Updated July 30, 2003
Act I, Scene 2
The set is subtly modified and slightly cluttered, as if a long time has passed and things have not been going all that well. Apparently, reality has failed to keep up with expectations. The banners may now hang unevenly, as if no one has bothered to adjust them recently. Any logos from the previous scene should be removed and/or replaced with English Elizabethean logos. The thrones should include additional decorative items, suggesting a more Elizabethean motif, but which do not appear to be new.
The KING enters, in an entirely different mood from the previous scene. Instead of anticipating great things and being excited, he is bored and temporarily unimpressed with life in general. He no longer wears his robe, but instead is costumed with a loose blouse reminiscent of a pirate at leisure. He does, however, continue to wear his crown (which appears slightly gaudier) and royal necklace. He wanders in and takes a seat on his throne, draping himself on the chair with untoward casualness. He glances around the room, not pleased with what he sees. Then he merely looks disgruntled.
KING: (frowning) What this place needs is a womanís touch. Preferably one who understands the basic rudiments of housekeeping! (He glances toward the bedroom.) Sometimes I donít know why I even bother with Catherine. (Then he appears to make a sudden decision, as a malicious smile crosses his face.) Particularly when variety is the spice of life. And when thereís such a delightful variety out there! Hmmm. Perhaps itís time to spice things up again! (The KING continues to smile, relishing the idea.)
JACK enters down the center ramp. In his late thirties, JACK is a nice looking fellow, with the appearance of a man who is extremely flexible. Something of a man of the world, he is also one without any hint of power, preferring instead to survive by his wits. He is dressed in a lower class, pseudo-Elizabethean costume. As he enters, he glances around, clearly appraising what he sees. He carries a small piece of paper (an ad) in his hand. Then he notices the KING relaxing on his throne.
JACK: Hi, there.
KING: (The KING looks up, only faintly interested in JACK.) Who are you?
JACK: Jack. Iím here to answer your ad for a Jack-of-all-trades.
KING: (showing minimal interest) No kidding.
JACK: (shrugging his shoulders) What can I say? Times are getting tough all over.
KING: And youíre a Jack?
KING: (standing up and assuming his kingship) Iíve been advertising for a Jack for centuries. Why is it that youíre just now getting around to applying?
JACK: Hey! What can I say? The worldís been turning pretty crazy of late. At this point, itís any port in a storm. If you know what I mean.
KING: (carefully) No doubt. (then deciding in part) Any experience?
JACK: As a Jack?
KING: Of-all-trades. The hours are long, the payís dismal, the fringe benefits are virtually nonexistent, youíll have to put up with some outrageous decisions by the powers that be...
JACK: No problem. I used to teach in the public schools.
KING: Oh, then you know what Iím talking about.
JACK: Definitely! Iím very experienced at thinking on my feet. And dodging spitballs.
KING: Which will be quite helpful here. (He then makes his decision.) Can you start right away?
JACK: Sure. What do you need me to do first?
KING: Look after the castle. Iím leaving for a little R and R.
JACK: R and R?
KING: (grinning, man to man) Raping and Pillaging.
JACK: (with just a touch of sarcasm) Sounds like fun. Especially the Pillaging with an R.
KING: (chagrined) Usually it is. But itís been getting tougher of late.
JACK: (genuinely) I know what you mean. The women are getting tougher.
KING: (disgruntled at the thought) Apparently. In any case... (He starts to leave, adjusting his crown in the mirror.) If the Queen asks about me...
JACK: (surprised) The queen...? You have a queen?
KING: Tell her Iíve been detained. Or that I had to work late. Or whatever you think she might buy.
The KING exits via the ramp.
JACK: (to the departing KING) No problem. (to himself) Gee, I hope the Queenís an understanding sort.
The QUEEN enters, also dressed in pseudo-Elizabethean style, but with a somewhat better style of dress than JACKís. She is, however, without a royal robe or royal jewelry. In addition, her hair is no longer flowing about her shoulders, but is tied up in what would appear to be a more conservative style, one more appropriate for an older, married woman who is no longer interested in attracting any man other than her husband. She no longer has the confidence or lightness that she had in the first scene, as if time had taken its toll of her as well. She is also somewhat frustrated and faintly angry.
She sees JACK and is immediately taken aback. Just as quickly, she recovers her royal station and speaks in a commanding voice.
QUEEN: Who are you!?
JACK: Iím the Jack. The King just hired me.
QUEEN: Oh. A servant.
JACK: (momentarily upset at his title being degraded) Actually, a Jack.
QUEEN: Nevertheless a menial. (Ignoring JACKís shocked look, she turns to the mirror, expressing another displeasure to herself.) All I can say is: Itís about time! You were promised eons ago!
JACK: I was?
QUEEN: (assuming command, and without looking at JACK) Bring me my royal robe!
JACK: (puzzled) Your what?
QUEEN: My royal robe of state!! Find it, and bring it to me!
JACK: Find your robe? Gee, I donít know. (He glances around.) Do you know where you left it?
QUEEN: (turning on JACK, amazed) Where I left it??!!!! Am I a wardrobe mistress?!! Do I look like a wardrobe mistress?! (She turns, apparently amazed at his gall.) Where I left it! As if I must take care of every menial detail?!! (back to JACK) What do you think menials are for?!! Well? (JACK continues to look confused, forcing the QUEEN to throw up her hands, figuratively.) Find my robe, and bring it to me! Quickly! (Abruptly she turns back to the mirror, expecting her orders to be carried out.)
JACK: (JACK glances around, thinking furiously. Then a light dawns. He points to the stage left portal.) Iíll bet itís in there. (When the QUEEN does not deign to notice him, JACK shrugs his shoulders, turns and runs to the room, looking for the robe. With JACK off stage, the sound of ransacking is heard, after which, JACK yells from off stage.) Eureka! (Abruptly he rushes back into the room, carrying what to all appearances is the royal robe. Approaching the QUEEN he suddenly looks unsure of himself.) This it? (The QUEEN barely glances at it. Then she turns away, readying herself for the JACK to assist her in putting the robe on. JACK quickly catches on, and puts the robe on the QUEENís shoulders. As the QUEEN draws herself up and begins to admire herself in the mirror, JACK steps back to admire it himself.) Nice.
QUEEN: (looking in the mirror, her attempted smile quickly fades) Itís just a thing. Certainly not worth the price I paid. (then with a sudden thought) Where is my royal necklace?!!!
QUEEN: The crown jewels! Where are they?!!!
JACK: The crown jewels? Ohhhh! The crown jewels! No doubt in a safe place. I feel sure of it.
QUEEN: (strongly) Bring them to me! Now!
JACK: Now. Right. (JACK, looking forlornly, glances back toward the portal where he had found the robe, figuring that itís his best bet.) Be right back. Donít go away. (JACK races back into the room. Once off stage, there is considerable commotion with several distinct noises and followed by the sound of a large crash. Then there is utter silence. JACK slowly walks to the door without the necklace, obviously worried. Then he gets an idea. With the confidence of a good con-man, he steps back into the ďthroneĒ room. To the QUEEN, and with a dramatic flourish, he announces his findings.) Your majesty. (The QUEEN turns expectantly.) The King has the crown jewels! (aside) As you would expect.
QUEEN: (genuinely puzzled) The King? (JACK shakes his head affirmatively. Then she asks, with considerable suspicion in her voice:) Why?
JACK: (taking a wild stab, but with great self assurance) Heís... uh... having them appraised.
QUEEN: (looking away, disgruntled.) Probably hocked. Like everything else in the Kingdom.
JACK: (concerned) Hocked?
QUEEN: Iím afraid the Kingdomís royal debt has become rather excessive of late.
JACK: Yes, well debt seems a bit excessive everywhere these days. But as long as the printing presses work...
QUEEN: (oblivious to JACKís ramblings) Where is the King? He should be here. (bitterly, to herself) So that we can share everything.
JACK: (pretending ignorance) The King?
QUEEN: The King! You know, tall fellow with a beard, walks around as if he owned the place...
JACK: Oh! The King!
QUEEN: (sarcastically, taking a line from My Fair Lady) By George, I think youíve got it. The King! Where is he!?
JACK: King... George?
QUEEN: Of course!! Where is King George?!!!
JACK: (Again thinking furiously, he glances toward the ramp.) Ohhhhh! King George. Of course. (With the QUEEN impatiently waiting for his answer, JACK gestures toward the ramp.) Out.
QUEEN: Out? (When JACK nods yes, she turns away, resigned) Why am I not surprised?!
JACK: Excuse me.
QUEEN: (for JACKís benefit) Iíd hate to think that the King is out chasing some female again. I wouldnít want to have to tear her eyes out!
JACK: Her eyes?
QUEEN: (turning to JACK directly) Any woman responding to my husbandís advances is nothing but a temptress, a slut, a harlot! Women like that donít deserve to live!
JACK: But wouldnít your husband be somewhat guilty for such infidelity as well?
QUEEN: I couldnít harm my husband! I love him! How could I live without him?
JACK: Oh yes, of course. I think I understand. (as the QUEEN turns away) You donít destroy the one person youíre dependent upon. Quite logical.
QUEEN: He is the King. I must love him. What else could I do?
JACK: That I donít think youíre quite ready for.
QUEEN: Itís all those conniving females.
JACK: No doubt.
QUEEN: Nevertheless, his presence is required here! Therefore you must go and fetch him!
JACK: Fetch him!? Me?
QUEEN: Of course.
JACK: (obviously concerned) You want me to go... (JACK gestures to the ramp, panic on his face.)
QUEEN: I want you to find the King! Heís out there! Somewhere! Go find him!
JACK: But perhaps heís engaged... with affairs... (quickly) of state!
QUEEN: (with a wicked smile) Then interrupt him!
JACK: (dreading the thought) Interrupt him?
QUEEN: (forcefully) If necessary, turn the city upside down!
JACK: (still trying to avoid the idea) Isnít disturbing the piece against the law?
QUEEN: Then Iíll change the law! I can do that, you know!
JACK: No doubt. Still... The dangers involved!
QUEEN: What dangers?
JACK: Itís a jungle out there!!
QUEEN: (skeptical) A ďjungleĒ?
JACK: Thereís all those strange people everywhere. Beating up on each other. Knocking heads. Running around with all sorts of weird dreams and funny notions, babbling about this and that... I mean itís a real zoo.
QUEEN: (not buying JACKís procrastination) Donít be ridiculous!
JACK: Did you know thereís an aardvark out there writing his memoirs?
QUEEN: (astounded) An aardvark?
JACK: (decisively) Yes.
QUEEN: What in the world would an aardvark have to write about?
JACK: I donít know, but heís on his 12th volume.
QUEEN: Thatís incredible! (JACK shrugs in agreement.) Why should he want to write so much about himself?
JACK: To be remembered, I suppose.
JACK: Why not? Itís a cinch you canít rely on the kids to remember anything.
QUEEN: Still it does seem rather strange.
JACK: Hey! Heís one of the tame ones. Thereís also a nun out there who has renounced her vows... in her tenth month. Boy, is she in a foul mood!
QUEEN: In oneís tenth month, anyone would be in a foul mood!
JACK: Thereís also a rabbit thatís become disillusioned with sex and the general lack of a meaningful relationship.
QUEEN: A rabbit?
JACK: He kicked the habit. (Pause.) The nun was furious.
QUEEN: (Slowly the QUEEN begins to suspect sheís being diverted from her goal of having JACK find the King.) I can imagine. On the other hand, a good kick in the appropriate place can accomplish wonders. But before we go further into that (referring to JACK) subjec.t.. (She raises her voice slightly.) You will go and find the king! Now!!!
QUEEN: Think of it as a quest. One fit for a Knight.
JACK: But Iím not a Knight.
JACK: Well... I was once a Knight... (his voice trailing off) a long time ago... in a galaxy, far, far... (with the Queen looking increasingly bewildered) But, I've begun to realize that once a knight is enough.
QUEEN: Go and find the King!
JACK: (with little enthusiasm) Yes... your majesty. (JACK turns, glances at the ramp, and then turns back toward the audience.) Why do I get the feeling that Iím about to begin tilting with windmills?
The KING enters from the top of the ramp. His blouse is soiled and out of place, as if things did not go too smoothly in his quest to bring joy and delight to his subjects. From the top of the ramp, he announces his presence by addressing the QUEEN.
KING: Catherine! (The QUEEN turns to the sound of her name, her dander already up at the KINGís demeaning tone. JACK merely smiles, momentarily relieved. Without any further fanfare, the KING marches down the ramp and toward the QUEEN. He addresses her directly.) Well???
QUEEN: Well what?
KING: Are you with child yet?
QUEEN: (astounded) Am I with child!!?
KING: The kingdom must have an heir!!
QUEEN: Do I look like Iím with child?
KING: Of course not! I would have noticed.
QUEEN: As you may recall, there are a few prerequisites in producing a child! None of which have been initiated as of late! (She turns and distances herself from the other two, staying just within earshot.)
KING: (turning on JACK) And you!
JACK: (JACK flinches.) Me?
KING: (The KING takes off his royal necklace and ceremoniously places it around JACKís neck.) You will be the new Minister of Interior Affairs! Now... What are you going to do about it?
JACK: (hesitantly) About interior affairs?
KING: About providing an heir for the kingdom! An heir must be produced. And soon! (Then with a knowing wink at JACK.) Tonight would be particularly nice time to initiate it!
JACK: (quietly to the KING) Things not going too well out there?
KING: (begrudgingly, to JACK) The women are learning to fight back, if you know what I mean!
JACK: Oh, I do. I do.
KING: Accordingly, other means must be found to ensure the continuity of the Kingdom!
JACK: (slowly catching on) Like an heir?
KING: (with a devious smile) Exactly!
JACK: (gesturing toward the ramp) Well, thereís a nun out there...
KING: (enraged) A nun!!!?
JACK: (quickly backtracking) Who might be useful as a midwife.
KING: Itís not time for a midwife! Not yet anyway!
JACK: Youíre right of course. Youíll need someone capable of producing a child.
JACK: Like a woman.
JACK: (quietly, to the KING) But not the Queen?
KING: (quietly, to JACK) Iím afraid not.
JACK: Some other woman. To fill in. So to speak.
KING: (eagerly) Right, right!
JACK: (returning to normal voice) I have it!
QUEEN: (suspiciously, moving back toward the two men) What?
JACK: A surrogate mother!
KING: (intrigued) A surrogate?
QUEEN: (outraged) A mother?!!!!
JACK: (to the KING) Of course. In your duty to the throne and the need for an heir, you must bed a surrogate mother, and thereby produce a child. (with great dramatic flair) A Royal Surrogation!
KING: (loving the idea) Of course. My duty! To the Throne!
JACK: (supporting the KING) To the Bed!
QUEEN: (enraged at the idea) To hell with this!
KING: (turning on the QUEEN, in all his royal power) It is done! The Kingís Minister of Interior Affairs will select a surrogate mother from my people, so that the kingdom will have an heir!
QUEEN: Youíre kidding!!
KING: (to the QUEEN) No! It is my duty! (aside, to JACK) I like blonde beauties [Or other description of the actress who plays the part.], ones with lots of gusto, and with large... (With his hands, the KING indicates to JACK the universal sign for large breasts.)
JACK: Hands. Of course. Exactly what I had in mind for the production of a strong, healthy male heir.
KING: (smiling broadly and winking at JACK) My duty is very strong. Bring her to me tonight!
JACK: (bowing) Your royal wish is my command.
The KING swaggers off, exiting stage right. JACK is feeling pretty good, and happily checks out the necklace presented to him by the KING. Then his good mood dampens as he notices the QUEEN moving toward him, hate in her eyes. JACK desperately searches for a solution to spare himself from the QUEENís wrath.
QUEEN: (with heavy malice) A surrogate mother?!! Someone else in my bed with that womanizing, over-sexed male chauvinist that calls himself King? Another... WIFE?!!!!
JACK: (worried) Wife? Who said anything about a wife?
QUEEN: Do you seriously think any woman who shares the Kingís bed will not want to be Queen?
JACK: Oh, I donít think the King would ever...
QUEEN: (furious) Are you kidding!? The King is capable of anything! (with her hurt becoming more obvious) He has more than amply demonstrated that fact!
JACK: Gee, Iím sorry to hear that.
QUEEN: (genuinely hurt) He promised me so much... (shaking her head) But it was all lies! And now he doesnít even bother to lie, flaunting himself before me! My God! Does he care that little for me?
JACK: Iím sure he cares. Probably nothing more than a temporary diversion from marital bliss.
QUEEN: Since the day we were married!?
QUEEN: (confiding in him) Jack, try to understand. I gave up a great deal in order to share my life with that man. But all his assurances, his promises, his protestations of love... None of them were true. Heís ignored and demeaned me, and now threatens to bring a woman under this very roof -- as if to ensure that I know how valueless I am in his eyes. I canít even remember the last time he treated me with respect!
JACK: But he made you Queen!
QUEEN: (quietly and with an inner strength) Donít be ridiculous. Iíve always been Queen. And it wasnít the King who made me so, either. (Slowly, she begins to reassert herself.) But there are certain rights to being Queen. Rights that I intend to insist upon, rights which I will regain.
JACK: (encouragingly) Of course, you will. After all, itís the coming thing!
QUEEN: (turning to JACK, her voice very self assured) And I will tolerate no insidious acts against me. If necessary, I will feed any Ministers of Interior Affairs and any female he brings into this castle to the royal goats!
QUEEN: Goats will eat anything!
JACK: (worried) But your majesty... surely you realize that my suggestion... was for your benefit!
QUEEN: (not believing him for a moment) My benefit?
JACK: (inventing as he goes) Of course. Inasmuch as the king sometimes... visits the ladies.
QUEEN: Like a rabbit!
JACK: Exactly! And if he were to find one to his particular fancy... Who knows what might happen then? But! If instead of the King choosing... the Queen chose the royal heirís surrogate mother.
QUEEN: The Queen?
JACK: Chose the surrogate mother. In her steadfast devotion to duty, the Queen would naturally wish to choose a... sturdy woman, one with demonstrated experience at child bearing.
QUEEN: Experience at child bearing? Lots of experience...
JACK: Certainly. Perhaps a mother with... oh say, six to eight offspring. A woman well used... Thoroughly broken in, so to speak.
QUEEN: Broken in... Yes, of course. But sturdy!
JACK: As the ancient oak tree.
QUEEN: (relishing the idea) Perhaps one who has also experienced more than one husband.
JACK: (surprised) A whore?
QUEEN: (insulted) Of course not! This is a royal surrogation! Besides, a whore is one who has been paid for her favors. What we want is a mother, who would be lucky to give it away! One perhaps who has more smelly kids than teeth. Do you get my drift?
JACK: Of course. I understand perfectly. Trust me... To find just the right woman.
QUEEN: One in which my revenge will be sweet! And perhaps, sufficient to discourage the King from constantly pursuing his extracurricular activities. A real dog. (She turns to go.) I will of course rest easy, knowing my minister will either succeed or will... rest in peace.
The QUEEN turns and exits right.
JACK: (forcing a smile) I donít know the meaning of failure. (With the QUEEN out of the room, his smile fades to a forced grin.) But I have a pretty fair idea. (Then JACK takes a deep breath, and begins to talk to himself.) Oh Lord, letís see now. What I need is a blonde beauty [Or alternate description, depending upon the actress playing the part], with ďgustoĒ and large... (JACK makes the gesture for large breasts.) Hands. I also need one with no teeth, a smell to offend dead fish, and six to eight, illegitimate offspring. (For a moment JACK frowns at the difficulty of the task set before him.) Now where am I going to find...?
From off stage of the ramp, LIZ (Elizabeth, the peasant) lets out a blood curdling scream at one of her offspring. The scream should be sufficient to rout a Roman legion.
LIZ: Per-cee... val!!!!!!!
[The misspelling, and mispronunciation of ďPerceevalĒ is intentional.]
LIZ enters from the center ramp. She is in her forties and is a potentially attractive woman. LIZ is dressed in peasantsí clothes and other fine rags, is missing numerous teeth, has allegedly the correct color of hair (with occasional strands of gray and fashioned in an unkempt and dirty mop), and to all appearances is exactly what JACK is looking for. Coming on stage from the ramp, she sees JACK and makes an immediate demand.
LIZ: Have you seen Perceeval?
JACK: (calmly, mimicking LIZís mispronunciation of King Arthurís Percival) Whoís Perceeval?
LIZ: My sixth son. The one with the deformed knee.
JACK: (starting to smile) Your youngest?
LIZ: No. I have a younger daughter. But what difference does that make? Perceeval is missing! Heís always going off on one quest or another. Now I fear he has joined the revolution.
JACK: (surprised) The revolution?
LIZ: Yes. The peasants are revolting.
JACK: They always have been.
LIZ: But Perceeval is too young. Heís only twenty one, and still a virgin.
JACK: Oh Lord, how terrible.
LIZ: (forlorn) I worry constantly about him.
JACK: I can certainly understand your concern. Revolutions are not for the fainthearted.
LIZ: I just know heís going to come back home, maimed or an amputee, carrying some dread scourge complicated with black lung disease or heaven knows what else.
JACK: Warís hell.
LIZ: (turning to JACK, pleadingly) What am I to do? Where can I go for help?
LIZ: Yes, where!?
JACK: (thinking quickly) Where indeed! Perhaps you have already found the place.
LIZ: (bewildered) I have? What place?
JACK: Right here. I think I can help you.
LIZ: You? But who are you?
JACK: His Royal Majestyís Minister of Interior Affairs.
LIZ: Is that good?
JACK: That remains to be seen. However, I feel certain that I can assist you.
LIZ: Oh wondrous thought!
JACK: There is a way, I feel certain, in which we could ensure your young sonís safety.
JACK: (Dismissing the name as unimportant.) Whoever.
LIZ: How? Tell me!
JACK: As a member of the insurrection, the peasants will undoubtedly wish him well. I mean, he is one of them, correct?
LIZ: Heís definitely a peasant.
JACK: Thus he can come to no harm from them. But if he were also made a Captain of the Kingís royal guard, he would be under the protection of the King as well.
LIZ: He would?
JACK: Certainly. And being a member of both the peasantry and the aristocracy, he would be on both sides, and neither side would want to harm him. Thus he would be safe.
JACK: Thereís just one problem.
LIZ: (suddenly horrified) What?
JACK: How to make him a Captain of the Kingís guard.
LIZ: Oh my God! Thereís no hope!
JACK: (with a hand on her shoulder) Do not despair!
LIZ: But he has no qualifications for being a Captain of the Guard. Heís not even qualified to be a revolutionary.
JACK: Donít worry. Qualifications for any government post are irrelevant. Itís all in who you know.
LIZ: But who do we know that could help my little Perceeval to become a Captain of the Guard?
JACK: (making it up as he goes) Your son could be appointed a Captain in the Kingís Guard if...
JACK: If he, or a member of his family, were able to do some great service for the crown.
LIZ: I donít know. Perceeval has never done anything great. Heís never had the aptitude.
JACK: But you are a handsome and perceptive woman. Perhaps you could serve the crown in some significant way. To Perceevalís benefit, of course.
LIZ: Do you really think so?
JACK: Iím sure of it!!
LIZ: Then of course! Iíll do it! (Suddenly she is dismayed.) But what will I do?
JACK: I happen to know that the King is currently searching for a surrogate mother.
LIZ: (mystified) A what?
JACK: A surrogate mother. Someone to be the mother of the Kingís heir to the throne.
LIZ: (astounded) Mother of the Kingís heir?
JACK: Of course. Itís a great honor! Not only would that person be serving the kingdom, but they would be accorded royal status. The entire kingdom would hold them in the highest esteem. Their future would be assured. And any son of theirs would be spared a revolting life.
LIZ: Well, why not? I mean it couldnít be that tough. I know how to be a mother.
JACK: Of course! And Iím sure youíve been a fine one!
LIZ: Lord know Iíve tried my best! Do you have any idea how hard it is to raise kids these days? They keep wanting to do what they want, instead of what theyíre supposed to do!
LIZ: All I want is whatís best for them!
JACK: (putting his arm around her shoulders) No one could doubt for a moment your good intentions as a mother.
LIZ: Thank you, youíre very kind.
JACK: Itís nothing, trust me.
LIZ: And to save Perceeval, all I have to do is be the mother of the Kingís heir?
JACK: Thatís it! Simplicity itself.
LIZ: Then Iíll do it! Iíll be the heirís mother.
LIZ: So, where is the little tyke?
JACK: (JACKís smile disappears.) Excuse me?
LIZ: Where is the heir to the throne? I want to see him so I can start mothering him.
JACK: (Suddenly realizing the confusion.) Ahhhh... You must realize that the duties of the surrogate mother include all of the duties of motherhood.
LIZ: Yes, yes I know. Washing clothes, changing diapers, chasing after them, carriage-pooling... Believe me, Iíve done them all.
JACK: (gingerly) Well there is one other duty that you havenít mentioned, which might be important for you to think about.
LIZ: Whatís that?
JACK: (diplomatically) To become a mother, it is necessary for you to have... relations with a man.
LIZ: Sex!!? (JACK nods ďyesĒ.) With a man?!! (JACK nods ďyesĒ.) You mean, just like that?! Iím supposed to hop into some strangerís bed? Without so much as a ďby your leaveĒ?!!!
JACK: Well, yes. Thatís the general idea.
LIZ: Just what kind of woman do you think I am?!!!! Do you think I go around having sex with every man in pants?!!! Am I a whore?
JACK: Well, no. (Suddenly he becomes worried.) I mean, you donít get paid, do you?
LIZ: (proudly) I bed no man, unless he be my husband!
LIZ: If you donít believe me, you can ask any of them.
JACK: Any of who?
LIZ: My husbands.
JACK: (catching on) How many husbands have you had?
LIZ: How many? Hmmmmm. Well letís see... Thereís Thomas, Richard, and Harold... Freddie... Charlie...
JACK: We could say youíre experienced?
LIZ: (to JACK, angrily) I donít know what you are thinking about me, but Iím no slut!
JACK: Please. I didnít mean to imply anything derogatory.
LIZ: Can I help it if I canít seem to develop a... lasting relationship? I mean itís hard these days, what with revolutions, wars, plagues... Keeping a man isnít what it used to be.
JACK: Of course. I understand.
LIZ: Itís not like I havenít tried.
JACK: Iím sure you have.
LIZ: Iíve done everything a woman could be expected to do.
JACK: Of course.
LIZ: But nothing works! Iím just a dismal failure!
JACK: No, no...
LIZ: Thereís just no hope for the likes of me.
JACK: One must not become discouraged. Youíve got to keep trying. Stiff upper lip and all that.
LIZ: (looking at JACKís incredibly understanding smile) Well... you may be right.
JACK: Of course Iím right.
LIZ: So... What does this guy look like anyway?
LIZ: The man Iím supposed to go to bed with.
JACK: Oh, very handsome... dashing... quite a hunk.
LIZ: (coyly) Big shoulders?
LIZ: (smiling) Does he have a beard?
JACK: Of course.
LIZ: (smiling even more) Iíve always liked beards.
JACK: Sounds like a perfect match to me.
LIZ: (coyly) Well, maybe. Does he have a job?
JACK: (surprised) Well... not exactly. Heís the King.
LIZ: (very surprised) The King? (JACK shakes his head, ďyesĒ.) Interesting!
JACK: At least.
LIZ: Wait a minute!! Why does the King need a surrogate mother? What about the Queen?
JACK: (feigning great sadness) They canít have children.
LIZ: Why not? Donít they know how?
JACK: Who knows?
LIZ: Have they tried? (JACK shrugs, not knowing the answer.) Iím not sure. I mean if heís already got a queen... It looks pretty hopeless.
JACK: Hopeless? For what?
LIZ: For a long term relationship. I mean, Iíd really like to sort of settle down. Multiple husbands, even if theyíre consecutive, is not all that much fun. I need just one man. Sort of permanent like.
JACK: Oh, I donít think you should worry about that. After all, you will be the mother of the heir to the throne. That tends to promote permanency.
JACK: And the kingdom must have an heir!
LIZ: I suppose... As my civic duty...
JACK: Think of your son, and his ambitions to join the Kingís guard as a Captain.
LIZ: Oh, yes. Poor Perceeval. Heíll be so disappointed if he doesnít get the job.
JACK: And dead.
LIZ: Thatíd break his little heart.
JACK: At least.
LIZ: Heís always been a sensitive boy. Never able to accept disappointment. I remember the last time he fell off his horse; he threw himself into the cesspool in despair.
JACK: The cesspool?
LIZ: (nodding ďyesĒ) He stunk for a month.
JACK: Then the sooner we get Perceeval into the military, the sooner we can quit worrying about him falling off horses.
LIZ: Yes, I suppose youíre right.
JACK: (eagerly) Then youíll do it?
LIZ: (martyr-like) God, what sacrifices mothers have to make for their children!
JACK: Great! Iíll inform the King.
LIZ: But what about my other children? My youngest daughter is living with me while her husband is away, and depends on me for her daily bread. I canít leave her alone!
JACK: No problem... You can... bring her here to the castle... while you are with the King. She can be a... a maid.
LIZ: (looking down her nose at the idea) A maid?
JACK: Or better yet, a lady in waiting. For her husband.
LIZ: Oh, good. (LIZ turns toward the ramp and yells at the top of her lungs.) ANN-NEE!!!!! Get your tail in here!! (Then she turns back to the shell-shock JACK, and adds, very demurely.) Sheíll be along. I just hope she has something to wear. (Then Liz becomes concerned.) Oh my!
JACK: Now what?
LIZ: What am I to wear?
LIZ: Is there a proper dress for this sort of thing?
JACK: A royal surrogation?
LIZ: Yes. Shouldnít I change into something more appropriate?
JACK: I donít really know. Perhaps I can borrow one of the Queenís hand me downs.
LIZ: I hope it fits.
JACK: Donít worry. You wonít have it on that long.
LIZ: (smiling sexily) Maybe not. (Suddenly another concern arises.) Uh oh. Will I have to take a bath? Iíve already had one this month.
JACK: I think the King would really prefer it. Heís got sort of a thing about cleanliness.
LIZ: (knowingly) I know what you mean. They all have a thing about something or another.
JACK: I tell you what! You take a bath and Iíll be sure to find you a lovely dress to wear.
LIZ: Well, okay.
Interrupting JACK and LIZís conversation, the KING returns with the QUEEN. The KING is of course dismayed at the sight of LIZ, while the QUEEN is delighted at the success of her revenge.
JACK: (with all the charm he can muster) My Lord, I have good news. (The KING looks skeptical.) A surrogate mother has been found!
KING: (hopefully, and trying to avoid recognizing an embarrassed LIZ) Oh really? Where?
JACK: (swallowing hard) Here my Lord. A blonde beauty... just as you described.
QUEEN: (smiling profusely, addressing the KING) And to think my dear husband that I doubted your wisdom and sense of duty to the kingdom. (gesturing toward LIZ) Your choice of a surrogate mother clearly demonstrates your good intentions. (directly to LIZ) Welcome dear lady. Your sacrifice is exemplary.
LIZ: (to the QUEEN) Thank you. Youíre very understanding.
QUEEN: Itís a royal quality.
KING: (gritting his teeth, addressing JACK) Where did you...
JACK: (quickly interrupting the KING) Your majesty will be pleased to know that the Queen has used her own great talents to assist in the selection of this lady to be the heirís mother.
KING: (still gritting his teeth) She did, eh?
QUEEN: Itís the least that I could do. (with emphasis, as she appraises LIZ) The very least.
LIZ: (Beginning to realize her possibilities, LIZ starts to shine up to the KING, while the QUEEN finds it all very amusing.) I only hope... your kingliness... that I can perform all of my duties to your complete satisfaction. (smiling) I just love men with... (sexily) ...beards.
LIZ: Oh yes. (LIZ then notices something on his coat.) Oh! Did you know you have a spot on your shirt? Let me get it out for you.
KING: No, no. Thatís not necessary.
LIZ: (motherly) I just wanted to show my appreciation for everything youíre doing for me.
KING: (nervously to JACK) Like what?
LIZ: Your kindness, your attentions... your generosity in allowing my daughter to stay in the castle...
JACK: The lady has a younger, married daughter living with her. I assumed your majesty...
LIZ: (interrupting and feigning embarrassment) I canít imagine whatís keeping her. (LIZ turns and bellows once again.) ANN-NEE!!!!
JACK looks heavenward, the KING reacts as if his entire right side has become paralyzed, and the QUEEN is shocked but secretly amused. The QUEENís smile is short lived, however, as ANNE quickly makes her entrance. ANNE is a good-looking, very attractive young lady, dressed in well-to-do peasantís clothes of the Elizabethean era. The KING is suddenly rejuvenated with the possibilities, the QUEEN is dismayed, and JACK is merely amazed.
ANNE: (nonchalantly) You scream for me mom?
LIZ: (slightly perturbed, but going to great efforts to be civil) Yes I did. Sometime ago.
ANNE: (to the KING) Hi.
KING: I am the King!
ANNE: (not really knowing what to say) Hi... King.
During the following, the QUEEN becomes increasingly jealous and LIZ shows motherly concern.
KING: You may call be George.
ANNE: (gaining in confidence, as any attractive woman would) Hi... George.
KING: And what is your fair name?
KING: (gesturing to LIZ, and swallowing hard) And this is your mother?
ANNE: I think so.
LIZ: (extending her hand) Elizabeth. But you may call me Liz.
KING: (avoiding her hand, and turning to JACK) Minister! (JACK fairly leaps to the KINGís side.) Why have you not offered the heirís future mother a robe befitting her new station?
JACK: Another robe?
KING: (magnanimously) Absolutely. Escort... Elizabeth... to the royal wardrobe where she may be fitted with clothes appropriate to her station. The Queen, in whose good taste I have the greatest respect and admiration, will go with you and help select something appropriate. (when all hesitate) NOW!!
JACK, QUEEN, and LIZ exit stage left where JACK found the QUEENís robe. JACK tries to smile and make the best of it. The QUEEN takes several suspicious glances at the KING and ANNE, but decides that she can do nothing about it for now. LIZ is concerned for her daughter, but assumes she is in good hands (i.e. she doesnít know the KING very well... yet). As they exit, the KING turns to ANNE and in his most charming manager, begins to converse with her.
KING: Tell me, fair maiden: Have you ever been inside the castle before?
ANNE: (thinking) No. And no.
KING: (mystified) Two noís?
ANNE: Iíve never been in the castle, and Iím not a maiden.
KING: Youíre married?
KING: (unhappily) Happily, I presume.
ANNE: Sort of...
KING: (encouraged) Ahhhh, perhaps not so happy. (When ANNE coyly averts her eyes, the KING guesses.) A philandering husband?
ANNE: Oh, no. Heís faithful. He has no time to be anything but faithful.
KING: (probing) He is ungenerous? He does not give you the things you need?
ANNE: (sadly) He makes bread well enough.
KING: Heís a baker?
KING: Ah! I see. He makes bread well enough, but not love. Is that it? (ANNE can only look away causing the KING to smile.) Have no fear, my dear lady. In this castle, your every dream will be answered, your every fantasy fulfilled.
ANNE: (sexily) I have a great number of dreams and fantasies. I mean... a lot!
KING: (sexily, as well) As I said, every dream, every fantasy. It may just take a little longer.
ANNE: Iíve never complained about it taking longer.
KING: (starting to drool) I shall personally see to it that you have no complaints.
ANNE: Youíre very thoughtful.
KING: I can be. Tell me Anne: What sort of things do you like to do?
ANNE: (flirting) Iíve always enjoyed long... walks.
ANNE: Theyíre romantic. And you get to see so many interesting things. (Suddenly excited, she gestures toward the ramp.) Did you know thereís an aardvark out there writing his memoirs?
KING: (shocked) Whatís this? An aardvark writing his memoirs? (ANNE shakes her head ďYesĒ.) But weíve granted no one leave to undertake such a task! (Anne shyly asks ďNo?Ē, while the KING turns to the portal.) Minister!!
JACK enters from the portal.
KING: We are reliably informed there is an aardvark out there writing his memoirs.
JACK: (diplomatically) Yes sire. But heís an unusual aardvark.
KING: But I am the King! First among my people! And I have not yet begun my memoirs!
JACK: Naturally! As King, some menial would write your memoirs. Your time is too precious to waste on such trivia.
KING: (becoming convinced) Yes, thatís true. I am the King! I cannot waste my valuable time... (Turning to JACK, once again concerned.) Still... an aardvark?
JACK: (confidentially) After all, sire, the aardvark is first among the animals, just as you are first among your people.
KING: (soothed) Of course.
ANNE: (suspiciously to JACK, while the KING goes off into his own thoughts) The aardvark is first among the animals?
ANNE: How is that?
JACK: By way of... the alphabet.
ANNE: (She squints at him for a moment.) Youíre despicable!
JACK: (proudly) I know.
KING: (abruptly) I have it!
JACK: (shocked) What?
KING: (to JACK) You will have the honor of writing my memoirs. I will tell you all of the great moments of my life, my glorious and astounding heroic deeds, my most memorable conquests... (a quick glance at ANNE.) My greatest feats of strength, etcetera, etcetera. As Minister of the Royal Historical Archives... (The KING quickly takes off his latest necklace and with somewhat less fanfare than the first time, bestows it on JACK.) You will tend to all of the menial details! (again glancing at ANNE) But later, of course. (to ANNE) Perhaps youíd like to see the rest of the castle.
The QUEEN and LIZ return, with LIZ in some hideous multicolored robe; obviously selected by the QUEEN to be as ugly as possible. Everyone else react with appropriate horror.
QUEEN: (as she enters) Nonsense my dear, you look positively smashing!
KING: Oh my God!!
LIZ: (uncomfortably) It does sort of... match my eyes...
LIZ: ...after a long night.
QUEEN: Trust me, my dear... itís you!
QUEEN: (to the KING) Perhaps I can find something for her daughter as well.
KING: I doubt it. Youíd never be able to match it.
QUEEN: Perhaps a lovely shroud. Or the latest fashion from the Tower of London.
KING: (grimacing) Later perhaps. Now, however, I wish to show the castle to our new arrivals.
QUEEN: (sweetly) May I help? Thereís a charming downstairs apartment Iíd love to show them.
KING: Youíre very kind. But I wouldnít think of taking you away from your duties here.
QUEEN: But my duty is to you, my husband. At all times. Every moment of the day.
KING: Naturally. But I must insist. You may stay here, while I act as host. (When the QUEEN again starts to argue, the KINGís voice is raised.) That is my... (suddenly softening) wish. (He quickly turns to the others, and offers his arm to ANNE.) Ladies?
ANNE delightfully takes the KINGís arm and they briskly exit, leaving LIZ at a loss as to what to do next. Then LIZ realizes theyíve left her, and with a quick ďOh!Ē rushes off to rejoin them.
QUEEN: (angrily turning on JACK) Somehow I suspect things are not going as planned!
JACK: (very uncomfortable) Itís been known to happen.
QUEEN: As I recall, the idea was to present the King with an unappetizing choice, such that he would find the prospects so unappealing, that I would not find it necessary to rip the heart out of another female!
JACK: Certainly, a noble goal.
QUEEN: Now we have the prospects of feeding numerous progeny to the wolves. If this keeps up, weíll be in trouble with the Environmental Defense League for poisoning wild animals.
JACK: Oh, Iím sure we wonít have to worry about that.
QUEEN: Then what, pray tell, do you plan to do about it!!?
JACK: (worried) Do about it?
QUEEN: Think of it as possibly your last action.
JACK: My last action?
JACK: (thinking furiously) Well, in that case, I would, of course, initiate... Plan B.
QUEEN: (skeptical) And what is plan B?
JACK: (JACK has no idea.) An alternative plan.
QUEEN: But what does it entail?
QUEEN: Yes! What do we do?
JACK: (still searching, but growing more confident as he goes along) We outflank them with subtlety. We cleverly modify the situation in such a way that they are confused and stunned. We accomplish our aims by the most indirect of actions.
QUEEN: Subtlety is not essential. My interest is in getting rid of Anne! By any means whatsoever. Kidnapping, guillotining, flushing her down the sewage pipe, whatever can be done quickly.
JACK: Iíll initiate Plan B immediately.
QUEEN: Or sooner!
JACK: Fortunately, we have a little time while everyone is touring the castle.
QUEEN: Youíre sure?
JACK: Trust me.
QUEEN: Naturally. How can you fail when you know how it would upset me.
LIZ enters, apparently looking for ANNE and the KING.
LIZ: Where did they go?
QUEEN: Where did who go?
LIZ: The King and my daughter. I was walking down the Hall of Armor with them, when all of sudden I looked up and they were gone.
QUEEN: You lost them?!!
LIZ: You donít think the King will be upset with me, do you?
QUEEN: Upset? Somehow I doubt it. (to JACK) What are you standing there for? Find the King!!
JACK: (hesitating) Find him?
QUEEN: (with barely controlled anger) Our guest will miss out on the tour! Thus the King must be found as soon as possible! You never know what might happen!!
JACK: (hating the idea of interrupting the King) Yes, your majesty.
JACK: Jack is always quick.
LIZ: (impressed with the QUEENís apparent concern) Youíre very kind.
LIZ: To go to so much trouble for me.
QUEEN: Donít mention it. We certainly want you to enjoy your stay with us. Particularly, since it will be such a brief visit.
LIZ: (suddenly concerned) What do you mean?
QUEEN: (sweetly) Once you are with child, it will not be necessary for you to remain away from your home. We are not so cruel as to deny you and your daughter the company of your village friends.
LIZ: But I thought Iíd just invite them up here.
LIZ: Just short visits. A few of my female friends.
QUEEN: I donít think so.
LIZ: But they would enjoy the visit so much! The palace is so lovely this time of year.
QUEEN: But windy.
QUEEN: Being built so high, the castle takes the full brunt of the winds. The village, on the other hand, is sheltered by the surrounding hills.
LIZ: Thatís true, but the hills resulted in a lot of smog in the village.
QUEEN: Youíve had the smog; we inherited the wind.
LIZ: Thatís terrible!!
QUEEN Living in a luxurious palace is not all a bed of roses. It does have its disadvantages.
QUEEN: Lack of privacy, being downwind of the village...
LIZ: Youíre so dedicated.
QUEEN: We try to be.
LIZ: And I want to be just like you.
LIZ: To have your sense of duty; to be able to suffer without complaint. And of course, Iíll want to be with the child after his birth, to continue to mother him.
QUEEN: Oh, I donít think that will be necessary. We have menials for that sort of thing.
LIZ: But a young child needs a lot of mothering. Things only a mother can do. Without a mom, kids tend to get out of control.
QUEEN: As do peasants.
LIZ: They always have to be told what to do.
QUEEN: (still referring to the peasants) Constantly. And for their own good.
LIZ: Naturally. Itís so easy for them to get in trouble.
QUEEN: Oh I know. Riots, insurrections, assassinations.
LIZ: Running away from home, having the wrong kind of friends...
QUEEN : Someone has to tell them what to do, just to ensure they behave themselves.
LIZ: Constantly. Oh, Iím so glad we agree.
QUEEN: We do?
LIZ: Of course. And neither of us would want the royal heir to run amuck like a spoiled child.
QUEEN: Or a peasant.
LIZ: Absolutely. I certainly wouldnít want the heir to go through what Iíve been through.
QUEEN: Heaven forbid! Look what itís done to you!
LIZ: Keeping them under control is what itís all about.
QUEEN: Particularly for those you cherish.
LIZ: Iíve always loved my children. Thatís why I stay on them so much.
QUEEN: And the peasants Iíve always... taken a great interest in.
LIZ: Iím so pleased weíre getting along so well.
QUEEN: One works with what one has.
JACK enters, followed by the KING and ANNE. JACK is happy at his successful mission, while the KING is peeved and ANNE is moderately amused.
JACK: Good news! The King returns!
QUEEN: (feigning surprise) What? Back already?
KING: (chagrined) We took the quick tour.
QUEEN: You were always very... quick.
ANNE: (smiling, to the QUEEN) You have a very nice castle here.
QUEEN: (cynically) I hope itís big enough for you.
ANNE: Itís perfect!
KING: (lusting after ANNE) Of course, thereís much more to see.
ANNE: Oh really?
KING: Thereís something Iíd particularly like to show you.
ANNE: Oh? Something very... special?
KING: Extremely special.
ANNE: Is it bigger than a bread box?
KING: Not quite. But close.
ANNE: I can hardly wait.
KING: Neither can I. (turning and making a royal announcement) Nightfall approaches!
Lights on the stage quickly dim.
JACK: (noticing the sudden dimming of lights) Apparently.
LIZ: (to JACK) How did he do that?
KING: The Queen will now escort our guests to each of their chambers, where they will undoubtedly wish to freshen up. My Minister and I will join you shortly thereafter.
LIZ: (puzzled) Freshen up?
KING: An opportunity to bathe and perfume yourself.
QUEEN: Perhaps a dip in the moat to remove the encrustations.
LIZ: (turning to the QUEEN) That sounds like fun.
JACK: (as the ladies begin their exit) Youíll love it.
The QUEEN, ANNE and LIZ exit.
KING: (with the ladies gone) And now Minister, I would have a word with you.
JACK: Your wish is my command.
KING: Naturally. Now. As my faithful minister, we are naturally concerned for your well being.
JACK: (suspiciously) Oh?
KING: Yes. And at the same time, we wish to ensure that our guests are accorded all the rights and privileges due them.
JACK: And how may I be of service?
KING: By servicing...
KING: By spending the night making love.
JACK: To the daughter?
KING: (astounded) Of course! (confidentially) She will stay in the Visiting Queenís chambers. Her mother... for whom it is my duty to...
JACK: Surrogate her?
KING: Exactly. She will stay in my chambers!
JACK: Of course.
KING: Naturally. (as an afterthought) I should mention one other thing.
JACK: (suspiciously) Oh?
KING: The daughter is extremely shy and just a bit naive. She will be expecting you, but because of her inexperience, her shyness, her chambers will be totally dark. No lights of any kind will be allowed. You understand of course.
JACK: (realizing the ruse) I will of course be unable to see her.
KING: (beginning to laugh) Naturally. She is quite shy.
JACK: (joining in the merriment) Iíll hardly be able to recognize her.
KING: (laughing even more) Nor will she be able to recognize you; thus sparing her any possible embarrassment.
JACK: (laughing heartily) Of course. It will be so dark, she could even mistake me for the King.
KING: (laughing uproariously) Exactly. And you could mistake her for her mother.
JACK: (continuing to laugh) I can imagine.
KING: Iím glad you understand your duties so perfectly.
JACK: Whatís a Jack for, if not to do his Kingís every bidding.
KING: I appreciate your loyalty. And of course, your continuing devotion... to your duty.
JACK: Trust me.
Together the KING and JACK exit.
Act I, Scene 3 -- Crusades
2003© Copyright Dan Sewell Ward, All Rights Reserved [Feedback]