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

Act I Act II

Act III. “A Comedy of Errors”
Aboard the pirate ship The Crimson Curse. The flag is a Jolly Roger.
Dredd: ’Tis good to be back. Where have you stowed those navy boys?
Peter: We’ve put them in our quarters, below. We’ll have to be sharing hammocks until their ship is fixed.
Dredd: What shall we do then tonight me lads? A bracin’ game o’ whist? Singin’ songs o’ the sea? An evening o’ male-bonding by challenging each other’s manhood?
Dick: Perhaps a bit of piratin’.
Dredd: That be right. The dark o’ the moon, is it not? It be hard to see our ship.
Dick: Aye, sir. And we have word that a Swiss galleon be in these waters. So we thought…
Dredd: A Swiss galleon? Be it filled with booty?
Peter: Aye, Cap’n it be filled with the richest booty there is: doubloons.
Dredd: And ye get a might bloodthirsty at the dark of the moon, don’t ye?
John: (before she realises what she says) Aye, Cap’n – it’s the P.M.S.
Dredd: Of course. The Pre-massacre Syndrome!
Dick: We all get a little anxious just before we attack a galleon.
Dredd: Very good. You’re the best crew I could want. I love each and every one of you. In a manly way, of course.
Pirates: Of course.
Dick: We’re all manly men, here. Right boys?
Pirates: Right!
Peter: Except for those navy lads below.
Dredd: Exception noted. Ye even have manly names, Be that right, Long John Thomas?
John: Right, Cap’n!
Dredd: And you agree, Peter?
Peter: ’Tis true!
Dredd: And my first mate, Dick?
Dick: Aye, Cap’n, and don’t be forgetin’ our cook we brought from far Cathay.
Dredd: Ah Aye, Wang Dong.
DREDD licks his lips thinking about the wonderful food that WANG creates.
All: Wang Dong!
DREDD puts his arm around PETER and manfully slaps DICK in the chest. When his hand meets the unexpected softness of DICK’s chest, DREDD looks concerned. He draws DICK downstage to have a private word with her. While he is doing this, ETHEL (SL) comes on stage, with her rapier.
Dredd: A word of advice, Dick Deadeye.
Dick: Aye, Cap’n?
Dredd: I’d work on those pectorals. Getting a bit flabby there. It looks bad for the rest of the crew.
Dick: I’ll work on them, Cap’n.
Dredd: Good. Say no more. (to the rest of the crew) Come, men. Let us “negotiate” with the Swiss!
All: Death to the Swiss!
Ethel: Death to the Swiss!
Dredd: Why be ye here on deck?
Ethel: I shall accompany thee on thy bloody raid against the Swiss. The decks of their ship shall be awash with their own blood. I shall wear their entrails as supports for my hose. I shall fashion their teeth into dice and their bones into chopsticks! I’ll…
PETER, JOHN, and DICK look at each other.
Pirates: (knowingly) Dark of the moon!
Dredd: No, ye shall not! Have ye not listened to me, Ethel? I cannot let my daughter go a-piratin’. It not be a fit life for a lady. Piratin’ is a rough life, full of rough men, like these.
Pirates: Aye!
Ethel: Can I not make knots equal to any man – navy or pirate?
Dredd: Aye, but, knots are not all there is…
Ethel: Can I not hoist a mainsail and heave taunt a halyard?
Dredd: Aye, but mere strength…
Ethel: Am I not more agile and more graceful at fencing than any pirate here?
Dredd: Aye, but fencing is not…
Ethel: And can I not skewer a hapless man with epee, foil, and sabre?
Dredd: Aye, but…
Ethel: And can I not rout the Swiss alongside my dear pater?
Dredd: Aye, er.. no! Women are made for the dainty life. For sewin’ and cookin’ and the bearin’ of children. Ye should be more like yer sister.
Ethel: Thou didst always like her best!
Dredd: Thy sister be a lady. She will one day fetch herself a fine husband.
Ethel: Thou knowest thy daughters, naught! My sister would not “fetch a husband” if you were to bribe him with all the frogs in France. It is high time that I remove the veil from thine eyes. Art thou aware of all the sobriquets my sister hath earned at court?
Dredd: I care not to hear these lies.
Ethel: Juliet the cross. Juliet the mad.
Dredd: Shining Juliet, radiant as the sun.
Ethel: Julie with the viper’s tongue.
Dredd: Juliet, the fair coquette.
Ethel: Juliet, the oubliette.
Dredd: Winsome Julie.
Ethel: Cruel Jewel, the bitch of Baysingstoke.
Dredd: Whatever thou may say, she is still thy sister. And, as I promised thy late mother, thou shan’t wed until does she.
Ethel: That doth suit me fine. I have no desire to be some man’s doxy.
Dick: (aside) Methinks she has more of her sister in her than she would admit.
DREDD orders pirates off stage (SL).
Dredd: That’s all I can stands! I can’t stands no more! Thou art staying on this ship and that be that!
Ethel: You may so order me, since thou art my father and I am duty bound to follow thee, but my spirit shall ride with thee against the Swiss.
Dredd: Thy spirit can roam where it will. It be my duty to keep safe, until the nuptial bed, thy pure and dainty body.
DREDD (SR) exits. ETHEL draws her sword and begins slashing the air in frustration.
Ethel: Shit! Shit! Shit!
ETHEL (SL) exits.
Scene 3 ETHEL and ROMEO.
ROMEO (SR) enters furtively.
SONG: Romeo’s Lament (sung with great melancholy)
ETHEL (SL) enters, still shadow-fencing.
SONG: Ethel’s Lament (sung in a very angry way, as she fights)
During these songs, ETHEL and ROMEO have drawn closer together, back to back, still unaware of each other’s existence. At the end of the song, they both happen to turn around and face each other. Since ETHEL is still practising with her sword, when she turns around her sword is drawn on ROMEO. Instinctively and quickly, ROMEO draws his sword and parries hers. Impressed, ETHEL takes a step back, as does ROMEO. They eye each other up and down. ROMEO puts away his sword.
Romeo: Forgive me fair maiden. I thought not to find such as you was on this benighted ship. Be you some maiden captured and held for ransom?
ETHEL pointedly does not put away her sword. She uses it for punctuation as she talks.
Ethel: Maiden I may be, and held but not for ransom. I am held back by familial ties.
As she speaks ETHEL gets closer to ROMEO with her sword. Eventually ROMEO must again draw his sword to defend himself from what is becoming an attack.
Romeo: Cursèd be those ties that bind.
Ethel: And blessèd be a life untwin’d.
Romeo: Since we agree, why press your point so firmly?
Ethel: I have not begun to make my point, or my mark!
Romeo: You force me to behave in a manner un-gallant.
Ethel: Then, unsex me in your mind and treat me as you do your mates.
Romeo: I’d not mate you in this way, but you force me to keep you in check.
Ethel: Mate me or no. I’ll not sacrifice my queen to your rook.
At this point ROMEO and ETHEL are fencing full-tilt, and they pause in their dialog for a few seconds and fence in earnest. They are evenly matched. Eventually their swords are crossed and they are very close to each other. Nose to nose. The conversation continues with them posed like that. Clearly ETHEL is impressed.
Romeo: ’Tis a stalemate with no breach nor blood.
Ethel: Some times a little blood had ought be spilt. Perhaps someday it shall.
ETHEL backs away a step or two. The two uncross their swords, but stay close.
Ethel: I do recognise you now. I did see you at court. Your name be…
Romeo: Romeo, of Her Majesty’s Royal Navy.
Ethel: You are one of the navy “guests” that Captain Dredd has seen fit to infest this ship?
Romeo: We are no guests. This ship is more prison than far London Tower.
Ethel: Verily. I know what you mean.
Romeo: And if you be not a captive – you must be…?
Ethel: Ethel, daughter of the captain of this vessel. We two are quite used to each other now. “You” me no more, and pray be more familiar.
ROMEO moves toward her, but with his sword down.
Romeo: Since thou dost insist.
Ethel: Thou mak’st more familiar that I had planned.
Romeo: Offer not what thy dost not wish.
ROMEO starts to back away, but ETHEL stops him by placing her hand behind his head.
Ethel: I did divulge only my plan, but not my wishes. I have far more wishes than plans.
Romeo: Would that all thy wishes be so easily granted.
Ethel: Verily!
ETHEL leans in a bit to kiss ROMEO, but just before they do, THE PIRATES (SL) come back from their raid. DREDD is not with them. DICK and PETER carry a large treasure chest. JOHN has something Swiss Navy Cutlass.
Dick: Stow it here.
Ethel: Ye be back already?
Dick: You were right, negotiations were short.
Dick: You were right, negotiations were short.
Woody: And to the point!
DICK takes out a hairpin and jimmies the lock open. The treasure chest is filled with gold doubloons.
Peter: Look at that. There must be hundreds.
John: Thousands.
Willy: 323,129 or thereabouts.
The PIRATES dig in an extract handfuls of doubloons. They begin unwrapping them.
Romeo: They be fake.
Ethel: No, silly. They be chocolate.
Romeo: Chocolate?
Dick: Aye, chocolate. And what else would the famed Godiva Godalleon be carrying? And so foolishly in the new moon.
All the pirates and ETHEL react with gales of laughter.
Peter: Oww! Rats!
Dick: What’s wrong?
Peter: This one’s gold.
PETER tosses aside the gold coin which makes a large clank when it hits the deck.
All: Ahhh!
All laugh.
Ethel: What be that, John Thomas. A souvenir?
John: I “borrowed” it from one of the Swiss sailors. ’Tis an authentic Swiss Navy Cutlass.
Ethel: I hope you didn’t have to kill anyone I know to get it.
JOHN demonstrates the cutlass.
John: Oh, damn.
Peter: What?
John: The toothpick is missing.
Peter: They always are.
Dick: Aye. And the tweezers.
All laugh.
The NAVY (SR) men enter. They are sleepy, having been aroused from their slumber by the great row on deck.
Byron: We were awakened by a loud noise – as if Pandora’s box were open and demons that plague mankind had been released.
Shelley: ’Twas like a million souls cried out at once and were suddenly silenced – or was that something else?
Dick: Gentlemen, do come join us. There’s plenty of booty to share.
Blake: (excited) Booty. There’s booty to be shared? (disappointed) Oh, ye mean treasure.
Peter: (trying to tempt) But this treasure is chocolate.
Keats: Chocolate? Ye have chocolate?
The NAVY men quickly move to the chest and grab themselves handfuls of doubloons.
Shelley: What. No truffles?
Dick: I have some truffles.
Shelley: You do?
SHELLEY moves closer to PETER to share the truffles.
Byron: This reminds me of tea atop the Virgin Queen.
The NAVY men nod their heads.
Keats: ’Ceptin’ we’d have those little cucumber sandwiches. Y’know. The ones with the crust cut off.
John: Cucumbers. I have fond memories of cucumbers, too.
Shelley: And captain would serve us tea using the silver service. And we each had tatted our own lace doilies.
Dick: I think we still have that silver service we took off that French ship. It should be in the galley, below.
Shelley: Below decks, you say. It will be a might cramped there.
Peter: And cozy.
John: And tight.
Byron: You have talked us into it. Let us away.
Scene 6 DICK, ETHEL, and ROMEO.
The PIRATES (SL) and the NAVY (SL) men exit. DICK stays, to talk to ETHEL and ROMEO. ROMEO is looking out to sea, politely not listening in on DICK and ETHEL.
Dick: Are you coming with us?
Ethel: Methinks I shall tarry a moment more in the night’s bracing air.
Dick: I have noticed something in the air. I thought it was the breeze from Brighton. (a long glance at ROMEO) I see now ’twas something stronger. Be careful, lass. As brave as you are, you are still innocent in the ways of the world. Where thy heart doth lead, thy head oftimes lingers behind.
Ethel: I can take care of mineself. Thou dost forget my skill with a sword.
Dick: I imagine Romeo, himself, to be a skilled swordsman. And in many ways his is more dangerous.
DICK (SL) exits.
Scene 7 ETHEL, ROMEO, and DREDD (briefly).
ETHEL approaches ROMEO. She gets very close to him.
Ethel: Now, dost thou recall our previous conversation?
Romeo: Something about wishes.
Ethel: And being careful about them…
They attempt to kiss again, but just as their lips touch, DREDD (SR) comes on to get the treasure chest. He is quite happy. DREDD (SR) exits.
Romeo: Evening, father.
Ethel: Ah, father, I was just… A moment. That was not thy father. ’Twas mine.
Romeo: No, thou art mistaken. That ’twould be my father, Captain James T. Church, of Her Majesties’ Royal Navy.
Ethel: Surely, the wrong is thine. Clearly that was my father, Captain Robert Dredd, privateer.
Romeo: Mayhap my father has been leading a double life. Navy captain by day, pirate by night. ’Twould explain his long absences from our ship.
Ethel: That has the ring of truth. Our family name is really “Church.” “Dredd” is a nom de mer.
Romeo: What wond’rous and strange co-incidence: thy father and mine are but one.
Ethel: ’Tis most marvellous. ’Twould make us – siblings.
ROMEO and ETHEL suddenly and completely disengage themselves from one another. They look at each other and themselves with great horror.
Romeo: If this be true and brother, sister we…
Ethel: Then God forbid, our romance cannot be.
ROMEO (SR) and ETHEL (SL) rush off-stage in opposite directions.
Act IV. Act V.