Shakespeare's Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate's Daughter


Ariel: photograph Come with me and be transported
To an era long ago.
You'll see star-crossed lovers thwarted
By the Fates' unfeeling blow.
Our two lovers are ill-fated.
Their young lives they will expend.
But the mood will be translated
Into joy before the end.
Look for pirates, sailors, sisters,
And a ghost by vesper-bell,
Witches, queen, perchance a twister,
And a sprite named Ariel.
So sit right back and hear a tale,
A tale of a fateful trip.
Which started under British sail
Aboard this mighty ship.
Act I. "Two houses both alike in dignity"
We are aboard a sailing ship. Centre stage, upstage is the wheel. Downstage, on stage left and right, there are cannon. On stage left, there is a flag - the Union Jack. This is the HMS Virgin Queen. There is a terrible storm. We can hear the wind howling, and shouts of the SAILORS off-stage. BLAKE (SR) runs on stage struggling with a large sail cloth. He is trying to fold it up. Eventually he does so and gets it stowed away as SHELLEY, BYRON, and KEATS enter. The men must shout to be heard above the roar of the wind.
SFX: storm / wind
Shelley: What ho, my good boatswain. How does it faire?
Blake: Quite fair, though something's nasty in the air.
Byron: Aye, 'tis a night that's foul beyond compare.
Shelley: The wind blows so, I fear 'twill muss my hair.
Blake: Be still and listen how the winds do blow.
Byron: Look! E'en the birds have left the air and so…
Keats: Must be so foul the fowls have had to go.
Blake: Fair is foul and foul is fair you know.
MUSIC: begins under the next lines of singspiel. photograph
Keats: The sea does toss,
The sky's a-wash
With thunderclouds and rain.

It's black as ink,
And you might think
That navy life's a pain.

Shelley: A sailor's lot
As oft as not
Is not a cup of tea.
Blake: Still, we'd not trade
For jewels nor jade
Our life upon the sea.
SONG: The Navy Life
Blake: photograph There be a ship just off the starboard bow.
Keats: It is the Crimson pirates this I vow.
Shelley: photograph The Crimson pirates led by Cap'n Dredd.
Byron: photograph They kill a foe by cutting off his head. They're nine feet tall, and trim their beards with fire.
Keats: I've heard about them many warnings dire.
Keats: Shelley: I hear that they bathe not for weeks and weeks; Extremely rude, and dine on snails and leeks.
They all react with horror and disgust as they think about it.
Blake: Oh, no. That be the French. Still, once a month, in the dark of the moon, they do stir themselves into a berserker rage, and burn and loot and rape and pillage.
Keats: 'Tis a new moon tonight…
Shelley: (looking to stage right) I see them off the starboard bow!
Blake: Ye canna see the pirates.
Shelley: They're invisible?
Byron: As good as. They've painted their ship as black as the night - from the foretop to the keel. Their sails are ebony. 'Tis a cloaking device.
Keats: They're hard to see, even in bright sunlight.
Blake: In brightest day, in darkest night, their evil can escape your sight.
Byron: (studying the approaching ship) No, that's not the pirates. 'Tis the Spanish. You can see it plain as day.
Shelley: What a relief, the Spanish. A moment. Are we not at war with the Spanish?
SFX: explosion of a cannon off to stage left.
Blake: Aye. That we are.
Shelley: Captain Church. We're under attack!
Church: Good of you to notice, Mr. Shelley, but I think the crew of the HMS Virgin Queen are more than ready for a few Catholic Spaniards. (a beat) Mr. Byron - hard to port.
Byron: Hard to port, sir!
BYRON spins the wheel to the right, and everyone lunges toward stage left.
Church: Mr. Blake, hoist the mizzen gallants, and the crossjack.
Blake In this wind, Cap'n? The mizzen shroud be already a-frayin', sir.
Church: That's an order.
Blake: But, Cap'n…
Church: I need more speed for manoeuvring!
Blake: But, Cap'n, the masts - I dinna think they can stan' the strain!
Church: Noted, Mr. Blake.
Blake: Aye aye, Cap'n!
BLAKE (SR) runs off with an arm full of sail.
Church: Mister Byron: evasive manoeuvres.
Byron: Evasive manoeuvres, sir.
BYRON twirls the wheel right and left. The crew throws themselves about with each turn.
Church: That's enough of that. I had a rather full lunch.
Shelley: Thank you, Captain. So did I.
SFX: Cannons roaring across the stage.
Church: Return fire, Mr. Keats!
KEATS rushes to the cannons and returns fire.
SFX: local cannon fire. Church: Romeo! Where is that son of mine?
Church: Romeo! Where is that son of mine?
ROMEO (SR) enters.
Romeo: I am here, father!
Shelley: Missed again, Cap'n. Blast!
Church: Mr. Shelley: no need for such language. You are a British tar.
Shelley: Quite right. Begging the captain's pardon, sir.
Church: photograph Ah, there you are my boy, what kept you?
Romeo: I came...
Church: Belay that chatter. The Spanish are closing in on us. Soon they will be in range. In precious moments our very lives will be at hazard.
Romeo: Let me fire the cannon!
Church: We will meet the Spanish curs that dare to challenge our noble queen.
Romeo: I shall meet them with sword and cutlass!
Church: Soon the decks will be awash in blood.
Romeo: Let me spill it for you, father!
Church: And son, I want you…
SFX: Tea bell sounds.
COOK (SR) enters with a tea service.
Romeo: Aye, father?
Church: A spot of tea, there's a good lad.
Romeo: We are in the midst of battle…
Church: It's tea time and we don't want our digestion disturbed by excessive violence, do we?
Shelley: Of course not, Captain. Oolong for me.
Keats: Orange pekoe.
Byron: Darjeeling.
Blake: Scottish Breakfast Tea.
ROMEO looks at CHURCH with great resignation - as if to ask "what are you drinking?"
Church: (to audience) Wait for it. (to Romeo) Earl Grey, hot.
SFX: The Spanish cannon gets nearer, throughout this scene.
Blake: Ye know, Cap'n, I dinna think the china can take much more.
Byron: Oh, I was on Oxford Street just the other day, and I saw this darling place setting.
Keats: Was it the one with the silver trim and the aquamarine pattern?
Shelley: New china. That would be lovely. Could we, captain?
Romeo: (staring off with the spyglass) They're gaining on us.
Church: I will have to check the budget, but I'm sure the queen would approve such an important expense.
SFX: The roar of the Spanish cannon quiets.
Romeo: photograph She's ceased firing, but she still draws nigh. I can almost see the men on her deck.
Church: Mr. Blake, Mr. Keats, if you please.
Blake: Certainly, Captain.
BYRON and KEATS go over to the cannons. They take careful aim and let loose a massive cannon volley.
Romeo: She's hit! She's burst into flames.
Blake: But there's another ship! All in black!
Byron: The cloaking device.
Shelley: The pirates!
CHURCH and ROMEO and the NAVY exits (SR).
Scene 4 DICK, PETER, and JOHN.
Just as quickly, the PIRATES (SL) enter. As they enter, they turn the flag around and it is a Jolly Roger. We are aboard the Crimson Curse. Dick is looking stage right through a spyglass.
John: photograph There be an English ship to port!
Dick: photograph 'This yon Spanish vessel, to starboard, that I be watching. We missed the mast by less'n a foot!
Peter: (taking the spyglass from DICK) They're scuttling about like crabs. They know not whence comes our cannon balls.
John: Many a seaman wonders where our balls are.
Dick: 'Tis true enough. Now let's show them that we have balls a plenty.
The PIRATES fire a few more cannon.
SFX: Cannon shot. Then in the distance one of them hits.
Dick: (taking back the spyglass) A goodly hit.
Peter: Yon Spaniard be ours!
John: 'Twill teach them to be found in English waters!
MUSIC begins under the next lines of singspiel.
Peter: photograph The moon is dark
A shot! Then hark:
A galleon tastes the brine.
John: photograph We'll sink them all:
Small ships and tall.
And blood will flow like wine.
Dick: photograph Our ship, The Crim--
--son Curse, ain't prim.
She's terror on the sea.
All: Mediterrane,
To sunny Spain.
A pirate's life for me.
SONG: A Pirate's Life photograph photograph photograph
ETHEL (SL) enters
Dick: A fair evening to ye, young Ethel.
Ethel: photograph As fair an evening as this weather doth permit, Dick Deadeye.
Peter: Aye. But that which makes the day unpleasant also makes the pirating easier
Ethel: Is my father not with you?
Dick: Nay, Ethel.
Ethel: Then be ye game for a bit of sport?
ETHEL borrows a sword from PETER. DICK and ETHEL begin warily circling each other, looking for an opportunity. photograph PIRATES look on, encouraging. ETHEL makes the first move. DICK blocks her easily. photograph They parry a few more times until a fury takes over ETHEL and she savagely attacks. DICK calls for a stunt double. photograph ETHEL kills the stunt double. photograph
Dick: Touché. Very good, Ethel. That be the third time ye kill'd me. Ye fence better than any girl… any other girl I know.
Ethel: photograph I can also lift a cannon ball above my head. I can climb the rigging faster than any of you save Long John Thomas. And yet, my father will never let me be a pirate. He still treats me as a child. As a girl.
John: But ye are a girl. Ye "have not yet seen your fourteenth summer."
Ethel: But I am big for my age. (glancing down) In every way. And besides you were all pirates when you were fourteen. Right Peter Blood?
Peter: That'd be different. 'Twere unusual circumstances…
DREDD (SR) enters.
Dredd: Damn my soul! That navy vessel has been hit. The queen'll have me guts for garters if we don't help her. Get ye aboard their ship and render assistance.
Pirates: Aye, Cap'n.
The PIRATES (SL) exit.
Dredd: (to ETHEL) Come with me.
Ethel: But father, I'd like to join the rest of the crew…
Dredd: But thou art not part of the crew. Thou art a passenger… and my daughter. Do as thou art bidden.
DREDD (SR) and ETHEL (SR) exit.
NAVY (SR) enters. Back on the Virgin Queen. The flag is the Union Jack.
Blake: But there's another ship! All in black!
Byron: The cloaking device.
Shelley: The pirates!
Keats: We're being boarded.
They nervously await the arrival of the PIRATES. We hear the heavy footsteps of the pirates approaching - the clash of steel. Unable to take it anymore, SHELLEY drops to his knees and crosses himself.
Shelley: In nomine patrii et fillii et spiritui sancti.
Byron: Get up man, you're Church of England.
Shelley: (arising) Quite.
The PIRATES (SL) enter swaggering as much as possible.
Shelley: Oh, they are a rough looking lot.
Keats: I'd fear running into one of them in a dark alley.
Byron: I don't know. They're all right - if you like that sort, that is.
SHELLEY jumps forward, his sword out.
Shelley: Hold right there. You'll not take the Virgin Queen without a fight.
Navy: Aye!
Dick: photograph (aside) That's not what I've heard about the "virgin" queen.
John: We come not to fight.
Blake: But ye'll get one just the same.
The two groups all draw their swords and have at it. photograph    The fight is almost evenly matched. photograph    But the PIRATES seem to be a bit better. photograph    Well, most of the pirates. photograph
Scene 8
Church: Men! Men! This fencing contest will have to wait!
Dick: photograph Captain, our captain sends his regards, and requests the pleasure of your company…
Romeo: (singing) Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.
Dick: Who said anything about slaves? You ship's been hit. You're to be our guests.
Blake: We're takin' on water, Cap'n!
Church: photograph (getting most agitated) Oh -----
Everyone waits in keen anticipation for CHURCH's next word.
Church: Bother!
Everyone is shocked.
Peter: Not to worry. I have a can of Bondo. We'll have your hull repaired in no time.
Dick: Captain, if you please.
The PIRATES lead the NAVY, CHURCH, and ROMEO off-stage (SL).
Act II. Act III. Act IV. Act V.