commanding.

Bigot: Not John?

Pembroke: John’s sick.  He had to leave the field.

    (Count Melun staggers in, badly wounded.)

Melun: English lords!

Pembroke: Count Melun!–Easy, man.

Salisbury: God, he’s hurt.–Melun, how bad is it?

Melun: I’m dying.–Listen to me–noble English.–You have been duped.

Salisbury: Duped?  How?

Melun: Prince Louis–intends to have you executed–after he wins.

Pembroke: Executed!  I don’t believe it!

Melun: Would I lie to you?–I am dying.–Would I face God with a lie on my dying lips?–I owe you this favour.–My grandfather was English.–Now you do a favour for me.

Salisbury: Yes.  Anything.

Melun: Put me in some sheltered place–so I have time to make my peace with God.

Bigot: Yes, yes.–Poor man.–You’ve saved our lives.  God bless your soul.

Salisbury: Come.  Quickly.

    (The three Lords carry Melun out.)

Act 5, Scene 5.  Evening in Prince Louis’s camp.  Louis comes in with his Attendants.

Louis: We did all right today.  We drove the English back.  If we can keep it going like this, we’ll beat them.

    (A Messenger comes in.)

Messenger: My lord Prince.

Louis: What’s the news?

Messenger: Count Melun is dead.  And the English lords have deserted us and gone back to John.

Louis: Damn!

Messenger: And our fleet, my lord–

Louis: Yes?

Messenger: It was wrecked on the shoals in a storm.

Louis: Damn! Damn! Damn!–If I had those reinforcements–damn!  I never expected this.–Tell me, is it true John withdrew from the field?

Messenger: Yes, my lord, it’s true.

Louis: All right, then.  We’ll keep a careful watch tonight.  I’m going to be up early tomorrow–before sunrise.  I must beat the English, with or without the fleet.

    (They all leave.)

Act 5, Scene 6.  At night near Swinstead.  The Bastard and Hubert come in slowly from opposite sides.

Hubert: Who goes there?  Speak or I’ll shoot!  [Author’s note: This better be a bow and arrow, because guns didn’t exist yet.]

Bastard: Don’t shoot!  Who are you?

Hubert: I am English.

Bastard: Hubert?  Is that you?

Hubert: Yes.  Who are you?

Bastard: Sir Richard Plantagenet.

Hubert: Oh, thank God!  You had me scared to death, sir.  I’ve been looking for you.

Bastard: What’s happened?

Hubert: Bad news, sir.  The King is terribly sick.  He’s at Swinstead Abbey.  I think he’s been poisoned by a monk.

Bastard: Oh, God.  I shouldn’t be at all surprised.  All the monks were furious when I hit them up for money.  But are you sure he was poisoned?

Hubert: It has to be.  One of the monks gave him wine to drink, and he drank some first so the King wouldn’t suspect anything.  The monk died, but the King is still alive–just barely.

Bastard: Who’s with him now?

Hubert: Why, sir, don’t you know?  The lords have come back–and they’ve got young Prince Henry with them.

Bastard: Henry!

Hubert: Yes.  John’s own son.  And he asked John to pardon the lords, and he did.

Bastard: Hubert, I’ve lost half my men.  We got caught on the flats when the tide came in.  I just barely got out alive.

Hubert: Oh, bad luck, sir.

Bastard: Yes.  But never mind.  Take me to the King at once.  I just hope he’s still alive.

Hubert: Follow me.  This way.

    (They leave.)

Act 5, Scene 7.  Morning.  The orchard at Swinstead Abbey.  Prince Henry comes in with Salisbury and Bigot.  (Henry is a young boy.  Historically, he was nine years old at this time.)

Prince Henry: He’s very sick, isn’t he?  He’s going to die, isn’t he?  He was raving last night.

Salisbury: It’s all right, Prince.

    (Pembroke comes in.)

Pembroke: He wants to come outside.  He says it’ll make him feel better.

Prince Henry: Please bring him

Bigot: I’ll go.

    (Bigot leaves.)

Prince Henry: How is he?

Pembroke: He’s calmer.  He even tried to sing.

Prince Henry: The swan sings before it dies.  Isn’t that so?

Salisbury: That’s what they say.  Now be brave, my young Prince.  Remember that you were born to be King.

    (King John is brought in by Bigot and set upon a chair.)

King John: Ahh–let me see the sky one more time.–I am burning inside.

    (Prince Henry takes his hand.)

Prince Henry: Father, don’t leave me.

King John: My boy.  (To the Lords)  Bring me cold.  Bring me a winter wind.  Conjure it up if you have to.  I need cold.  I am so hot inside.

    (Prince Henry cries and hugs his father.)

Prince Henry: Father–

    (The Bastard comes in, out of breath.  [Optionally, Hubert is with him.])

Bastard: My lord.  I came as soon as I could.

King John: Ahh–good cousin–Philip–Sir Richard.–I hang by a thread.  You are just in time to close my eyes.

Bastard: My lord, the French forces are on the way.  I lost half my men on the flats, but we can still fight–

    (King John groans and dies.)

Salisbury: The King is dead.

Prince Henry: So even a King can die.  Then I shall die, too, someday.

Bastard: I’m reading to keep fighting–for you, Prince, and for your father.  They haven’t beaten us yet.  (To the Lords)  All of you.  We’ll collect our forces.  We’ll drive the French into the Channel.  We’ll–

Salisbury: Sir Richard, don’t you know?  The fighting is over.  Cardinal Pandulph came from the French only a half hour ago.  He’s inside now, resting.

Bastard: Never mind Pandulph.  We’ll bring the French to their knees and dictate the peace on our terms.

Salisbury: But it’s already been settled.

Pembroke: Yes, Sir Richard.  Neither side can win at this point.  It’s a stalemate.

Salisbury: Prince Louis left everything in the hands of Pandulph.  All of us are in agreement.  We’d like to have as many lords possible come today and witness the signing of a truce.–If you think that’s appropriate.

    (There is a very significant pause here, as the Bastard regards Prince Henry.)

Bastard (To Salisbury): I bow to your wisdom, sir.  I agree.  (To Prince Henry)  We’ll hold a funeral for your father.

Prince Henry: He wanted to be buried at Worcester.

Bastard: Then he shall be.  And you, young Prince, shall be our new King.–King Henry.  (He kneels.)  To whom I pledge my everlasting loyalty.

    (The other Lords kneel.)

Lords: Your loyal subjects.

    (A pause, while Prince Henry regards them with tears in his eyes.)

Prince Henry (Timidly): I shall try to do my very best–if you will all help me.

    (The Bastard holds the Prince’s hand in a gesture of encouragement.)

Bastard: My lord, we are cousins.  We are Plantagenets.  And Plantagenet blood will always rise to the occasion.  So be of good cheer, my lord.  This wounded land will heal.  England will be happy again.  And as long as England is not divided against herself, she can never be conquered.  God bless England.  And God save the King.

Lords: God save the King.


    Copyright@ 2011 by Crad Kilodney.  E-mail: crad166@yahoo.com  


(Index to the Series appears on Oct. 7, 2010 — https://cradkilodney.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/ )

Main Characters

Solinus — Duke of Ephesus

Egeon — a merchant of Syracuse

Antipholus of Ephesus and Antipholus of Syracuse — twin sons of Egeon, separated in infancy.  (These will be designated in the text as Antipholus E. and Antipholus S.)

Dromio of Ephesus and Dromio of Syracuse — twin brothers, also separated in infancy and servants to Antipholus E. and Antipholus S.  (These will be designated in the text as Dromio E. and Dromio S.)

Emilia — Abbess of Ephesus and long-lost wife of Egeon

Adriana — wife of Antipholus E.

Luciana — Adriana’s sister

Luce — Adriana’s maid

Balthasar — merchant

Two Merchants (unnamed)

Angelo — goldsmith

Dr. Pinch — exorcist

Courtesan (female innkeeper)

Nell — wife of Dromio E. and servant in the household  (Nell never appears.  In this version, she and Luce are two different persons.  In some versions, Nell and Luce are the same person, referred to by two names.)

Gist of the story: Egeon, a merchant of Syracuse, has been arrested in Ephesus because of bad relations between the two towns.  He has been searching for his son Antipholus and servant Dromio, who left Syracuse seven years before to search for their twins, also named Antipholus and Dromio, and their mother, Emilia, from whom they were separated in a shipwreck when all four twins were babies.  The brothers from Syracuse never came back, but by chance they have come to Ephesus, where their twins have been settled for some time.  Absurd complications arise when the twins, who look exactly alike and have the same names, are mistaken for each other.  The play ends happily when all the twins and parents are reunited.  (This is pretty low comedy compared to Shakespeare’s other comedies, but it’s still quite funny.  Shakespeare used the device of mistaken identity in other plays, most notably Twelfth Night and The Taming of the Shrew, which you can also read in this series.  The only memorable line in the original Comedy of Errors is “He must have a long spoon that must eat with the devil” (Act 4, Scene 3).  This was borrowed in the movie Inherit the Wind, when Gene Kelly says, “He that sups with the devil must have a long spoon.”  Of course, you won’t find that line in this version, but you will find a few that Shakespeare would have approved of.)

Act 1, Scene 1.  In Ephesus, a town on the west coast of what is now Turkey.  Solinus, the Duke of Ephesus, comes in with Egeon, a merchant of Syracuse (a town in Sicily), plus the Jailer and Attendants.

Egeon: Go ahead, Duke.  Execute me and put an end to my misery.

Duke: You know why you’re being executed, Egeon.  You’re from Syracuse, and you’re forbidden to be here in Ephesus. It was your Duke who executed some of our merchants when they went there to do business.  They couldn’t pay the ransom money for their lives, so he killed them.  And now we’re doing the same to merchants from Syracuse.  I mean, where does your Duke get off doing that to Ephesus?  We’re in the Bible.  Syracuse isn’t.  Saint Paul wrote us an epistle, but he didn’t even send your people a post card.  Now, your ransom is set at one thousand marks, and if you can’t pay it, you’re dead.  That’s our law.  And frankly, judging from what you’ve got, I don’t think you can pay it.

Egeon: I didn’t come to Ephesus on business.

Duke: Then why did you come?

Egeon: It’s a long story–and a very sad one.

Duke: I’m willing to listen.  Tell me.

Egeon: Many years ago I was called away from Syracuse while my wife was pregnant.  I was in Epidamnum.  My wife insisted on joining me, and that’s where she gave birth to our twin sons.  And by coincidence, a poor woman also gave birth to twin boys on the same day.  She couldn’t care for them, so we agreed to adopt them as companions and servants to our sons.  Then my wife wanted to go home, so all off us got on a ship.  On the way back, we sailed into a storm.  The crew deserted us in the lifeboats.  My wife tied herself and one of our sons and one of the adopted boys to a mast, and I tied myself and our other son and the other adopted boy to another mast.  The sea was carrying us toward Corinth.  Then the storm ended, and we saw two fishing boats coming toward us.  And then what do you think happened?

Duke (Deadpan): Suddenly a pirate ship loomed on the horizon.

Egeon: No.

Duke: A sea serpent appeared.

Egeon: No.

Duke: You realized your luggage was on another boat.

Egeon: No.

Duke: I’m kidding.  So what happened?

Egeon: Our ship hit a big rock and broke in half.

Duke: Huh!  Not bad.  I like that.

Egeon: We were still tied to our masts.

Duke: Why didn’t you untie yourselves when the storm ended?

    (Egeon reacts as if the other player has departed from the script and has taken him by surprise.)

Egeon: Uh–I–well–I don’t know.

Duke: It’s okay.  (A sideways look at the audience) We’re suspending our disbelief.  So continue.

Egeon: One boat picked up my wife and those two boys, and the other boat picked me up with the other two boys.  The boat that picked up my wife sailed away in the direction of Corinth, and I never saw any of them again.  The boat that picked me up took us home to Syracuse.  You see, the men knew me and wanted to be nice to me.–Isn’t this a sad story?

Duke: Well–it’s somewhat sad.  But mainly it’s weird.  So go on.  I want to hear the end of it.

Egeon: Yes.  Well, those events happened many years ago.  When my son turned eighteen, he wanted to leave Syracuse to search for his twin brother.  And his servant wanted to search for his twin brother, too.  Our sons were given the same name, by the way, and the poor twins were also given the same name.

Duke: Why? 

Egeon: Oh–I–I don’t know–we just–

Duke: Never mind.  Go on.

Egeon: Yes.  Well, you see, my son and his servant never came back.  And for the last five years I’ve been searching for them all over.  I just happened to be here for that reason–either to find them or at least learn some news about them.  If I knew that they were alive at least, I’d have some relief for my broken heart.  I could face death.  I’m an old man anyway, and all alone.

Duke: Tsk! Tsk!  Poor guy.  I really feel for you.  That’s the saddest story I’ve ever heard–implausible but still sad.  I’d pardon you if I could, but we have our laws.  You can understand that.–However, I’ll give you a chance to save your life.  I’ll give you a day to try to raise the money.  If there’s anyone in Ephesus who’s willing to pay a thousand marks for your ransom, that’s fine with me.  Otherwise–well–

Egeon: I don’t know anyone here.

Duke: Hey, if a bunch of guys in a fishing boat know you, maybe somebody here knows you.

Egeon: Well–

Duke: Jailer, lock him up.

Jailer: Yes, your Grace.

    (They leave.)

Act 1, Scene 2.  Antipholus S. and Dromio S. come in with a Merchant.

Merchant: Listen, don’t tell anyone you’re from Syracuse, or your goods will be confiscated for ransom.  Just today, in fact, some fellow from Syracuse got arrested, and he’s going to be executed if he doesn’t come up with a thousand marks.  Just say you’re from Epidamnum.  Anyway, here’s the money you asked me to hold for you.

    (He gives Antipholus S. a bag of gold.)

Antipholus S: Thank you.–Dromio, take this to the Centaur and wait for me.  (He hands him the bag.)  I’ll be there for lunch.  But first I want to do a bit of sight-seeing.

Dromio S: Right, boss.  I’ll run away to Greece and have a good time with this.–Just kidding, ha, ha.

    (Dromio S. leaves.)

Antipholus S: My servant has a sense of humour.  So, why don’t you come along with me and then we can have lunch together at the Centaur.

Merchant: I’d love to, but I have a business meeting.

Antipholus S: All right.  I’ll just wander around then.

Merchant: Enjoy yourself.

    (The Merchant leaves.)

Antipholus S: Enjoy myself–huh!  If only.  For years I’ve been searching for my twin brother and my mother.  If I could just find them–

    (Dromio E. comes in.)

Antipholus S: What?  Are you back so soon?

Dromio E: What do you mean?  I’ve been out looking for you.  Madam is waiting for you to come home for lunch, and she’s very annoyed and she’s taking it out on me.

Antipholus S: Madam?  Madam who?

Dromio E: Your wife, of course.

Antipholus S: Ha, ha, very funny.  Where’s the money I gave you?

Dromio E: What money?  You mean the sixpence you gave me last week?  I already spent that on candy.

Antipholus S: Now quit joking.  I need that money.  We’re strangers here in Ephesus.

Dromio E: Strangers in Ephesus?  Sir, you’re the one who’s joking.  Now please come home.  I promised madam I’d find you and bring you back in time for lunch.

Antipholus S: Will you cut out this madam crap!  I don’t have any wife.  Now what did you do with the gold?

Dromio E: Gold?

Antipholus S: The gold I gave you for safekeeping.

Dromio E: You didn’t give me any gold.

Antipholus S: There was a thousand marks in gold in that bag, so quit fucking with me and tell me where it is!

Dromio E: I don’t know anything about any gold.  Your wife is waiting for you at the Phoenix, and you’re supposed to come home for lunch. [Author’s note: places of business and residence were often combined, so the name of the shop or business also refers to home.  The name Porcupine is used the same way later.]

Antipholus S: I am not in the mood for jokes!  (He slaps Dromio E. several times.)

Dromio E: Ow!–Don’t hit me!–I’m leaving.  Christ, what a temper.

    (Dromio E. leaves.)

Antipholus S: He must have lost my money.  That must be it.  Probably got fleeced by some con artist.  This town’s supposed to be full of them.  That’s what I’ve heard.  Crooks, witches, sorcerers, gypsies, people claiming to be homeless.  If that’s the way it is here in Ephesus, I’m not staying very long.–I gotta get back to the Centaur and see if my money’s there.

    (He leaves.) 

Act 2, Scene 1.  At the Phoenix (home and place of business of Antipholus E.).  His wife, Adriana, comes in with her sister, Luciana.

Adriana: Where’s my husband?  Where’s Dromio?  It’s two o’clock.

Luciana: Don’t worry about it, Adriana.  Maybe he met another merchant and they went off to have lunch.

Adriana: I hate it when he does that.  I want him home for lunch.

Luciana: Sister, men come and go when they please.  They’re the boss.  You just have to put up with it.  You should be patient and obedient.

Adriana: Patient and obedient!  That’s why you’re still single, Luciana.  You’re too meek.

Luciana: No, that’s not the reason.

Adriana: Then what is?

Luciana: It’s because of–you know–the sex thing.

Adriana: What sex thing?

Luciana: You know.–Men have, like, penises and stuff.

Adriana: They certainly do.  That’s where their brains are.  And that’s why they’re unfaithful.

Luciana: Oh, well–I suppose I’ll get married someday.  But obedience comes before love.

Adriana: You think so?

Luciana: Well, what I mean is, a woman may not be in love when she marries, but if she’s obedient, the love will grow.

Adriana: It’s easy for you to preach obedience.  You don’t have to deal with a husband.  What would you do if your husband cheated on you?

Luciana: I would just be patient.

Adriana: Patient!  Ha!  Patience is not the way, and you’ll find that out.

Luciana: Oh–here comes Dromio.

    (Dromio E. comes in.)

Adriana: Did you find your master?  Is he coming?

Dromio E: Yes and no.

Adriana: What do you mean?

Dromio E: Yes, I found him.  No, he’s not coming.  And he smacked me.

Adriana: What for?

Dromio E: I hardly know how to explain it.  He was acting very strangely.  He was ranting about a bag of gold.  He said he gave it to me for safekeeping.  I had no idea what he was talking about.  I told him you wanted him home for lunch, and he said he didn’t know who “madam” was.  He said he didn’t have any wife.

Adriana (To Luciana): You see what I have to put up with?  And you expect me to be patient?  (To Dromio E.)  You go right back and find him and bring him home.

Dromio E: He’ll just hit me again.

Adriana: I’ll hit you if you don’t go.  Now go and get him.

Dromio E: Oh, God.  Everyone wants to hit me.  Between the two of you, I’ll end up crippled or dead.

    (He leaves.)

Luciana: Tsk!–Sister, this is all wrong.  You have to be patient.

Adriana: I can just imagine where he is now.   Probably having a toss in bed with some slut.  And I cook and clean for him, and what do I get?  Not even a smile.  He makes me feel old and ugly.  And if I am, it’s his fault.  He made me that way.

Luciana: Oh, now–

Adriana: A wife deserves better treatment than I get.  Someone else is getting what I should be getting.

Luciana: You shouldn’t have jealous thoughts like that.  It’s bad for you.

Adriana: He promised to buy me a necklace and he didn’t.  He doesn’t love me any more.  He’s out with some whore–someone sexier and prettier than me!  (She starts to cry.)

Luciana: Oh, Adriana.

    (They leave.)

Act 2, Scene 2.  On the street.  Antipholus S. comes in.

Antipholus S: Okay, so my gold is safe after all.  It’s at the Centaur.  And the innkeeper says that Dromio is out looking for me.

    (Dromio S. comes in.)

Antipholus S: Well, I hope you’ve gotten over your strange mood.  Or was it temporary insanity?

Dromio S: Me?  What do you mean?

Antipholus S: Pretending you didn’t know about the money.  And all that bullshit about my wife wanting me home for lunch at the Phoenix.  Some joker you are.

Dromio S: You don’t have a wife.

Antipholus S: Of course, I don’t have a wife.  But you pretended I did.

Dromio S: I have no idea what you’re talking about.

Antipholus S: Oh, you don’t, eh?  Well, take that, smart-ass! 

    (He smacks Dromio S.)

Dromio S: Ow!–What’s that for?

Antipholus S: For taking advantage of my liberality.  The only reason I allow you to be so familiar with me and joke around is because we grew up together.  But sometimes you step out of line with me.  (Dromio S. cries out in response to the following series of slaps.)  Never (Slap)–joke (Slap)–about (Slap)–my (Slap)–fucking (Slap)–money! (Slap)

    (A pause.)

Dromio S: I shall have to buy something for myself–if you don’t object.

Antipholus S: Not at all.  What do you want to buy?

Dromio S: A helmet with spikes on it.

    (Adriana and Luciana come in.)

Adriana (Angrily): There you are!–Don’t look at me like that.  I’m your wife.  You used to love me.  You used to tell me I was hot.  You used to buy me presents.  You used to compliment me on my cooking.  And now you treat me like a nuisance.  You’re screwing other women, aren’t you?  Don’t deny it.  A woman always knows.  How would you like it if I cheated on you?  You wouldn’t.  So stop treating me like this and be a proper husband.

Antipholus S: I’m sorry, madam, but I don’t know you.  I just got to town.

Luciana: Shame on you, Antipholus!  (Antipholus S. reacts with shock to his name being spoken.)  Why didn’t you come home for lunch?  She sent Dromio to fetch you.

Dromio S: Me?

Luciana: Of course, you.

Dromio S: Madam, we just arrived in Ephesus today.

Adriana: Oh, stop!  A while ago you were complaining that he hit you.  He did hit you, didn’t he?

Dromio S: Well–yes, actually.

Antipholus S. (To Dromio S.): Did you talk to this woman?

Dromio S: No.  I never saw her before.

Antipholus S: Then why did you tell me to come home for lunch before?

Dromio S: What?  I never told you that.

Antipholus S: How do they know our names?

Dromio S: I don’t know.

Antipholus S. (To Adriana and Luciana): What are you, psychic?  Or are you witches?

Dromio S. (Terrifed): Witches!

Adriana: Oh, stop this game, both of you!

Antipholus S (Aside to the audience): Am I dreaming all this, or what?  Are these people crazy?  What are they?–I’d better just humour them.  I don’t want to start a big scene out here on the street.  We’re not even supposed to be in Ephesus.

Luciana: Dromio, go back and tell the servants to get lunch ready.

Adriana: If the meat is dried out by now, you’ll eat it anyway.

Dromio S. (Looking up at heaven): Holy mother of God, protect us from witches!

Luciana: What are you going on about?  Go home and do as you’re told, you idiot.

Dromio S: Master, have I lost my mind?  You did hit me on the head.

Antipholus S: But nobody hit me on the head.

Dromio S: That’s right.–Then this is really happening.  Master, don’t let the witches get me.  They’ll put me into a pot and boil me.  They’ll turn me into a newt.

Antipholus S: Swear to me that you’re not playing an elaborate joke on me.  You really don’t know them?

Dromio S: It’s no joke.  I don’t know them.

Antipholus S: Then they must be witches.  How else could they know our names?

Adriana: Enough of this foolishness!  You’re both coming home at once.–Husband, I’m going to find out what you’ve been up to.–And you, Dromio, will stay by the front door and keep visitors away.  The master will not be available.

Dromio S. (Aside to Antipholus S.): Be careful what they feed you.  You don’t know what’s in it.

Adriana: Come on, Dromio.  Move your butt or I’ll give you a worse beating than your master gave you.

Dromio S: Oh, God!

    (They leave, with the women leading the men, who exchange bewildered looks.)  

Act 3, Scene 1.  Antipholus E. is on the street outside his house, with Angelo, the goldsmith, and Balthasar, a merchant.  The facade of the house is at one side of the stage.  [The Director may choose to keep the inside of the house invisible to the audience so that only voices are heard “within”.  My preference, however, is to allow some space to let the audience see inside.]

Antipholus E: My wife gets angry when I’m late for lunch.–Signior Angelo, we’ll tell her that I was detained at your shop while you were making that necklace for her and it’ll be ready tomorrow.

Angelo: Yes, yes.

    (Dromio E. comes in from the side opposite the house.)

Antipholus E: Here’s that stupid servant of mine.  He made up this ridiculous story that I questioned him about a bag of gold and that I denied ever having a wife.  And he says I slapped him.

Dromio E: Well, you did.

Antipholus E: If you don’t watch out, I really will give you a beating.

Balthasar: Oh, oh!

Antipholus E: I’m sorry, Signior Balthasar.  I don’t want to spoil your lunch.  I’m really happy to entertain both of you, and I promise you a great lunch.

Balthasar: Great or otherwise, it doesn’t matter.  A warm welcome and good company are what matters.

Antipholus E: I pride myself on my hospitality.  You’ll see.–And here we are.

    (He tries to open the door, but it’s locked.)

Antipholus E: What the–?

    (He looks at Dromio E. and jerks his thumb as an instruction.  Dromio E. steps up to the door and calls.)

Dromio E: Trixie!  Bridget!  Lulu!  Marilyn!

    (Dromio S. now comes to the door, inside.  He is visible.)

Dromio S: This isn’t a whorehouse!  Go away!

Dromio E: Hey, who’s the jerk minding the door?  My master wants to come in and eat!

Dromio S: Tell him to go to a restaurant!

Antipholus E: What?–Open this door!

Dromio S: Why should I?

Antipholus E: There are four hungry men out here, that’s why!

Dromio S: We don’t feed street people!  Go to a mission!

Antipholus E: Who the hell are you keeping me out of my own house?

Dromio S: My name is Dromio.  I’m the new doorman.

Dromio E: You’re not Dromio!  You’re an impostor!  Open up!

    (He bangs on the door.  Luce, the maid, comes in beside Dromio S.)

Luce: What’s all the racket?

Dromio S: Some bums want to be fed.

Luce: Tell them to fuck off.

Dromio S. (Calling): Fuck off!

    (Antipholus E. bangs on the door.)

Antipholus E: You open this door now!

Luce (Calling): We don’t open the door to your kind!  Get lost!–This town is going to the dogs.  They should exterminate these people.

Dromio S: I agree completely.  It’s a disgrace.

Antipholus E. (Calling): Wife!  Are you in there?

    (Adriana appears, inside.)

Adriana (Calling): Your wife isn’t here, you lunatic!  Go away!

    (She leaves.)

Angelo: Oh, dear.

Balthasar: Well, it looks like lunch is off.

Antipholus E: I’m terribly sorry.  I don’t know what’s going on.  (To Dromio E.) Get a crowbar or something and we’ll break the door in.

Dromio S. (Calling): I heard that!  Don’t you dare!

Dromio E: I’ll break your head, you asshole!

Dromio S: I’ll break yours first!  Now fuck off!

Antipholus E: That does it.  We’re going to break in.  We need a crowbar.

Balthasar: No, no, no.  Don’t do that.  Not out here in broad daylight.  What will people think?

Angelo: Why is your wife angry with you?

Antipholus E: I don’t know.  I have no explanation for this.

Balthasar: I’m sure there’s a rational explanation.  You can find out later.  But for now, let’s go somewhere else and have lunch.

Antipholus E: Yes.  All right.  That’s a good idea.  Say, we could go to the Porcupine.  I know the hostess over there.  She’s a hottie, heh, heh.

Angelo: I know who you mean, heh, heh!

Antipholus E: In fact, my wife thinks I’m having an affair with her.  Which I’m not.–However (Pauses to think)–Now that I think of it, I think she ought to get that necklace instead of my wife.–Signior Angelo, could you get it from your shop?

Angelo: Sure.  My jeweller is just finishing it, but as soon as it’s finished, I can bring it to you at the Porcupine.

Antipholus E: That would be perfect.  Thank you.

Angelo: I’ll see you in a little while, then.

    (They leave separately.)

Act 3, Scene 2.  Outside, near the house of Antipholus E.  [The house will not be visible, however.] Luciana comes in with Antipholus S., who is obviously fascinated by her.

Luciana: I wish you’d be kinder to my sister.  Don’t you know she loves you?  Even if you only married her for her money, at least put on a good show of loving her.  And if you’re going to be unfaithful, keep it a secret for the sake of her feelings.–Well, say something, Antipholus.

Antipholus S. (Sighing): I think you’re–a goddess!  You’re so wise.  And beautiful!  (He seizes her hand and kisses it many times.)  You drive me crazy–you devil woman!  I want to spend the weekend between your thighs!

Luciana: What?  What are you saying?

Antipholus S: I’ve lost my mind since I came to Ephesus–but I’ve found you!

    (He tries to kiss her and grope her, and she fends him off.)

Luciana: No!  No!  This is what you should be doing with your wife!

Antipholus S: I can’t help myself!  I want to lick every square inch of your silky body!

Luciana: Oh!–Now you just calm yourself, Antipholus.  You’re not yourself today.  I’m just going inside to have a word with my sister.

    (Luciana leaves, in the direction of the house.  Antipholus S. makes exaggerated lascivious gestures and drools for the benefit of the audience.  Then Dromio S. comes in, from the direction of the house, looking frantic.)

Dromio S: Bloody hell!

Antipholus S: What’s the matter?

Dromio S: Am I, or am I not your servant, who grew up with you in Syracuse?

Antipholus S: Of course, you are.

Dromio S: Then how is it that the kitchen maid knows all the details of my body?

Antipholus S: Who does?

Dromio S: Nell.

Antipholus S: Which one is she?

    (Dromio S. describes a huge sphere with his arms.)

Antipholus S: Oh, that one.

Dromio S: Yes.  If you put a wick in her and lit it, it would burn till Doomsday.

Antipholus S: Without a doubt.

Dromio S: She knows everything about me–even (Makes a vague indication of his groin)–down there.

Antipholus S: No!

Dromio S: Yes.  And she says we’re married.

Antipholus S: Who is?

Dromio S: Me and her.  She keeps calling me husband.  I’m afraid she’s going to jump on me and squash me.

Antipholus S: Oh, dear.  These people are very strange.  I don’t know what we should do.

Dromio S: How much longer are we going to stay in Ephesus?

Antipholus S: Not long, I don’t think.  Go to the marketplace and find out if there are any ships leaving that we can get on.  If there is one, move our luggage on board and come back and get me.

Dromio S: Yes.  I will.

  (He leaves.)

Antipholus S: These people must be witches.  That Adriana says we’re married, too.–Ugh!  I can’t stand her!–But her sister–ohhh!  (He pretends to be kissing her and groping her.)  She’d be worth staying for–maybe.  But with all these crazy people, we probably ought to get out.

    (Angelo comes in.)

Angelo: Ah, there you are, master Antipholus.

Antipholus S: What?  You know my name, too?

Angelo: Ha, ha!  Of course!  You’re so funny!  That necklace took a little longer to finish than I expected, so I figured I’d be more likely to find you back home than at the inn.

Antipholus S: Oh?

Angelo: Here’s the necklace, sir.

    (He hands him the necklace.)

Antipholus S: What’s this for?

Angelo: You ordered it.

Antipholus S: I did?

Angelo: Yes.  For your wife.–Only, we know who’s really going to get it, don’t we–eh?–eh?–Nudge, nudge–wink, wink–ha, ha.

Antipholus S: Who?

    (Angelo describes a female “Coke bottle” figure with his hands.)

Angelo: The Porcupine–Eh?–Eh?–Ha, ha!

Antipholus S (Terrified): Porcupine?

Angelo: It’s all right, sir.  I’ll keep your secret.

Antipholus S. (Gasping, clutching his heart): Porcupine?–Oh!–Oh!

Angelo: You’re so funny, sir.

Antipholus S: S0–am I to pay for this now?

Angelo: No, no, no.  I’ll come over at suppertime–since your wife is apparently back to normal.  You can pay me then.  Goodbye.

    (Angelo leaves.  Antipholus S. regards the necklace.)

Antipholus S: This town is a fucking loony bin.  A witch thinks she’s married to me, a kitchen maid can see through Dromio’s underwear–and a total stranger hands me an expensive necklace.  And I have no fucking clue what that porcupine (Imitates Angelo’s Coke bottle gesture) business is all about.  Do people fuck porcupines here?–Holy shit!–Well, at least I’m ahead by one necklace, and I should quite while I’m ahead.–I’d better go to the marketplace and find out about a ship so we can get out of here.

    (He leaves.)

Act 4, Scene 1.  Second Merchant, Angelo, and an Officer come in.

Second Merchant: Look, you owe me the money since June. I haven’t bugged you about it, but now I need it because I have to go abroad on business.  So either you pay me, or you’ll have to deal with the law.  (Indicates the Officer)

Angelo: Okay, don’t worry.  You’ll get your money.  One of my customers, Antipholus, owes me for a necklace.  We can walk over to his place around dinnertime, and I’ll collect from him and pay you.

Officer: You won’t have to wait that long.  Here he comes now.

    (Antipholus E. and Dromio E. come in, returning from the Porcupine.)

Antipholus E. (Aside to Dromio E.): Listen, go to the hardware store and buy a rope.  I’m going to hang that son of a bitch doorman, whoever he is.

Dromio E: Whatever you say, boss.

    (Dromio E. leaves.)

Antipholus E. (To Angelo): Well, here you are!  I was waiting for you.  What about that necklace?

Angelo: Yes, yes.  Here’s the bill for it.  (Hands him a paper)  That’s the amount you owe me, and there are all the details of the work done.  Now if you could pay me at once, I’d appreciate it, because I have to pay this merchant for a debt I owe him.

Antipholus E: Ah.  Yes.  I don’t have the money in my pocket at the moment, and I’m just on the way to take care of some business.  Why don’t you wrap the necklace  up discreetly and take it to my house and collect the money from my wife?

Angelo: What do you mean?  I already gave you the necklace.

Antipholus E: No, you didn’t.  I waited for you at the Porcupine and you never showed up.

Angelo: But I gave you the necklace on the street, outside your house.  Now please, I need that money.

Second Merchant: Ahem!  I’m getting impatient.

Angelo: You see?  I need that money.

Antipholus E: You’ll get the money when I get the necklace.

Angelo: Oh, now please.  I thought you were an honest man.  Now come on.  I have to pay my friend here.  Do you have the money or don’t you?

Antipholus E: Where’s the necklace, then?

Angelo: I already gave it to you!

Antipholus E: No, you didn’t.

Second Merchant: Enough of this bullshit.  (To the Officer) I’m afraid you’re going to have to arrest him.

Officer: All right.  (To Angelo) Now, sir, in the name of the Duke–

Angelo: Wait!  Not me!  He’s the one you should arrest!  (Indicating Antipholus E.)  He’s the crook!  I’ll pay your fee right now, and you arrest him.

    (He gives the Officer some money.  The Officer looks at the Second Merchant for guidance, but the latter just shrugs.)

Officer (To Antipholus E.): Well, then, sir, I’m afraid I have to arrest you.

Antipholus E. (To Angelo): You’ll be sorry for this.  Word gets around in this town, you know.

Angelo: No, you’ll be sorry.  The law is on my side.

    (Dromio S. comes in.)

Dromio S: Master!  Good news!  There’s a ship from Epidamnum that leaves  tonight.  I’ve put our luggage on board like you told me.

Antipholus E: Are you crazy?  What ship?

Dromio S: Why, you sent me to find a ship that we could get away on.

Angelo: Aha!  So that’s it!

Antipholus E: I sent you to the hardware store for a rope.

Dromio S: Rope?  No.  You sent me to find a ship.

Antipholus E: You clown!  I’ll find a ship in a bottle and sail it up your ass!  Now you go straight back to my wife–

Dromio S: Your wife?  Who’s your wife?

Antipholus E: Adriana!  Your mistress!  And you give her this key (Hands him a key) and tell her to take some money out of my strongbox and bring it to the jail so I can pay my bail.  (To the Officer) All right, let’s go.

    (Everyone leaves except Dromio S., who stands there perplexed.)

Dromio S: Now he thinks Adriana is his wife.  He’s bewitched.  And the same thing could happen to me.  And then–(He gestures with his arms to describe a huge, round shape crushing him.)  Oh, God, protect me!

    (He leaves.)

Act 4, Scene 2.  In the home of Antipholus E.  Adriana and Luciana come in.

Adriana: Did he really say those things?  Did he mean it, or was he kidding?

Luciana: I don’t think he was kidding, although he was acting very strangely.

Adriana: And what did you say?  I hope you didn’t encourage him.

Luciana: Oh, no.  I took your side entirely.

Adriana: What a bastard he is!  I can’t believe it!  He’s a monster!  He’s so rotten!

Luciana: No, no, you don’t mean that.

Adriana: I say it–but I don’t mean it.  (She gets weepy.)  He’s so bad to me.

Luciana: There, there.

    (Dromio S. runs in.)

Dromio S: Quick!  The master needs money!  Right away!

Adriana: Why?  What’s the matter?

Dromio S. (Agitated): Big, evil officer!  (Does a comic walk like a monster)  Took him away!  (Does a comic impression of a person being hauled away) To jail!  (Does a comic impression of being in a cell)  It’s terrible!  What’ll they do to him?  What if they’re witches–oh, but you’re witches, too, so what does it matter?

Adriana: Will you get a grip!  What’s he in jail for?

Dromio S: He’s been arrested!

Adriana: But for what?

Dromio S: I don’t know.  But here’s the key to his strongbox.  He needs money for bail.

Luciana: I’ll get it.

    (She takes the key and leaves.)

Adriana: This is very strange.  You don’t know anything more about this?

Dromio S: Nothing whatever.

Adriana: What’s going on?  What’s he gotten himself into?  What’s he been keeping from me?

    (Luciana returns with the money in a bag.)

Adriana: Dromio, take the money to the jail and bring him back immediately.

Dromio S: I will.

    (Dromio S. takes the money and runs out.)

Adriana: This is too much for me.  I need a Valium.

     (They leave.)

Act 4, Scene 3.  On the street.  Antipholus S. comes in.

Antipholus S: This place is crazy.  Everywhere I go, people speak to me by name.  “Antipholus, here’s the money I owe you.”  “Antipholus, I can give you a good price on coal.”  “Antipholus, you want to invest in some real estate?”  “Antipholus, come for dinner next week.”  And the tailor says, “Antipholus, I have your favourite material in stock.  I can make you a nice coat.”  And I just smile and nod and say “Yes”–“Thank you”–“Of course”–“Fine.”  This town must be inhabited by witches.  That’s the only explanation.

    (Dromio S. comes in.)

Dromio S: Master!  Here’s the money for your bail?–But how come you’re out?

Antipholus S: What?

Dromio S: How did you get out?

Antipholus S: Out of where?

Dromio S: The jail, of course.  You didn’t kill the officer, did you?  He looked pretty mean.  Or did you escape?

Antipholus S: Dromio, I have no idea what you’re babbling about.  Listen, is there a ship sailing out of here that we can get on?

Dromio S: Yes.  I already told you there was.

Antipholus S: When did you tell me?

Dromio S: Just before the officer arrested you and took you to jail.  You gave me a key and told me to get money from your wife for your bail.  Here it is. 

Antipholus S. (To the audience): He’s become as crazy as everyone else.  Or is it something in the air?  A plague from space maybe?

    (The Courtesan comes in.  [This is the woman from the Porcupine.])

Courtesan: Ah, there you are, darling!

    (Antipholus S. does an elaborate double-take, in the style of Groucho Marx.)

Courtesan: When do I get that necklace you promised me?

Antipholus S: I know what you are.  You’re a witch.  Stay away from me.

Dromio S: Watch out, master!  She must be the devil’s woman!

Antipholus S: Judging from those curves, she has to be.  (To the Courtesan)  I know you’re a demon, because we don’t have women like you where I come from.

Dromio S: They pass for human, but they’re demons in disguise!  She’s the kind that lure men into sin and lust and depravity!  Do you know what I mean?

Antipholus S: Of course, I know what you mean.

Dromio S: She’ll drive a man so crazy he’ll feel like he’s got a telephone pole in his shorts.

Antipholus S: A what pole?

Dromio S: I don’t know where that came from.  She must have put it in my head.

    (The Courtesan laughs.)

Courtesan: You boys are so funny.  Come back to my place and have some dessert–chocolate devil’s food cake.

    (Dromio S. screams.)

Antipholus S: Oh, no!  I’m not messing with that stuff!

Dromio S: Please, master!  I don’t want to eat devil’s food cake!  (He starts to cry.)

Courtesan (To Antipholus S.): I gave you my pretty ring at lunch because I thought you liked me.  If you don’t like me, then give it back.  Otherwise, give me the necklace like you promised.

Dromio S: Watch out, master!  That’s how the demons take your soul!  They ask for something that belongs to you and then use it in their sorcery!  If you give her a necklace, she’ll use it to make an invisible chain and put it around your neck and drag you choking and gasping into hell, where you’ll be eaten alive by giant dogs with big fangs and flaming red eyes!

Antipholus S: I won’t ask you how you know all this.  (To the Courtesan)  No, you demon!  You’re not getting any necklace out of me!

Courtesan: Oh, but you promised.

Antipholus S: I’m not falling for any of your tricks, you–you really hot-looking demon!–Come on, Dromio, let’s get out of here!

    (He and Dromio S. flee.)

Courtesan: Well!  The nerve of that guy!  He’s got my ring, which cost me forty ducats, and he promised me a nice necklace, and now he’s breaking his promise.  And what’s all this witch crap?  I’m beginning to think he’s lost his mind.  At lunch today he told this bizarre story about how his wife locked him out of the house.  Now I think I understand what it’s about.  She locked him out because he was acting crazy.  Well, I’m going to go straight to his house and tell his wife that he took my ring from me, and she should have him locked up as a lunatic.  That’ll fix him.  I’m not going to be cheated out of a forty-ducat ring.

    (She leaves.)

Act 4, Scene 4.  In the jail.  Antipholus E. comes in with the Jailer.

Antipholus E: Don’t worry, I won’t try to escape.  My wife is going to send the money for my bail.  At least, I hope so.  She’s in a bad mood today.

    (Dromio E. comes in with a rope.)

Dromio E: The jeweller told me I’d find you here.  Here’s the rope you wanted.

Antipholus E: Rope?  You idiot!  Where’s the money?

Dromio E: What money?  Whatever I had, I spent on this rope.

Antipholus E: You spent five hundred ducats on a rope?

Dromio E: I should think not.  It only cost one ducat.  It’s quite a good rope.

Antipholus E: Good!  Now tie a noose and hang yourself!

Jailer: Now, now, sir, just you calm down.

    (Antipholus E. tries to grab Dromio E., but the Jailer restrains him.)

Dromio E. (To the Jailer): You see how he abuses me?  That’s all he ever does.  I grew up with this man.  I’ve served him all my life.  And what do I get for my loyalty?  I’m always getting smacked and yelled at.

Antipholus E: My wife’s here!–Finally!

    (Adriana, Luciana, the Courtesan, and Dr. Pinch come in.)

Dromio E: Mistress, he wants to hang me!

Antipholus E: Oh, shut up.

Courtesan (To Adriana): I told you he was crazy.

Adriana: I’m afraid I have to agree.  (To Dr. Pinch)  Dr. Pinch, you’re an exorcist.  I’ll let you handle this.

Pinch: Yes.

Antipholus E: You’re no doctor.  You’re a quack.

Pinch: There, there, sir.  Just be calm.  Give me your hand so I can take your pulse.

Antipholus E: Sure!  Take it!

    (He punches Pinch.)

Pinch: He’s possessed, all right.–Ahem!  Now, then–I command you in the name of Jesus and all the saints to leave this man at once!

    (Antipholus E. responds with a loud, elaborate Bronx cheer.) 

Adriana: Oh, my God!

Antipholus E. (To Adriana): Was he in my house today while you locked me out?  Were you plotting with him?

Adriana: Locked you out?  You were home all the time eating lunch with me.  What’s the matter with you?

Antipholus E: I didn’t eat lunch with you.  (To Dromio E.)  You speak up!  Were we locked out or not?

Dromio E: Yes.

Antipholus E: And she told us to go away.

Dromio E: Yes, she did.

Antipholus E: And her doorman, whoever he was, mocked us and threatened us, didn’t he?

Dromio E: Yes, yes.

Pinch (To Adriana): He servant is agreeing with him so he doesn’t become violent.

Adriana: Yes, of course.

Antipholus E. (To Adriana): You put the jeweller up to it, didn’t you?  You told him to arrest me.

Adriana: No.  I didn’t tell anyone to arrest you.  I sent Dromio with the bail money so you could get out of jail.

Dromio E: No, you didn’t.

Adriana: Dromio!  I gave you the money.

Luciana: Yes.  I’m a witness.

Dromio: The master sent me to buy a rope.  I don’t know anything about any bail money.

Pinch (To Adriana): I’m afraid they’re both possessed.  This is a very bad case–the worst I’ve ever seen.  There’s nothing else to do but tie them up and put them in a dark room.–Wait.

    (Pinch goes out.)

Antipholus E. (To Adriana): Why did you lock me out today?

Adriana: Husband, try to be calm.  We’re trying to help you.

Antipholus E. (To Dromio E.): Why are you saying I didn’t send you for the bail money?

Dromio E: You didn’t  But we were locked out.  I can vouch for you on that.

Adriana: Dromio, you’re a sick man.

Antipholus E: Neither one of us is sick!  This is all your doing!  This is some kind of plot to humilate me!  You always did have a nasty streak in you!

    (Pinch returns with several strong men.)

Pinch: Tie them up–those two (Indicating Antipholus E. and Dromio E.).

Jailer: Wait!

    (The men grapple with Antipholus E. and Dromio E.)

Antipholus E: Jailer!  You can’t let them!

Jailer: Stop! Stop!

Dromio E: Help!

Jailer: Stop!  You can’t!  I’m responsible for him!  If you take him, I’ll get stuck for the bail fee!

Adriana: I’ll pay the bail fee myself.  And whatever else I have to pay to get him out of trouble.–Dr. Pinch, take them to my house.

Antipholus E: You bitch!  I hate you!

Dromio E: Master, pretend you’re insane, and the court will be lenient.

Antipholus E: I won’t pretend anything!

Luciana: See?  He’s not pretending.  He really is insane.

Adriana (To Pinch): Be gentle with them.  They’re sick men.

Pinch: Yes, yes.

    (Pinch and his party of men start dragging out Antipholus E. and Dromio E.)

Dromio E: Master, are you going to reimburse me for the rope?

Antipholus E: Shut up!

    (They are dragged out.  The Jailer, Adriana, Luciana, and the Courtesan remain.)

Adriana: Who had him arrested?

Jailer: Signior Angelo, the goldsmith.

Adriana: What’s the problem?

Jailer: It seems that your husband owes him two hundred ducats for a necklace.

Adriana: Oh!–He said he was going to buy me one, but he never did.  I wonder if it’s for me–or for someone else (Giving the Courtesan a sideways look).

Courtesan: I saw him wearing it.  That was after he took my ring.

Adriana: When did you say he took your ring?

Courtesan: Today.

Adriana: And where was this?

Courtesan: At the Porcupine.

Adriana: This is all very peculiar.  I’m trying to understand–

    (Antipholus S. and Dromio S. rush in, swords drawn.)

Antipholus S (Loudly): Begone, witches!

Luciana: They’ve escaped!

Adriana: Help!

Jailer: Run for it!

    (Adriana, Luciana, the Jailer, and the Courtesan flee.)

Antipholus S: Well, they may be witches, but they’re still afraid of swords.

Dromio S: Hey, that was your so-called wife and her sister who just ran out of here.

Antipholus S: Yes.  And the devil woman, too.  God only knows what fiendish plot they’re up to.  And the jailer is in on it, too.  But never mind.  I think we’re safe here until the ship sails.  What do we have left at the Centaur that belongs to us?

Dromio S: Just a few personal things.

Antipholus S: Well, we mustn’t leave them behind.  There’s no telling what the witches would do with them.  You’ll have to go back and get the rest of our stuff.

Dromio S: I was just thinking.  If we’re safe here, we could stay another day or two.  I mean, as long as people are giving us free gold and stuff.  We’re way ahead since we got here.

Antipholus S: Fine.  They we get away with a nice profit.  But we’re getting out tonight.  Go get our stuff and put it on the ship.

Dromio S: Okay, boss.  Whatever you say.

    (Dromio S. leaves.)

Act 5, Scene 1.  Outside the abbey.  The Second Merchant and Angelo come in.

Angelo: I’m sorry you’ve been delayed, but it’s his fault.  He got the necklace from me, even though he denies it.

Second Merchant: What sort of fellow is he?  I mean, what sort of reputation does he have?

Angelo: He’s always had a good reputation.  He holds credit with everyone.  I always trusted him.

Second Merchant: Oh!–I think he’s coming.

    (Antipholus S. and Dromio S. come in.)

Angelo (To the Second Merchant): See that?  He’s wearing the necklace I made for him.  (To Antipholus S.)  I must say to you, sir, that you should be very ashamed of yourself.  You said I never gave you that necklace, and there it is.  You’ve hurt your own reputation in this town, and my friend here has been greatly inconvenienced.  Now what do you have to say for yourself?

Antipholus S: I don’t know what you’re talking about.  Yes, you gave me the necklace.  I never said you didn’t.

Second Merchant: Oh, but you did, sir.  I heard you.

Antipholus S: No, I never said any such thing.

Second Merchant: Of all the nerve!  What are you, some kind of crook?

Antipholus S: How dare you call me a crook!

Second Merchant: That’s what you are!

Antipholus S: I won’t take that from you, you liar!

Second Merchant: You’re the liar!

    (They draw their swords.  Then Adriana, Luciana, The Courtesan, the Jailer, and other men come in.)

Adriana (To the Second Merchant): No!  Don’t!  He’s a sick man!  He doesn’t know what he’s doing!  (To the men)  Take their swords.  Take them to my house.

Dromio S: Quick, master!  Into the abbey!

    (Antipholus S. and Dromio S. run inside the abbey.  Then the Abbess comes in, from the abbey.)

Abbess: What is all this commotion about?  This is an abbey, don’t you know.

Adriana: My husband and his servant just ran inside there.  We have to tie them up and take them home.

Abbess: Oh, no, no, no.  This is a sanctuary.  You can’t take people out by force.

Adriana: But my husband’s crazy.  He’s out of his mind.

Abbess: Oh?  Well, I have cured many crazy people.  I’m sure I can cure him, too.

Adriana: But, I’m his wife.  It’s my responsibility–

Abbess: Now, now, madam.  You must try to be patient.  I have very good treatments for the mentally ill.  I can do aromatherapy, herbal therapy, dance therapy, psychodrama, hallucinogenic drugs, and other things, too.  I was the one who cured the Fish Man of Smyrna.  Maybe you read about that in The Enquirer.

Adriana: No, I’m afraid not.  Now, listen, I want my husband right now.

Abbess: You are upset.  You should take a Valium.  Now please go.  Goodbye.

    (The Abbess leaves.)

Luciana: Go tell the Duke.

Adriana: Yes!  Duke Solinus!  I’m sure he’ll listen.

Second Merchant: Why, he should be here any minute.  He always comes this way about now when he takes condemned prisoners to their deaths–just behind the abbey.

Angelo: Oh?  Is someone being executed today?

Second Merchant: Yes, as a matter of fact–some merchant from Syracuse.

Angelo: Oh.  Syracuse.  That explains it.  We can watch the execution.  I generally enjoy them.

Luciana: Here he comes now.

    (The Duke comes in with Egeon, the Executioner, and Officers.)

Duke (Loudly): To all citizens of Ephesus–If anyone shall take pity on this man and pay his ransom, he shall be spared.  His ranson is set at one thousand marks.

Adriana: Please, your Grace.  I need your help.  The abbess has done me wrong.

Duke: The abbess?  Done you wrong?  I find that very hard to believe.

Adriana: You know my husband.  You were the one who introduced us.  But he’s lost his mind.  He took a ring from this lady.  He’s become a thief.  And he’s lost his memory.  And he’s deluded.  I had him and his servant tied up and taken home, but somehow they escaped.  I tried to recapture them, but then they ran into the abbey.  We want to get them out, but the abbess won’t let us.  She says it’s a sanctuary.

Duke: Ah.–Hmm.–Well, I owe your husband a debt of gratitude since he served me as a soldier once.  I certainly want to help him if I can.  I’ll ask the abbess to come out and see if we can clear this matter up.

    (A Messenger rushes in.)

Messenger: Mistress!   They’ve broken loose!  They’ve tied up Dr. Pinch!  They’re doing terrible things to him!  You must come back right now!

Adriana: No, no, they’re here in the abbey.

Messenger: No!  They’re in the house!  Your husband’s in a terrible rage!  He wants to get you!

    (Shouts are heard offstage.)

Messenger: That’s them!  They’re coming!  Run!

Duke (To Adriana): Don’t worry.  We’re armed.

    (He nods to his Officers.  Then Antipholus E. and Dromio E. rush in.)

Adriana: What!–But they were inside the abbey!

Antipholus E: Your Grace!  I appeal to you!  I’ve been wronged!  I ask for justice!

Egeon (To himself): Am I seeing things?  Or is that my son Antipholus–and Dromio?

Antipholus E: Your Grace–that evil woman–my wife–has abused me and humiliated me.

Duke: Tell me what happened.

Antipholus E: She locked me out of my own house.

Duke (To Adriana): Did you do that?

Adriana: Of course, not.  He’s deluded.  He was home eating lunch with me and my sister.

Luciana: That’s true, your Grace.

Angelo: Wait a minute.  That’s not true.–Your Grace, I was there when they locked us out.  But he has lost him mind.  That’s certainly true.

Antipholus E: So you’re in on this, too, eh?–Your Grace, believe me, I haven’t lost my mind.  There’s been a conspiracy against me.  I asked Signior Angelo to get a necklace that I ordered from his shop and meet me at the Porcupine.  He didn’t show up, so I went looking for him.  When I found him, he said he’d already given it to me, which he never did, and then he had me arrested for not paying for it.  I sent my servant to get the bail money, but he didn’t.  And then my wife showed up with that quack Dr. Pinch, and he said I was possessed.  Then they tied me and my servant up and dragged us back to the house.  But I managed to escape, and I came looking for you.  Now I’m asking for your help.

Duke: Whoa–hold on.  Let me get this straight.  (To Angelo)  Did you give him a necklace?

Angelo: Yes.  I even saw him wearing it a little while ago.

Second Merchant: That’s true.  And he even admitted receiving it.  We got into an argument and we were on the verge of a duel when he and his servant ran into the abbey.  I have no idea how they got out.

Antipholus E: That’s crazy!  I was never in the abbey, and we never had any argument or duel–and I’ve never seen the necklace.

Duke: My God, what the heck is going on here?  (To Adriana)  If he and his servant ran into the abbey, they’d still be there, wouldn’t they?  But here they are on the street.

Adriana: I can’t explain it.

Duke: And you say he’s lost his mind, but he seems rational to me.  And Signior Angelo agrees that he was locked out of the house.  (To Dromio E.)  You–servant.  What do have to say about all this?

Dromio E: We were locked out, so we went to the Porcupine, and he was eating there with the innkeeper–this lady (Indicating the Courtesan).

Courtesan: Yes.  He was.  And he snatched my ring right off my finger.

Antipholus E: I didn’t snatch it.  You gave it to me.–She exaggerates, your Grace.

Duke (To the Courtesan): Did you see him run into the abbey?

Courtesan: Absolutely.

Duke: Where’s the abbess?  (To an Officer)  Go bring the abbess.  (The Officer leaves.)–This is a confused mess.  I don’t know what to make of all this.

Egeon: Excuse me, your Grace.  I think I see someone here who will pay my ransom.

Duke: Oh?

Egeon (To Antipholus E.): You, sir.  Isn’t your name Antipholus?  And isn’t this your servant Dromio?

Antipholus E. and Dromio E: Yes.

Egeon: Then you must remember me.

Antipholus E: I’m afraid not.  I’ve never seen you before.

Egeon: Have I changed so much that you don’t recognize me?

Antipholus E: I don’t know you, sir.

Dromio E: Me neither.

Egeon: Look closer.  Ignore the white beard and the wrinkles.  Come on.  Look.

    (A pause while they look  closely.  Then they shrug and shake their heads.)

Egeon: Antipholus–I’m your father!

Antipholus E: Sir, I never met my father.

Egeon: I raised you and Dromio in Syracuse.

Antipholus E: Why, I’ve never been to Syracuse in my life.

Duke: That’s right.  I know this man.  He’s never been to Syracuse.  I think you’re losing your wits, old man.

    (The Officer returns with the Abbess, along with Antipholus S. and Dromio S.)

Abbess: Your Grace, here’s the poor man who’s been so–Oh!

    (A pause of stunned silence while everyone looks at the two pairs of twins.)

Adriana: Either my eyes are going, or I see two husbands–and two servants.

Duke: One of each must be real and the other must be a spirit double.  But which is which?

Dromio S: Well, I know I’m real–but I’m not so sure about this guy (Indicating Dromio E.).–Take off, dude.

Dromio E: No, you take off–hoser.  I’m Dromio.

    (Antipholus S. looks fixedly at Egeon.)

Antipholus S: Father?–Is it really you?

Dromio S: Oh!  It is!  Egeon!–But why are you tied up?

Abbess: Egeon!  Egeon!   My husband!

Egeon: Emilia?–Emilia!

Duke (To an Officer): Untie him.

    (The Officer unties Egeon, who embraces his wife.)

Egeon (To the Duke): This is my wife.  And these are my twins.  And these are the poor twins we adopted.  I didn’t know if any of them were still alive.

Dromio S. and Dromio E: Brother! 

    (They embrace.)

Duke (To Egeon): Now your story makes sense.  Twin sons named Antipholus and twin servants named Dromio.

Egeon: Emilia, what happened to you after the storm?

Abbess: We were picked up by a boat from Epidamnum, and then a pirate ship from Corinth–

Duke (To the audience): Told ya!  Suddenly a pirate ship loomed on the horizon.

Abbess: And the pirates kidnapped Antipholus and Dromio, and I never saw them again.  And as for me, chance brought me to Ephesus and I hid myself away in the abbey to forget about my sorrows and the outside world.

Duke (To Antipholus S.): Antipholus, you came from Corinth, didn’t you?

Antipholus E: No, I came from Corinth.

Antipholus S: And I came from Syracuse.

Dromio S: And I came with him–that is, him (Indicating Antipholus S.).

Dromio E: And he’s my master (Indicating Antipholus E.).

Antipholus E. (To the Duke): It was your uncle, Duke Menaphon, who wiped out the pirates and brought us to Ephesus.

Adriana: Then who had lunch with me today?

Antipholus S: Um–I did.

Adriana: So you’re not my husband.

Antipholus S: No, madam.–However–(He takes Luciana by the hand.)  I will gladly be your brother-in-law.

Luciana (Sighing): Oh!–I do.

Angelo: That’s the necklace.

Antipholus S: Uh–right.

Antipholus E: Oh, God–and you thought–and I thought–and I got arrested because–

Angelo: Oh, dear.  Sorry about that.

Adriana: And which Dromio did I give the bail money to?

Dromio S: You gave it to me, madam.  And I gave it to him (Indicating Antipholus S.).

Antipholus S: Yes.  Here it is.

    (He takes out the bag.)

Antipholus E: And that’s going to pay for my father’s ransom.

Duke: Forget it.  He’s forgiven.  Keep it.

Courtesan: Ahem!–Someone has my ring.

Antipholus E: Yes, yes.  You can have it back.

Courtesan: No, on second thought, you can keep it.  You’ll hire me to cater the wedding and I’ll make it back in trade.

Adriana: And what about the necklace?  Who gets that?

    (Antipholus E. looks at his twin and points to Adriana.)

Antipholus S: Right.

    (He gives her the necklace.)

Abbess: Your Grace–everyone–let’s all go in the abbey and give thanks and celebrate.

Duke: Great idea.  And you can break out the good stuff, which I know you have in the cellar.

Antipholus S: Oh!  Almost forgot.  Our stuff is on that ship.–Dromio, you’ll have to unload our stuff before that ship leaves.  We’re staying.

Dromio S: What about all the witches?

Antipholus S. (Looking lovingly into Luciana’s eyes): Oh, they’re not so bad.

    (Everyone leaves, into the abbey, except the two Dromios.)

Dromio S: Brother, you have a very fat wife.  I was afraid she was going to squash me.

Dromio E: You’ll have to wear something so she can tell us apart.

Dromio S: Well, that’s all right when we’re dressed.  But what about when we’re undressed?  We look exactly alike.

Dromio E: You can wear a pink ribbon.

Dromio S: I’m not putting any pink ribbon in my hair.

Dromio E: I wasn’t referring to your hair.

    (Pause.  Dromio S. looks down at his crotch.)

Dromio E: Unless, of course, you want to risk being squashed.

    (Dromio S. looks at the audience with a twisted smile.  Then the twins leave, into the abbey.)


    Copyright@ 2011 by Crad Kilodney.  E-mail: crad166@yahoo.com

(Index to the Series appears on Oct. 7, 2010 — https://cradkilodney.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/ )

Main Characters

The Triumvirs of the Second Triumvirate (Co-rulers of Rome):

Mark Antony — ruler of the eastern part of the empire

Octavius Caesar — ruler of the western part of the empire, including the city of Rome.  (He is also known as Octavian but is usually referred to as Caesar — not to be confused with Julius Caesar, who was his uncle.  After the events in this play, Octavius ruled under the name Augustus Caesar.  He was the first actual Emperor of the Roman Empire.)

Lepidus — the weakest of the Triumvirs, given only Hispania and Africa to govern


Cleopatra — Queen of Egypt

Pompey — adversary of Rome (This is Sextus Pompeius, the son of the Pompey who was defeated by Julius Caesar.)

Characters associated with Mark Antony:

Enobarbus — soldier and close friend

Ventidius — general

Canidius — general

Eros — attendant

Scarus — soldier

Silius — soldier

Decretas — soldier (spelling varies in some texts)

Demetrius — soldier

Philo — soldier

Emissary (referred to in other texts as Ambassador)


Characters associated with Caesar:

Octavia — his sister (actually half-sister; a widow)

Agrippa — general

Dolabella — attendant

Maecenas — officer

Proculeius — soldier

Taurus — general

Thidias — friend (in some texts called Thyreus)

Gallus — friend

Characters associated with Cleopatra:

Iras — female attendant

Charmian — female attendant

Alexas — male attendant

Mardian — male attendant (in the original play, a eunuch)

Seleucus — treasurer

Diomedes — attendant


(The Clown is deleted)

Characters associated with Pompey:

Menecrates — friend and pirate

Menas — friend and pirate

Varrius — officer

Gist of the story: The events in Antony and Cleopatra take place from 40 B.C. to 30 B.C. and are mostly, but not entirely, historically accurate.  Mark Antony has fallen in love with Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt.  This causes a rift between him and Octavius Caesar, who feels Antony is neglecting his duties.  Antony is forced to return to Rome because of a rebellion by his wife (now dead) and the threat of war with Pompey.  Antony and Caesar are reconciled when Antony agrees to marry Caesar’s sister, Octavia.  The Triumvirs meet with Pompey and make peace (temporarily).  Antony abandons Octavia and returns to Cleopatra.  Caesar, now convinced of Antony’s disloyalty, makes war against him (after wiping out Pompey).  Cleopatra is Antony’s ally but proves to be unreliable.  Caesar defeats Antony’s forces.  Antony believes Cleopatra has sold him out.  She flees to her tombs, fearing for her life, and sends him a false message that she has killed herself.  He attempts to kill himself, but he lives long enough to be brought to her.  After he dies, she commits suicide by means of a snake bite.  (We met the Triumvirs — Octavius, Antony, and Lepidus — in Julius Caesar, and it is interesting to compare them in the two plays.  In Julius Caesar, Antony was the predominant heroic character — strong, courageous, very emotional, and motivated by a fierce loyalty to Julius Caesar.  Octavius was young, but very mature for his age, and strong-willed.  Lepidus was a weak figure compared to the others.  He just happened to be in the right place at the right time to become the third Triumvir, but it was obvious that he was going to get pushed aside at some point by Octavius.  In Antony and Cleopatra, we find an Antony in moral decline.  He is still brave and strong, but his motivations are his obsessive love for Cleopatra and his extreme pride concerning his position in the world.  His judgment has become unsound.  Reason has given way to emotion.  We can still identify with him, but not as much as we did in Julius Caesar.  Octavius has emerged as the true heir to Julius Caesar.  He was born to rule, and he knows it.  He is a cooler, more calculating personality — always serious.  He is a power player.  We could call him “Machiavellian” — not an outright villain, but always putting his own interests first.  Lepidus is still a feeble character, and we are not surprised when he is stripped of his power and thrown in prison.  As for Cleopatra, she is considered to be Shakespeare’s greatest female character.  But you may not be entirely sure how you feel about her.  We see her weaknesses early on and her strengths at the end.)

Overture.  Some suitable sandal epic music.  A round girl, dressed in Egyptian style, walks across the stage holding a sign: “Alexandria, Egypt.  40 B.C.”

Act 1, Scene 1.  Cleopatra’s palace in Alexandria.  Demetrius and Philo come in.  Philo takes Demetrius by the arm, glances back over his shoulder, and speaks to him in a confidential tone.

Philo:  The old general isn’t the same any more.  The hero of Philippi.  Now look what he’s become–Cleopatra’s lap dog.

Demetrius: Tell me about it.

    (A trumpet flourish announces Antony and Cleopatra.)

Philo: Here they come.

    (Antony and Cleopatra come in.  She has a party of Attendants fanning her.)

Cleopatra: But how much do you love me?  Tell me.

Antony: My love for you can’t be measured.

Cleopatra: Oh, don’t be evasive.  Tell me how far it would reach.  As far as the moon?

Antony: Yes, yes.  Even further.

Cleopatra: That’s not far enough.

Antony: To the stars, then.–Beyond the stars.

Cleopatra: Ooh!–I will want to see for myself.

Antony: Tonight.–We’ll look at the stars tonight.

    (A Messenger comes in.)

Messenger: A message from Rome, my lord.

Antony: I don’t want it!  I’m tired of messages from Rome!

Cleopatra: But you should read it.  Perhaps your wife, Fulvia, wants you.  Or perhaps Caesar has orders for you.

Antony: To hell with Caesar, and to hell with Rome.  This is where I intend to stay–with you, my love.–We should be together–permanently–don’t you think?  After all, we are the two most important people in the world.

Cleopatra: Yes, of course, we are.–Except that you’re married to Fulvia.

Antony: Oh, stop it.  I don’t want to hear another word about Fulvia.–Come now, don’t let’s quarrel.  I want every moment we spend together to be happy.  What shall we do tonight?

Cleopatra: Confer with the ambassadors?

Antony: Stop teasing me.–I’m mad about you, don’t you know that?  Everything you do, everything you say–all your changing moods–it just makes me love you more.–I know what we’ll do.  We’ll disguise ourselves as peasants and walk around the city.  We’ll listen in on what everyone’s saying.  Won’t that be fun?

Cleopatra: As long as they’re talking about me.

    (Antony and Cleopatra and her party walk out leisurely.)

Demetrius: He doesn’t think much of Caesar, does he?

Philo: I told you.  He’s not the same Antony he used to be.

Demetrius: That’s what they’re saying back in Rome.  And I’m sure it’s gotten back to Caesar.

Philo: Mmm.

Demetrius: Well, let’s just hope things get better.

    (Demetrius and Philo leave, and the Messenger follows them out.)

Act 1, Scene 2.  In Cleopatra’s palace.  Enobarbus, a Soothsayer, Charmian, Iras, and Alexas come in.

Charmian: Alexas, can I ask him?

Alexas: Ask who what?

Charmian: The soothsayer.  Can I ask him to tell my fortune?

Alexas: It’s up to him.

    (Charmian presents her palm to the Soothsayer.)

Charmian: Tell me my fortune, please.  And I want it to be good.

Soothsayer: I can’t make the future.  I can only see it.

Charmian: All right, then.  Tell me what you see.

Soothsayer (Reading her palm): Your past is better than your future.  But you will outlive the Queen.

Charmian: Oh!  Than I shall live a very long time, won’t I?  And how many children will I have?  How many boys and how many girls?

Soothsayer (Reading her palm): It’s too early to tell them apart.

Charmian (Pulling her hand away): Oh, you faker.

Iras (Presenting her palm): Now tell me mine!

Alexas (To Enobarbus): This’ll never stop.  They’ll be streaming in from all over the country, just you watch.

Enobarbus: I already know my future.  I’m getting drunk tonight.

Charmian (To the Soothsayer): Don’t give her anything too good.  It’ll go to her head.

Soothsayer (Looking at Iras’s palm): Your fortunes will be the same.

Iras: The same?  Oh, that’s a disappointment.

Charmian: Alexas, let him do yours.

Alexas: No, thanks–not with the two of you around.

    (Cleopatra comes in.)

Cleopatra: Where’s Antony?

Enobarbus: I don’t know, madam.

Cleopatra: He was in a good mood before, but now he’s grumbling about Rome.  I don’t like it when his mood changes like that.

Alexas: Here he comes now, madam.

    (Antony comes in with the previous Messenger, but Cleopatra starts to leave.)

Cleopatra: Never mind.–Him and his moods.–Hmph!–Come, everyone.

    (Everyone else leaves with her, and their exit overlaps Antony’s entrance.  He is now with the Messenger.)

Messenger: Your wife, Fulvia, was going to attack with her army against your brother, Lucius.  But then Caesar moved against both of them and drove them out of Italy.

Antony: And what else?

Messenger (Hesitating): There’s worse news, I’m afraid.  Please don’t blame me for it.

Antony: I don’t punish messengers who bring me bad news.  Just give it to me straight.

Messenger: Labienus and the Parthians have conquered all of Asia.  They’ve gone all the way to the Euphrates River.  They’ve taken Syria, Lydia, and Ionia–and while all that’s happening–

Antony: And while all that’s happening, Antony is having a good time in Alexandria with the Queen of Egypt.

Messenger: I didn’t say that, sir.

Antony: You didn’t have to say it.  I can hear them saying it in Rome.  I can imagine what they’re saying.  And I can imagine what sort of names they’re calling the Queen of Egypt.  I can guess what Fulvia calls her.–Never mind.  You can go.

    (The First Messenger leaves.  The Second Messenger arrives as the First is leaving.)

Antony: Do you have any news from Greece?  Anything about my wife?

Second Messenger: My lord–your wife, Fulvia–is dead.

Antony: What happened?

Second Messenger: She died in Greece, my lord.  An illness.  (He hands Antony a letter.)  The letter explains it.–And there are other matters.

Antony: All right.  Leave me.

    (The Second Messenger leaves.  Antony reads the letter.)

Antony: Now that she’s gone, I wish I had her back.–Damn.–I’ve been wasting time.  I’m going to have to leave.  (Calling) Enobarbus!

    (Enobarbus comes in.)

Enobarbus: Yes, my lord.

Antony: I have to leave.  Back to Rome.

Enobarbus: Tsk!–Cleopatra won’t like that.  She’ll insist on dying–several times–just to spite you.

Antony: The Queen of Egypt has an over-developed sense of drama.

Enobarbus: That’s why we love her.

Antony: I never should have met her.

Enobarbus: But then think of what you would have missed.

Antony: Fulvia is dead.

Enobarbus: Oh.–I see.–I’m very sorry, my lord.–But in a way, that rather simplifies things.

Antony: Unfortunately not.  She caused a lot of trouble in Rome, which will require a lot of smoothing over with Caesar.  But what’s even worse is that Sextus Pompeius is threatening Caesar.  And he’s drawing a lot of support from all the people who supported his father, the Great Pompey.  The whole empire’s at risk, and here I am in Egypt eating, drinking, and–playing–with the Queen.  Now how does that make me look?

Enobarbus: Not so good.

Antony: I’ll have to tell her I’m returning to Rome.  Tell the officers to make preparations to leave.

Enobarbus: Yes.  At once.

    (They leave.)

Act 1, Scene 3.  In Cleopatra’s palace.  Cleopatra, Charmian, Alexas, and Iras come in.

Cleopatra (To Alexas): Alexas, go see what Antony is doing, but don’t tell him I sent you.  If he’s unhappy, tell him I’m–dancing–having a good time.  And if he’s happy, tell him I’m sick–very sick.  Go.

    (Alexas leaves.)

Charmian: Madam, I shouldn’t deal with Antony that way.

Cleopatra: How do you mean?

Charmian: I mean being contrary with him.

Cleopatra: Charmian, you don’t know how to manage a man.

Charmian: If you try to control him, he might resent it.  I would be patient with him.

    (Antony comes in.  Cleopatra immediately puts on an act.)

Cleopatra: Oh!  I feel so sick!

Antony: I must speak to you, Cleopatra.

Cleopatra: I think I’m going to faint!–Charmian!

    (She swoons, conveniently right into Charmian’s arms.)

Antony: I wish you’d listen.

Cleopatra: I know what you’re going to tell me.  Your wife wants you back, so you’re going back to her.  I should have expected–

Antony: Will you just listen?

Cleopatra: Go ahead.  Break my heart.  Why must a woman be cast away when she–

Antony: Can I get a word in edgewise?

Cleopatra: Edgewise.–How appropriate.  Like the blade of a knife.  Yes, cut my heart out.  It serves me right for believing all your words of love.

Antony: Good grief.

Cleopatra: You don’t need to make up excuses why you have to leave.  After all, you didn’t make up any when you decided to stay.  My beauty was reason enough.

Antony: I wish you would shut up and listen!–There’s big trouble in Rome, and I have to go back.  Sextus Pompeius is threatening to invade, and everyone who has any sort of grievance against the Triumvirate will go over to his side.  As much as I’d like to stay here with you, I can’t.–And as for my wife–she’s dead.

Cleopatra: Is that true?

Antony: Read this.

    (He hands Cleopatra the letter.)

Cleopatra: I don’t see you crying over her.–Perhaps you wouldn’t cry over me either.

Antony (Controlling his frustration): Please–listen to me.–My heart will always be here with you.  I’ll do whatever you want me to do.  I’ll go to war.  I’ll make peace.  I’ll dig a hole to the centre of the earth.  Whatever you want.  Do I have to prove myself any further? 

Cleopatra: Words, words, words.  I am almost convinced.

Antony: If you keep on like this, I will be very angry with you.

Cleopatra (To Charmian, mockingly): He will be very angry with me!

Antony (Firmly): I’m going.  I’m not going to stand here and argue with you.  Goodbye.

    (He turns to leave, and she stops him and is suddenly conciliatory and sweet.)

Cleopatra: All right.  Whatever you do–may the gods watch over you and give you success.

Antony: You know we’ll always be together in our hearts, even if we’re far apart.–Come.

    (They leave, smiling, hand in hand.)

Act 1, Scene 4.  Caesar’s house in Rome.  Octavius Caesar is reading a letter.  Lepidus is present.  (Body language should signal that Lepidus is subservient to Caesar.)

Caesar: Our distinguished colleague seems to have forgotten his responsibilities.  He always did have a reputation as a man who enjoyed his pleasures, but he is stretching the limits of my patience.  You wouldn’t party like there was no tomorrow when there was an empire to govern–would you, Lepidus?

Lepidus: Definitely not, Caesar.  But Antony’s good qualities far outweigh his faults.  And you know, nobody’s perfect.

Caesar: Not a strong argument, Lepidus.  An ordinary man may pursue his pleasures when he wishes and excuse his vices as being–well, simply human.  And Antony has what we would call normal human vices.  He likes to indulge.  He has the Queen of Egypt as his lover, and I suppose he can’t resist her.  Personally, I don’t care what he does as a man.  But he is a Triumvir, and that means that duty must come before pleasure.  I shouldn’t have to tell him that.  He’s twenty years older than I am.  He should know better.  Here we are facing problems, and he’s not here to help.  I have every right to be angry.

    (A Messenger comes in.)

Messenger: Caesar, Pompey has put together a large fleet.  And a lot of people are joining up with him.

Caesar (To Lepidus): Romans!  Some of them should have their asses kicked.  Why do they run to Pompey?  Because they loved his father?

Lepidus: There are always some malcontents.

Messenger: There is more news, my lords.  Two pirates, Menecrates and Menas, are terrorizing the coast.  No ship is safe with them out there.  Our own patrols are afraid to challenge them.

Caesar (To Lepidus): Two of Pompey’s friends.

Lepidus: He knows how to pick them.

Caesar: I really do wish Antony was here.  Truly, I do.–We’re going to have to assemble our armies and try to deal with Pompey–and hope–that Antony comes to his senses and comes back in time to help us.  And we have not much time, Lepidus.

Lepidus: By tomorrow I’ll know exactly what forces I have available for you.

Caesar: And I’ll know what I have available, too.  We’ll hold council tomorrow, then.

Lepidus: I assume you’ll keep me informed of any further developments?

Caesar: Of course.  Goodbye, Lepidus.

Lepidus: Goodbye, Caesar.

    (Lepidus leaves.)

Act 1, Scene 5.  Cleopatra’s palace in Alexandria.  Cleopatra comes in with Charmian.  (Iras and Mardian are deleted from this scene.)

Cleopatra: I wonder what he’s doing now.  What do you think, Charmian?

Charmian: I have no idea, madam.

Cleopatra: Perhaps he’s walking about–or perhaps he’s riding.  Or perhaps he’s conferring with the other Triumvirs.  I’m sure he’s thinking great thoughts.  I wonder if he’s thinking of me.  He calls me his serpent of the Nile when he wants to tease me.–Yes, he must be thinking of me.–Julius Caesar was my lover when I was younger.  And the Great Pompey couldn’t take his eyes off me.

    (Alexas comes in.)

Alexas: My Queen.  A letter.  (He hands her the letter.)  And he sent you this pearl.  (He gives her the pearl.)  And he promises to give you new kingdoms to rule over.

Cleopatra: What sort of mood was he in when you left him?

Alexas: Hard to say, madam.  Not happy.  Not unhappy.

Cleopatra: Just as I would expect.–Did you see any of my messengers?

Alexas: I met twenty of them on the way.  I don’t know why you have to send so many.

Cleopatra: I can’t help it.  I can’t go a single day without writing to him.–Charmian, did I ever love Julius Caesar this much?

Charmian (Sighing): Julius Caesar!  Now there was a man!

Cleopatra: Oh, stop!  Don’t even compare them.

Charmian: You always praised Julius Caesar.  You looked up to him so much.

Cleopatra: I was young in those days–and almost innocent.–But never mind.  Get me some ink and paper.  I want to write another letter to Antony.

    (They leave.)    

Act 2, Scene 1.  Pompey’s house in Messina.  Pompey comes in with Menecrates and Menas–all dressed for battle.

Pompey: Menas, if there’s any justice in heaven, the gods will be on our side.

Menas: The gods know what’s best, Pompey.  And they pick their own time.

Pompey: Nevertheless, I have complete confidence.  I have a better fleet than Caesar does, and I’m getting new supporters all the time–a lot of people who loved my father.  Mark Antony’s in Egypt with his girlfriend, the Queen, so he won’t get in our way.  And Lepidus isn’t even worth thinking about.

Menas: Caesar and Lepidus have been assembling a big army.

Pompey: Who says so?

Menas: I heard it from Silvius.

Pompey: Nonsense.  They’re sitting on their butts hoping that Antony will come back to save them.–He’s the real soldier, after all, and everyone knows it.–But I’m sure he’s too busy fucking his Queen to give a shit about Rome.  And when he’s not fucking, he’s probably drunk–which is fine with me.  Let him stay that way–drunk, and happy, and far away from here.

    (Varrius comes in.)

Pompey: Varrius, what’s the news?

Varrius: My lord, it is now quite certain that Mark Antony is on his way back to Rome.

Pompey: Huh–I’m surprised.  But then it only proves that we have anough power for the other two to be scared shitless–right, Menecrates?

Menecrates: You said it, my lord.

Menas: It remains to be seen whether Caesar and Antony will still be on good terms.  Antony’s wife and brother fought against Caesar–although it was their idea, not Antony’s.

Pompey: All three of the Triumvirs don’t really get along, you know.  You have two bosses and one errand boy.  The bosses dislike each other, and the errand boy doesn’t know whose ass to lick first.  The First Triumvirate didn’t last, and neither will this one.  But it’s possible they may put aside their differences long enough to combine against us.  In which case, we have to have the strongest force possible.–Menas, Menecrates, let’s go.

    (They leave.)

Act 2, Scene 2.  The house of Lepidus in Rome.  Enobarbus and Lepidus come in.

Lepidus: Enobarbus, you should tell Antony to take a gentle tone with Caesar and not look for trouble.

Enobarbus: You know Antony.  He’ll say what he thinks.  He doesn’t hold back.

Lepidus: But this is no time for personal quarrels.

Enobarbus: Try telling that to Caesar.

Lepidus: Come, let’s be reasonable.  We must encourage diplomacy on both sides.

    (Two entrances will now overlap.  First, Antony and Ventidius come in, in the middle of a conversation.)

Antony (To Ventidius): We’ll see how it works out here, Ventidius, and then we can move on the Parthians.

    (Second, Caesar comes in from the other side with Maecenas and Agrippa, having their conversation.)

Caesar: Maybe yes, maybe no, Maecenas.–What do you think, Agrippa?  (An inaudible reply.)

Lepidus: My friends!  We have serious business to discuss.  Whatever little problems there are among us, let’s not make them any bigger.  Let us all be polite and reasonable and try to agree.

Antony: Well said, Lepidus.

Caesar: Welcome home, Antony.  It’s good to see you.

Antony: Thank you.  Likewise.

Caesar: Let’s sit down.

    (They all sit.)

Antony: I’ve heard that you’ve been unhappy with me–about things you believed were improper–even if they were none of your business.

Caesar: No, no.  I’m not that sensitive.

Antony: Why should you mind if I prolonged my stay in Egypt?

Caesar: I’m sure I didn’t mind what you were doing any more than you minded what I was doing.  But if you were making your own political plans, then I’d have good reason to mind.

Antony: What plans?

Caesar: Your wife, Fulvia, and your brother rebelled against me–supposedly for your sake.

Antony: It’s not true.  My brother wasn’t loyal to either one of us.  And as for my wife, I could never control her.  She acted on her own.  You mustn’t blame me.

    (Pause for Caesar to reflect.)

Caesar: I sent you a letter in Alexandria, and you ignored it and dismissed my messenger.

Antony: It wasn’t like that.  He just came in at the wrong moment, and I didn’t want to talk to him.  I spoke to him the next day, so forget about it.

    (Another pause.)

Caesar: We had an agreement, and you broke it.

Lepidus (Cautioning): Caesar–

Antony: It’s all right, Lepidus.  Let him say what he wants, even if he’s wrong.  (To Caesar) In what way did I break our agreement?

Caesar: I asked you for troops and weapons, and you refused.

Antony: I didn’t mean to refuse.  I simply didn’t respond because I was–shall we say, distracted. I’m sorry for that.  And as for Fulvia, she provoked trouble as a way of getting me to return to Rome.  And I’m very sorry that happened.

Lepidus: Good for you, Antony.

Maecenas: My lords, all these matters should be set aside.  You have to cooperate now and deal with the dangers facing Rome.

Enobarbus: Right.  You can resume arguing afterwards.

Antony: Quiet.  You’re only a soldier.

Enobarbus: Excuse me for speaking the truth.

Antony: The Triumvirs are having a discussion.

Enobarbus: I’ll shut up, then.  (He makes a gesture of zipping his mouth shut.)

Caesar: Your man has made a point, Antony.–Let’s be honest.  We’re very different, you and I.  We can’t pretend to be friends any more.  But for the sake of Rome, we have to stick together–as Maecenas has said.–What I want to say is–we must have a personal bond regardless.

Agrippa: I have a suggestion, Caesar.

Caesar: Let’s hear it, Agrippa.

Agrippa: Mark Antony is a widower now.  And you have a sister–Octavia–who is also a widow.  If you can see where I’m going with this.

Caesar: Ha!  If Cleopatra were here now to hear this!

Antony: Never mind.  Let Agrippa say what he’s getting at.

Agrippa: It’s simple.  Let Antony marry Octavia.  That would make you brothers-in-law.  Not only would that bind you to each other, but it would squelch all the public gossip about the two of you not getting along.

Caesar: What do you say to that, Antony?

    (Pause for Antony to consider.)

Antony: All right.  I accept.

Caesar: I’m giving you a sister I love more than anyone else in the world.  If you love her half as much I do, we’ll be bound to each other forever, and there’ll be no more quarrels between us.

Lepidus: Thanks the gods!  Now we only have Pompey to worry about.

Antony: I must say, I never expected to fight Pompey.  I’ve had friendly signals from him, and I should acknowledge them in some way.  After that, if we still have to fight him, I’m ready.

Lepidus: We should move first and not wait for him to move against us.

Antony: Where is he now?

Caesar: South of here–near Mount Misena.

Antony: How big is his army?

Caesar: Big enough–and getting bigger.  But his naval forces are his real power.

Antony: So I’ve hard.–I should have come back sooner.–Before we make our plans, let’s take care of that–personal matter.

Caesar: I’ll intoduce you to Octavia.  You won’t be disappointed.  She’s very beautiful.

Antony: You come, too, Lepidus.

    (Everyone leaves except Enobarbus, Agrippa, and Maecenas.)

Maecenas (To Enobarbus): So–your boss managed to tear himself away from the Queen of the Nile.  Let’s hope it’s permanent.

    (Enobarbus grunts ambiguously.)

Agrippa: What’s she like?  I want to know.

Enobarbus (Takes a deep breath, composing his thoughts): She’s like a dream within a dream.  Egypt is a dream to begin with, and she’s another.  She has this mysterious charm.   She’s not like any other woman.  She’s beautiful enough, but there’s more to her than that.  It’s something inside her.  People are instantly fascinated by her.  I can’t really describe it.  And she surrounds herself with such luxury.  And I don’t mean vulgar luxury.  It’s like she’s created another world to live in.  Everything is exotic.  Her barge is like a floating palace.  In every square inch there’s something to look at.  All the gold, and jewels, and the tapestries, and the works of art–it’s fantastic.  And everywhere there’s the smell of perfumes.  And there are all these birds, and flowers, and lights.–Well!–Gentlemen, I tell you, if a man woke up there, he’d think he had died and gone to heaven.

Maecenas: Well, that’s all over with for Antony once he marries Octavia.  She’s very different from all that.  She’s–you know–down to earth.

Enobarbus: Ah, yes–down to earth.–But can a man return to earth once he’s been to heaven?

    (A pause to let this sink in.)

Agrippa: Come along.  Let’s have a drink.

    (They leave.)

Act 2, Scene 3.  Caesar’s house in Rome.  Antony comes in with the Soothsayer.

Antony: Well, Soothsayer, do you miss Egypt?

Soothsayer: Very much, sir.  And I wish you would return.  Not for my sake, but for your own.

Antony: What do you mean?

Soothsayer: When you are in your own place, your spirit is supreme.  It shines brightly.  But when you’re close to Caesar, it becomes dim.  You should keep plenty of space between you.

Antony: I should be very annoyed with you for saying that.  I’ve just married his sister.

Soothsayer: I say this only to you, my lord, and for your own sake.  And something else.  Caesar has a charm of good luck on his side.  He’s not necessarily better, or stronger, or smarter.  He’s just luckier.  He will always beat you in any sort of contest.

Antony: That’s enough.  I don’t want to hear any more.  Go and tell Ventidius I want to speak to him.

    (The Soothsayer leaves.)

Antony: He’s right.  Caesar is lucky.  If we play any sort of game, or bet on anything, he always wins.  (Pause for reflection.)  Yes.–I’m going back to Egypt.  I need Cleopatra.  I only married Octavia to make peace with Caesar.

    (Ventidius comes in.)

Ventidius: My lord.

Antony: Ventidius.  I have a mission for you.

Ventidius: Yes, my lord!

Antony: You’ve got to take your army to Syria and stop the goddamn Parthians.  Come with me.

    (They leave.)

Act 2, Scene 4.  This scene is deleted.  

Act 2, Scene 5.  In Cleopatra’s palace.  Cleopatra is pacing back and forth out of boredom.  Charmian, Iras, and Alexas are present.

Cleopatra: I wish I had some news from Antony.

    (A Messenger comes in.)

Messenger (Nervously): My Queen–I bring you news from Rome.

Cleopatra: Is something wrong?

Messenger: No, madam.

Cleopatra: Why do you have that look on your face?  Has something happened to Antony?  Tell me!

Messenger: No, madam.  Antony is quite well.  Perfectly well.  And he and Caesar are on friendly terms again.–Um–

Cleopatra: Yes?  And what else?

Messenger: Antony–has married–Octavia.

Cleopatra: What!

    (She slaps the Messenger.)

Charmian: Madam!

Cleopatra (To the Messenger): It isn’t so!  He’s not married!

Messenger: But he is, madam.

Cleopatra: No!

    (She draws a knife, and the Messenger flees.)

Charmian: Madam, don’t be angry with him!  It’s not his fault.

    (Cleopatra puts the knife away and composes herself.)

Cleopatra: Yes.–You’re quite right, Charmian.–Go and bring him back.  I won’t hurt him.

    (Charmian goes out and returns with the Messenger.)

Cleopatra: I don’t like to be upset by bad news.

Messenger: I was only doing my job, madam.

Cleopatra: Tell me once more.  Is Antony married?

Messenger: Yes, madam.  He has married Octavia, the sister of Caesar.–I’m very sorry, madam.

Cleopatra: You may go.

    (The Messenger leaves.)

Cleopatra: Octavia–Octavia–Alexas, find out everything you can about her.  I want to know what she looks like.  Is she tall or short?  How old is she?  What colour hair does she have?  And how does she style it?  And how does she dress?  I want to know everything.

Alexas: Yes, madam.

    (He leaves.)

Cleopatra: How could he want her instead of me?–Oh, to hell with him!  Let him have her if he wants her!–Octavia!  (She spits.)–No–no–I don’t want to lose him.–I mustn’t lose him!–Ladies, I don’t feel well.–Take me to my room.

    (Charmian and Iras take Cleopatra out.)

Act 2, Scene 6.  Near Mount Misena.  A trumpet flourish.  Pompey and Menas come in from one side; Caesar, Lepidus, Antony, Enobarbus, Maecenas, and Agrippa come in from the other side.

Pompey: All right, now that we’ve exchanged emissaries to guarantee our good behaviour, we can talk.

Caesar: You’ve had time to consider the deal we’ve offered you, Pompey.  If you accept, we can avoid a war, and many lives will be saved.

Pompey: I would be entirely justified if I wanted revenge on Rome for the death of my father, you know.

Caesar: I can understand that, but we’re here to talk diplomacy.

Antony (Aggressively): We’re not afraid of you, Pompey.  We’re ready to kick your ass right out of Italy.  And we have more men in arms than you do.

Pompey: For the moment perhaps.

Lepidus: Okay, look, we’re not here to argue about whose armies are bigger.  We’ve made you an offer, Pompey.

Caesar: Yes.  Let’s stick to that.  Pompey, is it really worth fighting a war in the hope of doing better than what you’ll get by agreeing with us?

Pompey: There is risk to both sides.

Caesar: Of course.  That’s why I’m willing to be pragmatic.

Pompey: So–I get to keep Sicily and Sardinia.  And my friends Menas and Menecrates–

Caesar: The pirates.

Pompey: Ha, ha–as you wish.–They must stop their–activities.  And I must send wheat to Rome.

Caesar: That’s the deal.

Pompey (To Antony): I should be somewhat angry with you, Antony, for your unfriendly attitude.  You know, when your wife and brother were making all that trouble, your mother came to Sicily to seek refuge, and I made her welcome.

Antony: I owe you for that favour.


Pompey: Then let’s shake hands and agree.

    (Pompey shakes hands with the Triumvirs.)

Pompey: I didn’t expect to see you in Rome, Antony.

Antony: If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be here.  But I’m glad I returned.

Caesar: I’d say you’ve changed, Pompey.

Pompey: Perhaps my hardships show on my face.  But inside, I’m still the same.

Lepidus: I would say this has been a good meeting.

Pompey: Yes, I would say so, too.  Shall we put everything in writing?

Caesar: Yes.  We’ll do that now.

Pompey: Very good.  And to celebrate the occasion, we’ll have a feast aboard my ship.

Others: Yes! Yes!

Pompey: Come along, then.

    (Everyone leaves except Enobarbus and Menas.)

Menas: We’ve met before, haven’t we?

Enobarbus: Yes, at sea–where you’ve done quite well for yourself, by all accounts.

Menas: A man does what he’s good at.

Enobarbus: We were all set to make war, you know.

Menas: That would’ve been fine with me.  His father wouldn’t have signed any treaty.

Enobarbus: I think we got the better of the deal.

Menas: It puts me out of business, that’s for sure.  Now I’ll have to earn an honest living.–I was surprised that Mark Antony came back.  I would have thought he’d be married to Cleopatra by now.

Enobarbus: He’s married, all right, but not to Cleopatra.  He just married Caesar’s sister, Octavia.

Menas: No!  Really?

Enobarbus: Yes.

Menas: Well!–Then those two Triumvirs will be like that (Indicates with fingers pressed together) from now on. 

Enobarbus: I would say that is a hope more than a likelihood.

Menas: So he married her just for political reasons–is that it?

Enobarbus: That’s the way I see it.  They’re totally mismatched.

Menas: Do you think so?

Enobarbus: Octavia’s very straight–modest–obedient–sensible.

Menas: She’s a good Roman wife, then.  What’s wrong with that?

Enobarbus: Nothing.  But Antony will become bored with her very quickly.  He’s a man of passion.  He’ll go back to Cleopatra.  And when he does, things will be worse than ever between him and Caesar.

Menas: You could be right.  But let’s not think about it now.  Let’s go aboard and join the party.

Enobarbus: I’m with you!

    (They leave.)

Act 2, Scene 6.  On board Pompey’s galley.  Caesar, Pompey, Antony, Lepidus, Agrippa, Enobarbus, Menas, Maecenas, and Officers are seated at a table eating and drinking.

Lepidus (To Antony): Antony, I’m told there are many exotic snakes in Egypt–and crocodiles, too.

Antony: The most expensive, believe me!

    (General laughter.)

Pompey (To Lepidus): Have some more wine, Lepidus.

Lepidus: I’m getting too drunk already, sir.

Enobarbus: Lepidus gets to drink as much as he wants–and me, too.  It was in the fine print, in case you missed it.

    (General laughter.)

Menas (Aside to Pompey): Pompey, I must have a word with you privately.

Pompey (Aside to Menas): Oh, not now.

Menas (Aside to Pompey): Just for a moment, my lord.

    (Pompey gets up and moves apart with Menas.  The ensuing conversation is unheard by the others.)

Pompey: What’s so important?

Menas: How would you like to be master of the world, my lord?

Pompey: What do you mean?

Menas: Just give me the word, and I will make you master of the whole world.

Pompey: Menas, you’ve had too much to drink.

Menas: Not so, my lord.  For your sake, I’ve had very little to drink.  Now consider this.  The three Triumvirs are all here.  If I were to cut the cables, we’d have them at our mercy.  Then we could–you know.

    (Pompey’s expression is suddenly very grave.  He pauses to consider.)

Pompey: If you had already done it, I would’ve said yes.  But if I have to think about it–the answer is no.  It would be–extremely dishonourable.  I’m going to forget this conversation ever took place.  Now sit down with the others and drink.

Menas: As you wish, my lord.  (Aside) You’ll never have another chance like this.

    (Menas and Pompey return to the table.  Pompey raises a cup.)

Pompey: Here’s to Lepidus, the peace-maker!

Others: Hear! Hear!

Enobarbus: And here’s to Menas!

Menas: And the same to you, Enobarbus!

    (They both raise their cups.)

Pompey: Do they eat and drink like this in Alexandria, Antony?

Antony: Even more, sir.  But if we keep going, we might match them.  (Raises his cup) And here’s to Caesar!

Others: To Caesar!

    (Caesar acknowledges by raising his cup, but without enthusiasm.)

Caesar: Thank you.  But you’ll forgive me if I don’t get too drunk.  I like to keep my wits about me.

Antony: Oh, loosen up.

Enobarbus: Hey, aren’t we going to dance?  Antony knows all the Greek dances!

Antony: Yes! Yes!  And I can dance all of you under the table no matter how drunk I am!

Pompey: I’ll call for the musicians!

Caesar: No, no.  Please, Pompey.  You’ve been a gracious host, but we’re going to call it a night.  (To his party)  We’ve had our fun.  Now it’s time we got back to shore.–Antony.  Lepidus.

Lepidus (Quite drunk): Yes, yes.–Oh, the gods help me, I can hardly stand up.

Pompey: That’s all right.  I’ll escort you.

    (Everyone leaves except Enobarbus and Menas, who linger briefly.)

Menas: That was a party to remember, eh?

Enobarbus: It sure was.  I’ll have a headache tomorrow.

Menas: And a head to keep it in–by the grace of the gods.

Enobarbus: You are funny, Menas.

    (They leave.)

Act 3, Scene 1.  A plain in Syria.  The aftermath of a battle is suggested.  Ventidius comes in with Silius and Soldiers.  A body is being carried.

Ventidius: So much for the Parthians.  And here’s the son of their king.  (He spits on the body.)  That’s payback for the murder of Marcus Crassus.  [Author’s Note: Marcus Crassus was in the First Triumvirate, along with Julius Caesar and Pompey the Great.  He was governor of Syria and got into a war with the Parthians.  They captured him and then murdered him.] 

Silius: It’s a great victory, Ventidius.  But some of the Parthians got away.  We could chase them and wipe them out if we wanted to.

Ventidius: No, Silius.  Antony will be happy enough with what I’ve done.  If I do more, he’ll be less happy.

Silius: Why should that be?

Ventidius: Because he’s my superior, and I don’t want to look better than him.  As long as he considers himself to be the best soldier and the best general, I have to make sure I’m no better than second-best.  Otherwise, I might spend the rest of my career on some island covered with bird shit, commanding a hundred guys with bad backs, allergies, and assorted phobias.

Silius: I get it.  So where do we go now?

Ventidius: Athens.  Antony’s on his way there.  He has a house.  I want to be there waiting for him when he arrives.  So we’ve got to get moving.  (To the Soldiers)  All right, everyone, let’s move it!

    (They all leave.)

Act 3, Scene 2.  Caesar’s house in Rome.  A trumpet flourish.  Caesar, Antony, Lepidus, and Octavia come in.  (Agrippa and Enobarbus are deleted from this scene.)

Antony: Caesar, I must take leave of you and return to Athens. 

Caesar: Take good care of Octavia.  She’s the bond that holds us together.  Don’t do anything to break it.

Antony: You sound like you have your doubts.

Caesar (Pausing to find the right words): I am hoping for the best.

Antony: Don’t worry about me and Octavia.  May the gods protect you, and may all the people of Rome support you.  Now we have to go.

Caesar: Goodbye, sister.

    (They share an emotional embrace.  The audience must get the idea that Caesar is extremely devoted to his sister.  Octavia whispers something to him, and he looks very sad.  [Shakespeare doesn’t explain this, but the suggestion is that Octavia has misgivings or forebodings.])

Caesar: Keep your spirits up, my dear.  I’ll write to you.

Antony: Now wish me good luck, sir.

    (Antony embraces Caesar.)

Caesar: I wish you luck and happiness.

Antony: Thank you.

Lepidus: Goodbye, Antony.

Antony: Goodbye, Lepidus.

    (A flourish as Antony and Octavia leave.)

Act 3, Scene 3.  This scene is deleted.

Act 3, Scene 4.  Antony’s house in Athens.  Antony and Octavia come in.  Antony is angry.

Antony: Why shouldn’t I be angry with your brother?  He and Lepidus broke the truce and attacked Pompey–although I have no doubt it was entirely your brother’s decision, and Lepidus automatically went along with it.  All of a sudden, it’s like I don’t exist.  He even speaks in public and hardly refers to me at all.–You know what that means, don’t you?  An empire–without–Antony.

Octavia: Antony, don’t believe everything you hear.  And don’t quarrel with him.  That puts me in the middle.

Antony: Octavia, if I lose my status, then you’ve married a bum, and what’s the point?  You’d be better off single.  But if you want to go and talk to him and try to reason with him, that’s fine with me.  But in the meantime, I’m going to raise an army, and I’m going to make sure it’s bigger than his.  I’m not going to be number two behind someone who’s twenty years my junior.

Octavia: I don’t want the two of you to fall out with each other.  I’m going to see him.

Antony: Good.  Then you’ll find out for yourself who’s at fault.  You can make arrangements for your trip.  And stay in Rome as long as you like.  Don’t be in a hurry to come back.  I’ll be fine.

    (They leave.)

Act 3, Scene 5.  Antony’s house in Athens.  Enobarbus is present when Eros comes in.

Enobarbus: Eros, what have you heard?

Eros: Caesar and Lepidus attacked Pompey and beat him.  But then Caesar double-crossed Lepidus and threw him in prison.  He made up some bogus charges against him.

Enobarbus: I can see where this is leading.–Caesar versus Antony.–Where is Antony?

Eros: He’s in the garden.  He’s angry.  He wants to kill the officer that killed Pompey.  It was one of our own officers.

Enobarbus: That’s bad.

Eros: He wants to see you.

Enobarbus: All right.  Let’s go.

    (They leave.)

Act 3, Scene 6.  Caesar’s house in Rome.  He is rather angry as he comes in with Agrippa and Maecenas.

Caesar: That guy is the most egotistical son of a bitch I ever met!  And that Cleopatra–she’s another!  He’s made her Queen of Syria and Cyprus, and he’s made his illegitimate children kings and given them territories to rule.  But what burns me the most is what he’s saying about me.  He accuses me of not sharing the lands I won from Pompey.  He accuses me of not returning some ships he loaned me.  And he accuses me of throwing Lepidus in jail so I could steal his property.

Agrippa: The people are on your side, my lord.

Maecenas: Have you made any reply to his accusations, my lord?

Caesar: Yes, I sent him a reply to his slanders.  I told him Lepidus had abused his position, and I had to deal with him.  And as for sharing what I seized from Pompey, yes, Antony was entitled to a share, but I’m also entitled to a share of what he seized in Armenia and elsewhere.

Maecenas: Oh, he won’t do that, I’m sure.

Caesar: Then I won’t give him anything either.

    (Octavia comes in with her Attendants.)

Octavia: Hello, brother.

Caesar: Octavia!  I should have heard you coming from miles away.  The whole city should have been cheering.

Octavia: I didn’t want to attract any attention.  I just wanted to come quietly.  Antony believes you’re going to make war against him.  I had to come here and find out what was going on.

Caesar: I’ll tell you what’s going on.  Where do you think Antony is now?

Octavia: In Athens.

Caesar: No.  He’s not in Athens.  He’s gone back to Alexandria.  He’s with Cleopatra.  And what’s more, they’re raising forces and lining up allies from other kingdoms to fight against me.

Octavia: How do you know this?

Caesar: I have spies everywhere.

Octavia: Oh, the gods!–What shall I do?

Caesar: You’ll stay here with me.  This is your home.  Forget about Antony.  He never loved you.  (She starts to cry.) It’s all right, my dear.  I’ll take care of you.

Agrippa: We’re happy to see you, madam.

Maecenas: Everyone in Rome loves you, madam.

Octavia (To Caesar): Is there going to be a war?

Caesar: Probably.  But don’t worry.  Antony can’t beat me.  He can never beat me at anything.  I have luck on my side.

    (They all leave.)

Act 3, Scene 7.  Antony’s camp, near Actium.  [A geographical note:  You are not likely to find this on a map, so look for Preveza, on the northwest coast of Greece.  Preveza actually faces away from the sea and towards a large lake.  There is a little finger-like promontory sticking up, pointing to Preveza.  That’s Actium, now called Aktio.  That’s where Antony’s camp was.  Caesar’s camp was northwest of Preveza, facing the Mediterranean.  The sea battle took place in open water, outside the channel that leads to the lake.  A bridge now spans the channel between Preveza and Aktio.]  Cleopatra and Enobarbus come in.

Cleopatra: Why shouldn’t I be here?  I’m his ally.  This war is against me.

Enobarbus: Madam, my concern is that your presence would be a distraction to Antony.

Cleopatra: Don’t be silly.  As the ruler of Egypt, I intend to be here to lead my forces.

Enobarbus: Whatever you say, madam.

    (Antony and Canidius come in.)

Antony: Canidius, I can’t believe that Caesar could have moved his forces so quickly.  I have reports that he’s already in Toryne.  And he’s challenging me to fight him at sea.

Cleopatra: And so you should.

Antony: Yes.  I absolutely intend to.

Canidius: You should reconsider, my lord.  You’d be playing into his strength.

Antony: He challenged me.

Enobarbus: So what?  You challenged him to fight you man to man, one-on-one, to settle the whole war, but he wasn’t stupid enough to do that.

Canidius: Exactly, my lord.  And you challenged him to fight at Pharsalia, but he won’t do that either.  He knows where he has the advantage, and he knows where you have the advantage.  He has the advantage at sea.

Cleopatra: It’s a matter of honour!  Caesar has challenged us!

Antony: That’s right.  I’m willing to fight him anywhere.  It makes no difference to me.

Enobarbus: Our ships are no match for his.  And his crews are much more experienced.  Respectfully, my lord, my advice is to stick to land.  All of your experience is in fighting on land.  You’d be much better off.

Antony: No.  I’ve made up my mind.  We’ll fight him at sea.

Cleopatra: I have sixty ships to contribute.

Antony: And I can turn some of my soldiers into sailors and put them on my ships to supplement the crews that I have.  Whatever ships I can’t man properly, I’ll just get rid of.  We’ll sail from Actium and meet him in open water.  If it doesn’t work out, we can still fight him on land.

    (A Messenger comes in.)

Antony: What news?

Messenger: My lord, Caesar has captured Toryne.  He’s been seen there–I mean, in person.

Antony: All right.  (He sends off the Messenger with a wave.)  Incredible.–Canidius, I want you to take our nineteen legions and twelve thousand cavalry and hold them on land.  We’ll get aboard our ships.–Cleopatra, come.

    (A Soldier comes in, upset.)

Antony: What’s the matter, soldier?

Soldier: Please, my lord.  Don’t fight him at sea.  We want to fight him on land.  We’re not sailors.  Let the Egyptians and Phoenicians sail the boats.

Antony: I know what I’m doing.  Now step fretting.  You have your orders.

    (Antony, Cleopatra, and Enobarbus leave.)

Soldier: General, I know I’m right.  Don’t you think so?

Canidius: Yes, I do.  But Antony is doing what Cleopatra thinks he should do.  Anyway, we still have plenty of forces on  land.

Soldier: Caesar is a bloody devil, sir.  When he was still in Rome, he was moving his forces around in so many ways, our spies couldn’t tell what he was doing.

Canidius: Who’s his second-in-command?

Soldier: Taurus–or so I’ve heard.

Canidius: I know him.

    (A Messenger comes in.)

Messenger: General, the Emperor is asking for you.

Canidius: Never a moment’s rest.  Messages, and more messages.  The messengers will wear out their shoes, and that’s how we’ll lost the war.

    (They leave.)

Act 3, Scene 8.  Caesar’s camp.  Caesar comes in with Taurus and Soldiers.

Caesar: Taurus, I don’t want you to engage our army on land until we’re finished the battle at sea.  Here are your orders.

    (He gives Taurus a scroll.)

Taurus: Yes, my lord.

Caesar: We’ve got a golden opportunity to beat them.

Taurus: Yes, my lord.

    (They leave.  Quick segue to the next scene.)  

Act 3, Scene 9.  Antony’s camp.  Antony and Enobarbus come in.

Antony: I want our ships on the other side of the hill so we can see Caesar’s fleet and judge the size of it.

Enobarbus: It shall be done, sir.

    (They leave.  Quick segue to the next scene.)

Act 3, Scene 10.  With the curtain down and lights dim, the sound of marching is heard.  Then the sound of a sea battle is heard.  The curtain up, in normal light, shows Enobarbus and Scarus, on land, looking away in the distance.

Enobarbus: Scarus, look!  The Egyptian ships are turning away!  They’re leaving the battle!  That goddamn Cleopatra!

Scarus: We’re fucked!  And I mean royally!

Enobarbus: Antony’s following her!  See that?–I can’t believe it!  Antony’s never run from a fight in his whole life!  What a disgrace!

Scarus: I’m sick.

    (Canidius comes in.)

Canidius: We’ve lost!  We could have beaten them if Antony had stuck it out.  Now what’s the point of fighting any more?  We might as well try to save ourselves.

Enobarbus: If you leave us, then there’s no hope.

Canidius: Enough is enough.  I’ve had it.  I’m taking my forces and going over to Caesar’s side.  If the other commanders want to stay, that’s their choice, and their risk.  They’ll have to go south and meet up with what’s left of the navy.

Enobarbus: If I had any sense, I’d probably go with you.  But I’ll stick with Antony and take my chances.

Scarus: I will, too.

Canidius: Good luck to both of you.

    (They leave–Enobarbus and Scarus one way, Canidius the other way.)

Act 3, Scene 11.  Cleopatra’s palace.  Antony comes in with Attendants.  He walks back and forth, obviously upset with himself.

Antony (Somberly): Friends, I have a ship full of gold.  Take as much as you can carry and save yourselves.

First Attendant: We couldn’t leave you, sir.

Antony: Yes, yes, go on.  There’s no point in staying.–I can’t believe what I’ve done.  How could I be so stupid?–I’ve lost myself.–Antony has lost Antony.–My friends, there’s no reason why you should suffer because of my mistakes.  I’ll give you a letter to some friends of mine.  You can go to them.  You’ll be safe.  I insist.  Go pack your things.

    (The Attendants leave.  Then Cleopatra comes in, supported by Charmian, Iras, and Eros.  She appears reluctant, frightened, and faint.  Antony’s back is turned to her.)

Eros: Talk to him, madam.

Charmian: He needs you, madam.

Iras: Yes, madam.

Antony (Seeing Cleopatra): Oh, no, no, no, no!

Eros: Please, sir, talk to the Queen.  She’ll die if you don’t comfort her.

Antony: She’ll die?  She’ll die?  I am dead!  My reputation is destroyed!–When I think of my whole career–everything I’ve ever done–all the honour that’s comes to me–It’s all destroyed.

Cleopatra: Forgive me, Antony!  I lost my nerve.  But I didn’t think you’d follow me.

Antony: How could I not follow you?  I’ve been tied to you for so long, I hardly have a will of my own any more.

Cleopatra: I’m sorry.

Antony: Now I’m going to have to make peace with that–young man–young Octavian–who never even raised his sword at Philippi.  Did you know that?  He let his commanders do all the fighting.  But I fought as well as commanded.  I was the experienced soldier, not him–and I still am.  This is the first time I’ve ever been in a position of weakness.–But then, I was never insanely in love before, was I?

Cleopatra: Forgive me, Antony.  (She is about the cry.)

Antony (More composed): Don’t cry.  Just give me a kiss.

    (They kiss.)

Antony: I’m tired.  (Calling)  Servants, bring me some wine and some food.–Who’s been the lucky one yet again?  Not Antony.  Caesar.

    (They leave.)

Act 3, Scene 12.  Caesar’s camp in Egypt.  Caesar, Agrippa, and Thidias are present, perhaps studying a map of Egypt on the wall.  Dolabella comes in.

Dolabella: Caesar, Antony has sent his emissary.  No doubt, he’s suing for peace.

Caesar: No doubt, Dolabella.  Who’s the emissary?

Dolabella: His old schoolmaster.

Caesar: Ha!  A schoolmaster for an emissary!  How the mighty have fallen.–Show him in, Dolabella.

    (Dolabella leaves and returns immediately with the Emissary.)

Caesar: Come in, schoolmaster.  How proud you must be of your pupil, eh?

Emissary: My lord Caesar, I am sent by Antony.  Yes, I was just a humble teacher until yesterday–as insignificant as–

Caesar: As a worm in an apple–yes, I know.  And with all the men of rank having fled for their lives, you’re the only one left to be Antony’s emissary.  Congratulations.  Now, what do you have to say?

Emissary: Antony acknowledges your victory and asks for your mercy.  He asks to be allowed to stay in Egypt.  If you won’t allow that, then he asks to be allowed to live in Athens as a private citizen.  Cleopatra accepts your authority over her.  She asks that the crown of Egypt should pass to her heirs, who shall likewise be at your mercy.

Caesar: I don’t care about Antony’s requests.  I’m more interested in Cleopatra.  I’ll give her what she wants–provided that she either kills Antony or banishes him from Egypt.  Now go back and make your report.

Emissary: I will.  Thank you, Caesar.

    (The Emissary leaves.)

Caesar: Thidias, I need you to be clever for me.

Thidias: Always, my lord.

Caesar: I want to drive a wedge between Cleopatra and Antony.  I want you to go to her as my personal emissary and tell her that she can basically have whatever she wants if she gets rid of Antony.  You can improvise in my behalf, and I’ll back you up.  Anything within reason.

Thidias: Count on me, my lord.

Caesar: And observe Antony carefully.  I need to know his state of mind.

Thidias: I will do that, my lord.

    (Thidias leaves.) 

Act 3, Scene 13.  In Cleopatra’s palace.  Cleopatra, Enobarbus, Charmian, and Iras come in.

Cleopatra: Enobarbus, do you think it’s my fault that we lost?

Enobarbus: Speaking as a soldier, madam, I must say it’s Antony’s fault.  It’s true that you fled.  Perhaps you were frightened.  But he should have stayed regardless.  Not only did he lose the battle, but he disgraced himself as well.

Cleopatra: I don’t want to hear any more.

    (The Emissary comes in with Antony.)

Antony: And that’s what he said?  The Queen gets what she wants if she gives me up–or better yet, kills me?

Emissary: Yes.

Antony: Do you hear that, Cleopatra!  Send Caesar my head on a platter and you can have anything you want from him!

Cleopatra: Never!

Antony (To the Emissary): Go back to that young Octavius Caesar, Master of the World, and tell him that I challenge him to fight me, man to man, sword against sword.  He’s young and I’m old, so it should be a fair fight.–Come.  I’ll write it in a letter, and you can take it.

    (Antony and the Emissary leave.)

Enobarbus (Aside to himself): He may be young, but he’s not stupid.

    (A Servant comes in.)

Servant: My Queen, Caesar has sent an emissary.

Cleopatra: All right.  Bring him in.

    (The Servant goes out and returns immediately with Thidias.)

Cleopatra: You have a message from Caesar?

Thidias: Yes, madam–however, it’s confidential.

Cleopatra: These are my friends.  I have no secrets from them.  You may speak freely.

Thidias: As you wish, madam.  Caesar wants to reassure you not to be worried about your safety.  He understands that your devotion to Antony was based on your fear of him, not love.  (Cleopatra is about to react angrily but checks herself.)  Whatever mischief has been done to your reputation is not your fault.

    (Cleopatra pauses before answering.  The suggestion to the audience is that she intends to play Caesar along from now on.  Her reaction a moment ago was to help set up this suggestion.)

Cleopatra: Caesar is wise.  He understands that I was–conquered–by a dominant man.  It happens to women all the time.  We are weak that way.

Enobarbus (Aside to himself): I’d better leave before I say the wrong thing.

    (He leaves.)

Thidias: Caesar would like to accommodate your needs.  He will grant you anything you wish–but–he wants to hear that you have broken off with Antony permanently.

Cleopatra: What is your name?

Thidias: Thidias. 

Cleopatra: Thidias, Caesar chooses his emissaries well.  Please tell him that I throw myself at his mercy–and I accept his judgment, whatever it may be.

Thidias: Madam, you are as wise as you are noble.  I kiss your hand.

    (Thidias kisses her hand.)      

Cleopatra (Sighing for effect): How often did Caesar’s father, Julius Caesar, kiss that hand!  [Author’s note: Octavius was both the nephew and adopted son of Julius Caesar.]

    (Antony comes with Enobarbus in time to see the hand kiss.)

Antony: What the hell is going on!  Who are you?

Thidias: I am sent by Caesar, the greatest man in the world, to convey kind reassurance to the Queen of Egypt.

Enobarbus (Aside to the audience): This guy’s about to get his ass kicked.

Antony (Calling): Servants!–Servants!–God damn it!  Where are you?

    (Several servants come in.)

Antony: Take this dog outside and whip him!

Thidias: Mark Antony!  I am Caesar’s–

Antony: Yeah, I know.  You’re Caesar’s lackey.  (To the Servants) Give him a good whipping, and then I’ll send him back with a message for Caesar.

    (The Servants take Thidias out.  Then Antony turns angrily to Cleopatra.)

Antony: And you!  You were Cleopatra, who supposedly loved me–but who are you now?  To think that I left a good wife  behind to come back here and be so misused by you!

Cleopatra: Antony–

Antony: The mistress of emperors!  And when one dies, you find another–for who can resist Cleopatra!  You can have any man you want, can’t you!

Cleopatra: Stop it!  Why are you saying these things?

Antony: To see a servant of Caesar kiss your hand!  Am I sunk that low?  Perhaps I should just put a noose around my neck and find Caesar’s hangman and give him a gold coin and say, “Please, sir, make it quick so I don’t feel it.”

    (A Servant returns with Thidias.)

Servant: We have done as you instructed, my lord.  He begged for mercy.

Antony (To Thidias): Go back and tell Caesar what happened to you.  Tell him I don’t appreciate being kicked when I’m down.  He’s too full of himself after a run of good luck.  Tell him I hate his guts.  And if he doesn’t like that, he can whip one of my people he’s taken prisoner, and we’ll call it even.  You tell him that.  Now get out of here!

    (Thidias leaves.)

Cleopatra: Are you finished?

Antony: How can you suck up to Caesar like that?

Cleopatra: You should know me better than that.

Antony: You don’t love me any more.  Admit it.

Cleopatra (Looking up): Gods, if I do not love Antony any more, strike me dead now, and all my children, too!

    (A pause.  Antony calms down.)

Antony: Caesar has made camp near Alexandria.  We still have a substantial army–and a substantial navy.–Agh!  What’s wrong with me?  What could I have been thinking?  We’re not beaten yet.  It’s just a temporary setback.  Do you hear me?  I’ll show that punk what a real fight is.  The next time you see me, I’ll be covered with blood–but it won’t be mine!  

Cleopatra: Now you’re talking like the soldier you really are.

Antony: I’ll fight like never before–ruthlessly!  No mercy to the enemy!–Come, my Queen.  Let’s have one more night of feasting and fun.  I’ll invite all the captains who are still with me.  We’ll lift their spirits.  We’ll turn them into tigers again.

Cleopatra: It’s my birthday.  I intended to celebrate it quietly–but we’ll do it your way.  It’ll be like old times.

Antony: And, believe me, I’m going to beat Caesar for once.  His luck is about to change–and so is mine.–But first, everyone gets good and drunk!

    (Everyone leaves except Enobarbus.)

Enobarbus: I can see what’s coming.  He’ll go out to do battle, and he’ll be so worked up with his warrior spirit, he won’t be able to think straight.  He’ll make mistakes–and a lot of men will die.  And I’ll probably be one of them.–I’ve traveled a long road with this guy, but I’ve reached my end.  No more.  That’s it.  I’ve got to leave him.

    (He leaves.)

Act 4, Scene 1.  Caesar’s camp near Alexandria.  Caesar comes in, holding a letter, along with Agrippa and Maecenas.

Caesar: What an insult.  He calls me a boy and says he could kick my ass out of Egypt.   And once again he’s challenging me to fight him man to man.  And he had Thidias beaten.  I think he’s lost his mind.

Maecenas: That’s exactly what it is, sir.  He’s unhinged.  His emotions are out of control.  That’s why we should attack now and finish him off.  He’s not thinking like a general any more.

Agrippa: You should insult him back, my lord.  Make him even angrier.

Caesar: Yes.  I’ll do that.–All right, then.  Tell the commanders we attack tomorrow.  With all the defectors we picked up from Antony’s side, we’ll have the advantage.  Feed everybody well tonight.  We’ve got plenty of food.  I want them feeling strong tomorrow.–You know, I almost feel sorry for that son of a bitch.

    (They leave.)

Act 4, Scene 2.  Cleopatra’s palace.  Antony, Cleopatra, Enobarbus, Charmian, Iras, and Alexas come in.

Antony: So he refuses to fight me man to man?

Enobarbus: Yes.  He says he’s too lucky, and it would be unfair to you.

Antony: That insolent punk!  That boy!–Who can hardly grow a beard!–Oh, I’ll fight him tomorrow!  On land or sea!  I don’t care!  I’ll kill him or die trying!–Are you with me?

Enobarbus: We’ll go for broke, sir.  We’ll fight.

Antony: You’re a good man, Enobarbus.  (A pause for Antony to become calmer.)  We’ll have a good dinner tonight.–Yes.–Why not?  (He now becomes somber.)  You servants have all been good to me.  I’m grateful.  Give me your hands.

    (He shakes hands with the Servants in a very serious way.  Cleopatra reads a fatalistic tone into this action.)

Cleopatra (Aside to Enobarbus): What does he mean?

Enobarbus (Aside to Cleopatra): He means goodbye.

Antony: All of you–treat me the way you did when I was still lord over half the empire.  This may be for the last time.  So stay with me just one more night.  That’s all I ask.

    (The women look sad, but Alexas looks more frightened.  [This is an important signal to the audience, because he is going to desert.])

Enobarbus: Please, my lord.  That’s not what we want to hear.

Antony (Forcing a smile): Oh, come, come.  It’s all right.  I want you all to be happy.  I’m very confident of victory.  We’ll win, don’t you worry.–Now, let’s eat and drink–and be merry.  (A significant– but very short — look passes across his face with these last words.  The audience understands what is left unsaid.)

    (They all leave.)

Act 4, Scene 3.  The night watch in front of Cleopatra’s palace.  The stage should be dimly lit with an eerie blue light.  Four Guards are standing still.  There is dead silence at first.  Then, gradually, a mysterious sound is heard.  [The original play indicates the sound of oboes, but the Director is free to create any low-pitched sound.]  It seems to be coming from underground.  The Guards look at each other and look all around.

First Guard: Do you hear that?

Second Guard: Yes.

Third Guard: What is that?  Where’s it coming from?

Second Guard: I don’t know.

Fourth Guard (Bending down): It seems to be coming from underground.

Second Guard: Is it?  (He listens.)  How could that be?

First Guard: It must be an omen–from the gods.–A good omen, do you think?

Third Guard: No.  More likely a bad omen.

Second Guard: Perhaps it’s Hercules–Antony’s family god.

    (The sound seems to move.  The Third Guard indicates this by pointing.)

Third Guard: Hercules is leaving him.

First Guard:  Let’s go see–just for a minute.  Come on.

    (The Guards leave, following the sound.)

Act 4, Scene 4.  Morning in Cleopatra’s palace.  Antony and Cleopatra come in with  Charmian and Attendants (but not Alexas).

Antony (Calling): Eros!  My armour!

    (Eros comes in with the armour.)

Antony: Help me get this on.

    (Eros helps with the armour, somewhat clumsily, and then Cleopatra tries to help.)

Antony: No, no, my dear, not like that.–Eros, come on.  You’re all thumbs today.  What’s the matter?  (Eros finishes.) That’s better.–There.  (To Cleopatra)  If you could watch me in action today, you’d see for yourself I haven’t lost my touch.

Cleopatra: I believe you.

Antony (Looking around): Where’s Alexas today?  Sleeping late?

Charmian: No one’s seen him.

    (Several Captains come in with Soldiers.)

First Captain: Good morning, General.  I hope you’re well-rested.

    (Cleopatra shakes her head subtly.)

Antony: Yes, yes.  Don’t worry about me.  I’m fine.–My, you all look splended today!

    (A pause while Antony prepares to say goodbye to Cleopatra.)

Antony: I don’t want a big scene now.  You’ll just get a soldier’s kiss, all right?  (He gives her a somewhat restrained kiss.  There is some lingering eye contact before Antony turns to speak to his Captains and Soldiers.)  All right, then.  Who’s ready for a fight?

Captains and Soldiers: We are, sir!

Antony: Let’s go.

    (He leaves with the Captains and Soldiers.  Cleopatra looks somberly after his departure.  Then she walks out slowly in the other direction, arm in arm with Charmian.)

Act 4, Scene 5.  Antony’s camp at Alexandria.  A trumpet flourish.  Antony and Eros come in and are met by a Soldier.

Soldier: May the gods grant you victory, General!

Antony: I should have fought Caesar on land the last time.  That was my mistake.  And our allies went over to Caesar’s side because of it.

Soldier: And another soldier left this morning.

Antony: Who?

Soldier: Enobarbus.

Antony: Enobarbus!–He’s gone?

Soldier: He defected.

Eros: My lord, all his belongings are still here.

Antony (To the Soldier): You’re sure of this?

Soldier: Absolutely, General.

Antony (Very sadly): Eros, I want you to pack Enobarbus’s things so I can send them to him in Caesar’s camp.–I want to write him a letter, too–and send him a few gifts–for his many years of friendship.–Too bad.–Enobarbus.

    (They all leave.)   

Act 4, Scene 6.  Caesar’s camp near Alexandria.  A trumpet flourish.  Caesar comes in with Agrippa, Enobarbus, and Dolabella.  (The suggestion to the audience must be that Enobarbus is a mere hanger-on.)

Caesar: Agrippa, give the order to attack.  And make sure all the commanders know that I want Antony taken alive.

Agrippa: Yes, my lord.  (He starts to leave.)

Caesar: Oh, and something else.–I want all of Antony’s allies who defected to be up front, so he has to face them first.  Let him vent his anger on his old friends.

Agrippa: Very good, my lord.

    (Agrippa leaves.)

Caesar: Dolabella, come.

    (Dolabella leaves with Caesar.  Enobarbus is left standing there.)

Enobarbus: Alexas deserted–and Caesar hanged him anyway.–As for me, and Canidius, and a few others–we’re just tolerated.  We’re nobodies.–I shouldn’t have done it.  I’m ashamed now.

    (A Soldier comes in.)

Soldier: Sir, you are Enobarbus?

Enobarbus: Yes.

Soldier: Antony has sent you all your personal belongings.

Enobarbus: He’s done what!

Soldier: He’s sent you all your things–and a few gifts as well.

    (Enobarbus is stricken with great remorse and struggles to hold back tears.)

Enobarbus: I don’t want any of it.  You keep it.

Soldier: I can’t do that, sir.  Come now, the messenger is waiting.  You must escort him back across the lines.  I have to return to my post.

    (The Soldier leaves.  Enobarbus collapses in tears.)

Enobarbus: Antony–Antony–how could you be so kind to a traitor like me?

    (The scene ends without an exit.)

Act 4, Scene 7.  On the battlefield.  Sounds of trumpets, drums, and fighting.  Agrippa comes in with Soldiers.

Agrippa: We have to retreat!  This is worse than I expected–and Caesar’s in trouble!

    (They leave.  More sounds.  Antony comes in with Scarus, who is wounded.)

Scarus: We’ve got them on the run, General!

Antony: You’ve got a bad wound, Scarus.  Are you sure you can make it?

Scarus: I’ll be all right.

    (A distant trumpet.)

Antony: They’re sounding the retreat.

Scarus: Let ’em run like rabbits!  I’ll still slaughter them–ha!

Antony: You’ll get a big reward when this is all over.–Come on.

    (They leave.  Quick segue to the next scene.)

Act 4, Scene 8.  Antony comes in with Scarus and other Soldiers.  Distant drums.

Antony: We’ve chased him all the way back to his camp.  By tomorrow we’ll bag the lot of the them.  You men have been superb!

Soldiers: Thank you, General!

    (Cleopatra comes in.)

Antony: Ah, the Queen is here!  (He embraces her.)  My goddess!  My inspiration!

Cleopatra: Oh, Antony–I was so afraid!

Antony: The old soldier can still kick ass.–And this guy (Indicating Scarus)–You should have seen him.  He was a devil out there.

Cleopatra (To Scarus): My good friend!  I’ll give you a suit of armour made of gold.  It once belonged to a king.

Antony: He deserves it.–Let’s march through the city.  I want to hear everyone cheering.  By the gods, this is a great day!

    (He takes Cleopatra by the hand, and everyone leaves.)

Act 4, Scene 9.  Caesar’s camp at night.  Suggestion of moonlight.  Sentries come in slowly and discover a body.

First Sentry: Look!  There’s someone!

    (They rush to examine it and turn it over.)

Second Sentry: I know this man.  It’s Enobarbus–one of the deserters from Antony.

First Sentry (Feeling for vital signs): He’s dead.

Second Sentry: I don’t see any blood.  What could’ve happened to him?

First Sentry: Suicide, maybe?  Could be poison.  What do you think?

Second Sentry: We’d better carry him back to the  barracks and let the surgeon have a look at him.

First Sentry: Yes, yes.–Too bad.–Too bad.

    (They carry the body out.)

Act 4, Scene 10.  Morning in Antony’s camp.  Antony, Scarus, and other Soldiers come in.

Antony: They’ve changed their plans.  They’re attacking by sea.  They don’t want to fight us on land again.

Scarus: They might still, General.  You can’t be sure what Caesar will do.

Antony: You’re right.  We’ll keep our army here on high ground so we can keep an eye on them.  We still have all of Cleopatra’s ships, plus what’s left of our own.  They’ll intercept Caesar’s fleet.–Come on.

    (They leave.  Quick segue to the next scene.)

Act 4, Scene 11.  In Caesar’s camp.  Caesar comes in with two Captains and a few Soldiers.

Caesar: We’ll keep our army in the valleys.  We won’t move unless Antony attacks first–which I don’t think he’ll do.  He’s got most of his men in his ships now.–Come on.

    (They all leave.  Quick segue to the next scene.)

Act 4, Scene 12.  Near Alexandria.  Antony and Scarus come in.

Antony: Caesar’s army hasn’t moved.  I have to go up higher to see what’s happening on the sea.  Stay here.

    (Antony leaves.  Far-off noise of a sea battle.)

Scarus (Looking worried): Swallows have built nests in the sails of Cleopatra’s ships.  And the soothsayers refuse to say what it means.  If it were a good sign, they would have said so right away.–I don’t like it.

    (Antony returns, very disturbed.)

Antony: That bitch!  That goddamn whore!

Scarus: What’s happened, General?

Antony: She’s sold us out!  All the Egyptian ships have surrendered!  They’re even celebrating with Caesar’s crews!–Wait till I get my hands on that bitch!–Scarus, tell our men to make a run for it.  Tell them to save themselves.  That’s an order.

Scarus: Yes, General.

    (Scarus leaves.)

Antony: I’m finished.–It’s all come down to this.–Betrayed.–All those brave men who followed me–and for what?  To be sold out by that two-faced bitch.–Everything I did was for her.  And now I’m ruined.–(Calling) Eros!–Eros–Where is he?

    (Cleopatra comes in.)

Antony: You!  You devil!  You snake!  Get out of my sight!

Cleopatra: What?  Why are you angry?

Antony: Get out of here before I give you what you deserve!  I hope Caesar takes you prisoner and drags you in chains through your own streets!  I hope he puts you in a cage and takes you back to Rome and lets everyone pay to see the monster of the Nile!  And I hope Octavia claws your eyes out!

    (Cleopatra flees.)

Antony: Yes, run, you bitch!  You whore!–(Calling) Eros!  Where the hell are you?

    (He leaves.)

Act 4, Scene 13.  In Cleopatra’s palace.  Charmian, Iras, and Mardian are there when Cleopatra runs in.

Cleopatra: Help me!  He’s going to kill me!

Mardian: Who is, madam?

Cleopatra: Antony!  He’s in a rage!  He’s going to kill me!

Charmian: Madam, go to the tombs and lock yourself in.  We’ll tell Antony–uh, we’ll say–

Iras: She’s committed suicide!

Charmian: Perfect!  We’ll tell him you’re dead.

Cleopatra: Yes.–All right.–Mardian, you go tell him.  Tell him–I died calling out “Antony.”  Make it convincing.  I want him to stop being angry.  And then come back and tell me what his reaction was.

Mardian: Yes, madam.  I will.

    (They all leave.)

Act 4, Scene 14.  In Cleopatra’s palace.  Antony comes in slowly with his attendant Eros.  Antony is very somber.

Antony: Eros, have you ever watched the clouds–how they change shape?

Eros: Yes, my lord.

Antony: One minute they look like a bear.  Then they look like a lion.  And after that, they’re something else.  But really it’s all just water.

Eros: Yes, my lord.

Antony: I’m like a cloud now, Eros.  I can’t hold my shape any more.  What I was, I no longer am.–All the things that have happened since I came here–they all happened because of her.  I thought she loved me.–When I think of all the loyal men who believed in me–and who died for my cause–because I believed in her.–She betrayed me.–And where is my cloud now, Eros?  It’s dissolved into the air, never to return.  There’s nothing left for me, Eros.  I can only bow to defeat–and end my life with some dignity.

    (Mardian comes in.)

Antony: Your mistress has destroyed me!

Mardian: No, no, my lord!  Believe me, she loved you.  She lived only for you.

Antony: That faithless bitch will die!

Mardian: She’s already dead, my lord.  She killed herself.  Her last words were–“Antony!–Antony!–My dearest Antony!”

    (A long pause while Antony digests this and changes his demeanor.)

Antony (To Mardian): Go.

    (Mardian leaves.)

Antony: Help me off with my armour, Eros.  (Eros attends to the armour.)  I’m no longer a soldier, Eros.  I’m just very, very tired.  I think it’s time that I had a very long sleep.  (He holds a piece of the armour and regards it, touching it gently.)  All these dents and scars–every blow taken with honour–every fight fought with honour.–Leave me for a moment, Eros.

    (Eros leaves.)

Antony: Cleopatra–I will join you–and I hope you will forgive me.–There’s nothing to live for now.  My cloud is gone.  Antony will never be Antony again.–Where are you now, my Queen?  I can see you resting peacefully on a bed of flowers–roses.  Yes, roses.  And I can see beautiful birds of all colours.  And angels all around you.  And there must be sweet music.  And we will dance and be merry together as we once were.–Oh, we’ll give all the souls in heaven something to look at, won’t we?–Won’t we?–(Calling) Eros!

    (Eros returns.)

Eros: Yes, my lord?

Antony: My good fellow–Eros.–Do you remember the promise you once made me?

Eros: Promise, my lord?

Antony: I made you promise–and you did promise–that when the time came–you would kill me–for the sake of my honour.

Eros: My lord!  No!

Antony: The time has come, Eros.  Think of it as a blow against Caesar, to deny him the satisfaction of capturing me or killing me.–Come now, boy.  Be brave.

Eros: No, my lord!  The gods will not allow me!

Antony: Would you rather see me tied in ropes and dragged through the streets in a victory parade for Caesar?  Would you wish for me such humiliation?

Eros: Never, my lord.

Antony: Then do me this one last favour.  You’ve got your sword.

Eros: Please don’t ask me to, my lord.

Antony: I hold you to your promise, Eros.  If you love me, you will do this.

    (A pause.)

Eros: Then turn away, my lord.  I would not look in your eyes.

    (Antony turns his head.)

Antony: There, boy.  I’ve turned my head.

Eros: Then–goodbye, my lord.–And remember Eros, who loved you well.

    (Eros stabs himself.)

Antony: Eros!

    (Eros tries to smile and then dies.)  

Antony: You’re the brave one, Eros.  You and the Queen both.  You have taught me how to die.

    (He falls on his sword, but the wound is not fatal.)

Antony: Guards!–Guards!

    (Decretas and several Guards come in.)

Decretas: My lord!  What happened?

Antony: Decretas–finish it for me.–I want to die.–Guards–

Guards: No!

    (The Guards leave in a panic.)

Decretas: They’ll all leave now.

Antony: Decretas–

    (Decretas picks up Antony’s sword.)

Decretas: This sword will buy me good favour with Caesar.

    (He starts to leave but runs into Diomedes coming in.)

Diomedes: What’s going on?

Decretas: He tried to kill himself.

    (Decretas leaves.)

Antony: Diomedes–don’t leave me like this.–Finish it.

Diomedes: My lord!  Cleopatra sent me.

Antony: Cleopatra?  But she’s dead.

Diomedes: No, my lord, she’s not dead.  She sent you a false message because she was afraid you’d kill her.  My lord, she never conspired with Caesar.  She never betrayed you.  She’s locked herself in the tombs.  She sent me to you because she was worried about how you’d react to her message.

Antony (Groaning): Ohh–Diomedes–too late.–Call my guards.

Diomedes: Guards!  Guards!

    (Several Guards come in.)

Antony: Carry me–to Cleopatra–and then we can say our goodbyes–my good lads.

    (They carry out Antony and Eros’s body.)

Act 4, Scene 15.  Cleopatra, Charmian, and Iras are in the tombs.  They are on an upper lever at the rear of the stage.  Some sort of door or gate protects the upper level.  Diomedes comes in below.

Diomedes: Madam, he’s barely alive.  The guards have brought him.

Cleopatra: Oh!

    (The Guards carry Antony in.)

Cleopatra: Antony!  Who did this to you?

Antony: I did it to myself–a poor job, I’m afraid.–But now I get to kiss you one last time.

    (Cleopatra rushes down to him.  [In the original play, she has Antony carried up because she is afraid to come down where she might be captured by  Caesar’s men.  The Director can do it that way if he wants, but it’s clumsy stagecraft and all wrong for Cleopatra’s motivation.]  She kisses him many times.)

Cleopatra: Antony!–Antony!

Antony: Egypt–I’m going to die.

Cleopatra: No!  Don’t leave me!

Antony: Listen to me.–Send to Caesar and ask for safety for yourself–but don’t trust any of his men–except Proculeius.  You can trust him.

Cleopatra: Antony!–Don’t die!–Don’t die!

    (She weeps.)

Antony: Come now, Egypt.  A Queen must be strong–especially in defeat.–Look at me.  I’m not crying.  I’ve had the greatest life of any man who ever lived.–So many memories.–It’s all right, my love.–You see, you have your Antony back in your arms again–like before.–Egypt–I must leave you now.

    (He dies.  She clutches his body to her and cries.)

Cleopatra: Egypt?–Am I still Egypt?–No–I am no one without you.  (She composes herself and becomes calm.)  Ladies, help me bury him.  We will be strong and calm–like Romans.

    (They leave, carrying Antony’s body.)

Act 5, Scene 1.  Caesar’s camp near Alexandria.  Caesar comes in with Agrippa, Dolabella, Maecenas, Gallus, and Proculeius.

Caesar: Dolabella, I want you to go to Antony and ask him to surrender.  Tell him there’s no point in dragging it out.  Let’s get it over with.

Dolabella: Yes, my lord.

    (He leaves.  Then Decretas comes in, showing Antony’s sword.)

Caesar: Who are you?  Put that sword away!

Decretas: Hail, Caesar!  My name is Decretas, servant to Antony.  He is dead.  This is his sword.  I’ve brought it to you as a gift.  I want to serve you, if you’ll have me.

Caesar: Antony–is dead?

Decretas: Yes, my lord.

Caesar: Did you kill him?

Decretas: No, my lord.  He took his own life–with this sword.  You can see his blood on it.

    (Caesar takes the sword reverently.)

Caesar: Where was the thunder?  Where was the lightning?  Where was the earthquake–to announce his death?  Why did I not hear half the world cry out?  (He touches the blood.)  The blood of a giant.–I touch the blood of a giant.

Agrippa: Even a giant must die.  Even Mark Antony.

Caesar: He was once my friend.  We fought together at Philippi.  We ruled together.  He was the bravest man I ever knew.  But our fates were different and pulled us apart.  It was inevitable that it should end like this.–Still, I would have wished otherwise.

    (A Messenger comes in.)

Caesar: Who are you?

Messenger: I am sent by my mistress, the Queen.  She wishes to know what your intentions are concerning her.  She has locked herself in the tombs.

Caesar: Tell your Queen not to worry.  She’ll be treated kindly.  I’ll send her a message soon.  You can return now.

Messenger: Most gracious Caesar, thank you.

    (He leaves.)

Caesar: Proculeius, I want you to go to her.  Tell her–tell her that she will be treated properly.  Tell her anything, just so she doesn’t kill herself.  I want her alive.  I’m going to parade her as a prisoner.  The historians will write–(He makes a gesture with his hands spread, suggesting a front page headline.)–“Caesar Captured Cleopatra!”

Proculeius: I’ll go, my lord.

Caesar: Gallus, you go with him.  Take some soldiers, but keep them out of sight.

Gallus: Yes, my lord.

    (Gallus and Proculeius leave.)

Caesar: And Dolabella–No, I already sent him.  That’s all right.  I’ll wait for him to come back.–Everyone else come with me.  I have some letters to show you that will prove that this war was Antony’s fault.  I was always nice to him.  I didn’t want to fight him, but he gave me no choice.

    (They leave.)

Act 5, Scene 2.  In the tombs.  Cleopatra, Charmian, and Iras are again on the upper level.  Proculeius comes in.

Proculeius: Hail, Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt!  I come from Caesar.  He wishes to come to terms with you in a kindly way.

Cleopatra: Who are you?

Proculeius: I am Proculeius.

Cleopatra: I know your name.  Antony said you could be trusted.

Proculeius: I give honour to Antony for that.

Cleopatra: If your master wishes to come to terms, tell him I wish to retain Egypt so I can pass it on to my heirs.  I will thank him humbly for this.

Proculeius: Caesar will be kind and generous to you if you surrender formally and place yourself at his mercy.

Cleopatra: There’s nothing else I can do.  He has won.–Yes, I am surrendering.  I will meet with him.

    (Cleopatra comes down.  Then Gallus and the Soldiers rush in and seize her.)

Iras and Charmian: No!  No!

    (They come down.)

Gallus: We’ve got her!

    (Cleopatra draws a dagger to kill herself, but Proculeius disarms her.)

Proculeius: Don’t be foolish!

Cleopatra: Let me die!

Proculeius: Don’t insult Caesar that way.  He wishes only to comfort you.

Cleopatra: I know what he wants to do with me!  I’ll die first!  I’ll starve myself!  I’ll drown myself!  I’ll–

Proculeius: Stop!  Stop!  My Queen, there’s no reason for this.  Everything will be all right, I assure you.

    (Dolabella comes in.)

Dolabella (To Proculeius): Caesar sent me to take charge of the Queen.

Proculeius: All right.  Take good care of her.  (To Cleopatra)  I’ll tell Caesar what your wishes are.

Cleopatra: To die!  That is my wish!

    (Proculeius leaves with Gallus.)

Dolabella: Please, madam.  Don’t talk about dying to Caesar.  He won’t like that.

Cleopatra: You know what he intends to do with me, don’t you?

Dolabella: I–I can’t tell you, madam.

Cleopatra: He’s going to drag me in chains through the streets–for his glory–and my humiliation.  That’s what he’s going to do.  Isn’t it?  (Dolabella is unable to answer.  The suggestion is that he sympathizes with Cleopatra.)  You don’t need to say it.  I can read it on your face.

    (A trumpet flourish.  Caesar, Proculeius, Gallus, and Maecenas come in.)

Dolabella: Caesar, madam.

    (She kneels.)

Caesar: It’s all right.  Stand up.

    (She rises.)

Cleopatra: I am at your mercy, Caesar.

Caesar: The war is over.  I’m not out for revenge.  I’m prepared to be quite liberal with you.  But if you embarrass me by killing yourself, your children will suffer for it.

Cleopatra: No doubt, you will want a full accounting of my wealth.  I’ve made a list of everything I own.  (She produces a paper and gives it to him.)  My treasurer will vouch for its accuracy.  (Calling)  Seleucus!

    (Seleucus comes in.)

Seleucus: Yes, madam?

Cleopatra: I want you to verify the list of my possessions so that Caesar knows I haven’t hidden anything from him.

    (Caesar hands him the paper.)

Cleopatra: You must tell Caesar the truth, Seleucus.

    (Seleucus studies the list and frowns.)

Cleopatra: Well?  Have I hidden anything?

    (The suggestion in Seleucus’s response is that he is ditching Cleopatra in order to suck up to Caesar.)

Seleucus: Madam, since you force me to tell the truth–which I would do anyway standing before the great Caesar–I must say yes.  There is a great deal that you have not listed.

Cleopatra: You bastard!

Caesar: It’s all right, Cleopatra.  I’m not going to make you live in poverty.

Cleopatra: Suppose I did set aside a few little things?  It was only so that I could give some presents to your wife and sister.  (To Seleucus)  You traitor!  Get out!

    (Seleucus hesitates, looking to Caesar for his instructions.)

Caesar: It’s all right, Seleucus.  You can leave.

Seleucus: My lord.

    (He bows and leaves.)

Caesar: I’m not going to confiscate your wealth, don’t worry.  And please don’t think about killing yourself.  I’ll be consulting with you in the next few days about your needs and what arrangements to make.  I want you to think of me as a friend.–I leave you now.

    (He bows slightly.)

Cleopatra: My lord and master.

Caesar (Smiling): No, no, no.

    (Caesar and his party leave.)

Cleopatra (To Charmian and Iras): He’s lying!  Do you hear me?  He’s lying!–Charmian.

    (She whispers to Charmian.)

Charmian: Yes, madam.  Whatever you wish.

    (Charmian leaves as Dolabella comes in.  The suggestion is that he is sneaking back without Caesar’s knowledge.)

Dolabella: Madam, I came to tell you–

Cleopatra: Yes?

Dolabella: Caesar is going to Syria soon.  You and your children are to be sent on ahead within three days.  I thought you should know.  It’s the only kindness I can do for you.

Cleopatra: Thank you, Dolabella.

Dolabella: Goodbye, madam.  May the gods protect you.

    (He leaves.)

Cleopatra: Do you hear, Iras?  We’re going to be put on display.  We’re going to be a spectacle for the amusement of the crowds.

Iras: My Queen!

Cleopatra: Death is better than such humiliation.

Iras: Yes, madam, it is.

    (Charmian returns.  She nods solemnly, suggesting that an instruction has been carried out.)

Cleopatra: Ladies, bring me my best clothes.  I want to look as beautiful as the first time Antony saw me.–Iras, bring me my crown and the royal symbols.

    (Charmian and Iras leave.  Then a Guard comes in.)

Guard: Madam, there’s a farmer who insists on seeing you.  He says he has a basket of figs for you.

Cleopatra: Ah, yes.  Let him in.

    (The Guard goes out.  The Farmer comes in.)

Farmer: Most noble Queen.

Cleopatra: Have you brought–the pretty worm of the Nile?

Farmer: Yes, madam.

Cleopatra: And is its bite fatal–and painless–as I have heard?

Farmer: Almost always fatal, madam.  And, yes, almost painless.

Cleopatra: Good.  Leave the basket.

    (He puts the basket down.)

Farmer: You mustn’t handle it, madam.  It’s a terrible snake.

Cleopatra: Yes, yes.  Thank you.  You may go now.

Farmer: Yes, madam.

    (He leaves.  Charmian and Iras return with Cleopatra’s robe, crown, and royal symbols.)

Cleopatra: Dress me.

    (They dress her.)

Cleopatra: Now kiss your Queen goodbye.–My good Charmian.–My faithful Iras.

    (They kiss her.  Iras collapses and dies.  [The suggestion must be that she dies from sheer emotion, since there is no other possible explanation.])

Charmian: Iras!  (Touching her)  She’s dead, madam!

Cleopatra: Can death be so gentle?–Oh, that I could die so gently.–Now she goes to tell Antony that I’m coming.

    (Cleopatra kneels and puts her hand in the basket.  [In the original play, she takes the snake out and applies it to her breast.  The Director may choose to do it that way, but the staging becomes very problematic, and you don’t want to botch it at this critical point.])

Cleopatra: Bite–bite–What are you waiting for?

    (She reacts to the snake bite and collapses.)

Charmian: My Queen!

    (Cleopatra is on her back, looking up, past Charmian.  There is a look of astonishment on her face.  She clutches Charmian but is looking past her.)

Cleopatra: Charmian–I see–white birds–many white birds–

    (She dies.  Then some Guards rush in noisily.)

First Guard: What happened to the Queen!

Charmian (Finger on her lips, and a strange smile on her face): Shh!–She sleeps.

First Guard: Oh, no!  Caesar is on his way!

    (Charmian puts her hand in the basket.)

Charmian: Caesar is always welcome here.

    (She reacts to the snake bite.)

First Guard (Calling): Help!  There’s trouble here!

Second Guard: I’ll get Dolabella.

    (The Second Guard goes out quickly.)

First Guard: What has the Queen done?

Charmian (Dying): The Queen–has done–the best thing–she has ever done–

    (Charmian dies.  Dolabella rushes in with the Second Guard.)

Dolabella: What happened?

First Guard: They’re all dead.

    (Caesar and his entourage come in.)

Caesar: What’s going on?–Oh!  (Reacting to the sight of the bodies)

Dolabella: You were right, my lord.

Caesar: I had a bad feeling.  She wasn’t going to give me the satisfaction of showing her off.–But I don’t see any blood.  How did she kill herself?

Dolabella (To the First Guard): Who was the last person to see her?

First Guard: Just a farmer.  He brought her that basket of figs.

    (Caesar bends closer to Cleopatra’s body.)

Caesar: There’s a mark on her wrist.  (He looks at Charmian’s body.)  And her lady’s wrist, too.  (He stands up.)  Snake!  (He looks around.)

    (Dolabella kicks the basket over.)

Dolabella: It’s not there.  (He looks at the floor and then points.)  It’s gone out that way.

Caesar: She was braver than I gave her credit for.–She and Antony were well-suited to each other after all.  And now they’re together.

Dolabella: Shall we give them a decent burial, my lord?

Caesar: More than decent.  We’ll give them a funeral fit for kings and queens and bury them side by side.  The whole army will attend.  We’ll do it the right way.–We’ll do it the Roman way.

    (Scene ends without an exit.)


    Copyright@ 2011 by Crad Kilodney.  E-mail: crad166@yahoo.com  








(Index to the Series appears on Oct. 7, 2010 — https://cradkilodney.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/ )

Main Characters

Duke Senior

Duke Frederick — younger brother of Duke Senior

Rosalind — daughter of Duke Senior

Celia — daughter of Duke Frederick

Amiens and Jaques — lords attending on Duke Senior

Le Beau — a courtier (person belonging to the court) of Duke Frederick

Oliver, Orlando, and Jaques — sons of Sir Rowland de Boys (in some texts spelled “de Bois”.  This Jaques does not appear until the very end, so don’t confuse him with the other Jaques.)

Charles — a wrestler

Touchstone — Frederick’s court jester (fool)

Adam and Dennis — servants to Oliver de Boys

Sir Oliver Martext — a vicar

Corin and Silvius — shepherds

Phoebe — a shepherdess

Audrey — a goatherd

William — a country boy

Hymen — the god of marriage (in some productions, one of the other characters in disguise, but not in this version)

Gist of the story: Duke Frederick has usurped his older brother, Duke Senior, who has gone into exile in the Arden Forest, taking many followers with him.  His daughter, Rosalind, has stayed behind because of her devotion to her cousin Celia.  Meanwhile, Oliver de Boys has been very bad to his brother Orlando.  Orlando falls in love with Rosalind, but she is banished by Frederick.  Celia and Touchstone go with her.  Then Orlando must flee from his brother Oliver.  The rest of the play takes place in Arden Forest.  Orlando is searching for Rosalind, but she is now disguised as a man (Ganymede).  Phoebe falls in love with Ganymede, spurning the affections of Silvius.  In the end, four couples get married, and all the estranged brothers make peace.  Shakespeare lets Rosalind have the last word in the epilogue, but Touchstone gets the funniest lines.  (The play takes place in France, but the Arden Forest is not the Ardennes Forest.  It’s a fictitious forest deriving its name from the Arden Forest of Warwickshire, England.  Another point: Directors have two options with the character Hymen.  The first option  is to have Amiens or another available character come in as Hymen in disguise; the second option is to have an entirely new  player present him — someone not seen before by the audience.  The latter option is more appealing, and I have written the ending accordingly.)

Act 1, Scene 1.  Outside of Oliver’s house.  Orlando and Adam come in.  (Adam is an old man.)

Orlando: Adam, you know why I’m so unhappy.  My father left Oliver in full control of his estate, including my share.  He’s supposed to be taking care of me, but he treats me like dirt.  Jaques is all right.  He’s away at university getting a good education.  But not me.  Oh, no.  I’m down in the dirt because that’s where Oliver wants me.  He treats his livestock better than he treats me.

Adam: Your father is turning over in his grave right now, believe me.  He was a good man.  The best.  It was a privilege to serve him.  You’re just like him.  I’d rather be serving you than your brother.

Orlando: I wish so, too.  But at least I can talk to you and confide in you.  If I could only find some way to resist him–

Adam: Oh–I see him coming.

Orlando: He’ll have something mean to say to me, just you watch.

    (Adam moves somewhat apart as Oliver comes in.)

Oliver: What are you doing, brother–slacking off, as usual?

Orlando: If I had any useful work to do, then you could accuse me of slacking off.

Oliver: Well, then go find something useful to do.  Just don’t hang around here like a goddamn vagrant.

Orlando: Maybe I should go and shovel pig shit, since you don’t want me to have an education.

Oliver: Don’t talk to me like that.  I’m your older brother.

Orlando: And I’m as much the son of my father as you are–and your equal.

Oliver: You smart-ass!

    (Oliver raises his hand to smack Orlando, but Orlando grabs his wrist.  They grapple, and Orlando is by far the stronger.)

Orlando: Who’s stronger–you or me?

Oliver: You low-life!

Orlando: Low-life?  Am I a low-life?  Then what are you?  And what was my father?  My father was Sir Rowland de Boys!

Oliver: So was mine!

    (They continue to struggle, and now Orlando has his hand on Oliver’s throat.)

Oliver: You bastard–let me go!

Orlando: If you weren’t my brother, I’d strangle you!

    (Alarmed, Adam steps forward to intervene.)

Adam: Stop!  Please!  Don’t fight like this!  Please!  Think of your poor dead father!

Oliver (To Orlando): Let me go!

Orlando: You were supposed to give me a good education!  You sent Jaques off to university–but not me!  You treat me like shit!  Either you treat me better, or you give me my share of the estate so I can leave!

Oliver: Yeah, so you can piss it all away!–All right, if that’s what you want.  I’ll give you–I’ll give you enough so you can go away.  Now let go of me!

    (Orlando lets go.  Oliver takes a moment to straighten himself.)

Oliver: Go in the house and wait for me.  (To Adam) And you, too, you old fart.

Adam: Old fart?  Is that what you call me?  I wish your father were here now to hear you  say that.  Your father never once spoke a bad word to me–not ever.

    (Orlando tugs Adam’s sleeve gently, and the two of them leave.)

Oliver: That kid is really burning my ass.  But I’ll fix him.  And he’s not getting a penny out of me either.–Yo!  Dennis!

    (Dennis comes in.)

Dennis: Yes, my lord?

Oliver: Dennis, wasn’t the Duke’s wrestler looking for me?

Dennis: Yes, sir.  Charles, the wrestler.  He’s here now.

Oliver: Go and get him.

Dennis: Yes, my lord.

    (Dennis leaves.)

Oliver: A wrestling match.  That’s how I’ll fix my brother.

    (Charles comes in.)

Charles: Good morning, sir.

Oliver (Very friendly): Ah, Charles!  So good to see you!  Keeping fit, are you?

Charles: Oh, yes, sir!

Oliver: So what’s the news in the court–that is, the new court, not the old court, ha, ha!

Charles: As you say, sir–the new court.  The Duke banished his older brother.  Some lords have gone away with him, of their own free will.  They had to give up all their lands to Frederick.  I’m sure he doesn’t mind that at all.

Oliver: I should think not.  And what about Rosalind?  Did she go with her father into exile?

Charles: No, no.  She’s still here.  She couldn’t bear to leave her cousin Celia.  They’re inseparable.

Oliver: So where has old Duke Senior gone?

Charles: As I understand it, he and his party have settled themselves in Arden Forest.  And they’re having a good old time out there.  Living just like Robin Hood.  Not a care in the world.  Living off the land.  Why, they’ve practically got their own little colony, with lots of young gentlemen joining them who want to get away from the world and live a simple life.

Oliver: A simple life!  I should say so.  Well, I hope they’re happy communing with the chipmunks and eating berries.  Tell me, you’re going to give a wrestling exhibition for Frederick tomorrow, aren’t you?

Charles: Indeed, sir.  And that’s what I wanted to talk to you about.  You see, I’ve been told–confidentially–that your brother Orlando intends to disguise himself and have a go at wrestling with me.

Oliver: Ah, really?

Charles: So I’ve heard, sir.  And, you see, sir–well, I have my reputation to uphold.  I always win.  Now, I wouldn’t want to hurt your brother.–After all, out of respect for you, sir.–But if he steps into the ring with me–well, I really have no choice.

Oliver: Charles, you’re a good man.  I’ll always remember your loyalty.

Charles: Thank you, sir.

Oliver: And I’m glad you came to me.  I knew that Orlando wanted to wrestle you.  I tried to talk him out of it, of course–purely out of a sense of brotherly protectiveness.  But he’s far too stubborn for his own good.  He’s gotten to be too cocky, too ambitious.  And I have to say–in all confidence–that he’s been making plans against me.

Charles: Oh, no, sir!

Oliver: Yes, I’m afraid it’s true.  So what I’m telling you is that you’re at liberty to wrestle him as you would anyone else.–Frankly, I wouldn’t be angry with you if you broke his neck.  And you probably should, so he can’t get even later.  He’s a bad loser.  He’ll kill you.  He’ll resort to some dirty trick if he has to.  He’s really a bad guy, Charles.  And, believe me, it hurts me to say anything bad about my brother–but if you  knew him the way I know him, you’d be shocked.

Charles: Then it’s a good thing I came to see you, sir.  Now I understand the situation.  I’ll give him a good thrashing, don’t you worry.  They’ll have to carry him out.

Oliver: Yes.  You do that.

Charles: God bless you, sir.  Thank you, sir.

Oliver: And you, too, Charles.

    (Charles leaves.)

Oliver: Excellent.  Now I’ll put a bee in Orlando’s bonnet and make sure that he wrestles Charles.  And then–good riddance.–I don’t know why I hate him so much–but I do.–Maybe it’s because everyone else likes him better than they like me.  Even my own people.–Well, once he tries to wrestle Charles, I won’t have any more problems with him.

    (Oliver leaves.)

Act 1, Scene 2.  Outside the palace of Duke Frederick.  Celia and Rosalind come in.

Celia: I know you’re sad about your father, Roz, but try to be happy.  At least we’re together.

Rosalind: I’ll try for your sake.

Celia: Someday I’ll inherit everything from my father.  Then I can return everything he took from your father.

Rosalind: You’re good, Celia.

    (Touchstone comes in, dressed in a traditional court jester uniform.)

Touchstone: Mistress Celia, your father is asking for you.

Celia: Ah, my dear Touchstone–have they made you a messenger?

Touchstone: Oh, no.  There was no time to make one for me, so they just sent me instead.

Celia (To Rosalind): You have to watch what you say to this guy.

Touchstone: One cannot watch words.  One can only hear them.

Celia (To Rosalind): See what I mean?

Touchstone: You can’t see a meaning.  You can only understand it.

Celia (To Rosalind): I give up.

Rosalind: You are a clever fool, Touchstone. 

Touchstone: “Clever fool” is an example of an oxymoron.  But I’ll take it as the compliment I’m sure you intended.

Rosalind: Of course.

Celia: I see Monsieur Le Beau coming.

    (Le Beau comes in.)

Le Beau: Ladies, you’re missing all the fun.

Celia: What’s happening?

Le Beau: The wrestling, of course.

Rosalind: Who’s wrestling?

Le Beau: Charles, your uncle Frederick’s wrestler.  He’s taking on all comers.  He’s already beaten three guys.

Celia: Really?  Who?

Le Beau: This wrestling promoter named Vince McMahon brought three of his stars to wrestle against Charles.  The first one was Rey Mysterio.

Rosalind: Rey Mysterio?–Ooh, how mysterious!  Who won?

Le Beau: Charles picked the guy up and slammed him to the ground like he was a doll.  He creamed him.

Rosalind: Oh, my!  Then what?

Le Beau: Then the second wrestler was this guy named Big Show. 

Celia: Big Show!  Was he big?

Le Beau: Very big.  But he was slow.  And Charles whipped around him like lightning and flipped him and got him in a leg lock, and the guy screamed and gave up.  He went out crying.

Celia: Wonderful!  And then what?

Le Beau: And then the third guy stepped in with Charles.  His name was, uh–Alberto del Rio.  A big, handsome dago greaseball.

Touchstone (Wagging his finger): Listen to your language, sir.

Le Beau: Yeah, yeah.–Anyway, Charles was toying with this guy for a while.  He was pretending to be afraid.  And Vince McMahon was hollering, “Get him, Alberto!  Finish him off!”  And so the dago grabs Charles from behind and tries to squeeze him with both arms.  And then Charles gives him an elbow right in the gut, and the guy falls down, and he’s rolling around in pain.  And Charles grabs him by the feet and spins him around and around and then he throws him into a pile of horse shit.  It was hilarious!  And poor Vince McMahon was tearing his hair out and screaming “I’m ruined!  I’m ruined!”

Touchstone (Teasingly): That’s hardly the sort of thing nice ladies should watch.

Rosalind: I want to see! 

Celia: Me, too!

    (Le Beau looks over his shoulder.)

Le Beau: Oh, guess what.  They’re moving the action over here.  I guess there’s no room over there with all the bodies on the ground.

    (A trumpet flourish.  Then Duke Frederick, Charles, and Orlando come in, plus Lords and Attendants.)

Duke Frederick: There you are, ladies.  You should see this fellow wrestle.

Celia: We’d love to!

Rosalind: Yes!

Duke Frederick: Well, I hope you’re not squeamish.  This young man here (Indicating Orlando) thinks he can take on Charles.  I tried to talk him out of it for his own good, but he insists.  Maybe you can reason with him.

    (The Duke moves apart and has a conversation with the Lords.)

Rosalind (To Orlando): You’re not really going to fight Charles, are you?

Orlando: Wrestle him, Mistress–

Rosalind: Rosalind.

Orlando: Mistress Rosalind.  I’ll wrestle him, not fight him.  It’s a sport.

Celia: But Charles is awfully strong.  We wouldn’t want you to get hurt.

Rosalind: No.  You’re such a handsome man.  We wouldn’t think the worse of you if you changed your mind.

Orlando: Thank you.  But don’t worry.  I think I can beat him.  Just think good thoughts for me.  And even if I lose, I don’t care.  My life hasn’t been very happy anyway.  What does it matter if I get hurt–or die, even?

Rosalind: Oh, but you mustn’t!  (She reaches out impulsively and holds Orlando’s hand for a moment, and a look of mutual attraction passes between them.)  I’ll think good thoughts for you.  I’ll concentrate so you’ll win.

Celia: So will I.

    (Frederick has a private word with Charles, who nods in agreement.)

Charles: All right, I’m ready to rumble–(Looking at Orlando) if you are.

Orlando: I’m ready.

Duke Frederick: This will be one round only.

Charles: He wouldn’t last two rounds anyway.

    (The party clears the centre stage for Charles and Orlando.  Duke Frederick gives the signal, and they begin to wrestle.  The crowd shouts encouragement.  Orlando throws Charles.  The crowd cheers.)

Duke Frederick: Stop!  No more!  (He bends over Charles.)  Charles!  Are you all right?  (To the Attendants) Help him.  Take care of him.

    (The Attendants assist Charles out.)

Duke Frederick (To Orlando): Congratulations, young man.  What’s your name?

Orlando: Orlando, my lord.  I’m the youngest son of Sir Rowland de Boys.

    (Duke Frederick frowns and is silent for a moment.)

Duke Frederick: I knew your father–but not as a friend.–In any case, well done.  You won the match.–I only wish–Never mind.

    (Duke Frederick, looking serious, leaves with his party, including Le Beau.)

Celia: I’m afraid I’m rather embarrassed.

Orlando: It’s all right.  I’m proud to be the son of Rowland de Boys.

Rosalind: My father loved your father–and everyone else did, too.

Celia: You were very brave.  You shoud be proud of beating Charles.  I should think you’ll make a fine catch for some lucky lady someday.

    (Rosalind gives him a chain from her neck.)

Rosalind: Please take this.  And think of me.

    (Orlando is too tongue-tied to reply.  Rosalind takes Celia by the arm to lead her out, but pauses momentarily to look back at Orlando, expecting him to speak.  But he is still awkwardly tongue-tied, so Rosalind and Celia leave.)

Orlando (To himself): Dummy.  Why didn’t you say something?  (He regards the chain and sighs, looking longingly in the direction of Rosalind.  Then Le Beau returns and takes Orlando by the arm in a confidential way.)

Le Beau: Dude.  Listen to me.  For your own good–you ought to leave.  The Duke is not a forgiving man.  And right now you are definitely on his wrong side.  Do you understand what I’m saying to you?

Orlando: Yes, I understand.  Tell me, are those ladies related to the Duke?

Le Beau: Celia is Frederick’s daughter.  Rosalind is Duke Senior’s daughter.  He’s the one who was banished.  Rosalind stayed behind because she and Celia are very close.  But she may not be around much longer.  You see, everyone likes Rosalind, and they sympathize with her because of her father being banished.  And Frederick doesn’t like that, and he may take it out on her.–Anyway, you’re a good guy.  I’d like to get to know you better–but not here.  Go somewhere where you’ll be safe.

Orlando: I hear you, bro.  Thanks.

    (Le Beau leaves.  Orlando looks at the chain again and looks in the direction of Rosalind again.  Then he leaves in the opposite direction.)

Act 1. Scene 3.  A room in Duke Frederick’s palace.  Celia and Rosalind come in.

Celia: You’re awfully serious lately.  What’s the matter?

Rosalind: Oh–nothing.

Celia: I think I know what it is. You’re thinking about Orlando.  That’s it, isn’t it?  You love him.  (Rosalind half-nods.)  Well, I won’t say I approve–but I don’t disapprove either.

Rosalind: For my sake, I want you to approve.

    (Duke Frederick comes in, frowning.)

Duke Frederick: Rosalind, pack your things.  I want you to leave.

Rosalind: You want me to leave?

Duke Frederick: I’ll give you ten days.  By that time, I want you twenty miles away from here–otherwise–I’ll consider you to be an enemy–and deal with you accordingly.

Rosalind: But what have I done?

Duke Frederick: You’re my brother’s daughter.  I don’t want you around any more.

Celia: But father–

Duke Frederick (To Celia): She’s a bad influence on you.  I let her stay out of kindness, but now–it’s a problem.  I’m not comfortable having her around.  She has to go.

Celia: No, father!  I couldn’t bear it!

Duke Frederick: You’ll get over it.  (To Rosalind) You’re out of here in ten days.

    (Duke Frederick leaves.)

Celia: Oh, Rosalind!

Rosalind: Well–I guess there’s nothing else for me to do but start packing.

Celia: I’ll go with you.

Rosalind: Why?  You don’t have to.

Celia: If you go, I go.  To hell with my father.

Rosalind: Oh, Celia.–Where would we go?

Celia: We’ll go to Arden Forest.  We’ll find your father.

Rosalind: The two of us?  All the way to Arden Forest?  We’d never get there.  We’d get raped.

Celia: No, no.  Here’s what we’ll do.  We’ll disguise ourselves as peasants.  We’ll look very unattractive–and poor.  No one will pay any attention to us.

Rosalind: We could do that, I suppose.–Even better, I could disguise myself as a man.  I’m tall.  I could be a man.  I could even carry a sword.

Celia: Oh, that’s a nice touch.  And what will you call yourself?

Rosalind: I’ll call myself–Ganymede.

Celia: Ganymede.  I like that.  And I’ll call myself–Aliena.

Rosalind: Aliena–as in “alienated”?

Celia: Exactly.

Rosalind: Listen.  What about your father’s fool?

Celia: Touchstone?

Rosalind: Yes.  If he came with us, he could be a big help.  Do you think you could get him to come?

Celia: Leave it to me.  He’d do anything for me.–Look, you pack some things–whatever we can carry ourselves.  And don’t forget the money and jewels.  We’ll figure out the best way to slip past the guards so we’ll be long gone before my father realizes it.

Rosalind: Yes!

    (They embrace and then leave.)

Act 2, Scene 1.  In Arden Forest.  Duke Senior, Lord Amiens, and other Lords come in, dressed like “foresters” (i.e., in a rustic style suitable for the woods). 

Duke Senior: This is the life, isn’t it?  Out here with Mother Nature.  Away from the court and all that political bullshit.  Out here a man can really feel alive.  Even with the cold and the wind and the rain.  It’s all good.

Amiens: You’re absolutely right, my lord.  And there’s no place else we’d rather be than out here with you.

Others: Yes! Yes!

Duke Senior: Of course, I hate to kill animals–but we gotta eat, right?

First Lord: Jaques is into animal rights now.  He says killing animals is a form of oppression.  And few of us followed him today, and he was crying over a wounded deer.

Duke Senior: Really?  Did he say anything?

First Lord: Well, you know how he is.  He sees everything in the worst way.  He called the deer a poor, innocent creature, slaughtered by evil men–although, obviously, whoever shot it wasn’t able to chase it down and finish it off.  And, of course, the live deer going by were cruel for not stopping for the injured one.  Like, what are they supposed to do, pull out the arrow?  And then he was moaning about how sick and evil society is, and how we’re all degenerating into barbarism.

Second Lord: We had to leave before we burst out laughing.

Amiens: Yeah.–Poor Jaques.  He lives under a dark cloud.

Duke Senior: I should go talk to him.  He’s rather amusing to listen to when he gets into one of his moods.

Second Lord: He’ll probably want to start a chapter of PETA right here in Arden Forest.

Duke Senior: PETA?  Oh, God!  Those assholes.

    (They all leave.)

Act 2, Scene 2.  In Duke Frederick’s palace.  Frederick comes in with Lords and Attendants.

Duke Frederick (Angrily): How could they just leave and no one saw saw them?  Somebody must have known something.

First Lord: Nobody saw anything.  The maids found their beds empty.  And Touchstone is also missing.

Second Lord: Celia’s lady overheard her and Rosalind talking about Orlando.  It could be they’ve run off to meet up with him somewhere.

Duke Frederick: Send out a search party and look for them.  IF you can’t find Orlando, go get his brother Oliver and bring him here.  I’ll make him go and find Orlando.

Lords: Yes, my lord.

    (The Lords and Attendants leave.)

Act 2, Scene 3.  Outside Oliver’s house.  Orlando is approaching the door when Adam rushes out to intercept him.

Adam (In a hushed tone): No, Orlando!  Don’t come in!

Orlando: What’s the matter?

Adam: It’s not safe for you here any more.–Oh, what a disgrace.–When I think of your father–You’re such a good boy, Orlando.  So good.  So much like your father.–What a terrible world it is when such a good boy should be in such danger–

Orlando: Danger?  What danger?

Adam: Your brother.  He intends to kill you.  You must run away.

Orlando: Run away where?

Adam: It doesn’t matter, as long as it’s far from here.

Orlando: Adam, I have no money.  What am I supposed to do?  Beg?  Steal?  Oh, no.  I’ll face my brother.

Adam: No, no, no, you mustn’t.  (He takes out a bag of money.) Take this.  It’s five hundred crowns.  It’s my life savings.

Orlando: Oh, Adam, I can’t–

Adam: Yes, yes, yes.  I want you to have it.  You’re a good boy, Orlando.  So much like your father.  I would gladly serve you, if I– (Looks over his shoulder toward the house.  Then, decisively) Take me with you.  I’ll serve you.  I may be old, but I’m still strong.

Orlando: But who knows what will happen to me?  Who knows where I might end up?  You’d be risking your own life on my fate.

Adam: It doesn’t matter.  Whatever your fate is, I’ll gladly share it.  Anything’s better than serving your brother.

Orlando: All right, then.  You’ll come with me.

Adam: Good!

    (They leave.)

Act 2, Scene 4.  In Arden Forest.  Rosalind comes in, dressed as the man Ganymede, with Celia, dressed as the shepherdess Aliena, and Touchstone, still dressed like a jester.  They are exhausted.  They remain to one side of the stage, to leave plenty of space for the next two players.

Celia: We have to stop.  I’m tired.

Touchstone: My feet are killing me.

Rosalind: I’d complain, too, but I’m supposed to be the man in charge.

Celia: Where are we?

Rosalind: This is Arden Forest.

Touchstone: I don’t suppose there’s such a thing as an inn around here.

Rosalind: I don’t think so.–Wait.  I see someone coming.  Maybe we can find out something from them.

    (Corin and Silvius come in from the other side, carrying on a conversation and not noticing the party opposite.  Corin is an old man, and Silvius is young.)

Corin: You’re going about it all wrong, Silvius.  That’s not the way to make her love you.

Silvius: Corin, you don’t understand what I’m going through.

Corin: Oh, as if I was never young and in love.

Silvius: You never made a fool of yourself the way I have.

Corin: Ha!   I made a fool of myself so many times I’ve forgotten most of them.

Silvius: If you can’t remember, then you can’t understand how I feel.  All I can think about–is Phoebe–(He holds his head in his hands.) Phoebe–Phoebe–

Corin (Mocking him slightly): Phoebe–Phoebe–You poor sap.  Take my advice.  Go home.  Take a pill.  Whatever.  And sleep it off.

    (Silvius leaves, moaning “Phoebe–Phoebe–“.)

Touchstone (To Rosalind): Take a pill and sleep it off.  He’s right.  Love is just an illness of the mind.  Temporary insanity.

Rosalind: Could be.  But I still feel sorry for that boy.

Celia: I’m starving.  Ask him if he has any food.  We’ll pay him for it.

Touchstone (To Corin): Yo!  Shepherd!

Corin: Who’s calling me?

Touchstone: Your superiors.

Corin: Well, I hope so for your sake.   You wouldn’t want to be my inferiors.

Rosalind (To Corin): He was joking.  Please, is there any place where we can get food and a place to sleep?  We’re very tired and hungry. 

Corin: Oh, I’m afraid I can’t help you there.  I’m just a poor shepherd.  I could take you back to my master’s cottage, but there’s no food there.  He’s away, and the place is up for sale.  That young fellow I was just talking to was supposed to buy it, but I don’t think he’s in any state of mind to do any business.

    (Rosalind thinks for a moment.)

Rosalind: We’ll buy it.

Corin: You’ll–buy it?

Rosalind: Yes.  We have money.  You could buy it for us.

Celia: Yes.  And you can stay and work for us.  Whatever your old master was paying you, we’ll give you a raise.

    (Corin is wide-eyed and open-mouthed for a moment.)

Corin: You got a deal.  Let’s go.

    (They all leave.)

Act 2, Scene 5.  This scene is deleted.

Act 2, Scene 6.  This scene is deleted.

Act 2, Scene 7.  In the forest.  Duke Senior, Amiens, and other Lords are sitting at a table eating.  They are dressed like foresters.

Duke Senior: Where’s Jaques?

First Lord: He should be around.  He’s actually in a better mood today.  Amiens was singing for him, and he really liked it.

Duke Senior: Is that so?  (To Amiens) You’ll have to give us a song later, Amiens.

Amiens: Gladly.

First Lord: Here’s Jaques.

    (Jaques comes in, rather giddy.)

Duke Senior: There you are, Jaques.   You have a strange look on your face.  What’s going on?

Jaques: I met a fool in the forest.

Duke Senior: A fool?  What sort of fool?

Jaques: You know–court jester-type.  Funny clothes.  Weird cap.  But he was no fool–that is, he wasn’t an idiot.  He actually said something that made me think.

Duke Senior: What, specifically?

Jaques: He said–God looks out for the fool, but the wise man must look out for himself.

Duke Senior: Huh!

Jaques: That what I want to be–a fool.  Uniform and all.

Duke Senior (Laughing): I’ll buy you one.

Jaques: That would make me very happy.  And, of course, if I’m a fool, I’m allowed to make jokes at other people’s expense, and they have to take it.  That’s what I want–the freedom to say anything to anyone.  That’s what this world needs–a critic who really tells it like it is.

Duke Senior: Yeah, right, you’re going to be a critic.  Come off it, Jaques.  You have the same vices as everyone else.

Jaques: But I can still criticize in a general way.  If I say something and people are offended, it just proves I’ve hit the mark, and they must have a guilty conscience.  An innocent person would just let it slide off him.

    (Orlando comes in with his sword drawn.)

Orlando: Sorry, you guys, but I’m going to have to take your food.

Jaques: But I haven’t eaten yet.

Duke Senior: Who are you to come in here like this?  Don’t you have any manners?

Orlando: To hell with manners.  I need food.

Duke Senior: Look here, sir.  If you’re hungry, you only have to ask for food in a polite way.  We’ll feed you.  You don’t have to act like an outlaw.

    (Orlando is embarrassed and puts away his sword.)

Orlando: I’m sorry.  I thought you were outlaws yourselves, from the way you’re dressed.  I didn’t expect to meet–gentlemen–out here.–I’ve been through a terrible ordeal.

Duke Senior: We’ve had our ordeals, too.  Sit down and eat.

Orlando: I’ve got an old man with me.  He’s starving.  He has to eat first.

Duke Senior: That’s fine.  Go and get him.

Orlando: Thank you.  I’ll be right back.

    (Orlando leaves.)

Duke Senior: You see?  Even out here you can find human misery.  The world is full of it.

    (Jaques stands up and adopts a pose suitable for recitation.)

Jaques: All the world’s a stage–

    (A long pause while everyone waits for him to continue.  But he just stands there as if he’s lost his train of thought.)

Duke Senior: Yes?  Go on.

Jaques: Yes.–Ahem–All the world’s a stage–and we are all actors–

    (Another awkward pause.)

Duke Senior: Yes?  And?

    (Jaques looks at the theatre audience.  The suggestion here is that he has forgotten his lines.)

Jaques: Um–well–it’s like–you know–we go through life–and–we play, like, different roles–and then–we’re dead.

    (He sits down quickly and tries to hide himself out of embarrassment.  Give the audience a chance to get a good laugh out of this.  Then Orlando returns with Adam, who can hardly walk.)

Duke Senior: Sit him down right there.  (To Adam) Sit down, sir.  Eat all you like.

Adam (Feebly): Thank you.  (He sits down.)

Duke Senior (To Orlando): And you sit next to me.  I want to know all about what happened to you.

Orlando: Thank you.  (Orlando sits down.)

Duke Senior: Amiens, you promised to sing for us.

Amiens: Yes!

    (Amiens produces a guitar and steps to the centre stage.  Duke Senior and Orlando will have their private conversation while Amiens sings and plays directly to audience.  He sings a tuneless song in a fake foreign language.  The audience should find this funny.  When he’s finished, he simply sits down at the table again.)

Duke Senior (To Orlando): I knew your father well.  I’m glad you found me.  You and your friend will stay with us.  We have a cave for shelter.  You’ll come back with us.  I want to hear the rest of your story.

    (They all leave.)

Act 3, Scene 1.  In Duke Frederick’s palace.  Frederick comes in with Oliver and Lords.

Duke Frederick (Angrily): What do you mean, you don’t know where your brother is?  If I weren’t such a nice guy, I’d forget about him and punish you instead.

Oliver: But, your Grace–

Duke Frederick: You find him and bring him back, dead or alive, or you’re banished.  And in the meantime, I’m seizing all your property until I’m satisfied that you had nothing to do with my daughter running away.  For all I know, you and your brother were both in on it.

Oliver: But, your Grace, I’d never help my brother in any scheme.  I hate his guts.

Duke Frederick: You hate your own brother?  Now I trust you even less.  (To the Lords) Get this son of a bitch out of here and have my officers take possession of his property.

Lords: Yes, my lord.

    (They all leave except Frederick.)

 Act 3, Scene 2.  In the forest.  Orlando comes in with papers and fixes one to a tree.

Orlando: Rosalind–Rosalind–Rosalind–I’ll stick love poems for you all over the forest until I find you–my darling Rosalind.

    (He leaves.  Then Corin and Touchstone come in.)

Corin: So how do you like it out here, Touchstone?  Do you think a shepherd’s life would suit you?

Touchstone: Only if I were a shepherd.  And I do like a solitary life, but I have to have other people around to enjoy it.

Corin: Ha!

Touchstone: And being out here in the middle of nowhere is perfect–except that the forest needs some development to make it a bit more urban.

Corin: Ha!

Touchstone: A simple life is fine–as long as I have my luxuries, too.  That’s my philosophy.  Do you have any philosophy?

Corin: Sure.  Eat when you’re hungry, sleep when you’re tired, and dress warmly in the winter.  And whatever your faults are, never admit to them.

Touchstone: There you go.  You’re a philosopher.  You must have spent some time at court with the upper class.

Corin: Me?  Oh, hell, no.

Touchstone: No?  Then there’s no hope for you.

Corin: Don’t say that.

Touchstone: It’s true.  If you’ve never lived among the nobles, you never learned good manners.  And if you have bad manners, you’re a sinner.  And that leads to damnation.

Corin: Don’t be silly.  Those people would be just as out of place here as I’d be where they are.  Why, you even told me yourself that they’re constantly kissing each other’s hands.

Touchstone: Of course.  That’s how they greet each other.

Corin: Try kissing the hand of a shepherd–if you like the smell of sheep.

Touchstone: What do you think rich people’s perfume is made from?  Extracts from the glands of a civet cat.

Corin: Ewww!  That’s disgusting!

Touchstone: Well, you’re one to talk about disgusting.  What do shepherds do with their sheep?  You bring the rams and the ewes together at mating time and–you know–let them do it–in plain sight.  Is that polite?

Corin: Well, we could put up a curtain, but I don’t think it would make any difference to them.

Touchstone: That’s the problem with your natural style of life.  It’s entirely too–natural.  Civilization exists to control nature.

Corin: You’re over my head, sir, but I don’t mind.–Ah, here comes Master Ganymede.

    (Rosalind comes in slowly, reading one of Orlando’s poems aloud.)

Rosalind (Reading):

    “Rosalind, Rosalind, that is her name,

     Her beauty puts all others to shame,

     The wind blows through her hair,

     As if it were not there,

     And the sun and moon doth shine,

     Because she is so fine,

     And even when the bedbugs bite,

     I dream of her when I turn out the light.”

Touchstone: Is that post-modern–or post-mortem?

Rosalind: Oh, shush, you cynic.

Touchstone: Critic?  Yes, I am a critic.  Where did you find that?

Rosalind: On a tree.

Touchstone: On a tree?  Bad poetry grows on trees?  (To Corin) You never told me about that.

    (Celia comes in with a similar paper.)

Celia: Listen to this.  (She reads)

    “Heaven sent a maiden fair,

     To steal my heart away,

     And so I go to find her,

     Every night and every day,

     And when I find that maiden,

     What tears of joy I’ll cry,

     For Rosalind, sweet Rosalind,

     I’ll love you till I die.”

Rosalind: It’s not brilliant, but I believe he’s sincere.

Touchstone (Reciting mockingly):

     All the squirrels come out to see

     When I piss against a tree–

Rosalind: Oh, stop.

Touchstone (Continuing):

     Neither do they mind a bit

     If I squat to take a–

Celia: Stop!  That’s enough!

Corin (To Touchstone): Say, you’re really good at that.

Celia: Oh, go away–both of you.

    (Corin and Touchstone leave.)

Rosalind: Who’s leaving these poems on trees?

Celia (With a sly look): Someone who knows you–obviously.

Rosalind: But who?

Celia: You should be able to figure that out.

Rosalind: No.  I can’t.  Tell me.

Celia: Don’t you remember?  That very handsome and very strong young man you gave your necklace to?

Rosalind: You mean–Orlando?

Celia: The very same.

Rosalind: How do you know?

Celia: I saw him.  He was sleeping beside a tree, and he had a bunch of poems in his hand.

Rosalind: Oh, my God!  He’s here in Arden Forest.  And here I am dressed like a man.–Oh, hell.

Celia: Uh, oh.  I see him coming.  We’d better hide.

    (Rosalind and Celia conceal themselves.  Then Orlando comes in with Jaques.)

Jaques: Please don’t ruin any more trees by sticking bad poems on them.

Orlando: I’m not hurting the trees.

Jaques: Ah, but can we really know what a tree feels?  If you were a tree, you couldn’t cry out.  All your physical and emotional pain would be locked inside you.

Orlando (Perplexed): I never thought of that.

Jaques: What’s the girl’s name–Rosalind?

Orlando: Yes.

Jaques: I don’t like it.

Orlando: Is there anything you do like?

Jaques: What’s to like when everything in the world is so imperfect?

Orlando: Well, I should think that–

Jaques: Yes, you should think.  But how can you when you’re in love?  People in love are out of their minds.  It’s like a sickness.

Orlando: Well, I’d rather have that sickness than the one you’ve got.

Jaques: I can see I’m wasting my time.  Thank you for the conversation.  It was quite boring.

Orlando: You’re very welcome.  And take your cloud of gloom with you.

    (Jaques leaves.  Celia and Rosalind have been conferring, and now Rosalind steps out of concealment.)

Rosalind: Yo!  Woodsman!

Orlando: I’m not a woodsman, sir, but never mind.

Rosalind: Do you know what time it is?

Orlando: What time it is?  Good God, man.  There are no clocks in the middle of a forest.

Rosalind: Then no one can keep an appointment.

Orlando: Who has appointments in a forest?

Rosalind: No one.  That’s why lovers can never meet in a forest.

    (Orlando regards his poems and is sad for a moment.)

Orlando: You’re right.  They can’t–except by pure luck.–You speak quite well for a rustic.  Do you live around here?

Rosalind: Yes.  I live with my sister.  (She nods to Celia, who steps out of concealment.)  We had an uncle who lived among gentlemen.  He taught us how to speak the way they do at court.  You speak that way yourself.

Orlando: Yes, I–I used to live–(Pauses painfully) But never mind.

Rosalind: Tell me, sir.  Who is that lovesick fool who’s been leaving poems stuck on trees?

Orlando: Oh–you found some, did you?

Rosalind: Yes.  Some poor fool is in love with a lady named Rosalind.  He’s obviously in a bad way.  I’d like to have a talk with him.  He needs help.

Orlando: Oh–well–to tell you the truth–it’s me.

Rosalind: I don’t believe it.  You look entirely too well.  Whoever wrote those poems would be red-eyed from lack of sleep, and his cheeks would be shrunken in from not eating.  And his clothes would be a mess because he’d forget all about his appearance.  You don’t look like that.

Orlando: But I am that person–that poor fool, as you call him.

Rosalind: Tell me.  Do you really mean all the things you wrote in those poems?

Orlando: Yes, I do.  Maybe I don’t express myself very well.  I would never claim to be a poet.  But I do love that lady–even more than I can say in words.

Rosalind: Tsk!  It’s a form of insanity, sir.  The only reason people in love aren’t locked up like other lunatics is that there are far too many of them.  It’s simply too common an illness.  But I could cure you.

Orlando: Cure me?  I don’t want to be cured.

Rosalind: Of course, you don’t.  I understand.  But if you do what I suggest, you’ll feel a lot better.–I won’t do you any harm.  I promise.

Orlando: And what is it that you suggest I do?

Rosalind: We’ll pretend that I’m that lady Rosalind.  I’ll show you where I live, and you’ll come by every day to–you know–court me.  And you must remember to call me Rosalind.

Orlando (To Celia): He’s not gay, is he?

Celia: No, no.  Don’t worry.

Rosalind (To Orlando): Now you just come along with us, and on the way you can show us where you’re living.

Orlando: All right.  I’ll go along with you–just to prove that you can’t cure me.–Huh!  What an idea!

Rosalind: Just trust me.  And remember to call me Rosalind.–Come on, Aliena.

    (They all leave.)

Act 3, Scene 3.  In the forest.  Touchstone comes in with Audrey, a goatherd.  Jaques is behind them, spying.

Touchstone: Aw, come on, Audrey–sweetie pie.  What do you say?  Am I the man for you?  I’ll help you herd your goats.  Come on.  (He strikes a pose in front of her.)  Hey, have I got it–or not?

Audrey (Puzzled, looking him over): Got what?

Touchstone: You know–style.

Audrey: I don’t know anything about style.  I’m just a goatherd. 

Touchstone: Just a goatherd–yes.–That’s the life for me.   Just like the poet Ovid–living with the Goths.–Goths.–Get it?

Audrey: I never heard of him.

    (Jaques rolls his eyes and shakes his head for the benefit of the audience.)

Touchstone: That was a joke.–Goths?–Goats?

Audrey: I don’t get it.  I’m just a simple girl.  I’m sorry.

Touchstone: Oh, but I like the simple ones the best–heh, heh.  Plain and simple.

Audrey: I’m certainly plain, all right.  I’d never pretend to be beautiful.

Touchstone: That’s fine with me.  The plain ones are usually better–where it counts.  (He gives her a suggestive leer.  Jaques is reacting.)

Audrey: Where it counts?

Touchstone: You know–heh, heh–where it really counts–at night–with the lights out–heh heh.

    (Audrey looks totally stupid and perplexed.  Then a glimmer of understanding comes to her.)

Audrey: I hope you don’t mean–that I’m–that kind of girl.

Touchstone: Oh, no, no, no, no, no.–No.–Not at all. (Pauses) Actually–yes.

Audrey: Sir!  I’m a chaste girl..

Touchstone: Chaste–ha, ha.  Well, you haven’t been chased until I’ve chased you–ha, ha.

Audrey: Until you’ve what?

Touchstone: You may be chaste now, but I’ll turn you into a hottie–heh, heh.

Audrey: Hottie?

    (Touchstone goes down on one knee and takes her hand and kisses it.)

Touchstone: I love the smell of sheep!  Marry me, you wonderful girl!  Marry me!  Say yes, for God’s sake.  You can understand that, at least, can’t you?

Audrey: Ye-e-e-s-s.–I think I understand.–Well–Mr. Touchstone–if you love me–and my sheep–then, yes, I’ll marry you.

Touchstone (Rising): Good.  I knew you’d give in, so I already sent for the vicar–Sir Oliver Martext.

    (Jaques smacks his head in disbelief.)

Audrey: Oh!  I’m so happy!  Me–a married woman!

Touchstone: We’ll get married right here in the forest–with all the animals–and their horns.

Audrey: Horns?  Like the deer?

Touchstone: Yes!  The deer!–My dear–ha, ha!–And why does a deer have horns?

Audrey: I don’t know.

Touchstone: Because he’s been cuckolded!  (He makes a gesture of horns on his head.)  But does the deer care?  No.  And neither do I.  Because if I were a bachelor, I couldn’t grow horns at all, now, could I?

Audrey (Confused): Oh, dear–

Touchstone: Deer!   Yes!  Brilliant!  Ha! Ha!–Where’s that vicar?

    (Sir Oliver Martext comes in.)

Touchstone: Ah, finally!  Do you want to, uh, do us right here?  Or should we go to the chapel?

Sir Oliver: Someone has to give the bride away.

Touchstone: Give her away?  Why?  Does somebody own her now?

Sir Oliver: No, no, no.  You don’t understand.  There must be a man present to give the bride away.  It’s a formality.  Otherwise the marriage isn’t legal.

    (Jaques jumps out and steps forward.)

Jaques: I’ll give her away.  I swear I never had her, but I’ll give her away anyway.

Touchstone: Oh, it’s you–Mister Whatever-your-name-is.  Nice to see you again.–No, keep your hat on.  He’s just a country vicar.

Jaques: So you’ve decided to put on the ball and chain, eh?

Audrey (To Touchstone): What does that mean?

Touchstone: It’s just a joke.  Never mind.  (To Jaques) Well, you know how it is.

Jaques (Pretending not to understand): Mmm?

Touchstone: We’re men after all.  (Casting a sideways glance at Audrey) And we have our needs.

Jaques: Ah.  Yes.  Quite so.  But really, you want a proper marriage in a church–with a priest who knows how to do it properly.  I wouldn’t trust this fellow to join two pieces of wood.

Touchstone (Aside to the audience): Actually, that was the whole idea.  If he didn’t do it right, I’d have an excuse to run away later if I wasn’t happy.

Jaques: Now you listen to good old Jaques and come along with me.  We’ll get you fixed up with a real priest.

Touchstone: All right, then.–Come along, Audrey.  If we’re not married properly, we’ll both burn in hell for what I intend to do with you.–Sorry, Sir Oliver.  Next time with you.  I promise.

    (They all leave except Sir Oliver, who stands there, looking very offended.)

Act 3, Scene 4.  Elsewhere in the forest.  Rosalind and Celia come in.  (Throughout this scene, Celia is teasing Rosalind.)

Rosalind: Orlando never showed up.  He said he would.

Celia: Perhaps he forgot.  Or perhaps he realized he wasn’t in love after all, so he didn’t need to be cured.

Rosalind: But he swore that he was in love.

Celia: Men are always swearing to this and that, but you mustn’t take them literally.  They may mean it at the moment they say it, but if you try to hold them to it later, they’ll say, “Oh, that was yesterday.  I feel differently today.”–By the way, he bumped into your father, and he’s staying with him.

Rosalind: I bumped into him, too.  He didn’t recognize me in this disguise.  I told him I was as noble as he was, and he laughed because he thought I was Joking.–But do you really think Orlando doesn’t love me?  What about all those poems?

Celia: Poems!–Words on paper.  That’s all.  They don’t prove anything.

    (Corin comes in.)

Corin: Mistress Aliena.  Master Ganymede.  You’ll want to come and see something.  Remember that young shepherd Silvius you saw me with?

Celia: Yes.  What was that girl’s name–the one he was in love with?

Corin: Phoebe.  He’s with her now–the poor guy.  It’s awful.  Come and see.

Rosalind: Yes.  Take us, Corin.  I may have something to say to them.

    (They leave.)

Act 3, Scene 5.  Silvius and Phoebe come in.

Silvius: Please, Phoebe, give me a chance, for Christ’s sake.  Why are you being so mean?  The way you look at me, it’s like you’re sticking a knife into me.

    (Rosalind, Celia, and Corin come in at the back, unnoticed.)

Phoebe: Sticking a knife into you!  Show me the wound, you poor boy.

Silvius: It’s not a wound you can see.  Someday you may get what you’re giving me now.  Then you’ll be sorry.

Phoebe: Fine.  When that happens, then you can gloat.  Until then, just stay away from me.  I’m not interested in your lovesick whining.

    (Rosalind steps forward, speaking as Ganymede.)

Rosalind: Just a minute.  Who are you to puke such contempt all over this guy?  Do you think you’re Aphrodite?  You’re nobody special.  (Phoebe reacts with a proud look.)  Hey, spare me the pose.  (To Silvius) I don’t know why you waste your time with this–this nasty woman.  She’s not worth crying over.  You could do a lot better.

Phoebe: Oh, really!

Rosalind: You’re very stupid to turn down a perfectly nice young man.  You should be glad to have him.

    (There is a pause while Phoebe looks at Rosalind.  Her expression is one of fascination and attraction.)

Phoebe: No one’s ever spoken to me like that before.  You’re very different.

Rosalind (To Silvius): You see?  Some women need to get their butts kicked in order to respect a man.

Phoebe: You can say what you want to me.  I’ll listen.  I don’t mind.

Rosalind: Don’t get any ideas about me.  You’re not my type.

Phoebe: Who are you?  Where do you live?

Rosalind: My name is Ganymede.  I live in the house by the olive grove.  Me and my sister Aliena (Indicating her). Now, as for this poor guy, he may be the only man in the world who thinks you’re beautiful.  If you had any sense, you’d give him a chance.  (To Celia and Corin) Come on.  I’m through with her.  Let’s go.

    (Rosalind, Celia, and Corin leave.  Phoebe’s fascinated gaze follows Rosalind out.)

Phoebe: What a fascinating man.

Silvius: Phoebe, please, I’m begging you.

Phoebe: What?

Silvius: I love you.

Phoebe: Stop it, Silvius.  I can be your friend, but that’s all.

Silvius: But I want more than friendship.

Phoebe: Well, that’s all I can give you.–But you can stick around.

Silvius: I will.  All I ask is a smile now and then–just to show me you care for me a little bit.

Phoebe: Yes, yes.–Do you know that fellow by any chance?

Silvius: Just slightly.  He bought the property I was supposed to buy.  I didn’t care about it any more.–Why do you want to know?  Do you like him?

Phoebe: Oh, no, no, no–not at all.  Although he is nice-looking.  I suppose some women would find him attractive.  Not me, of course.–He really shouldn’t have spoken to me the way he did, now that I think about it.  It was very rude.  I should have told him off.  And that’s what I’m going to do right now.  I’m going to write him a letter and give him a piece of my mind.  Will you deliver it for me?

Silvius: Yes, of course.  I’ll do anything for you.

Phoebe: Yes, I thought so.  I’ll write that letter right now.  Come on.

    (They leave, with Phoebe leading Silvius.)

Act 4, Scene 1.  In Arden Forest.  Rosalind and Celia come in, still in the guise of Ganymede and Aliena.  They meet Orlando coming in.  (Jaques is deleted from this scene.)

Orlando: There you are.  Good morning, um, my dear Rosalind.

Rosalind: You’re an hour late, Orlando.  If I were Rosalind, I’d be annoyed.

Orlando: Oh, sorry.  It won’t happen again.

Rosalind: All right.  Never mind.  Now–what would you say next to Rosalind?

Orlando: I’d kiss her first.

Rosalind: Not so fast.  You have to speak to her first and then try to kiss her when she isn’t expecting it.

Orlando: And what if she won’t accept a kiss?

Rosalind: Then she’s toying with you, get it?  So then you have to keep talking.

Orlando: Okay.  I think I’m learning something.  All right, so I talk some more and then I tell her again that I love her.  What then?

Rosalind: If I’m Rosalind, I say, no, I don’t want you.

Orlando: Then I would say that I’ll die without your love.

Rosalind: No, no, no.  Nobody dies from love.  That only happens in romantic stories, and they’re all nonsense.  So don’t try that tack with me.  You’ll get nowhere.

Orlando: Well, that’s not very encouraging.  I hope Rosalind doesn’t really feel that way.

Rosalind: All right, then.  I’ll be friendly Rosalind.  I’ll listen to whatever you say.  So now what will you say?

Orlando: I’ll say–love me, Rosalind.

Rosalind: Love you?  Fine.  Done.  Weekends included.

Orlando: So you’ll have me, then, right?

Rosalind: Sure, and twenty more just like you.

Orlando: What do you mean?

Rosalind: Well, you can’t have too much of a good thing, now, can you?

Orlando: I’m not sure I like that.

Rosalind: But you’re in love.  You’ll go along with anything at this point.  (To Celia) Aliena, you’ll be the priest.  You marry us.

Celia: I don’t know what to say.

Rosalind: Sure you do.  You’ve been to weddings.

Celia: Okay.–Do you, Orlando, take this woman Rosalind to be your lawfully wedded wife.?

Orlando: Yes.

Rosalind: And I’ll take you to be my husband.  Good.  That’s done.  Now–how long do you expect to keep me?

Orlando: Forever, of course.

Rosalind: Be careful what you wish for.  You might get it.  And now that we’re married, you’re going to see how I change.  Now you’re going to see my bad side.  I’m going to be jealous.  I’m going to be a nag.  I’m going to complain.  I’m going to be demanding.  And I’m never going to be–in the mood–when you are.  What do you think of that?

Orlando: My God, is that how it’s going to be?

Rosalind: Probably.

Orlando: But she’s a smart lady.

Rosalind: The smart ones are the worst.  You can’t stifle them.  They have an answer for everything.  And they’ll do whatever they want.

Orlando (Groaning): Oh-h-h-h–

Rosalind: And if she cheats on you–which is likely–she’ll make it look like it’s your fault.

Orlando (Very downcast): Well–I won’t say you’ve cured me–but this is all rather discouraging.  (Sighs)  Anyway, I have to go eat lunch with the Duke.  I promised.

Rosalind (Sarcastically): Oh, no.  You can’t leave me for anything now that we’re married.

Orlando: I’ll be back at two o’clock.

Rosalind: Fine.  Go, then.  I should have expected this.  Some husband you are.  My friends warned me not to marry you.–Death, take me now!–Two o’clock, you said?

Orlando: Yes, yes, I promise.

Rosalind: A promise is a promise.  I’ll hold you to it.  If you’re even one minute late–and I’ll know even without a clock–then I’ll know you’re a liar, like every other man.

Orlando: I swear to you I’ll be back.

Rosalind: Go on, then.  Have your nice lunch with the Duke.

Orlando: Goodbye.

     (Orlando leaves.)

Celia: Wow.  What an act.  If he still loves you after all that, then you know it’s for real.

Roaslind (Sighing): I hope so.  I have to know.–Ah, cousin, if you only knew how much I love him.

Celia: I hope he comes back.

Rosalind: I just hope Cupid’s on my side.–I’m tired.  I need to lie down.

Celia: Yes.  Let’s take a nap.

    (They leave.)

Act 4, Scene 2.  This scene is deleted.

Act 4, Scene 3.  In the forest.  Rosalind and Celia come in.

Rosalind: It’s past two o’clock, and he’s not back.

Celia: Don’t worry.  I’m sure there’s a reasonable explanation.–Oh.  Someone’s coming.

    (Silvius comes in.)

Silvius (To Rosalind): Excuse me, sir, but my dear Phoebe sends you this letter.  (Hands her the letter.)  It may not be very nice, but don’t blame me for it.

Rosalind (Reading the letter to herself): Huh–It’s one insult after another–I’m arrogant–mean–nasty–don’t know how to behave with a lady–Ha!  A lady?  Did she really write this, or did you?

Silvius: No, not me.  Phoebe wrote it.

Rosalind: And you don’t know what’s in the letter?

Silvius: No.  Only that she was angry when she wrote it.

Rosalind: Aliena, listen to this.–She says I made her hot when I was criticizing her.  She says I can have her.  (Reading the letter directly to Silvius)  “My messenger doesn’t know that I love you.  Please send him back with your reply, which I hope will be positive.”

    (Silvius looks crushed.)

Celia: Oh, Silvius, I’m sorry for you.

Rosalind (To Silvius): I don’t know why you would love such a woman.  She’s so bad to you.  Well, you go back to her, and you tell her this.  She should be loving you, not me.  I won’t have her unless you want to give her up.  Otherwise, I want her to marry you.  (She pokes Silvius in the chest to exphasize what she’s saying.)  And you, mister–you had better get some backbone, because the more you let her walk all over you, the less she’ll respect you.  Now go.

    (Silvius leaves.  Then Oliver de Boys comes in, walking slowly.  His manner is restrained and serious.)

Oliver: Good morning.  Do you know if there’s a shepherd’s cottage surrounded by olive trees in this area?

Celia: Yes.  That’s our place.

Oliver: Then you’re the ones I’m looking for.  I have a message from Orlando.

Rosalind (Excitedly): Yes?

Oliver: He was not able to return to keep his appointment.  He sends this to the gentleman he calls Rosalind.

    (He hands Rosalind a bloody handkerchief.)

Rosalind: It’s blood!  What’s happened?

Oliver: He’ll be all right.  He’s resting. 

Rosalind: But what happened?

Oliver (With controlled emotion): He–that is–I was looking for him.  And I fell asleep.  And then I was awakened by this awful noise.  And I saw him fighting with a lion–

Rosalind: Oh!

Oliver: The lion wounded him, but he killed it with his sword.–If he hadn’t been there, that lion would have killed me.

Rosalind: Thank God he was there!

Celia: A lion!  My God!

Oliver (Somberly): He could have left me to die.  It would have served me right.

Rosalind: Why do you say that?

Oliver: I’m–his brother–Oliver.

Celia: Oliver!–He told us about you.

Oliver: Well, I can imagine what he said.–I wasn’t very nice to him.–In fact–I was really very bad.–And I’m sorry now.  I was so wrong–so wrong.–I’ll never be bad to him again.  I’ll make it up to him.

Rosalind (Regarding the bloody handkerchief): Are you sure he’s all right?

Oliver: Yes.  I helped him get back to the Duke.  He’s in good hands.  He’s a strong guy, you know.  He’ll get better very fast.–We talked everything over.  We’re on good terms again.–He knew you’d be worried, so he sent me to look for you.  He told me to find the man he calls Rosalind.  I guess that’s some sort of private joke, isn’t it?

    (Rosalind faints into Celia’s arms.)

Celia: Oh!  Ganymede!  Brother!

    (Oliver goes to help.)

Oliver: Easy does it.–I guess the sight of blood is too much for some people.

Celia: It’s not just that.–Ganymede!  Wake up!

    (Rosalind recovers.)

Rosalind: Take me home now.

Celia: Yes, yes, my dear.  (To Oliver) Help him, will you.

Oliver: Sure.  (To Rosalind) Come on, lad.  A gentleman shouldn’t faint like that.

Rosalind: Yes, you’re right.–Please don’t tell Orlando I fainted.  It’s too embarrassing.

Celia: You look pale, brother.  We’ll go home now.–Oliver, come with us.

Oliver: Gladly.

    (They all leave.)

Act 5, Scene 1.  Touchstone and Audrey are in the forest.

Touchstone: We’ll get married soon, my dear.  Don’t worry.

Audrey: I don’t know why Sir Oliver couldn’t marry us.

Touchstone: Never mind about that.  We’ll get someone higher-ranking to marry us.

Audrey: What did you mean when you told him “next time”?

Touchstone: I was joking, dear.

Audrey: Oh.  All right, then.

Touchstone: By the way, what about that bumpkin boyfriend of yours?

Audrey: You mean William?  He’s not my boyfriend.  He just has a crush on me.–Oh.  Here he is.

    (William comes in.)

William: Hello, Audrey.

Audrey: Oh, hello, William.

William: Good evening, sir.

Touchstone: Hello.  So you’re William.  I’ve heard all about you.

William: Oh.  That’s nice, sir.

Touchstone: How old are you?

William: Twenty-five, sir.

Touchstone: Born and raised in the country, were you?

William: Yes, sir.

Touchstone: How high?

William: How high, sir?

Touchstone: If you were raised, then presumably you began at a lower level and ascended to a higher one.

William (Baffled): I was merely brought up, sir.

Touchstone: Brought up from where?  A ravine?  A ditch?  A coal mine?  The pits of hell?

William: Well, I–I can’t be sure, sir.  I can’t remember back that far.

Touchstone: That’s all right.  Never mind.  So are you rich?

William: Neither rich nor poor, sir.  Somewhere in between, I would imagine.

Touchstone: Good.  You have every right to imagine.  And are you a wise fellow?

William (Pausing to think): I think so, sir.

Touchstone: Only a fool thinks he’s wise.  But you have the right to think, just like any dumb animal.

William: Oh–Thank you, sir.

Touchstone: So, do you love this girl?

William: Yes, sir.  Very much.

Touchstone: And are you educated?

William: I’m afraid not, sir.

Touchstone: Fine.  Then I will teach you something.  Possession is nine-tenths of the law.  The other tenth is hope.  Do you hope to marry this girl?

William: Yes, sir.

Touchstone: Well, I possess her now, so I can claim nine-tenths of her.  But you only hope for her, so you can claim only one-tenth of her.  Do you understand?

William: Well, I–I’m not sure.

Touchstone: Now try to reason this out with me.  It may be hard for you, but try anyway.  If you were to marry one-tenth of her, what good would that be to you?

William: Not very much, I suppose.

Touchstone: You wouldn’t insist on cutting off one-tenth of her just so you could marry that part, now, would you?

William: No, sir.

Touchstone: Isn’t it far more reasonable that you should relinquish your one-tenth to me so I can marry her as a whole person?

William: If you put it that way, sir–yes.

Touchstone: So if you really love her, you won’t insist on cutting her up just so you can have your one-tenth.

William: No, no.

Touchstone: Good.  Otherwise, I’d have to resort to physical means to protect her, and the law would be entirely on my side.

William: I understand, sir.  At least, I think I do.

Audrey: Thank you, William.  I shall always remember your kindness.

William: Oh–yes–well, then–goodbye, Audrey.

Audrey: Goodbye.

    (William leaves.  Then Corin comes in.)

Corin: Master Ganymede and Mistress Aliena are looking for you.

Touchstone: Yes, yes.  Be right there.–Come along, Audrey.

    (They all leave.)

Act 5, Scene 2.  Orlando and Oliver come in.  Orlando has his arm in a sling.

Orlando: You only just met the girl, and already you want to marry her? 

Oliver: Yes.

Orlando: And you proposed to her?

Oliver: Yes.

Orlando: And she said yes?

Oliver: Yes.  And you should be very happy.

Orlando: Oh, of course, I am.  I’m happy for your sake.

Oliver: But you have another reason to be happy.  You see–I’ve decided to leave everything to you–father’s entire estate.  I want to spend the rest of my life right here–with Aliena.

     (Before Orlando can reply, Rosalind comes in, still as Ganymede.)

Rosalind: Hello.  I hope I’m not interrupting.

Oliver: Not at all.  I was just leaving–future brother!

    (Oliver leaves.)

Rosalind: How are you feeling, Orlando?

Orlando: Oh, this?  (Indicating his arm)  It’ll heal.–But not my heart.  I’m quite sure you wouldn’t have been able to cure me of–that particular ailment.

Rosalind: No.  I should say your case is incurable.

Orlando: So–your sister–and my brother–

Rosalind: Yes.  It was love at first sight.  I’m all for it.

Orlando: Me, too.  They can get married tomorrow.  I’ll invite the Duke. (Sadly) I’m really–quite happy–for my brother.–Still, I wish I were the one getting married–to Rosalind.

Rosalind: That could happen.

Orlando: How?

Rosalind: I have certain–shall we say–magical talents.

Orlando: Magical talents?

Rosalind: Oh, yes.  You don’t know what I can do.  If you really love her, I can arrange for her to be there tomorrow.

Orlando: You can?  You mean you know where she is?

Rosalind: Oh, yes.  And I will produce her for you–(Snaps her fingers) like that!  And you shall marry her.

Orlando: I think you’re joking.

Rosalind: No, I’m not.  You’ll marry Rosalind at the same time that your brother marries Aliena.–And here come two other people in love–but not with each other.  Phoebe loves me, and Silvius loves her.

    (Silvius and Phoebe come in.)

Phoebe (To Rosalind): You shouldn’t have told Silvius what was in that letter.

Rosalind: So what?  He’s the one who loves you.  Why don’t you take him?

Phoebe: He doesn’t know the first thing about love.

Rosalind: Doesn’t he?–What do you say to that, Silvius?

Silvius (More assertively than before): I know very well.  To love is to think only of the one you love–to cry for her, to ache for her, to have no other reason to live but for her.–And that’s how I feel about you, Phoebe.

Phoebe: And that’s how I feel about Ganymede.

Orlando: And that’s how I feel about Rosalind.

Rosalind: And that’s how I feel–about no woman.  But all of this confusion will get straightened out very shortly.

Orlando: With your magical talents, I suppose?

Rosalind: Exactly.–All of you be here tomorrow.  You will all be satisfied, and every one of you will be married–as will I.  Just trust me.  If your love is sincere, be here, and I promise you a happy outcome.

Silvius: I’ll be here.

Phoebe: So will I.

Orlando: And so will I.

    (They all leave.)

Act 5, Scene 3.  Touchstone and Audrey come in.

Touchstone: Well, Audrey, tomorrow is the big day.  We’re finally getting married.

Audrey: I can’t wait.  Then I won’t be chaste any more, will I?

Touchstone: Not after I chase you, you won’t.

Audrey: Oh, but I won’t run from you.

Touchstone: Then you’ll be not-chased.  So either way, it works out the way you want it.–Oh, here comes Lord Amiens to play for us.

    (Amiens comes in with his guitar.)

Amiens: Hello!

Touchstone: Hello, Amiens.  Since you have your guitar, why don’t you play us a romantic song.

Amiens: Certainly!

    (Amiens plays something funny–either a very bad rendition of a popular song, or another gibberish song in a fake foreign language, or a combination of a popular tune with fake foreign lyrics.  The Director can add his own touch, such as having a dead bird fall out of the sky or having Amiens get crapped on by a bird.  After the song, they all  leave.)

Act 5, Scene 4.  Duke Senior, Amiens, Jaques, Orlando, Oliver, and Celia come in.  Celia is still posing as Aliena.  Duke Senior and his party are now dressed in courtly attire.

Duke Senior: Orlando, do you still think this fellow Ganymede is going to keep his promises?

Orlando: Well–he’s a remarkable fellow.  I want to believe he will.

    (Rosalind, Silvius, and Phoebe come in.)

Rosalind: I’m glad to see everyone’s here.  Now just bear with me for a moment.  (To Duke Senior) My lord Duke, if I bring your daughter Rosalind here, do you agree to let her marry Orlando?

Duke Senior: Nothing would make me happier than to see her marry the son of Sir Rowland de Boys.

Rosalind (To Orlando): And you still want to marry her?

Orlando (Rolling his eyes): Does the sun rise in the east and set in the west?

Rosalind (To Phoebe): And you still want to marry me?

Phoebe: It’s the one thing I wish for.

Rosalind: But if for some reason you decide not to marry me, will you marry Silvius instead?

Phoebe: Yes.  All right.

Rosalind (To Silvius): And you still want to marry Phoebe?

Silvius: Totally.

Rosalind: Good.–You will see how I make everything come out perfect for all of you.–Aliena, come with me.

    (Rosalind and Celia leave.)

Duke Senior: You’re right, Orlando.  He is a remarkable fellow.  And he reminds me of my daughter–don’t you think?

Orlando: Yes, I thought so, too, my lord–immediately I met him.  And he seems to have courtly ways, even though he claims he’s lived here in the forest all his life.  He says he has studied magic.

Duke Senior: We shall see.

    (Touchstone and Audrey come in.)

Jaques: Oh, the two fools are here finally.  Now Noah’s Ark can leave.

Touchstone: Good morning, everyone.

Jaques (To Duke Senior): My lord, this is the fool I told you about.  He claims he used to live at court.

Touchstone: Yes, indeed.  A courtier.  I  like polite society.  They’re so polite.

Duke Senior (Laughing): You must stay with us, then.

Touchstone: Thank you, my lord.–And this is Audrey.  We’re getting married.  We’re all getting married today, it seems.  Isn’t that swell?

Jaques: Tell the Duke that story about the courtier and his beard.

Touchstone: Oh, yes, the courtier and his beard.  Well, it was like this.  There was a certain gentleman at court whose beard I didn’t like very much.  So I said to him, “Sir, your beard is too Spanish.  You should change it.”  And he says, “What do you mean, too Spanish?  It’s nothing of the sort.”  And I say, “If you don’t believe me, ask anyone.”  So he goes away, and a little while later he comes back and says, “You’re wrong.  I’ve been told it’s not too Spanish.”  So I say, “Perhaps you’re right.  But now that I think about it, I have to say it’s definitely too English.”  And he says, “What?  Too English?  Ridiculous!”  So I say, “If you don’t believe me, ask anyone.”  So off he goes, and a little while later he comes back and says, “You are mistaken.  I am reliably advised that my beard is definitely not too English.”  So I say, “Yes, I can see that now.  But now I’m quite sure that it’s too Italian.”  And now he’s getting quite angry, and he says, “What?  Too Italian?  Sir, you are offending me greatly!”  So I say to him, “Go ask anyone if you don’t believe me.”  And away he goes for the third time, and, sure enough, he comes back and he says, “Sir, you don’t know your beards!  My beard is definitely not too Italian!  And furthermore, I’ve taken enough of your insults!  I challenge you to a duel!”  And he takes out his sword.  And I say, “Wait a minute.  You can’t duel me with that sword.”  And he says, “Why not?”  And I say–“It’s too Spanish.”–And he just gives me this long, hard look, because now he realizes I’ve been putting him on–and he just walks away.

    (Everyone laughs.  Then Rosalind and Celia return, now dressed as themselves, along with the character Hymen, the god of marriage, who is a player not previously seen by the audience.)

Duke Senior: Rosalind!–Celia!

Orlando: Rosalind!

Phoebe: Who are you?  Where’s Ganymede?

Rosalind: I used to be–Ganymede.

    (Phoebe faints into Silvius’s arms, but only briefly.)

Celia: And I used to be–Aliena.

    (Oliver stands agape.)

Rosalind: And this–(Presenting Hymen) is Hymen–the god of marriage.

Orlando: A god!  (To Duke Senior) She really does know magic!

Hymen: All right, quiet down, everyone.   I have four couples to marry, so let’s get this done as fast as possible.

    (The couples pair up.)

Audrey: Don’t we need a priest?

Touchstone: It’s all right, my dear.  A god outranks a priest.  And I’m perfectly sure–well, more or less sure–that it’s legal to be married by a god.

Hymen: Okay.–Orlando and Rosalind.  (Snaps his fingers)  You’re married.  Congratulations.–Oliver and Celia.  (Snaps his fingers)  You’re married.  Congratulations.–Silvius and Phoebe.  (Snaps his fingers)  You’re married.  Congratulations.–Touchstone and Audrey.  (Snaps his fingers)  You’re married.  Congratulations.–You may all kiss your brides.  (The couples kiss.)  Excellent.  I’m outa here.

    (Hymen leaves.)

Duke Senior: It’s magic, all right.  Is that the end of it?

    (Jaques de Boys rushes in.)

Orlando: Jaques!

Oliver: Brother!

Orlando (To Duke Senior): It’s our other brother, Jaques!

Duke Senior (To Jaques de Boys): You’re Sir Rowland’s son?

Jaques de Boys: Yes, my lord.  I’m the middle one.  And I bring you good news, sir.

Duke Senior: Good news?  What good news?

Jaques de Boys: Your brother, Duke Frederick, was on his way with an army to put an end to you.  But he met an old religious man on the way, and they had a long talk, and–

Duke Senior: And?

Jaques de Boys: Your brother is a changed man.  He has repented.  He’s returning the throne to you, and all the lands he seized–and the same for everyone else who came with you.  Everything will be returned.  And your brother has vowed to give up the court and all worldly pursuits and lead a life of prayer and meditation.

Duke Senior: Thank God in heaven!–Everyone!  We can go home!  We’re going home!

    (General cheering.)

Jaques (To Jaques de Boys): Wait, sir.  Do you mean that Duke Frederick intends to live like–a monk?

Jaques de Boys: Basically, yes.

Jaques: Then I will join him.

Duke Senior: You want to join him?

Jaques: Yes.  If he could have such a conversion, I know I can learn a lot from him.–All of you have gotten what you want and deserve.  Now this is my chance for a new life.  This is right for me.  I know I’ll be happy.

Duke Senior: You happy!  Imagine!  Then I give you my blessing, Jaques.  But do stay with us a while and celebrate.

Jaques: No, my lord.  You have your celebration–and I’ll have mine–a more spiritual one.  I want to go and pack right away.–All of you–be happy in your new lives.  Goodbye.

Others: Goodbye, Jaques.

    (Jaques leaves.)

Duke Senior: And so we shall be happy.–Come along, everyone.  There’s food to be eaten, wine to be drunk, and lots of singing and dancing to be done.

    (Everyone leaves except Rosalind, who remains behind to deliver the Epilogue directly to the audience.)

Rosalind: It’s always nice when a male author lets a lady have the last word.  It shows that he trusts her eloquence.  Men are the bigger fools in love–which only means that women get most of the blame.  So for the sake of both, we like to see a happy ending, in which mean are ultimately rewarded for their suffering and women are forgiven for any cruelty.  In a good play like this, both sexes will feel that they have been vindicated.–You are perhaps wondering how I conjured up a god on short notice.  Well, it’s a magical talent I have.  And you have to believe it because you saw it with your own eyes.  But I will tell you that magic should be used sparingly–and only when absolutely necessary.  For we are all better off if we try to get what we want without it.–Thank you for your kindness.–And now it’s time for me to go.  I go to join–my sweet–Orlando!

    (She leaves, skipping happily.)


    Copyright@ 2011 by Crad Kilodney.  E-mail: crad166@yahoo.com 



(Index to the Series appears on Oct. 7, 2010 — https://cradkilodney.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/ )

Main Characters

Orsino — Duke of Illyria (Yugoslavia)

Sebastian — twin brother of Viola

Viola — twin sister of Sebastian

Valentine and Curio — gentlemen serving Orsino

Antonio — former sea captain; rescuer of Sebastian

Olivia — rich countess

Maria and Fabian — Olivia’s servants

Malvolio — Olivia’s steward

Fool — Olivia’s resident jester (referred to in some texts as Feste)

Sir Toby Belch — Olivia’s uncle

Sir Andrew Aguecheek — friend of Sir Toby



Sea Captain (rescuer of Viola)

Gist of the story: Twins Sebastian and Viola are separated in a shipwreck off the coast of Illyria, and each thinks the other has drowned.  Viola disguises herself as a man, and, with the help of her rescuer, makes her way to the court of Count Orsino, where she gets hired as a servant (“Cesario”).  She falls in love with him but can’t tell him.  Orsino is in love with Lady Olivia, but she has no interest in him.  Orsino sends “Cesario” with love messages for Olivia, but she falls in love with the messenger instead.  Meanwhile, Sir Andrew Aguecheek is in love with Olivia and is being encouraged by her uncle, Sir Toby Belch, who is leeching off him.  Olivia’s steward, Malvolio, is tricked by Maria into believing that Olivia is in love with him.  Sebastian and his rescuer, Antonio, come to town and get separated.  Antonio mistakes Viola for Sebastian and get arrested while trying to save her from a duel.  The chaos is finally sorted out, and three couples end up getting married — Orsino and Viola; Sebastian and Olivia; and Sir Toby and Maria.  (Twelfth Night is full of improbabilities and is a good example of Shakespeare’s “fast and dirty” approach to stagecraft.  The idea is to keep a complicated plot moving along, and neatness doesn’t count; neither does believability.  The Director has little choice but to keep the staging simple and trust the audience to get it, which is the way it was done in Shakespeare’s day.  This version has a break in Act 3, Scene 4 for the sake of clarity.  The Fool’s closing song has been rewritten and makes use of the play’s alternate title, What You Will.)

Act 1, Scene 1.  A hall in Orsino’s house.  Background music is coming from nowhere.  (The Director should choose something romantic but cheesy, like a French tune on the accordion.)  Orsino comes in looking sad, accompanied by Curio.

Orsino: Ahhh–sweet music for people in love–people like me–I shouldn’t listen to it.  It just keeps reminding me–(He shakes his head, unable to finish the sentence.)

Curio (With forced cheerfulness): Um, are you going hunting, my lord?

Orsino: Hunting for what?

Curio: Hart.

Orsino (Reacting by holding his heart): Don’t say hart!–It sounds just like–(Sadly) heart.

Curio: Deer!  I meant to say deer!

Orsino (Reacting with a groan, hands on his heart): Dear!–Dear–My dear Olivia–(A deep sigh) Yes, I’ve tried to hunt my dear Olivia–but with no luck.  (Sighs again)  My poor aching heart!  (A pause.  The music is still playing.  Then, angrily)  Turn off that fucking music!

    (The music stops immediately.  Then Valentine comes in.)

Orsino: Valentine!  Did you deliver my letter?  Did she say anything?

Valentine: I’m sorry, sir, but they wouldn’t even let me in.  Lady Olivia does not wish to be disturbed while she’s in mourning for her poor brother.  She intends to remain in mourning for seven years.

Orsino: Seven years!  Is she crazy?  Nobody should be in mourning for seven years!  What should I do, wait seven years until she gets over it?  And what if she decides to make it ten years, or fifteen?–This is no good.  I’ve got to find some way to get through to her.–Let’s go out in the garden.  I need some inspiration.

    (They all leave.)

Act 1, Scene 2.  On a beach.  Viola and a ship’s Captain come in (and optionally some sailors).  A shipwreck is suggested.

Viola (Anxiously): Where’s my brother?  Did he get ashore?  Did you see him?

Captain: The last I saw of him, he was holding on to some debris from the ship.  I–I don’t know, madam–It’s possible he made it to shore.

Viola (Holding back tears): Yes–yes–of course–He’s somewhere–Where are we, Captain?

Captain: This is Illyria, madam.

Viola: Do you know this country at all?

Captain: I know it well, madam.  I was born here.

Viola: Who is the ruler?

Captain: The Duke Orsino.  He’s a good man.

Viola: I’ve heard of him.  Does he rule alone?  I mean, is he married?

Captain: No, madam.  Never been married.  But I’ve heard he’s in love with a beautiful young countess–Lady Olivia.

Viola: What’s she like?

Captain: A very good lady, madam.  Lost her brother last year.  Too bad.  Now she’s in mourning for him.  She won’t even look at another man.  She just keeps thinking of her poor brother–or so I hear.

Viola: I can imagine how she feels.  I’d gladly work for a lady like that.

Captain: Work for her?  Oh, but madam, you’re a noble lady yourself.  You can’t work for someone.

Viola: I don’t want anyone to know that I’m a noble.  I want to keep that a secret.  As long as I’m in a strange country–and I don’t have my brother with me–I think it’s safer if I pass for an ordinary person.  Can you understand that?

Captain: Oh, I suppose.  Well, in any case, you couldn’t get in to see the Countess anyway.  She’s shut herself off from the rest of the world–or so I’ve heard.

Viola: Captain, I believe I can trust you.  I want you to help me, and I’ll make it worth your while.

Captain: Yes, madam.  Whatever I can do for you.

Viola: I want you to keep my identity a secret.  And I want you to help me disguise myself as a man–and take me to the Duke’s court.

Captain: But your voice, madam.  How can you disguise that?

Viola: I’ll say it’s just a family trait.  We’re all high-pitched.

Captain: And what will you do when you meet the Duke?

Viola: I’ll get myself hired.  What else?

Captain: Madam–you have nerve.

Viola: Fortunately, nerve is a family trait.  Come, now.  Take me to the Duke.

    (They leave.)

Act 1, Scene 3.  Sir Toby Belch comes in with Maria.

Sir Toby: My niece should stop grieving over her brother and get on with her life.  She’s a very eligible lady.  In fact, I have a friend who’s very keen on her.  He’s a fun guy–just like me.

Maria: Oh, yes, we know what a fun guy you are, Sir Toby.  Your niece is not entirely happy about that.  She’s not too thrilled about your late-night partying.

Sir Toby: Bah!  She’s acting like an old nun.  So I like to enjoy myself.  What’s wrong with that?

Maria: Pleasure has its proper limits.

Sir Toby: Proper limits!  Please!

Maria: And she doesn’t think too much of your friend either.  She thinks he’s an idiot.

Sir Toby: Sir Andrew Aguecheek?  An idiot?

Maria: Yes.

Sir Toby: Well, I don’t think so.  He’s a perfectly acceptable gentleman–in his own way.–He’s tall.  That’s good for a gentleman.

Maria: So what?

Sir Toby: He gets three thousand ducats a year.  And he can play the violin–or cello–I forget.  And he can speak several languages–more or less well.

Maria: Or so he claims.  I agree with your niece.  He’s an idiot.  It’s purely a matter of luck that a guy like that is born into a title and a bit of money–neither of which he deserves.  He’s irresponsible, he’s loud, he’s crass–and–I understand that he’s a coward.

Sir Toby: Who says so?

Maria: The same people who say that you and he get plastered every night.

Sir Toby: Now, that’s an exaggeration.  We drink to my niece, that’s all.  We drink to her good health–a lot–purely out of affection.  That’s not getting plastered.  That’s–you know–being gallant.–Ah, here he is now.

    (Sir Andrew Aguecheek comes in.)

Sir Andrew (Loudly): Sir Toby Belch!  How’s it going?

Sir Toby: Ah, Sir Andrew!  We were just talking about you.

    (Maria rolls her eyes.)

Sir Andrew: Were you now!  That’s wonderful!

Sir Toby: This is Maria, my niece’s waiting maid.

Maria: How do you do.

Sir Andrew: Well!  Well!  Well!  The pleasure is all mine–I hope–ha, ha, ha!

Sir Toby (Aside to Sir Andrew): She’s a hottie.  You could do her if you wanted.

Sir Andrew (Loudly): What!  Right here?  What would people say?–Ha, ha, ha!

    (Maria turns to the audience and makes a sour face.  Then she begins to leave.)

Sir Toby (Aside to Sir Andrew): Don’t let her get away.  Tell her what you’ve got in your pants.

Sir Andrew (Loudly): Wait, my dear!  I haven’t told you about my pants–I mean, what I have in my pants.

Maria: Is it more than what you’ve got in your brain?

Sir Andrew: Oh, yes!  Much more!–Um, that is–

    (Maria walks out.)

Sir Toby: Aww, Sir Andrew, you let her get the better of you, man.  You’re losing your touch.  I think you need a drink.

Sir Andrew: Yeah, I guess so.  If I were properly drunk, then I’d have a good excuse for being stupid.

Sir Toby: Aw, go on.

Sir Andrew: You know, sometimes I think I should have taken school more seriously.  I should have become an intellectual.

Sir Toby: Women don’t go for intellectuals.  They’re too shallow.–Women, I mean.

Sir Andrew: Lucky for me and a lot of other guys.  But in any case, I’ve decided to go home tomorrow.

Sir Toby: Oh!  Why?

Sir Andrew: I’m not getting anywhere with your niece.  She won’t give me the time of day.  And besides, I hear that Orsino has his eye on her.  And how can I compete with a duke?

Sir Toby: But she’s not interested in him.  She doesn’t care about high status, or men with lots of money or brains.  That’s why I think you still have a good chance with her.

Sir Andrew: You think so?

Sir Toby: Of course.  Don’t go home yet.

Sir Andrew: All right.  I’ll stay a while longer.  Maybe I can find someone to go dancing with.  I like to dance.

Sir Toby:  Great idea.  Are you a good dancer?

Sir Andrew: Oh, for sure.  I practice all the fancy steps by myself in front of the mirror.  I can even outdance my own reflection.

Sir Toby: That’s awesome!  That’s what I call talent.  I couldn’t do that.  Listen, Andrew, you shouldn’t hide your talents under a bushel–or whatever it is.  Let the world see what you’re made of.

Sir Andrew: You’re right.  You know, I even bought some special pants for dancing–brown ones.  I got them at a flea market from a gypsy.

Sir Toby: Oh, you want to be careful!  You don’t want to catch the crabs.

Sir Andrew: Catch crabs?  Oh, no, no.  I have other pants for that.  The brown ones are strictly for dancing.

Sir Toby: Uh–right.–Anyway, let’s go get a drink.

    (They leave.)

Act 1, Scene 4.  Valentine comes in with Viola, who is now disguised as “Cesario.”

Valentine: I have to hand it to you, Cesario.   You’ve made a spectacular impression on the Duke.  You’ve only been here three days, and he treats you like his favorite.

Viola: I hope it stays that way.  I certainly like him, too.

Valentine: Here he comes now.

    (Orsino comes in.)

Orsino: Ah, there you are, Cesario.

Viola: At your service, my lord.

Orsino: A word with you privately.

    (Valentine takes the hint and leaves.)

Orsino: I don’t normally take servants into my confidence on personal matters, but with you I make an exception.

Viola: You can always count on me, sir.

Orsino: I’m grateful for that.  I’ve told you about my situation regarding Lady Olivia.  I need you to go and see her in my behalf.  I’m desperate.  You’ve got to get in and speak to her.  Don’t let her people try to blow you off.  Be pushy.  Be obnoxious.  Do whatever it takes.

Viola: I’ll certainly try, my lord.  And if I can get in to see her, what would you like me to say?

Orsino: Tell her I love her.  Tell her how sincere I am.  Try to put yourself in my place and plead with her as I would.  She’ll listen to you.  You’re a young man.  You’re closer to her age.  She’ll listen to you more than to an older man like me.

Viola: I think you underestimate your appeal, my lord. 

Orsino: It doesn’t matter.  You’re much better suited to break through to her.  She’ll like you.  She’ll relate to you.  You have a–how can I put it–a rather gentle, feminine presence.  She won’t put up a barrier with you the way she would with–you know–a more masculine man.  Am I making sense?

Viola: I understand, my lord.

Orsino: Good.  Curio can show you the way, and you’ll have a few attendants to escort you as well.  If you can pull this off, there’ll be a big reward in it for you.

Viola: My greatest reward would be your happiness, my lord.  (Aside to the audience) And to marry the Duke myself, if I could.

    (They leave.)

Act 1, Scene 5.  Maria comes in with the Fool.

Maria: Where have you been?  Lady Olivia’s been looking for you.  Some fool you are, to go off when your poor, unhappy mistress needs you most.  She’ll be very angry with you if you don’t have a good reason for your absence.

Fool: I’ve been consulting the highest authorities.  That’s where I’ve been.

Maria: The highest authorities in what?

Fool: In wisdom, of course.

Maria: And why would you have any need for that?

Fool: Don’t you think an average person needs wisdom?

Maria: Yes.

Fool: Then a fool needs it even more–which justifies my absence.

Maria (Slyly): But if you’ve acquired wisdom, then you’re no longer a fool–which means we no longer need you here, right?

Fool: Notwithstanding any exposure I may have had to wisdom–usually second-hand wisdom inhaled by being in the same room–I am nevertheless prepared–by training as well as natural inclination–to be a fool deliberately, for the benefit of my mistress.  Or would you prefer an educated man who was a fool unintentionally?  There are plenty of them at the university.

Maria: It doesn’t matter what I prefer.  I only work here.  But if Lady Olivia is angry with you, you shall be well hanged.

Fool: That won’t be necessary as I am already well hung.

Maria: I must correct your usage.   Objects are hung, but people are hanged.

Fool: Please have mercy!  Don’t correct my usage.  Let me be well hung.  I’ll have my portrait painted, and we’ll hang him instead.  I think that’s a decent compromise.

Maria: Ach!

    (Maria leaves.  Then Olivia comes in with Malvolio and some Attendants.)

Fool: Oh, madam, there you are!  I’ve missed you so much!  How wonderful it is to see your sweet face again!

Olivia (To the Attendants): Get rid of this fool!  He’s no use to me!

Fool (To the Attendants): Yes!  Get rid of this fool!  (Indicating Malvolio)  He’s no use to her!

Malvolio: You are impertinent!

Fool: Which means “not pertinent.”  But not pertinent to what, specifically?  We cannot be pertinent to all things at all times, now, can we?  So, of course, I am not pertinent to some things at this moment–but neither are you.

    (Olivia laughs.)

Malvolio (Appealing to Olivia): Madam–I–he can’t–

Olivia: I swear, he gets funnier all the time, doesn’t he, Malvolio?

Malvolio (Suppressing his anger): Oh, yes.  He’ll never be funnier than on the last day of his life.  And let’s hope his increasing wit is a sign of that approaching day.

Fool: And may you never be more clever than you are now–and enjoy a very long life of gradually declining faculties.

Malvolio: Madam, how can you tolerate this–this nasty, miserable excuse for a clown?

Fool: A miserable excuse is better than no excuse–and you have none.

Olivia (Laughing): It’s all right, Malvolio.  You know how he jokes.  You just have to learn to take it.

    (Maria comes in.)

Maria: Madam, there’s a young gentleman at the gate who insists on speaking to you.

Olivia: Did Count Orsino send him?

Maria: I don’t know, madam.  There are some attendants with him.  Your uncle Toby  is talking to him now.

Olivia: Oh, dear–and he’s probably drunk.  Tell him to come here.  (Maria leaves.) Malvolio, go see what that fellow wants.  If he’s from the Duke, just tell him something to get rid of him.  Say that I’m sick, or I’m not at home.  Whatever.

Malvolio: Yes, madam.

    (Malvolio leaves.)

Olivia (To the Fool): You did offend him, you know.

Fool (Head in hands in mock remorse): Oh, I feel so guilty!

    (Sir Toby comes in, rather drunk.)

Olivia: Who’s at the gate, uncle?

Sir Toby: I don’t know who the feck he is, but he’s got a voice like a girl.  He could be the devil’s messenger, for all I care.  If I’ve got enough whiskey in me, I’m immune to anything.

    (Sir Toby leaves.)

Olivia (To the Fool): Just keep an eye on him for me. 

Fool: Every drunk deserves a fool for company.

    (The Fool leaves.  Then Malvolio returns.)

Malvolio: Madam, that fellow out there is very ill-mannered.  He says he won’t leave until you agree to see him.  I’ve never met anyone like him before.

Olivia (Intrigued): Really.–What sort of fellow is he?

Malvolio: He’s just a young chap.  Looks rather delicate–like a woman.  He speaks well, however, so he’s not stupid.

Olivia: All right.  I guess there’s no harm in speaking to him.  Show him in.

    (Malvolio leaves.  Then he returns with Viola, in the guise of Cesario.)

Olivia (To Malvolio): Leave us.

    (Malvolio goes out, along with the Attendants.)

Viola: Are you the lady of the house?

Olivia: Yes.  I am Olivia.

Viola: I can see why the Duke loves you.  You’re very beautiful, madam.

Olivia: I’m not interested in flattery.  What does the Duke have to say that I could possibly want to hear?

Viola: I have a lovely speech to deliver in his behalf.  I’ve memorized it.

Olivia: I’m not interested in memorized speeches.  He could just as easily have sent it in a letter–although I probably wouldn’t have read it anyway.  Actually, I only let you in because you were rude to my steward, and I was curious to see if you were crazy or just stubborn.

Viola: I didn’t mean to be rude, but your people were not exactly welcoming.  I didn’t want to tell them the nature of my business because it was for your ears only.

Olivia: All right.  Now that you’re here.

Viola: My sweet lady–

Olivia: Sweet!  Ha!  Is that your word or Orsino’s?

Viola: It’s what he would say if he were here.

Olivia: I wouldn’t take it seriously.

Viola: My lady, it would be cruel if you allowed your beauty to pass away from this world, instead of bringing beautiful children into it.

Olicia: I can just as easily have my portrait painted for the world to enjoy.  Is that all your master has to say to me–that I’m beautiful?

Viola: I can see that you’re proud.  But that doesn’t matter.  My master loves you.  He aches for you.  He loses sleep over you.  He’s obsessed with you.

Olivia: But I don’t love him.  It’s that simple.  I have nothing against him, mind you.  I know he’s a nice man.  He’s noble, he’s honourable, he’s intelligent, he’s rich, and I’d even say he’s handsome.  But he knows I don’t want him, and he should just accept that.

Viola: Madam, if I were in his place and loved you the way he does, I would find your rejection absolutely bewildering.  I wouldn’t know what to make of it.

Olivia: Indeed.  And what would you do?

Viola: What would I do?  I’ll tell you what I would do–if I were him.  I’d build a little shack on the edge of your property so I could stand there and watch for you, just to catch a momentary glimpse of you.  I’d write love songs to you, and I’d sing them all night long.  I’d cry for you.  I’d call out your name.  I’d stand out there in the freezing rain and wind, and whenever you looked out your window, you’d see me there.  Sooner or later, you’d give in.

Olivia (Amused): You are a plucky lad.  What sort of people do you come from?

Viola: I’m higher-born than what I appear to be.

Olivia: What’s your name?

Viola: Cesario.

Olivia: Well, Cesario, please tell the Duke that I can’t love him, no matter how much he exerts himself.  So there’s no point in his sending me any more messages–unless you care to come back and tell me how he took my reply.  Here’s something for your trouble. 

    (She offers Viola a coin.)

Viola (Firmly): No, thank you, madam.  I won’t accept a reward as long as my poor master is denied the reward he deserves.  I hope someday you know what it feels like to give your heart to someone and have it stomped on.  Good-bye, madam.

    (Viola leaves.  Olivia is shaken.  A few seconds pass before she speaks.)

Olivia: What an extraordinary young man.  Just like Malvolio said.  He’s not like anyone I ever met before.  (With a look of longing) Cesario–Cesario–(She regains her composure.)  Malvolio!

    (Malvolio comes in.)

Malvolio: Yes, madam?

Olivia: Run after that rude messenger from Orsino.   (She hands Malvolio a ring.)  Tell him I don’t want the ring Orsino sent me.  He should tell the Duke that I’m not interested.–And if the messenger comes back tomorrow, I’ll tell him my reasons.  Now go.  Hurry.

    (Malvolio leaves quickly.  Olivia remains for a few seconds,  looking emotionally distracted.  Then she leaves.) 

 Act 2, Scene 1.  In a house elsewhere in Illyria.  Antonio and Sebastian come in.

Antonio: Sebastian, you’re welcome to stay as long as you like.

Sebastian: I can’t impose on your hospitality forever, Antonio.  I already owe you my life for dragging me out of the water.

Antonio: It was fate.  I was in the right place at the right time.

Sebastian: Yes–fate–But fate was not so kind to my sister.

Antonio: Oh.  Yes.  Your twin.  What was her name?

Sebastian: Viola.  I lost sight of her when the ship broke up.–I don’t think she made it.

Antonio: I’m sorry.

Sebastian: She was a wonderful lady.  We were very close.  I think about her all the time.

Antonio: Don’t leave while you’re feeling so bad.  Stay.

Sebastian: No.  I’d only depress you, and that would be a poor reward for your kindness.

Antonio: But where will you go?

Sebastian: I’ll find my way to the Duke’s court.

Antonio: Orsino?  Oh, yeah.  I sort of know him.

Sebastian: Do you?

Antonio: Yeah.  I was a captain in a naval battle with his forces–except I was on the other side.  We got into a skirmish with them.  Did them some damage.  I still have a price on my head.  Otherwise, I’d take you there myself.

Sebastian: It’s okay.  I’ll find my way somehow.  Let me go now.  It’s for the best.  Good-bye.

    (They embrace and then Sebastian leaves.  Antonio paces back and forth unhappily.)

Antonio: Nuts!  I can’t let him go by himself.  I’d better go after him.

    (He starts packing a bag hurriedly.)

Act 2, Scene 2.  Viola is on the way home when Malvolio catches up with her.

Malvolio (Out of breath): Excuse me, sir.

Viola: Yes?

Malvolio: Lady Olivia is returning the ring you gave her.  (He holds out the ring.)

Viola: The ring?

Malvolio: From Count Orsino.

Viola: Oh–yes.  (The suggestion to the audience is that Viola has not seen the ring before but is discreetly covering up Olivia’s lie.  Viola does not accept the ring.)

Malvolio: The Countess wishes you to convery to the Duke that she is not interested in him and there is no point in sending any further messages.  However, you may return if you wish to tell the Countess how he received the news.

Viola: I’m not taking the ring back.

Malvolio (Angrily throwing the ring on the ground): Fine!  Leave it in the road, then!  I don’t care!

    (He leaves.  Then Viola picks up the ring and ponders.)

Viola: What does this mean?–A ring–It’s obviously hers–I can come back?  (She ponders some more.)  That woman has a crush on me.  That’s what it means.  (She shakes her head.)  Anyone here seen a lady named Viola?–No?–What can I do, tell the Duke who I really am?  No way.  I’m stuck.–What a mess!

    (She leaves.)

Act 2, Scene 3.  Sir Toby and Sir Andrew come in, rather drunk (possibly holding bottles) and singing.

Sir Toby:

    Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall,

    Ninety-nine bottles of beer–

Sir Andrew:

    If Sir Andrew Aguecheek finds his way to the hall,

    There’ll be no more bottles of beer left at all!

Sir Toby (Loudly): What time is it?

Sir Andrew (Loudly): After midnight!  Any chance of getting room service around here?

Sir Toby: Why not?  I’m the Lady’s uncle!–Maria!  We want food!

Sir Andrew: Food!

    (The Fool comes in.)

Sir Andrew: I said food, not Fool!

Fool: How many fools do you see in the room, Sir Andrew?

Sir Andrew: One.

Fool: And how many do you see, Sir Toby?

Sir Toby: One.

Fool: And I see two.  That makes (Counts fingers) four.

Sir Andrew: Ha!  Then the fourth one must be invisible!

Sir Toby (Pretending to search): Where’s he hiding?–Come out, fool!  Where are you?

Fool: Is there any beer left for me?  There were ninety-nine bottles before I came in.

Sir Toby: That was then.  Now there’s, uh–ninety-eight.


    Ninety-eight boggles of beer on the wall–

Sir Andrew: Boggles?

Sir Toby: What did I say?

Sir Andrew: You said boggles.

Fool: As in “the mind boggles.”

Sir Toby: Oh, hell, I lost my mind long ago.

Sir Andrew (Singing): Ninety-eight bobbles of beer–no–

Sir Toby: Oh, you’re all right.  Have another boggle.

Sir Andrew: Sir, I believe you’re drunk.

Sir Toby: Who, me?  Don’t be silly.  I’m as sober as a–a–

Fool: A giraffe.

Sir Toby: Exactly.  I’m as sober as a giraffe–What?

Sir Andrew: A giraffe!  Ha!

    (Maria comes in.)

Maria: What’s all this racket?–Sir Toby, must you carry on like this?  Your niece is very annoyed with you.  She’s told Malvolio to kick you out of the house if you don’t behave yourself.

Sir Toby: Aw, forget it.  We’re just having a little fun.  And Malvolio can go feck himself.  He’s such a stiff.–Where were we?  Ninety-seven?

Sir Andrew: I forget.

Sir Toby (Sings):

    Ninety-seven bottles of beer on the wall,

    Ninety-seven boggles for the giraffe–

Sir Andrew: You’re wrong.  It’s bobbles.  And the giraffe isn’t supposed to drink.  He’s a Baptist.

Sir Toby: Well, we’ll give him a few boggles anyway!  That’ll make him happy!

    (Malvolio comes in.)

Malvolio: Will you lunatics shut up!  Do you know what time it is?  Where do you think you are, in an alehouse?  For a couple of nobles, you act very low-class.  I shouldn’t have to correct you, but you leave me no choice.

Sir Toby: Aw, go suck a lemon.

Malvolio: Sir Toby, I’m telling you straight.  Lady Olivia has had it up to here with you.  She’s only tolerated you this long because you’re her uncle.  But this–low-class behaviour has got to stop.   Otherwise, she wants you out of the house.  And I’m fed up, too.  Your behaviour is–not in keeping with my own standards.  And I speak as the steward of the house.

Sir Toby: You must have a butt plug up your ass.

Malvolio (To Maria): And you, Maria–You should be ashamed for encouraging such vulgarity.

Maria: Me?

Malvolio: You are not sufficiently heedful of your duties.  And I will see to it that Lady Olivia knows.

    (Malvolio leaves.)

Maria: What a jerk.

Sir Toby: You said it.

Maria: He thinks he’s better than he is.  He wants to be a noble.

Sir Toby: Well, if he’s a noble, then I’m allowed to challenge him to a duel.–He doesn’t even have a sword–ha!

Maria: No, no.   Don’t make things any worse.  Lady Olivia had a bad day.  The Duke sent a messenger, and she’s been upset even since.

Sir Toby: That guy gets up my nose.  Steward of the house.  Huh!  He thinks he’s the master of the house.

    (Maria reacts as if she’s gotten an idea.)

Maria: Mm–Now there’s a thought.

Sir Toby: What do you mean?

Maria: How would you like to cut him down a notch?

Sir Toby: Malvolio?  Hell, yes!

Maria: I have an idea.

Sir Toby: Yeah?  What?

Maria: I’ll write a fake letter from Lady Olivia and leave it where he’ll find it.  A love letter.

Sir Toby: A love letter?

Maria: Yes.  I’ll have her say that she’s in love with him.  I can write like she does.  My handwriting is almost the same anyway.

Sir Toby: Oh!  Brilliant!

Sir Andrew: Do you think he’ll fall for it?

Maria: Absolutely.  I’ll set it up so that the two of you can hide and watch what happens.

Sir Toby: You’re–magnificent!  (He gives her a loud pretend kiss.  Maria laughs on her way out.)  She’s so cool.  And I think she likes me.

Sir Andrew (Sighs): I wish a certain Countess liked me.

Sir Toby: Oh, she does–more or less.  Give her time.

Sir Andrew: Well–

Sir Toby: You’re still in the game, man.  Trust me.–Um, by the way–um, you’re going to need to get some more money.

Sir Andrew: So soon?

Sir Toby: Well–at your convenience–but soon.  It takes money to have fun in this town, you know.

Sir Andrew: You’re costing me an arm and a leg.  If I don’t get to marry your niece, I’ll be broke.

Sir Toby: No, no, no–nothing of the sort.  Don’t you worry.  Everything will work out fine.

Sir Andrew: You really think she’ll marry me?

Sir Toby: Yes, yes, yes.  I’m totally–well, highly confident.–What do you say we go raid the liquor cabinet–dig up a bottle of sherry?

Sir Andrew: I’m with you, bro!

    (Sir Andrew and Sir Toby leave.)

Fool (To the audience): Don’t worry about the giraffe.  I’ll see to it that they don’t get him drunk.

    (The Fool leaves.)

Act 2, Scene 4.  Orsino comes in with Viola.

Orsino: Cesario, if you ever fall in love, perhaps you’ll understand how miserable I feel.  All I can think about is Lady Olivia–but I can’t have her.

Viola: I do understand, my lord.

Orsino: Then you’ve been in love, have you?

Viola: Yes, my lord.

Orsino: And are you still?  (Viola tries to reply but can’t find the words.)  What sort of woman is she?

Viola: Oh–she’s a lot like you, actually.

Orsino: Then she’s hardly worth it.  How old is she?

Viola: She’s–mature.  Almost your age.

Orsino: Too old for you, my boy.  Nature intended for younger women to marry older men, not the other way around.  The woman adjusts to the needs of the man, and he’s happy and he stays faithful.  And besides, a man can get older and still be attractive to a younger woman.  But if a young man marries an older woman, he’ll see her lose her beauty in a few years and realize he made a mistake.

Viola: I think you’re right, my lord.

    (A pause while Orsino ponders.)

Orsino: Cesario, you must try again for my sake.  Go see Lady Olivia.  If she thinks I’m only interested in her money, tell her she’s wrong.  I’m already rich enough.  I love her for her beauty–for her nobility.

Viola: My lord–it has to be both ways.  What if she just can’t love you?

Orsino: I refuse to accept that.

Viola: But, my lord, what if the situation were the other way around?  Suppose some lady loved you as much as you love Lady Olivia, but you didn’t love her?  Wouldn’t she have to accept that?

Orsino: That couldn’t happen.  No woman could love me that much.

Viola: Oh, but she could.

Orsino: What makes you so sure?

Viola: I know a lot about the way women in love feel.–I had a sister.

Orsino: You did?

Viola: Yes.  She loved this man, but she couldn’t tell him.

Orsino: Why not?

Viola: Well–it’s rather hard to explain.  It was–shall we say, a matter of position.

Orsino: Ah, I see.  So what happened?

Viola: She just pined away, locking her feelings inside herself.  She was very depressed.  It showed on her.  She looked terrible.–You men–I mean, we men talk a lot about love, but we tend to exaggerate.  It’s women who really feel things more deeply.

Orsino: And did your sister die from her love?

Viola: No.  People don’t actually die from love, except in romantic ballads or stories.  In real life, they just suffer–until they die of something more mundane.

Orsino: Well, I’m suffering now.

Viola: I’ll go see Lady Olivia again if you want me to.

Orsino: Yes.  Give her this jewel.  (He gives Viola a jewel.)  Tell her–tell her my love will never die–just as this jewel will never lose its beauty.  It’s forever.–And I won’t take no for an answer.

Viola: Yes, my lord.

    (They leave.)

Act 2, Scene 5.  Outdoors somewhere on Olivia’s property.  A path with a hedge, sufficient for concealment.  The hedge is on one side of the stage, leaving most of the stage clear for Malvolio, who will come in later.  Sir Toby and Sir Andrew come in and crouch behind the hedge.  Sir Toby beckons to Fabian to follow.

Sir Toby: Fabian!  Come on.  You don’t want to miss this.

    (Fabian joins them.)

Fabian: I wouldn’t miss this for a month’s wages.

Sir Andrew: This’ll be cool.

Fabian: I’ve always wanted to get even with that son of a bitch.  You know, he almost got me fired for betting on a horse race.

Sir Toby: Well, we’re going to stick it to him good.–Ah, here comes magnificent Maria.

    (Maria comes in.)

Maria: He’s coming this way.  You fellows hide.  Here’s the bait for the hook.  (She shows the letter, which she then places on the path, approximately in the middle of the available space.  Then she gestures to the men to be quiet and leaves.  Then Malvolio comes in, strutting pretentiously.  He talks to himself and pretends to carry on conversations.)

Malvolio: Count Malvolio!–I like the sound of that.–Count Malvolio!–How do you do, sir.  I am Count Malvolio.  I’m sure you’ve heard of me.  And this is my wife, the Countess Olivia.–Yes, it’s true, I used to be her steward.  But she fell in love with me for my nobility, as well as my good looks.  Isn’t that right, my dear?–Ha, ha, ha!  Yes, yes.–Superior people always rise to the top.

Sir Andrew (Aside to the others): What an asshole.

Sir Toby: Shh!

    (Malvolio struts around and has another imaginary encounter.)

Malvolio: What?  How dare you?  This is an outrage!  Do you realize whom you are talking to?  I am Count Malvolio!

Fabian (Aside to the others): I could hit him with a rock from here.

Sir Toby: Shh!

Malvolio: Ah!  My lord Prince!  How good of you to come to visit.–And Princess!  You are so radiant!–Lady Olivia will be down presently.  You must be thirsty.–Maria!  Bring wine!  Be quick about it!  Fabian!  Bring us something to eat!  Hurry up!–Ach!  Why do I put up with such idiot servants!

Sir Andrew (Aside to the others): What I wouldn’t give for a bow and arrow right now.

Sir Toby: Shh!

    (Malvolio spots the letter and picks it up.)

Malvolio: What the hell?  (He opens the letter and looks at it.)  I could swear this is Lady Olivia’s handwriting.  (He reads it aloud.)  “I command the one I love, but I cannot tell him.  He commands my love, but he does not know it.  M.O.A.I. rules my life.”–M.O.A.I.?  M.O.A.I.?  What does that stand for?  (Resumes reading)  “I would say this to my secret love.  Forget about the difference in our social rank.  Your fate and fortune await you.  Seize the day.  Soon you shall be as high as you deserve, so start acting like a noble.  And wear those yellow stockings if you want to please me.  And if you accept my love, smile when you’re near me.  Your Secret Admirer.”

    (The concealed men are struggling to contain their laughter.) 

Malvolio: I have yellow stockings.–And she does command me because I work for her.–M.O.A.I.–Malvolio something–Malvolio, Olivia’s something?–Olivia’s amour immediately?–Master of amourous intimacy.–My only amourous interest?  That could be it.–Anyway, the general meaning is obvious.  Lady Olivia loves me!  (He walks back and forth excitedly.)  Yes!  She must love me!  Of course.  I should have known.–Lady Olivia–and Lord Malvolio.–Count Malvolio!–Oh!–Oh!–I’m so excited!

    (He runs out.  The moment he’s gone, the concealed men burst out laughing.)

Sir Andrew: Master of amourous intimacy!

Sir Toby: My only amourous interest!

Fabian: Moron or asinine idiot!

Sir Andrew: Move over, ape-like ignoramus!

Sir Toby: Mislaid on an iceberg!

Fabian: Mentality of an iguana!

    (Maria returns.)

Maria: How did it go?

Sir Toby: It was perfect!

Fabian: You should have seen it!

Maria: Just wait.  I’ll bet he’ll put on those yellow stockings.  She hates them!  And when he smiles at her, it’ll really piss her off, because he never does that and she’ll think he’s mocking her.

Sir Toby: This is fish is cooked and ready to be eaten.

Maria: Come on.

    (As they follow her out, Sir Toby says aside to the audience, “I love this girl!”)

Act 3, Scene 1.  Viola and the Fool meet outside Olivia’s house.  Viola is going to the house, and the Fool is coming out of the gate.  He is casually playing a flute, or ocarina, or similar.  The following conversation requires a restrained tone rather than an overtly comic tone.

Viola: Hello, sir.

Fool: Hello.

Viola: You’re Lady Olivia’s fool, aren’t you?

Fool: Actually, my official title is Philosopher In Residence.

Viola: Really?  I didn’t think anyone would need a Philosopher In Residence.

Fool: Oh, yes.  It’s becoming quite fashionable.  I visit your master occasionally.  I’m what you might call his out-source philosopher.

Viola: Yes.  I thought I saw you there.

Fool: I make it my business to get around.

Viola: So it’s a business, then?

Fool: Yes.  Pay what you like.

Viola: Tell me, what exactly does a philosopher do?

Fool: A philosopher alters the meanings of words.

Viola: What for?

Fool: Because we cannot alter things in themselves.

Viola: I suppose not.

Fool: For instance, we could not turn a mouse into a moose, or vice-versa, now, could we?

Viola: I should say not.

Fool: But a mouse and a moose differ by only one letter, correct?

Viola: Right.

Fool: So one could say that a mouse is four-fifths of a moose, and vice-versa, correct?

Viola: Well, if you put it that way.

Fool: There, you see?  If a mouse and a moose are four-fifths alike, then they are very nearly the same.

Viola: A wise man would disagree.

Fool: No.  If he were truly wise, he would say nothing, because a philosopher would simply corrupt his words to mean something else.

Viola: But isn’t philosophy the love of wisdom?

Fool: Of course.  But the love of wisdom is not the same as wisdom.  Philosophers never want to discover the truth about anything because then they’d be out of work.  They just want to argue and theorize in a way that will keep them occupied forever–and employed.

Viola: Ah, I see what you mean.  So it’s all about asking questions that can never be answered.

Fool: Now you’ve got it, sir.  As long as the philosphers are kept safely occupied and shut away in their universities, they have a living and can’t hurt themselves.  In the real world, they’d perish.

Viola: So they don’t actually have wisdom?

Fool: Only enough to know where their money comes from.

Viola: I see.  (A pause)  Is Lady Olivia at home?

    (The Fool takes out a coin.)

Fool: This poor little ducat is looking for a friend.

    (He looks at Viola until she gets the hint and takes out a similar coin and gives it to the Fool.)

Viola: There.  Now he won’t be lonely any more.

Fool: You are a true patron of philosophy, sir.  I shall go and tell Lady Olivia that you’re here.

    (The Fool leaves.)

Viola: Clever guy.

    (After a few seconds, Olivia appears.)

Olivia: So–you’ve come back, Cesario.

Viola: Yes, madam.  Count Orsino has asked me to appeal to you once more in his behalf.

Olivia: I don’t want any more appeals from Count Orsino.–I had another reason for wanting you to come back.

Viola: Madam?

Olivia: I sent you that ring.

Viola: Yes.

Olivia: Well, perhaps it was a silly trick on my part.  I did it on the spur of the moment.  I suppose I’ve made a fool of myself, haven’t I?

Viola: I feel sorry for you, madam.

Olivia: Indeed.  I guess it serves me right for showing my feelings.  How stupid of me.  How very, very stupid.  Well, then, I won’t waste any more of your time.  I’m sure you’ll end up with a fine lady someday–and she’ll have a fine husband.

Viola: Madam, I’m sorry that I can’t be what you want me to be.

Olivia (Holding back tears): I’d cut my heart out and give it to you on a platter if that would make you love me.

Viola: I’m sorry, but I’ve never loved a woman in that way, and I never will.  I won’t impose upon you again in behalf of the Duke.  Good-bye.

    (Viola leaves.  Olivia leaves in tears.)

Act 3, Scene 2.  Sir Toby, Sir Andrew, and Fabian come in.

Sir Andrew: I’ve had enough.  I’m leaving.

Sir Toby: Aw, Andrew, what’s the matter?

Sir Andrew: Your niece was having a very intimate conversation from the look of it–with Count Orsino’s messenger.–And the way she was looking at him–Well, she’s never looked at me that way, I’ll tell you that.

Sir Toby: Did she know you were watching?

Sir Andrew: I assume she did.  I was standing just inside the front door.

Fabian: I think you misunderstood what happened, Sir Andrew.  If Lady Olivia knew you were watching, she obviously wanted to make you jealous.

    (A sly look passes between Fabian and Sir Toby.)

Sir Andrew: Why?

Fabian: Why?  Because she loves you.  And she’s waiting for you to make your move.  This was her way of trying to arouse you.

Sir Toby: Yes, yes!  That’s perfectly logical. 

Fabian: You should’ve gone out there and told the messenger to get lost.  But you missed your chance, and that makes you look bad.  Now you’ll have to make up for it.

Sir Andrew: How?

Fabian: Either by doing something very brave or by showing Lady Olivia how cunning you are.

Sir Andrew: I was never very good at being cunning.

Sir Toby: Then show her how brave you are.  Challenge that guy to a duel.  Women really love it when men fight over them.

Sir Andrew: A duel?–Oh–I’ve never actually fought a duel.–I don’t know–

Fabian: It’s the best thing you can do, Sir Andrew.  In fact, I’d say it’s the only thing left for you.

Sir Andrew: A duel–well–Hmm–All right.–If I challenge him, who’s going to deliver the challenge?

Sir Toby: One of us will, don’t worry.  Now you get busy and write that guy a really nasty, intimidating letter.  Make your handwriting look really angry and tough.  And really insult the guy.

Fabian: Yes.  You can say anything.  After all, it’s only words on paper.

Sir Toby: Right.  You’re not saying it to his face, so you can put all your bravery down on paper.  Let it show.

    (Sir Andrew assumes an exaggerated air of toughness.) 

Sir Andrew: Yes!–Yes!–Ha, ha!–I’ll really tell that guy a thing or two!–What should I do when I’ve finished writing the letter?

Sir Toby: We’ll come to your room in a little while and see how you’re making out.  Now you go on.

Sir Andrew: Okay!  Thanks!

    (Sir Andrew leaves.)

Fabian: That guy’s like a puppet, and you pull the strings.

Sir Toby: I have to.  I’m practically living off him.  I’m sure I’ve cost him two thousand ducats already.  If he gives up and goes home, who’s going to pay for all my drinking?

Fabian: I can imagine what sort of stupid letter he’s going to write.  But are you going to deliver it?

Sir Toby: I don’t mind delivering it, but it won’t amount to anything.  I don’t think there’s any way the two of them would fight a duel.  Andrew has the backbone of  a slug.  And the other guy doesn’t look like a fighter at all.

    (Maria comes in.)

Sir Toby: Ah, my sweet Maria. Wassup, babe?

Maria: Malvolio has totally flipped out.  He’s wearing his yellow stockings, and he’s prancing around, grinning like an idiot and talking to himself.  He’s Count Malvolio now.  You’ve got to see it to believe it.

Sir Toby: I want to see it.  Show me.

Maria: Come on.  When Lady Olivia sees him, she’ll freak.

    (They go out.)  

 Act 3, Scene 3.  Sebastian and Antonio come in.  They are on a street in the town.

Sebastian: You shouldn’t have come all this way for my sake.

Antonio: I couldn’t let you go wandering in a strange country by yourself.

Sebastian: You’re a good guy.  I owe you big-time.  So what should we do now?

Antonio: I’ve got to see about our lodging.

Sebastian: We can do that later.  We’ve got the whole day to kill.  I want to see this town.

Antonio: I can’t be seen here.  That’s the problem.

Sebastian: Oh, yeah.  Right.  Say, you didn’t kill anyone in that sea battle, did you?

Antonio: No, but I cost the Duke plenty.  And I helped myself to, you know–spoils of war, right?  So I’d be in deep shit if I got caught here.

Sebastian: So where should we go, then?

Antonio: There’s an inn on the south side called The Elephant.  I’ll go there and arrange things for us.  If you want, you can go sight-seeing.  Here.  Take my purse.

    (He gives Antonio his purse.)

Sebastian: What for?

Antonio: In case you want to buy something.

Sebastian: You’re a pal.  I’ll take good care of this, don’t worry.

Antonio: Meet me at The Elephant.  Don’t be gone too long, okay?

Sebastian: Right.  The Elephant.  I’ll see you later.

    (They leave separately.)

Act 3, Scene 4.  Olivia comes in with Maria.

Olivia (Speaking confidentially so as not to be overheard): I sent for Cesario, and he’s coming.  What should I serve him?  What sort of present should I give him?

Maria: Well, um, I suppose–

Olivia: Where’s Malvolio?

Maria: Oh, he’s around, but he’s acting rather strangely.

Olivia: How do you mean?

Maria: Something’s come over him.  He’s usually very serious, but now he’s always smiling, for no reason I can think of.  Frankly, I think he’s lost his mind.

Olivia: I’d better have a word with him.  Go and get him, please.

Maria: Yes, madam.

    (Maria goes out.  After a moment, she returns with Malvolio, who comes in with a sort of dancing gait.  He’s wearing yellow stockings.)

Malvolio (Smiling): Yes, my lovely mistress!

Olivia: What are you so happy about?  Have you forgotten I’m still in mourning?

Malvolio: I can be sad if you want me to be.  But you know what they say–Laugh, and the world laughs with you–ha, ha!

Olivia: What’s got into you?

Malvolio: I’m merely following orders.  (He grins.)  Don’t you like my yellow stockings?  I wore them for you.

Olivia: Have you got a fever or something?  Perhaps you should go to bed.

Malvolio: To bed!–To bed!–with–well, I mustn’t say–ha, ha!

Maria: I think you’re sick, Malvolio.

Malvolio (Seriously): You should know your place when speaking to a noble like me.

Olivia: What do you mean, a noble like you?

Malvolio: It was in the letter.–“Soon you shall be as high as you deserve.”

Olivia: Are you high?  Are you stoned?  Is that it?

Malvolio: I deserve to be stoned if I don’t seize the day.  My fate and fortune await.  As if I couldn’t recognize the handwriting.–Yellow stockings, madam (He smiles and shows off his stockings).

Olivia: You are stoned, aren’t you? 

    (A Servant comes in.)

Servant: Madam, Count Orsino’s messenger is here.  He’s waiting for you.

Olivia: I’ll be right with him.

    (The Servant leaves.)

Olivia: Where’s Uncle Toby?–Maria, get a couple of servants and take care of Malvolio.  He should be in bed.

    (Olivia and Maria leave.)

Malvolio: M.O.A.I.!  Now I know what it means!  Master Of All Illyria!  And that’s what I’ll be when I marry Lady Olivia!  And who’s going to take care of me?  No less than Sir Toby Belch, her own uncle.  So it’s all true.  Every word of that letter was true.  I shoud start acting like a noble.  Exactly.  That means I can throw my weight around.  Let ’em know who they’re dealing with–whom they’re dealing with.

    (Maria returns with Sir Toby and Fabian.)

Sir Toby: Where is that nut?

Fabian: Malvolio, how do you feel?

Malvolio: Go away, you–servant!

Maria (To Sir Toby): He’s either stoned, or it’s demonic possession.  Lady Olivia wants you to look after him.

Malvolio: Yes.  Look after me, Sir Toby.  I shall be master of all Illyria.

Sir Toby (Aside to Fabian and Maria): We’d better handle him gently.  Leave it to me.  (To Malvolio)  Now, then, Malvolio, how are you feeling?  If the devil has gotten into you, you can cast him out.  Just say “Begone, devil!”

Malvolio (Looking directly at Sir Toby): Begone, devil!

Maria (To Sir Toby): This is a serious case.

Sir Toby: Yes, it looks that way.–Ahem–Now, then–I am speaking to the devil inside Malvolio.

Malvolio: Are you, now?

Sir Toby: Yes.  You must leave him at once!

Malvolio: Ha!  You can’t put me off.  I have a date with destiny.  It was all explained in the letter.

Sir Toby: Malvolio, you must make an effort, man!  Tell that dirty devil to get out of you!

Maria: He should pray.

Sir Toby: Yes! Yes!  Pray, Malvolio!  Get on your knees and pray for strength, man!

Malvolio: You people are such fools.  I’m superior to you.–Look.  Yellow stockings–Master of all Illyria–So just be careful how you talk to me.–Now I leave you.

    (He walks out.)

Sir Toby: Holy shit.

Fabian: All because of that letter.

Sir Toby: We may have gone too far.–Meaning you, Maria.

Maria: You’re in this, too.  You encouraged me.

Sir Toby: True.

Maria: You should keep an eye on him.  We don’t want him to say anything in front of Lady Olivia that would get us into trouble.

Sir Toby: I have an idea.  We’ll tie him up and lock him in his room.  I’ll tell my niece he’s stoned or something and he’s temporarily out of his mind, and it’s for his own good.

    (Sir Andrew comes in.)

Sir Andrew: I finished that letter you told me to write.  Have a look.  Tell me what you think.

    (Sir Andrew gives Sir Toby the letter.)

Sir Toby (Reading): “You miserable little pussy.  I think you are a scumbag.”

Fabian: That’s a good start.

Sir Toby (Reading): “I won’t tell you why I think so.”

Fabian: Very smart.  He won’t be able to sue you for slander. 

Sir Toby (Reading): “So you think you can lead Lady Olivia on.  I can see right through you.  However, that’s not why I’m challenging you to a duel.”

Fabia: Adds a touch of mystery.  Very good.

Sir Toby (Reading): “I’ll come after you when you least expect it.  And if you’re lucky enough to kill me–”

Fabian: Excellent.  Very intimidating.

Sir Toby (Reading): “Then you’ll be a dirty, low-down criminal.”

Fabian: Powerful.  Brilliant.  And you still haven’t said anything that constitutes slander.

Sir Toby (Reading): “May the better man win, which is more likely to be me.  Your faithful enemy, Sir Andrew Aguecheek.”–Well!

Fabian: I should say so.–Well!

Sir Toby: Those are fighting words if ever I read any.  I’ll give him the letter, Sir Andrew.  Well done.

Maria: You won’t have to go far.  He’s in the house right now, talking to Lady Olivia.

Sir Toby: Andrew, here’s what you do.  You go wait in the garden, and when I give you the signal, you draw your sword and scream at him in a threatening way.  He’ll lose his courage immediately.  Now go.

Sir Andrew: Oh, I’ll scream at him, all right.  I’ll scream like–like a man who really wants to scream. 

Fabian: That’s the spirit, Sir Andrew!

    (Sir Andrew goes out.)

Maria: You’re not really going to deliver that letter, are you?

Sir Toby: This rubbish?  Good God, no.  It’s so stupid, nobody would take it seriously.  That young fellow is no fool.  And besides, he seems decent enough.  Orsino wouldn’t trust him as his messenger if he wasn’t of good character.  So why insult him like this?  No.  What I’ll do is deliver the challenge verbally and see if I can scare him off.  (To Fabian) We want both of them to be scared of each other.  Get it?

Fabian: Ah.  Right. 

Sir Toby: The last thing I want is for somebody to get hurt.

    (Olivia comes in with Viola.)

Fabian (Aside to Sir Toby): Not now.  Later.

Sir Toby: Uh, yes, let’s go outside for some fresh air.–Olivia, we’ll let you have your privacy.

    (Sir Toby, Fabian, and Maria leave.  There is an awkward silence between Olivia and Viola.  Olivia is unhappy.  Viola is firm.)

Olivia: This is so painful for me–to make a fool of myself–with no consolation whatever.

Viola: Now you know how the Duke feels, madam.

Olivia: I want to give you something.  (She gives Viola a locket, or similar.)  It has a picture of me inside.  Please take it.  And I want you to come back tomorrow.–You could have anything you want from me–within reason.

Viola: What I’d want most is for you to accept Count Orsino’s love.

Olivia: How could I when I’ve already told you that I love you?

Viola: You’re excused from that.

Olivia: Well–in any case–please come back tomorrow.  Good-bye.

    (Viola turns toward the door, which may be suggested.  Quick segue to the next scene.) 

Act 3, Scene 5.  A continuation of the previous scene.  The break is to establish the change from indoors to outdoors.  The background should be minimal.  Viola has just left the house.  She is accosted by Sir Toby and Fabian.

Sir Toby: A word with you, sir.

Viola: Yes?                                        

Sir Toby: It is my unpleasant duty to inform you that you have been challenged to a duel.

Viola: Me?  A duel?  By whom?

Sir Toby: Sir Andrew Aguecheek–a very fierce knight.  Very fierce, indeed.

Fabian: A killer.  That’s what he is.

Viola: But I don’t want to fight a duel.  Tell Lady Olivia I want an escort.

Sir Toby: Too late for that, I’m afraid.  You’ve offended this–this horribly deadly knight.

Fabian: Horribly deadly.

Sir Toby: And either you take your sword out and be a man or die like a coward.

Viola: But this is a mistake.  What have I done?

Sir Toby: I don’t know specifically.

Viola: Well, I think I’m entitled to know.

Sir Toby: I’ll go and ask.–Mr. Fabian, stay here until I return.

    (Sir Toby leaves.)

Viola: Do you know what this is about?

Fabian: Not really.  Only that the knight is very angry and intends to fight you.  And he’ll almost certainly kill you.  He’s the most evil, blood-thirsty killer in the country.  His sword is like lightning.

Viola: But–but can’t you reason with him?  Can’t you explain to him it’s all a mistake?

Fabian: Well, maybe.  You come along with me.

    (Fabian and Viola leave, in the same direction as Sir Toby’s exit.  Now Fabian and Viola must be moved to the other side by a very quick break, or by other means.  What will follow is two separate conversations seen alternately.  Sir Toby and Sir Andrew will come in and go out on one side, and Viola and Fabian will use the other side.  Sir Toby now returns with Sir Andrew.)

Sir Toby: Oh, that fellow is a devil!  It’s no good screaming at him.  The moment I looked in his eyes, I knew he was big trouble.

Sir Andrew: Oh, no!

Sir Toby: And–it turns out he was a fencing instructor for the Persian army.

Sir Andrew: Oh, my God!  I can’t fight him!

Sir Toby: But he’s very angry because of your letter.  Fabian is trying to calm him down, but I don’t know if he can.

Sir Andrew: Oh, my God!  Oh, my God!  I never imagined–Look, you’ve got to get me out of this.  Tell him I want to forget the whole thing.  Tell him I’m sorry.  Tell him I’ll give him my best horse.

Sir Toby: I’ll see what I can do.  You just try and calm down–and stop shaking, for God’s sake.

    (Sir Toby and Sir Andrew leave.  Then Sir Toby returns to meet Fabian coming in from the other side.)

Sir Toby: He’s willing to give up his best horse to avoid a duel.  I told him the other guy is an expert swordsman.

Fabian: Ha!  I don’t think he ever held a sword in his life.  He’s so scared he’s ready to faint.

Sir Toby: Let me talk to him.

    (Fabian beckons to Viola, who comes in, obviously frightened.)

Sir Toby: There’s nothing you can do about it, sir.  He issued the challenge, and now it’s a matter of honour.

Viola (Moaning): Ohhh–

Sir Toby: However–

Viola: Yes?

Sir Toby: He’s had a chance to think it over, and he has decided that your offense was only a slight one and not worth anyone’s death.  Therefore, for the sake of honour for both of you, you will both draw your swords and duel very gently for one round, and he promises not to hurt you.

Viola (Aside to the audience): What should I do, tell them I’m really a woman?

Fabian (Indicating Viola): He needs a minute or two to think it over.

    (Fabian and Sir Toby wink at each other.  Fabian leads Viola out.  Sir Toby goes out and returns with Sir Andrew.)

Sir Toby: I’m afraid you’re going to have to go through with it.

Sir Andrew: Oh, God!

Sir Toby: However, your apology has been noted.  So the gentleman promises not to hurt you.  You’ll just spar for one round for the sake of form.  Not serious fighting, just touching swords.

Sir Andrew: Are you sure about this?

Sir Toby: Yes, yes.

    (Sir Toby leads Sir Andrew out.  Then Viola and Sir Andrew come in timidly from opposite sides with their swords out.  Fabian and Sir Toby follow but remain behind.  The two combatants, both frightened, raise their swords and nervously strike a few very feeble flows.  Then, quite suddenly, Antonio rushes in, sword drawn, and threatens Sir Andrew.)

Antonio: Back off, mister!  If you’ve got a problem with my friend, you can settle it with me!

Sir Toby: Who the hell are you?

Antonio: None of your business!

Sir Toby: Well, he’s my friend (Indicating Sir Andrew), so it is my business!

    (Sir Toby draws his sword.  He and Antonio are just about to clash when three Officers rush in.)

First Officer: Put your swords down, all of you!  (Indicating Antonio to the Second Officer) He’s the one.  He’s Antonio.

Second Officer (To Antonio): You’re under arrest.

Antonio: For what?

Second Officer: Acts of war against the Duke of Illyria, Count Orsino.

Antonio: No!  You’ve got the wrong guy!

First Officer: No, we’ve got the right guy.  I recognize you.

Antonio (To Viola): I came looking for you because you didn’t show up at the inn.  Now look what’s happened.  I have to ask for my purse back.

Viola: What?

First Officer (To Viola): Do you know this man?

Viola: No.  I’ve never seen him before.

Antonio: What!  After all I’ve done for you?  You pretend you don’t know me?

Viola: I don’t know what you’re talking about, sir.  If you need some money, I’ll lend you some, but I–

Antonio: What did you do with my money?  You spent it on those clothes, didn’t you?

Viola: Certainly not.

Second Officer (Grabbing Antonio): Come on.  Get moving.

Antonio: Wait a minute.  I saved this guy from drowning.  I took care of him.

First Officer: Yeah, yeah.  Get moving.

Antonio (To Viola): Sebastian, I never imagined you’d turn out to be such a false friend.  You should be ashamed.

First Officer: Enough!  Get moving!

    (The Officers take Antonio out.)

Viola (To herself): He called me Sebastian.–Then is my brother still           alive?

    (Viola leaves.  Sir Toby, Sir Andrew, and Fabian regard her contemptuously.)

Sir Toby: What a creep!  He pretended not to know his friend.

Fabian: I’ll bet he did some acts of war himself, and he doesn’t want the Duke to find out.

Sir Toby: I wouldn’t be surprised.

Sir Andrew: He’s a coward.

Fabian: You said it.

Sir Andrew: He’s a scoundrel.  I should go after him and give him a good beating.  Teach him a lesson.

Sir Toby: So you want to fight him after all, do you?  All right, but don’t you touch your sword.

    (They leave.)

Act 4, Scene 1.  Sebastian comes in, with the Fool following.

Sebastian: Will you get away from me, you jerk!

Fool: I’m not a jerk.  I’m a fool, so show some respect.  My lady sent me to get you.

Sebastian: I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, but you sure are a fool.

Fool: And you certainly are Cesario, and don’t pretend you’re not.

Sebastian: I’ve never heard of Cesario, and I don’t know who your lady is.

Fool: You don’t?  Do you want me to tell her you deny even knowing her?

Sebastian (Holding out a coin): Here.  Go buy a lollipop.  Just fuck off.

    (Sir Andrew, Sir Toby, and Fabian come in.)

Sir Andrew: There he is–in different clothes!  (To Sebastian) Thought you could get away from me, did you, you bastard?  Well, here’s what you get!

    (He punches Sebastian.  Sebastian retaliates immediately and knocks Sir Andrew down.)

Sir Toby: Hey, you!

    (Sir Toby grapples with Sebastian.)

Fool: Uh, oh!  Lady Olivia isn’t gonna like this.

    (The Fool leaves quickly.)

Sir Andrew: Don’t fight him, Toby!  I’ll sue the bastard for assault!

    (Sebastian and Sir Toby continue to struggle.  Sebastian breaks free and draws his sword.)

Sebastian: Is this what you want?

Sir Toby: You messenger boy!  I’ll teach you!

    (Sir Toby draws his sword.  Then Olivia arrives.)

Olivia: Stop, Toby!  Put down that sword!

    (Sir Toby puts down his sword.)

Sir Toby: But this guy hit Sir Andrew!

Olivia: I’ve had it with you!  You can pack your bags and get out!

    (Sir Toby, Sir Andrew, and Fabian leave.  Olivia now goes to Sebastian and takes him by the hand.)

Olivia: I’m sorry about this.  Please don’t be upset.  Come back to the house with me.  I’ll tell you about my stupid uncle and how he’s been driving me crazy.

Sebastian (Aside to the audience): What the hell?  Is everyone in this town crazy?

Olivia: Oh, please come back.  Do it to make me happy.

Sebastian: Make you happy?  Of course, madam.  I’ll be very happy to make you happy.

Olivia: Oh, thank you!  Thank you!

    (They leave.)  

Act 4, Scene 2.  Malvolio is lying on a bed, tied up, on one side of the stage, which is dark.  This represents his darkened room.  The opposite side of the stage is moderately lit, and this is outside the room.  The door is merely suggested.  Maria and the Fool come in at the lit side.  She gives him a robe and a fake beard.

Maria: Here.  Put these on.  You’ve got to be the priest.  You’re Father Topas.  I’ll go get Toby.

    (Maria leaves.  The Fool puts on the disguise.)

Fool: Ha!  A fool disguising himself as a priest.  I hope I can be as good a priest as a priest is a fool.  Well, whatever helps a sick man.

    (Maria returns with Sir Toby.)

Sir Toby (Loudly enough to be heard by Malvolio): Father Topas!  How good of you to come.  The lunatic is inside.  I hope you can help him.

Fool (Speaking as Father Topas): Not so loud!  There’s a sick man inside!

Malvolio: Who’s there?  Who’s shouting?

    (The Fool enters the room.)

Fool: It is Father Topas.  Just try to be calm, sir.

Malvolio: Oh, Father Topas!  Please!  You must bring Lady Olivia!

Fool: No, no.  That’s the demon inside you speaking.  We will not disturb the lady of the house, you demon.

Sir Toby (To the audience): Heh, heh.  This guy’s great, isn’t he?

Malvolio: Father Topas, you must listen!  They tied me up and put me in this dark room!  They want everyone to think I’m crazy!  But I’m not!

Fool: That’s just what I’d expect the devil to say.  I know all about the devil and his demons.  They’re all liars.  Saying this room is dark–ha!

Malvolio: But it is dark.  Can’t you see that it’s dark?

Fool: No.  Can you?

Malvolio: Yes!  I can see perfectly!

Fool: If you can see perfectly, then it can’t be dark, can it?

Malvolio: But it is!

Fool: Perhaps you’ve gone blind.

Malvolio: No, no, I’m not blind.

Fool: Then you must be insane.  That’s the only logical explanation.

Malvolio: I’m not insane, and I’ll prove it to you.  Ask me any simple question.

Fool: All right.  How many legs does a horse have if you call the tail a leg?

Malvolio: Em–well–I suppose five.

Fool: Wrong.  Four.  Calling the tail a leg doesn’t make it one.

Malvolio: But you said–

Fool: I’m sorry, but you’re simply not in your right mind.  This is an obvious case of demonic possession.  I’ve seen it before.

Malvolio: No! No! No!–

Fool: I’m afraid you’ll just have to sit here in your imaginary darkness until you’ve cast the devil out of your brain.

Malvolio: But you’ve got to listen to me–

Fool: You mustn’t argue with me.  I’ve been to divinity school.  There’s nothing higher than that.  Now, you just lie down and I’ll come back and check on you later.

    (The Fool rejoins Sir Toby and Maria outside the room.)

Sir Toby (To the Fool): That was perfect.  But we can’t keep him here forever.  I’m already in trouble with my niece.–Mm–See if you can find some way of–you know–getting him back to normal.–Oh, hell, just get me out of this mess.  Smooth it over somehow.

    (Sir Toby and Maria leave.)

Fool (Singing in his normal voice):

    Home, home on the range,

    Where the deer and the antelope play–

Malvolio: Fool, is that you?

Fool (Singing):

    Where seldom is heard a discouraging word–

Malvolio: Fool!

Fool (Singing):

    And the skies are not cloudy all day.

Malvolio: Fool!  I know that’s you!

Fool: Who’s shouting in there?  My goodness.

Malvolio: It’s me!  Malvolio!

Fool: Malvolio!  Good lord!  What’s the matter, man?  Did you lose your mind?

Malvolio: No!  I’m just as sane as you are!

Fool: Oh, dear, then you are in trouble.

Malvolio: It’s a conspiracy!  They want everyone to think I’m insane!  The priest is in on it, too!

Fool: Shh!  Be careful what you say.  The priest just came back.  (Speaking as Father Topas) Don’t talk to that man!  He’s possessed by the devil!  (Speaking as himself) Who, me?  Oh, no, father.  (Speaking as Father Topas) The devil is dangerous!  (Speaking as himself) Yes, Father.  Thank you.  Bless you, Father.  (Speaking as Father Topas) In God we trust.  Good-bye.  (Speaking as himself)  Yes, Father.  In God we trust–all others pay cash.  Good-bye.

Malvolio:  Fool!  Yo!

Fool: Shh!–There.  You see?  I almost got in trouble for talking to you.

Malvolio: Listen to me.  You’ve got to help me.  Get me a candle and some paper and ink so I can write a letter to Lady Olivia.  If you do this for me, I’ll give you a big reward.

Fool: All right, sir.  But tell me–were you just pretending to be crazy?

Malvolio: Certainly not!–I mean–God damn it, you know what I mean!

Fool: I probably shouldn’t trust a man who believes in five-legged horses–but–you bribed me into it.

Malvolio: Please hurry!

Fool: Yes, yes.  Just take it easy.  I’ll be right back.  (The Fool goes out singing)

    Home, home on the range,

    Where the deer and the antelope play,

    Where seldom is heard a discouraging word

    (Fading)  And the skies are not cloudy all day.

Act 4, Scene 3.  Sebastian is at Olivia’s home but outdoors.

Sebastian (Looking up at the sky and all around): What a strange country this is.  I come here as a stranger, I get assaulted for no reason, and a lady acts like she loves me and gives me a pearl.  (He regards the pearl.)  I wish Antonio were here.  He could probably explain it all to me.  Wonder where he is anyway.  I went to The Elephant, and they said he went out looking for me.  (He regards the pearl again.)  This is worth a lot.  She’s either crazy or–no, I don’t think she’s crazy.–Am I crazy?–No, I’m not crazy either.

    (Olivia comes in with a Priest.)

Olivia: I’ve brought a priest.  I couldn’t wait.  Don’t be angry.

Sebastian: I’m not angry.  But what’s the priest for?

Olivia (Taking it as a joke): Oh!–As if you couldn’t guess. (Seriously) If you accept me–and I mean really and truly accept me–we can be married right away.  Of course, we’ll keep it a secret until you’re ready to tell everyone.  Then we can have a proper celebration.  Is that all right with you?

Sebastian (Aside to the audience): If I say no to this, then I really am crazy.  (To Olivia)  Yes, yes, and double yes. I’ll marry you.  Gladly.

Olivia (To the Priest): Let’s go to the chapel right now, Father.

    (They all leave.)

Act 5, Scene 1.  Outside Lady Olivia’s house.  The Fool and Fabian come in.

Fabian: Aw, come on, let me see Malvolio’s letter.

Fool: Nope.  It’s not addressed to you.

Fabian: Come on.  I thought we were friends.

Fool: Yes, but bribery comes before friendship.  It’s a matter of honour.

    (Orsino, Viola, Valentine, and Curio come in.  Valentine and Curio have no lines in this scene.)

Orsino: Ah, my friend the Fool.  How are you?

Fool: I feel more like I do now.

Orsino (Puzzled): Oh?  How do you mean?

Fool: I used to feel the way I did, but not as much.

Orsino: Oh–And is it better now?

Fool: It’s too soon to say.  Prematurity is the mother of disappointment.  And the father does not wish to be identified.

    (Orsino exchanges puzzled looks with the others.)

Orsino: Indeed.–Well, well–(Laughs) I hardly know what to make of you sometimes, but here’s something to encourage you in your higher studies.  (He gives the Fool a coin.)

Fool: You are too kind, my lord.

Orsino: Now please tell your mistress I’d like to see her.

Fool: Anything for you, my lord.

    (The Fool goes out.  Then the Officers appear with Antonio.)

Viola (To Orsino): This is the man I told you about, my lord.  He saved me from a duel.

Orsino: I know this guy.  He’s an enemy of mine.  He attacked one of my ships.–Officers, where’d you find this guy?

First Officer: My lord, this is Antonio.  He’s wanted by the state.

Orsino: Yes, I know who he is.

First Officer: We arrested him in the street.  He was fighting with two gentlemen.

Viola (To Orsino): My lord, he protected me when I was challenged to a duel–but then he said some strange things I couldn’t understand–as if I was supposed to know him.

Orsino (To Antonio): So you’ve come back to cause me more trouble, eh?  Antonio the pirate–the thief.

Antonio: Just because I fought against you in a time of war, that doesn’t make me a pirate or a thief.  And I didn’t come back to cause any trouble.  I came back for the sake of that young gentleman.  I already saved his life once before.  And I followed him here to make sure he’d be safe.  And then some jerk drew a sword on him, and I jumped in to intervene.  But when the officers showed up, he pretended not to know me.  And he had my purse, too–which I had loaned him.  And he pretended not to know about that either.

Viola: It’s not possible.

Orsino (To Antonio): Tell me, when did he get here?

Antonio: Just today.  Before that, we were together for three months.

    (Olivia comes in with Attendants.)

Orsino: My Countess!  Just a moment.  (To Antonio)  You’re either insane, or you’re a damned liar.  This man has been with me for the past three months.  (To the Officers) I’ll deal with him in a minute.

    (The Officers move apart with Antonio.)

Olivia: Excuse me, my lord.  (To Viola) Cesario, where have you been?  I’ve been looking for you.

Viola: For me?–Uh–

Olivia: My dear Olivia, I wanted to say–

Olivia: Cesario, answer me.  I want an explanation.

Viola: My lord was about to speak, madam.

Olivia (To Orsino): Whatever it is, I don’t want to hear it.

Orsino: But you will hear it!   Olivia, I’ve opened my heart to you, not once, but many times.  What do I have to do, cut open my veins and give you my blood?

Olivia: Oh, please–that’s foolish talk coming from a duke.

Orsino: I’ve finally figured out that you love Cesario.  But you can’t have him.  And I’ll see to it that you never see him again.  (To Viola) Come with me.

Viola: Gladly, my lord.

Olivia: Cesario!  Where are you going?

Viola: I’m following the master I love, as God is my witness.

Olivia: What!  How could you do this to me?  Why have you tricked me?

Viola: I, madam?  Tricked you?  I’ve done nothing at all.

Olivia: Nothing at all?  (To an Attendant)  Go and get the priest right now!

    (The Attendant leaves.)

Orsino (To Viola): Just ignore her.  Let’s go.

Olivia: Cesario!  You can’t leave me!  You’re my husband!

Orsino: Husband?  Are you crazy?

Olivia: Ask him.  He can’t deny it.

Orsino: Cesario, are you married to Olivia?

Viola: No.  Certainly not.

Olivia (To Viola): Are you afraid to tell him?  Don’t be afraid.

    (The Priest arrives with the Attendant.)

Olivia: Father, would you please tell the Duke about me and Cesario.  We can’t keep it a secret any more.

Priest (To Orsino): My lord, the Countess and this gentleman were married just two hours ago.  I performed the ceremony myself.

Orsino (To Viola): You liar!  This is how you repay my kindness?  I trusted you.–Go on, then.  Go with her.  And good luck to you.  But I never want to see your face again.

Viola: But it’s not true, my lord!

    (Sir Andrew comes in, agitated.)

Sir Andrew: Help!  Someone call a doctor!  Sir Toby’s hurt!

Olivia: What happened?

Sir Andrew (Pointing at Viola): He struck Sir Toby on the head–and he hurt me, too!

Olivia: Who did?

Sir Andrew (Pointing frantically at Viola): He did!  The Duke’s messenger–whatsisname–Cesario!  We thought he was a twerp, but he’s a damned ruffian!

Orsino: Are you kidding?

Viola (To Sir Andrew): I never touched you!  You drew your sword, and I drew mine, but I never hurt you.

Sir Andrew: What do you call this?  (He shows a bruise on his head.)  You gave me this bruise!

    (Sir Toby hobbles in, leaning on the Fool.)

Sir Andrew: Sir Toby will tell you.  If he hadn’t been drunk, he’d have given Cesario a proper beating, that’s for sure.

Orsino: Sir Toby, are you badly hurt?

Sir Toby: Yes, my lord–and that servant of yours is going to pay for it.  (To the Fool) Where’s the doctor?

Fool: He was too drunk to come.

Sir Toby: Drunk?  God, I hate drunks!

Olivia: Get him to bed and do whatever you can for him.

    (The Fool, Fabian, and Sir Andrew leave, helping Sir Toby.  Then Sebastian comes in.  Olivia reacts with shock, looking back and forth from Sebastian to Viola.  Viola also stares agape, too shocked to speak.  So does Antonio, who is apart.)

Sebastian: I’m sorry I hurt your uncle, Olivia, but he and his friend started it.–Please don’t look at me like that.  I said I was sorry.–Come on, we just got married.

    (Orsino studies Sebastian closely and looks back and forth between him and Viola.)

Orsino: It’s uncanny.  You two look so much alike.

    (Sebastian suddenly notices Antonio.)

 Sebastian: Antonio!  Thank God you’re all right!  I was worried about you.

Antonio: Sebastian?

Sebastian: Of course, I’m Sebastian–ha, ha!  What a question!

Olivia: Oh!–You’re not–I thought–(She is momentarily faint, and he steadies her.  Sebastian now notices Viola.  They look at each other.  Dead silence on the stage for a moment.)

Sebastian (To Viola): If I had a brother, you’d be him.  I had a sister, but she died–in a shipwreck.

Viola: I had a brother–a twin–and he died in a shipwreck.  (Pause) Have you come back from the dead, Sebastian?  Or are you really alive?

    (Sebastian looks at Viola intensely.  There is a pause before he speaks.)

Sebastian: I would have been dead–if Antonio hadn’t saved me.

Orsino (To Antonio): Is that true?

Antonio: Yes, but I thought–(He points from Sebastian to Viola.)  Then who is this? (Indicating Viola.)

Sebastian (Tentatively): Viola?

Viola (Crying): Yes!

    (They embrace.)

Orsino: What?  Who’s Viola?

Viola: I am, my lord.  Sebastian and I are twins.  We were wrecked, and I thought he had drowned.  I disguised myself as a man for my own safety and came here.  (To Sebastian) Everyone thought I was Cesario.

    (Fabian and the Fool return.  The Fool presents Olivia with Malvolio’s letter.)

Fool: Madam, I meant to give you this before, but–in all the excitement–Anyway, it’s from Malvolio.

    (She takes the letter.)

Olivia: The poor man.  I’d almost forgotten about him.  Is he all right?

Fool: I’d say he’s somewhere between calm and deranged.

    (Olivia reads the letter.)

Olivia: Oh, dear–oh, dear–says he’s been treated badly–he got a letter from me.–What letter?  I never sent him a letter.–Mm–he blames me–very unhappy–says he’s as sane as anyone else–once again, “badly treated”–Oh, dear.  I have to get this sorted out.  (To Fabian) Go and get him, would you?

Fabian: Yes, madam.

    (Fabian leaves.)

Orsino: Viola–you said something before.  You said you were following the master you loved, as God was your witness.

Viola: Yes, my lord.

Orsino: And yet–you carried my messages of love to Olivia and pleaded with her in my behalf.

Viola: I put your happiness ahead of mine.

Orsino: How incredibly–noble.

    (He holds her hands, and they look into each other’s eyes lovingly.)

Olivia: My lord, if you marry Viola, you get to have me as your sister-in-law.

Orsino: Yes!

Olivia: You can get married here tomorrow.  And we’ll have a big celebration for the four of us.

Orsino: Yes!  We’ll do it!

    (Fabian returns with Malvolio.)

Olivia: Oh, Malvolio!  How are you feeling?

Malvolio: Madam–I’m–very–very–disappointed–with you. 

Olivia: What did I do?

    (Malvolio hands Olivia the fake letter forged by Maria.)

Malvolio: You left this letter in the path for me to find.  It’s in your handwriting.  (Olivia is reading the letter silently.)  And all things you wrote–which I believed–and I made a fool of myself–that M.O.A.I. business–and the yellow stockings–and seize the day.–And then everyone thought I was crazy, and I was tied up in the dark in my room.

Olivia: I didn’t write this.  The handwriting looks like mine–but it isn’t.  And I think I know whose it is.–Maria.–Malvolio, I’m very sorry for what you’ve been through.  It’s clear to me now that you are the victim of an elaborate hoax.–And when I find out who’s involved, I will deal with them.

Fabian (Clears his throat nervously): Um–madam–if I might say something–um–I must confess that Sir Toby and I and Maria were all in on it.  We were getting rather annoyed with Malvolio, and we wanted to play a trick on him.  However–Sir Toby is very sorry, and Maria is sorry, too–And Sir Toby has promised to be good from now on–and–he and Maria got married.

Olivia: They did?

Fabian: Yes, madam.–Actually, he married her as a reward for writing the letter.

Olivia: Indeed.

Fabian: Yes.  And it’s a wonderful thing, don’t you think, madam?

Olivia (Ambiguously): Mmm.

Fabian: We’re always happy when people get married, aren’t we?  So we should just–you know–be happy about everyone getting married, and forget about any hurt feelings and–after all, it’s not as if anyone died or anything, ha, ha–just a little joke–and maybe it went a bit too far, but we should just get over it–and–(Clears his throat) no one should be punished–madam.

Olivia (To Malvolio): You poor man.  You’ve been so humiliated.

Malvolio (To Fabian): I’ll get even!  I’ll get even!

    (Malvolio storms out, ranting “I’ll get even with all of them!  I’ll get even!”)

Orsino (To Viola): You’re going to need a whole new wardrobe!

    (They all go out except the Fool.  He takes out a flute, pitch pipe, or similar, and blows a few notes to warm up before he sings the folowing song.  A simple piano background is recommended.  Write your own music.)

Fool (Singing):

    When ketchup is a vegetable

    And men can marry men,

    Then anything is possible,

    So call it what you will.

      And everything you’ve seen and heard,

      Of which you were quite sure,

      May turn out yet to be absurd,

      So call it what you will.

    (In ancient Greece

    They knew no peace

    Because their arguments filled wax up in their ears,

    They wrote big books

    For us to read,

    And now philosophy professors have such fine careers.)

    The experts tell us what to think,

    Or else we wouldn’t know,

    It is because they say it is,

    And call it what you will.

      If you’re unhappy, see a shrink,

      He’ll write a note for you,

      You’ll get a pension every month,

      And call it what you will.

    (The Vandals came

    To visit Rome,

    They liked it well enough to call it home.

    They’re coming still

    From sea to sea,

    It’s what we like to call diversity.)

    We’re lemmings rushing to the sea,

    Caught up in our insanity,

    It’s fine as long as we agree,

    And call it what you will.

    (More slowly)

      The dear, old playwright had his say…

      His spirit never went away…

      We changed the words but not the plot…

      The world looks better, but it’s not…

      And anyway, it’s all we’ve got…

      So call it what you will.


    Copyright@ 2011 by Crad Kilodney.  E-mail: crad166@yahoo.com



(Index to the Series appears on Oct. 7, 2010 — https://cradkilodney.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/ )

Main Characters

Theseus — Duke of Athens

Hippolyta — Queen of the Amazons

Lysander and Demetrius — young gentlemen of Athens

Hermia and Helena — young ladies of Athens

Egeus — father of Hermia

Philostrate — master of the entertainments

Quince — carpenter and actor/playwright

Snug — cabinet-maker and actor

Bottom — weaver and actor

Flute — bellows-mender and actor

Snout — tinker and actor

Starveling — tailor and actor

Oberon — King of the Fairies

Titania — Queen of the Fairies

Puck (a.k.a. Robin Goodfellow) — fairy trickster

Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth, Mustardseed — fairies

Other Fairies

Gist of the story: The problems of lovers are made even more complicated when magic eye drops are placed in their eyes while they are sleeping, causing them to fall in love with whomever or whatever they see first when they wake up.  The fairy queen Titania is herself dosed by her husband, Oberon, who is angry with her.  Meanwhile, a company of very bad actors is preparing to present a play to help celebrate the marriage of Theseus, Duke of Athens, and Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons.  The hilarious chaos comes to a climax on a midsummer night.  Fortunately, when the antidote for the eye drops is administered, the charmed victims regain their sanity and are convinced that their temporary insanity must have been a dream.  (MND was originally written mostly in verse, but this version has been recast mostly in prose.  This delightful comedy-fantasy — reminiscent of The Tempest — was the inspiration for composer Felix Mendelssohn’s first significant work, the Overture to “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” written in 1826, when he was 17.)

Act 1, Scene 1.  The palace of Theseus in Athens.  Theseus comes in with Hippolyta and Philostrate.

Theseus: Hippolyta!  Baby doll!  Just a couple more days and we get married.  (Aside to her) I’m so horny.

Hippolyta: You men are all alike.  You’re slaves to your hormones.

Theseus: Women have hormones, too.

Hippolyta: But we’re in harmony with the moon.  That’s what makes us so–romantic.

Theseus: So you’re cyclical and we’re non-cyclical.  That means we’re ready any time.

Hippolyta (Assuming a pose of mock indignation): Try to remember you’re marrying–the Queen of the Amazons.

Theseus: I’ll be sure to wear my best underwear.–Philostrate.

Philostrate: Yes, my lord.

Theseus: Pass the word to all the young people of Athens.  Party, party, party!  Get it?

Philostrate: Yes, my lord.

Theseus: Young people should have fun.  I love young people.  Everybody have a good time.  Everybody be happy.  Anybody doesn’t want to be happy, tell them to keep out of sight.  Understand?  Now go.

Philostrate: Yes, my lord.

    (Philostrate leaves.)

Hippolyta: You’re so cheerful, Theseus.  You hardly seem like the ferocious warrior who captured me by the sword–and held me to your chest so I couldn’t move.                                                                                                                         

Theseus: It was the biggest thrill of your life.  Admit it.  (She laughs.)  And the wedding will be even better.  It’ll be the best wedding Athens has ever seen.

    (Egeus comes in with his daughter, Hermia, and her two suitors, Lysander and Demetrius.  Hermia is a short brunette, preferably with a tawny complexion.)

Egeus: Hail, Duke Theseus!  I wish you all the happiness in the world!

Theseus: My good friend Egeus, thank you.  And happiness to you, too.

Egeus: Oh, but I am not happy, my lord.

Theseus: Why?  What’s wrong?

Egeus: My daughter, Hermia, will not obey me.  I have chosen a husband for her–Demetrius (Indicating him)–but this man here–Lysander (Indicating him)–has charmed her.

Theseus: In what way?

Egeus: Oh, by the most shameful tricks you can imagine!

Theseus: What kind of shameful tricks?

Egeus: For one thing, he has written her love poems.

Theseus: No!

Egeus: Yes.  And he has serenaded her beneath her window with sweet, romantic love songs.

Theseus: Good God!

Egeus: And he has sent her locks of his hair, and flowers–

Theseus: Oh, no!

Egeus: And pretty gifts and toys–

Theseus: Scandalous!

Egeus: And delicious treats of every sort.

Theseus: What a devil!

Egeus: And the poor girl, being so  impressionable, has fallen for all his trickery–and she wants to marry him.

Theseus: How awful!

Hippolyta: You would never stoop that low, my lord.  I’m so glad.

Theseus: What?  Yes, of course–I mean, no.

Egeus: My lord, as her father, it’s my right to decide whom she will marry.  And if she refuses–she must be put to death.  That’s the law.

Theseus: Oh–yes–I suppose.

Egeus: As Duke of Athens, you must enforce the law.  Otherwise, daughters everywhere will marry whomever they like, regardless of what their fathers think.

Theseus: Oh–well–we can’t allow that.

Egeus: I knew you would back me up.

Theseus (To Hermia): Ahem–Now, look here, girl.  You must obey your father.  He has authority over you–even the power of life and death.  Now what’s wrong with Demetrius that you don’t want to marry him?  He’s a fine fellow.  He’d be a good husband for you.

Hermia: Lysander is just as good.  In fact, I think he’s better.

Theseus: Well, I’m not saying anything against Lysander.  He’s a fine fellow, too.  But the point is, Demetrius is better because your father has chosen him.

Hermia: My father doesn’t see Lysander as I do.

Theseus: Then you should try to see Demetrius as he does.

Hermia: I can’t help it.  I want to marry Lysander.

Theseus: If you disobey your father, you’ll be punished.

Hermia: What will happen to me?

Theseus (Taking time to think): Well–either you will be executed–or you will have to become a nun and spend the rest of your life in a convent.  And that means no men.  Ever.  And there’ll be nothing but bland food, and getting up early, and praying a lot, and wearing a penguin suit, and lots of strict discipline from smelly, old women, and lots of boring domestic labour.  Is that the kind of life you want?

Hermia: I’d sooner have that than have my father choose my husband for me.

Demetrius: Why don’t you just say yes, Hermia?  (To Lysander)  And why don’t you find someone else?

Lysander: No.  You find someone else.

Egeus (To Lysander): I’ve chosen Demetrius.  If Hermia marries him, they’ll inherit everything from me–and I’m a rich man.

Lysander: My family is just as rich.  And I’m just as noble as he is.  And if Hermia and I love each other, why shouldn’t we get married?  This guy (Indicating Demetrius) was courting Helena, and then he dumped her and broke her heart.  You can’t trust him.  He likes to play the field.

Theseus: I heard about that, and I meant to say something to Demetrius.–Look, I’d like to have a private word with you two (Indicating Egeus and Demetrius).  And you, Hermia–you think about making your father happy.  Otherwise, I’ll have to uphold the law.

    (Everyone leaves except Lysander and Hermia.  Hermia gets weepy.)

Lysander: There, there.  Come on, don’t cry.

Hermia: Why does love have to be so much trouble?

Lysander: Because we love with our hearts, not our minds.  We want what we love.  And we convince ourselves that we need it and can’t live without it.  Our minds are asleep the whole time.  And if we lose what we love, the mind says, “You see, you deceived yourself.  You didn’t need it after all.  You’ll find another.”  The mind always has the last word–like your father.

Hermia: Maybe I’m a fool, but I don’t care.  I want you, Lysander.

Lysander: Listen, I have an idea.  I have a rich aunt who lives outside of Athens.  She’s all alone.  She’ll take us in.  We can run away and get married and live with her.

Hermia: Yes!  Let’s do it!

Lysander: You sneak out of your house tomorrow night.  We’ll meet in the woods outside of the city–the same place where I met you and Helena.

Hermia: I’ll be there.

    (Helena comes in.  She is a tall blonde.)

Hermia: Oh–Helena.  How are you?

Helena: I feel like shit, but thanks for asking.  (There is an awkward silence between the ladies.)  I guess brunettes are in fashion these days.  Lucky you.

Hermia: You mustn’t be angry with me.

Helena: Of course, not.  Just lend me whatever aphrodisiacs you use so I can steal Demetrius–back (Spoken with emphasis, implying that Hermia stole Demetrius).

Hermia: I don’t want Demetrius.  I’ve never encouraged him.  The more I reject him, the more he wants me.

Helena: The more I want him, the more he rejects me.

Hermia: Well, I intend to go away.  He’ll never see me again.  I’m leaving Athens forever.

Lysander: Yes.  We’re eloping.  Tomorrow night.

Hermia: We’re going to sneak out and meet in the woods–you know, our old hangout.  I’d like you to get Demetrius back.  Really, I would.  (To Lysander) It’s late.

Lysander: Yes.–We have to go, Helena.

    (Hermia and Lysander leave.)

Helena: What’s she got that I haven’t got?  I’m just as pretty–aren’t I?  At least, Demetrius used to think so.  He used to think I was very pretty.  (A pause while she considers) If I tell Demetrius where Hermia will be tomorrow night, he’ll be sure to go and look for her.  Then when he realizes she’s leaving Athens for good, maybe he’ll get over her.  And then maybe he’ll love me again.

    (Helena goes out.)

Act 1, Scene 2.   Quince’s house in Athens.  Quince, Snug, Bottom, Flute, Snout, and Starveling come in.

Quince: Is everyone here?

Bottom: All present and discounted for.

Quince: Good.  We have to put on a nice play for Theseus and Hippolyta on the occasion of their marriage.

Bottom: Ooh!  Ooh!  Let’s do “The Cheerleaders and the Blood-Sucking Slime Creatures of Calcutta”!

Quince: No.  We’re not doing that one again–ever.  Not after what happened last time.

Bottom: Aww–

Quince: I’ve written something nicer–“The Lamentable Comedy and Cruel Death of Pyramus and Thisby.”

Bottom: That sounds good.  We can be damned lamentable when we put our minds to it.

Others: Yes, yes.

Quince (Reading from a paper): All right, then–Nick Bottom, the weaver.  You get to be Pyramus.

Bottom: Is he a good guy or a bad guy?

Quince: He’s the romantic hero who  commits suicide for love.

Bottom: Oh, I can do that.  I’ll have the audience in tears.  Of course, I’d rather be a villain.  Then I could rant and rave and kill a few people.

Quince: Another time.–Flute, the bellows-mender.  You’re Thisby, Pyramus’s lover.

Flute: I don’t want to be a woman.  I’m just beginning to grow a beard.

Quince: You’ll have to shave it off, or else wear a mask.  And you have to speak with a woman’s voice.

Bottom: I can be Thisby, too.  I can do a woman’s voice.  Listen.  (Speaking in a woman’s voice) Oh, Pyramus, my darling!  I love you so much!  My breasts are heaving with excitement!

Quince: No.  You have your part–Pyramus.–Starveling, the tailor.  You’re Thisby’s mother.

Starveling (In a woman’s voice): Oh, Thisby, are you going out again to meet your lover?

Flute (In a woman’s voice): Yes, Mother–my darling Pyramus.  He’s all I think about.  He’s my stud muffin!

Quince: Knock it off.–Snug, the cabinet-maker.  You’re the Lion.

Snug: Do I have a lot of lines to memorize?

Quince: No.  All you do is roar.

Bottom: I can roar!  I can be a great lion!  I can do that trick where I jump into the audience and pretend to attack them.

Quince: Definitely not.  That’s what got us in trouble the last time.  If you pull a stunt like that in front of the Duke, you’re liable to get us all hanged.

Bottom: Oh!  I know what.  I could be a gay lion.  I could roar with a lisp.

Quince: No.–Snout, the tinker.

Snout: Here.

Quince: You’ll be Pyramus’s father.  And I, Peter Quince–(With proud emphasis) carpenter–will be Thisby’s father.  That takes care of all the roles.  I’ll give all of you your lines, and I want you to memorize them by tomorrow night.  We’ll meet in the palace woods outside of town and do a rehearsal.  That way we can keep the play a secret.  In the meantime, I’ll see about getting all the props we need.

Botttom: Everyone learn your parts so we can be lamentable for the Duke and his bride!

Others: Yes, yes.

    (They all leave.)

Act 2, Scene 1.  In the woods at night.  Puck and another Fairy come in from opposite sides.

Puck: Hey, Fairy, wassup?

Fairy: Just the usual fairy business–you know, doing errands for Queen Titania–like sprinkling dew on her favorite flowers.  She’ll be here soon.

Puck: Well, just keep here away from King Oberon.  He’s gonna party here tonight, and he’s angry with her.

Fairy: Why?

Puck: She’s got this cute kid from India as one of her attendants, and Oberon wants him, too.  But she won’t give him up.  That’s what they’re fighting about.

Fairy: Say, don’t I know you?  Aren’t you that trickster Robin Goodfellow?

Puck: Yup.  That’s me.

Fairy: Oh, you’re so bad!  You scare all the girls in the village.  You turn milk sour.  You spoil people’s beer.  And you lead people into the woods and get them lost.

Puck: Yeah, so what?  I bring good luck to those who call me Puck.  And I keep King Oberon entertained.  He likes it when I play jokes on people.  I’m a shape-shifter, you know.

Fairy: That’s very naughty.

Puck: It’s fun.  I can turn into anything, and I can shrink myself very small.  One time I turned myself into an apple, and just when somebody was about to bite into me, I made a worm come out.  And one time I turned into a stool, and when a lady sat on me, I collapsed myself and she fell on her ass.

Fairy: Tsk! Tsk!  That’s so bad!

Puck: All people are stupid.  They’re only good for playing tricks on.–Oh.  Here comes King Oberon now.  Make way.

Fairy: Uh, oh.  Here comes Queen Titania.  I think there’s gonna be an argument.

    (Puck and the Fairy move apart as Oberon and his party of Fairies come in from one side, and Titania and her party come in from the other.)

Oberon: Huh!  Come to crash my party?

Titania: Certainly not.  I wouldn’t party with you–in bed or  out of bed.

Oberon: Yeah, I’ve noticed.  You seem to have forgotten that I’m your husband.

Titania: Some husband.  I know where you’ve been.  You take the form of a human and carry on with any slut you can pick up.–Oh, and by the way, your ex-girlfriend Hippolyta is going to marry Theseus.  Perhaps you’ve come to bless their marriage.

Oberon: You’re one to talk.  Okay, so I had a little fling with Hippolyta, but you’re still hot for Theseus.  You broke him up with his other girlfriends just so you could have him.

Titania: Lies, lies, lies.  Since the beginning of the spring, you’ve been hassling all my fairies, interrupting everything we do, and screwing up the whole natural order of things.

Oberon: Bah!

Titania: You flood the rivers, you ruin the crops, you give the cattle and sheep diseases, you make it hot one day and cold the next, you make people sick–all because you’re angry with me.

Oberon: It’s your fault for making me angry in the first place.  All I want is that boy of yours.  I want him to be my page.

Titania: Oh, no, you don’t get him.  His mother was my friend, and when she died, I took the boy to take care of him.  I’m not giving him to you.

Oberon: Hmph!–So, how long were you intending to stay out here?

Titania: A few days–until after Theseus’s wedding.  My fairies and I are going to do some nice spirit partying.  If you want to watch, you can.  Otherwise, let us have our space, and I’ll stay away from whatever it is you’re doing.

Oberon: I don’t mind joining you–provided you give me that boy.

Titania: In your dreams.–Come on, Fairies, let’s leave the mean, old King–before I punch him in the nose.

    (Titania and her party leave.)

Oberon: Aw, go suck a lemon.  I’ll settle with you later.–Puck.

Puck: Yes, boss.

Oberon: Remember that evening on the beach when we watched that mermaid riding on the back of a dolphin, singing?

Puck: She was hot.  I like mermaids.

Oberon: Yeah.  That same night, I saw Cupid shoot his arrow at a pretty girl.  It missed and hit a white flower instead.  And then the flower turned purple.  Do you know what flower I mean?

Puck: The pansy?

Oberon: Correct.  And the fluid of the pansy, when dropped on the eyes of a sleeping person, will make him fall in love with the first creature he sees when he wakes up–human or otherwise.

Puck: Awesome!

Oberon: You know where the pansies grow.  Go and get me some.  I have something in mind.

Puck: Oh!  Tricks on humans!   Brilliant!  I’ll be back in no time! 

    (Puck leaves.)

Oberon: Heh, heh.  (To the audience) Guess who’s going to get some magic eye drops while she’s sleeping?  Titania.  And when she wakes up, she’ll fall in love with whatever she sees first.  Maybe a skunk–ha!  Or a goat.  Or a Mexican.  She’ll be out of her mind.  And I won’t give her the antidote until she agrees to  give up that boy.–Oh.  Somebody’s coming.  Fortunately, I can make myself invisible to people.  Let’s see who this is.

    (Oberon moves apart.  Demetrius comes in, with Helena following.)

Demetrius: I told you I don’t love you any more, Helena.  So leave me alone.  I’m going to find Lysander and kill him.

Helena: I’m not going to leave you alone!  I can’t!

Demetrius: Will you stop following me?  Go home.

Helena: No.  No matter what you say, I won’t stop loving you.  Let me follow you.  I’ll even be your pet dog.  You can be as mean to me as you want.  I don’t care.  Just so long as I can be with you.

Demetrius: You’re sick.

Helena: I’m more sick without you.

Demetrius: Don’t you care what people think?  You’re acting like a slut.  A proper woman doesn’t go out alone at night.

Helena: I’m not alone and it’s not night if I’m with you.

Demetrius: I should just run away and leave you here to fend for yourself.  There are wolves out here, you know.

Helena: I don’t care about wolves.

Demetrius: I ought to kick your ass, Helena.

    (He leaves quickly.)

Helena: I’ll die before I give you up!  Demetrius!

    (She follows him out.)

Oberon: Ah.  Demetrius and Helena.  Well, well.  I think I know how to change his feelings.  (Puck returns.)  Ah, Puck.  You have the pansies?

Puck: Right here, boss.

    (He gives Oberon the pansies.)

Oberon: Very good.  Now, my little elf, are you up for some trickery?

Puck: Always!

Oberon: Good.  I know where Titania is sleeping, and I’m going to put some pansy drops in her eyes.  You take a few of these and go that way (Indicates the direction where Demetrius and Helena left).  Look for a young man dressed in Athenian clothes.  He’s being followed by a girl he doesn’t love.  You put some pansy drops in his eyes.  Do it when you’re sure that the first person he sees when he wakes up will be that girl.  Then meet me back here before dawn.

Puck: I will, boss.  This’ll be so cool!

    (They leave separately.  Quick segue to the next scene.)

Act 2, Scene 2.  Elsewhere in the woods.  Titania comes in with her party.

Titania: We’ll stop here, Fairies.  I’m tired.  I want to sleep.  Why don’t you sing something to help me fall asleep?  And keep any nasty things away from me while I’m sleeping.

    (As Titania lies down at rear stage and off to one side, the Fairies dance in a circle and sing.)

Fairies (Singing):

    Oh, pretty Queen, lay down your head

    While we dance beside your bed

    And keep the nasty beasts at bay,

    That you may sleep and dream away.

      Away, you bugs and sneaky bats,

      Mosquitoes, flies, and pesky gnats,

      You spiders, centipedes, and worms,

      And dirty things that carry germs,

    And blobs and globs that ooze with goo,

    Begone and take your friends with you.

    All aliens from outer space 

    And those related, shun this place.

      Stay clear, all monsters that are vile,

      And lizards, toads, and crocodiles,

      And snapping turtles, shrews, and snakes–

      Until our pretty Queen awakes.

First Fairy (Leaning over Titania): She’s asleep.  (To Second Fairy)  You stand guard.  And keep her invisible to people while she’s asleep.

Second Fairy: Right.

    (The other Fairies leave.  The Second Fairy should sit unobtrusively, close to Titania for the rest of the scene, and should only react moderately to the ensuing action.  Oberon now tiptoes in and drops the pansy juice on Titania’s eyes.)

Oberon: Now, my stubborn Queen, you will wake up when the first ugly creature happens by, and when you see it, you will fall in love instantly.

    (Oberon tiptoes out.  Then Lysander and Hermia come in.)

Hermia: I’m tired.  Let’s stop.

Lysander: Okay.  I’m not sure where we are anyway.  Let’s sleep here.

Hermia (Moving apart): I’ll bed down here, and you can sleep there.

Lysander: Aww, sweetheart, aren’t you going to sleep with me?

Hermia: Oh, no.  I’m a good girl.

Lysander: I won’t do anything.  Honest.

Hermia: Yes, you will.  You’ll snuggle up to me, and then I’ll feel your arm around my waist.  And then I’ll feel your hand trying to find its way under my dress.

Lysander: Aww–

Hermia: You just sleep right there, and I’ll sleep over here.

Lysander: Aww–

Hermia (Mimicking him): Aww–poor boy.  You’ll just have to suffer.  But if you dream of me, you can do whatever you like.

Lysander: I will.

    (They lie down at rear stage and fall asleep.  Then Puck comes in, looking around.)

Puck: Where the heck is that guy?  (He sees Lysander and Hermia.)  Oh.  This is him.  He’s dressed like an Athenian.–And this must be the girl who was following him.–Huh.  She’s a good-looking babe.  Wonder why he doesn’t want her.  Well, some pansy drops ought to fix his eyesight.  (He puts the drops on Lysander’s eyes.)  Now you’ll love this babe when you wake up and see her.

    (Puck leaves.  Then Demetrius comes in quickly, with Helena pursuing him.  They don’t notice Lysander and Hermia.)

Helena (Panting): Stop running from me, Demetrius!

Demetrius: Go away.  The further you chase me, the more lost you’ll be when you lose me.

Helena: I’m already lost.  Don’t leave me.

Demetrius: It’s your own fault.  I’m not stopping till I’m rid of you.–Goodbye!

    (Demetrius leaves.  Helena is too exhausted to follow.  She begins to cry a little.)

Helena: It’s not fair.  He chases after Hermia, but I’m the one who loves him.  Maybe I’m ugly and I don’t know it.  That must be it.  I must be hideous.  (She notices Lysander lying nearby.)  Who’s this?–Lysander!–What’s he doing here?  Is he dead?  (She shakes him.)  Lysander–wake up.–Are you all right? 

    (Lysander wakes up.  When he sees Helena, he is wide-eyed.)

Lysander: Oh!–Helena!–You’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.  You’re an angel.  I love you.

Helena: You love me?  But you love Hermia.

Lysander: No.  Not any more.  She’s so ordinary.  But you’re extraordinary.  I want you.

Helena: Are you sure you’re feeling well?

Lysander: Of course.  I must not have been feeling well before, but everything’s perfectly clear.–Yes–quite clear.  And logical.  And true.  You’re my true love, Helena.

Helena: You’re making fun of me.  You never gave me a second look before, and now you expect me to believe you love me?  Well, I don’t believe it.  And you’re not very nice to make fun of me like this.  It’s very mean.

    (She leaves.)

Lysander: Huh!  She didn’t even see Hermia.–That’s okay.  You go on sleeping, Hermia.  What did I ever see in you anyway?  My brain must have been asleep.  But that’s all over.  From now on, the only one I love is Helena.–I must find her–convince her.–We were made for each other!

    (He leaves.)

Hermia (Awakening from a nightmare): Oh!–Get it off me!–What?–Oh!–Oh, what a dream.–Lysander?  (She sees that he’s gone.) Lysander!  Where are you?  Lysander!

    (She runs out frantically.)

Act 3, Scene 1.  The same woods as the previous scene.  Titania is still asleep off to the side and rear.  The Fairy previously on guard is not present.  However, Titania is still invisible to humans while she is asleep.  Now the actors come in–Quince, Snug, Bottom, Flute, Snout, and Starveling.

Quince: This is where we’ll rehearse.  Everyone’s here, so let’s begin.

Bottom: Wait, Peter Quince.  I think there are one or two problems with this play of yours.

Quince: Oh?  Such as?

Bottom: Well, for one thing, you have Pyramus committing suicide with his knife.  I think that would be much too gory and shocking to the ladies.

Snout: Yes, it is rather violent.

Starveling: We could cut out the whole scene.

Bottom: No, no.  We don’t have to cut it out.  Just begin the play with some sort of introduction to explain to the audience that no one is actually harmed in the play.  Pyramus doesn’t really die.  It’s just me pretending because it’s a play.

Snout: They call that a disclaimer.  The lawyers insist on it.

Quince: We don’t have any lawyers.

Starveling: But still, some audiences are stupid.  They have to have things explained to them.  Like in Canada.

Snout: Oh, yes.  They’re very stupid in Canada.

Quince: This isn’t Canada.  But all right, I’ll write an introduction.  I’ll compose it in iambic pentameter.

Bottom: Pentameter?  That’s five meters.  That’s too long.  Five inches would be enough.  And don’t do it in iambic.  Do it in English.

Snout: What about the Lion?  Don’t you think that’ll be too scary for the ladies?

Starveling: I should think it would be.

Bottom: I’ve always been afraid of lions–(He shivers) Brrr!–ever since I was little.

Snout: We should add an explanation for the audience that it’s not a real lion, just someone wearing a costume.

Bottom: Yes.  And we should say who the actor is who’s playing the Lion.

Snug: That would be me.

Bottom: Right.  And your face has to be visible through the mask.  And you should say to the audience something like “Please don’t be afraid, ladies.  I’m not really a lion.  I’m Snug, the cabinet-maker.”

Quince: Yes, that would be all right.  While I think of it, there may be a problem about moonlight in the room.  We have to have moonlight in order for Pyramus to meet Thisby at night.

Snout: Will the moon be out the night we do our play?

Bottom: Look in the almanac.  It’ll tell you.

Quince: Yes, good idea.  (He takes an almanac out of his pocket and peruses it.)  It says the moon will be gibbous.

Snout: What does that mean?

Bottom: Look it up in the dictionary.

Quince: Ah.  Yes.  (He takes a dictionary out of his pocket and peruses it.)  It says “Having gibbosity–which, see.”–Hold on.–“Gibbosity–a rounded protuberance or hump.”

    (A pause.  Everyone is puzzled.)

Bottom: Well, obviously, the moon has to be shining on that night, otherwise you couldn’t see the hump, now, could you?  (He turns to the audience and taps his head to signify how smart he is.)

Quince: Yes.  Quite.

Bottom: And we can open a window so it can shine into the room.

Quince: Yes.  Or someone can hold a lantern representing the moon.

Bottom: That’ll be totally convincing.

Quince: Now, there’s one other thing.  Pyramus and Thisby talk through a hole in the wall.

Snout: We can’t carry in a wall.

Bottom: Oh!  I know!  Somebody can play the part of the Wall.  We’ll cover his in plaster or dirt so he looks like a wall, and he can make a V with his fingers, like this (Indicates with his fingers)–and that’ll be the hole they speak through.

Starveling: Now that’s real stagecraft for you.  Brilliant!

Quince: Yes.  Very good.  Well, I think that solves all the technical problems.  Now let’s rehearse.–Pyramus, you start.  When you finish your speech, you go into the grove over there.–Everyone mind your cues.

    (Puck comes in behind the actors.  He is invisible and inaudible to them.)

Puck: What are these idiots doing, putting on a play?–Huh.  Maybe I can be in it, too.

Quince: Thisby, you stand near Pyramus.–All right, Pyramus, begin.

Bottom: Ahem–Thisby, the flowers of odious fragrance–

Quince: That’s “odorous,” not “odious.”

Bottom: Sorry–ahem–Thisby, the flowers of odorous fragrance are like your sweet breath.  But wait!  I hear a voice.  Who could it be?  Wait here by the wall and I shall see, and then I shall return to thee.

    (Bottom goes out.)

Puck: I should give that guy a makeover.

    (Puck follows him out.)

Quince: Flute, you speak now.

Flute: Oh, Pyramus, you glow like a white lily and a red rose at the same time.  You are forever youthful and as handsome as a Jew.  You are as steadfast as a horse that never tires.  I’ll wait for you at Ninny’s tomb.

Quince: “Ninus’s tomb,” not “Ninny’s tomb.”  (Calling offstage) Pyramus!  You were supposed to come in on “never tires.”

    (Bottom returns with Puck close behind, grinning maliciously.  Bottom now has the head of a donkey but is unaware of it.)

Bottom: Yes, my darling Thisby.  I am all yours.

    (The other actors scream and run out.)

Puck: I’m not through with you people yet–ha, ha!

    (Puck  pursues them.)

Bottom: Hey!  What’s the matter?  Where are you going?  What’re you running for?  Come back!–What the hell?  Are they playing a joke on me?  

    (Snout returns timidly.)

Snout: Bottom?–Why have you got a donkey’s head?

Bottom: What?

    (Quince returns.)

Quince: What have you done to yourself?

Bottom: Me?  Nothing.

    (Quince stares at him, speechless, for a few seconds.)

Quince: This is a curse!  This is supernatural!

    (Quince runs out, with Snout right behind.)

Bottom: What’s with these guys?  This has to be some kind of joke.  That’s what it is.  They’re trying to scare me, that’s all.  Well, I’ll show them they can’t scare me.  I’ll stay right here.  That’s what I’ll do.  I’ll even sing a song, just to prove how not-scared I am–ha! 


    Oh, happy as a day in spring

    And just as handsome, too,

    I’ll chase the girls and have some fun

    And do what young men do.

      And when I have them so worn out

      They cannot take another,

      I’ll have them introduce me to

      Their sisters and their mothers.

Titania (Awakening): I hear an angel singing.  (She looks around and sees Bottom.) Oh!  It is an angel!

Bottom: Who, me?  Oh, I’m not an angel.  My name is Bottom.

    (She approaches him.)

Titania: What a handsome man!  I generally don’t show myself to mortals, but–oh, you are special! 

Bottom: Me?–Ho, ho–no, not really–well, perhaps a little.

Titania: Do you know who I am?

Bottom: No.

Titania: I am Titania, Queen of the Fairies.  And I want you to stay with me forever.  I love you!

Bottom: You do?

Titania: Yes.  It’s love at first sight.  You will live with me here in the woods.  I will change you from a mortal human into a sprite.  You’ll be able to go everywhere with me.  You’ll be able to float, and fly, and be invisible, and go through walls, and see clearly in the dark.  You’ll have fairies for servants, and they’ll bring you lovely things and sing to you and show you all the secret things that only we fairies know about.

Bottom: Really?

Titania: I’ll prove it to you.  (Calling) Peaseblossom!  Cobweb!  Moth!  Mustardseed!  (These four Fairies come in.)  This man is named Bottom.  Take him along the path to my home, and give him all the tastiest treats you find along the way–all the nice grapes and figs and berries and honey.  From now on you’ll serve his every need and keep him happy.

Four Fairies: Hello, sir.  You are human, aren’t you?

Bottom: Of course, I am–ha, ha!  What else?

Titania: Now, Bottom, go with them–shh!–quietly, so no one should see you.–Fairies, take him to my home.

    (The Fairies and Bottom leave.)

Act 3, Scene 2.  Elsewhere in the woods.  Oberon comes in.

Oberon: I wonder if Titania’s awake yet–and who or what she fell in love with.

    (Puck comes in.)

Puck: Hi, boss!

Oberon: Ah, there you are, my little trickster.  What news do you have?

Puck: I found a bunch of stupid actors rehearsing a stupid play for the Duke’s wedding, and I put a charm on one of them and gave him the head of a donkey.

Oberon: Oh, you rascal!

Puck: And you’ll never guess what happened after that.

Oberon: Tell me.

Puck: He was the first thing Titania saw when she woke up!  Now she’s in love with him.

Oberon (Laughing): Oh, that’s too much!–And what about the Athenian fellow?  Did you put drops in his eyes?

Puck: Yup.  And he fell in love with the first woman he saw.

    (Demetrius and Hermia come in [Hermia ahead].  They don’t see Oberon and Puck, who are invisible to them.)

Oberon: That’s him, right?

Puck: No.  That’s the right woman–but this is the wrong guy.

Demetrius: But I love you, Hermia.  How can you accuse me of something so terrible?

Hermia: All I know is, Lysander’s missing.  You were jealous of him.  You had a motive to kill him.

Demetrius: All right, I may have been jealous, but that doesn’t mean I killed him.  I wouldn’t really kill the guy–

Hermia: Then where is he?

Demetrius: How should I know?

Hermia: You killed him and hid his body somewhere, didn’t you?  Admit it.

Demetrius: No, I didn’t.  I swear it.  He’ll probably turn up.

Hermia: Well, whether he does or not, it won’t change my feelings where you’re concerned.  I never want to see you again–Demetrius!

    (She leaves.)

Demetrius: What’s the use?  I can’t even talk to her.–I feel like shit.–I need to lie down.  (He lies down at rear stage.)  I’ll just give myself a chance to calm down–have a nap–then maybe I’ll feel better.  (He falls asleep.)

Oberon: Puck!  You dosed the wrong guy.  You fucked everything up.

Puck: Gee, I’m sorry, boss.  He was dressed like an Athenian, so I just assumed he was the guy.

Oberon: Listen, you must go find the woman Helena.  She’s lovesick over this guy.  Tall blonde, very pale.  You use your magic to bring her back, and I’ll put a spell on Demetrius until she gets here.

Puck: Right, boss!

    (Puck leaves quickly.)

Oberon: All right, Demetrius, we’ll soon take care of you.  (Oberon places the drops in Demetrius’s eyes.)  When you see Helena, you’ll be in love with her.

    (Puck returns, running in.)

Oberon: Wow, that was fast!

Puck: Of course.  I can compress space and time.  I even stopped for lunch.  (Oberon gives him a skeptical look.)  Okay, I’m exaggerating.  I didn’t stop for lunch.

Oberon: Where’s the broad?

Puck: On her way.  And the other guy is following her.

Oberon: Good.  We’ll just stand aside and watch what happens.

    (Oberon and Puck move to a back corner of the stage.)

Puck: This is better than television.

Oberon: What’s television?

Puck: Something I saw in the future.

    (Oberon reacts with a confused look, which he shares with the audience.  Then Helena comes in, with Lysander right behind her.)

Lysander: Helena, I swear I’m not making fun of you.  Am I laughing?  No.  I’m crying for you.

Helena: You faker.  I should believe you?  You swore your love to Hermia, and now you’re dumping her–is that it?  If that’s true, then what good is your word to me?

Lysander: People make mistakes.  I made a mistake with her, that’s all.

Hermia: Your real mistake is giving her up.

Lysander: Demetrius loves her.  He can have her.  (He notices Demetrius at rear stage, sleeping.)  Hey, look!  There he is!

    (Demetrius awakens and sees Helena.)

Demetrius: Helena?–Oh!–Oh!–Helena!–Oh, my God–Helena–How beautiful you are.  Like a goddess.–I love you!   (He kisses her hand.)

Helena: Oh, bloody hell!  This is too much!  Both of you.  You’re both making fun of me.  This is so cruel.

Lysander: Demetrius, I’ve changed my mind about Hermia.  I know you love her, so you can have her.  I love Helena now.

Helena: Ha!

Demetrius: No, you keep Hermia.  I don’t want her any more.  I was just temporarily out of my mind.  I want Helena.

Lysander: Helena, tell him no.

Demetrius: Shut up.  Don’t interfere.–Oh.  Here comes your girlfriend.

    (Hermia comes in.)

Hermia: Lysander!  Where have you been?  Why did you leave me like that?

Lysander: I’m sorry, Hermia–but–I don’t love you any more.

Hermia: What!

Lysander: I love Helena now.  I don’t want you.

Hermia: You can’t be serious.

Helena: Oh, so you’re in on this little game, too, are you?  All three of you.  Having a good joke on Helena–is that it?  You used to be my friend, Hermia.  You should be very ashamed to treat me like this.

Hermia: What have I done?  I’m not making any joke.

Helena: You told Lysander to pretend that he loves me.  And Demetrius, too.  Why else would they lie like this?  It’s all a big joke, isn’t it?

Hermia: I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Helena: Yes, you do.  You’re all being rotten to me–rotten!  (Weeping) This is what I get for having feelings–and wanting to be loved.–I don’t want to live any more!

Lysander: Wait, Helena!  Listen to me!  I love you!

Hermia: Please stop putting her on like that.

Lysander: I’m not.

Demetrius: Yes, you are.  You leave Helena alone–or else.

Lysander: You mind your own business.–Helena, I swear to God I love you.

Demetrius (To Helena): Just ignore him.  I love you.

Lysander: Why don’t you shut up!  You want to fight me?

Demetrius: Yeah, I’ll fight you!

Hermia: Stop it, Lysander!

Lysander: Get lost, bitch.  You annoy me.

    (Hermia grabs onto Lysander.)

Hermia: What’s happened to you?  I thought you loved me!

Lysander: Get off me!

Helena: This is all an act.  You’re all making fun of me.

Demetrius: Lysander’s the only one who’s acting.  He’s not going to fight for you.

Lysander: Oh, yes, I will.

Hermia (Grabbing onto him): No! No! No!  You’re mine!

Lysander: Not any more!  I’ve given you up!  Don’t you understand?

    (A pause of stunned silence by Hermia.)

Hermia (To Helena): This is all your fault!  I don’t know what went on before I got here, but you obviously stole him from me!  Why couldn’t you leave us alone?

Helena: Don’t shout at me like that–you–you dwarf!

Hermia: Oh, dwarf, am I?  The big, tall blonde is acting superior because she’s tall!–You–you Barbie doll!

    (Hermia grabs Helena by the hair and scratches her face.  Helena cries out in pain and shrinks away.  There is a pause.  Then Helena regains her composure.)

Helena (Softly): I was always your friend, Hermia.  I never once did you wrong.  If I made a mistake, it was telling Demetrius that you and Lysander were eloping.  I thought I could win him back that way–but I was wrong.–I’ll go back to Athens.  You won’t see me any more.–But I leave my heart behind.

Hermia (In a threatening manner): With Lysander, I suppose.

Helena: No.  With Demetrius.

    (Lysander restrains Hermia slightly because of her threatening manner.)

Lysander: Don’t worry, Helena.  She won’t hurt you.

Helena: She can be vicious, even though she’s short.

Hermia: Fuck you, Helena!  I ought to punch you out!

Lysander: You are short.  And you’re not gonna punch anyone out–least of all Helena.

Demetrius: Why are you defending Helena?  She doesn’t want you.

Lysander: I deserve her more than you do.  And I’ll fight you to prove it.

Demetrius: Good.  That’s the best way to settle things.  Let’s take a walk.

    (The two men leave.)

Hermia: Just think, because of you, one of them may end up dead.  Aren’t you going to stay to see who wins?

Helena: I’m not staying here with you.

    (Helena leaves.  Then Hermia goes out in the direction of the quarreling men.  Then Oberon and Puck come forward to centre stage.)

Oberon: This is really your fault.

Puck: It was an honest mistake.  Anyway, who cares?  It’s fun watching people make fools of themselves.

Oberon: We have to fix your mistake.  I don’t want those fellows to fight.  Now you go after them and make a dense fog and get them separated.  And then mimic their voices and lead them around in circles until they get tired and fall asleep.  Then I want you to put this antidote (Gives Puck some leaves or berries) on Lysander’s eyes.  I intend to have all four of them fall asleep in the woods tonight, and when they wake up in the morning, they’ll think that everything that happened tonight was just a dream.  Then they can all go back to Athens, and they’ll be back to normal, with no harm done.  I’m going to find Titania and persuade her to give up that Indian boy while she’s so distracted by Mr. Donkeyhead.  Then I’ll give her the antidote, and she’ll be back to normal, too.  Now get going.

Puck: Right, boss!  I’ll bend space-time!

    (They leave in opposite directions–Puck in the direction of the departed men.)

Act 4, Scene 1.  In the woods.  Lysander, Demetrius, Helena, and Hermia are lying asleep at rear stage, partly concealed.  Titania and Bottom come in, along with Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth, Mustardseed, and [optionally] other Fairies.  Oberon follows them stealthily and remains apart to spy on them.

Titania: My lovely Sir Bottom, come and sit down with me and let me stroke your lovely ears.  You are just too wonderful for words.

    (They sit down.)

Bottom: Peaseblossom, scratch my head.

Peaseblossom: Yes, my lord.

    (Peaseblossom sits beside Bottom and scratches his head.)

Bottom: Cobweb, could you bring me some honey?

Cobweb: Right away, my lord.

    (Cobweb leaves.)

Bottom: Mustardseed, you scratch my head, too.

Mustardseed: Yes, my lord.

    (Mustardseed sits beside Bottom and scratches his head.)

Bottom: I feel awfully hairy for some reason.  Do you think I need a shave, Titania?

Titania: Oh, no.  You’re perfect just as you are.  Would you like to hear some music?

Bottom: All right.  I could go for a good marching band.

Titania: Tsk!  That’s not very romantic.  Are you hungry?

Bottom: I seem to have a craving for oats and hay.

Titania: How about some nice, fresh nuts?

Bottom: No, not nuts.  Some dried peas, perhaps.  (Yawns) Actually–never mind.  I can snack later.  Right now I’d really like to take a nice nap.

Titania: Yes, you take a nap.  You can sleep in my arms.–You Fairies, go now and give us some privacy.  (The Fairies leave.) Oh, my love, how wonderful you are.

    (Bottom falls asleep, and then Titania falls asleep.  Now Puck comes in and meets Oberon at centre stage.)

Oberon: Will ya get a load of that?  Pathetic, isn’t it?

Puck: I think it’s hilarious–the Queen loving a donkey.

Oberon: Well, I think this joke has reached its limits.  I spoke to her before and teased her about her new pet, and guess what?  She agreed to let me have that Indian boy as my servant.

Puck: Oh, good for you, boss.  So you have him now?

Oberon: Yes.  He’s in my quarters.  So now I think it’s time to end this spell she’s under and bring her back to normal.  Let her get a good look at Mr. Donkeyhead, and then you change him back to normal.  As for these other people here (Indicating the Athenians) when they wake up, they’ll assume they were dreaming.

Puck: Humans are so simple-minded.

    (Oberon puts the antidote drops in Titania’s eyes.)

Oberon: Here you go.–Now wake up, Titania.

    (Titania wakes up.)

Titania: Oh–oh–I must have dozed off.  What a dream I had.  I dreamed I was in love with a–agh!  (She finds Bottom in her arms with his donkey head.)

Oberon: It’s all right, my dear.  Just a government experiment gone wrong.–Puck, uncharm this jackass and turn him back into an actor.–Titania, make some of that special music that puts people into a really deep sleep.  I want these Athenians to be sure they were dreaming.

    (Titania waves her arms, and music is heard.  The Director has the discretion to choose the music.  It can be appropriately serene or else absurdly inappropriate.  An appropriate choice would be something Impressionist like Debussy or Ravel.  An absurd choice might be Tibetan Buddhist music or Indian music.  Another choice would be electronic sound effects.  Meanwhile, Puck is “uncharming” Bottom, but the transformation back to normal will not take effect until Puck has left.)

Oberon: Come, Titania.  We’re not angry with each other any more, are we?

Titania: No.  But what happened to me?  What am I doing here with these people?

Oberon: It’s a bit complicated.  I’ll explain it all to you later.

Puck: Hey, boss, it’s almost dawn.  We don’t want to be caught in the daylight.

Oberon: Quite so.  We’ll zoom ahead of the sun at super fairy speed and follow the night all the way around the earth.  And then tomorrow night we’ll go to the Duke’s palace and bless him with good magic for his wedding.  And these four over here (Indicating the sleeping Athenians) will be paired off the way they should’ve been, and they’ll get married, too.

    (Oberon, Titania, and Puck leave quickly.  Then the sound of hunting horns is heard.  The stage is brightening for daylight as Theseus, Hippolyta, and Egeus–all three dressed for hunting–and Attendants come in.  Bottom’s transformation to normal will take place with the Attendants conveniently blocking him from the view of the audience while he slips out of the donkey head.  Titania’s special music has by now faded away.)

Theseus: Ah, I love a good hunt on Midsummer morning.  It’s a tradition here, you know.

Hippolyta: It’s wonderful.  It reminds me of the times I hunted bears in Crete with Hercules.

Theseus: Bears!  Oh, my!  You may find Athens rather dull, then.  I shall have to think of ways to entertain you.–Oh!  (He sees the four Athenians, who are now waking up but are still groggy.)  Well! Well!  What have we here?  Were you four having an orgy last night, or were you fighting until you collapsed?

Lysander: My lord, I–I don’t quite–Where are we?–What the heck am I doing here?–I–I’m trying to remember.–Hermia and I ran away.  I remember that much.

Egeus: That’s a confession of guilt if I ever heard one.–Demetrius, do you hear?  They tried to escape, but now we’ve caught them.

Demetrius: I’m not sure what happened.–I was chasing after Lysander and Hermia–and Helena was chasing me.–After that–I–uh–This is very strange.  I can’t explain it, but–I–I don’t love Hermia any more.  I love Helena.  She’s the one I want to marry.

Theseus: Well, knock me over with a feather!  I can’t imagine what happened out here last night, but we’ll talk about it later.–Egeus, I’ve made up my mind.  No one’s getting punished.  Somehow everything has gotten sorted out.  Lysander will marry your daughter, and Demetrius will marry Helena.–You four young people can follow us back to Athens.  We’ll have a triple wedding!  It’ll be great!  I love young people.–Come on, Hippolyta.

    (Oberon, Hippolyta, and Egeus depart with their Attendants.  The four Athenians are now fully awake.  Demetrius takes Helena by the hand, and Lysander takes Hermia by the hand.)

Demetrius: Helena!  Did you hear?  We’re going to get married!  At the Duke’s palace!

Helena (Hugging him): Yes!

Hermia: Lysander!  We can go back to Athens–and be married!

Lysander: Yes!–Hermia, did you have a strange dream?

Hermia: Yes.  Did you?

Lysander: Yes.

Demetrius: So did I.

Helena: And so did I.–At least, I think it was a dream.  You and Lysander both said you loved me.  And Hermia was very angry.

Lysander and Hermia: Yes!  Yes!

Demetrius: Could we all have had the same dream?  Is that possible?

Lysander: I don’t know, but I feel entirely in my right mind now.

Hermia: Thank God.

Demetrius: Let’s go back to Athens.

    (The four of them leave, talking about who dreamed what.  When they’re gone, Bottom wakes up, thinking he fell asleep among the other actors.)

Bottom: My cue–What’s my cue?–“Handsome Pyramus”–that’s it.–Hey!  Peter Quince!  Flute!  Snout!  Where is everyone?–Holy jumpin’ Jesus, what a strange dream I had.  I dreamed I was a–and then there was–and there were three–no, four–and there was this woman–she said I could fly–and–Mr. Mustard?–Colonel Mustard?–scratching my ears–Oh, my goodness.  If I tell anyone what I dreamed, they’ll call me a jackass.  Huh!  But I know what.  I’ll have Peter Quince write a play about it.  It’ll be called “Bottom’s Dream.”  Oh, it’ll be so poignant!  It’ll be a classic!  Of course, I’ll be in it–as myself.

    (He leaves.)

Act 4, Scene 2.  In Quince’s house in Athens.  Quince, Flute, Snout, and Starveling come in.

Quince: Has anyone seen Bottom?  Did anyone check at his house?

Starveling: Yes.  Nobody knows where he is.

Flute: We can’t put on the play without him.

    (Snug comes in.)

Snug: The Duke is on his way back from the temple.  And two other couples got married, too.  We’d make really good money tonight if we could do the play.

Flute: Bottom would’ve gotten a nice pension from the Duke as a reward–six cents a day, easy.  Just for playing Pyramus.

    (Bottom rushes in.)

Bottom: Hey, you guys!  You won’t believe–

Quince: Thank God!  You’re back!

Bottom: Have I got a story to tell you!  But it’ll have to wait.  We have just enough time to get over to the palace and get ready by the time the Duke finishes his dinner.–Thisby, make sure your underwear is clean.–And the Lion, make sure your nails are long.–And nobody eat any onions or garlic.  We want the critics to say this was a sweet performance.  Now let’s get going.

    (They all leave.)

Act 5, Scene 1.  In the palace of Theseus.  Theseus, Hippolyta, Philostrate, Lords and Attendants come in.  All sit down except Philostrate and the Attendants.

Hippolyta: What a strange story those young people told.

Theseus: You mustn’t take them literally.  People in love are all slightly insane.  They can’t distinguish reality from imagination.

Hippolyta: But they all told the same story, so something strange must have happened, even if we can’t explain it.

    (Lysander, Demetrius, Hermia, and Helena come in.)

Theseus: Ah, here are the happy newlyweds!  We wish you the greatest happiness.

Lysander: And the same to you, my lord.

Theseus: Come and join us.  (The four newlyweds sit down.)  Philostrate, what sort of entertainment have you arranged for us?

Philostrate: We have a number of acts, my lord.  You can see whatever you like.  (He refers to a list on paper.)  We have a transvestite of colour who plays the zither and sings an epic poem, “My Battle With the Centaurs.”

Theseus: Mm–no.  What else?

Philostrate: We have the Agony Actors of Argos performing “The Orgy of the Barbarians and the Mass Murder of the Two Thousand Peasants.”

Theseus: I’ve seen it.  It’s not bad, but it’s much too long.

Philostrate: We have Glaucon, the shepherd, and his clever porcupine, Gus, who does tricks.

Theseus: No.

Philostrate: We have the Turkish Nose Flutists.

Theseus: Uh-uh.

Philostrate: An exhibition of Ethiopian camel jousting.

Theseus: No.

Philostrate: Stella, the Bat Woman.

Theseus: What does she do?

Philostrate: She pretends to fly, but actually she hangs from a wire.

Theseus: I’ll pass.

Philostrate: Egon, the Wall Smasher.  He runs into a stone wall with his bare head and smashes it–the wall, that is.

Theseus: Mm–I don’t think so.

Philostrate: We have Mbuku Jumgwuthka, a  poet.  He sits in a cage and screams poems of liberation.

Theseus: Too political.

Philostrate: We have the Australian Dwarf-Tossers.  They throw dwarves into a net.

Theseus: Boring.

Philostrate: We have Wong, the Human Egg Roll.  He dives into a cauldron of boiling oil and cooks himself.

Theseus: Mm–that’s a maybe.

Philostrate: And finally, we have some local tradesmen–Peter Quince and his Plucky Players–performing “The Lamentable Comedy and Cruel Death of Pyramus and Thisby.”

Theseus: What’s that about?

Philostrate: It’s hard to say.  Judging from the script, it’s complete nonsense.  The actors are terrible.  And the humour is entirely unintentional.

Theseus: Arts Council sort of thing, is it?

Philostrate: No, I don’t think so.  I’d say it was even worse.  But at least it’s short.

Theseus: Okay.  I could use a good laugh.  Bring them in.

    (Philostrate goes out.)

Hippolyta: Lamentable comedy and cruel death?  This is going to be a stinker.

Theseus: We have to support the arts, my dear.  After all, this is Athens, the cradle of civilization.  We’ll be nice to these fellows, no matter how bad they are.  Besides, it takes a certain amount of courage to stand in front of an audience when you have no talent.

Hippolyta: Assuming they’re aware of it.

Theseus: And if they’re not aware of it, they must be that much more sincere–for which I give them credit.

Hippolyta: I suppose.

    (Philostrate returns.)

Philostrate: Your Grace–and ladies and gentlemen–Peter Quince and his Plucky Players.

    (A flourish of trumpets.  Then Quince comes in to present the Prologue.)


    The Plucky Players hope you will

    Enjoy them as they show their skill,

    Which may not be so great, but still

    We hope it will not make you ill.

    Forgive the errors of their arts

    As they perform their humble  parts,

    They do so with the purest hearts,

    Not to be targets for your darts.

Hippolyta (Aside to Theseus): Where’s my bow and arrow when I need them?

Theseus: Shh.

    (Bottom comes in as Pyramus, Flute as Thisby, Snout as the Wall, Starveling as Moonlight [holding a lantern], and Snug as the Lion.)

Quince: Ladies and gentlemen, as you follow the play, it will become clear, because it has been written with clarity in mind–so as not to confuse the audience.  This is Pyramus, and this is Thisby.  This is the Wall, which is made of lime and cement, and which separates Pyramus and Thisby, who are lovers.  They speak to each other through a little hole in the Wall.  This player is the Moonlight, represented by the lantern.  He is necessary because it is night, and Pyramus and Thisby are meeting at night at the tomb of Ninus.  Thisby encountered the Lion and chased it away before Pyramus arrived.  But she lost her cloak, and the Lion chewed it with his bloody fangs and stained it with blood.  When Pyramus arrives, he finds the cloak and, believing Thisby has been eaten by the Lion, he stabs himself out of grief.  Thisby, finding him dead, takes his knife and kills herself.  However, no one will actually die, as this is only a play.  Thank you.

    (All the Players leave, except Snout, who remains as the Wall.)

Theseus: I like this already.

Snout: I am the Wall–as you can see from the dirt and cement.  And this is the hole (Holds up his fingers in a V) through which the lovers communicate.

Demetrius: A talking wall.  Now, that’s original.

Theseus: Shh.  Here comes Pyramus.

    (Bottom comes in as Pyramus.)

Bottom: Oh, how dark is the night!  Why must the night be so dark?  Why must the day end and be followed by night–when I would rather it were the other way around?  Oh, how I suffer.  All alone in the night.  And where is Thisby, the woman I love?  Oh, you great Wall, which separates her father’s property from my own–oh, Wall, where is your hole, that I may speak to my beloved Thisby through it?  (The Wall holds up his fingers in a V and wiggles it for the benefit of the audience.)  Oh, thank you, kind Wall. I shall look through you.  (He looks.) But where is Thisby?  Oh, Wall, you have tricked me!  You are cruel.  I curse you.

Theseus: The Wall should curse you back.

Bottom: No, my lord.  The Wall does not reply.  Thisby will come in now, and I will see her, don’t worry.–And here she comes now, right on cue.

    (Flute comes in as Thisby, on the opposite side of the Wall.)

Flute: Oh, Wall, so many times have you heard me sigh because you separate me from Pyramus.  How often have I kissed your stones, wishing they were his lips.

Bottom: I see a voice.  I will look through the Wall and hear Thisby’s face.  (He looks.) Thisby!

Flute (Looking): Pyramus–my love!

Bottom: Your lover as well as your love.  I am faithful to you, like Limander.

Flute: And I to you, like Helen–until the day I die.

Bottom: And as Shafalus was to Procrus, I’m just the same.

Flute: And I am equally as much faithful in the same way.

Bottom: Then kiss me through the hole in the Wall.

Flute: I cannot reach.  My lips touch only the Wall.

Bottom: Then meet me at Ninny’s tomb.

Flute: Yes.  At once.

    (Bottom and Flute leave separately.)

Snout: This concludes the Wall’s usefulness in the play, and as I have no more lines, I shall leave.  Thank you.

    (Snout goes out.)

Theseus: Wait a minute.  The Wall marks the property line.  He can’t leave.

Philostrate: I told you it was nonsense.

Hippolyta: This is the worst play I’ve ever seen.

Theseus: Some people would like it for that very reason.  After all, who could be funnier than fools trying to be serious?

    (Snug, as the Lion, and Starveling, as Moonlight, holding a lantern, come in.)

Snug: Ladies, fear not.  It is only I, Snug, the cabinet-maker, as the fierce Lion.  (He roars.)  But, of course, in real life I wouldn’t hurt a fly.

Demetrius: Now there’s a lion for you.  Wonderful acting.

Theseus: Let’s hear what the Moon has to say.

Starveling: This lantern is the moon–which you see here as a crescent, although in reality it’s gibbous tonight, which is to say, having a gibbosity or hump.

Theseus: That was it.  You all heard it.

Lysander: My lord?

Theseus: The worst line ever delivered in the history of the stage.

Hippolyta: And if you’d asked for Wong, the Human Egg Roll, you would have missed it.

Lysander: What else do you have to say, Moon?

Starveling: Only that the lantern represents the moon, and I’m the man in the moon.

Demetrius: Then shouldn’t you be inside the lantern?

Starveling: I couldn’t possibly fit, sir.

    (Flute returns, as Thisby.)

Flute: This is Ninny’s tomb, but where is Pyramus?

    (Snug comes in as the Lion, and roars.  Thisby screams and slaps at the Lion.  The Lion pulls her cloak off and chews on it.  Thisby continues to scream and slap at the Lion, who runs out.  Then she runs out in a different direction.)

Theseus: Brilliant.  Stupendous.

    (Bottom returns as Pyramus.)

Bottom: Moon, I thank you for your sunshine.  By your sunny moonbeams I will see my true love, Thisby.–What’s this?  (He  picks up the cloak.)  Oh, no!  It can’t be!  Oh, my poor Thisby–eaten by–a lion!  Oh!  What cruel fate!  I can’t go on!  Take me now, cruel spirits!  Kill me!

Theseus: I can see how a fellow would be upset under the circumstances.

Hippolyta: Poor Pyramus!  I feel sorry for him.

Theseus: Don’t worry.  He’s got a day job.

Bottom: I shall take my knife and put an end to this miserable life–like this! (He stabs himself in the heart but without any effect until he has stabbed himself four times.) And this!–And this!–And this!–Oh!–I die.

    (Pyramus falls dead, and Starveling simply walks out.)

Demetrius: Now there’s a first–guy stabs himself in the heart four times.

Theseus: If we send for a doctor, we might be able to revive him.

Hippolyta: The Moon left too soon.  Now how is Thisby supposed to find the body?

Theseus: By starlight, of course.–Here she comes.

    (Flute returns, as Thisby.)

Flute: Pyramus!  Are you asleep?  Are you dead?  (She feels his wrist.)  Oh!  Pyramus!  Gone forever!  Oh, weep for me, lovers everywhere.  His eyes were as green as onions.  His lips were like marble.  His nose–and his cheeks–(Flute hesitates as if he has forgotten his lines.)  Gone forever!  Oh, cruel fate!  What have I to live for now?  (She takes Pyramus’s knife and stabs herself in the chest too soon, before she delivers the next line.)  And so I stab myself in the heart!–Oh!–Goodbye, cruel wordl!–Pyramus is in heaven, where I shall soon be as well.

    (She falls dead.)

Theseus: Who’s going to bury them–the Moon and the Lion?

Demetrius: Perhaps the Wall will help.

Bottom (Still lying on the ground, supposedly dead): No, sir, the Wall has left.  Would you like to see the Epilogue, or hear a dance by two of the players?

    (Bottom and Flute stand up.)

Theseus: No, that’s all right.  We’ve seen and heard quite enough, thank you.  Anything further would spoil the dramatic impact.  Very good play.  Well done–although next time, the author of the play should die, too.

Bottom: Yes, my lord.  Thank you.  Good night.

    (As Bottom and Flute leave, a bell strikes.)

Theseus: It’s midnight.  Time for newlyweds to go to bed.  (Everyone gets up.)  Feel free to sleep in as late as you want.  Breakfast will be whenever.

    (Everyone leaves.  Then Puck comes in with a broom and casually sweeps his way to centre stage, pausing to pick up something, such as a coin, which he pockets.  Once at centre stage, he stands still, holding the broom upright.)

Puck: Now is the time for all good people to be safely tucked into their beds–while wolves howl at the moon, and all the ghosts and witches come out of their secret places to roam the land.  And Fairies, too.  We do our best work at night.  We’ll stand watch over this palace tonight and keep the evil spirits away.  We’ll sweep them right out (He makes a sweeping motion with the broom).

    (Oberon, Titania, and their party of Fairies come in.  Puck stands slightly apart.)

Oberon: Now, all you Fairies, it’s time to join hands for some good magic.

Titania: Yes.  Everyone–make a circle, and we shall bless this house and all who sleep within it.

    (Oberon, Titania, and the Fairies dance in a circle and sing, with Oberon leading.)

Oberon (Singing):

    We Fairies dance the circle round

    Our promises to keep

    And shower all our blessings

    On the mortals fast asleep,

      May all their  thoughts be kind ones

      And their love eternal be,

      And their children all be fine ones,

      And may all live happily,

    May good fortune always find them

    And all evil keep away,

    And each day on earth be peaceful

    Till they all be old and grey.

Oberon (Speaking): Now, Fairies, take your stations throughout the house and chase out any bad spirits.  But be sure to meet me before sunrise.

    (The Fairies flutter away, followed by Oberon and Titania, holding hands.  When they are all gone, Puck returns to centre stage, still holding his broom.)

Puck (To the audience): If we have offended you or disappointed you in any way, I sincerely apologize and promise that we will do better next time.  Of course, if you think you can dream a better dream yourself, please do so.  I’ll even help.  Just call for me tonight when you’re in bed.  Call out for Puck–or Robin Goodfellow–and I’ll meet you in your dream.  What happens then–well, you know my reputation.  You take your chances.  And afterwards, when you tell others about your dream, they may or may not believe you.–You may not even be entirely sure of it yourself.

    (Puck goes out, with a few casual sweeps of the broom along the way.)


    Copyright@ 2010 by Crad Kilodney.  E-mail: crad166@yahoo.com