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Archive for the ‘Full-Length Plays’ Category

KANDIDE

a play

by

David Lefkowitz

__________________

DAVID LEFKOWITZ

davesgoneby@aol.com

(c) David Neil Lefkowitz

_______________________

ACT ONE

(All the performers, except Kandide,

will take turns providing narration.

Spotlight on the first narrator:)

NARRATOR

In the year nineteen hundred and thirty seven, in the country of Poland, lived an orphan.  A more naive and sweet-tempered youth could not be found in all the world, and his name was Moshe Kandidevsky.

(Spotlight on twelve year old Moshe.

Silently, he reads a Hebrew book)

NARRATOR

Perhaps because there were so many Moshes in the neighborhood, perhaps because this one was as sweet as candy, no one ever called him Moshe Kandidevsky.  They called him Kandide.  When his mother died in childbirth, Kandide’s father brought him to the Warsaw Orphanage and immediately disappeared to parts unknown.  Upon his sixth birthday Kandide was rescued from these miserable dwellings by his great and brilliant benefactor, Rabbi Panglev.

(Spotlight on Rabbi Panglev)

NARRATOR

A supreme biblical scholar, Rabbi Panglev was known throughout Europe for his philosophy of Talmudic Optimism.  That is to say, things are always as they should be in the eyes of God.

(Lights up on Kandide reading

aloud as Panglev looks on)

KANDIDE

(Singsongs the passage, in Hebrew, from Job 3:3.  The passage:) And Job spoke and said, “Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night wherein it was said: `A man-child is brought forth.’  Let that day be darkness – ”

(Panglev whacks Kandide

with a silver pointer)

PANGLEV

NO!  (in Yiddish) What’s the matter with you? (in English) Like this.

(Panglev recites the last phrase,

hitting a different note on “darkness.”)

PANGLEV

Choshech, choshech, you hear?  I’m sorry I hit you my son, but you should concentrate.  Things must be in harmony, or else they’re in disharmony.  And do you know what happens when things are in disharmony?

KANDIDE

No, Rebbe.

PANGLEV

No, that’s right you don’t.  Because HaShem takes special care to make sure that everything is as it should be.  Perfect peace and harmony.

KANDIDE

Forgive me, I am only an ignorant child, and have not your vast body of learning, but how can you call our lives perfect?  I knew neither my mother nor father, was raised in a cold and dirty orphanage in the worst part of Warsaw, all our neighbors are terribly poor and unhappy, we all freeze in the winter, the Poles hate us and forbid us to be openly Jewish, by the time we’re thirty our teeth are falling out of our heads, and by the time we’re fifty we’re either dead or too drunk to notice we’re alive.  Am I being stupid?

PANGLEV

Yes Kandide, but that’s only natural.  Twelve is the ideal age for stupidity.  For that is when I and other learned men, with the help of HaShem of course, can flush out those foolish notions of youth and replace them with real ideas.  So that by the time you’re God-willing Bar Mitzvah, you, too, will understand what it means to be a Jew living in the best of all possible worlds for our people.

KANDIDE

(unsure) If you say so, Rabbi.

PANGLEV

Listen.  Your mother died in childbirth and your father ran away, a terrible thing, yes?  (Kandide nods) But what if your mother hated you?  Maybe she would have been a dreadful parent.  And your father wanted so little to do with you, he dumped you on the orphanage doorstep.  Now, at the orphanage you were fed, clothed, schooled in the basics and, most important, taught early to endure the hardships of life.  Then, when you were six, I came and got you.  Has life with me been such an ordeal?

KANDIDE

(hugs Panglev) Oh no, Rebbe!  I’ve been so happy.

PANGLEV

You see?

KANDIDE

But what about our neighbors?  Such wretched lives..

PANGLEV

Och, what do you know about it?  If they are poor, HaShem meant for them to stay away from earthly temptations.  If we lack for heat and blankets in winter, it’s so we can appreciate the mag­nificent changes of season HaShem blesses us with each year.  For who can savor the joy of spring without the harshness of winter?

KANDIDE

But what about our toothaches?

PANGLEV

If we were Eskimos this would pose a problem.  If we had to chew whaleskins or tree bark.  But we’re Poles, almost Russians.  HaShem provides us with bounteous borscht, and chicken broth, and tender fish to eat.  To us, teeth are as extraneous as…fore­skins.

KANDIDE

But why must everyone hate us so?

PANGLEV

To remind us of who we are, Kandide.  We live with them, we move among them, but we are not them.  I remember when they used to stage pogroms to remind us of this.  Now they simply hate us and we hate them back.  And if our time runs out after fifty years instead of seventy or eighty, it’s that much sooner we’re up in heaven with all our ancestors, all our loved ones, and HaShem yisborech [blessed].

KANDIDE

Oh Rabbi, you truly are the wisest man in all of Poland!

PANGLEV

We have wasted enough time.  Recite!

(Kandide sings again, this time

a Torah portion from Exodus 12:29

as another narrator appears)

NARRATOR

Kandide was an outstanding student –

(Narrator is interrupted by Panglev shrieking “NO!”

and digging the silver pointer into Kandide’s ear)

KANDIDE

Ow!

NARRATOR

Kandide was an outstanding student.  Why not?  He had the most inspired teacher in all Warsaw.  Kandide performed flawlessly at his Bar Mitzvah –

(Talis-wearing Jews surround Kandide,

shake his hand, pat him on the back

and “Mazel Tov” him.

All leave and Kandide stands alone

holding a book and a fountain pen)

NARRATOR

Moshe Kandidevsky had officially become a man.  Well, not offi­cially yet..

(A pretty blonde schoolgirl appears.

Kandide smiles dumbstruck.

She stares at him)

GIRL

Your fountain pen is leaking.

(Flustered, Kandide drops the book.

He quickly picks it up and kisses it,

then furtively wipes his hands.

By the time he’s composed himself,

the girl is gone)

NARRATOR

At age 14, Kandide discovered the joys of young love.

(The girl returns eating an apple.

Kandide gazes at her, awestruck)

GIRL

Hungry?

(Kandide nods.

The girl brings the apple to his lips.

Just as Kandide opens his mouth for a bite,

the girl lets go,

and the apple falls to the ground)

GIRL

Lie down!

(Kandide awkwardly obliges.

The girl lifts her skirt

and sits on Kandide’s lap)

GIRL

Now, how does that feel?

KANDIDE

I don’t know I – whoa, that’s rather pleasant..

GIRL

Do you want to be on top?

KANDIDE

Sure.

(The girl lies down.

Kandide sits sideways on her lap)

KANDIDE

I don’t think I like this as much.

GIRL

You’re Polish, aren’t you?

KANDIDE

(defensively) I’m as Polish as you are!  Are you Polish?

GIRL

I happen to be the great, great grandniece of Augustus II, elec­tor of Saxony and King of Poland.  Shift.  (Kandide changes position on her lap) My family lives in a mansion captured by my great grandfather in the War of Succession.  We have servants, footmen, a dozen gardeners, and more money than you’d ever know what to do with.  Twist.

KANDIDE

(twists) Oh, the Rebbe was right, this is a wonderful world!  And you are the most beautiful of all wenches!  Pray, what is your name?

GIRL

Constance.  Constance Gundy.  But you may call me Connie.

KANDIDE

Connie Gundy, the most beautiful of all names!  Oh, I can barely contain myself!

CONNIE

Try darling, I just got here.

KANDIDE

When shall we be married?

CONNIE

(haughty)  Perhaps never!

(Kandide grunts and swoons)

CONNIE

Perhaps nine months.

(Lights dim on Kan & Con)

NARRATOR

When told of Kandide’s new-found love, Rabbi Panglev became philosophical..

PANGLEV

A SHIKSEH?!! (followed by a stream of Yiddish invective)

(We hear Panglev beating the schmaltz

out of a groaning Kandide)

NARRATOR

Kandide’s excitement at winning such a beautiful woman was matched only by his anticipation at meeting Connie’s rich and royal family.  However, events did not go smoothly.

(Kandide, carrying flowers

and looking spiffy in a jacket and boutonniere,

knocks on the mansion doorway.

A tall, haughty and impeccably groomed

young man answers)

BROTHER

Can I help you?

KANDIDE

Indeed you may, my good friend.  Is this the residence of one Connie Gundy, the exquisite, melon-breasted woman who has so re­cently consented to be my wife?

BROTHER

And who might you be?

KANDIDE

I am Kandide.

BROTHER

(closing door) Never heard of you.

KANDIDE

My good fellow, I have not the regal background of your most noble and esteemed family, that is true.  Indeed, before I cried my first tear my mother was dead, and before I produced my first bowel movement, my father had abandoned me.  These humble circum­stances notwithstanding, I assure you, I am a Pole, as proud as any that ever walked these streets.

FEMALE VOICE FROM BEHIND THE DOOR

Who is that?

KANDIDE

Kandide, my lady.

(Mrs. Gundy brushes by her son)

MRS. GUNDY

Ah, Kandide!  We have been expecting you.

(Kandide moves to kiss her hand.

She swats him and points to her feet.

Kandide kneels to kiss her royal shoe)

MRS. GUNDY

Constance has told us so much about you, and I must say, my husband and I have many questions. (points to the flowers) Are these pour moi?

KANDIDE

Actually –

(Connie appears, looking radiant)

KANDIDE

Connie!

CONNIE

Kandy!

(They hug and kiss, ever so chastely.

A burly fellow appears)

MR. GUNDY

Who is this vile creature taking such liberties in front of my house?

MRS. GUNDY

That’s our daughter, dear.

MR. GUNDY

I know, love, I meant that ill-dressed, scrawny looking fellow attaching himself to her like some insect.

KANDIDE

Forgive me, your prominence.  My name is Kandide, and I love your daughter beyond measure.

MR. GUNDY

Love?  Constance, what say you to this?

CONNIE

I like him well enough, papa.  And he’s promised to make me a most comfortable bride.

BROTHER

(distrustful) Really.  What are your prospects?

KANDIDE

Well, my great sage and mentor says that no matter what profes­sion I put my mind to, all will come out for the best.

MR. GUNDY

This is a very wise man.  What is his name?

KANDIDE

Panglev.

MR. GUNDY

Panglev?  Funny, I have not heard of this gentleman.  And I pride myself on having read every one of the great European philoso­phers.

MRS. GUNDY

Even the ones he doesn’t understand.

BROTHER

(to Kandide) How can we be sure you’re not marrying my sister for her great wealth and treasure?

KANDIDE

Oh, but I am.

MRS. GUNDY

(shocked) What?

KANDIDE

I adore Connie for her great wealth of beauty, and her great treasure of wit.

(A round of awws and applawws)

MR. GUNDY

I must say, I like this young man most exceedingly well!  And I’m certain that any marriage between you and my daughter would be, as your mentor would say, all for the best.

(A servant hands out glasses to all)

MR. GUNDY

A toast, to Kandide.  The newest member of the Gundy family.  May he do credit to us all.  Prozit!

(All reply “prozit” and drink,

except for Kandide who exclaims:)

KANDIDE

L’chaim!

(All stop drinking)

BROTHER

Excuse me, what did you just say?

KANDIDE

L’chaim.  It means “to life.”

MRS. GUNDY

Strange, I’ve never heard that phrase before.

BROTHER

Sounds like a kind of gutter German.

MR. GUNDY

(laughs) Well, we’ll cure Kandide of such vulgarities soon enough.

CONNIE

(relieved) That’s right, papa.

MR. GUNDY

After all, we wouldn’t want people thinking you’re married to a commoner, or a Jew.

(All laugh, including a confused Kandide)

KANDIDE

Oh, how perfect life is!  To find a lovely wife, and her father a paragon of jest!  If only Rabbi Panglev were here to share in my good fortune.

(Sound effect of shattering

as all drop their glasses.

Kandide, thinking this to be some custom,

drops his as well.

Very quiet for a moment.

Brother Gundy slips back into the house)

MR. GUNDY

Pardon, but did you say Rabbi Panglev?

KANDIDE

Yes!  The man who raised me and made me what I am today.

MR. GUNDY

Yes but, you’re not Jewish are you?

KANDIDE

(laughs) Voo den?  Of course, I’m Jewish.  Surely Connie told you.  Is something wrong?

(Brother Gundy appears with

the biggest shotgun you ever saw,

which he aims directly at Kandide’s head)

KANDIDE

Why must we behave this way?  I’ve done nothing –

(Brother Gundy cocks the trigger)

BROTHER

Get off our property, Jew.

KANDIDE

(pause, serious) Not without my betrothed.  Connie?

(Connie moves towards Kandide)

MRS. GUNDY

Constance!  Surely you wouldn’t – !

CONNIE

Kandide asked me to marry him, and that’s what I’ll do.

MR. GUNDY

(slaps her) Listen you silly bitch.  Are you going to throw your life away on a Jew?  Because I swear, once you leave this house, not one crust of bread, not one zloty, will you ever get from me.

CONNIE

But papa!

MR. GUNDY

If you want to sacrifice your life –

KANDIDE

Now that’s not –

(Brother Gundy butts Kandide

in the stomach with the rifle)

MR. GUNDY

It’s nothing to your mother and me if you throw your life away.  After all, your brother we wanted; you were just a mistake.  But be that as it may, you’re a Gundy.  And I’d sooner see you dead with maggots chewing your eyelids than bring shame on our royal name by marrying beneath yourself.

CONNIE

(crying) How can you be so cruel?   Mother?

(Mrs. Gundy turns stiffly away)

BROTHER

It’s your decision, sister.  Either live in poverty with this filthy kike, shunned by everyone you ever met and reviled by strangers..

CONNIE

Or?

BROTHER

Or live as you have lived.  With all the comforts of home, family and regal birth.

MR. GUNDY

Well, what do you say?

KANDIDE

Connie?

CONNIE

(sobs and hands back the flowers) I’m sorry, Kandide.

(Connie rushes off)

BROTHER

Get up and get out.  If I ever catch you on this property, I’ll set the dogs on you.

(As Kandide crosses the stage,

Brother Gundy kicks him in the backside.

Mrs. Gundy removes her shoe

and hands it to the servant)

MRS. GUNDY

Burn this.  And wipe the door down with soap and hot water.

(Lights dim.  Spotlight on Kandide)

KANDIDE

What misfortune!  To be so close to earthly bliss, and then this.  What can I do?  Who can I turn to?  (snaps his fingers) Rabbi Panglev says we can always talk to HaShem.  He may not always answer, but He always listens.  (takes a yarmulka out of his pocket) God, are you listening?  Shma yisroel adonai elohenu, adonai echud.  Boruch shem kvod malchuso leolam vaed…

(Eyes closed, Kandide recites the Shma.

Thus, he doesn’t notice

three other neighborhood teens

who watch him with bemused contempt.

One lifts Kandide’s yarmulka)

KANDIDE

Hey!

IVAN

You lost your hat.

KANDIDE

Don’t – !

(The boisterous youths

toss the yarmulka back and forth)

JOSEF

You’re breaking the law, you know.

KANDIDE

Says who?

JOSEF

Says the government.  Jews are ruining the economy.

MISHA

Who are you praying to?

KANDIDE

God.

MISHA

What God is that?

KANDIDE

Yours and mine.

(Ivan flicks Kandide’s head)

IVAN

Careful, Jewboy.

KANDIDE

Look, it’s not fair.  Three against one.

JOSEF

Why does he automatically assume we want to fight?  Maybe the Jew wants to fight, hmm?

KANDIDE

I don’t want to fight with anyone.  Except Mr. Gundy, because he won’t let me marry his daughter.

MISHA

(laughs) Old man Gundy does have a brain!

KANDIDE

Give me my yarmu – give me my hat back and I’ll go.

IVAN

In Church, the priest says you killed Christ.

KANDIDE

I killed Christ?  When?

MISHA

The Jews.  They could have saved him, but they crucified him.

KANDIDE

It’s not my fault.

IVAN

Yes it is.  Your people wanted Jesus dead, and now you drink blood every Passover.

KANDIDE

What?  I don’t know who this priest is, but he should speak to Rabbi Panglev, because Rabbi Panglev is so wise – ouch! what do I know about Jesus Christ?

(Ivan grabs him by the ear)

IVAN

Don’t take our Lord’s name in vain.

KANDIDE

I’m not.

MISHA

My mama told me, every time a Jew says the name Jesus, a Chris­tian baby dies.

JOSEF

Are you a baby killer?

IVAN & MISHA

Baby killer!  Baby killer!

KANDIDE

Help!  Help!

(Misha stuffs the yarmulka

in Kandide’s mouth)

IVAN

Let’s show the Jew what we do to baby killers.

(Misha, Ivan & Joseph fall upon Kandide

and favor him with a good Christian pummeling.

Kandide’s instruction completed,

the trio move off.

Kandide drags himself up and walks across the stage

where Panglev has appeared.

Kandide throws his arms around Panglev

and cries)

PANGLEV

There, there.  This, too, shall pass.

KANDIDE

How can you say that?  The girl I love won’t marry me, her par­ents won’t even let me see her, and I’m beaten like an apple pancake for no reason!

PANGLEV

God has his reasons.  God has his reasons for everything.

KANDIDE

You mean God is up in Heaven, looking down and saying, if I make Moshe Kandidevsky really miserable, something good will come of it?

PANGLEV

(chuckles) Not quite, but then again, maybe so.  Who are we to question the ways of HaShem?  The world has been with us for 5,697 years; obviously He is doing something right.

KANDIDE

Then am I doing something wrong?

PANGLEV

Maybe.  In your heart, you alone know if that’s true.  And HaShem knows.

KANDIDE

So God is punishing me?

PANGLEV

Only if you consider life a punishment.  You see, Kandide, life is what it is.  Some good, some bad.  And what seems bad to us right now might in the long run not be so terrible.  A perfect world? no.  But it’s the best of all possible worlds.  And I would not want to live any other time, any other place –

KANDIDE

What about Eretz Yisroel?

PANGLEV

The Holy Land? (thinks) If HaShem wants me to see the Holy Land, He will find a way to get me there.  Until then, Poland is my home.

(Panglev gives Kandide an apple)

KANDIDE

I’ve heard stories, about Germany.

PANGLEV

You mustn’t believe everything you hear.  Besides, this is Po­land, not Germany.

KANDIDE

To hear Hitler talk, you’d think they were one and the same.

PANGLEV

Nonsense.  He signed a treaty with England in exchange for –

KANDIDE

Everything.

PANGLEV

Room.  They wanted more room.  Must be a crowded country.

KANDIDE

And if they come here?

PANGLEV

Why should they?  What can they get here that they can’t get in Czechoslovakia?

KANDIDE

Us.

PANGLEV

(waves the name away) Pah.  Hitler’s a politician.  Why should he risk losing everything to make trouble here?

KANDIDE

He hates us, Rabbi.  He wants to throw all the Jews out of Germa­ny.

PANGLEV

Excellent!  Just as it should be!  For if they’re not to be treated well in Germany, it’s best for them to leave, no?

KANDIDE

Where would they go?

PANGLEV

Stop worrying, Moishe.  The Germans aren’t coming so fast.

NARRATOR

Three months later..

(An excited housewife rushes on)

HOUSEWIFE

The Germans are invading!  (crosses herself) I just heard it on the radio.

(A crowd quickly gathers

in a flurry of anxious gossip)

MR. EILER

Have they seized the capital?

MR. ZIESLER

What about the Russians?

MR. SPIELER

What if he wants everyone to turn German!

HOUSEWIFE

Shh!  The radio!

(All huddle in dim light as an announcer speaks.

An overlapping voice is soon heard;

a German one.

Soon the radio language is German)

RADIO ANNOUNCER(S)

Dearest Radio Listeners.  A dark hour is upon us.  Crossing the Polish border are thousands of German troops, intent upon seizing the nation’s capitol and making our beloved country a Nazi pro­tectorate.  We ask you not to panic.  We don’t know how much longer we can go on broadcasting before the Germans…. …..will give full allegiance to der Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler, and to the great German master race.  We expect full cooperation from our Polish brothers and will tolerate nothing less than total obedi­ence to the German will.  In the matter of the Jews…

KANDIDE

(turns downstage) What will happen to us?

(Women leave the stage.

Men don prayer shawls as Rabbi Panglev

mounts a make-shift platform)

PANGLEV

Meeting will come to order.

KANDIDE

Rabbi Panglev, what will happen to the Jews?

PANGLEV

There is no need for panic.

MR. ZEISLER

How can you say don’t panic?!  I hear they’re shooting Jews in the streets –

PANGLEV

They’re not shooting Jews in the streets..

MR. EILER

Do you know this for a fact?

PANGLEV

Everyone please —

KANDIDE

Shh.. Quiet down, the Rebbe’s speaking!

PANGLEV

Several weeks ago, my young student, Kandide, asked me a very intelligent question.  What do the Nazis want?  Land?  Money?  To beat up on the Jews?

MR. ZEISLER

Yes. Yes. Yes. (murmurs of assent)

PANGLEV

No.  What does Hitler really want?  He wants us to lose hope.  He wants us to be so frightened we shrivel up worrying what he’ll do to us.

MR. SPIELER

So what’s the answer, Rebbe?

PANGLEV

Be strong.  Trust in HaShem.  Let fate run its course, because fate will run its course whether you like it to or not.

MR. EILER

Excuse me, Rabbi, but as Jews, aren’t we responsible for our own fates?

PANGLEV

What shoes we wear.  What occupation we take up.  (pointedly to Kandide) What women our children marry.  But stopping a madman and his army?  This we must leave to a higher power.

MR. ZELLER

Pardon me, Rabbi, but I must speak out.  For those of you who believe the Lord helps those who help themselves, I offer this.  In two weeks, there will be a ship leaving from Danzig headed for America.  (Oohs and aahs) I have an uncle in New York, he’s arranging to get me a visa.  He’s promised to do what he can to help anyone else interested.

MR. ZEISLER

When is the boat?

MR. ZELLER

Two weeks, Thursday.  The cost of a passport goes up every day in this toilet of a country, so I suggest we all start making plans.  (commotion)

KANDIDE

Rabbi, what do you say to all this?

PANGLEV

Ships to America.  Rich uncles in New York.  Next you’ll be telling me about..men..walking on the moon.

KANDIDE

(personally, to Panglev) How do you know this boat wasn’t brought here by God to save everyone?  Our community?

PANGLEV

Look, if you want to get on that boat, Kandide, you’re a man now, I can’t stop you.  Me, I say `better the evil you know than the one that’s hidden from you until the last minute.’

KANDIDE

Rebbe, things could get very dangerous here.

PANGLEV

(Yiddish, to all) Gay, gay mit gezint.  Go with my blessing.  And may you all arrive safely in America.

MR. ZELLER

But you are not coming?

PANGLEV

No.  I don’t trust the water; I trust elsewhere.

MR. SPIELER

In every place, in every generation, someone comes to plague the Jews.

PANGLEV

(chuckles) Pah.  Compared to a Pharoah and a Haman.  What’s a Hitler?

(Lighting change.

A Polish pawnshop owner stands before his counter

and scrutinizes a watch.

Kandide approaches carrying a large sack)

KANDIDE

Please, I would like to sell some things.

OLKEWICZ

Certainly, my boy.  What have you got?

KANDIDE

A victrola.  It plays records.

OLKEWICZ

I know.

KANDIDE

Like having an orchestra in your own home.

OLKEWICZ

What else?

KANDIDE

Feather pillows.  Hand-sewn by Zelda Grobnik and soft as butter.

OLKEWICZ

Used pillows…?

KANDIDE

Look, I really need this mo – (checks pockets) Here.  A beauti­ful fountain pen, I may have used it once.

(Kandide scrawls on his own hand)

KANDIDE

See?  Still writes!

OLKEWICZ

What else in the bag?

KANDIDE

Blankets, some books.  I don’t come from wealth.

OLKEWICZ

I’ll give you 10 zlotys for the lot.

KANDIDE

Ten?  That’s nothing!

OLKEWICZ

So don’t take it.

KANDIDE

These pillows alone.  Feel how puchka.

(Kandide holds a pillow up

to the shop owner’s cheek)

OLKEWICZ

Look, nobody wants to sleep on a used pillow, crank an ancient gramophone or write with a leaky fountain pen.  (Kandide rubs the ink off his hands)

KANDIDE

Please!  If I don’t raise at least 20 zlotys, I’ll never get out of Poland.

OLKEWICZ

What makes you think you’re getting out of Poland so fast?

KANDIDE

There’s a ship next Thursday.  All I need is to pay off the right people and there’s a visa already waiting for me in America.

OLKEWICZ

(jumps) America!  You’re going to America!

KANDIDE

Yes.

OLKEWICZ

Everything is in America!

KANDIDE

I’ve heard, yes.

OLKEWICZ

Will you go to New York?

KANDIDE

I think we have to.  The port is there, in the harbor.

OLKEWICZ

In New York they have chocolate?  And electric irons?  And tea leaves in little bags?

KANDIDE

I guess, yes!

OLKEWICZ

I’ll make you a deal.  You be my man in New York.  You send me things.

KANDIDE

What things?

OLKEWICZ

Anything!  Candy, vacuum cleaners, false teeth.  Anything I can use here.  Even with the thieves in customs I can make a fortune.  And I’ll make you rich, too, don’t worry.

KANDIDE

But I need to get to America first.

OLKEWICZ

Here’s 50 zlotys down-payment.  First thing you arrive in Ameri­ca, get me magazines.  Movie stars, baseball, the Sears catalogue – lots of pictures, yes?

KANDIDE

(takes money) Thank you!

OLKEWICZ

No, thank you!  Normally, I’m a cheapskate, ask anybody.  But just say the word “America” and my pockets reach down to my ankles.  Why?  Because you bring me luck.

KANDIDE

(leaving) I hope so!

OLKEWICZ

(scooping up sack) I know so!  Good luck, Yankee doodle!

(Kandide leaves.

Olkiewicz looks at the goods)

OLKEWICZ

Twenty apiece for the pillows, fifty for the blanket.  Two hun­dred for the antique victrola.  Olkewicz, you’re a genius.

(The shop owner exits with his new merchandise.

Kandide bargains with two Nazi functionaries)

ROHEIM

So you want to leave Poland?

KANDIDE

Yes, sir.

ROHEIM

And where will you go, Jew?

(Kandide shows them his papers)

WALDHEIM

America.  Why they let you people in is beyond me, but we’re happy to see you go.

KANDIDE

I’m happy to leave.

ROHEIM

(pause) There’s just a small matter of the application fee..

KANDIDE

Ah, I came prepared.

WALDHEIM

Did you?

ROHEIM

You know, the cost is 20 zlotys.

KANDIDE

Fine, I came with more than that.

ROHEIM

Uh, I’m sorry!  What was I thinking?  It’s 20 for the applica­tion, 10 for the processing fee.  You’re absolutely right, it’s 30 altogether.

KANDIDE

Well, here’s 30 zlotys.

WALDHEIM

(counting) I’ll bet it’s the last penny you have in the world, eh Jew?

KANDIDE

Oh no, I’ve struck up this business deal with a rich merchant.  30 zlotys is nothing.

ROHEIM

Nothing!  (to Waldheim) “Nothing” he says.

WALDHEIM

And it’s a good thing, too.  You see, Germany is very efficient, everything runs top-notch.  But we’re still in Poland.  And let’s face it, Poles are only a half-step up the evolutionary ladder from Jews.

ROHEIM

Things have a way of getting lost here.  Papers shifted to the bottom of the pile, accidentally overlooked..  It’s a nasty business.  Of course, for ten zlotys, Lieutenant Waldheim and I could make sure your file gets special treatment.

KANDIDE

Special treatment?

ROHEIM

Guaranteed.  Ten zlotys.

WALDHEIM

Apiece.

KANDIDE

Well, all right. (pays them)

WALDHEIM

(scans papers) All seems to be in order.  Captain Roheim?

ROHEIM

(barely skims pages) Iss gut.  (stamps the papers)

ROHEIM

About this business deal.  You wouldn’t by any chance be import­ing things from America?

KANDIDE

Yes, that’s it exactly.  Is there a problem?

ROHEIM & WALDHEIM

Oh no, no, no, no, no.

WALDHEIM

It’s just that customs is a very tricky thing here.  You wouldn’t want your shipments ending up in the wrong hands.

ROHEIM

That’s why everything coming through the border passes through us.

WALDHEIM

We check to make sure it’s all there.

ROHEIM

Keep it out of the hands of black marketeers and sticky-fingered Polacks.  For only twenty percent commission.

WALDHEIM

Apiece.

KANDIDE

Forty percent?!

WALDHEIM

Best deal around.

ROHEIM

(hands Kandide his papers) You think about it.  Have a safe trip.

WALDHEIM

Heil Hitler.

NARRATOR

The year, 1939.  The ship, a rotting old scow.  But to Kandide, it looked like Elijah’s chariot.

(Said ship is represented by a long railing.

Passengers board and stand against the railing,

weeping, worrying and waving goodbye)

KANDIDE

Blow ye winds, and bless this ship!  This vessel that takes me from my homeland, my Poland.  That rips me from my father and teacher, Rabbi Panglev, and cleaves me from my beloved Connie Gundy.  That takes me to my new home, America.

(Kandide has boarded

and stands with the rest of the passengers,

who become increasingly depressed and seasick.

Sea sounds)

OLD MALE PASSENGER

We are all going to die on this bastard ship.

(Other passengers shush him)

OLD MALE PASSENGER

There is no United States.  The Nazis put us to sea to die of cold and hunger.

PASSENGER 2

(laughs) We could have done that in Poland.

(Some chuckles.

A woman near Kandide puts her hand

over her mouth and turns away.

More sea sounds)

PASSENGER 3

Twelve days at sea.

OLD MALE PASSENGER

Emergency rations.

PASSENGER 2

Our clothes stink.

PASSENGER 4

Our bodies stink.

OLD MALE PASSENGER

The earth stinks, and everything on it.  (pause) What are you smiling about?

KANDIDE

How quickly we forget.

PASSENGER 3

Forget what?

KANDIDE

The miracles HaShem has done for us.  We were born.  We wake up and breathe the air every day.  Our arms and legs are perfect in size, shape and function.  God gives us all this, yet a little adversity comes our way and we lose hope.  HaShem will see us through this if we only let him.

PASSENGER 2

You have much wisdom for such a young man.

KANDIDE

If only it were my wisdom.  Rabbi Panglev has taught me well.

OLD MALE PASSENGER

Did he teach you to believe in miracles?

KANDIDE

(pause, calmly) Yes.

(Suddenly, the passengers all bump together)

PASSENGER 4

There it is!

PASSENGER 2

What?

PASSENGER 3

LAND!

OLD MALE PASSENGER

It’s America!  We’re in America!

PASSENGER 3

Where’s the Statue Of Liberty?  (Fifth Passenger points) She’s beautiful!

(Some passengers sob, some hug)

KANDIDE

(shouts to the sky) Thank you, God!  I never doubted.  I never doubted!  (starts to sing, others join in chorus:)

“Od avinu chai.  Od avinu chai.

Am yisroel, am yisroel, am yisroel chai…” etc.

[translation:  Our God still lives; the nation of Israel lives]

(The joyous folksong continues

until a uniformed seaman appears

and stands with his back to the audience.

No words.

He exits.  Long pause)

PASSENGER 2

France.  Now we will go to France.

PASSENGER 3

France is nice I hear.

PASSENGER 4

If America doesn’t want us, why would France?

OLD MALE PASSENGER

Because France doesn’t have Franklin Delano bastard Roosevelt.

PASSENGER 4

I thought everything was arranged.  Our visas, our passports.

PASSENGER 3

Everything I owned..Every feather, stick and bottle..

OLD MALE PASSENGER

I’m not going back.  I’ll jump before I go back.

(Others hold him)

OLD MALE PASSENGER

Drowning’s going to look like a picnic compared to the bastard life ahead of us.

(Lights shift.

Nazi officers herd passengers off the ship)

OFFICER GOTTFREI

Welcome back, Jews.  (to fellow officer) They’re like roaches, you try getting rid them, they just come back, dirtier and fouler smelling than before.  (to disembarking Kandide) What are we going to do with you Jews, eh?

KANDIDE

Leave us in peace?

OFFICER GOTTFREI

What?  And let you pollute the earth with your dirty money and your disgusting food and your degenerate art?

OFFICER WELK

Watch you run our banks and keep money out of the hands of good honest workers?

(Welk grabs another passenger by the collar.

It is the same actor who played Brother Gundy)

NERVOUS PASSENGER

I’m not Jewish.  I’m a Pole.  I’m not one of them, I hate Jews as much as you do.

OFFICER WELK

(pause) If Jews are excrement, Polacks are the flies who dance around it.

(Officer Welk spits in the Pole’s face,

then lets him go.

The Pole hastens up to Kandide)

POLE

(to Kandide) It gets harder and harder to keep your dignity.

(The Pole scrambles away)

OFFICER GOTTFREI

(to Kandide) So many people the world would be better off with­out.

KANDIDE

I still think, all things considered, the world is all right as it is.

(With a look of disgust, the

Nazi pushes Kandide away)

PASSENGER

(acting as narrator) Reluctantly, Kandide returns home.

(Kandide traverses the stage,

the Pole a few strides ahead.

Nazis and passengers leave the stage.

Meanwhile, the other side of the stage

fills with crates, suitcases and bags)

KANDIDE

Pardon, can I ask you a question?  (the Pole shrugs) Why do you hate Jews so much?

POLE

Honestly?  It’s something you can’t explain.  I guess you’re born with it.  Don’t you hate Christians?

KANDIDE

No.

POLE

Not even a little?

KANDIDE

Why should I hate anyone?  Other people have as much right to be here as I do.

POLE

You don’t honestly believe that..?

(Kandide nods.  The Pole shrugs.  He walks on)

KANDIDE

Why were you trying to leave Poland?  The Nazis?

POLE

(he stops) No.  Personal reasons.  I don’t get along with my father.

KANDIDE

How sad.

POLE

He used to be all right.  Of course, he was rich.  But the older he gets, the more irascible he becomes.

KANDIDE

He’s no longer wealthy?

POLE

My sister, bless her heart.  She’s seen to that.  She was prom­ised to a wealthy nobleman, perfect breed, exquisite match.

KANDIDE

What happened?

POLE

This nobleman got wind that my beloved sister wasn’t all of a piece, if you get my meaning.

KANDIDE

No.

POLE

Ahem, town gossip held that the space between her legs was wider than the one between her ears.  You see?

KANDIDE

She’s bowlegged?

POLE

Let’s just say the bloom was off the rose for this particular bridegroom, and he wanted out of the arrangement.

KANDIDE

Fickle man.  More the better for her.

POLE

Not at all.  Rumor had poisoned her name all over town.  Boys from good families weren’t allowed to go near her.  And the few who called for dates weren’t exactly looking for marriage.

KANDIDE

What did this have to do with your father’s fortune?

POLE

Under the original terms, the nobleman would have been entitled to a considerable dowry upon marrying my sister.  Nothing we couldn’t have easily provided, of course.  But now, faced with an old maid of soiled reputation, my father had little recourse but to up the dowry.  For an astronomical sum, the nobleman finally deigned to ask my sister’s hand in marriage.

KANDIDE

Are they happy, at least?

POLE

They will be married next month, and I don’t care if he beats her to death and throws her in the Vistula.

KANDIDE

Don’t say that.

POLE

Why shouldn’t I?  That whore brought shame and disgrace on the Gundy family, and she’ll rot for it.

KANDIDE

Gundy?

POLE

That’s right.  No doubt you’ve heard of us.

KANDIDE

Your face is starting to look very familiar.  Do you own a shot­gun about..yea big?

POLE

I used to, until my father sold it.  Wait a minute!  Aren’t you the fellow who was spouting all that mumbo-jumbo about this being the best of all possible worlds?  The teachings of some Rabbi Panglox or something?

KANDIDE

Panglev, yes!  And you are Brother Gundy!

POLE

(excited) And you are…

KANDIDE

Kandide!

POLE

Kandide!

(They jump up and hug)

POLE

Oh, what turns of fate have led us to this reunion!

KANDIDE

And Connie, she is well?

POLE

She’s marrying a rich husband, why shouldn’t –

(They are interrupted by

the one and only Panglev)

PANGLEV

Kandide!  My boy!  My boy!  I thought you’d gone.

KANDIDE

(they hug) I had, but America was all filled up.  The only room for me was here.  What’s going on?

PANGLEV

Wonderful news!  The Nazis are coming tomorrow morning.  We have to be packed and ready to go.

KANDIDE

Go where?

OLD WOMAN

(hurrying by with her belongings) They’ve set up a part of town for all the Jews.  No non-Jews can come in, no Jews can go out.  A lot of Jews were already living there, so the Nazis made it an official “Jewish area.”

BROTHER GUNDY

Sounds like a ghetto.

PANGLEV

Who’s this?

KANDIDE

This is my new old friend, Brother Gundy.

PANGLEV

Shalom.  Anyway, all the Jews get to stay together, in one area.  Away from the Poles – (to Gundy) no offense – away from all the soldiers and the Nazi narishkeit [nonsense].  It’ll be like our own little homeland.

BROTHER GUNDY

That’s not what I heard.

KANDIDE

What did you hear?

BROTHER GUNDY

I heard there’ll be curfews every night at six.

PANGLEV

So?  Who needs to sleep late?

BROTHER GUNDY

I heard the Nazis will allow only a small amount of food and clothing in the territory.

PANGLEV

Pants, shirts, a little borscht.  What else do we need that HaShem can’t give us?

BROTHER GUNDY

They’re also not allowing commerce between Jews and non-Jews.

PANGLEV

Good!  For too long we’ve been overcharged and cheated by our Polish neighbors.  From now on, we’ll keep the money in our own community.  Take responsibility for ourselves.

BROTHER GUNDY

I heard that when they get drunk, they start killing Jews for sport.

(Kandide & Gundy look at Panglev)

PANGLEV

I have no answer for that.  But I’m working on it.

KANDIDE

(proudly, to Gundy) He always comes up with something.  Panglev is one of a kind!

BROTHER GUNDY

We’re in agreement there.

KANDIDE

But until he does..what are we going to do?

BROTHER GUNDY

Warsaw is out of the question.  No friend of mine is going to rot in some internment camp.

KANDIDE

What do you suggest?

(Brother Gundy thinks hard,

then laughs maliciously)

BROTHER GUNDY

Oh, this is too perfect.

KANDIDE

What’s so funny?

BROTHER GUNDY

My friend, as of this evening, you are officially a member of the Gundy household.

PANGLEV

What’s he saying?

BROTHER GUNDY

You are welcome too, Pegleg.

KANDIDE

Panglev.

BROTHER GUNDY

Both of you can come live with me in my father’s house.

PANGLEV

But won’t your father object?

BROTHER GUNDY

(evil laugh) Oh, yes.  What better way to get back at the old imbecile?  The man who robbed me of my inheritance?  Harbor two illegal Jews under his roof.  He’ll have a heart attack, and mother will have a stroke nursing him back to health.  Oh, do say you’ll come!

KANDIDE

Where would we stay?

BROTHER GUNDY

In the attic.  It’s dark, it’s damp, the floor is rotting.  But you’re Jews, you’ll adapt.

KANDIDE

What if the Nazis come?

BROTHER GUNDY

You have my word of honor as a gentleman and a Pole, no harm shall come to you in my home.  What do you say?

PANGLEV

What about my furniture?  Our belongings?

KANDIDE

(quietly) Rebbe, don’t be silly, they won’t fit in an attic.

BROTHER GUNDY

Of course not.  There’s hardly room up there for your own bodies.  And if you want to shut the door, one of you has to be naked.

PANGLEV

I don’t know..

KANDIDE

(sotto voce) Please Rebbe, don’t you see how much this means to me?  I’ll be living in the same house with my beloved Connie.  How right you’ve been all along, Panglev.  Surely HaShem has led us to this place for our happiness and well-being.

PANGLEV

(nods) It is a special day when the master learns from his student.

KANDIDE

You’ll come with us?

PANGLEV

Lead the way.

(Kandide throws his arms around Panglev.

The trio exit laughing)

NARRATOR

For six weeks, Kandide and Panglev lived in the attic of the Gundy house.  The Gundys made no effort to keep kosher, so the guests lived on bread, leftover vegetables, and the occasional fish-head on Fridays.

(The attic may be represented

by the tops of two ladders,

or, in large theatres, a ladder

reaching to the side balcony box.

Kandide & Panglev reside at the top;

others climb up and down the ladder.

Dim light.

Kandide & Panglev sleep shoulder to shoulder.

A woman appears below.

She slowly starts climbing the ladder.

Kandide awakens in fear.

He fingers the fringes on his talis

as he prays silently, nervously.

Panglev begins to snore.

Afraid to shush the Rebbe,

Kandide takes off his talis

and drapes it over the Rebbe.

It works)

KANDIDE

Thank you, HaShem.

CONNIE

(quietly) Kandide?  Kandide?  It’s me, Connie.

KANDIDE

(loud) Connie!  (he clamps his hand over his mouth)

CONNIE

Can I come in?

KANDIDE

I don’t think there’s room.

CONNIE

I brought you some fresh apricots.  And some cheese – kosher, I made it myself.  Wax to plug up the termite holes.  Some more writing paper for your diary.  Carrots.

KANDIDE

Mmm, carrots.

CONNIE

And a little schnapps.  Just for the two of us.  (she pours) Oh, Kandy, this is so romantic.

(Panglev snores and falls forward.

Connie hands Kandide a glass)

CONNIE

Sip it slowly, it’s very strong.  Made from my great, great grandfather’s special recipe.

KANDIDE

Mmm..Whoa!

CONNIE

(laughs) See, most people make schnapps from potatoes.  Not my great, great grandfather.

KANDIDE

What did he use?

CONNIE

Onions.  Horse radish.  Anything that was lying around the garden, actually.

KANDIDE

Connie –

CONNIE

The original recipe used to include field mice and slugs.

KANDIDE

Connie.  Next week you are to be married to another man. (Connie nods) Well, you’re not going to go through with it, are you?

CONNIE

(torn) I don’t know, Kandide.  I mean, you’re very sweet, and you treat me as if I were still a virgin.  But I need a future.  I want a family, and children, and lots of heavy jewelry.

KANDIDE

But I can give you those things!  Someday..

CONNIE

Don’t be a fool.  If the Nazis had their way, you’d be eating your own fingers just to stay alive.

KANDIDE

Don’t exaggerate.  Not all Nazis are bad.  As Panglev says, there are good Nazis and bad Nazis, just like everything else.

CONNIE

Kandide, in the hair of the world, Jews are the lice. In the mouth of the world, Jews are the bad breath.  In the colon –

KANDIDE

Why are you saying these things?

CONNIE

Wake up, Kandide!  The world is your landlord and it’s kicking you out.

KANDIDE

There’s just a lot of hysteria right now.  Things will calm down once people regain their senses.  Look at your brother.  The first time we met, he pointed a shotgun at me and kicked me soundly in the behind.  Now, I’m living in his house.

CONNIE

But Kandide, can’t you see any love between us is doomed?

KANDIDE

All I see is I’m the one in trouble, but you’re the one who’s giving up.

CONNIE

(strokes Kandide’s hair) Oh my naive little Jew, you’re a deer in a forest full of hunters.  You’re a shining, six-pointed star in a world of wooden crosses.

KANDIDE

And you are mine, beloved Connie.  No matter what happens.

(They kiss.  Passionately.

Panglev sleeps as clothing  falls past the ladder.

A figure moves below.

Brother Gundy hurries up the ladder

as garments land on and around him)

BROTHER GUNDY

(halfway up, peering through the darkness, whispering) Kandide!  Rabbi Pancake!  It’s me.  Are you there?

(A shtupping Kandide and sleeping Panglev

do not respond)

BROTHER GUNDY

Nazis are sweeping through the town.  Apparently some Jew set fire to a government building and they’re searching every house until they find him.  Kandide?  Whatever you do, keep quiet.  I’ve brought some old blankets to stuff in front of the attic door in case they want to come upstairs.

(Kandide moans)

BROTHER GUNDY

Kandide?

(Connie moans)

BROTHER GUNDY

Rabbi??

(Brother Gundy hastens up the ladder

to find, well..)

What the – OH MY GOD!

(Connie yelps and gathers herself)

BROTHER GUNDY

Filthy strumpet!

(He moves to strike Connie)

KANDIDE

Wait a minute, I can explain.

BROTHER GUNDY

Explain what, you animal!

KANDIDE

Connie and I still love each other.  She’s going to marry me.

BROTHER GUNDY

A Gundy marry a Jew?!  That would be like a tree marrying a locust.

CONNIE

But he’s not a Jew anymore, he’s family!

BROTHER GUNDY

Hellhag!  You’ve already lost our inheritance, do you want to cost us our lives?

(Sound of knocking, off)

CONNIE

What do we do?

KANDIDE

I don’t know.  If Panglev were awake I’d ask him –

BROTHER GUNDY

(kicks Panglev in the head) Wake up, old man.

KANDIDE

Hey!

(Louder knocking)

BROTHER GUNDY

Shut up, everyone!  Sister, get your clothes on and come down here.  (Connie obliges) Then get the door when I say so.  (to Kan & Pan) You two, not a word, not a peep.  Here.

(Gundy hands Kandide blankets

to cover the attic front.

These blankets may hang over the balcony railing

as Panglev & Kandide crouch behind them.

Heavy pounding as two Nazi officers approach.

Brother nods at sister to let them in)

OFFICER STRAUSS

Excuse us for bothering you at this late hour, Fraulein.  We’re conducting a routine house-check in this area.  May we have a look around?

CONNIE

Certainly.  May I ask what it is you’re looking for?

OFFICER WAGNER

Vermin inspection.

OFFICER STRAUSS

Horrifying the things that creep into people’s houses nowadays.

BROTHER GUNDY

Yes, well, we keep our house very clean.  Not a hint of impurity here, of any kind.

OFFICER STRAUSS

Who are you?

BROTHER GUNDY

The name is Gundy.  Of noble birth and royal ancestry.

(He salutes.

The officers walk by, searching)

OFFICER WAGNER

(points to ladder) What’s up here?

CONNIE

Oh, nothing.  Just an old attic.

OFFICER STRAUSS

An attic?  Do you mind? (starts climbing)

CONNIE

Don’t bother.  We had it boarded up years ago.

OFFICER STRAUSS

Oh?  How come?

CONNIE

The house was drafty.  All the heat was escaping upstairs, so we thought by closing off the attic..

BROTHER GUNDY

Yes, and besides, you never know what kinds of unwelcome visitors might invade the nooks and crannies of our cozy home.

OFFICER WAGNER

Such as?

CONNIE

Mice, rats..

OFFICER WAGNER

Jews?

CONNIE

(laughs) Jews?  No Jews.  We sprayed for them a month ago.  (the officers laugh with her)

BROTHER GUNDY

Why are you playing games with the officers, Connie?

CONNIE

What games?

BROTHER GUNDY

(slowly making his way up the stairs) Oh you know, diverting them from their very important purpose.

CONNIE

Oh, I’m just..flirting.  (to Strauss) You know, I’m captivated by men in uniform.

BROTHER GUNDY

Yes, well, she is a slut, isn’t she?  Men everywhere.  Colonels in the kitchen, stableboys in the cellar, Rabbis in the attic..

CONNIE

My brother has a sick sense of humor.

BROTHER GUNDY

Not at all.  I’m just building momentum for the surprise.

CONNIE

What surprise?

OFFICER STRAUSS

(to Brother Gundy) Listen Pole, I don’t like surprises.  I shoot surprises.

(Enter ma & pa Gundy)

FATHER GUNDY

What in the name of all that’s –

OFFICER STRAUSS

(aiming) Freeze!  Who are you?

FATHER GUNDY

(positioning his wife in front of him) I am Ignatius Gundy, and this is my wife, Yachna.

OFFICER STRAUSS

Are these your children?

FATHER GUNDY

What have they done?

MOTHER GUNDY

Yes, they’re ours.

FATHER GUNDY

Daughter, what’s the meaning of this?

BROTHER GUNDY

(to Connie) Will you do the honors, sister mine, or shall I?

(Connie spits at him)

BROTHER GUNDY

Up to me then.  Gentlemen, to show my respect for your powerful Fuhrer, I give you my humble offering.  (Moves to pull away the blankets, stops) But before I present this gift from me to your country, I would like assurances that my sister, though directly responsible for harboring what you’re about to see, be deported, but not jailed, tortured or killed, unless absolutely necessary.

OFFICER STRAUSS

(to Brother Gundy) Are you going to move away?

BROTHER GUNDY

Ah, I see you grow impatient for your surprise.  Let me present then, the object of your hatred and mine, Jews!

(Brother Gundy pulls the blanket away.

A horrified Kandide tumbles out.

Panglev slumps over, snoring)

OFFICER STRAUSS

Well, well, well.

OFFICER WAGNER

Nasty rodents indeed.  (to Connie) You should find a better exterminator.

OFFICER STRAUSS

(sneers) Look at this old one.  Hard to imagine it breathes the same air.

(Strauss aims his rifle butt at Panglev’s head)

KANDIDE

No!

(Strauss rifle butts Kandide across the face)

OFFICER STRAUSS

Shnell!

(Kandide hurries down the ladder.

Wagner pulls Panglev up by his shoulders)

OFFICER WAGNER

It makes me sick just to touch him.

PANGLEV

(groggy) What is it?  Where am I?

(The officers march Kandide and Panglev out)

CONNIE GUNDY

I’m sorry, Kandide.

PANGLEV

(to Kandide) See what happens when you date goyim?

BROTHER GUNDY

(to Strauss) I trust you will put in a good word to your superi­ors about how cooperative the Gundy family has been to your investigation..

OFFICER STRAUSS

Report to the station house first thing tomorrow.  All of you.

BROTHER GUNDY

Perhaps it’s premature to talk of a reward, however, when you think of the cost of feeding and sheltering –

OFFICER STRAUSS

This household is officially under arrest for harboring undesira­bles.

BROTHER GUNDY

Excuse me?

OFFICER STRAUSS

Tomorrow morning you will be taken to a prison camp in Poznan, where you will await your trial.

OFFICER WAGNER

If you do not report to station house at daybreak, soldiers will come here and fire bullets through the lot of you.

BROTHER GUNDY

Surely you’re not including me, the man who helped you?

OFFICER STRAUSS

(smiles) Surprise.

(Connie runs to Kandide)

CONNIE

Oh Kandide!

KANDIDE

Connie!  Promise to love me forever and ever!

CONNIE

I promise!

KANDIDE

Promise you’ll let no man come before me in your heart.

CONNIE

I promise!

KANDIDE

Promise you’ll wait for me, no matter how long it takes.  (pause) Connie?

CONNIE

How long do you think you’ll be?

(The officers herd Panglev & Kandide out)

CONNIE

I mean, I’ve got my whole life ahead of me.  And Count Vittrish has already asked…  Don’t think badly of me.

BROTHER GUNDY

Father, what do you think the dowry is on a promiscuous Jew-smuggler?

FATHER GUNDY

Shut up or I’ll maim you.

(Lights down & music up

as all exit)

END OF ACT ONE

ACT TWO

NARRATOR

As of the next morning, the family Gundy ceased to exist as a unit.  At Poznan, Mr. and Mrs. Gundy are separated from their two children.  By their own request.  Meanwhile, Kandide and Panglev are brought to a filthy, disease-infested quarter of Warsaw, where they can move about freely, but are forbidden to leave.

(Kandide ponders glumly.

Panglev enters,

staring raptly at the yellow star on his sleeve)

PANGLEV

Kandide, isn’t it wonderful?

KANDIDE

(notices) Oh, you got one of those, too.

PANGLEV

See how it shines!  How it says to the world, “Here is a Jew!”

KANDIDE

No disrespect intended, Rebbe, but I think the world had no trouble spotting us before these.

(Panglev sits by Kandide.

As the Rabbi becomes more fervent,

suffering ghetto-dwellers look on with mixed emotions)

PANGLEV

Yes, but what an ingenious idea!  What a humanitarian concept!  Wherever we are, whatever we happen to look like, two Jews can see each other and know immediately that they are landtsmen.  Two strangers, alone, not a soul on earth to turn to.  They see this glowing star coming toward them, no more alone.  They’re linked.  All Jews connected, and this is how!

KANDIDE

I don’t think that’s what the Germans had in mind.

PANGLEV

Who cares what they had in mind?  What was in the mind of the Mind of all Minds?  A sign, don’t you see?  Jews should be made to wear these all over the world!  So that a man in Australia, and a man in, in China..different as night and day, but Jews.  Inseparable.  Insuparable.

(Kandide grabs Panglev’s hand and weeps)

KANDIDE

I have so much to learn, my Rabbi.  So much.

(A woman’s scream, off.

Potatoes and beets roll across the stage.

Two men and a woman rush on;

they hold another woman before them)

MAN

Miserable woman!  Did you think no one would catch you?

WOMAN

Don’t hurt me!

ANGRY WOMAN

Have you no shame?

MAN B

(picking up vegetables) Potatoes, beets.  No bread?  (sneers) How can you have a feast without bread?

KANDIDE

What’s going on?

MAN

This woman was caught stealing food.

KANDIDE

Maybe it’s a mistake –

MAN B

Does this look like a mistake?

THIEF

It’s not for me.  My daughter.  My child is ill.

KANDIDE

What’s wrong with her?

ANGRY WOMAN

She’s got a mother who’s a thief, that’s what.

THIEF

My Rivka may be dying, and all I can give her is water.

KANDIDE

What happened to your rations?

THIEF

Someone stole them.

ANGRY WOMAN

So now you steal.

THIEF

Have pity, what would you do?

PANGLEV

I would pray to HaShem to heal the child.

MAN

You’re lucky it was us.  If the Nazis got ahold of you, you’d be finished!

THIEF

I don’t care!  My Rivka needs to eat!

(Kandide hands the woman bread,

an apple & an egg)

KANDIDE

Here.  This is the best I can do.

MAN

Don’t be foolish.

ANGRY WOMAN

This is how you reward a thief?

THIEF

I thank you.  Bless you.

MAN B

Get out of here!

(All chant “Go! Thief! etc., as she scuttles off)

MAN B

You think you’ve done a big mitzvah.

PANGLEV

He behaved with compassion.  That’s what counts.

MAN B

No, what counts is that child will be dead in three days, food or no food.  The Nazis are starving us, killing us by attrition, and only the strongest will survive.

KANDIDE

(pleased to recognize the theory) Oh, Darwinism!

MAN B

That’s right.  The weak are doomed anyway, so it’s imperative to do all you can to save the strong.  If the elephants shared their food with the dinosaurs, there’d be no elephants or dinosaurs.

KANDIDE

But how can you turn down someone in need?

MAN B

She was given the same provisions as the rest of us.  They were stolen?  Next time she’ll be more careful.  And let me tell you, I saw that look in her eye.  If someone comes to steal from her again, she’ll knife them first.  She’ll do them a lot worse than she got from us, that’s a promise.  She knows how it is in this world.

KANDIDE

And so do you.  And would it be so terrible if you gave her a small potato?  A little cheese?

MAN B

No.  And would it make even a tiny difference in your life if she were dead?  (pause) No, my friend, it wouldn’t.

(The other man exits.

Kandide and Panglev walk together)

PANGLEV

So, big shot, what do you know from Charles Darwin?

KANDIDE

Just a little.

PANGLEV

(swats him) Too much.  No wonder the Nazis are burning books.

(Two men bear a third, sitting up, on a stretcher.

He narrates)

NARRATOR

Many months pass in the ghetto.  Disease spreads like gossip.  Despair hangs from the trees and smells like urine.  Faded yellow stars rub against each other, making a noise that sounds like a gasp.  Most people survive as best they can.  Some don’t survive at all.

(The narrator lies down on the stretcher.

His bearers dump him onto the stage

near Kan & Pan and exit)

KANDIDE

(pause) Do you think he was killed, or did he just. . .die?

PANGLEV

Well, the Talmud says –

KANDIDE

Forget it.  Nobody just dies here.

(A young man runs on

and steals the dead man’s cap)

KANDIDE

(calling after him) Hey!  Hey!  (to Panglev) Did you see that?

PANGLEV

Och, why are you upsetting yourself?  What good would it do?

(The thief returns, this time with an accomplice.

One removes the corpse’s shirt,

the other his shoes)

KANDIDE

Stop that!  What are you doing?

FIRST THIEF

How are the soles?

SECOND THIEF

Worn, but they can be patched.

KANDIDE

Excuse me, but I forbid you to steal a dead man’s clothes!

FIRST THIEF

(points to corpse) What’s he going to do with them?

KANDIDE

At least wait until the burial.  At the proper time he’ll be wrapped in a prayer shawl, and then maybe the clothes can go –

SECOND THIEF

I can trade these shoes now.  Who knows what will be tomorrow?

(A bystander has appeared)

BYSTANDER

Any money in the pockets?

SECOND THIEF

(checks) Nothing.

(The second thief removes the pants.

The bystander helps)

KANDIDE

Maybe he died of some terrible disease, and whoever gets his clothing will be stricken with it –

SECOND THIEF

Maybe you should mind your own business.

(Panglev gently leads Kandide

a few feet away)

KANDIDE

Oh Panglev, is this not the darkest of all possible worlds?

PANGLEV

I told you, it is not ours to judge.  That man is dead, but perhaps he was put here to help the living.

BYSTANDER

Boil the pants and shirt.  There might be lice.

(Two more scavengers appear)

PANGLEV

When the Israelites went thirsty in the desert, HaShem didn’t hand them individual cups of water in silver goblets.  He made Moses hit a rock, with a stick, and they drank.

(The scavengers finish and exit,

leaving behind a naked corpse.

Kandide and Panglev stare at it)

KANDIDE

They cut off his beard.  What can you do with –

PANGLEV

Pillows.

KANDIDE

(uncomprehending) His beard…

(A plucky fellow happens by)

ISAAC

Well, what have we here?  A dead Jew. (shrugs) My third today.  How about you fellows?

PANGLEV

Thank Heaven, this is our first.

ISAAC

Hmph, you just don’t know where to look.  Stiffs are turning up in the most unlikely places, all over Warsaw.  I’ll say this for the Jews, we’re beginning to corner the market on death.

KANDIDE

Pardon me, but I find the frivolous tone you’re taking extremely offensive.

ISAAC

Why, because your people are dying?

KANDIDE

Yes.

ISAAC

Because your people have given up hope?

KANDIDE

Well..

ISAAC

Because your people sometimes behave like animals just to survive in this place?

KANDIDE

Now –

ISAAC

And yet you gape at me, (mimics) wide-eyed, pathetic, your mouth hanging open for flies to buzz in.  `Oh, the misery!  The squa­lor!  Hurry God, save us!  We’re helpless to defend ourselves.’

KANDIDE

(rolls up his sleeve) Ordinarily I’m not a man of violence –

ISAAC

Why not?  You’re angry, right?  Yet you do nothing.

KANDIDE

I’m waiting for you to punch me first.

ISAAC

I’m not talking about me, idiot!  I’m talking about this.  This ghetto, this hell.

PANGLEV

You want he should punch the ghetto?

ISAAC

In a manner of speaking, sir, yes I do.  Everyone’s waiting for this nightmare to end.  `Surely the Americans will win the war and free us from the evil Nazi monster.’

PANGLEV

God willing.

ISAAC

And until then, what?  We wait?  We let them treat us like dogs?

PANGLEV

Things could be worse.

ISAAC

Rest assured they will get worse unless..

KANDIDE

Unless what?

ISAAC

(pulls Kandide aside and lowers his voice) Unless we give our oppressors a taste of their own medicine.  By any means neces­sary, show them that we have had enough.

PANGLEV

I don’t have to hear what you’re saying to know that it’s danger­ous.

ISAAC

Go back to your books, old man.

KANDIDE

Hey!

ISAAC

I’m sorry, but look where his thinking has got us.  It’s time to take action against these Nazi fascists.  They raise a hand to us, we cut it off at the elbow.

KANDIDE

Panglev says the best way to defeat an enemy is to submit to his will.  Let him think you’re at his mercy.  Then the world will be so outraged, your enemy will be forced to stop.

ISAAC

Let me ask you a question, uh –

KANDIDE

Kandide.

ISAAC

Kandide.  Isaac.  Let me ask you a question.  When was the last time anybody came to rescue the Jews?

KANDIDE

HaShem has always –

ISAAC

Screw the bible, this is 1943.  Nobody looks out for us but us.  I say, an eye for an eye.  Two eyes for an eye.  TEN eyes for one Jewish eye.

PANGLEV

So familiar..you sound so familiar.  Ah yes, now I remember.  You’re the young, angry radical type.  Very impressive with your words, your passion.  Back when we used to have pogroms –

ISAAC

(snarls) The good old days –

PANGLEV

There were always two or three young upstarts, couldn’t look further than their own eyeglasses.  “Kill the Cossacks!” they’d rave.  “Make them taste the blood they spill.”  Funny, the ones with the loudest voices were the same ones hiding in the dust closets at the first hint of footsteps.

ISAAC

And were none ready to fight?

PANGLEV

Ah, those we would find in the barn the next morning.  With their skulls cracked and their eyes shut.  I do not wish the same for you.  Why do you wish it on my Kandide?

ISAAC

We have guns.

KANDIDE

Guns?

ISAAC

We have knives, listening devices, we’re starting to make home­made bombs.

PANGLEV

Oy, gottenyu.

ISAAC

What we need is unity.  As many people as we can get.  If your friend doesn’t want to throw grenades, he can at least be a lookout.

KANDIDE

How can we possibly take on such an army – ?

ISAAC

(smiles) Right now, the Nazis are waging war all over the pla­net.  Why not make them fight here, too?  There’s a meeting tonight, the cellar of 46 Vasha.  They’ll ask for a password.  You say “L’shana haba’a b’yerushalaim.”

KANDIDE

Next year in Jerusalem.

ISAAC

Right.  Ever fire a gun before?  (Kandide shakes his head) You’ll learn.  It feels good.  (pats Kandide on the back) I know you’re scared, but this is the only way.

PANGLEV

Son, I am trying very hard to understand you.  I know the Torah says “An eye for an eye,” and I know the Torah says “HaShem helps those who help themselves,” but remember, suicide is a sin.

ISAAC

We’re going to die in this place, old man.  We might as well take a few of them with us.

(exits) Shalom aleichem.

PANGLEV

Aleichem shalom.  God willing, he’ll protect us from the Nazis a little…and HaShem will protect us from him.

(Isaac returns carrying two rifles

and tosses one to Kandide.

Panglev sits in a corner and prays)

ISAAC

(loud) Lesson One.  If you see the uniform, shoot first, ask questions later.  Vice versa may be too late.  Lesson Two.  Keep the safety catch on until you are ready to fire.  Lesson Three.  Never point the rifle with the safety catch off – especially at me.

(Isaac gingerly pushes

Kandide’s gun in a neutral direction)

ISAAC

Don’t be frightened, it’s not as if we’re killing people.  Lesson Four.  Brace the rifle between the shoulder and breast.  Lesson Five.  Brace yourself.  You’ll feel a kickback.  Enjoy the power.  Lesson Six.  Aim.  Lesson Seven.  Fire!

(Kandide pulls the trigger. Click)

ISAAC

Good.  I wish we could practice with ammunition, but you get the general idea.

(Comrade Kalman appears

holding a homemade explosive)

ISAAC

You need a longer wick.  Once the fire hits the gasoline, this glass is going to take apart anything in its way, including your hand.

(Kalman nods and walks away)

ISAAC

Not bad, though.  Two of those under Hitler’s bed, and the war’s over.  (notices Panglev praying and sadly shaking his head) I hope you’re not saying Kaddish over there.  We need your help, not your cowardice.

PANGLEV

I’m praying for the best possible outcome that HaShem is prepared to give us.

ISAAC

So am I.  So is Kandide.

(Kandide clicks the trigger)

KANDIDE

Check.

ISAAC

So is Sholem.

SHOLEM

(runs on toting bundles) Check.

ISAAC

So is Yetta.

YETTA

(enters, carrying a handful of handguns which she distributes) Check!

ISAAC

So is Peretz.

PERETZ

(enters, bearing flashlights and canteens) Check!

ISAAC

So is Deena.

DEENA

(enters, bearing small tables) Check!

ISAAC

So is Kalman.

KALMAN

(returns with his improved molotov cocktail) Check!

ISAAC

Tonight, twenty-one hundred hours.  We hit the first patrol with everything we got.  Get them by surprise, we can do a lot of killing tonight.

(Deena & the rest scurry about,

bringing on more tables and chairs

and converting the stage into a makeshift fortress)

ISAAC

Every bit of ammunition counts, so don’t waste.

KANDIDE

Isaac?

ISAAC

Yes, Kandide?

KANDIDE

What do we do with the wounded?

ISAAC

Theirs or ours?

KANDIDE

Both.

ISAAC

We won’t get close to theirs, so torture’s out of the question.  (general laughter) If one of us gets hit, alert the person nearest you, and get the hell out of the way.  If we’re going to win this, we have to think Attack-Attack-Attack.  Like the Israelites of old.  We come from a warlike people who used to conquer nations between sun-up and sundown.  All of us know it.  When the sun rises tomorrow, God grant, the Nazis will know it.  We shall win this battle, because HaShem wills it.  And because losing is unthinkable.

(Isaac stands on a table and points his gun.

A Nazi guard marches back and forth downstage.

Silence as the gun barrels of every Jew

follow the guard’s movements.

Isaac aims.  A shot.

The Nazi goes down, wounded in the leg.

He tries to limp/crawl out of the way.

He blows his whistle for help.

Deena fires her gun.

She misses)

ISAAC

Get him again.  Hurry!

(Yetta aims.  Fires.  Hits.

The whistling ceases.

Smoke (dry ice) begins crowding the air)

ISAAC

And so it begins.

(The stage is plunged into deep red light

as sounds of gunfire, grunts and shouts fill the air.

The Jews scatter across the stage,

taking shelter, tossing small bombs

and firing whenever they can.

Death takes three, maybe four.

Spotlights on Kandide & Isaac)

KANDIDE

Kalman is dead.  He’s over there, dead.

ISAAC

I know.

KANDIDE

Are we in hell?  Is this hell?

ISAAC

Take a rest, Kandide.  You can’t afford to get hysterical.  Talk to the Rabbi, that always calms you down.

(Kandide hurries to Panglev)

KANDIDE

Rebbe.

PANGLEV

Yes, my son.

KANDIDE

Can anything be worse than this?

PANGLEV

(shrugs) Why ask a question you don’t want the answer to?

KANDIDE

I need to know!

PANGLEV

If our troubles appear bad to us, maybe it’s so the future will seem that much better.

KANDIDE

The future?  I can’t even see past this night.

PANGLEV

You can’t.  I can’t.  (Panglev points upward) Remember that he loves you, all of you.  And He expects you to fight to make the best possible world for yourselves and your children.  Don’t let Him down.

KANDIDE

(moved) We won’t, Rebbe.

(The spotlights go off.

A Nazi soldier nears the barricades.

Isaac downs him)

ISAAC

Kandide!  Get his gun!

(Kandide hurries over

and takes the Nazi’s machine gun)

KANDIDE

What is this?

ISAAC

It’s a machine gun, be careful.

KANDIDE

How does it –

(The gun goes off,

spraying bullets in every direction.

Kandide finally quiets it.

Isaac gingerly rises, unharmed.

He peers out)

ISAAC

(laughs) Well, well, you hit the jackpot.  See?  You killed four, maybe five of those sons of bitches.

KANDIDE

I did?

ISAAC

(pats him on the back) You sure did!

KANDIDE

(feels weak) Oh God..

ISAAC

You okay?

KANDIDE

I’ve never killed anyone before.

ISAAC

My friend, you’ve picked a golden time to start.

(More noise, more chaos, more dead.

Far away, even a bomb or two.

A sickly yellow light on Kandide and Isaac)

ISAAC

We’re not going to win this.

KANDIDE

What do you mean?

ISAAC

There’s too many of them.  We killed a couple because they didn’t take us seriously.  Now they know we mean business, they’ll wipe us out.

KANDIDE

I don’t want to die.

ISAAC

There are worse things, Kandide.  We’ve seen a few.

KANDIDE

(nearly hysterical) No, I don’t – my Connie, my Rebbe –

ISAAC

Listen.  Either you die with your gun up their ass, or they wipe us all from the face of the earth.  Death is not the enemy.  Hitler is the enemy.

(Isaac grabs the machine gun and fires intently.

Finally, inevitably, a German bullet takes him)

KANDIDE

Isaac!

ISAAC

It’s in your hands, Kandide!

KANDIDE

But –

ISAAC

You’re second in command.  Carry on!

(The bombs have gotten closer.

The earth is shadows, dust and dirt.

The noise of war becomes an earsplitting din.

Kandide runs out of ammunition.

He disappears to the rear.

Suddenly, quiet.

Two Nazis appear, rifles drawn.

They aim at nothing..  No, it’s Kandide.

He walks slowly out of the darkness,

sobbing, carrying Panglev in his arms.

One Nazi signals to the other

to take Kandide into custody.

Lights dim.

The corpses rise and clean the stage of damage.

Two of them push on a large, open iron gate

while another addresses the audience)

NARRATOR

Better storytellers than I have described how life is like a long journey on a train.  You’re in this dark, confined space, always noisy, always shaking you up even when you don’t feel it.  You’re surrounded by other passengers, strangers.  Some of them will give you their newspaper.  Others will try to take your seat.  Maybe you’re lucky and you’re the engineer who runs the train.  Or a traveler going first class.  Maybe you’re just a porter.  Or the poor bastard who shovels coal into the furnace.  Maybe you’re the coal.  It’s a comfort, one supposes, that no matter who or what you are, the train eventually stops.

(Sound of a train whistle and a train coming to a halt.

A guard rail comes down

and a Nazi officer walks to it)

OFFICER SCHROEDER

Out, Juden!

(After a moment, three or four Jews,

half-starved, half-crazed, appear from off-stage)

KANDIDE

(to himself) Where are we..?

OFFICER SCHROEDER

Quiet!  You will report to Central Quarters where you will be stripped, shaven and fumigated.  You will then receive new uni­forms which you are urged to keep clean and sanitary.  You will then report to Barracks B where meals will be served, which you will eat and enjoy.  Tomorrow morning we will have inspections and work assignments will be given out.  Anyone disobeying orders will be punished.

(A Jewish woman gasps)

OFFICER SCHROEDER

(approaches) Did you say something?  (the woman shakes her head) I thought I heard you say something.

WOMAN

No.

OFFICER SCHROEDER

I’m sorry, I distinctly thought I heard –

WOMAN

Bathroom..

OFFICER SCHROEDER

Ahhh.  You have to go to the bathroom.  Is that it?  Yes?  (The woman nods) Does anyone else have to go to the bathroom?  Any­one?  (Kandide nods.  Others nod as well) You all have to go to the bathroom.  Gut.  Go.  Come on, come on!  (No one moves) Stupid Jews.  (He goes to the woman and begins taking down her pants.  The rest watch but don’t intercede) You have to go, go!  (The woman turns sideways and squats) All of you. (The men unbutton their flies and mime urination) Very good.  Most im­pressive.  (Stops at Kandide) I thought you had to pee?  Why aren’t you peeing?

KANDIDE

I’m trying.

NAZI

He’s trying.  Jew complains he has to pee, we let him go, he’s too lazy to do it.

KANDIDE

Ah, there goes!

(The officer jumps back and brushes his pants.

The Jews suppress giggles)

NAZI

That’s enough!  Central Quarters, all of you.  Rauss!  Rauss!

(The Jews hurriedly do up their trousers

and stumble across the stage and through the gate.

Kandide looks up at the gate and reads:)

KANDIDE

“Arbeit macht frei.”  Work makes freedom.  Work will set you free.  Could it be?  A noble sentiment, even here?  (to a fellow prisoner) Maybe this place won’t be so bad.  Food, clean uni­forms, and work to keep us busy.

PRISONER

(wryly) Surely, this must be the best of all possible worlds.

KANDIDE

What?

PRISONER

Nothing.  (exits)

KANDIDE

I’m sorry, for a moment you reminded me of my – (chokes up)..oh, poor Panglev.  If only you could see me, know that I survived the worst.  And with you in my heart, with Him over my head, I’ll get through this.

(Kandide passes through the gate.

We hear the clanging of metal.

Jews with outstretched bowls

mill around stage left.

A blonde woman appears

banging a metal spoon against a huge pot.

She sets the pot down

and doles out invisible soup to the waiting bowls)

WOMAN

Soup!  Soup!  Get it while it’s tepid!

(Someone hands Kandide an extra bowl

and he, too, waits,

although he keeps getting pushed

to the end of the line)

WOMAN

Today’s special, cream of louse, with a hint of barbed wire for garnish.  Next!  Careful, you’ll spill – oh!  What’s the matter with you?

(The pathetic recipient shrugs helplessly)

WOMAN

Here.  I hope nobody’s watching.  (She gives him another spoon­ful.  The recipient scuttles off). You’re welcome.  Next!

(Kandide holds out his bowl.

The woman scrapes the pot)

WOMAN

Uh oh.

KANDIDE

What?

WOMAN

There’s none left.  I just gave the last of it to –

KANDIDE

Yes, I saw.  That was very nice of you.

WOMAN

I’m sorry, if I’d known – (stops short) You look so familiar.

KANDIDE

Me?

WOMAN

(shakes her head) Forget it.  For a moment I thought.. I’ll see if I can get you a radish or something.

KANDIDE

Wait.  It didn’t strike me before, but you also look like some­one…  Of course she was younger, much prettier, not so lean.

WOMAN

Well, my fellow was better looking, stronger, better teeth.  He was Jewish too, so there is a resemblance.  And your friend?

KANDIDE

Jewish?  (laughs) Not in this lifetime.  Her family hated Jews so much, they drove me off their property.

WOMAN

How awful!

KANDIDE

(looks at her) If it weren’t such an impossible coincidence, I might think…  Nah.  (turns away)

WOMAN

What happened to your friend?

KANDIDE

I would give the moon and stars to know.  They arrested her family for hiding me and my Rabbi in the attic.

WOMAN

Goodness, that is a coincidence!  My boyfriend and his Rabbi were in our attic for six weeks.

KANDIDE

You’re kidding!

WOMAN

(incredulous) What are the odds?

KANDIDE

(shares a smile) Well, I’d better finish this before they knock it out of my hands.  It’s nice to meet a human being here.

WOMAN

Say, what’s your name?

KANDIDE

Kandide.  What’s yours?

WOMAN

Connie.  Connie Gundy.

(They shake hands.

Kandide begins to walk away

as Connie puts the lid back on the pot.

Suddenly — )

CONNIE

KANDIDE???

KANDIDE

CONNIE???

(They run to each other and smooch)

KANDIDE

Why didn’t you say something?

CONNIE

I wasn’t sure..

KANDIDE

This is the happiest day of my life!

CONNIE

What happened to you?

KANDIDE

Everything.  Oh my beloved, my vision of heaven!  You’re more beautiful than I even remembered.  How are you here?

CONNIE

My family was brought to the police station.  They let mother and father go after they signed an oath disavowing brother and me.  Brother Gundy was automatically inducted into the army, and they sent me to a labor camp.

KANDIDE

(gasps) I can’t bear to hear.  Those lovely hands, these deli­cate fingers weren’t meant for hard work.  Was it horrible?

CONNIE

Not like this, but it was bad.  Each morning I’d wake up and think, `If I have to spend one more day in this place, I’ll burst from grief.’

KANDIDE

How long were you there?

CONNIE

Three days.

KANDIDE

Three days?

CONNIE

Three terrible days.  And then I met Heinrich.

KANDIDE

Heinrich?

CONNIE

Second in command, a heavy drinker, and a secret passion for Tchaikovsky.  Anyway, his wife no longer pleased him, but I did.  Soon, things became easier.

KANDIDE

You mean you…succumbed?  My angel, my virgin joy, did he force you to..you know?

CONNIE

What?  Squeeze his fat German sausage between my knees?  He didn’t put a gun to my head.  But it meant warm clothes, better food for me and my friends in camp.

KANDIDE

But it wasn’t love?

CONNIE

(shrugs) Not for me.

KANDIDE

So how did you wind up in Auschwitz?

CONNIE

My Heinrich was no genius.  They caught him hoarding weapons and selling them on the black market.  In twenty-four hours he was court-martialled, convicted and shot.

KANDIDE

Did things go badly for you?

CONNIE

Not really, because the officer under him had his eye on me as well.  Ludwig.

KANDIDE

Ludwig?

CONNIE

Bald as an egg, too much eau de cologne, and a huge blue cyst on his ass.  He had charm, though.

KANDIDE

What happened to him?

CONNIE

Transferred.  But it’s okay, he took care of me.  He left me to Werner and Walter.

KANDIDE

Werner and –

CONNIE

The cooks.  I didn’t have the privileges I used to, but I ate better than anyone.  When I had time, that is.  No sooner would I peel myself off one than the other would climb on my back.  Six, seven, eight times a day I had to screw those fat bastards.  One day, Werner burned his whole arm in hot grease and I just had to laugh..

KANDIDE

So then what?

CONNIE

They ended up closing that camp and moving it south to Austria.  I should have moved with it, but Rolf came to the rescue.

KANDIDE

Rolf?

CONNIE

Planning coordinator.  After a particularly good blow job, he agreed to find a place for me so I could stay in Poland.  Little did I know that place would be here, (mutters) double-crossing jerk-off…

KANDIDE

Look, all that’s history.  I’m here, you’re here, it’s a miracle!  (they hug) I have to make love to you.  Where?  How?

CONNIE

We can’t.

KANDIDE

Of course we can.  Late at night, there are a hundred places, no one —

CONNIE

I’m not worried about that.  It’s Franz.  If he ever smelled a Jew on me, he’d pack my bags for sure.

KANDIDE

Franz?  Big Franz?

CONNIE

Yes.  And little Franz, actually.  They’re kind of a matched set.

KANDIDE

(bereft) Oh Connie!

CONNIE

Don’t worry, Kandide.  You’re still the only man in the world I’ve ever loved.

KANDIDE

Do you mean that?

CONNIE

(pause, considers) Yes.

KANDIDE

Then I am content.  And may I never ask for anything more in this world.

CONNIE

(notices someone coming.  Hurriedly) Good, get over to your work station before somebody sees us.

KANDIDE

(pecks her cheek) Yes, my love.  You know what they say.

CONNIE

What?

KANDIDE

(exiting, laughs) Work makes free!

(They wave goodbye as an officer strides over

and puts his arms around Connie’s waist,

offering her a box of chocolates.

A large, opaque flat is placed downstage

and blocks half the stage from audience.

From the visible side,

Kandide enters humming a Yiddish tune

and carrying a pile of laundry, which he folds)

KANDIDE

I’m such a fool.  Stupid, I don’t learn.  Since I was a child, Panglev pounded into my head, `the ways of HaShem are not the ways of man.’  He has His own plan, His own reasons.  All the time I’m trying to understand when I have no business understand­ing at all.  When life was good, God was testing me.  Warning me.  And now, when I fear God is laughing at my misery, all the time he was planning my salvation.  It’s in the bible time and time again, why don’t I learn?  (slaps his forehead.  sighs)

(Kandide goes offstage and returns

pushing a large pile of human hair

across the floor with a broom)

So, life is hard here.  Where isn’t life hard?  The next life will be easy.  And until then, so far I have my health, thank God.  I have friends here.  I can see and talk to my beloved Connie every day.  Connie got me a good job in the laundry.  I could have taken that one in the iron shop, but I think this will be better.

(Kandide reaches offstage

for a bunch of eyeglasses,

which  he piles neatly on the floor)

Here I get to see my people, give them nice clean clothes when they get out of the shower.  Nothing like a clean uniform with the holes sewn up, a pair of shoes that fit, clean eyeglasses – they give a man hope.  That’s all we need, hope.

(We see shower-heads lower from the ceiling

until they’re obscured behind the flat.

We hear people shuffling behind the flat)

Seeing Connie’s face.  Something so simple, so small compared to all this.  And yet, I felt the world open up to me again.  I knew God was watching.  And I know Panglev, wherever he is now, is looking down and smiling at me.  He understood.  He was happier in death than I am in life, and yet all I do is complain.  And question HaShem.  And God forbid, doubt HaShem.  Well, no more.

(We hear the squeak of wheels turning

and a hissing sound.

Kandide retrieves a bundle of shoes.

None match,

but he arranges and polishes them anyway)

We are nothing on this planet.  Molecules.  But as Panglev used to say, better to be a flea in God’s world than a giant in the Underworld. (beams) We are your fleas, God.  Do with us what you will, for you know best in this best of all possible worlds.

(Kandide begins singing the uplifting hymn

“Ein Keloheinu.”

We start to hear coughing coming from behind the flat.

Smoke billows out.

The coughing gets louder and more persistent.

Kandide, though concerned, keeps singing.

A woman shrieks.

Kandide stops singing.

The coughs turn into choking,moans and screams.

We hear pounding on the flat.

The noises of death build,

then ebb, then cease completely.

Kandide stands.

The look on his face is indescribable.)

END OF ACT TWO

ACT THREE

(Even before the lights come up,

we can see movement on the stage.

Figures of men holding long objects,

bending over, righting themselves,

then repeating the motion.

Beside them are a number

of large white bundles.

As the lights rise,

we make out the central figure:

Kandide.

He is helping to load bodies in and out of ovens.

After a minute,

one of the other exhausted workers

shuffles over to Kandide)

PINCUS

Kandide.  I know you’re very religious.  (Kandide shrugs) And there are certain things you are forbidden to do.  But I consider you a friend, and therefore, I make this small request.  When the time comes, and I’m not saying it’s now or even soon, but when the time comes, would you do me one little favor?

KANDIDE

What?

PINCUS

Push me in.

(A moment.

Pincus and Kandide return to their labor.

Amazingly, we begin to hear music.

Violins.

The sound gets closer, then stops.

Eventually, three inmates appear;

two carry violins,

the other an accordion)

WORKER 1 (DAVID)

Oh look.  It’s the pep squad.  And how goes it with the Auschwitz National Orchestra?

VIOLINIST 1

Is there anything you’d like to hear?

DAVID

I’d like to hear how much extra soup you get for scratching that fiddle.

ACCORDIONIST

Look, you can be in shit up to your eyes, or you can be in shit up to your eyes and have music.  Take your pick.

PINCUS

“Lili Marlene.”

ACCORDIONIST

Verboten.  Pick something else.

KANDIDE

Play something pretty.

PINCUS

Yes, something beautiful.

DAVID

Like Hitler’s mother with an ice-pick in her cunt.

KANDIDE

(disgusted) David.

DAVID

Sorry.

KANDIDE

(sotto voce to Violinist) Any word from Connie?

VIOLINIST 1

(plucking strings) She says be patient.  She’s trying to pull some strings and get you into the kitchen.

KANDIDE

Oh, that would be heaven!  I could see her an hour, two hours every day.

VIOLINIST 1

Calm down, she said this could take some time.  Apparently she has to go pretty high up.

KANDIDE

Did she say anything else?  How she loves me?  Needs me?

VIOLINIST 1

(embarrassed) Uh, …well, she says `don’t work too hard.’

(The Violinist shrugs and gives the sign to play.

The trio play a jaunty tune –

Bernstein’s “Glitter And Be Gay” –

and slowly walk off.

Kandide removes another clump of detritus

from the oven and shovels it into a nearby bin)

KANDIDE

Why burning?  Why don’t they just kill us and bury us?

DAVID

It’s more efficient.

PINCUS

That’s not it.  They’re running out of room.  Every square meter of land in the Reich has two layers of Jews for every layer of soil.  Everywhere you walk the earth makes a squish sound.  That’s us.  And every so often the ground shifts just a little, and you feel a tremor.  Scientists call that an earthquake.  I say it’s hearts beating.  Beating so hard, they shake the world and nearly tear it open.  And when we wake up in the morning, and there’s beautiful mist everywhere, and dew magically appears on the grass and flowers, don’t call it condensation.  Those are tears, rising from the dead.  And if we ever again lie down on the grass in late summer.  And we can feel the rustling all around us, and the wind passing gently through the bushes, and blades of grass are all bent slightly, whispering to each other, whispering in our ears.  Who’s to say it isn’t prayer?

DAVID

For my part, I hope the dead are dead.  They did nothing to deserve what they got when they were alive.  Only a sadistic God would make them spend an eternity screaming.  (notices) Hey Pincus, I think your pile is moving.

PINCUS

Shut up, David.  You’re not funny.

DAVID

I’m not kidding.

KANDIDE

Oh my God, he’s right!

(One of the white sacks begins to squirm)

DAVID

Did you see that?

PINCUS

(sinks to his knees) Maybe it’s Moshiach!

KANDIDE

(gingerly using his wooden pole to clear off the top of the pile) This would be the time, Lord.  Oh, let it be the time.

PINCUS

(tearing open the moving sack) Life!  It’s a miracle!

KANDIDE

It’s more than a miracle. . .It’s.  .  .PANGLEV!!!

(Misshapen and disfigured,

Panglev emerges from the pile of human refuse)

PANGLEV

Kandide!  (they hug) Oh, if I tell you, I had a day..

PINCUS

What did they do to you?

PANGLEV

What didn’t they do to me..

KANDIDE

I thought you died in the ghetto. In my own arms, I carried you –

PANGLEV

I must have fainted.

KANDIDE

Fainted?!

PANGLEV

Next thing I remember I was in this truck with all these other people.  Dead people.  From the ghetto.

KANDIDE

Isaac?

PANGLEV

(nods) And Chaim And the women.  All dead.  But I wasn’t dead.  (sing-song) They were going to shoot me, then they didn’t shoot me.  They were gonna gas me, then they bring me to a hospital.

KANDIDE

(hopeful) A hospital?

PANGLEV

They examined me, they beat me, they tickled me, they pulled hair out of my head, they tied my legs with barbed wire, they put needles in my crotch…

PINCUS

You don’t have to tell us if you don’t want to.

DAVID

Yes he does!  (to Panglev) You must tell us everything that happens here.

PANGLEV

They burned my skin, they poured juice in my eyes, they pulled my toenails out, they slammed my wrist in an iron door…

PINCUS

(stunned) How long did this go on?

(Panglev is quiet for a moment.

Then he slowly, deliberately turns about,

pointing to half a dozen places on his body.

Woozy, he swoons into Kandide and David’s arms)

PANGLEV

(pointing to his cheek) They set my beard on fire.  With lard and lingonberry syrup, which amused them.  I worry now if I will ever have a proper beard…  It’s hard to grow a beard when you have only one cheek..

KANDIDE

What happened after that?

PANGLEV

They shook my hand.  All the doctors shook my hand, as if I’d passed some test.  (shrugs) Ach, who knows?  Maybe some good will come of it for future generations.  If they learn which liquids are most flammable, then science may design clothing which is more resistant.

(Even Panglev has trouble with that one.  Pause)

They called for a guard who led me to a very dark room.  When he let go of my sleeve, I fell down, boom.  When I woke up, I real­ized I was wrapped in some kind of cloth.  Now the room was bright, and I could see through the sheet, there were all these other sheets.  Attendants, lifting the sheets onto stretchers – They did the same to me.  We went up the elevator and were loaded onto some kind of cart outside.  Thank God I was on top of the pile, or else I would have been in real trouble.

KANDIDE

My God, you’re the walking dead..

PANGLEV

(whacks the top of his head) Don’t say such things.  I’m as alive as anyone in this room.

(Pincus, David & Kandide look around)

PANGLEV

And if that doesn’t prove the existence of HaShem once and for all –

(Sound of a whistle. A Kapo enters)

DAVID

(sarcastic) Welcome, brother.

KAPO

By orders of the high command, Operation Beautify shall commence immediately.  Visitors will be arriving Monday at 0-800 to in­spect conditions of Auschwitz labor camp and detention center.  Every effort will therefore be made to show our home in its best possible light.  All residents otherwise occupied will be switched to cleaning and ornamentation detail.  We are sure you will want to cooperate, as it is in everyone’s best interest to enjoy a more pleasant, more efficient living environment.  Questions?

PINCUS

Who’s coming?

KAPO

An international health organization.  Lies have been told about the operation of these camps –

DAVID

Living environments.

KAPO

And we must show them the truth.  More questions?  (quiet) Heil Hitler.

(The Kapo exits)

DAVID

Good Shabbos.

KANDIDE

(hopeful) Do you think, maybe..?

PANGLEV

It’s a sign.  America knows.  The whole world knows.

PINCUS

If they know, they’re bound to stop it!

PANGLEV

Precisely.

KANDIDE

But what about this Operation Beautify?

DAVID

How can the Nazis possibly cover up what’s going on here?  One look at this place and Franklin Roosevelt himself will climb out of his wheelchair to throw the first grenade.

PANGLEV

Thank you, HaShem!  Thank you for giving us this hope.

(Huge painted scrims of garish flowers

suddenly dominate the stage.

The Auschwitz Orchestra returns, stage left,

playing something from, say,

Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons.”

The side of a giant truck appears, stage right.

The truck is white

with a big red cross through its center.

Officer Schroeder strides up to the truck

and waits for the visi­tors to disembark.

Out of the truck step a half-dozen people

in long white coats with red crosses on them.

The first visitor wears dark glasses

and taps along with a white cane.

The second seems a hundred years old

and brandishes a hearing horn.

The third is bound in his coat

as if it were a straitjacket.

The fourth is a palsy.

The fifth is short and mousey

and has his nose in a book.

Schroeder “tours” them around the stage,

the visitors all drooling, hobbling

and babbling like morons.

At tour’s end, the Nazi hands the fifth visitor

a wad of Deutschmarks.

The visitors get back on the bus.

We hear “beep beep” as the cardboard side

moves forward across the stage.

The bus makes a turn, center stage,

and we see the visitors, “inside,” waving bye-bye.

The other side of the bus

is painted much like the front,

except now we see a fat red swastika.

The bus exits,

the music stops.

Kandide appears, Panglev nearby.

Kandide looks around in disbelief.

He runs to one of the floral scrims to tear it up,

but it rolls off-stage before he can get to it.

He reaches for another scrim,

but that one rolls back up to the ceiling.

He starts running to the final scrim,

but Panglev catches and holds him)

PANGLEV

Don’t.  Leave it be.

KANDIDE

It’s over.  We’re finished.  You, me, the whole race of us.

PANGLEV

You’re upset, don’t talk when you’re upset.

KANDIDE

Panglev, this is our death!  Malach ha moovis is a hundred feet away, can’t you see him?

PANGLEV

I see nothing but a pleasant day in an unpleasant place.

KANDIDE

Let me describe the Angel of Death for you, Panglev.  His hair is made of barbed wire, and when he combs it, sparks go off and electrocute Jews.  His forehead is a stone wall, his nose the butt of a rifle.  His eyes, Panglev!

PANGLEV

Calm down, Kandide.  You’re scaring me –

KANDIDE

His eyes are made of fire.  If he turns to look at you, you burn to black ash.  And from one ear to the other, nothing but a long railway car, skulls crammed in until brains gush out the window, dripping down the head, oozing out the mouth.  The mouth!  Let me tell you of the mouth!

(Panglev tries to swat Kandide;

Kandide grabs his arm and holds it)

KANDIDE

The mouth is a pit.  Six feet deep.  The tongue a worm, the teeth, maggots.  The cheeks swollen with filth and decay.  And he breathes.  The mouth breathes.  And the breath smells like gas.  And if you smell his breath, you fall into a swoon, fall into his mouth.  The lips close, you are swallowed.  You fall deeper and deeper into the mouth of death.  The stench is unbearable, the noise, deafening.  And you never stop falling, forever.  But you want to know something funny?  You realize as you’re falling, that as bad as death is, it’s no worse than living in this, like this.  Without hope.  Without God.  In this worst of all possible worlds.

(Long pause.

A Nazi officer appears and signals at Panglev)

OFFICER KREUTZ

You, come!

(The actors playing Red Cross visitors

are now back onstage as prisoners.

They are all frail and infirm.

The officer pushes Panglev into their group)

OFFICER KREUTZ

Lice inspection, line up!  Line up, schnell!  Not that way!

(He turns the five to face the audience,

in a line)

ONE PRISONER

I know I don’t have any lice, I’m clean, I –

OFFICER KREUTZ

Quiet!  Prisoner 158639.  What is your age, please?

PRISONER

Sixty four.

OFFICER KREUTZ

Speak up!

PRISONER

Sixty four.

OFFICER KREUTZ

Too old to do a good day’s work, jah?

PRISONER

I don’t know what you –

(The prisoner starts to turn around.

Officer Kreutz fires a pistol into his temple.

The prisoner falls

[if possible, into a dark area

in front of the proscenium])

OFFICER KREUTZ

Number 163445.  Your age.

PRISONER

Forty-four.

OFFICER KREUTZ

(smirks) Do you know the penalty for lying?

(Kreutz aims at his head)

PRISONER

You fucking abortion.

(Kreutz holds the gun there a moment but doesn’t fire.

He moves to the next prisoner)

OFFICER KREUTZ

What is your number?

(The prisoner checks his arm)

OFFICER KREUTZ

Ah ah, no looking.

PRISONER

16…16..

OFFICER KREUTZ

While you’re thinking..

(Kreutz returns to the previous prisoner

and casually puts a bullet through his head.

The body falls)

NEXT PRISONER

163…?

OFFICER KREUTZ

To the end of the line.

(The prisoner complies)

OFFICER KREUTZ

Well?  Do you know your number?

PANGLEV

I have no number.  My name is Rabbi Panglev.  You may call me Rabbi, if you wish.

(Kreutz checks his arms)

OFFICER KREUTZ

Well, Rabbi.  Let’s see if your arms are as resistant to lice as they are to tattoos.

(The officer runs his gun barrel over Panglev’s arms)

OFFICER KREUTZ

And of course, the scalp.

(The officer runs the gun over Panglev’s head)

Tsk, tsk, tsk.  I see one.  Don’t worry, I’ll get it.

(Kreutz pulls the trigger.

Panglev doesn’t flinch.

Nothing happens.

Kreutz laughs)

Out of ammunition!   (to Panglev) I’m impressed.  You have some real power on your side.

PANGLEV

I have God.  Almighty.  All-knowing.  All-merciful.  You have a little eunuch with a moustache.

OFFICER KREUTZ

God won’t save you here.  You must know that by now.

PANGLEV

One day I will have to answer to God for my actions.  And you will have to answer to God for yours.  All in all, I think I’m in a much better position.

(The officer grabs Panglev by the collar

and pushes him out of the way

to where Kandide has been waiting)

PANGLEV

(to incredulous Kandide) Yes, it is bad.  But you are here, and I am here.  Still here.

(Kreutz begins reloading his gun.

One of the prisoners begins to sing:

“Ani ma’amin”)

PRISONER

Ani ma’amin.

Ani ma’amin.

Ani ma’amin.

(The other prisoner joins in)

PRISONERS

Be’emunah shlema.

Ve’af al pi, she-hitmamayah

Im kol zot ani ma’amin.

Ve’af al pi, she-hitmamayah

Im kol zot ani ma’amin.

(They sing the same verse over)

Ani ma’amin

Ani ma’amin…

KANDIDE

Why don’t they do something –

PANGLEV

(to Kandide) Shhh..  Are you listening?  `I believe.  I believe with a full faith.  And even if I have to wait a very long time, even so, I believe.’

(Officer Kreutz has reloaded.

He shoots one more prisoner.

The last alive sings louder.

This continues until he, too, is dead)

PANGLEV

In spite of everything, I believe.

KANDIDE

God is watching?  God is protecting?  (Panglev nods) Let’s see.

(Kandide strides to the exiting Nazi officer)

KANDIDE

Hey!  Kill me!

PANGLEV

Kandide!

KANDIDE

Kill me.  Kill me now or I’ll kill you!

(Kreutz aims at Kandide)

PANGLEV

No!

(Panglev runs to help.

Kreutz aims and shoots Panglev, who falls.

By this time, Kandide is on top of Kreutz, beating him.

The officer’s gun skitters away.

A whistle from offstage.

Two officers pull Kandide off, punch him,

and knock him unconscious.

They drag him offstage

as the wounded Kreutz scuttles behind.

He stops to roll Panglev’s body

into the waiting pit, then exits.

A scaffolding and noose are wheeled on.

Two Nazi officers, the Jewish Kapo,

and a few prisoners are brought to witness)

KAPO

For the brutal and savage beating of a Nazi officer, resulting in broken ribs and partial loss of sight in one eye, the prisoner, number 158318, is hereby condemned to death by hanging.

(Kandide is brought to the scaffold)

KAPO

Number 15831 –

KANDIDE

That’s not my name.

(Nazis march Kandide,

his hands bound, up to the noose)

KAPO

Number 158318, (looks down) Moshe Kandidevsky…you are an enemy of the Reich and of the Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler.  Look well, fellow Jews.  A similar fate awaits all who commit acts of violence, deceit or treachery against the Reich.

KANDIDE

(As the noose is fixed around his neck) I was born a fool and lived as a fool, but I die a wiser man.  With hate in my blood and revenge in my dreams.  I will come back to haunt the children of Germany and drag them all to their graves.

GERMAN OFFICER

Eintz!

KANDIDE

I have love my heart for only one thing.  Connie Gundy!

GERMAN OFFICER

Tzvai!

KANDIDE

Connie, my soul to you!  My love and memory, Connie!

CONNIE’S VOICE

KANDIDE!

GERMAN OFFICER

Drei –

CONNIE

WAIT!

(Connie runs in, waving papers)

CONNIE

Spare him!  It’s a reprieve!

GERMAN OFFICER

What?  (reads papers) Prisoner number 158318 is hereby granted full pardon and is to be returned to his barracks to commence normal duties.  (to other officers) It has Himmler’s stamp.

(He nods to another officer,

who escorts Kandide off the platform)

CONNIE

Oh, the Fuhrer appreciates your fine work here.

(She hands the officer a box)

GERMAN OFFICER

(opens it) Chocolates!  Mmm..  Danke schoen.  (salutes her) Everyone, back to work!

(He leaves

as the other officers push off the scaffold.

Kandide falls at Connie’s feet)

KANDIDE

There is no God, there is no hate, there is no hell, there is only you, my savior, my Connie.

CONNIE

(holds him tenderly) I have loved many difficult men…but you, Kandide..

KANDIDE

Yes..

CONNIE

I mean, Himmler was no Clark Gable, but still…

KANDIDE

I love you more than life itself!

CONNIE

Well, likewise I guess.

KANDIDE

Oh Connie, let’s kill ourselves!

CONNIE

What?

KANDIDE

A double-suicide!  Lovers to the end, like Romeo and Juliet.

CONNIE

I just saved your life! –

KANDIDE

Yes, but for what?  To die here tomorrow, or the next day?  I want to die in your arms.  To kiss this life goodbye with my cock thrusting inside you.

CONNIE

Oh, Kandide!

KANDIDE

All this time I was ready to die for the wrong cause.  You are my cause.  My angel of death.  My salvation!

CONNIE

(tearing at her clothes) Get back to the cock part..

(Kandide and Connie begin grappling on the floor.

Downstage, we see an arm, then another arm,

the hands gripping the stage lip.

A man climbs onto the stage.

Kandide & Connie don’t notice until they roll near him.

Connie screams)

PANGLEV

Moishe, what are you doing?

KANDIDE

It’s Connie, you remember Connie.

PANGLEV

(to Connie) Good to see you again.  You’re growing on me.

KANDIDE

So, how are you feeling?

PANGLEV

Eh, could be worse.

CONNIE

(to Kandide) HE ROSE FROM THE DEAD!  DOESN’T THAT SURPRISE YOU?

KANDIDE

(pause) No, not at this point really, it doesn’t.

CONNIE

They shot him!  He was in the pit.

KANDIDE

I saw them shoot you, Panglev.

PANGLEV

(points to his stomach) The bullet went right through, nothing mit nothing.  It still hurts when I laugh.

CONNIE

You’re not meant to die.  Neither of you.  You’ll be there for the bitter end.

KANDIDE

No!  (to Connie) We can die together.  The Nazis can’t kill us; God can’t kill us; we can kill us.  End this life and maybe find a better one.  And if the next world is a slaughterhouse, then we kill ourselves again.  Find another lousy life.

CONNIE

Kandy, no..

KANDIDE

There’s our freedom, Connie. The Nazis are wrong!  Work doesn’t make free, death makes free!

PANGLEV

Pessimistic nonsense..

KANDIDE

Look around you!  This is the time to die.  This is the place to die.

CONNIE

Kandide, stop being so selfish!  Don’t you understand?  If you’re not fated to die, that means you’re meant to live.  You can help.  You can do dangerous, crazy things to help save lives because you’re not going to die.

KANDIDE

What are you talking about?

CONNIE

The resistance, smuggling, sabotage –

KANDIDE

I went through that in the ghetto.  Look where it got me..

CONNIE

Yes, look where it got you!  All those people are dead but you lived!

PANGLEV

That’s what I keep telling him.

KANDIDE

But what can I do?  I wake up, wash in my own piss, drink half a bowl of hot water, shovel bodies into ovens, chew a slice of stale bread, lie down, check my armpits for lice, go to sleep and dream of you.  Doesn’t leave much time for heroics, does it?

PANGLEV

You could escape.

KANDIDE

(laughs) How, oh great, wise Rabbi that you are?  Everything’s surrounded by electric wire, or guarded by dobermans whose mas­ters carry machine guns.  It’s hopeless – in case you haven’t noticed.

CONNIE

You know, I’ve heard…   They’re working on a new road leading from the train station to the camp.  Word is they want to use our laborers to build it. I can help get your name on that list.

KANDIDE

That’s about a three mile stretch, isn’t it?

CONNIE

It’s an open field.  Find the right moment and go.

KANDIDE

I’d never make it.

CONNIE

So, you’ll die trying.  That’s what you want anyway, to die?

KANDIDE

(pause) What about you?

CONNIE

I want to live.  I’ll stay here, or I’ll go where they send me.

KANDIDE

When will I see you..?

CONNIE

I’ll work on the inside, you work on the outside.  Our paths are bound to cross.

KANDIDE

What about Panglev?

PANGLEV

HaShem will protect me.

CONNIE

(reassuring) And I’ll make sure he stays out of trouble.

(Kandide & Connie hug)

KANDIDE

My heart is such a crowded place.  Bitterness, rage, despair..  This blitzkrieg of a muscle makes no room for anything that doesn’t stink of death.  Except maybe there’s this tiny little spot, a speck, that can still hold some love in it.

CONNIE

For me?

KANDIDE

For you.  For no one else and nothing else.  For you.

CONNIE

And I will live for you.  I won’t die for you, but I will live for you.

KANDIDE

(smiles) For me?

CONNIE

For you.

(A moment.

One by one, Jewish laborers

with construction implements appear

and start “working” on the road.

Connie exits.

A laborer hands Kandide a trowel.

The Kapo oversees the work.

A Nazi stands at the other side of the stage)

KAPO

Work harder.  Work faster.  They’re losing the war, but until they do, we work.

(One worker stumbles from exhaustion)

KAPO

Get up.  (worried the Nazi will see) Get up!

(The others help him up)

KAPO

(loudly) Lazy bastard.  Anyone else having a problem doing his job?

(Kandide raises his hand)

KANDIDE

I have to go.

(The kapo  motions for the Nazi to come over.

The Nazi walks Kandide

to a darkened area of the stage.

Kandide drops his pants and squats

as the Nazi unzips and urinates)

KANDIDE

(grunts, relaxes) There’s no leaves here.

NAZI

Use your hand.  (zipping up) Hurry up.

(Kandide pulls his trousers closed)

KANDIDE

I’m finished.  This is very strange…  (Kandide bends down

)

NAZI

What?  What?

KANDIDE

Take a look at this.

NAZI

What?

(The Nazi leans in and Kandide

slams a handful of shit into his face.

Before the Nazi can recover,

Kandide has his gun)

KANDIDE

Don’t move!

NAZI

You can’t –

KANDIDE

Shut up!  Hands up – no, they’ll notice.  Hands in front where I can see them.

NAZI

Don’t kill me.

KANDIDE

They come looking for me, you don’t know anything.

NAZI

I understand.

KANDIDE

They ask which way I went, you point that way.

NAZI

They’ll hang your whole barracks –

KANDIDE

You just do what I say.  Close your eyes.  I want you to count to five hundred before you turn around.  Can you do that?

NAZI

(nods) Eintz, tzvai –

KANDIDE

Five hundred!

(The Nazi nods again and continues counting.

Kandide moves behind him

and raps the gun against his skull.

The Nazi staggers but doesn’t lose consciousness.

Kandide brains him again and the Nazi collapses.

Kandide runs off.

A moment.

The kapo appears and looks in horror

at the unconscious officer.

He looks longingly towards the woods,

then terrified at the Nazi.

Finally, the kapo sighs and blows his whistle.

As Nazis help their comrade walk off,

the kapo becomes a narrator:)

NARRATOR

It was the longest night of Kandide’s life.  When it was over, Kandide was twenty miles into the Polish wild, and forty men were hanged for rebellion.  (pause) Now, if there’s one thing the Nazis hate worse than the Jews, it’s homosexuals.  (Tears off his yellow star to reveal a pink triangle) And if there’s one thing they hate worse than homosexuals, it’s gypsies.  (Ties on a florid kerchief) A homosexual gypsy?  Puh-leeze.  (Others appear dressed in frayed green shirts and pants) So, since they’ve made me their worst enemy, I might as well act the part.  I smuggle, intercept deliveries, monitor activities…

KANDIDE

Make bombs..?

(Kandide has appeared.

Two resistors, Shimon and Laila,

walk him to the Narrator)

NARRATOR

The best.  Home-made.  Have you ever done this kind of work before?

KANDIDE

(nods) The ghetto.

NARRATOR

(impressed) You were there?

KANDIDE

Until the end.

NARRATOR

That and Auschwitz?  God has been good to you.

KANDIDE

What do you want me to do?

NARRATOR

Anything and everything.  We don’t specialize here.  Do you have a wife, children?

KANDIDE

No, but as soon as fate allows I intend to marry my beloved Connie Gundy.

NARRATOR

(brightens) Connie!  You must be the Kandide of whom she speaks so highly.

KANDIDE

I am.  At your service.

NARRATOR

(holds out his hand) Cacambo.  Gypsy queer and chief of resist­ance.

KANDIDE

What news from my adored one?

CACAMBO

She told us you might be seeking shelter in these woods.  I’m glad you made it.

KANDIDE

Is it true the war is almost over?

SHIMON

Germany’s a disaster.

LAILA

No food, no houses.  (with mock pity) And all the men come home dead.

SHIMON

Halavai [it should be so].  And they’re scared shitless of the Russians marching in.

KANDIDE

Why’s that?

CACAMBO

The Nazis turned Eastern Russia into a killing ground –

SHIMON

Millions dead, millions.

CACAMBO

(relishing) Now mother Russia is out for blood.  Every soldier is a mini-Stalin.

LAILA

They say he’s like an animal.  He kills everything he sees.

SHIMON

Rapes the women, slaughters the children.

CACAMBO

(shrugs) You take away a man’s reason for being, his last shred of hope.  What’s to stop him from behaving like a beast?

KANDIDE

When will Connie be – ?

CACAMBO

Next week.  She’s trying to get a bunch of notebooks out of the camp.

KANDIDE

Maybe then the world will believe –

CACAMBO

Ha!  I’m not holding my breath, dear.  But until then, join us for cocktails?

(Cacambo hands Kandide a molotov cocktail.

Lights up on the other side of the stage

where a German officer nibbles Connie’s ear)

CONNIE

(coy) I have to go..

OFFICER HEIDRICH

Already?  You just got here.

CONNIE

Karl, we’ve made love twice in the last..(checks her watch) forty-seven minutes.

OFFICER HEIDRICH

Do you like the watch?

CONNIE

It’s lovely.  You really shouldn’t spoil me this way.

OFFICER HEIDRICH

Ach, what’s a few trinkets?

CONNIE

A necklace, two dresses, a radio, and all that chocolate..

OFFICER HEIDRICH

Speaking of which…

CONNIE

Oh, Karl –

OFFICER HEIDRICH

(presenting her with a box of bonbons) Harder and harder to get, which makes me happier and happier to give.

CONNIE

I don’t know what to –

OFFICER HEIDRICH

And don’t go frittering them away on Jews.  These are for you to enjoy.

CONNIE

Yes, Karl.  (kisses him and rises to leave)

OFFICER HEIDRICH

Connie.  (She stops) If the Americans come..before the Russians.  Promise to tell them we weren’t all bad.  Not all of us, not all the time.

CONNIE

(smiles) Promise.  (blows him a kiss)

OFFICER HEIDRICH

Auf wiedersehn.  (pause) Lying little whore.

(Lights back up on the forest.

Kandide, Cacambo, Shimon and Laila

are joined by other comrades.

All are seated on the ground)

LAILA

(whispers) There she is!

(All motion to Connie, who scurries over,

carrying a large basket)

CACAMBO

(hugs her) Bonjour, madame.  Welcome back to the living.

LAILA

How was your journey?

CONNIE

(matter-of-fact) You know, it just gets easier and easier.  Everything’s falling apart, so a bribe here, a shtup there – (notices) Kandide.

KANDIDE

Connie.

(They fall upon each other with unbearable joy)

CONNIE

I knew you’d make it.

KANDIDE

I could feel your presence pulling me here, saving my life.

CONNIE

Panglev sends his regards.  He came down with tuberculosis but it’s nothing serious.

OZER (THIRD RESISTOR)

So, did you bring us goodies?

CONNIE

A treasure trove!  (opens basket) Scented soap.  (tosses to Laila) Silken kerchief.

CACAMBO

(takes and waves it) Now who won’t heal with this as a bandage?

CONNIE

Real vienna sausage.  (gasps from all) Fancy cho-co-lates.  And fresh fruit.

OZER

What?  No champagne?  Connie, you’re slipping!

CONNIE

I had a bottle of wine but I traded it for the sausage.

SHIMON

Hear that Kandide?  You’re girlfriend’s beautiful and practical.

KANDIDE

My Connie is the most perfect of all creations!

(Connie kisses an apple and hands it to Kandide)

OZER

(chewing a bonbon) Mmmm!  Hazelnut.

CACAMBO

Ooh, pick me one.

(Connie pops a chocolate into his mouth.

Cacambo goes into comic paroxysms of delight.

Laila and Shimon also pluck candies from the box)

LAILA

(exultant sigh) Marzipan.

SHIMON

Ooh, any more marzipan?

CONNIE

(looks) I think this one..

SHIMON

Trade you mine.

(Shimon gives Connie his chocolate,

Connie gives him a marzipan)

SHIMON

(chewing) Nope, dark chocolate.

CACAMBO

Kandide!

(Cacambo passes him the box.

Kandide points to the apple

and passes the bon-bons on to Ozer)

OZER

(to Cacambo) So what do you plan to do when all this is over?

CACAMBO

Open a nightclub.  They were the best thing about Germany before the war.

LAILA

You’re staying in Germany?

CACAMBO

No, I’ll go to America if they’ll have me.  If not, Italy.  Maybe Belgium.  (to Connie) Are you staying in Poland?

CONNIE

(shrugs) My family is here.  Somewhere.

KANDIDE

And whether they like it or not, Connie and I will be husband and wife.

SHIMON

(to Connie) Will you convert?

KANDIDE

If she wants.  Or I’ll convert to hers.  It’s all shit and folk­tales, anyway.  The real miracle is that I met her, and she loves me.

SHIMON

(to Connie) But you would convert, I mean you’d seriously con­sider it..?

CONNIE

Sure.. why?

SHIMON

I’m a Rabbi.  Reformed, but I was ordained.  If you want to get married, I can do it, right here, now.

CONNIE

Are you serious?

KANDIDE

That’s unbelievable!

LAILA

We don’t have a minyan.

KANDIDE

That’s okay, we don’t have a God.

SHIMON

We can use the trees as a chupah.

CACAMBO

What about a wine glass?  Don’t you step on – ?

SHIMON

Yeah, yeah!

(Connie rummages through her basket)

CONNIE

A bottle of perfume!

SHIMON

Wonderful!  We’ll all smell good for the first time in seven years.

CONNIE

Laila, you be maid of honor.  Who’s for best man?

KANDIDE

I only wish Panglev were – – no, he wouldn’t approve.

CONNIE

(points to her heart) In here he would.

SHIMON

(claps his hands) Come.  We are gathered here, in this idyllic setting, in the sight of God, to bring together two kindred souls.  Moishe Kandidevsky, an orphan, and Connie Gundy of the Christian faith, at least temporarily.  Have we a ring?

LAILA

(grabs a chocolate, shrugs apologetically and hands it to Kandide) Here.

SHIMON

We make do with what God provides.  Kandide, put the ring on Connie’s finger.

(Kandide gingerly pushes the candy

onto Connie’s finger)

SHIMON

There’s the other marzipan.  Connie Gundy, do you take Moishe Kandidevsky to be your –

(Ozer coughs and steadies himself)

OZER

Excuse me.

SHIMON

…to be your lawfully wedded husband.  To love, honor and cherish all the rest of your days, in sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer, until death you do part?

CONNIE

I do.

SHIMON

Moishe Kandidevsky, do you take Connie Gun –

(Ozer doubles over and writhes in pain)

LAILA

Oh my God!  What’s the matter?

SHIMON

Somebody get some water.

(Connie rummages for supplies as

Ozer retches in agony.

Shimon hurries to him)

SHIMON

Ozer, what’s the – ohh…

(Shimon loses his balance and drops to the floor.

He rolls forward gripping his stomach.

Laila screams and begins to retch)

KANDIDE

Connie, what’s happening?!

CONNIE

(nauseous) I don’t know.  Oh, Kandide.

(She falls forward onto him, choking)

CACAMBO

(very sick) We’ve all been poisoned..

KANDIDE

NO!  Connie, listen to me…

CONNIE

(dying) Kandide…

KANDIDE

Connie, you can’t!  Spew it out!  Come on!

(Kandide puts his fingers down her throat.

She gags and vomits up blood and bile.

Cacambo falls.

Ozer and Laila already lie dead)

KANDIDE

Don’t die, oh Connie, don’t die.

SHIMON

GOD!  WHY DO YOU PUNISH US?

(Kandide can’t keep Connie

from slumping to the ground)

KANDIDE

Shimon!  Ask her!  Ask her now!  (Shimon can’t talk) Let us be married, at least that.

(Shimon dies.

Cacambo dies)

CONNIE

(weakly) Kandide!

KANDIDE

Connie, my love, my love.

CONNIE

(whispers) Kandide…

(Kandide takes her hand)

KANDIDE

Moishe Kandidevsky, do you take Connie Gundy to be your lawfully wedded wife, to love, honor and..protect..all the rest of my life, in sickness..and in death..until death. . .

(Kandide, in tears,

takes Connie’s finger in his mouth.

Slowly, he draws it out.

Connie has died)

KANDIDE

(quietly) I do.  I do.  (begins rocking back and forth, a chant, a wail, a prayer) I do..I do..I do..I do..I do..I do..I do..I do..I do..I do..I do..I do..I do..I do..I do..I do..I do…..

(Lights slowly down on Kandide.

Narrator appears on the other side of the stage)

NARRATOR

Actually, he didn’t.  Die, that is.  All the chocolates had been eaten, and the wedding ring left on Connie’s finger made him sick for a day, but he lived.  He lived in the forest.  He lived to bury his comrades.  He lived to bury his one true love.  He lived to bash his head against trees and curse the day he was born.  He lived to tear his hair and harden his heart.  He lived from moment to moment.  He lived without fear and without purpose.  He simply lived.  And one day, he lived to see..

(Two American soldiers, Reed and Tyler)

KANDIDE

(rushing out into bright light, exhausted) AMERICANS…

REED

Christ, look at him.

KANDIDE

Save me…kill me…

(Kandide collapses at their feet.

Reed and Tyler lift him up)

KANDIDE

(half-mad) Have you got a bullet for me?  A wee bullet…right here.  (jabs at his forehead with his finger)

TYLER

(seeing Kandide’s arm) He’s from the camps.

REED

(to Kandide) It’s over.  Over.  (offers Kandide a cigarette) Smoke?

(Kandide, in no condition to refuse, takes a drag.

Unaccustomed to smoking,

Kandide coughs and gags.

The soldiers chuckle)

KANDIDE

How did it end?

TYLER

Fire and brimstone, pal.

REED

Our boys marched into Berlin, had the run of the place.

KANDIDE

What about Hitler?

TYLER

Married Eva Braun and they died happily ever after.

KANDIDE

What do you mean?

TYLER

Day after they got hitched, pffft!  Suicide.  Hell of a way to spend a honeymoon.  You married?

KANDIDE

(guarded) I was.  Almost.

TYLER

(shrugs) Kids?  (Kandide shakes his head) I got two at home.  They’re the reason I’m over here.  What am I fighting for, you?  Harry Truman?  It’s my family, that’s all that matters.  (play­fully punches Kandide in the arm) Right?

REED

Aw, leave him alone.

TYLER

He’s awright.  Bet he’s damn happy to see us.

(Kandide grabs for Tyler‘s gun and puts it to his mouth)

TYLER

Hey!  (easily wrests the weapon from Kandide) Listen to me.  Hitler’s dead.  Himmler, Goebbels, the whole friggin’ chain of command.

REED

Most of `em swallowed poison — the easy way out, lemme tell you.

(Reed gives Kandide a sip from his canteen)

TYLER

Reed here was in a trench…guy next to him, mortar shell comes tearing through his neck.  Nasty fucking way to die.

REED

Yeah, and if God was calling him home, why that way?  Why couldn’t he get the poison and Hitler get the bullet in his throat?

KANDIDE

(gasping after his drink) I don’t know.  I don’t believe in God.

TYLER

Neither does Jim.  He’s more into fate, destiny, whatever.

REED

Look, if that shell were meant for me, it would have found me.  I was meant to survive.  (to Tyler) So were you.  (to Kandide) And from the looks of it, so were you.

(Reed wipes the canteen mouth & drinks)

TYLER

Nah, it’s all a crapshoot.  There’s no yes or no anymore; just stay alive however you can.  That’s why you got the Russians coming in, doing shit just as bad as the Nazis.

REED

(to Kandide) Who’s to say no?  Who’s to say, “Stop, you’re going too far” when there’s no such thing as too far?

TYLER

(reminded) Oh, we’ve been told German officers are escaping dressed like inmates from the camps.

REED

You see anyone you recognize —

TYLER

You can have my gun.  Understand?

KANDIDE

(considers) Rather have a bayonet.  You can be more creative.

TYLER

(laughs with Reed) Attaboy!  So where you off to?

KANDIDE

Nowhere.

REED

You’re welcome to stick with us till we get back to division.  If you don’t mind hearing about Tyler’s family every other minute..

(Reed & Tyler chuckle)

KANDIDE

Do you want to see my family?

REED & TYLER

(shrug) Sure.

KANDIDE

Come.  Follow me.

(Kandide and the soldiers exit

as a bedraggled woman with a large belly

enters stage right,

which, during the previous scene,

has been strewn with rocks and debris.

The woman narrates)

NARRATOR

Kandide showed them the graves of Ozer, Laila, Shimon, Cacambo, and Connie Gundy.  Then he took them to Auschwitz where he showed them his bunk, the showers, the ovens, the unburied bones.  At the Americans’ insistence, Kandide was brought to a hospital where he received medical treatment, healthy meals and clean, civilian clothes.  Upon his release, Kandide returned to Warsaw, the place he once called home.  Here and there, through the rubble of burned houses and gutted streets, came the occasional remembered face.  The old Jew who somehow made it.  The young Pole who came back with one leg.  The lucky family packing for a move to New York.  The grieving woman, unable to care for her­self…  Help me.  Anybody, please help me..

(The Narrator, now a desperate Polish woman,

beseeches the approaching Kandide)

WOMAN

Mister.  Please mister, some money for food.

KANDIDE

I have no money.

WOMAN

Please, I’m starving.  There’s a child in me.  Our house burned down.

KANDIDE

I’m sorry…

WOMAN

My husband is dead!

KANDIDE

(pauses) That’s a terrible thing.  My condolences.

WOMAN

I’m alone in the world.  Except for this baby.  Won’t you please help?

KANDIDE

How did your husband die?

WOMAN

In the war.  Please, if you have an apple, a piece of bread..

KANDIDE

I don’t have anything.  Besides, you can’t turn your head in this country without coughing on a beggar.

WOMAN

I am not a beggar!  I’m a Pole.  A proud Polish woman, born and raised in the greatest country in the world.

KANDIDE

(laughs) I see..

WOMAN

You’re not from here.

KANDIDE

I’m from the same dirt and shit you are.  Polish from ass to elbow.

WOMAN

You don’t look it.

KANDIDE

What’s that supposed to mean?

WOMAN

Look, mister, I mean no harm.  I’m hungry, I need something to eat.  I see you in your clean shirt, healthy, nice shoes.  Why can’t you help me?

KANDIDE

Because I can’t, okay?  Have a good afternoon.  (walks away)

WOMAN

Bastard!  You have, you just won’t give me.

KANDIDE

Whatever.

WOMAN

You looked like a Jew the minute I saw you.  (Kandide halts) Cheap fucking Jew.  Christ killer.  All the money in the world won’t buy you a heart.

KANDIDE

I think you’d better shut up now.

WOMAN

It’s all your fault.  Too many of you.

KANDIDE

(chuckles) And you wanted me to give you something..

WOMAN

(desperate again) Anything.  Anything!

KANDIDE

No!

WOMAN

Why?

KANDIDE

Because I don’t want to!  Because I don’t care!  Because I’d rather see you die.

(The woman reaches out to hit Kandide

but misses his leg and falls forward)

KANDIDE

Missed me.  Here, take another shot.

(Kandide offers his leg.

She punches it, again and again

until Kandide shakes her off)

KANDIDE

Ow!  See?  You hurt me a little bit.  Big deal.  Hurt me all you want, I’ll live.  I’ll live through anything.

WOMAN

Filthy Jew.

KANDIDE

I’m like a cockroach.  (Kandide touches the woman’s belly with his foot) Step on me, I just squirt out from under your foot.

WOMAN

They should have killed you all.

KANDIDE

They should have.  But they didn’t.

WOMAN

My husband.  My husband would have known what to do with you.

KANDIDE

And what’s that?

WOMAN

He was a German officer.  A cold and beautiful man.  He would have killed you with his bare hands and thrown all of you on a bonfire.

KANDIDE

Well, he missed his chance.  (leans over) Is that his baby?  Or did you set your sights a little higher and fuck a stray dog?

(The woman goes to scratch his face.

Kandide grabs her arm,

holds and begins to twist it.

The woman writhes and cries out.

Kandide finally stops twisting but holds her arm)

KANDIDE

So that’s what causing pain is like.  I never knew.  I always wondered how people did it, but I never knew.  I think I like it.

WOMAN

(fearful) Please go away.

KANDIDE

I’ve killed people, but only to stay alive myself.

WOMAN

I’ve done you no harm.

KANDIDE

So many of my people butchered.  How easy it is.

(The woman tries to break away

but Kandide pulls her back)

WOMAN

Leave me alone.  I’m sorry about what I said.

KANDIDE

“I’m sorry.”  Oh, that’ll make things all better.  Was your husband sorry?  (twisting her arm again) The little monster inside you, will he be sorry?

WOMAN

Help!  Help!

(She breaks away, but before she can rise,

Kandide pulls her back by her hair.

She falls)

KANDIDE

How’d you like to be an honorary Jew?

WOMAN

Help!

KANDIDE

You know the secret?  Pain.  All of it, pain.

(Kandide slaps her across the face

and tears a rag from her dress)

But it’s more than just suffering.  It’s about enduring pain, quietly…(Kandide stuffs the rag in her mouth) because no one’s there to listen, and no one cares.  (motions) See?  No one.  The Jew is all alone.  Except for the enemy, who waits to kill.  Does the Jew want to die?  (the woman shakes her head) Does HaShem – excuse me, does that senile murderer up there – does He want the Jew to die?  (Kandide grabs a large rock) Let’s see.

(Kandide strikes the woman’s head with the rock.

The woman gags and writhes)

She lives!  Amazing!  One more.

(Kandide again bashes her skull.

The disoriented woman coughs out her rag)

A little unsteady, but very much alive.  Well done, Jew!  You may live after all.  Ah, but what have we here?

(Kandide puts an ear to the woman’s belly)

You’ve made another Jew?  How industrious of you!

(Kandide pries her legs open and looks inside)

Little boy.  Do you know what it means to be a Jew?  No?  Let me teach you.

WOMAN

NO!

(Kandide grabs a nearby tree branch.

He forces the branch between her legs.

The woman shrieks as, again and again,

the branch destroys her womb.

Soon she stops moving.

Moments later, Kandide stops.

Kandide, spent, drops the branch

and wipes his hands on the woman’s dress)

KANDIDE

(recites the Kaddish) The Jew is dead.  Long live the Jews.  Yisgadal v’yisgadash, shmeh rabah…

(On the other side of the stage,

a narrator, in green non-military fatigues,

speaks over Kandide’s recitation

of the Mourner’s Kaddish)

NARRATOR

In the year nineteen hundred and forty six, Moshe Kandidevsky, age 22, was an orphan, a widower, a murderer, a survivor.  His education proved hopeless, his religion useless.  His perfect world, uninhabitable.  Fearing arrest, Kandide sought to leave his once-beloved Poland as quickly as possible.  In a rare piece of good luck, Kandide ran into a fellow survivor who told him of flights into Palestine for European Jews.  Apparently the West felt guilty about misjudging the Holocaust and all that, and wanted to compensate by bringing Jews to the one place they actually belonged.  Days later, Kandide stood on the burning sands of the Holy Land.  From the tops of the mosques to the tips of the soldiers’ rifles, everything shone with a blinding radi­ance.  Somewhere deep and almost forgotten, Kandide felt a meas­ure of joy.  British MP’s led him to a small collective farm on the edge of the Negev, where Kandide could begin the rest of his life.

(Kandide watches as three workers

help plant a young tree.

Nearby, a large blanket

covers a pile on the ground.

Supervising is Chaim,

who pats Kandide on the back)

CHAIM

How do you like our kibbutz?  (Kandide nods) You’ve got the Dead Sea on one end, mountains and desert everywhere else.  Still, it grows.  Look, grapefruits.  And over there a whole grove of tan­gerines.  It’s hard work.  Everybody pitches in as best they can.  Old, young, women, children.  It is in many respects, the ideal civilization.  The finest place on earth.  One old man here calls it the best of all possible worlds.  What is it?

KANDIDE

Nothing.  (chuckles) I’ve heard that phrase before.

CHAIM

Ah, but here it’s different.  This is ours.  I mean, the Brits are still around but they’ll go eventually.

KANDIDE

What about the Arabs?

CHAIM

We’ll discuss that later.  Meanwhile, let’s put you to work.

(One of the workers shakes Kandide’s hand.

Another points to the new tree)

YEHUDA

Hold it steady while we push the earth around it.

(Kandide kneels and assists in the planting)

JEFFREY

We have three more to do before lunch.  This afternoon we work in the fields.

KANDIDE

Are you an American?

JEFFREY

(nods) Jeffrey Katz, Hartford, Connecticut.

KANDIDE

I met some American soldiers.  They were very nice.

EILEEN

Eileen Katz.  Nice to meet you.

JEFFREY

That was Chaim.  He left Germany in `38.

YEHUDA

I’m Yehuda.  (shows his tattoo) Matthausen.

KANDIDE

Kandide.  Auschwitz.

EILEEN

You, too?

KANDIDE

Why, who else?

YEHUDA

The old man.  He’s senile now.  Must have suffered terribly at the camp.

KANDIDE

Who is this old man everybody keeps talking about?

JEFFREY

(points) There he is.

(A young kibbutznik guides a hobbled,

disfigured, decrepit old man onto the stage)

KANDIDE

(stunned) Panglev.  Panglev!  (Kandide runs to Panglev and puts his arms around him) It’s Kandide!  I made it.

PANGLEV

(to the kibbutznik guiding him) Who is it?

KIBBUTZNIK

Kandide.

PANGLEV

Who?

KIBBUTZNIK

Kandide!

(The Kibbutznik lets Panglev

lean against Kandide and then exits)

PANGLEV

Have you seen the oranges?  They’re very beautiful.

KANDIDE

Yes.

PANGLEV

How nice it is to have fruit whenever you want it.  And vegeta­bles, boruch HaShem.

KANDIDE

Panglev, you lived!

PANGLEV

Rev Kalman Zalman ben Avrum used to say, there’s more holiness in the leaf of a green vegetable than in all the synagogues put together.

KANDIDE

Panglev, look at me!

PANGLEV

(pause) Kandide.  I knew a boy once.  His name was Kandide.  Very smart but headstrong, fell in love with this Polish girl..

KANDIDE

Connie.

PANGLEV

She died.

KANDIDE

And my heart with her.

PANGLEV

A nice person.  For a shikseh she was – no, she was just a nice person.  But her brother, eh…

KANDIDE

Her brother?  Is he –

PANGLEV

The Russians.  Very terrible.

KANDIDE

Look at me, Panglev!  What can you see?

PANGLEV

(pause) Such trouble.  Such pain.

KANDIDE

You remember.

PANGLEV

Ah, but it’s all for the best.  There is always good to follow bad.

KANDIDE

Then you still believe?

PANGLEV

(hearing him) Of course.  Look around.  I believe more than ever.

KANDIDE

How?  HOW?

PANGLEV

I don’t understand you.

KANDIDE

How can you believe?

PANGLEV

I just do.  And you do, too.

KANDIDE

No.

PANGLEV

Yes you do.

KANDIDE

No more.

PANGLEV

You always believe.  It is who you are.

KANDIDE

You don’t know what I’ve become..

PANGLEV

I know.

KANDIDE

NO! (crying) Oh, Rabbi, the things I have done.

PANGLEV

God forgives.

KANDIDE

Who forgives God?  For what He’s done.  For His sin against the Jews.

PANGLEV

(pause, in tears) I do.

KANDIDE

How?

PANGLEV

I just do.

KANDIDE

How can you love Him that much?

PANGLEV

(burning) I didn’t say I loved Him.  I only believe.

KANDIDE

I can’t.  I can’t believe and I can’t forgive.  Or be forgiven.  I want to become dust and blow away.  I want this soul inside me to die already and leave me in peace.

PANGLEV

You can’t do that, Kandide.

KANDIDE

Why not?!

PANGLEV

If you leave this world, Kandide..

KANDIDE

Yes?

PANGLEV

Whom will I love?

KANDIDE

(pause) If I never said it, Panglev, thank you.  For raising me, for trying to –

PANGLEV

Have you tried the oranges?

(Panglev removes an apple from his pocket)

KANDIDE

Rebbe?

(Panglev hands Kandide the apple)

PANGLEV

They’re wonderful oranges.  And date nut trees bigger than Go­lems.

KANDIDE

I see.

PANGLEV

Rabbi Kalman Zalmen ben Avrum says that —

KANDIDE

Yes, I know.

(Kandide motions for the kibbutznik

to reclaim Panglev)

PANGLEV

(motioning with his hands) Perfect.  Perfect.  How could the world be any better than it is right now?

KANDIDE

I don’t know.

(The kibbutznik guides Panglev away)

CHAIM

(calling from the grove) Kandide!

PANGLEV

(stops, turns) Kandide.  I knew a boy once.  His name was Kandide.  I am glad he is alive.

(Panglev is led off.

Then Chaim crosses over)

CHAIM

Kandide!  Come on.

(Kandide follows Chaim across the stage)

CHAIM

There’s something else I need to show you.  Help me.

(Kandide and Chaim grab two sides

of the large blanket and lift it up)

CHAIM

Have you ever shot a gun before?

(Kandide nods. Chaim hands him a gun

from a pile of rifles and weapons)

KANDIDE

The Arabs?

CHAIM

(nods) The British keep a pretty good watch during the day, but at night we’re sitting ducks.  They don’t want us on their land.  Well, that’s just too bad.  Shoot to kill.  (sees Kandide uneasy) Have you killed?

KANDIDE

Yes.

CHAIM

Can you kill again?

KANDIDE

Yes.

CHAIM

Do you think you’ll get along here?  I mean, on a kibbutz with all these rules and –

KANDIDE

Yes.

CHAIM

Great.

(Kandide keeps the gun in hand

and replaces the blanket)

Trust me, you belong in the land of Israel.  It’s where we all belong.  Whatever you’ve done, whatever’s been done to you, it has brought you here, to this place.  Now come, let us cultivate our garden.


(Chaim returns to the others.

Kandide lingers a moment,

staring at the blanket.

He slowly walks over and

joins his new friends.

He squats and tentatively,

with his free hand,

smooths earth over the base

of a young tree.

Jeffrey and Eileen, flanking him,

each lay a friendly hand on his back.

He smiles and begins working

in earnest.

Lights down.)

END OF PLAY

********************************************************************************************************

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THE TRIPLE WEDDING

a farce in verse

by David Lefkowitz


David Lefkowitz

holvoe_at_aol_dot-com

(c)1986 David Neil Lefkowitz

————————————-

CHARACTERS

SGANARRHEA  –  Father of Brie and Bleu

FARTE  –  The servant

BRIE  –  In love with Roquefort

BLEU  –  Sister to Brie

ROQUEFORT  –  A student

MORONTE  –  A wit.  Suitor to Brie

STRANGER  –  Dressed in leisure suit, bowler and cane

A PRIEST  –  With a long beard

TWO VAGRANTS

_______________

THE SCENE

Paris.

Sganarrhea’s living room with a garden to the rear.

—————————————————————-

ACT I

SCENE 1

(TWO VAGRANTS appear.

One mops his brow, the other dusts off his suit.

They wander the stage searching for something.

At one point, they become conscious of the audience and proffer an awkward bow.

After more fruitless searching, they shrug and shake their heads in  efeat.

One VAGRANT suddenly hears footsteps and motions to the other to leave.

The TWO VAGRANTS quickly EXIT.

ENTER FARTE,

smearing glue on a jagged piece of clay.

He is about to attach it to something when he hears a noise.

He instantly hides his work and jumps onto the divan.

SGANARRHEA ENTERS, holding a stick)

SGANARRHEA

What’s this?

Sleeping beauty sleeps on duty!

I’ll give him a kiss…

(SGANARRHEA is about to hit FARTE when the servant stirs, groans, and goes back to sleep)

He wouldn’t know it if I did.

A bagpipe serenade couldn’t lift one lid.

Why can’t I be given warning

when I’m to have this kind of morning?

On top of my daughter’s unbridled weeping

I have to find this idiot sleeping.

What made me choose this slob

as master of odd household jobs?

I tell him, “Paint the game room red,”

He paints it queasy pink instead.

And, upon seeing me grow mad

he counters that my eyes are bad

and need some ocular corrective.

Besides, he adds, “taste is subjective.”

(FARTE lets out a snore)

Perhaps a glass of Ipecac’s

the stuff to get him off his back.

I’d kill him, but who could tell the difference?

He could be dead right now, I note –

(FARTE snores loudly)

Suffocated.  By a live walrus in his throat.

Enough of these unpleasantries,

I’ll rouse the lounger presently.

(SGANARRHEA kicks him)

Wake up you miserable slug!

FARTE

Ah, Louise!  Come, give me a hug.

SGANARRHEA

A hug!  Why you –

(Another kick)

FARTE

Louise!  Don’t make me apologize again;

This sort of thing happens to most men.

SGANARRHEA

I ask you to do one small chore

and find you on your posterior.

FARTE

You know, Louise..  Another chance and I just might

make you forget about last night.

SGANARRHEA

A tiny clarification, please –

I AM NOT LOUISE!

(FARTE jumps up)

Good morning.  I didn’t mean to yell.

Sleep well?

FARTE

As a matter of fact –

SGANARRHEA

Shut up!

And why aren’t you working?

Other men would be ashamed

to have sloth be their middle name, but you –

Do I see you smirking?

FARTE

Not at all, Master Sganarrhea.  But you have it all wrong.

I was hard at it all along.  Why,

I’d just begun the most crucial part!

You sent me out to fix the roof, and I,

your trusted servant Farte,

have been labouring for hours hence.

In truth, I am exhausted.

SGANARRHEA

Exhausted?  Nay, try delirious,

for you certainly can’t be serious.

FARTE

You agree that fixing a roof properly requires

an abundance of toil, a touch of skill,

fired with courage and strong will –

SGANARRHEA

Pinch me, friend, and hold me steady.

You can’t have finished all already?

FARTE

Certainly not.

SGANARRHEA

Permit me a sigh of relief;

My heart can’t take such disbelief.

FARTE

No need to be upset.

In fact, as far as the actual work is concerned,

I haven’t even started yet.

SGANARRHEA

That’s more like the Farte I know,

A slugabed, lazy so-and-so.

FARTE

Careful.  You might accidentally hurt my feelings.

And after all I’ve done for you…

SGANARRHEA

Done for me?  You squealing weed!

Done to me’s more your speed.

Have you so soon forgot the time

I brought you to the garden

and asked you then to seed and lime

before the topsoil hardened?

It could have been done in an hour flat,

but no, Farte was wiser.

How could the plants grow tall and fat

without fresh fertilizer?

Not finding any on our grounds,

you sacked my purse and pinched ten crowns.

FARTE

For good reason –

SGANARRHEA

Escaping then, unseen somehow,

off to the marketplace you’d gone

to rent a dozen bloated cows

and park them, en masse, across my lawn.

Even this would not have been so bad

had you not gone and made them mad.

This mob –

FARTE

Now Master, they weren’t doing their job.

Apparently they’d not been fed and, alas,

had nothing to contribute to the grass.

SGANARRHEA

On finding them thus ill-fed,

did you give up?  Did you despair?

FARTE

No, I –

SGANARRHEA

Snatched the pistol `neath my bed

and fired it into the air!

FARTE

I wanted to frighten them.

SGANARRHEA

It worked.  Remember?

They all berserked!

Three of them crashed through the gate –

The thought of it still makes me wince –

Two more bounded off my estate;

The neighbours’ child’s been missing since.

FARTE

What about the time I cleaned the entire attic –

A mighty task – without even having been asked?

SGANARRHEA

I marvel at your impudence.

The fact that I, the night before,

remarked in jest that I’d a store

of antique coins of fine selection

lost amid the room’s collection,

was nothing but coincidence?

FARTE

And what about the time –

SGANARRHEA

Time’s the thing you’ve not been keeping!

It’s what passes while you’re sleeping.

Longer for you the roof to thatch

than God to make the world from scratch!

FARTE

The roof!  That was the topic of conversation.

Stop distracting me with these peregrinations.

SGANARRHEA

If I let you survive this discussion,

it will be to ponder your concussion

unless you give me prove

that truly, you were on the roof.

I’ve enough on my mind to worry about,

Yet I find you within, when you should be without,

you idle wretch.

FARTE

(to audience) All he ever does is kvetch.

Master, rail at me if you must,

but I’m deeply hurt by your mistrust.

SGANARRHEA

My sympathetic soul you wrack;

Notice the tears I’m holding back.

FARTE

My story will change your attitude,

and soon you’ll weep those tears with gratitude.

We agreed that the task requires a high degree

of alertness and caution, as well as –

SGANARRHEA

Skill, courage and efficiency.

We’ve just run down your chief deficiencies.

FARTE

Ah Master, this morning they were; I was only half awake.

And sending a fraction of me to the roof would have been a big mistake.

The work would have been done poorly.

SGANARRHEA

Surely. Because that’s true – of everything you do.

FARTE

Or worse, if a drowsy numbness pained my senses,

causing me to lose my grip, and slip,

and poor Farte tumbles down to messy death!

The loyal servant meets his early end

because his master was in a hurry to mend a tiny crack.

Oh, the cruelty of it all!

SGANARRHEA

No one asked you to fall..

FARTE

Murderer!

SGANARRHEA

Perhaps it was wrong not to ask

if you were equal to the task.

Sometimes I let self-possession

get the best of my discretion.

FARTE

(sobs) You beast!  A great man lies dead

and all you can think of is yourself?

SGANARRHEA

No more, I beg you!  I’ve admitted my fault.

why rub in extra salt?

FARTE

Even salt can’t rub the blood off your hands –

No, don’t touch me, I can’t bear it.

SGANARRHEA

My foul and evil deed admitted,

God forgive what I’ve committed!

(SGANARRHEA begins to weep)

I miss so much his silly smile,

the crafty tricks he loved to play.

His joyous, free and easy style

that chased all trace of gloom away.

FARTE

When will come another?

SGANARRHEA

If only I’d known his unstable state,

I’d not have sent him to so black a fate.

If only he’d told me his night had been long,

I’d have run after him, forced him to stop

and tell me what was wrong

before I sent him to the housetop.

FARTE

You wouldn’t have understood.

SGANARRHEA

Those words are unkind and undue.

I’m not the ogre I seem to you.

FARTE

The poor fellow was obviously afraid.

Could he have said that he purposely roused himself

at an ungodly hour to perform a special task for his master?

SGANARRHEA

Though I’d be unsure somewhat,

I see no reason why not.

FARTE

And if this task had to do with repairing another object

before his master even knew it was broken,

could he then have spoken?

SGANARRHEA

If this is as your story goes,

I’d surely lavish praise, not blows.

FARTE

And what if I told you I’d had a small accident

which forced me to perform this task in secret?

SGANARRHEA

I’d still be calm `til you unveiled

all your actions in more detail.

An object, though useful, is ne’er indispensable.

FARTE

Why Master, I never knew you could be so sensible!

What do the lifeless little things really mean

in the giant scope of our existence?

SGANARRHEA

What’s one bracelet, or one dress,

or one shoelace more or less?

FARTE

What’s a chair?  A spyglass?  A statue?  An eyeglass?

A hideous ninth century Oriental vase?  A snuffbox?  A –

SGANARRHEA

Methinks an item’s been glossed o’er;

Kindly list the list once more.

FARTE

Achairaspyglassastatueaneyeglassa –

SGANARRHEA

Would it be asking too much

for you to slow down a touch?

FARTE

Not at all.  An eyeglass, a snuffbox, a blanket –

SGANARRHEA

Sorry to reinterrupt your discursion,

but slowly doesn’t mean the abridged version.

FARTE

Oh!  You mean the silly little vase?

SGANARRHEA

In the silly little crystal showcase,

which, on reflection, I find no place.

FARTE

Well, I certainly wouldn’t be such a boor

as to leave the pieces all over the floor.

Don’t look at me that way, it’s not natural.

SGANARRHEA

Mind me not.  I’m only choosing

the proper spot to do some bruising.

FARTE

After I was up half the night fixing things as good as new?

For any injured object belonging to you

is as though you yourself are in peril,

in the eyes of your dear, loyal, trusted –

SGANARRHEA

(aside) The man spins more history than Josephus.

Let’s have the piece without the preface.

(FARTE presents pieces of what used to be a vase, glued together, well, piecemeal)

Humour me.

What is that supposed to be?

FARTE

An early example of cubism?

(SGANARRHEA takes a whack at FARTE, causing him to drop the vase)

See what you made me do?  And this time, I’m not fixing it.

SGANARRHEA

I see no reason for not proceeding.

Think of it as a modern example of bleeding.

(SGANARRHEA beats FARTE mercilessly)

FARTE

Oh, woe is me!  I am belumped!

And worst of all, he’s having fun!

SGANARRHEA

I suggest you keep still, because –

FARTE

If this is about the vase,

I can get you a new one.  Cheap.  Ow!

Oh pain!  Oh agony-agony-agony!

Is this to be the end of poor Farte?  Oh!

Indeed, it seems so, lest I find some manner

of re-establishing myself in my Master’s heart.  Oh!

SGANARRHEA

Don’t babble about how I mistreat you,

I have not yet begun to beat you.

FARTE

Master Sganarrhea, surely there’s some way to save face

and wheedle back into your good grace?

SGANARRHEA

Not `til your head looks like that vase!

FARTE

(aside) Ow!  I see my star lies further from the sun than I’d reckoned,

and the atmosphere grows colder by the second.

Really Master, there must be some service

your humble wretch may perform here.

SGANARRHEA

Is there money to be stolen?

Does someone need deceiving?

Your brain must be swollen from the welts it’s receiving.

FARTE

Some advice in business dealings, perhaps?

No one has a craftier mind than yours truly.

SGANARRHEA

I whip to stop his tongue from wagging,

He counters by bragging!

FARTE

Or maybe some family matter weighing you down

might be leavened by your servant’s touch?

(The beating ceases)

SGANARRHEA

Now there’s a thought.

Though I’m not sure what to do with it,

I certainly won’t trust you with it.

(The beating commences)

FARTE

But what have you to lose?

You can always beat me later if you choose.

(The beating ceases)

SGANARRHEA

Though wedded once,

I’m a hopeless dunce in the ways of the heart.

FARTE

Ah, leave it to Farte!

Has a young lady caught your eye and refuses to return it?

You’re speaking to the right guy,

because when it comes to ladies of the female gender, I –

SGANARRHEA

There you go, jumping to conclusions.

And you wonder why I hail you with contusions.

With all due effacement, I’m proud to say

I’ve sought no replacement since my wife passed away.

From amorous matters I stand exempted.

That’s not to say I’ve not been tempted

by rosy cheeks and charming smiles

and scores of more disarming wiles,

but none of them could pass the test

that lingers here inside my breast.

No, ‘tis not my complication

that leads me to vexation.

Now that we’ve come down to facts,

it’s my daughter, to be exact.

FARTE

Brie?  She’s met someone?

SGANARRHEA

I’m afraid so.

But Cupid’s arrow found the wrong beau.

Lord knows she chose him just to upset me.

I’d choose a better, but she won’t let me.

Always impetuous over prudent,

She’s got her heart set on that – that – student.

FARTE

Oh for shame!

She pines for Roquefort, bland and bookish,

not brutal and bawdy and Captain Hookish.

How dare she choose that mosquito

over a brigand or bandito!

SGANARRHEA

I’m glad you find this humorous..

FARTE

I surely do not.  What objections have you got to Roquefort?

SGANARRHEA

Numerous.

He’s a suitable suitor for a lack-a-day lass,

but my precious Brie’s way above his class.

FARTE

He loves her.

SGANARRHEA

No doubt.  His spirit seems willed with it.

He’s a nice air about him..

His pockets are filled with it.

FARTE

Now sir, since when do louis and franc

replace a lover’s true name and rank?

SGANARRHEA

I know money’s not the only indication

of a potential husband’s situation.

Precisely why the man I’ve selected

excels in the things he hasn’t perfected.

In love, an aesthetic;

In life, an ascetic

who laces his speech with fine wit and poetics.

The voice of a Greek chorus,

the face of a Greek god,

the depth of a thesaurus –

All right, some think him odd..

FARTE

Oh, Master.  Please tell me Moronte isn’t his name.

SGANARRHEA

The same.

FARTE

The man’s a pompous, overdressed, underhanded fop who –

SGANARRHEA

Stop!  Not another word.

I’m pleased to hear you speak,

for now I’m sure he’s the man I seek.

FARTE

Please sir, trust me if you can.

Your daughter will not be happy with this man.

SGANARRHEA

I just wanted to hear it from your voice.

I’m pleased my choice comes so well recommended!

FARTE

I think I preferred the beating.

SGANARRHEA

Don’t be offended.

I value your judgment, I’m glad you dispensed it.

Though, to redeem my esteem,

you must go against it.

You see, like most young girls, Brie would rather

listen to her lover than her father.

I mention Moronte; she raves, she burns.

But when the conversation turns

to Roquefort, her sweetheart, how gracious and meek

you’ll hear her speak.

My only hope in this situation

is some..impartial, outside arbitration.

If you intercede on my behalf,

I swear, no more you’ll see this staff.

FARTE

My lips say “no no,” but my bumps say “yes yes.”

SGANARRHEA

I ask for so little.

Grant it, and I break the stick down the middle.

Of course, if misplaced morals get the best of you,

my wooden friend will get the rest of you.

FARTE

Hm.  Morality versus mortality.

(steels himself) No.  Farte won’t bend to your brutality.

SGANARRHEA

Since overt threats don’t succeed,

I guess there’s no point appealing to greed..

FARTE

What?  What?

SGANARRHEA

I won’t stoop to mention a figure, but..

Think of a number.  Have one?  Think bigger.

FARTE

Thirty pieces of silver is as big as I can make it.

Still, it’s thirty more than I’ve got and I’ll take it.

(FARTE holds out his hand to no response)

Was I too blunt?

SGANARRHEA

You’ll get your reward when I get what I want.

Talk to my daughter of her selection

and try to sway her in my direction.

Moronte’s virtues you’ll exalt

while citing Roquefort’s many faults.

Now, our deal, to her, must be unknown,

for she must think your words your own.

You’ve always been Brie’s confidant,

So act casual, nonchalant, mild but not mincing,

and I’m sure she’ll find you most convincing.

There.  I’ve made my appeal.

Do we or don’t we have a deal?

Perhaps you’d like to think a minute..

(SGANARRHEA brandishes the stick)

FARTE

All right!  But my heart won’t be in it.

SGANARRHEA

Thank you.  You feel I’ve been unkind,

but believe me, I’ve none but her best interests in mind.

FARTE

Oh?

I’m glad you think so.

(EXIT FARTE)

SGANARRHEA

I only hope he can substitute her

college boy with a worthy suitor.

A little cajoling, a little coaching –

Wait, I hear her step approaching.

Where is that servant?

To think I freed him

just when most of all I need him.

Well, since Farte isn’t by,

I’ll have to give it one more try.

SCENE 2

(ENTER BRIE)

BRIE

Good morning, father.  Are you feeling well?

SGANARRHEA

My arm’s a bit sore,

but nothing more.

BRIE

I heard you bellow some awful things,

and then there came this shrieking –

SGANARRHEA

It’s that bothersome nest of yellowjacks.

Each year we knock it down, but they keep buzzing back.

BRIE

The screaming!  You must have been stung horribly.

SGANARRHEA

Really?  I wasn’t aware of it.

I let Farte take care of it.

BRIE

Oh no!  I hope he’s not hurt.

SGANARRHEA

No requiems for that fox, please.

He got his just dessert

from those sons of bees.

(SGANARRHEA chuckles at his own joke)

BRIE

Sometimes thee and me

see things so differently.

SGANARRHEA

Speaking of which – Brie, don’t run away –

Moronte was here the other day.

BRIE

That’s nice.

SGANARRHEA

He feels your mind is closed before him

and wishes you better disposed towards him.

BRIE

Please assure him he’s done nothing to incur my antipathy;

Tell him nothing he does is of the least interest to me.

SGANARRHEA

You’ve met the man twice,

and thrice you’ve seen him,

yet you find endless cause to demean him.

His education is flawless,

a man of letters through and through.

BRIE

And when he finishes the alphabet,

perhaps he’ll start on numbers, too.

SGANARRHEA

He’s an amiable man,

he’ll grant your every wish.

BRIE

They say even Rasputin loved goldfish.

SGANARRHEA

His face is godlike, ethereal in its worth.

BRIE

That well may be,

for it’s not of this earth.

SGANARRHEA

He’s generous to a fault, and if you say,

He’d better be, because he has so many,

Out go the teeth till you haven’t any.

BRIE

But if you’ve heard my objections,

why do you persist in punishing me with Moronte’s affections?

SGANARRHEA

I shouldn’t have to justify my actions,

I’m your father!  Oh, and don’t bother

with that reaction.  I’ve seen you cry too often

to let this display soften my resolve.

So turn the faucet off and make the tears dissolve.

BRIE

But I love Roquefort!

SGANARRHEA

What can I do to persuade you

that there’s no comparison to be made?

BRIE

Roquefort is the sweetest, kindest man breathing!

SGANARRHEA

Yes, but wait till he starts teething.

BRIE

He greets each day with a song and a smile.

SGANARRHEA

Most idiots do, it suits his style.

BRIE

He gives me flowers, and poems, and sad ardent sighs.

SGANARRHEA

Money’s no object.  Nor subject either, I surmise.

BRIE

He gives me affection, he’s loving and fun.

SGANARRHEA

So are cocker spaniels, but you don’t marry one.

BRIE

I must be strong..  Roquefort –

SGANARRHEA

This prattle has gone on too long.

Why battle what I know to be wrong?

I’ve made my choice and I’ll carry it through,

You’ll thank me the day Moronte marries you.

BRIE

But father!

SGANARRHEA

Not another word!  My plans are in motion,

so stop being absurd and dry up the ocean.

BRIE

But –

SGANARRHEA

I’ll listen to no protestations;

I’m off to send the invitations.

(EXIT SGANARRHEA.

BRIE sits and sobs hysterically.

Her nose is blown with vehemence, and her wails would frighten wild animals)



SCENE 3

(FARTE sneaks back in)

FARTE

Is he gone?

BRIE

How can a man so heartless be?

FARTE

He practices on me.

BRIE

All he has on his mind is that laughable idiot.

FARTE

What is this, Let’s Torture Farte Day?

BRIE

Oh Farte, forgive me!  I’m so blind with my own misery,

I didn’t even ask how you were.

FARTE

I’m your servant, as always.

BRIE

You look terrible!

FARTE

I’ve had better days.

BRIE

Father had no right sending you out on a job like that.

FARTE

One slip and I’d need a new hip!

BRIE

The hive was that high up?  You’re lucky to be alive.

FARTE

That’s arguable.

But yes, it was horrible!  There I was on the roof when –

come again?

BRIE

The hive!  With all the bees.

FARTE

A moment please.

(thinks) Ah!  Now I’m completely lost.

The only beeish encounter that arose

was with a stick, stinging me with blows.

BRIE

Oh, what is the matter with Father?

Ever since my sister and I traded

diapers for corsets and rattles for lace,

he’s been afraid we might marry pirates or chase

after worthless imbeciles.

FARTE

Speaking of which…

BRIE

Many a man may read a mind, but a heart can ne’er be fathomed.

FARTE

Still, I can’t fathom why you’d give your one and only heart

to Roquefort’s kind?

Surely, Moronte is by far the better find.

BRIE

Farte, not you as well?

FARTE

His education is…it’s…

Why he’s a man of many…

He has the face of a –

And the wit!

Why he can…  He is rich, and so generous that…

I’ve never met such a.. –

(sighs) I can’t go through with it.

BRIE

I don’t understand.

FARTE

Master Sganarrhea put me up to this, but even lowly Farte

has a conscience, darn it all.

BRIE

At least you don’t have to marry Moronte.  I try to stall

him, but father gets so angry when I object,

I just don’t know what to – Oh!

(BRIE dissolves into tearful hysteria)

FARTE

This is kind of a habit for you, isn’t it?

BRIE

I can’t help it.

(BRIE wrings her handkerchief, causing a small lake to form on the floor)

FARTE

Are those eyebrows or nimbus clouds?

BRIE

Daddy, get the stick!  Farte disobeyed!

FARTE

Shhhhh!!!

(FARTE clamps his hand over her mouth)

Weaker sex my eye.

BRIE

Mmph mmphry!

FARTE

Beg pardon?

BRIE

I’m sorry.  But if Father forces me to marry Moronte, I’ll die!

FARTE

(to audience) Can we have some shrouds here?

BRIE

How truly low and wretched I am!  Mocked by my father’s servant!

FARTE

Now hold on, Miss Julie.  Don’t get the wrong idea;

When I took it upon myself to disobey Sganarrhea,

I secured awesome wear and tear

on what’s left of my derriere.

BRIE

Then what’s another welt or two?

FARTE

Not much – to you.

BRIE

But aren’t a few extra bruises worth helping a lady in distress?

FARTE

(swayed) Ye – NO!

BRIE

But you have to help me!  Only you can save my poor, sweet, innocent young life from ruin!

FARTE

Nothin’ doin.

BRIE

If you don’t rescue me, dearest Farte, I’ll – I’ll –

(FARTE snatches her handkerchief in time)

FARTE

I’ll do it!  I don’t know what I’ll do, but I’ll do it.

BRIE

Noble Farte, how can I ever thank you?

FARTE

Kindly leave me alone – ouch! – to concoct some way – Ow! – out of this thing!

BRIE

Of course!  Anything you say.

But tell me, are you hurt?  Why do you wail this way?

FARTE

I’m practicing.

BRIE

Oh, I can’t wait to tell Roquefort!

Thank you, gentle Farte.  Thank you!

(EXIT BRIE)

FARTE

Ahem.  Master Sganarrhea, you see, sometimes even the best father can be

so blind, so ignorant, so — no.

Master, after careful consideration, and being mindful of your stick,

I feel it’s my obligation to warn you Moronte is a dick.

No.

To my dear Sgan.  It takes a big man to admit a big mistake,

and you are one of the biggest men I’ve ever met –

Oh, what am I going to do?

Perhaps I should go hide up on the roof until all this blows over.

No, I’d fall right through; they still haven’t fixed it yet.

I tell you, this place is deteriorating so fast, I..I –

(FARTE, clutching the handkerchief, pounds the floor with his fist.

A puddle of tears instantly spurts out)

– almost want to cry.

(FARTE smiles and walks purposefully offstage)

END OF ACT I


ACT TWO

SCENE 1

(BLEU & ROQUEFORT in the garden)

BLEU

Quite recently I read that by applying leeches to one’s

calves and ankles, one may cure a yeast infection.

ROQUEFORT

Sounds a bit medieval to me.

BLEU

Well, you’re the brilliant college student.

What do you consider the great new medical advances to be?

ROQUEFORT

Actually, medicine is not one of my subjects.

Excuse me, but –

BLEU

I should have known.  A deep, artistic soul

such as yours is probably steeped in the semiotics

of Plato and Aristotle.  Wasn’t it Socrates who said,

Art without heart is artifice,

but a heart without art is arteriosclerotic?

ROQUEFORT

Something to think about.  The fact is I’m trying to find –

BLEU

You dishonor yourself with humility!

Why just talking to you now I see a mind so stacked

with knowledge that only your agility

and charm keep it from toppling under its own weight.

ROQUEFORT

Thank you, I – I try.

BLEU

Indeed.  Indeed, indeed.  La di da.  Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m absolutely sure Thomas Middleton wrote the last act of King Lear.

ROQUEFORT

That was nice of him.  Look, is your sister here –

BLEU

Come now, mister college man, I’ve been doing all the talking.

ROQUEFORT

Oh?  I hadn’t noticed.

BLEU

What knowledge have you gleaned behind

those sacred halls and ivy walls?

ROQUEFORT

Prunes.

BLEU

Come again?

ROQUEFORT

Prunes.  We’ve been cutting them open

to study their structures and properties.

BLEU

Fascinating.

ROQUEFORT

Did you know that prunes are like an edible washcloth

for a person’s innards?

BLEU

I doubt I’ll ever be able to eat one again without hearing that.

ROQUEFORT

Our professor says that nature is like a great toilet, because –

BRIE

So…have you read the latest treatise

on the nightmares suffered by certain types of shrubbery?

ROQUEFORT

No, I can’t say – Look, I really must see Brie on a matter of –

BLEU

The article is very short, I can run and get it!

ROQUEFORT

Maybe later perhaps.

BLEU

I doubt she’s home.

I think she went out for a walk a little while ago.

ROQUEFORT

I’ll just check for myself.  Alone.  Thank you.

BLEU

But –

SCENE 2

(Before ROQUEFORT can exit, SGANARRHEA enters)

SGANARRHEA

Farte?  Where are you, you unmindful whelp?

Where were you when I needed your help?

ROQUEFORT

Sganarrhea, how are you today?

SGANARRHEA

Lousy, now go away.

BLEU

Is that any way to talk to such a learned scholar?

ROQUEFORT

Don’t irk him, he seems hot enough under the collar.

SGANARRHEA

The student fails!

As usual, you’re incorrect.

I feel much better in many respects,

I won’t bore you with details –

ROQUEFORT

I’m at an utter loss.

SGANARRHEA

Now there’s understatement for you.

ROQUEFORT

Is Brie by?

SGANARRHEA

She’s not by you, if that’s your meaning.

And by and by you’ll find her leaning

towards a brighter sun

than e’er you studied in Geometry One.

ROQUEFORT

Sir, my apologies,

but I’m sure you mean astrology.

SGANARRHEA

No, it’s you who have the wrong angle this time;

You and my daughter – two parallel lines.

ROQUEFORT

Ah, side by side.  How sweet!

BLEU

I think he means you’ll never meet.

Father sometimes your bite is most unnerving.

SGANARRHEA

But I never leave toothmarks on the undeserving.

ROQUEFORT

Sir, with all due respect, I love your daughter very much,

and feel that I am the best man for her.

SGANARRHEA

Agreed, agreed.  No quarrel whatsoever.

BLEU & ROQUEFORT

What?

SGANARRHEA

You’d make a wonderful best man,

but a groom?  Never!

ROQUEFORT

Will you at least let me see her now?

SGANARRHEA

The girl is within.

Ask her if she fares well,

or better still, bid her farewell,

she’ll fill you in on the whys and hows.

Oh – and as you well know,

my daughter has a delicate soul,

so if her emotions fly out of control,

try not to feed them.

(SGANARRHEA hands ROQUEFORT a bundle of handkerchiefs)

Here, take these.  You’ll need them.

(EXIT ROQUEFORT)

He’s not the worst fish in the water.

I wish him luck,

with someone else’s daughter.

BLEU

He says he loves Brie.

SGANARRHEA

What does he know about love, that simple pup?

She’s the first thing he saw when his skin cleared up.

Young people are like that.

With fierce protestations they

staunchly defend momentary fixations

long after the zest and the spark have gone flat.

He’ll try his best to make it last,

but fancies were meant to be caught, then passed.

He believes he’s in love,

he thinks he’s sincere,

that is, until some new bauble appears.

Then, as if by magic, the fool awakens;

How, says he, could I have been so mistaken?

My new love’s a Princess, an Empress and more

compared to the dishrag I toyed with before.

To think I so recently embraced

the product of such atrocious taste.

And soon he finds that number two is wrong,

but she holds her ground until numbers three,

four, five, six and seven come along.

So you see, Roquefort’s not evil or maladjusted;

all the same, he can’t be trusted.

My words come from experience, not malice.

No heart is free when it’s pulled by a phallus.

BLEU

I think I’m going to be ill.

SGANARRHEA

Oh stop it.  You know the facts I gave

are exactly the way the young behave.

BLEU

So there’s a chance Roquefort is just infatuated with Brie?

SGANARRHEA

The more he gush,

the more he blush,

the more I’m sure it’s a schoolboy’s crush.

I can, without a doubt, proclaim

that within a week, he’ll have a new old flame.

BLEU

(aside) I hope with all my heart.

SGANARRHEA

Hmm?  Well, when you’re older, you’ll learn.

But why is this any of your concern?

BLEU

No reason.  Curiosity.

SGANARRHEA

Yes, bordering on ferocity.

Your zealous gaze marks you like a blister;

I hope you’re not jealous of your sister,

because before you know it, you’ll be wed,

and you’ll snuggle into the marriage bed.

And just as with Brie, I’ll do all I can

to find you an equally suitable man.

BLEU

Then it’s true!  Brie is going to marry Moronte.

SGANARRHEA

You can stake your life upon’t.

BLEU

And Roquefort will be looking for someone new?

SGANARRHEA

I guess.  But why should that interest you?

BLEU

Well I –

(BLEU is interrupted by a terrible, anguished cry from within)

SGANARRHEA

Good heavens!

SCENE 3

(FARTE enters in vociferous sorrow, wringing his handkerchief dry)

BLEU

What’s the trouble?

(FARTE makes a vague attempt to speak but tumbles into sobs)

SGANARRHEA

Really servant, why so sad?

Surely nothing can be that bad.

BLEU

Is it animal, vegetable or mineral?

FARTE

It’s…it’s…Roquefort.

SGANARRHEA

Vegetable.

FARTE

I won’t disturb you with this horrible tragedy,

I see you don’t care..

BLEU

Father!

SGANARRHEA

This isn’t getting us anywhere.

Farte, we’re hanging on your every word.

Now calmly, slowly, what have you heard?

FARTE

Promise you won’t tell anyone about this.

SGANARRHEA

How can I promise what I don’t know?

BLEU

Yes, of course, it will be so.

FARTE

Roquefort made me swear never to tell anyone

of his misfortune.

SGANARRHEA

Well, in that case, my daughter and I both

would never force you to break an oath.

Go before you let slip

what should never pass between your lips.

BLEU

What are you saying?

SGANARRHEA

(aside to BLEU) When news is about,

to get to the heart of it,

act as if you want no part of it.

BLEU

Ah!  Ahem, thank you, Farte.

I guess there’s nothing we can do;

I hope your secret doesn’t burden you.

SGANARRHEA

If this news is news indeed,

Roquefort will tell us when he feels the need.

FARTE

Since you insist, I won’t keep it from you any longer.

A few minutes ago I was conversing with Roquefort

when the talk turned to science.

BLEU

Prunes.

FARTE

I beg your pardon?

BLEU

He’s deeply into the purgative properties of prunes.

FARTE

I’m afraid that’s not terribly relevant –

SGANARRHEA

At least he’s in his element.

(FARTE, afraid of losing his audience, lets out another sustained wail)

BLEU

We’re listening!  What?

FARTE

The science I speak of is more pathological in nature.

Roquefort casually steered the conversation to rare and incurable diseases,

but even there, thickheaded Farte did not catch on.

SGANARRHEA

Oh my God!  He has been looking ill of late.

BLEU

I thought he was trying to lose weight.

SGANARRHEA

I wish I’d known before I snapped

that piteous words would have been more apt.

FARTE

Why do you think he didn’t mention?

Roquefort would rather die than take pity, however well-intentioned.

(sigh) And he will.

SGANARRHEA

You mean – ?

FARTE

Yes.  The dreaded Appositive Colon!

BLEU

Is it serious?

FARTE

In a word:  Yes.  The doctors give him one month to live.

Six weeks at the most.

SGANARRHEA

He told you all this?

FARTE

Like pulling vagrant bits of shell out of a bowl

of egg whites, I drew the secret from his soul.

BLEU

Oh dear, I must offer a kind word or two.

SGANARRHEA

I as well.  It’s the Christian thing to do.

FARTE

Have you forgotten I was sworn to secrecy?

If he ever finds out I what told you, whatever he’s got,

I’ll get it, too.

I think it’s best to keep quiet,

since, no matter what, he’ll deny it.

SGANARRHEA

Perhaps we can’t paint his picture brighter,

but is there any way to make his load lighter?

How can one know his fate

and not be compelled to intrude

on the miserable solitude that awaits him?

FARTE

This from the man who hates him?

SGANARRHEA

Don’t make me a monster because

I point out the fellow’s few tiny flaws.

He’s naive, and he’s poor, and he lacks a plan,

but in other respects, he’s a fine young man.

FARTE

Those are words of guilt, I fear.

SGANARRHEA

Never have I been more sincere.

FARTE

Well..since you brought up consolations, there is one…

SGANARRHEA

Name it.  If it’s doable, it shall be done.

What can this noble action be?

FARTE

Think for a moment, and you tell me.

BLEU

(thinks) A summa cum laude college degree!

SGANARRHEA

One’s easily bought for a modest fee.

FARTE

No no!  Something worthwhile.

SGANARRHEA

Money!  A chance to live in style.

FARTE

This thought is only slightly sound;

what good be gold when he lay in the ground?

SGANARRHEA

Since knowledge and wealth have no bearing,

what gift should we be preparing?

FARTE

Think with your heart now.  What does Roquefort cherish

more than anything in the world?

SGANARRHEA

My little girl.

FARTE

So what would be the harm –

SGANARRHEA

There’s a phrase to bring alarm..

FARTE

Until he perish, let him have his heart’s desire.

SGANARRHEA

My daughter and that student should wed?

FARTE

Just until his funeral pyre.

Then Brie may lie in Moronte’s bed.

SGANARRHEA

Wouldn’t some other pleasant maiden suffice?

My beloved Brie’s too steep a price.

FARTE

If only you’d look past the present,

you’d see the future has all problems solved.

SGANARRHEA

For the mutual benefit of all involved?

FARTE

Absolutely.  Roquefort will get his girl, whom he loves, until he dies, which is soon.  Brie will get her man, the student, until he dies, which is again soon but the best she can hope for.  Are you following what I say?

SGANARRHEA

No, but go on anyway.

FARTE

After a suitable period of bereavement and prayer –

SGANARRHEA

I’d say a week would be fair.

FARTE

Moronte gets his girl, your daughter,

Roquefort’s wife and widow to be –

BLEU

Brie.

FARTE

Not exactly the blushing virgin at this point, but one can’t have everything.  And you sir, you get a good deed, a good marriage, and the good will of all concerned, including your trusted servant Farte, whom you would want to reward substantially, I’m sure.

SGANARRHEA

It’s an interesting plan, but if the man doesn’t die,

it’s all for naught.

FARTE

Oh, perish the thought.

Six weeks for him and he’s gone goodbye.

SGANARRHEA

I understand.  And until he’s dead –

FARTE

His joy is in your hands,

His sorrow on your head.

SGANARRHEA

I wish there were some other plan,

but I can’t deny a dying man.

If it will gladden his miserable life,

Roquefort shall have Brie for his wife.

FARTE

I don’t care what everybody says,

You’re a good person at heart.

SGANARRHEA

When will the wedding be?

FARTE

Leave all that up to Farte,

and he’ll take care of it.

Why don’t you make the bride and groom aware of it.

SGANARRHEA

(smiles) This is one time I won’t be ignored.

FARTE

Uh, about that reward –

(EXIT SGANARRHEA)

Now, I’ve got decorations to hang and people to invite,

and gifts to wrap and a song to write,

and I have to get flowers and cake and rice,

and I have to dust and make the place look nice, and –

Oh, and I should get a priest, shouldn’t I?

BLEU

For confession?

FARTE

No silly!  For the ceremony.

Although I do have a small confession to make.

BLEU

What?

FARTE

Roquefort isn’t really dying.

BLEU

NO!

FARTE

I made the whole thing up.

BLEU

How clever of you!

FARTE

True.  True.

BLEU

The whole thing?

FARTE

A phony.  The premise was mine, the body is within,

and the conclusion awaits!

You won’t tell my master, will you?

BLEU

Will you fix my chair?

FARTE

Seriously.

BLEU

I wouldn’t dare ruin Farte’s brilliant plan.

May lightning strike me if I tell the old man.

FARTE

I knew I could count on you.

Mustn’t stand here talking, though.

I have oodles of work to do

and no idea how to begin it.

Would you give me a hand?

BLEU

I’ll be right there.

I have to talk to the audience for a minute.

FARTE

Oh, go right ahead.

(EXIT FARTE, joyfully)

BLEU

He really thinks he fooled me with that ridiculous lie

about Roquefort conveniently condemned to die.

Father will believe anything, but I’m too smart

to trust a wily liar like Farte.

I used to have a lovely little chair in my room, part wicker and part wood.  I’d sit in it for hours when I was a girl, looking out the window, playing with my dog Wilbur.  Then one day, I felt one of its legs begin to wobble – the chair’s not Wilbur.  I ran to Farte in tears, but he said, “have no fear” and promised to look at the chair first thing in the morning.  Which he did.  Next morning, he came in, had a look, and went back to sleep.  When he awoke that evening, I asked if he could repair the broken leg.  “Yes,” he said, “I believe I could.”

Two weeks later, he hadn’t so much as touched the chair.  When I asked him why, the slug replied, quite innocently, “Oh!  I didn’t realize you wanted me to mend the chair.  I thought you asked a theoretical question about my carpentry skills:  Could I, in theory, fix the chair?”  I was reaching for daddy’s stick when he promised to mend the chair in reality.

Six weeks later, Wilbur gave birth to five adorable puppies. But the biggest surprise that day was when I saw Farte enter my room with a box of tools.  I asked if it could be fixed – the chair, not Wilbur.  Farte nodded, reached for a hammer, and quick as a wink, broke the other leg.

I wouldn’t have minded had he said, “I’m sorry, I made a mistake,” or even “Oops.”  But he just smiled that obnoxious little smile of his and said, “Aren’t you a lucky girl?  Now you have a rocking chair!”

Wilbur bit him.  I bit him.  Then I hit him.  And ever since, I’ve known better than to take Farte at face value.  Either face.

Oh no, I wouldn’t think of telling father on Farte;

Calling off the wedding would break Roquefort’s heart,

and I could never do that to the man I love.

Yes, I know she loves him, too,

but as the phrase goes, L’amour fou

So let Farte chime the wedding bell,

I’ve got some mischievous machinations

up my sleeve as well.

(BLEU smiles and walks purposefully offstage)


END OF ACT II

ACT III

SCENE 1

(SGANARRHEA and a PRIEST enter the house)

PRIEST

I haven’t seen you in church for a spell.

SGANARRHEA

I’ve not been feeling too well…

PRIEST

Three years is a long time to be ailing.

SGANARRHEA

Don’t blame my soul if my body was failing.

PRIEST

And don’t blame Him when you’re burning in Hell.

SGANARRHEA

Every man has his own way of worshipping God.

PRIEST

No matter how negligent, lax and slipshod.

Church service is more for our sake than His.

SGANARRHEA

(aside) No matter how banal and boring it is.

I always thought it odd

that when we want to open our hearts,

we pray together and not apart.

All those voices raised in unison

are bound to cause the Lord confusion.

He must have a dozen charts

to keep track of whose prayer is whose.

PRIEST

The Lord needs no chart to choose;

He observes the way all his creatures are living,

(nudges SGANARRHEA) And even the rankest sinners

are ripe for forgiving.  Except the Jews.

SGANARRHEA

Well, this wedding should serve my needs

when Saint Peter comes to weigh my deeds.

PRIEST

He’ll throw the gates open and let you pass through

for making a poor soul’s dreams come true.

Enough conversation, let the wedding proceed.

SCENE 2

(ENTER ROQUEFORT)

PRIEST

The groom, I presume.

ROQUEFORT

Yes sir!

(The PRIEST holds out his hand for ROQUEFORT to kiss.

ROQUEFORT shakes it profusely)

It’s an honour, sir.

PRIEST

I know.

ROQUEFORT

This is the happiest day of my life, and I owe

it all to you.  How can I ever –

SGANARRHEA

Oh, pish tush on this gratitude stuff;

seeing your joy is reward enough.

ROQUEFORT

This is a beautiful human being.  I put it to you, sir,

that this man is a saint.

PRIEST

The very idea!

ROQUEFORT

I bow before thee, Saint Sganarrhea!

SGANARRHEA

I’m flattered, but please,

not on your knees.

PRIEST

I think you should save your emotion

for the One who most deserves your devotion.

ROQUEFORT

(rising) You’re right, sir.  My darling Brie!

Where is she?  I must see her instantly

and profess my abundant love!

SGANARRHEA

`Tis a dangerous road you’re treading;

It’s bad luck to see the bride before the wedding.

ROQUEFORT

That’s just an old wives tale

which I intend to prove wrong.

SGANARRHEA

It’s an old wives tale because the young wives who failed

to heed it weren’t wives for very long.

PRIEST

A bride in the works is a delicate thing

and must brook no interference.

SGANARRHEA

Don’t worry.  When she’s ready, she’ll make her appearance.

PRIEST

Quite right.  Although I am in a bit of a hurry..

ROQUEFORT

Another marriage today?

PRIEST

A funeral, I’m sorry to say.

SGANARRHEA

(nervously) I guess you’re short on time –

PRIEST

So was he.  Cut to the quick at the peak of his prime.

SGANARRHEA

I wonder where my daughter’s at..?

ROQUEFORT

How old was he?

PRIEST

About your age.

ROQUEFORT

As young as that?

PRIEST

Never knew what hit him.

Time passes, the body warps;

The Lord points his finger and Poof!

You’re a corpse.

SGANARRHEA

Why don’t you run along and see if you can find Brie?

Knock if she’s dressing.

ROQUEFORT

But I thought you said –

SGANARRHEA

My dear boy, life is too short to forestall its blessings.

Not that your life specifically is too short –

I was speaking of life in general.

PRIEST

In my eulogy, I call it ephemeral.

ROQUEFORT

I’ll go get her!

(ROQUEFORT turns to run but stops)

Oh my..

SGANARRHEA

What’s wrong?

ROQUEFORT

I feel faint..

SGANARRHEA

So soon?

No, my son, you must be strong!

Can I get you a glass of water?

ROQUEFORT

I’d much rather see your daughter.

SGANARRHEA

(calls) Brie!

ROQUEFORT

I’ll be all right.

SGANARRHEA

Try not to exert yourself.

PRIEST

We wouldn’t want you to hurt yourself.

ROQUEFORT

It was nerves.  I feel much better –

SGANARRHEA

Brie!

ROQUEFORT

Don’t shout, I’ll get her.

SGANARRHEA

No need to go chasing –

Dear Lord, your pulse is racing.

ROQUEFORT

As well it may;

This is my wedding day.

SGANARRHEA

Your forehead’s warm,

and your hands are shaking.

ROQUEFORT

And you’re being silly!

PRIEST

The boy’s in fine form.

Though I’m a bit chilly..

ROQUEFORT

Thank you for your concern, but I’m perfectly well.

I can tell, I’ve taken biology.

SGANARRHEA

My apologies for being such a bother,

but you are the first son-in-law I’ve ever had.

ROQUEFORT

No apologies necessary, father . . . Dad.

(ROQUEFORT hugs SGANARRHEA)

SGANARRHEA

Well..oh..don’t waste your embraces on me,

save them for your bride to be.

PRIEST

So where is she?

SCENE 3

(ENTER BLEU)

PRIEST

Finally.

BLEU

Father.  Father.  Roquefort.

PRIEST

See how she smiles at him, gentle and pure?

A smile like that means it’s true love for sure.

SGANARRHEA

I’m afraid –

PRIEST

No need to fear.

He’s obviously the man she seeks.

Besides, how wrong can the two of them go in six weeks?

BLEU

He has a point.

ROQUEFORT

No he doesn’t.

PRIEST

How happy they look.  He’s hers, she’s his –

SGANARRHEA

She’s not the girl you think she is.

PRIEST

Please.  Her past has no bearing here.

ROQUEFORT

But –

PRIEST

It’s clear we’re all somewhat nervous,

so the best thing is to get on with the service.

Now father on the left, daughter by his side –

SGANARRHEA

Daughter yes, but not the bride!

PRIEST

You have another one?

ROQUEFORT

Yes, and we need the other one!

(to BLEU) Did you see her?

BLEU

She isn’t here?

PRIEST

Would he ask if she were?

SGANARRHEA

We’ve been waiting for her.

BLEU

Last I looked, she was in the neighbour’s garden.

SGANARRHEA

Any particular reason?

BLEU

It’s lilac season.  And roses.  And tulips too.

ROQUEFORT

The only tulips I want are her two lips, here,

saying I do.

BLEU

She’s sorry for the delay,

but how can you hold a wedding without a bridal bouquet?

PRIEST

Very easily, now fetch the girl hither!

SGANARRHEA

Bouquet indeed!  And why is she

in the neighbour’s garden and not ours?

BLEU

All the flowers there are withered.

Farte planted the seeds.

SGANARRHEA

(sighs) I take it the bluebells aren’t coming back..?

BLEU

You don’t know what it’s like out there!

The grass is black.

Weeds are afraid to sprout there.

I’m taller than his mightiest oak.

SGANARRHEA

The buttercups?

BLEU

Curdled.

SGANARRHEA

The crocuses?

BLEU

Croaked.

SGANARRHEA

The rhododendrons?

BLEU

Rotten.

SGANARRHEA

The forget-me-nots?

BLEU

Forgotten.

SGANARRHEA

The water lilies?

BLEU

Drought.

SGANARRHEA

The pansies?

BLEU

Fagged out.

SGANARRHEA

The wandering jews?

PRIEST

Cremated!  (laughs malevolently, no one joins him)

SGANARRHEA

(ignoring) Farte should have his green thumb amputated.

BLEU

Every year you put him in the garden,

and every year, he’s unable to manage.

SGANARRHEA

I thought it’s where he’d do the least damage.

PRIEST

Patience is a virtue.  Nevertheless,

I do have a stiff to bless.

SGANARRHEA

(to BLEU) Go tell Brie that she –

BLEU

But she wants the bouquet to be –

SGANARRHEA

I don’t care what she wants,

bring your sister here at once!

BLEU

Yes father.

(EXIT BLEU)

SGANARRHEA

(to ROQUEFORT) See?  Brie is as nervous as you.

But this ought to bring her to.

Be firm with the young and you won’t be denied.

PRIEST

`Tis true.  I never teach a bible class

without a leather belt by my side.

SGANARRHEA

The bouquet is obviously a ruse she used

to hide behind when panic set in.

But like all blushing brides

she’ll rush to your side

once the nuptials begin.

SCENE 4

(ENTER FARTE)

ROQUEFORT

Farte!  I’m impressed.

SGANARRHEA

I’ve never seen you so elegantly dressed.

FARTE

It’s just an old rag I threw on.

SGANARRHEA

Rag or no, you look debonair.

It’s a suit even I wouldn’t be ashamed to wear.

FARTE

(aside) I should hope not, it was in his closet.

Where’s the lucky girl?

PRIEST

Gathering a bridal bouquet.

FARTE

Strange.  I thought I bought one yesterday.

SGANARRHEA

And I thought I was crazy to trust you with the wedding plans,

but I couldn’t have left them in more capable hands.

The dishes are set, the champagne is chilled,

and everyone’s wishes are being fulfilled.

(During this interchange, a STRANGER, dressed in leisure suit, bowler and cane,

quietly walks in and sits)

Tell me, I pray, how can I repay you?

FARTE

The payment is in aiding my beloved Master.

SGANARRHEA

That goes without saying.

But I was hoping for a more tangible way of paying

you for your good deeds.

FARTE

No need.  As I’m sure the Father would agree,

what greater reward can there be

than helping one’s fellow men?

I beg no higher price.

SGANARRHEA

Very well then..

FARTE

On second thought, money’s nice.

(SGANARRHEA places bill after bill in FARTE’s outstretched hand.

Each time SGANARRHEA thinks he’s finished, FARTE clears his throat in disagreement)

PRIEST

Son, rewards should be governed by need,

not inflated by greed.

A righteous man would turn this reward down.

FARTE

(quickly) No he wouldn’t.

SGANARRHEA

I think he deserves every crown.

FARTE

I’m with him.

PRIEST

Not that such things are important to me,

but remember the fee I get for performing the ceremony..

(SGANARRHEA takes a bill from FARTE’s hand and gives it to the PRIEST)

Oh no, no, no!  That’s not what I meant!

You mustn’t pay me `til after the event.

How can I a stipend ask

before I’ve even done the task?

When I’ve fulfilled my charge to your satisfaction,

then you may complete the transaction.

(SGANARRHEA shrugs and retrieves the bill.

FARTE smiles and holds out his hand, but SGANARRHEA pockets the money)

FARTE

Worth a try.

SCENE 5

(The bride enters wearing a stunning gown with an opaque lace veil)

ROQUEFORT

Oh my!

SGANARRHEA

Is this the little girl I carried?

ROQUEFORT

Wonder of wonder.  Miracle of miracles!

SGANARRHEA

My Brie about to be married.

ROQUEFORT

One can’t help but wax lyrical.

(pause) My love,

if I never see another flower,

if every sunset goes by in a flash;

if every butterfly loses its wings,

and every rainbow turns to ash,

even then I would not lament.

For I have seen your beauty once,

and all my life shall I be content.

FARTE

(pause) Hubba hubba.

PRIEST

Tush!  You’re making the poor girl blush!

FARTE

How can you tell?

ROQUEFORT

Brie’s never been the shrinking violet type, right darling?

(ROQUEFORT attempts to lift her veil, but she slaps his hand away)

PRIEST

(whispers) Snapdragon’s a better appellation.

ROQUEFORT

Perhaps I caused her consternation;

she’s usually very trusting.

FARTE

Maybe it’s her time of the month?

(The PRIEST crosses himself)

SGANARRHEA

That’s disgusting.

She’s just adjusting to a huge change in her life.

ROQUEFORT

(beams) Becoming my wife!

PRIEST

Well, I see no reason to tarry,

let’s get these young lovers married.

Groom to my right –

FARTE

Wait a minute, where’s Bleu?

PRIEST

Precisely as I feared,

now the other one’s disappeared.

ROQUEFORT

Wasn’t she just in the garden with you?

(The bride nods)

Then where did she go?

(The bride shrugs)

PRIEST

She doesn’t know.

SGANARRHEA

Farte, run out and find –

PRIEST

Heavens no!  Are you out of your mind?

Keep playing this game of hide and seek

and we’ll be here all week.

If we don’t begin on the spot

it will have to wait `til tomorrow.

A grieving family awaits and it’s not

fair to prolong their sorrow.

SGANARRHEA

My profuse apologies.  We understand your plight and we –

PRIEST

Bride on my left, groom on my right.

We haven’t got all day.

ROQUEFORT

Come darling.  Wait, where’s your bouquet?

After you took all that time to accumulate it –

PRIEST

I don’t care if she ate it!

Assume your positions.

(ROQUEFORT and the bride scurry by the PRIEST’s side.  SGANARRHEA follows)

Dearly beloved –

FARTE

With your permission..

PRIEST

Yes?

FARTE

I wrote a little tune

that I’d like to perform for the bride and groom.

PRIEST

I don’t think so.

FARTE

It’s not long.

PRIEST

I don’t mean to be rude, but can’t it wait?

FARTE

Then it would be too late,

The song sets the mood.

SGANARRHEA

Farte, you are utterly hopeless.

ROQUEFORT

I for one would love to hear Farte’s opus.

And so would Brie.

(The bride shakes her head vehemently)

After the ceremony.

FARTE

Sort of like dessert!

PRIEST

(whispers) More like indigestion.

SGANARRHEA

Shh!  A wonderful suggestion!

I can’t wait to hear every verse,

but let’s get these young folks married first.

PRIEST

Everyone agrees?good.  Positions please.

(The PRIEST clears his throat with great and lengthy vigour)

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to witness the union of two souls.  May the Lord in his mighty and exalted kingdom, smile down upon these children and preserve them – (looks directly at FARTE) from the impurity, corruption and general naughtiness surrounding them.

FARTE

Hear hear.

PRIEST

Brie, daughter of Sganarrhea, son of Cholera, son of Effluvius, stepson of Herpe, half uncle on his mother’s side of Leroy the Child Molester; Do you take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband, to love, honour and obey, in sickness and in health but especially in sickness, till death do you part?

BRIDE

I do.

PRIEST

Roquefort, son of Schlongg, son of Testicles [pronounced testiclees], son of Hemorrhoid, illicit lover of –

ROQUEFORT

Uh, that is I –

PRIEST

Yes.  Do you take this woman to be your lawfully

wedded wife, no matter how awfully

sick you get, till death do you part?

ROQUEFORT

I do with all my heart.

PRIEST

Then by the power vested in me by Him, I –

(FARTE cries out and begins to sob)

Good heavens, what is that cry?

FARTE

I’m sorry.  Weddings often do this to me.

He says, I do,

she says I do too,

it just tears right through me.

PRIEST

At least exert some self-control

until I’ve fully united their souls.

By the power –

(FARTE emits another cry)

FARTE

I can’t help it.

PRIEST

Then kindly find another place in this house

while I bring together husband and spouse.

SGANARRHEA

The Father’s request is justified.

Either find a quiet place to hide,

or be a man, and keep it inside.

FARTE

yes sir, I’ll just stand misty-eyed.

PRIEST

By the power vested in –

ROQUEFORT

What surprises me more than that is Brie here.

I’ve known her to fly to pieces at the drop of a hat,

but today, she hasn’t shed a tear.

SGANARRHEA

A ceremony I could do without.

Besides, what has she to cry about?

FARTE

With Brie, the process is automatic.

One word and her whole head turns aquatic.

SGANARRHEA

Now that you mention it,

nary a day comes and goes

when tears don’t clog her eyes and nose.

ROQUEFORT

And none on her wedding day?

It’s beyond comprehension.

FARTE

I cried,

Shouldn’t the bride?

PRIEST

Maybe she’s just behaving maturely.

ROQUEFORT

Or maybe she’s feeling poorly.

Darling, do you feel all right?

(The bride nods energetically)

PRIEST

See?  She’s not at all sickly.

Now if we quickly –

ROQUEFORT

It’s not like you to be so blase..

BRIDE

(pause) I’m just not myself today.

FARTE

I’m inclined to believe her.

She doesn’t sound like herself either..

PRIEST

As long as she’s able to take the vow –

ROQUEFORT

Darling, let me feel your brow.

(ROQUEFORT tries to lift her veil, but she slaps his hand away)

Now that’s no way to be;

I’ll have to see your face eventually.

(He gets ahold of her veil and they struggle)

SGANARRHEA

(smiles) Ah, their first quarrel.

FARTE

And it’s a humdinger.

ROQUEFORT

Come Brie, let go of the veil,

or I’ll break your little fingers.

BRIDE

NO!

(The bride breaks away, but the veil tears to reveal)

ROQUEFORT & FARTE

Bleu!

SGANARRHEA

In Brie’s gown!

PRIEST

I need to sit down..

(He takes a seat beside the STRANGER)

ROQUEFORT

Where’s Brie?

BLEU

I don’t know.

SGANARRHEA

She just wandered off alone?

BLEU

(pause) I told her the wedding was postponed.

ROQUEFORT

Where did she go?

BLEU

I told her the house wasn’t ready yet.

She, being Brie, got all upset,

so I suggested a brisk walk.

We talked and she agreed

that a bride needs to be dignified.

So while she went off to dry her face,

I strolled here and took her place.

PRIEST

Have you any idea what you almost committed?

BLEU

When a woman’s in love, everything is permitted.

For the trouble I’ve caused, I apologize,

but I’d do it again if Roquefort were the prize.

SCENE 6

(ENTER BRIE)

BRIE

Sorry if I’m late.  Did I miss Farte’s song?

FARTE

No, I didn’t sing it yet.

SGANARRHEA

Brace yourself.  That’s the best news you’ll get.

BRIE

What do you mean?  Why do you all stand so glum?

Why isn’t everyone brimming with happiness?

Why. . .is she wearing my dress?

(pause) Somebody say something.

BLEU

(quietly) I was this close to wearing his ring.

ROQUEFORT

While you were in town

she rushed here ahead of you,

donned your gown

and took vows instead of you.

BRIE

Is this true?

(BLEU nods.

BRIE breaks into sobs)

FARTE

Look at those raindrops pour;

There’s the Brie we love and adore!

BRIE

How could you?  After I trusted my welfare to you,

this is what you do?

FARTE

I swear, Brie, I had no idea –

BRIE

Spare me your insincere excuses.

Tell me, were you well paid?

I hear servants come quite cheap these days.

FARTE

I would never stoop to such base persuasion.

Well, sometimes I would,

but not on this occasion.

BRIE

I only wish upon you

the misery I’m going through.

ROQUEFORT

If I could say a word in his behalf –

BRIE

You?  Don’t make me laugh.

All that time you were standing around

and you didn’t see

that the girl in the gown

by your side wasn’t me?

ROQUEFORT

She was very quiet..

BRIE

Well I’m not!

I almost married this man

and he doesn’t even know who I am!

SGANARRHEA

It was a harmless mistake.

BRIE

There’s nothing harmless about heartbreak.

PRIEST

If I could just inject my own thoughts at this juncture

about your heart’s acupuncture;

Even though the vows were said,

he and she are not lawfully wed.

FARTE

We’ll just get everyone back in line

and hold the real ceremony this time.

Roquefort, slip that veil upon her,

Bleu, you be matron of dishonour.

BRIE

This whole thing is absurd!

I can’t make believe this hasn’t occurred.

It’s not a simple game you’ve played,

I’ve been cheated and betrayed.

Sister, from now on we are no longer friends.

I will never speak to you again.

Roquefort, I bid you find another.

After all, one girl to you’s like any other.

ROQUEFORT

But –

BRIE

It’s better this way, you know.

I may have loved you once.  Long ago.

(BRIE, unable to control herself, runs out)

ROQUEFORT

Brie!

(ROQUEFORT starts to run after her, but SGANARRHEA holds him back)

SGANARRHEA

So she’s a little upset.

ROQUEFORT

She has every right.

SGANARRHEA

Yes, but her anger should abate by tonight

when I’ll talk to her and surely change her mind.

ROQUEFORT

She hates me!

SGANARRHEA

Nothing of the kind.

Deep down, she knows you’re not to blame,

and soon she’ll be the same old Brie.

Now a tear, now a smile,

marching proudly up the aisle

as if this had never happened.

However – – – as for you, young lady –

BLEU

Father –

SGANARRHEA

I’ll do the name calling, thank you.

If you were any younger, I’d spank you.

FARTE

I’ll spank her.

SGANARRHEA

Farte.  (pause) I realize it was unbridled passion

that made you carry on in this fashion,

but even so, you can’t just wave your hand

and the rest of the world be damned.

Excuse me, Father.

PRIEST

Quite all right.

SGANARRHEA

You’ve hurt a lot of people today.

And though it may all be resolved yet,

those people won’t be quick to forget.

I may not be the best father,

the most observant, or strong, or –

FARTE

Bright.

SGANARRHEA

But I know I taught my daughters wrong from right.

And when those rules are bent

I must devise a punishment.

Can you suggest a penalty?

BLEU

Brie’s words were punishment enough.

SGANARRHEA

Not enough for me.

For the punishment to make a strong impression,

it has to correspond to your transgression.

Therefore, until this year becomes the next,

you shall have no contact with the opposite sex.

You may not go unescorted into town,

and no suitors shall be permitted on these grounds.

BLEU

A whole year?

SGANARRHEA

Do I make myself clear?

BLEU

Yes, but I don’t know if I can!

SGANARRHEA

Heavens girl!  You should have thought of that before

you tricked a dying man!

(SGANARRHEA covers his mouth with his hands)

ROQUEFORT

What?

(FARTE vainly signals to ROQUEFORT)

SGANARRHEA

Nothing.

ROQUEFORT

You said I was a dying man!

SGANARRHEA

Who?

ROQUEFORT

You.

SGANARRHEA

No.  What I said was…

I wanted to hit her with a frying pan!

ROQUEFORT

On the contrary –

SGANARRHEA

Look, I can keep track of my own vocabulary.

FARTE

I distinctly heard the word frying.

ROQUEFORT

Now you’re both lying!

Which is unnecessary, because I am dying.

(Long silence)

I’m dying to marry your daughter.

(All breathe a sigh of relief.

FARTE swoons. SGANARRHEA comes to his aid)

PRIEST

I need a glass of water..

(BLEU eagerly leaves the room)

ROQUEFORT

But I’m not really dying in the physical sense.

(Notices that FARTE has renewed his frantic gestures)

Why are you telling me to be quiet?

(FARTE grabs SGANARRHEA’s collar)

FARTE

Remember what I told you in confidence?

See him deny it?

SGANARRHEA

Oh right!  He’s not –

I forgot.

ROQUEFORT

I’m perfectly fit, why do you doubt it?

SGANARRHEA

Slip of the lip,

we’ll hear no more about it.

ROQUEFORT

How can I convince you I’m in the best of health?

SGANARRHEA

No need!  I was thinking of someone else.

ROQUEFORT

Who?

SGANARRHEA

Who.  Uh…someone Farte knows.

FARTE

Thanks.

ROQUEFORT

Who’s that?

FARTE

A friend.  Very sick.  Already starting to decompose.

ROQUEFORT

My condolences.

SGANARRHEA

Fine.  The subject’s closed.

Let’s return to the land of the living.

SCENE 7

(BLEU reappears bearing a glass of water.

She hands it to the PRIEST)

BLEU

Father?

PRIEST

Thank you, my child.

You are partially forgiven.

BLEU

(to all, but mostly to ROQUEFORT)

I’m not a bad person.  I did what I did out of love.

A love I now know I’ll never have.  If you must hate me,

hate me for my actions, but not my intents.

PRIEST

Unfortunately, it’s your actions

that have broken several commandments.

BLEU

Roquefort, please don’t think badly of me.

I acted cruelly, madly –

But truly, I must know,

Could you ever love me, as I love you so?

Might you someday feel the same ache?

I must hear the truth, though my whole heart may break.

SGANARRHEA

Roquefort’s feelings are well known

FARTE

His heart is Brie’s and Brie’s alone.

Now Bleu –

BLEU

I want to hear it from you.

Do I have no chance whatsoever?

ROQUEFORT

Bleu, I’m sorry, but never.

I mean no harm and no offense,

But your sister owns my soul and sense.

BLEU

(pause) You’re right.

I was dreaming when I thought someday you might…

The dream was sweet, but dreams don’t matter.

I’m sorry.

ROQUEFORT

Apology accepted.  I guess I’m even a little flattered.

Although right now, I’m just happy to be on my feet.

BLEU

What do you mean?

ROQUEFORT

I thought they had me dead and buried.

Dusted off and cemeteried!

And despite their fierce denying,

I thought they thought I was dying.

BLEU

What?

ROQUEFORT

It’s all right, I’m not.

BLEU

You told him about the hoax?

(FARTE rushes at BLEU)

FARTE

Ha! Ha! Ha!  Another one of her jokes!

She’s just so full of mirth.

SGANARRHEA

What joke?  I must have missed it.

BLEU

That he only has six weeks left on earth.

You’re taking it very well,

(to PRIEST) I didn’t even hear him yell.

SGANARRHEA

(in shock) What joke?  I must have missed it.

BLEU

Of course, he only lied

so you’d take pity and let Brie be his bride.

(laughs) My, he really sold you!

I’m certainly surprised he told you.

SGANARRHEA

He who?

BLEU

Who indeed?  Who else could concoct such messes

and still get his way after he confesses?

SGANARRHEA

Oh, that Farte.  He’s a riot.

BLEU

Exactly what I’m talking about.

I thought you’d be furious when you found out.

(pause) Why did it suddenly get so quiet?

FARTE

The preceding silence is always the worst.

Master, before you kill me, can I kill her first?

Why is your face all red?

BLEU

His veins are showing, too.

SGANARRHEA

My doctor said I should remain calm.

FARTE

Oh good.

SGANARRHEA

But I’m not going to!

ROQUEFORT

In school they taught us that violence is often unnecessary.

SGANARRHEA

You ignorant ape!  You Philistine!

You’ll never marry any daughter of mine.

ROQUEFORT

I didn’t know about the scheme –

SGANARRHEA

Go back to your academes,

and your books and your diploma

before you find yourself in a coma!

To think I felt sorry – that these eyes were crying –

because I thought you were dying.

What I wouldn’t give to have seen that!

ROQUEFORT

Now you don’t really mean that..

SGANARRHEA

Get out.

ROQUEFORT

I’m out.

SGANARRHEA

And never come back

you scholastic maniac!

ROQUEFORT

At least think of Brie’s welfare;

Her little heart would break in two!

SGANARRHEA

It would if she still cared for you,

But now she hates you, remember?

ROQUEFORT

Had I been beaten with a thousand sticks,

they’d not have cut so near the quick.

FARTE

Did you have to mention beatings?

ROQUEFORT

(to Farte) Tell Brie I love her,

and keep repeating it until she loves me again.

SGANARRHEA

You’ll never have her.

ROQUEFORT

Then I am the unhappiest of men.

(EXIT ROQUEFORT)

SGANARRHEA

(turns to FARTE) YOU.

PRIEST

Unfortunately, I can’t stay

to watch your servant pay for his actions.

However, there’s a transaction and an amount..

SGANARRHEA

But there wasn’t any wedding.

PRIEST

I can give you a discount.

SGANARRHEA

No, no.  Here you go.

(SGANARRHEA takes FARTE’s reward money)

PRIEST

If it were up to me, I’d do this for free,

but you know how it is.

SGANARRHEA

Yes.  Oh, and within the week,

I shall once again request your services.

PRIEST

Specifically what do you seek?

SGANARRHEA

The exact same spiel,

only for real.

PRIEST

I understand.

SGANARRHEA

This time she’ll hold a more deserving hand.

(EXIT PRIEST)

Bleu, why don’t you wait for me in my study?

FARTE

(hiding behind BLEU.  In falsetto) Great idea!

SGANARRHEA

Farte!

FARTE

Sganarrhea.  Is this going to be…very bloody?

SGANARRHEA

I hope so.

FARTE

(pleads with BLEU) Don’t go just don’t go please don’t go!

BLEU

I’ll do what I can to keep him from beating you.

SGANARRHEA

You’re not obeying?

(BLEU bravely shakes her head.

SGANARRHEA finds a long stick and swashes the air with it)

I guess this is stick enough for a double flaying.

BLEU

(to FARTE) Nice meeting you.

(BLEU darts off)

FARTE

Master, you do me an injustice.

(SGANARRHEA follows FARTE around the room,  swiping at him with the stick)

I’m sure we can discuss this –

(FARTE passes the STRANGER, still seated)

Sir?

(The STRANGER smiles, waves, and returns to his thoughts)

SGANARRHEA

(corners FARTE) Anything you’d like to say

before the beheading?

FARTE

Well, personally I prefer a more orthodox wedding.  Ow!

That hurts!  Ow!

(SGANARRHEA chases the screaming FARTE around and out of the room,  beating him mercilessly.

The STRANGER looks around, shrugs and rises)

STRANGER

It’s only a play.

Everything’ll be okay.

(The STRANGER smiles and EXITS)

END OF ACT III


ACT IV

SCENE 1

(SGANARRHEA, MORONTE)

MORONTE

Monstrous!

SGANARRHEA

That’s a bit strong –

MORONTE

Utterly monstrous!

SGANARRHEA

Not that you’re wrong.

MORONTE

I assume steps have been taken to punish the three

progenitors of this calamity.  Snuff?

SGANARRHEA

No thank you.  Yes, I think I was harsh enough.

MORONTE

The eldest?

(MORONTE takes vacuumlike snorts of snuff)

SGANARRHEA

I decided to suspend her

from all contact with the other gender

until the calendar page is turned.

Is that too cruel?

MORONTE

(sneezes) Don’t be a fool.

A lesson taught hard is a lesson learned.

To make sure her time is well spent,

why not send her to a convent?

SGANARRHEA

That would be like washing a red shirt with the whites.

The red shirt comes out all right

but the colour runs

and undoubtedly rubs off on the nuns.

MORONTE

(sneezes) What about the college boy?

SGANARRHEA

No longer exists and won’t be missed.

MORONTE

That malignant servant?

SGANARRHEA

I beat him vigorously about the face and head.

MORONTE

Good.

SGANARRHEA

I told him, Find a new place to make your bed,

you’re no longer welcome here,

and threw the schemer out on his ear.

(pause) Maybe I used too much force..

MORONTE

To prevent chaos, a man must run his domain

with discipline and even fear.

Judiciously applied, of course.

A castle’s king is supreme in his reign.

SGANARRHEA

Well, I’ve recaptured my throne.

I’d be overjoyed if I weren’t so alone.

MORONTE

Which brings us to the subject at hand..

SGANARRHEA

All wrongs have been righted.

Tomorrow, you and Brie shall stand united.

MORONTE

I’ve longed for that girl since I first met her.

SGANARRHEA

Well, this time you’ll get her.

Though she may not realize it now,

any woman would be proud to marry a man like you.

MORONTE

It’s true.

SGANARRHEA

And her coldness should fade fast

now that Roquefort’s a piece of her past.

MORONTE

I don’t expect instant adoration,

just a respectful approximation

till the real thing appears.

SCENE 2

(BRIE passes by outside the room)

MORONTE

Why, look who’s here..

(BRIE catches a glimpse of MORONTE and tries to slip away, but)

SGANARRHEA

Brie!  Someone special is paying us a visit.

BRIE’S VOICE

Who is it?

SGANARRHEA

Guess.

BRIE’S VOICE

Is he in the house?

MORONTE

(disguising his voice) Yes.

BRIE’S VOICE

Is it..Cardinal Richelieu?

MORONTE

No.

BRIE’S VOICE

Is it..Attila the Hun?

MORONTE

No.

SGANARRHEA

You’re not even warm yet.

BRIE’S VOICE

Is it..Napoleon?

SGANARRHEA

Don’t be silly, he hasn’t been born yet.

I’ll give you one more try.

BRIE

Hmm.  Let’s see.

(A long pause ensues)

SGANARRHEA

Brie?  BRIE!!

(SGANARRHEA jumps up and runs to the doorway.

He hauls the struggling BRIE into the room)

Why look!  If it isn’t our good friend, Moronte.

BRIE

I’m thrilled.

SGANARRHEA

(to MORONTE) Sorry –

MORONTE

Unnecessary.

Bonjour, my little caterpillar!

It is I, Moronte, your humble butterfly.

BRIE

Surely a monarch like you could have found

a lovelier flower to flit around.

MORONTE

My botanical passion cannot be sated

till you grow in my garden, pollinated.

BRIE

Sir!  Your speech is low and common.

MORONTE

Forgive me, my little roasted almond.

Ardor makes me speak from the loins.

BRIE

Gentlemen don’t converse with their groins.

MORONTE

Can’t you see there’s a desire

burning in me like a fire

yearning to be consumed

by the sweet, gentle spume

of your sea’s undertow?

BRIE

Oh.

SGANARRHEA

I’m not sure what that meant,

but it sounded excellent.

MORONTE

It was pure flatulence

compared to her stunning eloquence.

Her beauty shines through the humdrum

like the last white tooth in a Negro’s gums.

SGANARRHEA

How does he do it?  Such a fountain of wit!

BRIE

Sounds more like a crock of –

SGANARRHEA

Brie!

MORONTE

Yes!  It’s true, my little turtledove!

I want to drown in your cesspool of love.

You see me as your nemesis,

but I also long for connubial bliss.

I’m a proud man.  Nevertheless,

I grovel before your loveliness.

I eat the dirt beneath your feet,

no sugar e’er tasted so sweet.

My little boiled shrimp, I adore you.

I’m proud to lie prostrate before you.

BRIE

I’m honoured by your affection,

but this unnatural abjection is out of hand.

You’ll strain your prostrate gland.

I’m also not that easily fooled;

consider your abjections overruled.

MORONTE

Whether you approve or not,

tomorrow I’m all you’ve got.

(to SGANARRHEA) I’d rather not force her against her will,

but still –

SGANARRHEA

One day Brie will learn

I’ve done the best for all concerned.

MORONTE

Terribly sorry I can’t stay,

but I must prepare for my wedding day.

Until tomorrow, my little peach pit, adieu.

BRIE

Adieu.  (pause) I thought Roquefort was the worst

until I was cursed by your attentions.

SGANARRHEA

(to MORONTE) Silly girl, she doesn’t know –

MORONTE

Don’t mention it.

Every insult, every dart

I instantly forgive with all my heart.

But now I go.

(EXIT SGANARRHEA and MORONTE)


SCENE 3

BRIE

I still love Roquefort.

(BLEU ENTERS.

MORONTE gives her a disdainful look

on his way out)

BLEU

He thinks I’m an immoral woman.  Not even worthy of a polite

greeting.  My good fortune, right?

The way his nose turned up in a huff,

you’d think he snorted yeast, not snuff.

He may play the prude,

but what he is is rude,

with his arrogant gaze and petty quibbling –

BRIE

Well, expect no better from this sibling.

BLEU

I don’t, `tis true;

You have every right to feel as you do.

BRIE

Don’t tell me how I can and can’t be!

You’ve already decided too many things for me.

Maybe Farte had nothing to do with it,

but how could you go through with it?

BLEU

Still angry, huh?

BRIE

If it weren’t for you, Roquefort and I would be

on our honeymoon right now.

To love him and know he’s always there for me

is all I could ever want.

But who’s the man to care for me?  Moronte.

BLEU

You’re not the only one who prized

those qualities in Roquefort.  I saw the way you were together

and I wanted that desperately.

I thought to myself, What does he see in her eyes,

that he doesn’t see in me?

Whenever you spent a day with him, you’d come home

all flushed and happy and without fail

tell me every last detail.

With each new anecdote I bore

an envy I’d never felt before.

BRIE

I couldn’t tell..

BLEU

Oh, I covered it well.

Any marriage between you and he

seemed such an impossibility

I saw no reason to spoil your joy

with my jealousy.

But when, suddenly, this wedding became a reality…

Just once, I wanted to get the boy.

I learned long ago that I couldn’t compete

with smooth blonde hair and straight white teeth.

And since the Lord, in his wisdom,

couldn’t make me stunning,

at least he blessed me with cunning.

And I used it, the way desperate people do,

to steal Roquefort away from you.

I was wrong.  And I apologize.

BRIE

Would sorry be so easy to say

if your plan had worked yesterday?

BLEU

(pause) Yes.  Yes it would.

Because he doesn’t love me

and he never could.

I thought once the bitterness healed,

he might grow fond of me –

I’m sure that’s how Moronte feels –

but now I know he’ll never love me.

I realize how much I’ve hurt you,

but I’ve had my share of sufferings, too.

I apologize.

BRIE

(sighs) Apology accepted.

BLEU

Good!  `Cause we have a lot of work to do.

We have to get Roquefort married to you!

Now, if we move as a team, we can get more accomplished –

BRIE

(laughs) Wait, what is this?

BLEU

In one more day, the volcano erupts.

Are you going to let it swallow you up?

BRIE

Well I –

BLEU

No, you’re not.

We must do everything we can

to save you from that ghastly man.

BRIE

How?

BLEU

We need a plan to draw Moronte out

and show father what he’s really about.

Then we just hope

he hangs himself with his own rope.

BRIE

Don’t look at me,

plots are your specialty.

BLEU

You saw how well my plan succeeded.

No, someone much more devious is needed.

Someone so crafty, so tricky, so sly,

he’d run rings around the stealthiest spy.

BRIE

Someone so good at schemes,

he could con a somnambulist out of his dreams.

Someone clever..

BLEU

Underhanded..

BRIE

Smart.

BLEU

It has to be –

BRIE

It must be –

BLEU

(to audience) Everybody –

BRIE & BLEU

Farte!

(BRIE & BLEU smile and run purposefully offstage)

END OF ACT IV


ACT V

SCENE 1

(SGANARRHEA, MORONTE, PRIEST, BLEU.

The STRANGER sits nearby.

BRIE also sits, by herself and wearing her gown)

SGANARRHEA

Father, let me introduce Moronte to you.

PRIEST

No need.  Every Sunday, there he is in the pew.

Not like someone else I’m talking to..

MORONTE

I’m not an especially religious man,

I just believe there’s someone greater than I am.

I do confess, there’s so much wickedness,

it’s hard not to stumble.

BLEU

(to audience) Don’t you love it when he’s humble?

When do you plan to start the service?

MORONTE

Why?  Do you intend to ruin this one also?

BLEU

And marry you?  I wouldn’t stoop that low.

(All gasp)

MORONTE

Her behaviour’s a disgrace!

If I weren’t so nervous, I’d smack her face!

SGANARRHEA

(to BLEU) Please remember, your punishment can be extended

much longer than originally intended.

(to MORONTE) Nervous, eh?

I think some sherry will chase that away.

(SGANARRHEA leads him to a nearby table)

Father, some Chateau Merde?

(The PRIEST declines)

MORONTE

Scared of the evil temptation of drink?

PRIEST

No, I don’t fear it.

I just find pleasure in higher spirits.

(SGANARRHEA & MORONTE turn away

and converse silently)

BLEU

Hors d’oeuvre?

PRIEST

You have a lot of nerve to insult that man who –

What are those, raisins?

BLEU

Prunes.

PRIEST

You have a haughty and brazen attitude,

and you commit acts that – any good?

BLEU

You’ve never had prunes before?

PRIEST

They’re my favourite food.  I adore them.

BLEU

If that’s so, then why –

PRIEST

The question I asked about quality

dealt with these prunes specifically.

I’m a connoisseur when it comes to this fruit.

Freshness and texture must be absolutely

perfect before I’ll put one on my tongue.

BLEU

How often do you eat them?

PRIEST

Oh, I’ve abstained since I was young.

It’s impossible to find prunes that stand

up to my admittedly high demands.

So rather than be disappointed by them,

I’d just as well not even try them.

BLEU

Yes, but to my mind,

these are the best of their kind.

PRIEST

What kind are they?

BLEU

Uh..I don’t know.  But taste is the way I judge my treats,

And by any standards, these are consummate eats.

PRIEST

Where were they grown?

BLEU

I’m not sure specifically.

They were cultivated scientifically.  Try one?

(The PRIEST eats a prune.

His verdict is slow in coming)

PRIEST

Hmmph.

BLEU

Could you elaborate?

PRIEST

I’d say that prune was . . . truly first rate.

(BLEU heaves a sigh of relief)

BLEU

Here, please, have the rest.

PRIEST

That wouldn’t be fair to the other guests.

BLEU

I beg you, don’t refrain on their account.

In the kitchen we have ten times this amount.

They won’t be missed.

PRIEST

In that case..how can I resist?

(The PRIEST feasts.

BLEU makes her way to BRIE)

BLEU

So far so good.  He’s gorging at a phenomenal rate.

I’ve already lost track of how many he ate.

Where did you get them, anyway?

BRIE

They were throwing them away.

BLEU

Who?

BRIE

At Roquefort’s college.  They were studying prunes for weeks

before they finally graduated to leeks.

BLEU

He was allowed to take the prunes home, just like that?

BRIE

After a month of intense study, the demand for prunes

as a leisure fruit was understandably low.

Even the professors were glad to see them go.

So upon Farte’s suggestion,

Roquefort grabbed the prunes, washed them,

dusted off the mold –

BLEU

Mold?

BRIE

Oh yes, they’re over six months old.

The Priest looks a bit unsteady..

BLEU

He’s had half a bowl already!

(BRIE & BLEU are silent as the scene shifts

to SGANARRHEA and MORONTE)

SGANARRHEA

The sherry helped; you seem more composed.

MORONTE

In that case, I’d like to propose

a toast, to my little kidney pie,

her father Sganarrhea, and I.

May we all be as close and as warm

as the hair under a gypsy’s arm.

As Shakespeare once wrote,

`My love is like a red red rose,

where it stops, nobody knows.’

SGANARRHEA

Ah, he was a fine poet.

(They drink)

So, are you ready to take the plunge?

MORONTE

If Brie were water,

would that I were a sponge.

SGANARRHEA

Father, that’s your cue.

PRIEST

(swallowing a mouthful) Then without further ado,

bride on my left, groom on my right.

Matron of honour near the middle –

Not quite. Move in a little.

Sganarrhea, you stand next to her,

excellent.  Uh, sir?

(The PRIEST motions towards the STRANGER

who smiles, waves and returns to his thoughts)

Who is that?

MORONTE

Who knows?

BLEU

Roquefort’s friend, I suppose.

BRIE

Roquefort thought he was a friend of yours.

BLEU

I never saw him before.

PRIEST

Maybe he keeps records for the town

and some bureau sent him down.

SGANARRHEA

I’d like to ask him but I won’t;

He might be a friend I should remember but don’t.

MORONTE

I don’t care if he’s Joan of Arc,

I’d like to begin before it gets dark!

(All are slightly startled by MORONTE’s

burst of anger)

PRIEST

Dearly beloved.  We are gathered here blah, blah, blah,

let no man tear etcetera.  Amen.

ALL

Amen.

SGANARRHEA

Is it I, or did you make a few omissions?

PRIEST

Yes, it’s the Somerset Maugham edition.

BRIE

(aside)  Oh no, it’s been shortened!

MORONTE

Hush, this part’s important.

PRIEST

Moronte, do you –

MORONTE

Hold it.

(Checks the face under BRIE’s veil)

Continue.

PRIEST

take this woman to be your bride?

MORONTE

I do, with unspeakable pride!

BLEU

It’s looking grim..

PRIEST

And Brie, do you vice versa him?

(BRIE remains silent)

MORONTE

What’s wrong, my little truffle?  Lost your voice?

Anyway she does.  She has no choice.

PRIEST

Then by the power vested in me by – Dear God.

I’ll be right back.

(The PRIEST runs out of the room)

SGANARRHEA

That was odd.

BLEU

Seemed like some kind of attack.

(to BRIE) Or a close call..

SGANARRHEA

Maybe he needs assistance.

MORONTE

I don’t like this at all.

BLEU

(stopping Sganarrhea) Perhaps you’d better keep your distance.

MORONTE

Outrageous!

BLEU

You never know, it could be contagious.

BRIE

We’re best off waiting here until he reappears.

BLEU

(regards the fuming Moronte)  Never mind him.

SGANARRHEA

If he’s not back in two minutes,

I’m going out to find him.

(to Moronte) Pour me another glass of sherry,

and let’s make the minutes merry.  Your health.

(MORONTE harrumphs and they drink silently)

BRIE

We’re halfway.

BLEU

We wouldn’t even have to do this if you’d just say,

Daddy, I will not marry Moronte.

BRIE

That’s what I don’t want.

He’s still my father and I must obey.

Sure, I could say no,

but if he kicks me out, where would I go?

BLEU

To Roquefort.  You’d be free to marry him then.

BRIE

And never see my father again?

What a Pyhrric win that would be.

Besides, if this plot comes through,

I’ll have Roquefort and my father, too.

BLEU

Well, I just pray –

(BLEU accidentally stumbles

over the stranger’s feet)

STRANGER

That’s okay.

BRIE

(pause) Are you someone we know?

STRANGER

I don’t think so.

BLEU

Well.. I’m Bleu, and this is my sister, Brie.

(The STRANGER smiles and shakes hands)

BLEU

Can I get you anything, some wine?

STRANGER

No thanks, I’m fine.

I’m just waiting for some friends of mine.

BLEU

Well…have fun.

(BRIE & BLEU move away)

STRANGER

(nods, sighs)  Nothing to be done.

SGANARRHEA

That’s it!  It’s two minutes at least.

I’m going to find that priest.

BLEU

I’m sure there’s no cause to worry –

SGANARRHEA

Then why did he leave in such a hurry?

He could be deathly ill.

MORONTE

You will find him, Sganarrhea..

SGANARRHEA

(annoyed) I will.

(appeasing) Things aren’t as bad as they appear.

At least Farte isn’t here.

SCENE 2

(Before SGANARRHEA can exit, FARTE ENTERS,                                                                                 bearded and disguised as the PRIEST)

FARTE

I’m back.  Had some business to attend to.

BRIE

(aside) What took you?

FARTE

The Father confessor

is a slow undresser.

(aloud) I’m ready to continue.

MORONTE

Thank God.

FARTE

I always do.

Bride on my right.  Now first –

SGANARRHEA

Don’t you have the positions reversed?

FARTE

Uh..I know that!

In the eyes of the Lord, all positions are equal.

Now people, if you could all gather round,

we’ll get this thing off the ground.

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here to witness –

MORONTE

Not again!  Can’t we skip this?

SGANARRHEA

Shh!

FARTE

We are gathered here to witness the bond of holy warlock.

BLEU

Wedlock.

FARTE

Our father who art deco, hollow be thy name.  Father of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and myself, who maketh me to lie down in dominus vobiscum.  Blessed art thou oh holiest of holies, who hast anointed my head with blood, frogs, vermin, boils, locusts and green pastures.  Who maketh Mary and the lamb to lie down together with extreme unction.  Finiculi finicula, and yea, though I walk through the valley of the dolls with amazing grace, I shall dwell in the house of pancakes forever.  Amen.

ALL

Amen.

FARTE

My sermon for today shall deal with love

and the many facets thereof.

MORONTE

Nobody said anything about a sermon!

FARTE

How do we determine what constitutes love?

Love is not the domain of the cautious;

it makes the ill man well

and the well man nauseous.

MORONTE

I am waxing wroth.

SGANARRHEA

For goodness sake!  He’s a man of the cloth.

FARTE

Obedience can be bought,

Respect can be taught,

and so can admiration, actually.

But love must happen naturally.

MORONTE

No offense, Father, but must we endure these platitudes?

FARTE

Ah, see?  He has the wrong attitude.

I should think he’d want to learn all he can

about the bond `twixt woman and man.

For love to take its true direction

it must be based on mutual affection.

If one be smitten but not the other,

he may be happy, but she’d be smothered.

And if he really does love her,

he couldn’t bear to see her suffer.

MORONTE

Are you by any chance talking about me?

FARTE

Why sir, I speak generically.

If you find yourself gleaning a deeper meaning,

that’s none of my affair;

I didn’t put it there.

Why this sermon is positively pale

compared to the one of Noah and the whale.

BLEU

(whispers) Jonah.

FARTE

Him too?

(BLEU kicks him)

Ha, ha!  Just testing you.

MORONTE

All right.

(undoing his money belt) How much?

Let’s make a deal.

FARTE

For what?

MORONTE

To skip the soup and get on with the meal.

SGANARRHEA

Please, remember where you are.

FARTE

Money only goes so far in this world.

MORONTE

It’s served me fairly well.

FARTE

Oh yes, I can tell.

You wear threads that would make silkworms drool,

You completed yourself at the finest finishing school.

You’re wealthy and you’re not afraid to show it.

In fact, you let everybody know it.

But if riches so enriched your life,

how come you have to buy your wife?

MORONTE

Now listen, you Jesus freak!

(catches) You know not of what you speak.

I took infinite care

to win this girl fair and square.

FARTE

Not according to the bride –

MORONTE

You’re supposed to be on my side!

FARTE

I’m simply trying to determine –

MORONTE

Get on with the bloody sermon!!

(Silence.  MORONTE unsuccessfully tries

to laugh it off)

FARTE

One thing you can be sure of

is that one person never falls in love.

He may be enchanted, enraptured, infatuated,

but all these are love impersonated;

not the actual gem.

I pity anyone who confuses them.

Because any relationship based on these

is doomed to be a bad one.

MORONTE

How do you know?  You’ve never had one.

FARTE

You disagree, I trust?

MORONTE

Father, you’ve devoted your life to denying your lust.

How can you make demands

on those of us with active glands?

FARTE

Sounds like you’re an expert in these affairs..?

MORONTE

I’ve had my share.

I’ve had women of all shapes and sizes

and let me tell you, there are no surprises.

A rose is a rose, and a femme is a femme,

and I’ll handle her like I handled them.

FARTE

(pause) One wonders why God doesn’t keep better track

so hommes would fall only for femmes who fell back.

But then again, humanity would be so overjoyed,

they’d have no need to pray to Him.

What would they say to Him?

If everyone were satisfied,

God would be unemployed.

And let’s face it, what else is He qualified to do?

I don’t want it on my head that God’s out of work, do you?

So while the methods of love may be fickle and strange,

Let us hope they never change.

MORONTE

That is, I trust, the end of your speech?

FARTE

Yes, I’m not one to preach.

MORONTE

This family is one to stall.

Let’s get this over with, once and for all!

FARTE

All right.  Moronte, do you –

MORONTE

I do!

FARTE

Brie?

(BRIE looks up miserably)

Do you take Moronte to be your lawfully wedded husband?

BRIE

(pause) I do.  For my father’s sake.

FARTE

If any man take exception to this marriage, let him

speak now or forever hold his tongue. . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . Then by the power vested in me,

I pronounce thee –

SGANARRHEA

WAIT!!!  THIS IS WRONG!

MORONTE

What?

SGANARRHEA

The Father may tell a long story,

but there was much truth in his oratory.

If Brie becomes your wife,

she’ll hate me for the rest of her life.

You may well be the most eligible bachelor on earth,

but you’re not worth losing my Brie,

ever and always so precious to me.

I can’t make her share her bed

with a husband she dreads.

So Moronte, I wish you well,

but today you’ll hear no wedding bells.

MORONTE

(pause) You stupid, ignorant, ingrate cur,

you think I want to marry her?

There are dozens of other fish in the sea

just waiting to jump at bait like me!

She could have been respectable,

she could have been rich,

but no, that wasn’t good enough for the bitch.

(to BRIE) Go ahead, marry your scholar!

See how long you can live on a dollar!

That hopeless, hapless boy she loves

isn’t fit to hand me my gloves.

But I’m warning you now, your love won’t last –

The strongest passions cool down fast.

And then, my dear, you’ll be

just as unhappy as if you’d married me,

without the welcome consolation

of monetary compensation.

Farewell, my little rancid meat;

Parting has never seemed so sweet.

You dug the hole, and lo, I fell in it;

You made your bed, now go to hell in it.

SGANARRHEA

Everything she said was true.

Roquefort’s ten –

FARTE

A hundred!

SGANARRHEA

A million times better than you!

MORONTE

You’re nothing but a senile old buffoon,

and if there’s any justice, you’ll be buzzard beef soon.

FARTE

(rips off his beard) Hey!  That’s my – OW!! –

That’s my master you’re talking to.

MORONTE

You.

FARTE

The same!

Not disappointed, I hope?

MORONTE

The servant.

FARTE

You were expecting maybe the Pope?

MORONTE

You ugly, wretched, loathsome scum,

I curse the slime where you came from.

And I multiply that ten-fold

on this detestable household.

FARTE

(pause) Are you through?

MORONTE

Yes.

FARTE

Good.  Fuck you.

(MORONTE punches FARTE in the eye

and storms out)

BRIE

Farte, speak to me!

FARTE

I sure gave him what for.

BLEU

You’re so brave!

BRIE

Thanks to you I’m saved!

FARTE

Please, no more.

BLEU

We’re so proud of you!

FARTE

Nothing any hero wouldn’t do.

(rising) I’m an easy-going lad,

but woe to any man who makes me mad.

Let them come from near and far,

I don’t care who they are!

I’ll give it to them but good –

SGANARRHEA

Farte?

(FARTE jumps up and shrieks)

FARTE

(cringing) I just happened to be in the neighbourhood..

SGANARRHEA

Farte –

FARTE

I must warn you, before I submit,

there’s no fresh skin you haven’t hit.

SGANARRHEA

Farte.  I only wanted to say

thank you.  For what you’ve done today.

FARTE

Oh.  De nada.

BRIE

Father, did you mean what you said about Roquefort?

SGANARRHEA

I did.

BRIE

Then the two of us –

SGANARRHEA

Just set the date.

ROQUEFORT’S VOICE

That’s great!  Aaaagghhhh!!!

(Roquefort falls through the roof

and comes crashing into the room)

ROQUEFORT

(dazed) Hullo..

FARTE

(aside) Got to get that roof fixed..

SGANARRHEA

(holds up one finger) How many fingers am I holding up?

ROQUEFORT

Twenty-six.

SGANARRHEA

(holds up four fingers) How many am I holding up now?

FARTE

Four?

SGANARRHEA

Thank you, Farte.

ROQUEFORT

Toto.. I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore…

(BRIE grabs the bowl of prunes and dumps

the remainder on ROQUEFORT’s head.

ROQUEFORT stares at BRIE)

ROQUEFORT

Hi, mom!

(BRIE hits him with the bowl.

It works)

BRIE

Are you all right?

ROQUEFORT

I climbed up late last night.

I’d have done anything to keep

you from marrying that creep.

(to SGANARRHEA) Sir, I meant no harm.

SGANARRHEA

He has a certain rustic charm..

In fact, I’m not disappointed in the least.

BLEU

That’s wonderful!  Now all we need is –

SCENE 3

SGANARRHEA

The Priest!

(Before SGANARRHEA can run to the door, in storms the PRIEST, resplendent in his underwear)

PRIEST

(to BLEU) Wipe that smile off your face!

What kind of madhouse is this place?

I was out there temporarily…indisposed,

when someone made off with my clothes!

(FARTE hurriedly starts to undress)

Whatever trickster stole my gown

better pray he’s not tracked down,

because if I get my hands on him,

(sees FARTE) I’ll tear the scoundrel limb from limb..

You.

FARTE

No applause.

PRIEST

Him.

BRIE

It was for a good cause.

SGANARRHEA

And besides, thanks to Farte there are two more

ceremonies I have to pay you for.

PRIEST

It’s not a question – how much? – No, it’s not

a question of money.

(Even SGANARRHEA begins to giggle)

May I ask what’s so funny?

SGANARRHEA

No offense,

but you are, your eminence.

(The PRIEST growls and grabs his robes

from FARTE)

PRIEST

You’re all insane.

Come boys and girls, let’s try this again.

You have the ring?

(ROQUEFORT nods)

Bride on my left, groom on my –

FARTE

Aren’t we forgetting something?

(All ponder.  FARTE sighs)

ROQUEFORT

Farte’s song!

FARTE

Yes!

PRIEST

Oh no.

SGANARRHEA

Just when I thought nothing else could go wrong.

BRIE

We won’t exchange a single vow

unless he sings his song right now!

PRIEST

All right, let’s hear the vocalist.

FARTE

Well..if you insist.

(FARTE produces a flute and puts it

to his lips)

The song is called Farte’s Song.

ROQUEFORT

I like the title.

FARTE

But it’s dedicated to Roquefort and his lovely bride.

(FARTE again puts the flute to his lips)

It’s not a great song.  I’m sure if I had more time,

I could come up with even better rhymes.

But due to my personal involvement in these romances,

and the hasty nature of the circumstances,

I’ll have to do my best, if I may,

and beg your kind indulgence, s’il vous plait.

(FARTE once more puts the flute to his lips)

(chuckles) It’s hard to keep my hands steady –

PRIEST

PLAY THE GOD DAMNED THING ALREADY!

(The PRIEST groans and absolves himself.

FARTE begins his song)

FARTE

Too – Roo!  Too – Ray!

There’s a wedding today!

A wedding!  A wedding!

Today!  Today!

Hooray for a wedding today!

And Farte arranged it!

Yes, Farte arranged it!

Farte!  Farte!

Arranged it!  Arranged it!

Hooray for wonderful Farte!

SGANARRHEA

Well, that’s really quite –

FARTE

Let’s hear it for Farte!

Hurrah for old Farte!

For Farte!  Great Farte!

Oh Farte!  My Farte!

Hooray for magnificent Farte!

ROQUEFORT

I think we get the gist –

FARTE

God bless holy Far –

PRIEST

Enough!  Don’t make impossible demands.

SGANARRHEA

I think we all understand

the brunt of what you’re trying to say.

Now put your thing away.

(FARTE, sulking, hands SGANARRHEA his flute.

In turn, SGANARRHEA hands FARTE the dreaded stick.

FARTE, deeply moved, breaks the stick across his knee)

STRANGER

Mazel tov.

PRIEST

Bride on my left, groom on my –

BLEU

Wait!

PRIEST & SGANARRHEA

WHAT?

BLEU

I beg your pardon,

but it’s such a lovely day,

couldn’t we have the ceremony in the garden?

What do you say?

SGANARRHEA

(pleased) The wedding outdoors?

FARTE

Remind me to mend that chair of yours..

ROQUEFORT

I think it’s a lovely suggestion.

SGANARRHEA

Hold on, this election’s loaded.

I didn’t cast one ballot and I’m already outvoted.

Tell me, though,

What would you have done had I said no?

BRIE

We wouldn’t go.

SGANARRHEA

But you’re in the majority.

BLEU

Oh Papa.  In this house, you are the highest authority.

PRIEST

Second highest.

SGANARRHEA

(smiles) With all due respect to God above,

the highest authority in this house is love.

And, that’s high enough for me.

Come.  Nature beckons!

Farte, why don’t you play some more

while we wend our way outdoors?

(SGANARRHEA hands FARTE his flute)

PRIEST

Wonderful.  More of Farte’s odor.

BLEU

Ode.

FARTE

I won’t play if everyone feels the same way..

(Everyone puts his hands over his ears)

I’d be offended if I thought you really meant it.

Feel free to sing along with Farte’s Song!

(FARTE flauts as all file out

except BLEU and the STRANGER)

(heard faintly and then not at all)

And Farte arranged it!

Yes, Farte arranged it!

Farte!  Farte!

BLEU

Sir, would you like to join us?

STRANGER

I’d rather wait here, if you don’t mind.

BLEU

There’s going to be food, and music,

and you look so lonely –

STRANGER

No, I couldn’t.

BLEU

Please, only for a bit.

Afterwards you can come back and sit.

(whispers) At the very least, you should say hello;

No one knows who you are, monsier – monsieur..?

STRANGER

Godot.

BLEU

Monsieur, Godot, come join me,

we’ll bid long love to Roquefort and Brie.

GODOT

(pause, rises) I would be charmed.

BLEU

(smiles) Monsieur, my arm?

(They walk out, arm in arm)

GODOT

You know, you have a lovely smile.

Perhaps I will stay a little while.

(EXIT BLEU and GODOT.

The stage is empty for a few seconds)

SCENE 4

(The TWO VAGRANTS reappear.

They enter cautiously and look around.

One finds a prune and eats it.

The other looks behind the furniture)

FIRST VAGRANT

Let’s go.

SECOND VAGRANT

We can’t go.

FIRST VAGRANT

Why not?

SECOND VAGRANT

I dunno.

(They are about to leave when GODOT’s laughter is heard from the garden.

The TWO VAGRANTS look at each other, then shake their heads)

BOTH VAGRANTS

Naaah.

(As the VAGRANTS head towards the exit, once more FARTE’s song rises in the distance)

VOICES OF ALL

Farte!  Farte!  Farte!

FIRST VAGRANT

Hey, instead of waiting all day,

Maybe we should stay?

SECOND VAGRANT

We’d have more fun in this play.

FIRST VAGRANT

Roquefort, Moronte..

SECOND VAGRANT

The stranger, the Priest..

FIRST VAGRANT

A typical mix-up that ends with a feast.

SECOND VAGRANT

Sganarrhea, Farte..

FIRST VAGRANT

Bleu and Brie..

SECOND VAGRANT

All of us part of this sweet family.

FIRST VAGRANT

We hope all your hopes meet with equal success.

SECOND VAGRANT

Thank you for coming.

BOTH VAGRANTS

Good night, and God bless!

VOICES OF ALL

HOORAY!!!

(Blackout)

THE END

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