Scenes 1 & 7 The Present Day
His Guardian Spirit
Scene 2 Shakespearian Times
Scene 3 The Civil War
Cramp, the old retainer
Scene 4 The Restoration Piece
Lady Hortense Hindsight
Sampler, her maid
Sir Cedric Coxless
Sir Harold Hindsight
Scene 5 Victorian Melodrama
Scene 6 The Roaring Twenties
Soares, the butler
Sir Hubert Hindsight
Hindley Have you seen it? You’d know if you had! Most of you wouldn’t give it house space I’ll be bound – but I like it! You would too if you could see it. D’you want to see it? (Audience reaction) Oh well, alright. I’ll go and get it. Just wait a ...
(The Spirit enters, holding the “THING”)
Spirit Is this what you were coming for?
Hindley Yes it is. Here, how did you get in? Who are you? What are you doing with my precious “THING”?
Spirit In reverse order: I’m trying to save your life – I’m your Guardian Spirit – and I got here through a worm hole in space and time.
Hindley A what? A worm hole?
Spirit I wormed my way through time to be with you here.
Hindley This isn’t Dr Who you know.
Spirit You’re in deadly danger if you keep that “THING”.
Hindley Deadly danger? From what? It’s not going to explode, is it?
Spirit It has passed through many generations of your family, and every time one of them has cherished it, they have perished.
Spirit Died, in a most ghastly and gruesome manner.
Hindley Here, what is this, “Beadle at Large” [or contemporary equivalent]?
Spirit D’you want to see my Guardian Spirit credentials?
(Business as Spirit shows Hindley his/her credentials!)
There, are you satisfied now?
Hindley I suppose I’ll have to be. What happens now?
Spirit I take you back through the worm hole to show you how your ancestors lived in centuries gone by.
Hindley Will I fit? Through the worm hole I mean.
Spirit We might need a bit of help from Special Effects – have you ever disappeared in a ‘Poof’ before?
Hindley What a question to ask! You obviously didn’t see Cinderella last year.
Spirit Well, stand just here … (indicates the spot) … and hold on tight while I say the magic words. Are you ready?
Hindley I suppose so – as ready as I’ll ever be!
Spirit Here we go then:—
“Nineteen Nineties go
Come again another day,
Just for now let’s have a bash
At disappearing in a FLASH!”
(On the word FLASH, they both disappear in a puff of smoke with the “THING”!)
End of Scene 1
(Elizabethan music. Enter Horatio Hindsight, dressed in period)
music be the food of love, play on. (Music stops)
I smell a device, and thereby hangs a tale.
Some are born great, some achieve greatness,
And some have greatness thrust upon them.
(Enter his father, in death throes – business of him dying)
(Enter his mother)
the Hindsight curse has struck again!
Horatio, thy father lies bereft of life,
As did the parrot in the Python sketch.
Horatio What means this, mother?
These two things, my son.
First, from this stage we must remove his corpse.
Horatio Why so?
Mother To keep the cast from tripping over him.
(They remove the corpse with much business)
Horatio The second thing?
A sudden greatness,
Thrust upon thy young and noble shoulders.
Now hast thou gained the title Baron Hindsight,
And thou shouldst know the bloody violent curse
Attending on all men who bear that name.
Horatio What curse is this?
A deadly curse
That kills thee (acts) just like that!
Horatio And none escape it?
Mother None that we’re aware of.
(Enter an Old Retainer carrying a framed picture of the recently deceased Baron. He goes to replace the one already hanging on the wall)
time we change the picture on the wall,
To show the face of he who went before.
(Business of them all helping to swap the pictures)
(Exit Mother at end of business)
Horatio How came this curse to be?
Old Ret I’ll
tell thee that, young master.
A tale as old as time itself,
And half as old as me.
(Horatio does some mental calculations)
Horatio Thou art twice as old as time?
Old Ret (Who’s
a bit deaf, looks at his timepiece)
A quarter after eight.
Horatio No matter, tell thy tale.
Old Ret It’s very long.
Then cut it short,
If possible without inflicting pain.
Old Ret Well
once there lived in olden days a witch,
A wily witch with wooden besom too …
(Business as Horatio misunderstands ‘besom’)
… The Hindsights of the day ran foul of her,
I don’t know why or how, but since that day
This curse has come to haunt the next in line.
Horatio And now ‘tis me!
‘Tis right, alas I see,
Be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow,
Thou can’st not now escape thy due calamity. (Exits)
Horatio But do I get no sign of my impending doom?
Maid Good sir, forgive me.
Horatio Mary, come thy ways. Thou hast a message for me?
Maid Ay, my lord, and yet I would not tell thee.
not tell? How now, good Mary?
Is thy news not well?
Maid An ill news, sir, that doctors cannot cure.
Horatio I’ll hear it though it be the very plague.
Thy cousin Jasper comes this very day
To see thee here.
Why, that unruly knave
Will be the very death of me. What cause
Or pretext does he come upon?
Maid He says, he only wants to give thee what is truly thine.
that is so, then pigs can surely fly!
I’ve known my cousin Jasper from the crib,
And there’s no way he’s coming here to give!
Maid My message now delivered, I’ll depart. (Exits)
I’ve a pile of paperwork to start.
(To audience) If ye see cousin Jasper coming here,
Raise the alarum. Now I’ll disappear. (Exits)
(A pause, then Jasper enters clutching the “THING”)
audience) What hempen homespuns have we here?
I am Sir Jasper; let me make it clear
I have not come to cause my cuz distress
Or give him aggravation. None the less
I see ye don’t believe me ...
(The audience will hopefully be raising the alarum by now)
The “THING” I have my cousin will hold dear.
(Shows the audience the “THING”)
So stop your noise and clamour, pray desist —
Or I’ll begin to think you’re rather rude!
now, Sir Jasper, what doth bring thee round?
‘Tis not for any goodness I’ll be bound.
Jasper Why has my reputation sunk so low?
I’ll not spell it out – I think you know!
What is that monst’rous object in your hand?
I hope it’s not for me!
I’d rather planned
To give it to thy son, Horatio.
Mother Alas this sorry day!
Don’t say it so.
This “THING” I hold is s’posed to bring him luck.
from these two short words a phrase, my duck:—
Jasper You’d treat an honoured houseguest so?
honoured guest would realise when to go —
(Business of Mother trying to push Jasper out and Jasper successfully resisting all attempts. Finally Horatio enters)
Jasper, art thou wrestling with Mother?
Thou know’st thy Aunt can’t match thy strength and skill.
cuz, I have this little gift to give thee,
And yet my Aunt, thy Mother, unabashed
Would verily resist my friendly gesture.
unabashed? Did’st thou not see him sock me
And treat me as a punch-bag in the ring?
Sir Jasper, do not touch her,
Or else I’ll take my dagger to your thing!
be it! I’ll not stay to be insulted —
I’ll take my leave, good cuz, before I die —
But just to show on my side no hard feelings,
I’ll leave my present here. And now, Goodbye!
(Sir Jasper exits. Horatio inspects the “THING”)
Horatio What is this “THING”?
like it not
There’s something rotten in his plot.
Horatio I’ll take his gift.
throw it out!
The moat is deep, and mind the trout!
“THING” is mine – it’s mine to keep,
I love this “THING”!
(Horatio exits with the “THING”)
Mother It makes you weep!
(The Old Retainer enters immediately from the other direction)
Old Ret Dear
Madam, what has young Horatio done
With cousin Jasper’s gift?
Mother He’s taken it away clasped to his headstrong bosom.
Old Ret Alas,
alack, oh Madam, get it back!
If he persists he’s sure to come off worse —
That “THING” is what invokes the Hindsight Curse,
And if ‘tis not rejected in a trice,
Thy son will die in agony – not nice!
(We hear a blood-curdling cry from off-stage)
Mother Thou jesteth not!
Old Ret He’s seized in deadly stricture!
(They shrug their shoulders and carry on)
Mother Oh well, I’d better hang another picture! (They exit)
End of Scene 2
... and so it goes on ...
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