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

Act I.

Click photograph to see picture.
Act II. "Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown"
It is several days later and we are at court. During the act change, QUEEN and CHAMBERLAIN are centre stage, CHURCH slightly stage right. JULIET and ETHEL are at extreme down stage right. ROMEO is extreme down stage left. photograph
NOTE: QUEEN has locket #1 in her purse. CHAMBERLAIN has locket #2.
Church: (voice over) The sea. England’s frontier. These are the voyages of the HMS Virgin Queen. It’s on-going mission: to seek out new lands and new civilisations and conquer them for the queen. To boldly go where no Englishman has gone before.
Queen: Despite the damage to your ship, we are most pleased with your recent adventure, Captain Church. And you told it so very well, too.
Chamberlain: Aye, Aye. I especially like the device of beginning each of your tales by quoting from your log and telling us the date when it occurred. Do seamen really reckon dates by the stars?
Church: Quite. Stars are very important to sailors. (a beat) There was something else Your Majesty wanted of me, was there not?
Queen: Yes, there certainly was, but our chamberlain is here, so we must discuss business instead of affairs of state.
Chamberlain: Your Highness!
Church: ’Tis about my ship, is it not? How is The Virgin Queen?
Queen: We are doing quite well, thank you. Your ship, however is another story. The royal boatwrights say that it will be another fortnight. There is a man you must meet in Calais. He carries with him the match to this. (she hands him a rather large locket from her purse).
CHURCH opens the locket.
Church: A portrait of Your Majesty. I shall treasure it forever.
Queen: We expected no less. Behind that portrait is something more ephemeral: the plans for our war against Spain.
Church: But surely this locket is too tiny…
Chamberlain: We have developed a technique in which former monks, recently converted to Anglicanism can write in a very, very, very, very, small hand. And we can fit many pages into such a small area.
Church: Then I shall be taking another ship, I’ll miss the old Queen, but…
Queen: We have no other ships available. You and your men…
QUEEN leads CHURCH up stage, during the next scene, CHURCH (SR) exits. CHAMBERLAIN must put locket #2 in QUEEN’s purse.
Scene 2 ROMEO, ETHEL, and JULIET; CHURCH (off-stage).
We are outside the QUEEN’s throne room.
Juliet: I see him looking at me.
Ethel: So, what if he is, dear sister?
Juliet: You can keep your eyes in your head, sir. I like not the feel of them as the roam across my body.
Ethel: I am sure he meant nothing by it.
Juliet: Ethel, you are far too trusting.
Ethel: Besides, methinks he might not stare as much if there were not so much to see.
Juliet: My dress is the latest fashion, in Paris.
Ethel: And London is a long way from France. Our men are not accustomed to such décolletage. Perhaps he is eyeing me.
Juliet: You, dear sister? I mean not to be insulting, but why crave cabbage when you can savour steak?
Ethel: When the butcher is not selling, the green-grocer gets more business. All of court knows of your pledge to be no man’s wife.
Church: (from off-stage) Romeo! Romeo, my boy, come along.
ROMEO (SR) exits.
Ethel: Romeo. His name be Romeo.
Juliet: His name be mud with me.
Inside the QUEEN’s throne-room. QUEEN and CHAMBERLAIN come down stage.
Chamberlain: Your Majesty, Captain Dredd, the privateer, is here.
Queen: Jolly good. That privateer and his (looking for the right word) unusual crew are worth more to us against the Spanish than a dozen ships of the line. Do send him in, then you may retire.
Chamberlain: He is accompanied by his daughters.
CHAMBERLAIN goes to let them in through the invisible door.
Queen: (disappointed) Oh. Very well, send them all in. At least his daughters are charming young girls.
Chamberlain: One of them is.
DREDD (SR), ETHEL, and JULIET enter. JULIET is berating someone offstage.
Juliet: (to off-stage) And you, the next time you touch me, I shall chop off your “bodkin” and use it as a pin-cushion for my needlepoint.
Chamberlain: Ahem! Captain Dredd, Miss Ethel, and Miss Juliet.
Juliet: (complete change of character) Oh, Your Majesty. Ever so good to see you again.
ETHEL and JULIET curtsey, as DREDD drops to one knee to kiss QUEEN’s hand. JULIET makes a major production of the curtsey and does her best to present a maximum amount of cleavage for QUEEN to view. She gives a stern glance to CHAMBERLAIN.
Juliet: Eyes front, bub.
Queen: Charmed to see you again, good captain. And your lovely daughter. Daughters.
Dredd: I –
Juliet: You are too kind, Your Majesty. I was just telling my unrefined little sister what a pleasure it was to be in Your Majesty’s lovely presence.
Queen: (pointedly) You flatter an old queen far too much.
Juliet: But –
Queen: (cutting her off) We fear we must abandon these pleasantries and discuss more boring affairs with your father.
Juliet: But –
Queen: Why don’t you two girls run along and play with the other children of the court.
JULIET and ETHEL curtsey. CHAMBERLAIN leads them off-stage. (SR)
Scene 5 QUEEN and DREDD.
Dredd: Apologies, Your Majesty. The little ones try so hard to please.
Queen: Yes, Juliet is very trying.
Dredd: As ye said. Ever since their mother departed, lo these twelve years, they’ve been missin’ the instruction in proper ways o’ the female. I have a hard time a-sayin’ “no” to them.
Queen: It is convenient to us if you remain unable to say “no” to a woman.
Dredd: I could never say “no” to Your Majesty.
Queen: And you have said “no” to us before. Just not in so many words. Fortunately for you, you have more often said “yes.”
Dredd: And curse be me, today is another time for an unsaid “no.” My ship must sail on the evening tide.
Queen: We know of your departure. You must take this with you.
She hands him a locket # 2. Outwardly identical to the one she gave CHURCH.
Dredd: Amanda’s locket.
DREDD opens the locket. He starts to tear up.
Queen: That is an excellent likeness of her. She was always our favourite lady-in-waiting. Young Ethel does so remind us of her.
Dredd: Bless Your Majesty.
Queen: Go now, before we grow more foolish and order the tide not to turn. Safe journey to France.
DREDD (SR) exits.
Chamberlain: Admiral Benn, as Your Majesty requested.
Queen: “Big” Benn. We are pleased to see you again. How was your trip to the new world?
Benn: Mercifully less eventful than my first one.
Queen: We have news of a gathering of a new armada in the English channel.
Benn: Am I to take a fleet and rout the Spanish?
Queen: Yes, but first you must join with Captain Church.
Benn: Church? But his ship is still in dry dock.
Queen: We have just sent captains Church and Dredd to Calais aboard the privateer, The Crimson Curse.
Benn: Both of them! That must be a cozy ship.
Queen: Quite. And Dredd’s daughters accompany him.
Benn: Does Your Majesty mean that I might call in the debt long owed me?
Queen: We fear we must. However unpleasant it might be for the child.
Benn: I shall take my sprite, Ariel, with me. She can be most persuasive.
Queen: We expected no less.
Benn: Then, my queen, I take my leave.
Exeunt omnes (SL)
Act III. Act IV. Act V.