Friday, April 23, 2010
Magpie 11: The Lady and The Swagger Stick
The Lady and The Swagger Stick
Act I Scene 1
Scene: The Barracks Queen's Own Rifles Ballroom Ball; Year circa 1860's
(note: The Lady In Red a ravaging beauty is thirty years the Colonel's junior. The Lady In Red and The Colonel arrive at the ball separately as to not appear to be an item. They have been carrying on an affair for the last six months since the Duke of Wellington first introduced them at the Mayfair Room. As the dancing continued after the awards cermony, The Colonel nonchalantly asks The Lady In Red if she would like to dance. Soon they are dancing in the candlelight cheek to cheek.)
The Colonel: You look lovely tonight, my dear sweet Lady in Red. I cannot wait to get you home; this party is getting so droll. It is always another party, another parting. To state it simply, my dear; I cannot live without you; I must have you. I cannot, not for any longer carry on appearances, it is too much to ask, I ache for you. (sighs deeply) You must be mine tonight my dear.. What's say we slip out early before anyone notices us missing...
The Lady In Red: Oh, and you, Colonel, you look absolutely smashing what with that swagger stick and all! It was a lovely present from the Regiment. May I hold it? (she seductively fondles the stick).(In a whispered tone) Are you sure she is out?
(note; the Colonel fingers his longish moustache and smiles slyly at the Lady, and widens his deep brown eyes. The LIR returns his grin with a Mona Lisa smile and coquettishly flirty eye flapping and leans over to display her ample bosom)
The Colonel: Oh you mean Lady Willoughby? Yes, she is out for the evening, across town...at I believe at Lady Aspley's apartment. She said had errand to run. My dear Millicent is quite forgetful these days. She said she would be staying at the Wellington House, You know the house at Hyde Park in swinging London town. Poor dear Millicent she always has work to do with the suffragettes. When she will be finished with her work I'll never know, although I did so much prefer she continue her needlepoint. I would know exactly where she would be. Now it's anyone's guess really.
Lady In Red: (said in hush tones) Oh Colonel, I do so want you too. I cannot wait as well. We must be sure the missus is not there; I do not want to create a calamity. You promise she will not be there?
The Colonel: She will not be getting back for a fortnight. We'll have plenty of time and space we need my darling for playing cat and mouse games. Tonight I will be most privileged to play the part of the bemoustached mouse. (note the Colonel rolls his moustache again and smiles wontingly at The Lady In Red.)
The Lady In Red: Oh Colonel! You really ARE game, aren't you!
The Colonel: Well you know my dear, it isnt really who catches whom but whom catches what. Ahhha haha! I little joke for the moral my dear. I am so hungry for you my dear; the hunger pangs are making me dizzy. Why not say we slip out early; the carriage is waiting out back. Give me a wink and I will call the winged faeries to ferry us away!
The dance ends and the Colonel goes over to the head table to sit while The Lady In Red sits at the side table with a young soldier. The Colonel sits down and begins to light his Meerchaum pipe. A billowing puff of smoke covers the crowd. The Duke of Wellington goes to the podium at the head table and begins to make an rallying speech. The Colonel makes eyes at the Lady In Red; she returns his gaze and winks. She gets slowly up her billowing deep red velvet dress against her porcelain white skin draws all eyes to her. Exit Stage Right.Door slams. All at the Ball turn to look and then all have mouths agape. After the speech the Colonel asks to be excused and Exits stage right, door slams. All turn to look at the departing Colonel and shrug their shoulders. continues to the awaiting carriage where The Lady In Red is waiting. The Colonel takes her pale hand and kisses it tenderly and seductively. He then boards the waiting hansom.)
(Lights fade to dim)
Act II Scene 2
Scene The Wellington House at Hyde Park London. Lady Willoughby is in the Parlour of the manse with a brigade of suffragettes. All women are busy in some capacity making placards and protest posters. From the long ribbons around their torsos the women are chanting protests songs "We Will Overcome" etc.. The women are listening to Lady Willoughby's speech about the protest they are going to be having in a week's time.
Lady Willoughby: Ladies, we are here for a purpose; to get the vote. We will not stop. I repeat; we WILL NOT stop until we get the vote once and for all!
(There is a loud applause as the women start holding high the placards and start marching around Lady Willoughby. Lady Willoughby smiles a wide cheshire cat smile, and continues her speech)
Lady Willoughby: That's right ladies, we wont stop marching, we wont stop protesting, we will not do any menial work in our homes, we will not help our husbands, we will abandon all work for our children until men give us the vote!
(An even louder applause with hurrays and cat calls. The women have now lifted the Lady Willoughby on their shoulders and are marching her around the marbled halls of The Wellington House and out into the square at Hyde Park). Two bobbies on the beat are trying to stop the women from their spontaneous protest march)
1st Bobby: Ok ladies, what's with this, then? You can't go marching in the streets without a license! You stop you foolishness right now. I will give you until the count of ten.
Lady Willoughby: You cant stop us officer; this isnt an official protest. The real protest starts in a week. Then you should start to arrest us!
2nd Bobby: Call it quits ladies before we call this in, you know you don't want to have to talk to the magistrate!
Lady Willoughby and the Suffragettes:(in loud unison) We Want the Vote! We want the vote!
Bobby #1: You know Lady Willoughby we are going to have to call your husband to come and get you. Or the men in white!
Which would you prefer? (As they start to apprehend and cuff The Lady Willoughby.
Lady Willoughy: Clare; make sure you get a picture of this police brutality. Wait til my lawyer gets hold of this!
Clare: Yes, Mam, right away! (Clare takes an old fashioned picture of the supposed 'police brutality" for the press release in the morning.)
Bobby #2: I am dispatching a page to Colonel Willoughby as we speak Lady Willoughby. He'll have to answer for you. We do not need any more of this nonsense! You women should know that you place is in the home!
Lady Willoughby: Go ahead and call the Colonel; see if I care!
(The two bobbies arrest Lady Willoughby and other police carriages arrive on the scene to arrest the other fifty or more Suffragettes. All of the ladies are screaming and start singing Suffrage Songs and Verses by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935). New York: The Charlton Company, 1911.
With God Above–Beneath–Beside–
Rising with the resistless tide
Of life, and Sure of Getting There.
Patient with Nature's long delay,
Proud of our conscious upward swing;
Not sorry for a single day,
And Not Afraid of Anything!
With Motherhood at last awake–
With Power to Do and Light to See–
Women may now begin to Make
The People we are Meant to Be!
(attributed to http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/gilman/suffrage/suffrage.html#walketh?)
The suffragettes continue to sing; "We shall overcome, we shall overcome someday..."
House Lights to black
Act I Scene 2
The Lady in Red and The Colonel arrive at the Oxfordshire country estate of Colonel Willoughby's. It is dusk and the two lovers walk arm in arm into the palacial residence. The double doors open to the luxurious great hall.
The Colonel: Here you are my dear, there's one step down, don't trip now, you were drinking the brandy. Oh dear, where did I place my swagger stick. Did you see it dear?
The Lady In Red: Oh, isnt this lovely? No, Colonel I don't know where you put your swagger stick. The last I remember you had it with you when we were dancing. Let's forget about it...Do you really love me Colonel? Did you say you wanted all this (she swirls around) to be all mine? I will be the new Lady Willoughby? What would Lady Willoughby think of that?
The Colonel: Oh my dear let's not talk about Lady Willoughby right now. Come over here. The Colonel points and then pats the seat of a large silk damask settee near the massive fireplace. The fires glowing embers cast a romantic reddish light on The Lady In Red.
The Lady In Red: Oh Colonel, you do so know how to treat a lady.
The Colonel: My pleasure, my dear. (again strokes his moustache)
(Suddenly there is a loud knock on the door. The Colonel excuses himself and gets up to answer the door.
The Colonel: Yes...
The Lady In Red: Oh dear...what's happened?
The two Bobbies: Not to alarm you at this time Sir, but I think there is a matter of importance you should pay attention to...
The Colonel: And what's that?
The 1st Bobby: Well, Colonel, Sir, it's about your wife and this baton she gave me.
The 2nd Bobby: She said you lost it and that maybe you'd like it back right away. As well she has sort got herself into a bit of a fix.
The Colonel: How did she..I mean..I couldnt find my baton, I left it...at the Ball! At the head table! How did she know...how could she..find this out...so fast! Oh what were you saying about Lady Willoughby?
(Suddenly the large double doors of the manse open and there standing in the doorway is The Lady Willoughby. She looks downcast at the young woman The Lady In Red sitting half undressed upon her ivory silk damask settee.)
The Lady Willoughby: I see you keep quite busy when the cat is away Colonel. You may go now Lady In Red and don't bother coming back!
The Colonel: I'll do anything you want Lady Willoughby. Anything, just name it.
The Lady Willoughby: Perhaps giving me the vote would be a fair exchange considering the circumstances. (Lady Willoughby looks chagrined over at The Lady In Red and she rolls her eyes).
The Colonel: I will ask The Duke of Wellington to make this allotment. He has many connections, you know, and I think he may get you what you want. Just don't mention this to your lady friends, please. I don't need the bombardment tonight. Good night Lady In Red...I think I will retire early; I have a splitting headache.
Lady Willoughby: Good night girl, and please, don't ever come back. You are not welcome here.
(As the Lady In Red leaves the parlour The Lady Willoughby gives her a slip of paper)
As The Lady In Red closes the double doors, (rather SLAMS the doors) of the Colonel's and The Lady Willoughby's estate, she reads out loud
The Lady In Red: Wonders what this is from dear Lady Willoughby! "Thank-you Lady In Red for your services tonight. They will be amply rewarded". (Lady Willoughby turns and slams door)
The Lady In Red: I guess he might want this back. The poor old Colonel. He is getting so forgetful! (The Lady In Red takes the swaggerstick from underneath her billowing red dress. She carefully places the swagger stick leaning delicately against the wall near the thick double doors of the estate.) He won't forget this in the future! (rings door)
(The Lady In Red smiles a wide smile and starts to dawn her Suffragette ribbon she removed from her evening bag).
The Lady In Red: To the Duke of Wellington House at Hyde Park, driver. Thank-you, Peter.
Peter: (the driver with a wink and a nod) You are most certainly welcome my dear Lady In Red! Same as usual?
Lady In Red: Most definitely Peter! The same as usual!
Peter: I noticed you returned the swaggerstick? It was a fancy piece that would have got you at least a 5 bob!
Lady In Red: Yes, Peter indeed I would have gotten a pretty penny for that stick. However, the Colonel will certainly needs it more than I will after the ladies get the vote! The Duke of Wellington insisted it be returned. That Duke is such a card!
Peter: You're right about that dear Lady Wellington, you're right about that!
Lady In Red: Peter, I'm right about everything! I am woman hear me roar!
Peter: Certainly Lady In Red, I hear ya!
Heard in the distance can be heard the return of the suffragette's haunting music of "We Will Overcome" Fading into the distance. As the sounds of horses hooves can be heard on the cobblestone into infinity. Next the song "Lady In Red" by Chris Deburgh plays with all the actors on stage lip-synching the song all of them (57 actors) dressed in the same red velvet dress as The Lady In Red. All have swagger sticks! (and a swaggerstick for each audience member who is then allowed to lipsynch on stage with the actors.
Lights out. House lights up. Cast party~RSVP!
Please note: this is meant to be a comedy with exaggerated slapstick-like theatrics. I am working on how to make it funnier. Any suggestions would be most (almost) appreciated!