The Hindsight Saga

a pageant of a play by John Owen Smith

Performed as a “Play in a Day” by Headley Theatre Club on Saturday, 10th November 1990

see photos

Cast List

Scenes 1 & 7 The Present Day

Hindley Hindsight
His Guardian Spirit

Scene 2  Shakespearian Times

Horatio Hindsight
His father
His mother
Old retainer
Sir Jasper

Scene 3  The Civil War

Henry Hindsight
Henrietta Hindsight
Spy 1
Spy 2
Cramp, the old retainer
Oliver Cromwell
Roundhead soldiers

Scene 4  The Restoration Piece

Lady Hortense Hindsight
Sampler, her maid
Sir Cedric Coxless
Sir Harold Hindsight

Scene 5  Victorian Melodrama

Hector Hindsight

Scene 6  The Roaring Twenties

Hilary Hindsight
Digby Dale
Soares, the butler
Sir Hubert Hindsight

Scene 1  The Present Day

(Hindley enters)

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.

Hindley                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 away,
 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

Scene 2  Shakespearian Times 

(Elizabethan music.  Enter Horatio Hindsight, dressed in period)

Horatio  If 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)

Mother   Alas, 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?

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?

Mother                                   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?

Mother                                                   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)

Mother   Each 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.

Horatio                                                   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!

Old Ret                                                                  ‘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?

(Enter maidservant)

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.

Horatio  Would 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.

Maid       Thy cousin Jasper comes this very day
                To see thee here.

Horatio                                                  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.

Horatio  If 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)

Horatio  And 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”)

Jasper    (To 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)

                                                                                                ... then, see here,
                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!

(Enter Mother)

Mother   How 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?

Mother   Well 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!

Jasper                                                                    I’d rather planned
                To give it to thy son, Horatio.

Mother   Alas this sorry day!

Jasper                                                                    Don’t say it so.
                This “THING” I hold is s’posed to bring him luck.

Mother   Make from these two short words a phrase, my duck:—
                “Off Push”!

Jasper                                    You’d treat an honoured houseguest so?

Mother   An honoured guest would realise when to go —
                Now out!

(Business of Mother trying to push Jasper out and Jasper successfully resisting all attempts.  Finally Horatio enters)

Horatio  Why, Jasper, art thou wrestling with Mother?
                Thou know’st thy Aunt can’t match thy strength and skill.

Jasper    Good cuz, I have this little gift to give thee,
                And yet my Aunt, thy Mother, unabashed
                Would verily resist my friendly gesture.

Mother   Me unabashed?  Did’st thou not see him sock me
                And treat me as a punch-bag in the ring?

Horatio  Oh, Sir Jasper, do not touch her,
                Or else I’ll take my dagger to your thing!

Jasper    So 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”?

Mother   I like it not
                There’s something rotten in his plot.

Horatio  I’ll take his gift.

Mother   Thou’ll throw it out!
                The moat is deep, and mind the trout!

Horatio  This “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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