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

Act I Act II Act III Act IV

Act V. "What fools these mortals be”
All are gathered on deck awaiting the Admiral. Facing stage right.
SFX: A trumpet is blown off-stage.

Admiral BENN (SL) enters with the sprite, ARIEL (SL).

Benn: Thank you for that fanfare, Mr. Hornblower.
SONG: Finale A Case of the Benns
Church: Welcome, Admiral Benn. I am Captain Church.
Benn: Which Captain Church are you?
Shelley: Did he say the captain was a witch?
Blake: Burn him at the stake! Oh, sorry!
Church: I am the Captain Church, of Her Majesty’s Royal Navy, and captain of the Virgin Queen.
Benn: Our queen knows no captain.
Church: No, sir. That’s the name of our ship.
Benn: Did I say it wasn’t? Fetch me the other one – your brother.
Byron: The captain has a brother?
Church: I’m afraid, sir, he has become a pirate and does go by another name: Captain Dredd.
All: gasps of astonishment.
Benn: I care not what he calls himself. Pirate or Navy, the agreement is binding. Fetch him here, and his beautiful daughter.
Church: He will be most tractable. His daughter is another matter. I hear that she has her own mind and is quite headstrong.
Benn: I have heard a similar tale. No matter. I have powers than can move her mind to me.
BENN signals to ARIEL.
Ariel: Thy wish is but a snap to me, So I shall fetch thy bride-to-be.
ARIEL (SL) exits.
ROMEO (SR) and ETHEL (SR) enter, hand-in-hand.
Church: Ah, Admiral Benn, here is my son, Romeo.
Benn: Your son. No, he won’t do at all.
Romeo: Won’t do what, father?
Benn: Ah, but this must be the other one. Your niece is it?
Church: Aye. This is my brother’s daughter, Ethel.
Benn: Ethel. Ethel. Well it lacks a certain ring. But, still, she is most comely. Have her prepared. We shall be wed on the morrow.
The crowd gasps. ROMEO and ETHEL are shocked.
Ethel: What madness is this? How is it that I am to be wed? I know you not, sir!
Benn: Oh, did you miss my entrance? It was a frightfully clever little song. (hums a few notes of the song) Never mind. This was all arranged long before you were born, my dear. And before my birth as well.
Romeo: You cannot wed her. She is in love with another.
Benn: Love? What’s love got to do with it? We’re speaking of marriage. Love! Hah! Next you’ll be telling me that she’s in love with you! What a notion!
BENN (SR) exits amiably singing his patter song to himself.
Romeo: Father. I do not care for his tone.
Church: He was a little flat wasn’t he?
Romeo: You cannot let him wed Ethel. I… I… I’ll not allow it!
Ethel: I’ll not allow it!
Church: Children, children. I’m afraid the law is very much on his side. And against you.
Romeo: If that be the law – then damn the law!
Gasps from the NAVY men and CHURCH.
Church: Son. You must watch your language!
Ethel: Aye. Damn the law. And damn Admiral Benn.
Romeo: And if you will not help us – damn you, too!
CHURCH faints dead away. Cheers from the NAVY and the PIRATES. ROMEO (SL) runs off stage, and ETHEL (SL) runs after him. The NAVY men help CHURCH (SR) off stage. All exit (SR).
Scene 5 ARIEL and JULIET.
JULIET has a mirror and is practising her scowling. ARIEL (SL) enters and makes a mystic pass or two. ARIEL must have locket #5.
Ariel: Why make that face, sweet Juliet? ’Tis much too fine to frown or fret.
JULIET turns around but does not see ARIEL.
Juliet: Someone’s there with the voice of a nightingale.
Ariel: I bring thee word about thy fate.
The time grows nigh to find a mate.
Juliet: Now you mock me. All know of my vow not to mate.
Ariel: All the world does know thy vow.
It’s men you scorn and men you vex.
But thou dost look most fairly now
And then upon the fairer sex.
Juliet: I can keep nothing from thee. Show thyself that I might know my tormentor.
ARIEL makes another mystic pass and suddenly JULIET can see her.
Juliet: Thou art truly as beautiful as I did imagine.
Ariel: And would that I had time enough…
Thy warm embrace I must rebuff.
Juliet: Rebuff me not. I wish for thee to…
Ariel: Forget thy wishes. Come with me. Thy will is mine. Thou art not free. Hear me, Julie, obey and then Go to my master, Adm’ral Benn.
ARIEL points JULIET off-stage. JULIET (SR) exits. ARIEL becomes invisible.
Scene 6 ROMEO and ETHEL.
ROMEO (SL) and ETHEL (SL) enter.
Ethel: I do admire the way thou didst make thy mind known to thy father.
Romeo: ’Tis a telling that is long overdue.
Ethel: I have always thought myself brave, but I think that I could do that not. Even here, even now, I feel my father’s intimidation.
Romeo: Since this life offers us scant comfort – let us move to another.
Ethel: Move to another? Thou art not suggesting…
Romeo: Aye. This very eve we shall away in one of the long boats. ’Tis not far to the coast of France, and then, we may be free of laws, free of admirals, and free of fathers.
Ethel: The very thought of such freedom now causes me to chafe at chains I wore not yesterday. ’Till tonight.
Romeo: After dark.
Scene 7 NAVY men and PIRATES.
Scene 8 ARIEL and ROMEO.
ROMEO and ETHEL lean in for a kiss, but we hear ARIEL sing, and they both freeze. ARIEL moves ETHEL (SR) to offstage, then ARIEL takes ETHEL’s place and unfreezes the action. ROMEO kisses ARIEL instead.
Romeo: What magick is this? Oh, you be that sprite, Ariel. Be you spying on me for your master?
Ariel: I’m here to help, and not to spy.
If not done right, then all will die.
Romeo: You talk of death. You call that helping?
Ariel: No need for death. ’Tis not too late.
And you must learn to trust your fate.
If you don’t want to learn from me,
Do you not heed the sisters three?
Romeo: If I understood them I would. But their speech was so strange.
Ariel: When all else fails, here’s what to do:
Open your hand, I have for you,
Something here from out my pocket…
Romeo: No. Let me guess. You have a locket.
Ariel: Well said, my boy. Now at each turn
Just keep your head and quickly learn.
Romeo: I have learned one thing. When it doubt, someone will give you a locket.
Ariel: Assuage your doubt when life’s a blight,
Open this charm and all will be bright.
ARIEL hands ROMEO a locket with some mystical music, then she makes a mystical pass and sends him away (SR).
Ariel: (to the audience) Much time has pass’d and now it’s night.
And you have miss’d a wond’rous fight
Between the captains Church and Dredd.
The steel flew so, I fear’d them dead.
And all the while they’d vent their spleen.
And Church used big words, Dredd obscene.
A better sword fight, I’ve not seen!
Our play’s too long. We cut that scene.
ARIEL (SR) exits
(SR) enters. She looks around furtively. She has a bag with her. DREDD (SR) enters behind her.
Dredd: Where goest thou, daughter?
Ethel: I would leave this ship rather than wed one I love not.
Dredd: The family honour is at stake. You are promised to him.
Ethel: I would sooner wed a wookie.
Dredd: Things be not so bad. It is still possible to have the one you love.
Ethel: Then there is a way to break this marriage pledge?
Dredd: No, I be afraid ’tis not. However… I know not how to put this for thy innocent ears… However, wise wives can make certain accommodations when wed against their wills.
Ethel: Thou dost fret about my ears, and yet suggest immoral behaviour for the rest of my body.
Dredd: Immoral may be. But common, and I dare say practical, nevertheless.
Ethel: No. I shall not. I shall not go gently into a wedding bed not of my making. He shall discover that his intended is not a whore but a pirate. I shall fight rather than bow to him.
Dredd: ’Twill do thee no good. With his sprite, Ariel, he has powerful magicks. Now come with me.
Ethel: Once again I must defy you, father. Tell him I shall not move. If my love cannot have me, I vow, as has my sister, no man shall possess me. Were we still a Catholic country I would get me to a nunnery.
Dredd: Daughter!
Ethel: Tell him: I rather dead would be!
DREDD (SR) exits.
Scene 10 ETHEL.
ETHEL paces for a second and withdraws her lockets.
Ethel: Were this some fanciful romance, these lockets would be charmed, and I could make a wish. But what would be my wish. More wishes? (exasperation) I just wish everyone thought I was dead.
ETHEL falls lifeless on the deck. She is well to stage left.
Scene 11 ROMEO and ETHEL.
ROMEO (SR) enters.
Romeo: Ethel… Ethel… The boat is ready. We can depart for…
ROMEO discovers ETHEL’s body.
Romeo: What? What’s this. No. This cannot be. (checking her vital signs) She’s dead. They have killed her. Her bright flame snuffed out too untimely. Out, out, brief candle. The world is over for me. Oh, fair cousin, I shall avenge thy murder most foul…
A moment of grief and reflection.
Romeo: What was it the sprite said to me? “When life’s a blight, open this charm and all will be bright.”
ROMEO opens a locket and extracts a tiny bottle.
Romeo: A bottle. (opens it and sniffs) It does smell so fierce. I wonder what it contains. There be a label…
Romeo: P – O – I – S – S – O – N. (a beat) Poison. Surely this is a sign. This locket contains my last, best hope: death.
ROMEO drinks the bottle. He makes a face at the taste. He takes the locket out of ETHEL’s hands and holds it in his own.
Romeo: The taste alone might kill me. I wish that it would make me as dead as fair Ethel.
ROMEO falls lifeless beside ETHEL.
CHURCH and BENN enter (SR) . They are discussing something very quietly. The NAVY men and the PIRATES (SR) rush in, wielding their swords. ARIEL enters (SR).
Church: What is the meaning of this? Have you gone mad?
Shelley: Mad we may be, Captain. But we cannot let you betray your son in this manner.
Benn: Send these ruffians away. ’Tis your duty.
Church: Betray my son?
Blake: Aye. ’Tis you captains that have gone mad. We care not for betrothals made generations back. Your duty is to your son. And your niece.
Church: What do you propose to do?
Dick: We propose to take this ship and force yon admiral to walk the plank. We shall send him back to the bottom of the deep blue sea.
John: And his little sprite too.
Church: That’s treason you’re talking.
Blake: What of it?
Church: I just wanted you to keep your definitions straight because I’m with you. (he draws his sword) Lay on you ruffian! And damnèd be he that first cries hold enough.
Benn: Ariel protect me!
Ariel: Protect I shall. But hear my word,
Your orders now do ring absurd.
Your marriage plans have come untied,
For yonder there two youths have died.
On love’s harsh altar, sacrificed.
A lesser act should have sufficed,
But youth is like a tempest storm,
All sound and fury, void of form
All reason from the world it takes
And leaves destruction in its wake.
Everyone, save ARIEL rushes to the bodies of ROMEO and ETHEL. CHURCH breaks down and cries. He is lead off stage (SR) by the NAVY men. The PIRATES and BENN exit.
The NAVY MEN and PIRATES enter bearing two tables. They are wearing black armbands. They place the bodies of ROMEO and ETHEL on the tables, and file onto opposite sides of the stage. DREDD and BENN (SR) enter, both wearing black armbands. During DREDD’s speech, ARIEL enters and shows great interest in the corpses. Even smelling their mouths and examining the lockets.
Dredd: Today be a black day. Through our pride, through our meddling, through our foolish contracts, we did sentence these two lovers to death. My brother, who is too grieved to be here, and I bear the full blame and there be nothing we can do to atone. Much guilt abounds and all are punishèd.
Admiral Benn, here be your bride. See what your stubborn threats have wrought. Powerful in magick you may be, but even you cannot bring back the dead. That power be reserved for our lord.

Benn: ’Tis true. Had I but known the consequences… Why did my queen command me so?
Dredd: The queen?
Benn: Aye, she made it clear that I was to marry your daughter. She felt my magicks would be able to…
QUEEN enters with CHAMBERLAIN, and NURSE (SL).
Queen: Silence, you complete idiot. We gave no such order!
All: The queen.
Everyone (except the ROMEO, ETHEL, and ARIEL) bows for the queen.
Benn: Your Majesty. Did you not instruct me to seek out Captain Church to wed his daughter?
Queen: Not his younger daughter, but his elder! ’Tis Juliet that thou shouldst wed. You both deserve one another.
Juliet: Me, marry him? But I do abhor the masculine sex.
ARIEL makes many mystical passes, accompanied by mystical music. JULIET and BENN become hypnotised. During this CHURCH enters unobtrusively.
Ariel: I weave for thee a love that’s mighty.
Adonis and Aphrodite.
Our love shall grow but not be free,
Like Hades and Persephone.
To Adm’ral Benn you shall be wed,
But ’twon’t be he you take to bed.
To outside eyes we must behave.
But you’ll know master from the slave.
If suspicions be not aroused.
Thou need not break thy Sapphic vows.
In love’s sweet arbour we shall dwell.
Like Xena and fair Gabrielle.
Juliet: Aye, I will wed the admiral.
Queen: Good, that’s settled.
Dredd: Settled, Your Majesty? When these two children lie dead?
Benn: And as you said, even my vaunted powers cannot revive them.
Ariel: None can revive if dead they be.
Lifeless they seem, not dead, you’ll see.
A wish made Ethel like a stiff.
And Romeo did take a whiff
He thought was poison and his “death”
Was really just a lack of breath.
This bottle reads “poisson.” I say. ’
Tis merely fish sauce à Français!
Chamberlain: Then they can be revived?
Ariel: ’Tis just like Sleeping Beauty, this. They can be waken’d with a kiss.
ARIEL kisses both ROMEO and ETHEL and they come back to life.
John: How can she do that?
Benn: It’s a mystery.
All: Hooray!
Dredd: Now is the summer of our great content! Now the only impediment to your union be your cousinhood. Perhaps Her Majesty can put in a good word with the archbishop of Canterbury and get ye a dispensation…
Queen: That shall not be necessary. Nurse.
All: Hello, nurse!
Nurse: I have a sad and complicated tale to tell. I have been a nurse in the Church family for many years. But I am a prone to be a might addle-pated. Many years ago I apprenticed these two lads to the sea. One as a pirate, one as a pilot.
All: We know! We know!
Nurse: But what you do not know, was that years before I was witness to the birth of these children in the Church house. At the same time Mrs. Church was a-birthing one child, the upstairs maid, young Sally, was also in labour. Since Sally was not then married, I brought her baby along with other to the mistress of the house and told her that he had twins.
Dredd: Then that means…
Church: That we are not brothers.
Romeo: And we’re not…
Ethel: Related at all.
Church: You know, I never did think we looked much alike.
Dredd: Me neither.
Queen: We hope that all are happy now. And if we are quite finished we have a war against Spain to prosecute. Captains Church. We shall need both of you for this task.
Romeo: You’ll need these lockets. Here, have all of them.
Dredd: Beggin’ Your Majesty’s pardon, but I be a pirate.
Queen: Not any more. I hereby draft you into the Royal Navy. I’ll give you another ship…
Dredd: But what about the Crimson Curse?
Queen: We are sure your daughter and son-in-law can handle her. Captains, Chamberlain, come with us. We must plan for the morrow’s eve.
Chamberlain: What are we going to do tomorrow night?
Queen: The same thing we do every night. Defeat the Spanish and try to take over the world.
Chamberlain: Come, Your Majesty. Your eight minutes are almost up.
Ethel: A pirate – at last. And I vow that all the pirates on the Crimson Curse shall be women.
Romeo: I’m sorry men – you’ll have to seek employment elsewhere.
Dick: That be all right. We each have… sisters…
Peter: Twin sisters…
Dick: (hesitantly) that are fine pirates. We shall send them to ye.
Ethel: Verily!
Romeo: If thou be not sister, nor cousin, nor kith nor kin to me…
Ethel: Shut up and kiss me.
And he does.
SONG: Reprise Navy Reprise
SONG: Reprise Pirate's Reprise
SONG: Reprise Ariel and Juliet's Reprise
SONG: Reprise Admiral Benn's Reprise
SONG: Reprise Lament Reprise
SONG: Reprise "As Lover's Do" Reprise
SONG: Finale The Play’s the Thing
The End