Updated July 30, 2003
Act I, Scene 3
Following the blackout, several draperies from the English fourteenth century (complete with King John, King Richard and crusade logos) are added to the set. Similar logos are added to each throne. A poster telling the peasantry ďThe Crusades Need You!Ē (similar to Uncle Sam posters) is added to the rock wall. The new items give the place a slightly improved appearance, but do not greatly modify it. When the lights come up, the time is the following morning, give or take a couple of centuries.
JACK enters, dressed slightly different, i.e. fourteenth century England, but still wearing the two badges of office, the necklaces, given him by the KING. As JACK enters, he notes with surprise the new props, but then quickly dismisses it, and continues downstage, smiling mischievously all the way.
JACK: (sharing a joke with the audience) Being a royal minister does have its fringe benefits. I mean like, Liz was not half bad. Unless, of course, it was Anne. In which case... (JACK shrugs his shoulders and smiles.) Actually, I donít suppose it really matters. Because if I donít get Anne out of the castle right away, the Queenís going to have my head! The loss of a fringe benefit pales in comparison.
PERCEEVAL enters from the ramp, dressed suspiciously like Robin Hood. He is tall and lanky, about the age of Anne, with no obvious indicators of notable intelligence, and without the slightest clue as to what, when and where he is doing anything. As he enters, he looks in wonder and amazement at the castle. Then he sees JACK and hails him.
PERCEEVAL: Yo! Yon stout fellow! Canst thou aid mineself in mine quest and tell me from whence I hath journeyed, and in what abode I now find mineself?
PERCEEVAL: Do you know where I am?
JACK: In the castle.
PERCEEVAL: (becoming very excited) The Kingís castle?
JACK: The very same.
PERCEEVAL: (rhapsodizing) Oh, wondrous fortune, beneficent destiny, glorious fate! Thou hast smiled upon thy lowly peasant, thy humble servant, thy ever-obedient follower. After seeming eons of search and trek, even when my heart was faint from the ordeal, thou hast led me at last to mine goalís end!
JACK: How long have you been looking for the Kingís castle?
PERCEEVAL: (deadly serious) All night!
JACK: Astounding. Someday you must share your great adventure with the world.
PERCEEVAL: (Thinking hard, he gestures toward the ramp.) I did mention it to some aardvark out there, who said something about the movie rights...
JACK: Tell me good knight! What glorious quest are you now engaged?
JACK: Why have you devoted such a major portion of your life in searching for the Kingís castle? (PERCEEVAL continues to look blank. JACK makes it even simpler.) Why are you here?
PERCEEVAL: (suddenly remembering his mission) Ah yes! I have come to rescue my mother.
JACK: (JACK glances at the audience with an expression of: ďDonít tell me. Let me guess who your mother is.Ē He then turns to PERCEEVAL.) Whatís your mother's name?
JACK: Her given name. (PERCEEVAL looks perplexed.) It wouldnít be Elizabeth, would it?
PERCEEVAL: Actually no. I think itís Liz.
JACK: Blonde hair, with... (JACK starts to give the universal sign for large breasts, but then thinks better of it.) ...who has only recently come to the castle?
PERCEEVAL: Yes. Forced against her will!
JACK: Sheís your mother?
PERCEEVAL: Sheís the one! And Iíve come to rescue her!
JACK: But what if she doesnít want to be rescued?
PERCEEVAL: Donít be ridiculous! Every woman wants to be rescued. Itís what they live for!
JACK: But you donít understand. Maybe sheís happy where she is.
PERCEEVAL: Thatís not the point! Iíve come to rescue her! And I already know that she is being repeatedly raped by the King. My spies have told me she was groaning and in immense pain all last night!
JACK: (offended) Pain!? Not on your life!
PERCEEVAL: When I find the monster that has defiled the very flower of my home... I will rip his arms from his body, chop off his legs in bloody increments, stuff his head into his foul smelling...
JACK: (realizing he might be the object of revenge.) Wait, Perceeval! You donít understand!
PERCEEVAL: How did you know my name?
JACK: Your mo... (quickly recovering) Your sister mentioned it.
PERCEEVAL: (stunned) My sister? (even more astounded when JACK nods ďyesĒ) I have a sister?
JACK: Yes. Anne.
PERCEEVAL: Oh, wondrous fates!
JACK: Whatever. As I was about to say...
PERCEEVAL: My beloved sibling, Anne... She is here as well?
JACK: Yes, and... uh...
PERCEEVAL: (worried and suspicious) And what?
JACK: (feigning grave concern) I shudder to think that I must be the one to tell you.
PERCEEVAL: Tell me what!!?
JACK: Your sister, Anne... She has been... deflowered... as well.
PERCEEVAL: Anne!!? Deflowered!!? Again!!?
JACK: Iím afraid so.
PERCEEVAL: The flower of our land, the blossom promising the return of spring, the fragile rose petal of our lives... crunched again!?
JACK: Frankly, Perce, I suspect your sister is in even graver danger than your mother.
PERCEEVAL: (totally taken in) You think so?
JACK: Yes. And I think it would be wise to rescue her first.
PERCEEVAL: Yes, but how? My plan of rescue was only for my mother. I donít know if I can suddenly switch rescuees. It could become confusing. Iím not good with confusing.
JACK: What exactly was your plan?
PERCEEVAL: I run into the room where the evil monster is defiling my mother, run my sword through him, grab her and run out.
JACK: (noticing that PERCEEVAL has no sword) What sword?
PERCEEVAL: Itís being sharpened. Iím to pick it up at four.
JACK: Oh. No matter. I think, with a slight modification to your clever and detailed plan, we could first rescue your sister, and then your mother.
PERCEEVAL: You think so?
JACK: Yes. And I think we can count on the Queen as a loyal ally.
PERCEEVAL: The Queen!?
JACK: Hey! Politics makes strange bedfellows!
PERCEEVAL: Iím amazed. The Queen?
JACK: No. Not in this case. But believe me, the Queen has much to gain by helping you.
PERCEEVAL: (cautious) I donít know.
JACK: Better yet, you will not even need your sword. You can rescue everyone without bloodshed.
PERCEEVAL: So what's the point of that? I always rather liked the blood. And the goring and maiming...
JACK: But think of your sister! All that deflowering going on...
PERCEEVAL: (momentarily shamed and intent) Yes, yes, you are right. I can not allow my own personal wants to interfere with my sacred obligations.
JACK: Good lad. Now for our plan. (PERCEEVAL leans toward JACK.) You will wait behind the throne. (JACK gestures to the throne.) I will bring Anne to this room on some pretext or another. When I signal you thus... (JACK raises his hand and snaps his fingers.) You will come from behind the throne and grab Anne without her seeing you. Lifting her into your arms, you will then run for the exit! (JACK points to the ramp.) Understand?
PERCEEVAL: (PERCEEVAL looks first at the throne, thinking about how to hide behind it. Then mentally visualizes ANNE and JACK coming into the room, raises his hand as JACK did and snaps his fingers. Then still thinking, PERCEEVAL visualizes his running up and grabbing ANNE, lifting her, grunting at the unexpected exertion, and then running and/or stumbling to the exit. Throughout, PERCEEVAL goes through all the gestures, and finally ends up looking at the ramp, as if memorizing where it is located. Then he smiles.) Got it!
JACK: Not too complicated I hope.
PERCEEVAL: No, no. Itís fine. In fact, fiendishly clever.
JACK: We do our best.
PERCEEVAL: Actually, Iím very impressed. Itís really quite a plan. How did you manage to think of it so quickly?
The QUEEN enters. On seeing her, PERCEEVAL immediately goes into a defensive stance -- despite his lack of having a sword. The QUEEN is surprised at PERCEEVAL, but not at all worried about his threatening posture. She addresses JACK.
QUEEN: Who is this... (searching for the right word) person?
JACK: Do not be alarmed my Lady. He is in my employ.
QUEEN: Whatever for?
JACK: He has come for Anne. To remove her from the castle.
QUEEN: Oh, really?
JACK: And I have been so bold as to suggest you might assist us in our endeavor.
QUEEN: Of course. You were right to assume my help. (to PERCEEVAL) And you will be handsomely rewarded for your efforts.
PERCEEVAL: Just knowing that Anne will be gone from this place, will be reward enough for me.
QUEEN: Certainly. Whatever you prefer. (to JACK, in a cynical tone) Where did you get this guy?
JACK: Heís a revolutionary.
QUEEN: Oh, a peasant. Yes. That would explain it.
PERCEEVAL: (becoming agitated) Shall we not get on with it?
QUEEN: (moving toward PERCEEVAL) You must realize that Anne is a dangerous woman. You may have to use brute force.
QUEEN: Yes. She is known to carry several concealed weapons upon her person.
JACK: Where ever does she hide them?
QUEEN: (ignoring JACK) I would suggest that you simply bash her skull in, so as to ensure the success of your mission.
PERCEEVAL: (horrified) What!?
JACK: (quickly interceding) But my lady, he canít do that!
QUEEN: And why not?
JACK: Because, there would be blood everywhere! What would the King think?
QUEEN: Perhaps youíre right.
JACK: We donít want a mess. Itís so... unroyal.
QUEEN: Thatís true.
JACK: (conspiratorially, to QUEEN) Instead, we could sell her as a slave. For money!
QUEEN: To another kingdom?
JACK: Why not?
QUEEN: I donít want to inflict her on any of my relations.
JACK: Then perhaps... The City on the Platonic!
QUEEN: Why there?
PERCEEVAL: Yes, why take her there?
JACK: (to PERCEEVAL) Sheíd be safe there. Away from the King.
JACK: (quickly, to the QUEEN) Itís far away.
QUEEN: Thatís true.
JACK: No one ever goes there.
QUEEN: With good reason.
JACK: And let us not forget, the City on the Platonic is a city of philosophers and great thinkers.
JACK: Sheíll be bored to death.
QUEEN: Hmmmm. A living hell. Yes, of course. How delightful!
PERCEEVAL: (confused and trying to think) Where is this city?
JACK: Off in the boondocks. But donít worry. Iíll give you a map.
QUEEN: (suddenly very excited about the prospects) Iíll go immediately to the King. And while I distract him, Anne will be sent to you and your accomplice.
PERCEEVAL: (suddenly remembering the plan) Iíll hide.
QUEEN: (looking worried at PERCEEVALís weird actions) What?
JACK: (to the QUEEN) Itís part of the plan. Trust me!
QUEEN: (suspicious, but willing) Right.
The QUEEN exits.
JACK: (as PERCEEVAL hides) Ready?
PERCEEVAL: (Wedged between the throne and wall, he manages only a strained reply.) Ready.
JACK: Good. (aside) Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice ...to conceive.
ANNE enters, obviously in a bit of a huff. JACK has his backed turned to her.
ANNE: And what is so all-fired important that I am summoned by a lowly minister?
JACK: (aside) Lowly? (turning to ANNE and faking a subservient attitude.) A thousand pardons my Lady, but I did not wish to risk your honor.
ANNE: (intrigued) What do you mean?
JACK: There is a man, my lady, who having heard of your beauty, has searched the world over in order to pledge himself to you. He is a hero, a legendary man of action, fresh from the battle...
ANNE: (suddenly very interested) Oh?
JACK: A gallant revolutionary, a man of the world, now seeking his ultimate dream... (ANNE begins to noticeably melt.) A dream... named Anne.
ANNE: (nearly swooning) Oh. (She looks around.) Where is this man... this hero?
JACK: (JACK raises his hand behind ANNE and snaps his fingers.) He comes even now to whisk you away to his kingdom by the sea.
ANNE: (ANNE appears dramatically resigned to her fate.) I am faint with anticipation.
JACK: (sarcastically) I know what you mean. (JACK then realizes that PERCEEVAL is not reacting to his cue and begins snapping his fingers louder and louder.) Even now, his kingdom awaits you. (louder) I think I hear him now!
PERCEEVAL finally reacts and forces himself out from behind the throne, causing a fair amount of commotion in the process. ANNE turns at the noise and immediately recognizes him.
ANNE: (stunned) Perceeval?
JACK: (quickly reassuring her) Itís okay.
ANNE: (dismayed and turning to JACK) But heís my brother!
ANNE: That makes no difference. (JACK only smiles, as PERCEEVAL starts toward them.) I wouldnít be caught dead with him anyway! Heís a geek!
PERCEEVAL: Fear not fair sister. I am here!
ANNE: Fine! But I donít want you here!
PERCEEVAL: But I am here to rescue you from the King!
ANNE: I donít want to be rescued! I like the King.
PERCEEVAL: You like him!?
ANNE: Heís my lover, dummy!
PERCEEVAL: You canít be serious!
JACK: Trust me. She is.
PERCEEVAL: But the King is an evil dictator, a womanizer, a murderer...
ANNE: Heís exciting.
PERCEEVAL: Exciting? Exciting!?
ANNE: Yes. To both questions.
PERCEEVAL: But your loving and devoted husband, my friend and comrade, my brother-in-law... whatís-his-name!
ANNE: Clyde? What about him?
PERCEEVAL: I suppose heís not exciting!
ANNE: (very serious and almost lovingly) Try to understand, dear brother. I wanted excitement, romance, something to do! Clyde never wanted that. He could never give me that.
PERCEEVAL: You should be ashamed of yourself!
ANNE: For what!?
PERCEEVAL: An affair with the King! Heís a married man!
ANNE: I donít think of him that way. Heís a hero, a lover, someone to sweep me off my feet.
PERCEEVAL: Donít you want a permanent relationship? Someone to come home to?
ANNE: Iíve got that. I married the most stable, permanent pillar of society in the Kingdom. Him, I can always go home to.
PERCEEVAL: But youíre cheating on him!
ANNE: Not really. Iíve given him everything he wants. A dutiful wife, a competent housekeeper, a hostess for his business dinners... Everything! Itís just that he never wanted a lover. And I did!!
PERCEEVAL: And what does Clyde say to all of this?
ANNE: He doesnít know! Do you think I am such a monster as to tell him? Heíd be terribly hurt! I donít want that! He deserves better than for me to rub his nose in it.
PERCEEVAL: So you sneak around behind his back!
ANNE: I deserve better too!
JACK: Gee, I hate to break up this touching family reunion, but if thereís going to be a rescue...
PERCEEVAL: Good point!
ANNE: What rescue?
PERCEEVAL: Yours! (PERCEEVAL scoops ANNE into his arms.)
ANNE: Arrrggggg! Put me down, you big oaf!
JACK: Hurry, Perceeval, before the guards come!
ANNE: Perceeval! Iím warning you!
PERCEEVAL: (PERCEEVAL heads for the ramp with ANNE still struggling.) What about my map?
JACK: Ask the aardvark!
ANNE: Perceeval! Iím going to hit you where it hurts the most!!
PERCEEVAL: Go ahead! Iím wearing armor under my cloak!
ANNE: (yelling back at JACK) Iíll get you for this!!
PERCEEVAL exits, carrying a still struggling ANNE. At the same time, the KING and QUEEN enter. The KING is trying to rid himself of the QUEEN, while she is trying to delay him.
QUEEN: But it is a crusade we cannot ignore!
KING: Oh yes, we can! And I intend to do just that! Besides, I gave at the office.
QUEEN: But... (The QUEEN stops as she looks around and realizes that ANNE is gone.)
JACK: A crusade you cannot ignore?
KING: United Wayís latest push.
JACK: I didnít know they went back this far.
KING: Are you kidding? Theyíre everywhere! (He looks around.) Where is the Lady Anne?
JACK: Your majesty. I have terrible news! The Lady Anne has left the castle.
KING: Left the castle!!!? (JACK nods affirmatively.) But where has she gone!?
JACK: She has gone to the City on the Platonic!
KING: (stunned) The City on the Platonic!!? (JACK nods yes.) But why?
JACK: (surprised at the question) Why?
KING: The City on the Platonic is nothing but a bunch of scholars and wise men. Thereís nothing else there! I mean itís a... (with disgust) a... a college town!!
QUEEN: And to think she left you, my husband, for such a place!
KING: (shaking his head) No. It isnít possible. Sheís not that demented. She would never go to such a... boring city.
QUEEN: But she has!!
KING: Unless she was kidnapped!
JACK: (feigning great surprise) Kidnapped?
KING: Of course! Sheís no fool! She wouldnít be caught dead in such a thoroughly disgusting place! She must have been kidnapped!
QUEEN: (now slightly worried) Kidnapped or not, she has left you!
KING: (to the QUEEN) Against her will! (gazing off) The honor of our kingdom has been disgraced. We must avenge this terrible deed. (to JACK) We will declare war on Platonic!
JACK: A Platonic War?
KING: And immediately! (The KING takes off his most recent necklace and bestows it upon JACK, with even less ceremony than on the two previous occasions.) As Minister of Quick and Dirty Wars, you will begin immediate preparations to march on the city.
JACK: But sire, itís on an island. Weíre on an island. I think.
KING: Then forget the marching! Prepare the Navy! We will sail on the morning tide!
QUEEN: You canít be serious!
KING: I am never un-serious!
QUEEN: But the expense! Overseas wars are so expensive.
KING: (suddenly daunted as he thinks of the expense) Yes. Youíre right, of course. (Then the KING smiles.) But, what the heck! Whatís money for if you canít spend it on fun things!
QUEEN: Fun things?
KING: Sure! Warís a blast!
QUEEN: (sarcastically) I can imagine.
KING: No you canít. Itís only fun for kings, royalty... presidents.
JACK: But sire...
KING: You still here?
JACK: May I point out, your majesty, the potential danger to your reputation!
KING: What do you mean?
JACK: If word got out that you had gone to war... for a woman!
QUEEN: Heís right! Youíd be laughed out of the kingdom!
KING: But they did a war for a gal named Helen!
JACK: Old hat!
QUEEN: Some might suggest that you were under Anneís spell.
JACK: And what of your established royal policy statement?
KING: What royal policy statement?
JACK: The one that says: ďWomen are merely low-life pawns to be used at the whim of manĒ? Surely you cannot be thinking of... lowering yourself to such depths!!
KING: No, of course not! Women exist only for the pleasure of men. Otherwise they have no value! We could not possibly demean ourselves by doing anything of note for a mere woman.
JACK: (JACK steps to intercede the QUEEN, who is now about to hit the KING from behind.) Naturally, your majesty! Therefore, you cannot make war, just for a woman!
KING: How about oil? Wars are always being waged for oil.
JACK: But the City on the Platonic has no oil. Not even serious gas.
KING: That's too bad. Looks like weíll need another excuse!
KING: Thereís never a good reason for war. Only good excuses.
JACK: But sire, this could be a tough one. The City on the Platonic is notorious for being the most non-aggressive city around. They havenít made anybody mad for centuries!
KING: But wait! We seem to remember, months ago, receiving a message from that very City.
JACK: A message?
KING: Yes. It was one of those cryptic, inconsequential gems of philosophical ramblings that they are forever dropping on the rest of mankind.
JACK: I know what you mean.
KING: Philosophers are such a plague!
QUEEN: What was the question?
KING: (recalling it verbatim) ďWhat is your stand on a totally unprovoked and unjust war?Ē
JACK: Was that the exact wording?
KING: Of course. We never forget anything!
QUEEN: But how did you answer them?
KING: We didnít. (The KING smiles mischievously.) Until now. (He turns to JACK.) Take this down. (JACK quickly prepares to write.) Our answer is: ďWeíre ready when you are.Ē
JACK: I donít think thatís what they had in mind.
KING: Have the message delivered the day after our surprise attack.
QUEEN: After!? Is that fair?
KING: Is what fair?
QUEEN: To warn someone of your decision to go to war with them, after the attack?
KING: Look. I know war. Believe me, itís the fair thing to do.
LIZ enters on the KINGís last line.
LIZ: War? Is there going to be a war?
KING: And soon!
LIZ: But against whom?
KING: (proudly) The City on the Platonic!
LIZ: Really!? But why? What did they do?
JACK: Iím afraid itís classified. (LIZ looks bewildered.) National security.
KING: Nonsense! We give you leave to tell the lady.
JACK: (to Liz, simply) They kidnapped Anne.
LIZ: Anne? (When JACK nods ďyesĒ, her horror becomes real.) My baby?
KING: Iím afraid so. Those cruel, despicable creatures have wrested away your daughter from your bosom, thinking only of their own selfish desires, using her fair body for base and immoral purposes, lusting after her velvet smooth skin... (becoming more excited with every word) ...thrusting their... their...
QUEEN: (sarcastically, looking at the KING) Truly despicable!
LIZ: (to the KING) Then we must go and save her!
KING: Even now, we are preparing to leave!
LIZ: And I will go with you!!
LIZ: (dramatically) I will cover myself with armor and bind my hair with my helmet. Thereby shall I lead my brethren to victory over the godless creatures that have stolen my daughter.
KING: You canít do that!
LIZ: Why not?
KING: Youíre a woman!
LIZ: Then I will disguise myself and dress as a man.
KING: You still canít do it!
JACK: (simply) Itís already been done.
LIZ and KING: Really!?
JACK: And the lady who did it, was burned at the stake for her troubles.
LIZ: Just for wearing menís clothes?
JACK: Among other things.
LIZ: Well, that pretty well sucks. You donít think thatís taking male chauvinism a trifle far?
KING: Seems a reasonable solution to me.
QUEEN: (seizing the opportunity) On the other hand my dear, surely itís worth the life of your daughter!
LIZ: (skeptical) You really think so?
QUEEN: Of course. Youíd be remembered throughout history!
LIZ: Somehow I doubt it.
QUEEN: But why?
LIZ: Not if itís been done before. Nobody ever remembers number two!
KING: Enough! There is no question. War is for men! You will remain here. We cannot risk the surrogate mother of the heir to the throne. (All start to speak.) It is done!!! We sail on the morning tide!
Abruptly, the KING whirls and exits.
LIZ: I donít know if I can stand to just wait here.
JACK: Well, there are certain advantages to remaining home.
LIZ: Like what?
JACK: Your chances of being killed in battle are significantly reduced. Now, if you ladies will excuse me, I must begin preparations for the Kingís Platonic War. (JACK starts to exit, and then turns.) By the way, does anyone know if we actually have a Navy?
QUEEN: Itís down by the wharf. Berth four.
JACK: Thanks. Iíll find it.
LIZ: Youíre a mother. Surely you can understand my plight.
QUEEN: If I were a mother, you wouldnít be here.
LIZ: I must go to where my daughter is. She needs me!
QUEEN: (feigning sympathy) And you will, my dear, you will. I will personally see to it that you will be allowed to follow in your daughterís footsteps.
LIZ: Youíre unbelievably kind.
QUEEN: Just a soft heart.
LIZ: Like a sister.
QUEEN: (shocked) A sister?
LIZ: Surely youíve noticed how much I look like the portraits of your royal ancestors.
QUEEN: Itís a small kingdom. Everyone looks alike.
LIZ: Still... we could be sisters.
QUEEN: Somehow I doubt it.
LIZ: And if Iím the mother of the Kingís heir... at the very least, weíd be sisters-in-law.
QUEEN: Donít worry. Iíll change the law. I can do that, you know.
LIZ: And my daughter, Anne. Youíd be her aunt.
LIZ: Aunt Catherine.
QUEEN: (sarcastically) And to think how much Iíve always wanted to be an aunt.
LIZ: Of course. Everyone likes aunts.
QUEEN: Including the aardvark.
LIZ: Weíll all have so much fun together.
QUEEN: (looking terrified at the thought) I donít think so.
LIZ: Oh, you look terrible! Is there something I can do?
QUEEN: I doubt it.
LIZ: What about some medicine? I have some rancid herbs in my room.
QUEEN: No thank you. Iíll manage.
LIZ: But I want to help. Iíll go get them. Itís the least I can do.
QUEEN: Iím sure.
LIZ: (Starting toward the exit.) You just wait right here. Iíll get my herbs. (Then LIZ stops, and lets go with one last burst of enthusiasm.) Oh! Weíre going to have such a wonderful time!
QUEEN: What makes you think so?
LIZ: Sisters always do!
QUEEN: But I donít want a sister!!! I want a husband! (Slowly she turns away, angered and frustrated. Then an alternative idea occurs to her.) Ah yes, a husband. And if one man canít be my husband, then Iíll have to get another! (For a moment, she begins to smileóa conniving smile.)
The QUEEN exits, her stride purposeful and confident.
Curtain -- End of Act I
Act I, Scene 2 -- Elizabethan
Act II, Scene 1 -- Mycenaean
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