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The Show Must Go On by

Thom Goddard

Thom Goddard White Horses, High Roding, Essex, CM6 1NS T: 01371 879122 Š Thom Goddard 2011


Characters SIMON LAMBERTON - A middle-aged, serious man who seemingly knows about money and has handled all the finances for the production. Does not have an artistic bone in his body but is sensible and practical. RICHARD DAVIES - A middle-aged, excitable and unrealistically positive person who has worked in the theatre for years. This production of King Lear is his first directing role and his thinks of himself as an undiscovered, artistic genius. UNDERSTUDY / ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER - A young, jobbing actor. He has appeared in famous plays and musicals but only in the chorus. However, he is a very talented puppeteer who graduated top of his acting class in London. We never learn his name. SIR THOMAS BETTERMAN / KING LEAR- An elderly, world-famous actor who has won every international award and is seen as the greatest Shakespearean actor of his generation. HARRY MILNE / KENT - A seasoned veteran of Shakespeare plays, in his 50s, who believes himself to be a great actor but has not had the luck of Sir Thomas Betterman. DANIELLE CLARKSON / CORDELIA - A young, aspiring actress who has only worked in soap-operas. Married to Harry Milne. She is having an affair with Sir Thomas. RAY KEATON / FOOL - A washed up comic actor who cannot be serious. The remaining players are minor characters in King Lear and Act 3. AURELIE DEVIL - GONERILL HELEN WILLIAMS - REGAN / THE POST CRITIC ALBANY / THE TIMES CRITIC EDGAR EDMUND GLOUCESTER / OSWALD CORNWALL FIRST KNIGHT SECOND KNIGHT / SECOND OFFICER THIRD KNIGHT / MESSENGER Š Thom Goddard 2011


The Programme Poppy-Rose Productions present

Sir Thomas Betterman Harry Milne Danielle Clarkson in

King Lear by

William Shakespeare with Aurelie Devil Ray Keaton Helen Williams

Directed by Richard Davies Produced by Simon Lamberton Design by Tom Orrow Lighting by Ben Biggar Costumes by Catherine Croft

Š Thom Goddard 2011


SETTING Act 1 is backstage at the largest, most prestigious theatre in the country. Act 2 features actual scenes from the evening’s performance of King Lear. Act 3 is on stage, the show having finished and the audience have departed. TIME The opening night of the most expensive production of King Lear ever performed.

ACT I Back Stage INTERVAL ACT II Scene 1

Act 1, Scene 1 - Throne room of a castle

Scene 2

Act 1, Scene 4 - Clearing in a forest

Scene 3

Act 3, Scene 2 - Moorland

Scene 4

Act 5, Scene 3 - A battlefield after the battle ACT III On stage, after the ‘King Lear’ performance has finished

© Thom Goddard 2011


ACT 1 SCENE 1 Backstage at one of the largest theatres in the country. The stage is covered with props, costumes on rails and a large throne on a raised platform in the middle of the stage. Imposing posters for this play, King Lear, feature on the rear wall, covering old theatrical productions. The ‘wings’ or actual entrance to the stage for tonight’s performance is on stage right and the stage door is stage left. There are 3 doors along the back wall of the stage. Each door has a large, gold star on the front and they are labelled 1, 2 and 3. The set is silent. Simon Lamberton, a serious man in a suit, enters stage right ticking off items on a clipboard. SIMON LAMBERTON Ur-huh. Ur-huh. Ur-huh. Simon stops in the middle of the stage. Looks around as if enjoying the silence. He smiles. The stage door swings open stage left. Richard Davies, an outrageously flamboyant man, enters. RICHARD DAVIES Ahhhh, Simon how wonderful to see you. What a glorious night this is... was... and forever shall be. SIMON Quite. Richard throws his hat away. He strides across the stage, puts one arm around Simon and holds him while facing the audience. RICHARD Can’t you feel it? There’s not a sound to be heard, Pause as if listening a person to be seen Pause as if looking or a smell to be... Pause as searching for what to say © Thom Goddard 2011


SIMON Sniffed at? RICHARD No! Nothing can be sniffed at on a night like tonight. There is so much energy everywhere. The air is electric, charged to capacity with creative... ness. I love this time before a performance. The theatre is empty and alive at the same time. The stage is set, like a mousetrap waiting to ensnare its prey - the audience. You and I have done everything to guarantee this production is an artistic masterpiece. This play will be like an on-stage... Van Gogh. Simon unhooks himself from Richard’s grasp. SIMON Well, let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. RICHARD What? Are you joking? Or is this just your serious side talking? Come on, statistical Simon... SIMON Don’t call me that. RICHARD We, you and I, are about to make theatrical history with the greatest production of King Lear the world has ever seen. Can’t you picture it? Richard grabs Simon by the shoulder again and talks to the audience as if he’s talking to the world. The most celebrated, accomplished and successful actor of the last 50 years has come out of retirement for a role he has called “his Everest”. No-one has ever seen the great Sir Thomas Betterman master the character of King Lear. And tonight they will. SIMON Richard... RICHARD Supporting Sir Thomas, a tempting sherpa to his Edmund Hillary if you will, is the critically acclaimed, Shakespearean master Harry Milne. Harry has appeared in every single Shakespeare play, some more than once, and spent five years living in Stratford-Upon-Avon. That’s where Billy the Bard was born, you know. No, no, no, we have put together a cast of stars who will shine. We can’t fail, we won’t fail. Davies and Lamberton’s King Lear is the greatest Shakespeare performance the world has ever seen. Simon shrugs free from Richard’s grasp. SIMON Richard... RICHARD Simon, darling. © Thom Goddard 2011


SIMON Richard. Sir Thomas Betterman is a global star and household name. But to get him to be in this play I had to make him the wealthiest actor in the country. He is on the most expensive contract in the history of theatre. RICHARD Worth every penny. SIMON I can see the artistic, and financial, value in Sir Betterman. The rest of the cast? RICHARD Hand picked by my keen sense of talent spotting... prowess. SIMON Hmmm. Not to be blunt but Harry Milne is a dried-up, washed-out, booze-hungry thespian. RICHARD Oh, meow. He knows Shakespeare though. SIMON The Fool must be the greatest method actor of all time then as he plays the role constantly - on and off stage. RICHARD He’s perfect for the part. SIMON Gonerill was a famous Hollywood actress... 20 years ago. RICHARD Her fans still flock to see her perform. SIMON What about this understudy you told me about? When do I get to meet him? RICHARD Don’t worry. He’s an absolute genius. Knows all the parts. Word perfect. Forwards and backwards. Did his thesis on King Lear. SIMON And Danielle, I mean, Cordelia, is only famous for that daytime soapopera. She doesn’t have a thought in her pretty head. Richard has to think. RICHARD She’ll attract young men... people, young people... who want to get into Shakespeare. SIMON Do you know the other day she asked me in which of Shakespeare’s plays appeared ‘fellatio’? Richard laughs. SIMON Luckily, she’s turned out to be quite good. © Thom Goddard 2011


RICHARD “Quite good”? I thought you liked her. Simon is embarrassed. SIMON Erm... she’s very cost effective. So you think we’re ready? RICHARD Ready? You and I are ready. The cast is ready. The theatre is ready. The only thing that isn’t ready is the audience. They aren’t ready for what they are about to experience and how this play will. Change. Their. Lives. For. Ever. SIMON Richard, I know you are excited about tonight and you think you know this will happen, and I hope it will happen. But I can’t get away from the hard, financial figures. This production needs to run for sixteen months before it breaks even. Two years before you and I see any money. And three, whole years before we can think about calling “Davies and Lamberton’s ‘King Lear’ a success, a triumph and a masterpiece”. RICHARD There you go again, bringing ‘raw data’ into my fun. SIMON Statistical analysis is crucial to success. Richard mimics Simon behind his back as if he’s heard this 100 times before. SIMON Half the money might have come from favourable loans accrued due to my money market know-how but the other half is our own. I gave up a successful, very successful, partnership in the financial district and have taken out a second AND third mortgage on my house to pay for this play. RICHARD Oh, you worry about everything. SIMON Do you mean to say you have no worries or concerns about tonight? RICHARD Well, Gonerill’s a bit flamboyant but you know how these French actresses are... SIMON Richard, you know what I mean. I have complete faith in our cast and your skills as a director. However, if this production is not a success I’m in a lot of trouble. RICHARD Trouble? At least you had that relative die. Simon is shocked. RICHARD I mean, she left you some money. © Thom Goddard 2011


SIMON I could LOSE EVERYTHING. RICHARD Well, so could I. Quietly, to himself. And I don’t own anything. You’ll lose your house, I could lose my life. Pause, then speaking loudly to Simon. But we won’t because this production will be a huge hit. Pause Although, truth be told I do have one fear. SIMON Oh my god. What? RICHARD I shouldn’t have said anything. SIMON No, no, no. What? Please. You can tell me anything. RICHARD Sir Thomas was taken to hospital the other day. SIMON WHAT! RICHARD After the dress rehearsal. He went to that room he’s been renting in the cheap hotel round the corner. I don’t know what for - a lie down maybe. He’s old. Anyway, two hours later someone phones the front desk telling them to call an ambulance. And he was taken to hospital. SIMON And then what? RICHARD Oh, everything was fine. Just ‘over excited himself’ the doctors said. Probably nervous about the play. You know how he is, getting so worked up over the role... SIMON So you’re sure everything’s fine. RICHARD Absolutely Perfectly Well, there is one more thing. SIMON Slowly And that is? RICHARD The insurance company called. When you were out - remember you had to put those papers somewhere... © Thom Goddard 2011


SIMON File our tax documents, yes. RICHARD Yes, well when you were out, they called. SIMON And said what? RICHARD Sheepishly Well... Quickly and quietly They won’t insure Sir Thomas in the event of an accident or emergency. SIMON Excuse me? RICHARD The insurance company are not insuring Sir Thomas Betterman in the event of an accident or emergency as of yesterday. SIMON We don’t have any insurance? RICHARD We do. The theatre does. The show does. Just our leading man doesn’t. SIMON Oh. My. God. RICHARD Don’t worry. It’s only until his medical next week. Once the doctor gives him the all clear, everything will be fine. SIMON But what if something happens before next week? RICHARD Nothing will happen. SIMON What if he twists his ankle? RICHARD We’ll get him a crutch. SIMON What if he breaks his arm? RICHARD We’ll get him a sling. SIMON What if... RICHARD Simon, Simon. What if - this. And what if - that. You could say ‘What if the world ends tomorrow’ SIMON Then you and I would be bankrupt. © Thom Goddard 2011


RICHARD Ha, Simon you worry too much. Look - you do what you’re good at, taking care of the numbers, and I’ll do what I’m good at, taking care of the... creativity. The stage door opens. Harry Milne, a man in his 50s, wearing smart-casual clothes enters arm-in-arm with Danielle Clarkson, a girl in her 20s. She is wearing very casual clothes but her hair and make-up are ready for the show. HARRY MILNE Creativity? In this theatre? While this production of King Lear is being performed? My, where can one find that? RICHARD Harry, darling. HARRY Good evening Richard. SIMON Hi Harry. Danielle. DANIELLE CLARKSON Flirtatiously Hi Simon HARRY Has the half been called? SIMON The what? RICHARD to Simon I forget you know nothing about the theatre - the call to say it’s half an hour before the show. To Harry Any minute... Voice Over - Ladies and gentlemen this is your half hour call. Half an hour. HARRY To himself God, I’m good. HARRY Ah, Simon. Just the man I wanted to see. Now, I realise there is a certain circumspection on our quantum... Simon looks puzzled DANIELLE He knows there ain’t much money. Simon nods in understanding HARRY However, I must asseverate the contractual stipulations with regard algid aqua in my allowance. Simon looks at Danielle © Thom Goddard 2011


DANIELLE The water cooler isn’t working in his room. SIMON No problem, Harry. I will have the stage manager see to it. HARRY I should think so too. Very grandly You know, when I was doing MY King Lear in Stratford-Upon-Avon in what The Times called ‘a quintessential performance of lunacy’... Simon and Richard look at one another with raised eyes HARRY We never had to inquire after algid aqua - it was there when it was required. Speaking to himself Come, I shall retire. My matriarch shall be among the throng tonight so I must prepare. And it takes substantial preparation to make Sir Littlechap look proficient. Harry walks towards dressing room Number 1. Tuts and enters dressing room Number 2. Exit Harry RICHARD Danielle, how are you my darling? DANIELLE Yeah, alright, thanks. RICHARD Is Harry ok? DANIELLE Yeah, he’ll be fine. Once he’s finished that half-bottle of preparation he’ll be right as rain. SIMON Sorry, what? DANIELLE Nothing. SIMON By the way Danielle, I hope you don’t mind me asking, how do you understand what he’s saying? DANIELLE Easy, innit. Think like a drama queen and you’re there. RICHARD And being married to him helps. Danielle glares at Richard and turns to Simon © Thom Goddard 2011


DANIELLE Maybe. Flirtatiously to Simon as she sits on the throne, centre stage. But I’m always on the look out for my next ‘challenge’. Simon pretends not to notice and goes back to his clipboard. Richard begins to check a piece of paper on the wall. The Understudy, a young man dressed in tight black t-shirt and black trousers, runs in looking worried. DANIELLE And here he is. UNDERSTUDY Mr Davies, Mr Davies, sir. RICHARD Yes. UNDERSTUDY John needs you on stage. RICHARD John? UNDERSTUDY The stage manager, sir. He’s having trouble with the castle set. RICHARD I thought he’d solved this. Simon, everything ok here? SIMON Fine. Richard exits stage right. DANIELLE To the Understudy Nice outfit UNDERSTUDY Thank you. God, I’m so nervous about tonight. Aren’t you? I mean, I’m not really involved. I’m not doing anything. Except moving a few old props maybe. DANIELLE Well, you’ve certainly got the muscles for it. UNDERSTUDY Erm... thank you. But I’m not like you. Up there, on stage, in front of a massive audience. DANIELLE Yeah, pretty scary. UNDERSTUDY It must be. I don’t think I could perform Shakespeare on such a grand stage. © Thom Goddard 2011


DANIELLE How are your other ‘performances’? UNDERSTUDY I’ve never been in a theatre so big. And with such a big name star. DANIELLE Yeah? UNDERSTUDY Take Sir Thomas. He points to Dressing Room Number 1 I have been watching his performances all my life. When he shook my hand on the first day of rehearsals I turned to jelly. Mistook me for a cast member. Theatrically His mastery of the English language, the spoken word and his total character commitment. Obviously as a child I loved him in ‘Cosmic Combat’ - the first, second and third films. His Henry V, you know the Crispen Speech, brought tears to my eyes as a schoolboy. That inspired me to study King Lear at university. His classic, early films that brought him to the attention of the world are as touching and intricate today as they were then. Just being in the same room as the greatest actor who’s ever lived is... humbling. DANIELLE You’ve certainly done some acting though, haven’t you. UNDERSTUDY Well, a few puppet shows to earn some money while at college. And I did play Chorus Elephant Number Three in the summer tour of The Leopard Princess. From stage left, Simon spots the Understudy talking to Danielle. He walks towards them. SIMON Hello. Hello. Who are you? UNDERSTUDY Oh, hello, sir. I’m... SIMON What are you doing here? UNDERSTUDY Oh, I’m the understudy. I’m... The Understudy puts out his hand. Simon ignores it in his shock. SIMON You’re the understudy? Richard! UNDERSTUDY Erm... yes. I know all the parts off by heart. Lear. Kent. Fool.

© Thom Goddard 2011


DANIELLE Flirtatiously. You don’t know all Cordelia’s ‘parts’. UNDERSTUDY And... and could fill in for anyone at a moment’s notice. SIMON Well, that’s good. But do you have any experience? UNDERSTUDY Oh yes. I did drama at college and trained as a puppet master - you know ‘Punch and Judy’, ‘Pinocchio’... ‘Basil the Chicken’. Simon is open-mouthed. SIMON I wish I hadn’t asked now. Any practical, professional experience? UNDERSTUDY Yes. I was in the national tour of ‘The Leopard Princess’. Simon is pleased. UNDERSTUDY I played Chorus Elephant Number Three. My puppet skills were perfect for the job. The Understudy sees Simon is becoming angry. UNDERSTUDY I’m also the assistant stage manager. SIMON Are you? Excellent. The Understudy smiles. SIMON Harry Milne in Dressing Room 2 needs some cold water. Chop, chop. Exit Understudy stage right. DANIELLE Flirting Simon... SIMON Danielle. DANIELLE Simon, I was looking at the poster for this play yesterday... SIMON Danielle, we’ve been over this. Please take this up with Richard. He’s the artistic half of our partnership.

© Thom Goddard 2011


DANIELLE But Richard doesn’t understand how much I need this play, the role of Cordelia. Danielle touches Simon’s shoulder, teasing him. DANIELLE People assume I’m some silly bimbo. Just because I appeared in a soap opera. Danielle moves close to Simon. He can’t move. DANIELLE Simon, I desperately need this play to be a success. Then I will be taken seriously as an actress. Marrying a ‘great Shakespearean actor’ hasn’t helped so a starring role in a big production like this will do the trick. Danielle pushes her body against Simon. DANIELLE And for my part to be a ‘starring role’ my picture just needs to be a little bigger on the poster. If you can do this for me... Ray Keaton, an overweight, disheveled man in his 50s enters stage left through the stage door. Simon jumps away from Danielle in relief. RICHARD Shouting from off stage. Simon! Simon? Richard enters stage right. RICHARD There you are, Simon. Are you ok? Richard sees Ray Keaton taking off his coat. Oh Ray. Nice of you to join us. All ready for playing ‘the Fool’ tonight? (without waiting for a reply) Good! Simon, can you give me a hand with these finishing touches on stage? Richard and Simon exit stage right. Danielle remains on stage. She is still sitting in the throne. RAY KEATON Well, hello my young lovely. DANIELLE No Ray, I don’t want to hear any more of your chat up lines or gags. None of the girls do. You’re becoming a pest.

© Thom Goddard 2011


RAY Sure? Come on: I am you and you are me. And YOU (points) never give ME (points) a chance. What about this one - Shakespeare walks into a bar. The bar man says “Get out, you’re Bard”. Ray doubles over laughing. Danielle is straight faced. RAY Come on. How about this - A man walks into a library and asks for a book on Shakespeare. “Which one?” says the librarian. “William, of course”. Ray laughs. Danielle does not. DANIELLE Finished? Look, why don’t you stop telling old gags everyone’s heard a million times before. Do us all a favour and piss-off. Ray smiles at Danielle, turns, walks to Dressing Room 3 and enters. Exit Ray. Enter Understudy. He is running with a jug of water. UNDERSTUDY Wow, was that Ray. He’s so funny. Always makes me laugh. Understudy knocks on Dressing Room 2 and enters. Exit Understudy. The door to Dressing Room No. 1 opens. Sir Thomas Betterman, an elderly gentleman, sticks his head out the door. He looks left and right. THOMAS Pssit. Pssit. Danger girl. Danielle looks confused and looks about. She sees Sir Thomas, smiles, jumps from the throne and runs to the door of Dressing Room 1. DANIELLE In a posh voice My Lord. What ever can I do for you? THOMAS Mmmmm, I can think of one or two things. Is the coast clear? DANIELLE Normal voice Come on out, darlin’ Sir Thomas leaves the dressing room. He is in royal robes, dressed for the play. Danielle takes him by the hand, leads him to the throne and pushes him to sit. DANIELLE Posh voice Now, how can I serve you? THOMAS Oh Danielle, my little Danger Girl. You are so... naughty. © Thom Goddard 2011


DANIELLE Normal voice Not as naughty as you were the other day. THOMAS Don’t remind me. I thought I was having a heart attack. DANIELLE Don’t remind me. I thought I’d killed you. THOMAS Oh, Danielle, you could be the death of me. DANIELLE We don’t want that. But don’t get so worked up next time. THOMAS Mmmm, so there’s going to be a next time, is there? Danielle climbs into Sir Thomas’ lap. DANIELLE If you behave and do what your Danger Girl wants, then... The Understudy enters. The Understudy comes out of Dressing Room 2, sees Sir Thomas and Danielle, covers his mouth and quietly rushes off stage right. Exit Understudy. Danielle strokes Sir Thomas’ face. THOMAS But what if someone sees us? DANIELLE That’s the fun of it. That’s why I’m your ‘Danger Girl’. THOMAS It’s opening night. DANIELLE All the more reason to celebrate. Danielle’s hand moves down Sir Thomas’ body. As the hand reaches his groin, Sir Thomas’ face of pleasure turns to a face of agony. Sir Thomas cries out. DANIELLE Oh no. Is it happening again? Danielle leaps down. She looks around in panic. Sir Thomas is gasping for breath. Enter Richard. He stays stage right. RICHARD Danielle! There’s not long to go. Better get your costume on. © Thom Goddard 2011


Danielle is open mouthed in shock. She nods, walks passed Richard and exits stage right. Richard speaks to her as she passes. RICHARD Sorry the ladies’ dressing rooms couldn’t be on this side of the stage. But Lord Betterman needed the Number One dressing room and... Richard shrugs innocently. Exit Danielle. RICHARD Ah, Sir Thomas. Good to see you. Practicing those breathing exercises I taught you? Sir Thomas continues to gasp for breath. Richard moves slowly towards him. RICHARD I wouldn’t have thought anyone with your experience would need to relax but I suppose it has been almost 30 years since you last trod the boards. Of course, for drama professionals like you and I it’s all about the preparation. When you’re fully prepared in here (points to his head) then, and only then, can you go out there (points to the entrance to the stage). Richard arrives by Sir Thomas as he finishes speaking. Sir Thomas lurches towards him and Richard catches his arms. Sir Thomas remains seated. RICHARD My Lord, it would be an honour to help you prepare. Richard starts to rhythmically move Sir Thomas backwards and forwards in the throne. RICHARD Is that helping? Sir Thomas shakes his head in disagreement. RICHARD More? Richard moves him faster and begins to say “Out with the bad” when he brings Sir Thomas forward and “In with the good” when he pushes him back. Enter Simon from stage right. SIMON Richard, there you are. We have only 20 minutes before the show and there’s lots to do on stage. Come on. Richard pushes Sir Thomas to the back of the chair. RICHARD I’m sorry your Honour. I will be right back. © Thom Goddard 2011


Richard walks towards stage right. He stops and turns. Sir Thomas is still gasping for breath and now clutching his left arm. RICHARD Due to all the panic, opening night and all, I may not get to say this later. It has been an honour and a privilege working with you Sir Thomas Betterman. I had Simon go all out to get you for this project because I wanted you. Not for the glory or chance to work with someone famous. The change to share the stage with a living legend. You have made my life complete. If I die tonight, I know I will die... happy. Sir Thomas reaches towards Richard. Richard takes a step towards him. SIMON Richard! Richard turns and walks towards the stage right exit. RICHARD To Simon Huh, actors! I pour my heart out to him and all he wants me to do is kiss his hand. Exit Richard and Simon stage right. The stage is silent. SIR THOMAS Don’t leave me. Pause SIR THOMAS Help. Somebody? Anybody? The Dressing Room 3 door open. Enter Ray. Dressed in parts of his costume but not fully. RAY Is everything ok out here? Ray looks around and goes to close the door. At the last second he sees Sir Thomas. RAY Ah, your Lordship. Ray bows. RAY Bit bored before the show. Didn’t want to sit in your dressing room? Let me, your great fool, entertain you. And I’m grate-fool for the audience. Sir Thomas has shakes his head but does not speak. © Thom Goddard 2011


RAY Have you ever noticed William Shakespeare only wrote comedies or tragedies? Anyone else think he must have been bipolar? Ray laughs. SIR THOMAS Whispers Help me. RAY There’s more. Shakespeare said to his friend “I think I’m going to stop writing plays and concentrate on poetry instead.” The friend said “You’re just going from bard to verse.” Ray laughs. Sir Thomas speaks to him in a hoarse voice. SIR THOMAS Help me, you fool. RAY Oh, of course. With what. SIR THOMAS I’m dying. RAY You want help with your lines? Well, I suppose I’m the right person to come to as you and I share such a special bond on stage. Where have you gone wrong? Which bit have you forgotten? Not too much I hope as you’re the star of the show. Or is it a bit of characterisation? Especially as your character and mine are so close. You know. Character-wise. He nudges Sir Thomas with his elbow. Which one of us is really mad, eh? Which one is really the fool? SIR THOMAS Shut up and help me. Undo my shirt. RAY No, no, no. Let me think. The line is “Pray you undo this button”. SIR THOMAS You don’t understand. I can’t breath. RAY Are we doing the death scene at the moment? Coz, I’m not actually on stage for that and... Sir Thomas cries out. RAY Ok, ok. You really are in trouble. ‘Specially if you can’t remember your words right before a show. Well, I think the line is... instead of “I can’t breath” is: “Why should a dog, a horse, a rat have life, and thou no breath at all?” Sir Thomas manages to grab Ray with his right hand. SIR THOMAS Look you idiot. © Thom Goddard 2011


RAY It’s “Fool” actually. SIR THOMAS Just find someone who can help me. Ray shrugs off Sir Thomas’ grip. Voice over Ladies and gentlemen this is the quarter. Quarter of an hour. RAY Suit yourself. I know when I’m not wanted. Ray walks to Dressing Room 3 and exits. As the door to Dressing Room 3 closes, Dressing Room 2 opens. Harry enters. He is dressed and made-up for the show. He is carrying a bottle of whiskey with only a quarter of the liquid left. Harry speaks normally, without being pompous. HARRY So... I heard some of that. You’ve gone and forgotten the words. SIR THOMAS Harry, please help me. HARRY So, the “great” Sir Thomas Betterman has forgotten his lines. On opening night. SIR THOMAS Harry, you don’t understand. I just need someone to go through... HARRY ...them with you? Ha, fat chance. Harry drinks from the bottle. SIR THOMAS Harry, I need help. HARRY And you think I’m the man to do it? I learnt my trade. Worked hard at learning the scripts and knowing everything there is to know about Shakespeare. Moving between dreadful productions, in hell-hole towns across the country. Years! Years spent trying to reach the top through guts and hard work. Just so I could become a great Shakespearean actor. And then you came along. “Ooooo, he’s done Hamlet on the radio” they said. “His Henry V made people cry” they said. Harry drinks from the bottle. SIR THOMAS Harry, that wasn’t my fault...

© Thom Goddard 2011


HARRY Not your fault? NOT YOUR FAULT? I was ready. Set. Done the apprenticeship and off to the big time. Then you came in, took the lead role and I was left as ‘first back-up’. Laughs I wasn’t even the understudy! Did you know, that role had been cast? And so our lives took dramatically different paths. You left after only 3 months to do that god-awful sci-fi film series... what is it... oh yes, “Cosmic Conflict”. But by then I’d already gone. Not that you would have noticed. I took a jobbing actor role and started on the good stuff. Harry shows the bottle to Sir Thomas and then drinks the last drops. SIR THOMAS Harry, please listen... HARRY No! Now it’s your turn to listen. What did you think? You could just waltz in here and it would all be easy? Just like last time, eh? Do one over on Harry Milne again? I had to go right back and start from the bottom. And I have built a reputation. Ok, I am acting 24/7 - I have to put on that ridiculous voice and drama queen attitude. And I’ve had some success. I’m getting back on top. But it’s history repeating itself, isn’t it? I desperately need this play to cement my reputation as a ‘fine Shakespearean actor’. Without this play I might be finished. And this time for good because I can’t go back to the bottom and start again. NOT AGAIN! SIR THOMAS Groans No HARRY And you? Years of being a household name. Star of stage, film and tv. Friend to world leaders. Your golfing buddies and tennis partners are a veritable who’s who of the rich and famous. And that precious little “title” at the beginning of your name. Well, you know what? You’re just lucky Lord Littlechap to me. You can’t walk in here and eclipse me again. This time I’m going to stay and show the world that Harry Milne is, indeed, a ‘great’ actor. Harry stands drunkenly triumphant. SIR THOMAS Harry, can you get Danielle? She will understand what’s wrong. Harry’s look of triumph turns to comprehension. HARRY Oh my god! OH MY GOD! I knew it! I KNEW IT! You took my career and now you’ve taken my wife? Harry drops the bottle. He picks Sir Thomas up from the throne. Shakes him and throws him back down into the seat. © Thom Goddard 2011


Harry turns away upset and exhausted. Sir Thomas slumps on the throne. He is dead. Harry regains his composure and turns back to face Sir Thomas. Harry sees something is wrong. HARRY What are you doing? Stop messing around. I only wish I could kill you. Harry steps towards Sir Thomas. HARRY Look, I was only joking. You are ok, aren’t you. Harry pushes Sir Thomas. Sir Thomas falls forward and is caught by Harry. Harry places him on the throne. HARRY To himself Oh my god. Talking sweetly to Sir Thomas Sir Thomas, Sir Thomas. Harry picks up Sir Thomas’ wrist and counts. HARRY To himself Oh my god. There’s no pulse. Harry drops the wrist. Sir Thomas’ arm falls. Harry looks left and right. HARRY To himself I’ve killed him. Oh my god, I’ve killed the most famous actor in the world. On opening night. Harry begins to panic. HARRY To himself Get a hold of yourself. He was an old man and nobody saw you attack him. Nobody saw you. Nobody saw anything... Harry looks around to make sure he is alone. Suddenly he hears voices. Off stage right. RICHARD Finished. And not a moment to spare. Harry looks around wildly. He realises there is nothing that can be done to hide Sir Thomas. Harry runs to Dressing Room 2 and closes the door quietly. Exit Harry. Enter Richard and Simon. SIMON Well, that’s the last of the problems. © Thom Goddard 2011


RICHARD This is the theatre darling, you have to have some drama on opening night. SIMON It’s just I’m not used to such problems... dramas. But at least that’s all over and we can just enjoy the show. I’m going to Reception... I mean ‘front of house’ to meet friends. Richard stops by Dressing Room 1. Simon keeps walking and then stops before reaching Sir Thomas’ body . SIMON Richard. Everything ok? RICHARD Hmmm? Yes. Just nervous, I guess. My directorial debut. What will everyone think of the play? What will the critics think? What will mummy think? Simon walks back towards Richard. SIMON Richard. Don’t worry, you’ve done a marvelous job. You’re a fine director... RICHARD You haven’t seen me direct. SIMON Trying to think of something I’ve heard good things. From the cast. And it’s your energy and enthusiasm that has carried this project. Through tough casting, even tougher rehearsals and a punishing schedule you have remained upbeat and positive. Just like at school. And university. Remember? Our little stage productions. Your vision. All I had to offer was hard work. Sweating and slaving away. But you made it all happen. RICHARD Thank you. Simon looks at his watch. SIMON I must go. There’s less than 10 minutes to the show and people will be taking their seats. Simon turns to go. Richard knocks on Dressing Room 1. RICHARD Sir Thomas? Sir Thomas? Are you in here? Simon walks passed Sir Thomas slumped back on the throne, mouth open. SIMON Oh, no, Richard, he’s here. © Thom Goddard 2011


Simon does not notice Sir Thomas and carries on towards the stage door. Richard walks over to Sir Thomas. RICHARD Sir Thomas. Are you ok? Joking You look like you’ve seen a ghost. Sir Thomas? Richard sees something is wrong. RICHARD Simon. Simon! Simon has opened the stage door but stops. He turns, annoyed. SIMON What is it? RICHARD I think there is something wrong with Sir Thomas Betterman. SIMON What? What is wrong? RICHARD I think he’s dead. SIMON Dead? Simon closes the stage door and walks towards Richard and Sir Thomas. RICHARD Yes, dead! You know... not breathing, heart stopped, passed on, the opposite of alive. DEAD! SIMON Don’t be ridiculous. Simon reaches Richard and Sir Thomas. And begins to check Sir Thomas. Richard turns away in tears. SIMON Joking He can’t be dead. Not now. More serious Not tonight. Panicking Not on the first day of a two year contract. Oh my god. He IS dead. Simon staggers a few steps. He is trembling. SIMON What are we going to do? What do I do? What... what are you crying for? RICHARD Nothing. SIMON Nothing? Pull yourself together. You didn’t know him that well. RICHARD I’m not crying because of that. © Thom Goddard 2011


SIMON You’re the director. Think of something. Create something. Direct... what are you crying for then? RICHARD It’s over. SIMON You don’t say. RICHARD No, my life. You may have taken out triple mortgages and whatever practical loans you could find but I had nothing. No house. No car. Nothing to put up as collateral. So I used the one thing I do have left. My life. You borrowed your half of the money from the bank. I borrowed my half from the Marone family. SIMON Organised crime? RICHARD Sobs Yes. SIMON And you’re saying they’ll kill you if you don’t pay it back? RICHARD Sobs Yes! Richard slumps to the floor, sitting against the back wall. SIMON Oh my god. Oh my god. Ok. It’s all down to me. I have to think of a solution. There’s got to be a solution. Enter the UNDERSTUDY. SIMON And here it is! UNDERSTUDY I was just sent here to check if you need a hand with anything. SIMON Insanely laughs. No. Well, yes. Perfect timing. Now, you told me you know this play off by heart. UNDERSTUDY Yes. SIMON The part of King Lear? Word perfect? UNDERSTUDY Yes. SIMON Excellent. Get changed, you’re going on. UNDERSTUDY Going on? Where? Out there? Why? © Thom Goddard 2011


RICHARD He can’t do it. The boy’s keen but he’s a puppeteer, not an actor. Maybe if it was “The Muppets Do Shakespeare”. SIMON Richard, shut up. UNDERSTUDY He’s right. I’ve never done anything this big. I don’t know that I can go out in front of all those people. SIMON Speaking slowly and calmly. This is no time for stage fright. You can go on and you will. UNDERSTUDY No, no, no. I’ve never actually shown my face on the stage. The funny thing is I’d be ok, and be able to do the whole show, if this really was “Muppets Do Shakespeare”. SIMON Excellent. Well, I will bear that in mind. But we are doing a real, live version of King Lear. That is the reality. Our leading man, Sir Thomas Betterman, is dead. You are the understudy. You are taking his place. UNDERSTUDY Wow. SIMON I know. UNDERSTUDY Sir Thomas Betterman is dead. SIMON And you’re taking his place. On stage. In 5 minutes time. UNDERSTUDY Terrified, to himself I can’t do it. I can’t go out there in front of all those people. In front of thousands of people. Simon reaches for Sir Thomas to try and take his costume off. The Understudy stands to one side shaking his head. Voice over Ladies and gentlemen, this is your five minute call. Five minutes. Enter Danielle with GONERIL/AURELIE DEVIL and REGAN/HELEN WILLIAMS. They are all in full costume and make-up. HELEN Was that the five? We’re just going out for a ciggie. DANIELLE Is Sir Thomas alright? The three ladies walks across the stage while speaking. Simon and the Understudy step in front of Sir Thomas. © Thom Goddard 2011


SIMON He’s fine. Just a bit of last minute preparation. Simon waves the ladies good-bye. Exit stage left Danielle, Helen and Aurelie. Simon turns back to Sir Thomas to take off his costume. He quickly gives in. SIMON It’s no use. We can’t even move him due to the dead weight. Richard laughs. He has stopped crying. SIMON Richard. Do something. You’re the director! RICHARD I have a solution. Richard knocks on the door of Dressing Room 2. RICHARD Harry, can you come out here please? To Simon and the Understudy Harry will go on in Sir Thomas’ place. And the understudy will take Harry’s role as “Kent”. Harry opens the door slowly. HARRY Yes? RICHARD Harry, something’s happened to Sir Thomas. HARRY Quickly I didn’t do it. RICHARD Do what? Any way, we need you to take the part of King Lear tonight. Sir Thomas is... unwell. Congratulations! You’ve got what you wanted, the lead role! Your fans will see you play King Lear. HARRY I can’t do it. Richard does not hear Harry. RICHARD Isn’t this what you’ve always wanted? You’ll be the star of the show. Demonstrate how you are the master of Shakespeare and Sir Thomas isn’t fit to... what? HARRY I can’t do it. I don’t know the part. RICHARD But you’re this “great Shakespearean” actor. Imitating Harry “When I did my King Lear at Stratford Upon Avon...” HARRY When I played in King Lear... I didn’t play the King. © Thom Goddard 2011


Richard gulps in panic. He says the first thing that comes to him. RICHARD Ok. No problem. You will be King Lear and the Understudy will feed you the lines. UNDERSTUDY While I’m playing the role of the Duke of Kent? RICHARD Yes. UNDERSTUDY On a big stage I’ve never performed on before? RICHARD Yes. UNDERSTUDY In front of thousands of people? RICHARD Yes. SIMON Richard, that is clearly not going to work. Richard begins to cry and slumps again. Danielle enters from stage door. HARRY I’m so sorry Simon. I’m a fraud. It’s all an act. I’m not who I say I am. I’m a murderer... SIMON What? DANIELLE Harry, don’t. Simon, it’s all my fault. I’ve been having an affair with Sir Thomas and with his weak heart... SIMON What!!! HARRY So it’s true then... Everyone on stage argues. Excluding the Understudy. SIMON Richard, do something... DANIELLE You don’t love me any more... RICHARD We’re ruined. I’m going to be dropped in the sea with concrete round my ankles. HARRY To Danielle You slut... RICHARD Or worse... savaged by the critics. © Thom Goddard 2011


SIMON Steady on, Harry... Voice Over This is your beginners call for the start of the show. Beginners. Everyone is silent. Enter GLOUCESTER and EDMUND from stage right. They are in full Shakespearean costume and make-up. GLOUCESTER Everything ok? ALL reply FINE! Harry walks up and stands nose-to-nose with Simon. HARRY I cannot walk out on to that stage unless you tell me what you are going to do. Trumpets sound for the beginning of the play. SIMON On you go Harry. Don’t want to disappoint your adoring fans, do you? Harry is furious but before he can say anything we hear the sound of applause. SIMON That’s curtain up. Simon smiles and ushers Harry “on stage”. Harry Milne (Kent), Gloucester and Edmund exit stage right. Their exit is greeted by applause off stage right. Gonerill and Regan enter stage left. They talk to each other inside the stage door unaware of what is happening elsewhere on stage. Our audience can hear the Shakespeare play begin. Richard is still sitting on the floor sobbing. SIMON Richard. Richard! Get a hold of yourself and think. RICHARD I can’t. We’re ruined. Simon picks Richard up. © Thom Goddard 2011


SIMON You bastard. It’s always been the same, hasn’t it? Ever since we were kids. You were the big shot entertainer. I was the geeky nerd. You’ve always treated me badly. And for some reason I’ve always taken it. Simon throws Richard away. SIMON At school, university and throughout our lives I’ve been played by you. Taken for a chump, a fool. I did everything for you... for this ‘play’. And all that was happening was you were playing me. Pulling me this way and that like some sort of... RICHARD Puppet! That’s it. SIMON What? Richard rushes to Sir Thomas. Richard picks up one arm and waves it. RICHARD Ok, he’s still quite mobile. This is what we’re going to do. CURTAIN End of Act 1

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ACT 2 SCENE 1 - ACT 1, SCENE 1 of KING LEAR A lavishly decorated room in a medieval castle. There is a large table covered with maps at the front, stage left. The play is written as the traditional Shakespeare text. The actions are in parentheses. All the actors, except Gloucester and Edmund, know King Lear is deceased when they appear on the stage. Enter Kent, Gloucester and Edmund (They stand stage right. Kent is white with apprehension.) KENT I thought the King... (He pauses, wanting to say “is dead”) had more affected the Duke of Albany than Cornwall. (Gloucester and Edmund are unaware of what has happened to King Lear) GLOUCESTER It did always seem so to us. But now in the division of the kingdom it appears not which of the Dukes he values most, for qualities are so weighed that curiosity in neither can make choice of either’s moiety. KENT Is this not your son, my lord? GLOUCESTER His breeding, sir, hath been at my charge. I have so often blushed to acknowledge him that now I am brazed to it. KENT I cannot conceive you. GLOUCESTER Sir, this young fellow’s mother could; whereupon she grew round-wombed, and had indeed, sir, a son for her cradle ere she had a husband for her bed. Do you smell a fault? KENT I cannot wish the fault undone, the issue of it being so proper.

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GLOUCESTER But I have a son, sir, by order of law, some year elder than this, who yet is no dearer in my account. Though this knave came something saucily to the world, before he was sent for, yet was his mother fair; there was good sport at his making, and the whoreson must be acknowledged. Do you know this noble gentleman, Edmund? EDMUND No, my lord. GLOUCESTER My lord of Kent. Remember him hereafter as my honourable friend. EDMUND My services to your lordship. KENT I must love you and sue to know you better. EDMUND Sir, I shall study deserving. GLOUCESTER He hath been out nine years, and away he shall again. The King is coming. Sound a sennet. (Kent looks surprised) Enter Cornwall, Albany, Gonerill, Regan, and Cordelia. (Cordelia looks at Kent and shakes her head.) (Cornwall, Albany, Gonerill, Regan and Cordelia stand stage left) Sound a second sennet. Enter King Lear sitting on a throne pulled by First Knight and Second Knight. (The throne sits on a large, wheeled platform. The platform is pulled into a central position on stage by the two knights. King Lear is sat upright with a blank expression on his face. The Understudy is able to make King Lear’s mouth open and close rhythmically in time with the words spoken. All Lear’s words are said by the Understudy via microphone. The Understudy can also make King Lear’s head, arms and legs move, like a puppet. The knights stand either side behind the throne.) © Thom Goddard 2011


LEAR Attend the lords of France and Burgundy, Gloucester. (Lear raises the left hand, droopily, towards Gloucester) GLOUCESTER I shall... (Gloucester pauses while taking a closer look at Lear) liege. Exeunt Gloucester and Edmund (Gloucester and Edmund exit stage left. Gloucester turns to Edmund in shock to tell him there is something wrong with King Lear. What is said is not heard by the audience.) LEAR Meantime we shall express our darker purpose. Give me the map there. (Lear’s left hand points to the maps on the table) Know that we have divided In three (Lear pats his leg three times) our kingdom; and ‘tis our fast intent To shake all cares and business from our age, Unburdened crawl (Lear crawls with his arms) toward death. Our son Cornwall And you, our no less loving son of Albany (Lear’s right hand points at one and then the other) We have this hour a constant will to punish (Lear’s right hand slaps his right thigh) Our daughter’s several dowers, that future strife May be prevented now. The princes, France and Burgundy. Great rivals in our daughter’s love Long in our court have made their amorous sojourn, (Kent laughs. All cast members look at Kent. A noticable pause) And here are to be answered. Tell me, my daughters, (Lear’s right hand raises to his ear) Since now we will divest us both of rule, Interest of territory, cares of state, Which of you shall we say doth love us most, (Lear’s arms extend out in both directions) That we our largest bounty may extend Where nature doth with merit challenge. Gonerill, (Lear points to Gonerill) Our eldest born, speak first. © Thom Goddard 2011


GONERILL (Long pause, almost afraid to speak) Sir, I (Pause, swallows hard) love you more than word can wield the matter, Dearer than eyesight, space and liberty, Beyond what can be valued rich or rare, No less than (Gulping swallow) life (Pause, taking Lear’s hand as if to feel for a pulse) with grace, health, beauty, honour, As much as child e’er loved or father found; A love that makes breath poor and speech unable; (Gonerill touches Lear’s mouth) Beyond all manner of ‘so much’ I love you. (Gonerill finishes the speech standing beside Lear.) CORDELIA (aside) What shall Cordelia speak? Love, and be silent. (Kent is visibly annoyed by this but is standing stage right while Cordelia is stage left.) LEAR Of all these bounds, even from this line to this With Shadowy forests and with champains riched, With plenteous rivers and wide-skirted meads, We make thee lady. (Lear is leant forward to kiss Gonerill. Gonerill hesitates in disgust. Lear kisses her and she rushes into Albany’s arms.) To thine and Albany’s issues, Be this perpetual. - What says our second daughter, (Lear points to Regan) Our dearest Regan, wife of Cornwall? REGAN I am made of that self mettle as my sister (Regan shakes her head and swallows hard) And price me at her worth. In my true heart I find she names my very deed of love; Only she comes too short, that I profess Myself an enemy to all other joys Which the most precious square of sense possesses And find I am alone felicitate In your dear highness’ love. (Regan slowly takes Lear’s left hand in disgust.) © Thom Goddard 2011


CORDELIA (aside) Then poor Cordelia! And yet not so, since I am sure my love’s More ponderous than my tongue. LEAR To thee and thine hereditary ever Remain this ample third of our fair kingdom, No less in space, validity, and pleasure Than that conferred on Gonerill. (Regan tears her hand from Lear and wrings both hands as if cleaning them.) - Now, our joy, Although our last and least, to whose young love The vines of France and milk of Burgundy Strive to be interessed: what can you say to draw A third more opulent than you sisters? Speak! CORDELIA Nothing, my lord. (Cordelia is tearful. She takes Lear’s left hand) LEAR Nothing? (Lear’s head turns to Cordelia) CORDELIA Nothing LEAR Nothing will come of nothing. Speak again. CORDELIA Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave My heart into my mouth. I loved your majesty (Cordelia hugs Lear and draws away quickly, still holding Lear’s left hand. She regains her composure) I LOVE your Majesty. According to my bond, no more nor less. LEAR How, how, Cordelia! Mend your speech a little Lest you may mar your fortunes.

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CORDELIA (Cordelia is very upset and furious. She drops Lear’s hand like a dead weight) Good my lord, You have begot me, bred me, loved me. I return those duties back as are right fit, Obey you, love you, and most honour you. Why have my sister’s husbands, if they say They love you all? Haply when I shall wed, That lord whose hand must take my plight shall carry Half my love with him, half my care and duty. Sure I shall never marry like my sisters, To love my father all. LEAR But goes thy heart with this? CORDELIA Ay, my good lord. LEAR So young and so untender? CORDELIA So young, my lord, and true. LEAR (Lear throws his hands into the air. All cast members kneel) Let it be so! Thy truth then be thy dower! For by the sacred radiance of the sun, The mysteries of Hecat and the night, By all the operation of the orbs From whom we do exist, and cease to be, Here I disclaim all my paternal care, Propinquity and property of blood, And as a stranger to my heart and me Hold thee from this for ever. The barbarous Scythian, Or he that makes his generation messes To gorge his appetite, shall to my bosom Be as well neighboured, pitied, and relieved As thou my sometime daughter. (Kent rises and goes to Lear’s right side)

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KENT Good, my liege LEAR (Lear’s right arm moves too quickly and smacks Kent’s face) Peace, Kent! Come not between the dragon and his wrath. (Kent is shocked by the blow and crawls backwards, away) I loved her most, (Kent tuts at this line) and thought to set my rest on her kind nursery. (To Cordelia) Hence and avoid my sight! (Lear waves Cordelia away with the left arm) So be my grave my peace as here I give Her father’s heart from her. Call France! (Kent stands and waves the two knights away. They exit stage left) Who stirs? Call Burgundy! Cornwall and Albany, (Cornwall and Albany go to Lear’s side) With my two daughters’ dowers digest the third. Let pride, which she calls plainness, marry her. I do invest you jointly with my power, Pre-eminence, and all the large effects That troop with majesty. Ourself by monthly course, With reservation of an hundred knights, By you to be sustained, shall our abode Make with you by due return. Only we shall retain The name and all th’addition to a king; (Cornwall and Albany kneel in front of Lear. Lear’s hands rest on their heads. Cornwall and Albany flinch at the touch) the sway, Revenue, execution of the rest, Beloved sons, be yours; which to confirm, This coronet part between you. KENT (Kent is meant to be angry but spits out his words with venom) Royal Lear, Whom I have ever honoured as my king, Loved as my father, as my master followed, As my great patron thought on in my prayers LEAR The bow is bent and drawn; make from the shaft. © Thom Goddard 2011


KENT Let it fall rather, (Lear’s hand falls from Cornwall’s head. Cornwall takes the hand and puts it back) though the fork invade The region of my heart. Be Kent unmannerly When Lear is dead... (Pauses) dead mad. What wouldst thou do, old man? Think’st thou that duty shall have dread to speak When power to flattery bows? To plainness honour’s bound When majesty stoops to folly. Reserve thy state, And in thy best consideration check This hideous rashness. (Kent pushes Cornwall and Albany out of the way. He grabs Lear’s shirt and shakes Lear like a rag doll) Answer my life, my judgement, Thy youngest daughter does not thee least, Nor are those empty-hearted whose low sounds Reverb no hollowness. LEAR (Imploring Kent to let go) Kent, on thy life, no more! (The rest of the cast watch in disbelief) KENT My life I never held but as a pawn To wage against thine enemies; nor fear to lose it, Thy safety being motive. (Kent picks up Lear from the throne. The Understudy is seen briefly) LEAR Out of my sight! KENT See better, Lear, and let me still remain The true blank of thine eye. LEAR Now by Apollo -

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KENT Now by Apollo, King, Thou swear’st thy gods in vain. LEAR O vassal, miscreant! He makes to strike him (Lear does not strike him. Lear’s arms flop beside his flaccid body) ALBANY and CORNWALL (Grabbing Kent) Dear Sir, forbear! KENT Kill thy physician and thy fee bestow Upon the foul disease. Revoke thy gift, Or whilst I can vent clamour from my throat I’ll tell thee thou dost evil. LEAR Hear me, recreant, On thine allegiance hear me! (Kent relaxes. Kent puts Lear back on the throne) That thou hast sought to make us break our vow, Which we durst never yet, and, with strained pride, (Kent walks away from the throne) To come betwixt our sentence and our power, Which nor our nature nor our place can bear, Our potency made good, take thy reward. Five days we do allot thee for provision To shield thee from disasters of the world, And on the sixth to turn thy hated back Upon our kingdom. If on the tenth day following Thy banished trunk be found in our dominions The moment is thy death. Away! By Jupiter, This shall not be revoked! (Lear falls forward, about to slip from the throne) (Kent catches him by the head and pushes him back into place)

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KENT Fare thee well, (spitting) King, sit thus thou wilt appear, Freedom lives hence and banishment is here. To Cordelia The gods to their dear shelter take thee, maid, That justly think’st and hast most rightly said. To Gonerill and Regan And your large speeches may be your deeds approve That good effects may spring from words of love. Thus Kent, O princes, bids you all adieu; He’ll shape his old course in a country new. Exit Kent Black Out (End of Act 2, Scene 1)

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ACT 2 SCENE 2 - ACT 1, SCENE 4 of KING LEAR A clearing in a forest (Kent enters stage right dressed in rags. He stands front, centre stage) Enter Kent in disguise. KENT If but as well I other accents borrow That can my speech diffuse, my good intent May carry through itself to that full issue For which I razed my likeness. Now, banished Kent, If thou canst serve thou dost stand condemned, So may it come thy master whom thou lovest Shall find thee full of labours. Horns within. Enter Lear and Knights (Kent moves to front of stage left. Lear enters stage left. Lear is sitting on a large chair in a low carriage pulled by the knights) LEAR Let me not stay a jot for dinner! (Lear points stage right) Go, get it ready! Exit First Knight How now? What art thou? (Lear points at Kent) KENT A man, sir. LEAR What dost thou profess? What wouldst thou with us? KENT I do profess to be no less than I seem; to serve him truly that will put me in trust, to love him that is honest, to converse with him that is wise and says little, to fear judgement, to fight when I cannot choose, and to eat no fish. Š Thom Goddard 2011


LEAR What art thou? KENT A very honest-hearted fellow, and as poor as the King. LEAR If thou be’st as poor for a subject as he’s for a king thou art poor enough. What wouldst thou? KENT Service LEAR Who wouldst thou serve? KENT (Through gritted teeth) You LEAR Dost thou know me, fellow? KENT No, sir; but you have that in your countenance which I would fain call master. LEAR What’s that? KENT (Kent laughs) Authority LEAR What services can thou do? KENT I can keep honest counsel ride, run, mar a curious tale in telling it, and deliver a plain message bluntly. That which ordinary men are fit for I am qualifies in, and the best of me is diligence. LEAR How old art thou? © Thom Goddard 2011


KENT Not so young, sir, to love a woman for singing, nor so old to dote on her for anything. I have years on my back forty-eight. LEAR Follow me; thou shalt serve me if I like thee no worse after dinner. I will not part from thee yet. Dinner, ho, dinner! Where’s my knave, my Fool? (Lear points to the Second Knight) Go you and call my Fool hither. Exit Second Knight Enter Oswald (stage left) (Lear points at Oswald and turns his head left) You! You, sirrah! Where’s my daughter? OSWALD So please you Oswald exit LEAR (Head turns to Third Knight) What says the fellow there? Call the clotpoll back. Exit Third Knight Where’s my Fool? Ho, I think the world’s asleep. Enter Third Knight How now? Where’s that mongrel? THIRD KNIGHT He says, my lord, your daughter is not well. LEAR Why came not the slave back to me when I called him? (Lear’s arms raise in confusion) THIRD KNIGHT Sir, he answered me in the roundest manner he would not. © Thom Goddard 2011


LEAR He would not! THIRD KNIGHT My lord, I know not what the matter is, but to my judgement your highness is not entertained with that ceremonious affection as you were wont. There’s a great abatement of kindness appears as well in the general dependents as in the Duke himself also and your daughter. LEAR Ha! Sayest thou so? THIRD KNIGHT (Kneels before Lear) I beseech you pardon me, my lord, if I be mistaken; for my duty cannot be silent when I think your highness wronged. LEAR Thou but rememberest me of mine own conception. I have perceived a most faint neglect of late, which I have rather blamed as mine own jealous curiosity than as a very pretence and purpose of unkindness. I will look further into’t. But where’s my Fool? I have not seen him this two days. THIRD KNIGHT Since my young lady’s going into France, sir, the Fool hath pined away. LEAR No more of that! I have noted it well. Go you and tell my daughter I would speak with her. Exit Third Knight Go you, call hither my Fool. Exit another Knight Enter Oswald (from stage left) (Lear’s head moves to the left) O, you, sir, you! Come you hither, sir. Who am I, sir? OSWALD My lady’s father. © Thom Goddard 2011


LEAR ‘My lady’s father’, my lord’s knave! You whoreson dog! You slave! You cur! (Lear’s right hand moves in time with the insults following Oswald) (Oswald moves across the stage) OSWALD I am none of these, my lord, I beseech your pardon. (Lear’s head moves quickly from left to right having missed Oswald’s movement) LEAR Do you bandy looks with me, you rascal? He strikes him (Lear’s right hand paws at Oswald, not close to hitting him) OSWALD I’ll not be strucken, my lord. (Oswald looks back for Kent’s outstretched leg. He was meant to be struck by Lear but has to stumble back on his own) KENT Nor tripped neither, you base football-player? (Kent trips Oswald to the floor) LEAR I thank thee, fellow. Thou servest me and I’ll love thee. KENT (to Oswald) Come, sir, arise, away! I’ll teach you differences. Away, away! If you will measure your lubber’s length again, tarry; but away, go to! Have you wisdom? He pushes Oswald out (Exit Oswald stage left) So. © Thom Goddard 2011


LEAR Now, my friendly knave, I thank thee. (Kent stretches out his hand towards Lear) There’s earnest of thy service. He gives him money (Lear is meant to give him money. Instead when Kent stretches out his hand Lear slaps it. Kent is shocked) Enter the Fool (The Fool knows Lear is dead. The Fool plays with King Lear’s arms, legs and head because he can be silly without anyone stopping him) FOOL Let me hire him too. Here’s my coxcomb. LEAR How now, my pretty knave! How dost thou? (Lear’s arms are waved in the air in celebration at Fool’s arrival) FOOL Sirrah, you were best take my coxcomb. KENT Why, Fool? FOOL Why? For taking one’s part that’s out of favour. Nay, and thou canst not smile as the wind sits, thou’lt fellow has banished two on’s daughters, and did the third a blessing against his will. If thou follow him, thou must needs wear my coxcomb. How now, nuncle! Would I had two coxcombs and two daughters! LEAR Why, my boy? FOOL If I gave them all my living, I’d keep my coxcombs myself. There’s mine. Beg another of thy daughters. LEAR Take heed, sirrah, the whip! © Thom Goddard 2011


(Lear’s arms are both raised - Kent flashes the whip at Fool) FOOL Truth’s a dog must to kennel; he must be whipped out when the Lady Brach may stand by the fire and stink. LEAR A pestilent gall to me! FOOL Sirrah, I’ll teach thee a speech. LEAR Do. FOOL Mark it, nuncle: Have more than thou showest, Speak less than thou knowest, Lend less than thou owest, Ride more than thou goest, Learn more than thou trowest, Set less than thou throwest; Leave thy drink and thy whore And keep in-a-door, And thou shalt have more Than two tens to a score. KENT This is nothing, Fool. FOOL Then ‘tis like the breath of an unfee’d lawyer: you gave me nothing for’t. Can you make no use of nothing, nuncle? LEAR Why, no, boy. Nothing can be made out of nothing. FOOL (to Kent) Prithee tell him; so much the rent of his land comes to. He will not believe a fool. LEAR A bitter fool! © Thom Goddard 2011


FOOL Dost thou know the difference, my boy, between a bitter fool and a sweet one? LEAR No, lad; teach me. FOOL That lord that counselled thee To give away thy land, Come place him here by me; Do thou for him stand. The sweet and bitter fool Will presently appear: The one in motley here, The other found out - there. LEAR Dost thou call me fool, boy? FOOL All thy other titles thou hast given away; that thou wast born with. KENT This is not altogether fool, my lord. FOOL No, faith; lords and great men will not let me. If I had a monopoly out they would have part on’t; and ladies too - they will not let me have all the fool to myself; they’ll be snatching. Nuncle, give me an egg and I’ll give thee two crowns. LEAR What two crowns shall they be? FOOL Why, after I have cut the egg i’the middle and eat up the meat, the two crowns of the egg. When thou clovest they crown i’the middle, and gavest away both parts, thou borest thinke ass on thy back o’er the dirt. Thou hadst little wit in thy bald crown when thou gavest thy golden one away. If I speak like myself in this, let him be whipped that first finds it so. Fools had ne’er less grace in a year, For wise men are grown foppish And know not how their wits to wear, Their manners are so apish. © Thom Goddard 2011


LEAR When were you wont to be so full of songs, sirrah? FOOL I have used it, nuncle, e’er since thou madest thy daughters thy mothers; for when thou gavest them the rod and puttest dow thine own breeches, (sings) They they for sudden joy did weep, And I for sorrow sung, That such a king should play bo-peep And go the fools among. Prithee, nuncle, keep a schoolmaster that can teach thy fool to lie; I would fain learn to lie. LEAR And you lie, sirrah, we’ll have you whipped. (Kent cracks the whip) FOOL I marvel what kin thou and thy daughters are. They’ll have me whipped for speaking true; thou’lt have me whipped for lying; and sometimes I am whipped for holding my peace. I had rather be any kind o’thing than a fool. And yet I would not be thee, nuncle. Thou hast pares thy wit o’both sides and left nothing i’the middle. Here comes one o’the parings. Enter Gonerill (Enter Gonerill stage left. Lear’s head turns) LEAR How now, daughter! What makes that frontlet on? You are too much of late i’the frown. FOOL Thou wast a pretty fellow when thou hadst no need to care for her frowning. Now thou art an 0 without a figure. I am better than thou art now; I am a fool; thou art nothing. (To Gonerill) Yes, forsooth, I will hold my tongue. So your face bids me, though you say nothing. Mum, mum! He that keeps nor crust nor crumb, Weary of all, shall want some. (Gonerill opens her mouth to speak) © Thom Goddard 2011


He points to Lear FOOL That’s a shelled peascod. GONERILL (Genuinely annoyed with the Fool) Not only, sir, this your all-licensed fool But other of your insolent retinue Do hourly carp and quarrel, breaking forth In rank and not-to-be-endured riots. Sir, I had thought by making this well known unto you To have found a safe redress; but now grow fearful By what yourself too late have spoke and done That you protect this course and put it on By your allowance; which if you should, the fault Would not ‘scape censure, nor the redresses sleep; Which in the tender of a wholesome weal Might in their working do you that offence Which else were shame, that then necessity Will call discreet proceeding. FOOL For you know, nuncle, The hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo so long That it’s had it head bit off by it young. So out went the candle and we were left darkling. LEAR Are you our daughter? GONERILL I would you would make use of your good wisdom, Whereof I know you are fraught, and out away These dispositions which of late transport you From what you rightly are. FOOL May not an ass know when the cart draws the horse? Whoop, Jug, I love thee! LEAR Does any here know me? This is not Lear. Does Lear walk thus (Lear’s arms move forward in a plodding motion) speak thus? © Thom Goddard 2011


(Lear’s arms flap together) Where are his eyes? (Lear’s hands cover his eyes) Either his notion weakens, his discernings Are lethargied (Lear slumps in the chair and is pulled forcefully back into place) Ha! Waking? ‘Tis not so! Who is it that can tell me who I am? FOOL (Going behind the carriage and tickling the Understudy) Lear’s shadow. LEAR (The voice is giggling due to being tickled) I would learn that; for by the marks of sovereignty, knowledge, and reason, I would be false persuaded I had daughters. FOOL (Comes out from behind the carriage) Which they will make an obedient father. LEAR Your name, fair gentlewoman? GONERILL This admiration, sir, is much o’the savour Of other your new pranks. I do beseech you To understand my purposes aright: As you are old and reverend, should be wise. Here do you keep a hundred knights and squires, Men so disordered, so deboshed and bold, That this is our court, infected with their manners, Shows like a riotous inn; epicurism and lust Makes it more like a tavern or a brothel Than a graced palace. Thy shame itself doth speak For instant remedy. Be then desired, By her that else will take the thing she begs, A little disquantity your train, And the remainders that shall still depend To be such men as may besort your age, Which know themselves and you.

© Thom Goddard 2011


LEAR Darkness and devils! Saddle my horses! Call my train together! Degenerate bastard, I’ll not trouble thee. Yet have I left a daughter. GONERILL You strike my people, and your disordered rabble Make servants of their betters. Enter Albany (Enter Albany stage right. Lear’s head turns towards him) LEAR Woe that too late repents! - O, sir, are you come? Is it your will? Speak sir! - Prepare my horses. Ingratitude, thou marble-hearted fiend, More hideous when thou showest thee in a child Than the sea-monster! ALBANY Pray, sir, be patient. LEAR To Gonerill Detested kite, thou liest! My train are men of choice and rarest parts, That all particulars of duty know And in the most exact regard support The worships of their name. O most small fault, How ugly didst thou in Cordelia show! Which, like an engine, wrenched my frame of nature From the fixed place, drew from my heart all love, And added to the gall. O Lear, Lear, Lear! (Lear’s right hand thumps his chest) Beat at this gate that let thy folly in (Lear strikes his head moving the face to the left. The Understudy has let go of the head so it hangs to the left) And thy dear judgement out! Go, go, my people. (Lear points off stage right) Exeunt Kent and Knights (The knights exit and then have to sheepishly come back on stage) © Thom Goddard 2011


(Lear’s head still hangs to the left) ALBANY My lord, I am guiltless as I am ignorant (Albany takes Lear’s hand in his hands) Of what hath moved you. (Albany moves Lear’s head back into place) LEAR It may be so, my lord. He kneels (Lear does not kneel but bows to Albany) Hear, Nature, hear! Dear Goddess, hear! Suspend thy purpose if thou didst intend To make this creature fruitful. Into her womb convey sterility, Dry up in her the organs of increase, And from her derogate body never spring A babe to honour her. If she must teem, Create her child of spleen, that it may live And be a thwart disnatured torment to her. Let it stamp wrinkles in her brow of youth, With cadent tears fret channels in her cheeks, Turn all her mother’s pains and benefits To laughter and contempt, that she may feel How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is To have a thankless child! Away, away! Lear exit (Lear is wheeled out by the two knights) Blackout (End of Act 2, Scene 2)

========================================================== ========================================================== © Thom Goddard 2011



SCENE 3 - ACT 3, SCENE 2 of KING LEAR A moorland. A storm is raging. Enter Lear and the Fool (King Lear is sat on a bench, centre stage. The Fool huddles beside) LEAR Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! Rage! Blow! (Lear’s arms are raised) You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout Till you have drenched our steeples, drowned the cocks! You sulphurours and thought-executing fires, Vaunt-curriers of oak-cleaving thunderbolts, Singe my white head! And thou all-shaking thunder, Strike flat the thick rotundity o’the world, Crack Nature’s moulds, all germens spill at once That makes ingrateful man! FOOL O nuncle, court holy-water in a dry house is better than this rain-water out o’door. Good nuncle, in; ask thy daughters’ blessing. Here’s a night pities neighter wise men nor fools. (The Fool puts a coat around Lear’s shoulders but Lear becomes entangled) LEAR Rumble thy bellyful! Spit, fire! Sput, rain! Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire are my daughters. I tax you, you elements, with unkindness; I never gave you kingdom, called you children. You owe me no subscription; then let fall Your horrible pleasure. Here I stand, your slave, A poor, infirm, weak, and despised old man. But yet I call you servile ministers, That will with two pernicious daughters join Your high-engendered battles ‘gainst a head (Lear’s hands rub his head and face) So old and white as this. O, ho! ‘Tis foul!

© Thom Goddard 2011


FOOL He that has a house to put’s head in has a good head-piece: The cod-piece that will house Before the head has any, The head and he shall louse; So beggars marry many. The man that makes his toe What his heart should make, Shall of a corn cry woe, And turn his sleep to wake. For there was never yet fair woman but she made mouths in a glass. Enter Kent (Kent does not enter) LEAR No, I will be the pattern of all patience. (Lear’s hand form a horn around his mouth and the Understudy shouts) I will say nothing. KENT (Off stage left) Who’s there? FOOL Marry, here’s grace and a cod-piece - that’s a wise man and a fool. (Enter Kent) KENT Alas, sir are you here? Things that love night Love not such nights as these. The wrathful skies Gallow the very wanderers of the dark And make them keep their caves. Since I was man, Such sheets of fire, such bursts of horrid thunder, Such groans of roaring wind and rain I never Remember to have heard. Man’s nature cannot carry Th’affliction nor the fear.

© Thom Goddard 2011


LEAR Let the great gods That keep this dreadful pudder o’er our heads Find out their enemies now. Tremble, thou wretch (Lear shoos Kent away) That hast within thee undivulged crimes Unwhipped of justice. Hide thee, thou bloody hand, Thou perjured, and thou simular of virtue That art incestuous. Caitiff, to pieces shake, That under covert and convenient seeming Has practised on man’s life. Close pent-up guilts, Rive your concealing continents, and cry These dreadful summoners grace. I am a man More sinned against than sinning. KENT Alack, bare-headed? Gracious my lord hard by here is a hovel; (Kent puts a hat on Lear’s head. It falls off) Some friendship (Kent puts the hat back but more forcefully) will it lend you ‘gainst the tempest. Repose you there while I to this hard house More harder than the stones whereof ‘tis raised; Which even but now, demanding after you, Denied me to come in - return and force Their scanted courtesy. LEAR My wits begin to turn. Come on, my boy. How dost my boy? Art cold? I am cold myself. (Fool laughs at this to be true) Where is this straw, my fellow? The art of our necessities is strange And can make vile things precious. Come, your hovel. Poor fool and knave, I have one part in my heart That’s sorry yet for thee. FOOL (sings) He that has and a little tiny wit, With heigh-ho, the wind and the rain, Must make content with his fortunes fit, Though the rain it raineth every day.

© Thom Goddard 2011


LEAR True, boy. Come, bring us to this hovel. Exit Lear and Kent Blackout

(End of Act 2, Scene 2)

========================================================== ========================================================== ACT 2 SCENE 4 - ACT 5, SCENE 3 of KING LEAR A battlefield after the battle. Debris litters the stage along with fallen banners. Enter Lear with Cordelia in his arms, followed by Second Officer and others (King Lear is sat on the throne from Act 2, Scene 1 in the middle of the stage. Kent enters with Cordelia in his arms. Kent is followed by the Second Officer and other soldiers. Kent puts Cordelia down in front of King Lear.) LEAR Howl, howl, howl! (Lear’s arms are raised) O, you are men of stones! Had I your tongues and eyes I’d use them so (Lear’s left hand touches his mouth, his right hand the right eye) That heaven’s vault should crack. She’s gone for ever. I know when one is dead and when one lives; She’s dead as earth. Lend me a looking-glass; (Lear puts out one hand, searching) If that her breath will mist or stain the stone, (Lear’s other hand moves to his mouth and then away) Why then she lives. KENT Is this the promised end? EDGAR Or image of that horror? © Thom Goddard 2011


ALBANY Fall and cease! LEAR This feather stirs - she lives! If be so, It is a chance which does redeem all sorrows That ever I have felt. KENT O my good master! LEAR Prithee away. (Lear shoos Kent away by smacking him in the face. Kent is annoyed.) EDGAR ‘Tis noble Kent, your friend. LEAR A plague upon you, murderers, traitors all! I might have saved her; now she’s gone for ever. Cordelia, Cordelia, stay a little. Ha! (Kent says “Ha!” at the same time) What is’t thou sayest? Her voice was ever soft, Gentle and low - an excellent thing in woman. I killed the slave that was a-hanging thee. SECOND OFFICER ‘Tis true, my lords; he did. LEAR (Lear turns to the Second Officer) Did I not, fellow? I have seen the day, with my good biting falchion I would have made him skip. I am old now And these same crosses spoil me. - Who are you? (Lear reaches towards Kent) Mine eyes are not ‘the best, I’ll tell you straight. KENT If Fortune brag of two she loved and hated One of them we behold. LEAR This is a dull sight. Are you not Kent? © Thom Goddard 2011


KENT The same Your servant Kent. Where is your servant Caius? LEAR He’s a good fellow, I can tell you that; He’ll strike, and quickly too. He’s dead and rotten. (Lear’s body falls from the throne. He is caught by Kent and put back) KENT No, my good lord; I am the very man LEAR I’ll see that straight. KENT That from your first of difference and decay Have followed your sad steps LEAR You are welcome hither. KENT Nor no man else. All’s cheerless, dark, and deadly. Your eldest daughters have fordone themselves, And desperately are dead. (Kent points to Gonerill and Regan. Lear nods in agreement.) LEAR Ay, so I think. ALBANY He knows not what he sees, and vain is it That we present us to him. EDGAR Very bootless. Enter a messenger MESSENGER Edmund is dead, my lord. © Thom Goddard 2011


ALBANY That’s but a trifle here. You lords and noble friends, know your intent: What comfort to this great decay may come Shall be applied. For us, we will resign During the life of this old majesty To him our absolute power. To Edgar and Kent You to your rights With boot, and such addition as your honours Have more than merited. All friends shall taste The wages of their virtue, and all foes The cup of their deservings. - O, see, see! LEAR And my poor fool is hanged! No, no, no life! Why should a dog, a horse, a rat have life, And thou no breath at all? Thou’lt come no more; Never, never, never, never, never. Pray you undo this button. Thank you, sir. Do you see this? Look, her lips! (Lear is leant forward to touch Cordelia but falls out of the throne onto her.) Look there! Look there! He dies EDGAR He faints. My lord, my lord! KENT Break, heart; I prithee break. EDGAR Look up, my lord. KENT Vex not his ghost. O, let him pass. He hates him That would upon the rack of this tough world Stretch him out longer. EDGAR He is gone indeed. KENT The wonder is he hath endured so long. He but usurped his life. © Thom Goddard 2011


ALBANY Bear them from hence. Our present business Is general woe. Friends of my soul, you twain, Rule in this realm, and the gored state sustain. KENT I have a journey, sir, shortly to go. My master calls me, I must not say no. EDGAR The weight of this sad time we must obey; Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say. The oldest heth borne most; we that are young Shall never see so much nor live so long. Exeunt with a dead march CURTAIN CURTAIN UP All actors have left the stage. The throne has been removed from the stage. All actors, except King Lear, appear on stage to the sound effect of raucous applause. Kent and Fool are central. Lear is wheeled out sitting on the throne by Second Knight and Third Knight. As the throne comes to a stop in the middle of the actors Lear falls forwards. The body is caught by Kent and Fool, and placed back in the throne. Lear’s arms are raised in the air by the Understudy still behind the throne. Applause becomes noticeably louder. Kent and Fool look at each other, grin mischievously and look at Lear. They take him by the arms and lift the lifeless corpse into the air. The Understudy is seen for a brief moment before ducking behind the throne. CURTAIN (End of Act 2, Scene 4) End of Act 2 ========================================================== Š Thom Goddard 2011


ACT 3 SCENE 1 A battlefield after the battle. Debris litters the stage along with fallen banners. CURTAIN UP The entire cast is on stage except for Regan, Albany and the Third Knight/ Messenger. The sitting, limp body of the deceased Sir Thomas Betterman is centre stage. Richard and Simon walk on stage. Richard is very happy, Simon is in shock. The cast are quiet and relieved the play is over. RICHARD Well done everyone! Well done. You were magnificent. You were all magnificent. SIMON To himself I can’t believe we did it. I can’t believe we got through it. I can’t believe... it’s over. RICHARD Yes, yes. Everyone was marvelous. Especially you Sir Thomas. Richard pats Sir Thomas on the head. SIMON Don’t do that Richard. RICHARD What? SIMON Don’t touch Sir Thomas like that. RICHARD He doesn’t mind. SIMON You should venerate the dead. RICHARD Joking Simon, I don’t know how to tell you this but we have just spent the last 2 hours “venerating the dead” as a human piñata. SIMON I know, I know. I can’t believe we did it. It was so... so... wrong. RICHARD We didn’t do anything wrong. SIMON Didn’t do anything wrong? Shouts The world’s greatest actor died in our care. AND WE USED HIM AS A FINGER PUPPET! RICHARD Don’t you shout at me. I saved this show. © Thom Goddard 2011


HARRY Saved? Saved this show? How? RICHARD To Harry I directed you all from the wings and was creative enough to think of a way round our little, opening night... hiccup. HARRY In disbelief Hiccup? RICHARD Yes, a teething problem. HARRY Are you insane? RICHARD All productions have minor issues that need to be ironed out. SIMON Ironed out? What’s going to happen when we’re found out? RICHARD What’s there to find? That our performance of King Lear is great? SIMON To Simon Sir Thomas Betterman is dead. Can’t you see the headlines? RAY “Sir Thomas Dead-erman?” SIMON To Ray Shhhhhh. RICHARD “The Greatest Performance of Shakespeare’s Greatest Play” Simon turns to Richard and opens his mouth to speak. RAY “A Midsummer Night’s Death”? SIMON To Ray Will you shut up, Ray. RICHARD “Even the Grim Reaper can’t stop the great Sir Thomas Betterman” HARRY Ha! Rigor mortis will. SIMON And that’s it exactly, Richard. Sir Thomas is dead. We have to do something. Call an ambulance. Call a coroner. RICHARD He has no family. No-one will miss him. DANIELLE Crying We will all miss him. Harry snorts. © Thom Goddard 2011


SIMON While I don’t feel the same way as Danielle, Richard, she is right. While Sir Thomas might not have any family, he has a wealth of friends... RAY And very wealthy friends. SIMON Ignoring Ray ...who will miss him. We can’t keep him in a box. Simon picks up Sir Thomas’ hand and waves it. He isn’t a prop. RAY And he won’t keep. HARRY No, he will soon start to smell. RICHARD Then we will have to preserve him. SIMON What? RICHARD We will be preserving Sir Thomas Betterman... for the nation. HARRY Laughs What? SIMON This must be illegal. RAY I live next door to a good taxidermist. SIMON Please be quiet, Ray. RICHARD We’re not ‘holding him against his will’. DANIELLE You can’t do that. It’s awful. RAY Maybe he’s taxologist. RICHARD Eight shows a week - six nights and two matinees. To Sir Thomas Do you think you can manage that? HARRY To Ray What’s the difference? SIMON Please can everyone be quiet so I can think? RAY One stuffs animals, or people in this case... SIMON We are not ‘stuffing’ the world’s greatest actor. DANIELLE Sobs You can’t. © Thom Goddard 2011


RICHARD The ‘stuff’ of legend. Sir Thomas Betterman is: “Life after Death” RAY The other puts names to things that have just been discovered. HARRY To Ray Really? SIMON To everyone on stage. Ok. Everyone be quiet. Right. Harry will take over from Sir Thomas tomorrow night. And we will tell the Police tonight was just all... a mistake. DANIELLE A mistake? HARRY Thank you for believing in me, Simon. But while I don’t think I can go through with Richard’s ‘Live action Madame Tussaud’s’, I also can’t learn the entire role of King Lear in one day. SIMON How long do you need? HARRY A month. SIMON A week. HARRY Three weeks. SIMON A fortnight. HARRY Done. Simon is surprised the negotiation is so easy. RICHARD Ok, ok. I accept Sir Thomas won’t be able to go on forever. DANIELLE This is just awful. You can’t use Sir Thomas this way. SIMON Getting angry We all need this production to succeed. HARRY Well, I don’t. Points to Danielle You need this play ‘to be famous’. Points to Simon You need this play because of your precious money. Points to Richard You need this play to keep the mob from killing you. I don’t need this play. Or any of you. And I’m certainly not playing second fiddle to a dead guy. Even if it is only for two weeks. SIMON Oh shut up, Harry. This is all your fault any way. HARRY My fault? © Thom Goddard 2011


SIMON Accusing You need this play because didn’t you say you killed him? HARRY Errrrr, no. It was Danielle. Points She said she excited him and his heart gave in. They all begin to argue. Except Richard who stands to one side. DANIELLE To Harry You bastard. HARRY To Danielle You slut! SIMON To Harry Murderer. RICHARD To himself Hmm, yes. A job well done. HARRY To Simon I suppose you were sticking it to her as well? DANIELLE Go screw yourself, you... you drama queen! Enter STAGE HAND, dressed in black. STAGE HAND Erm, excuse me. HARRY I did everything for you. DANIELLE Except love me! SIMON Not this again. RICHARD God, I’m a genius. STAGE HAND Louder Excuse me! HARRY To Danielle I’d do anything for you. SIMON Like killing the most famous actor on the planet? DANIELLE Shut up Simon, you boring... The argument descends into incoherent shouting. STAGE HAND Announcing May I introduce the theatre critics from The Times and The Post.

© Thom Goddard 2011


Everyone is shocked. They run about the stage. Except Richard who walks confidently to stand beside Sir Thomas. Simon looks at the dead Sir Thomas. SIMON Oh, Jesus Christ. Simon picks up a battlefield banner and throws it over the body. Sir Thomas’ body is completely hidden except for his feet. Simon tries to look natural but stands awkwardly. Enter THE TIMES CRITIC and THE POST CRITIC. They are very dramatic. TIMES CRITIC Clapping Oh bravo, bravo. POST CRITIC A truly stunning performance from all of you. RICHARD Oh, thank you. TIMES And you are? RICHARD The director. POST Ah, you’re Richard. It was spellbinding directing. I loved the way King Lear never moved from his chair when everyone else was standing or running about the stage. That gave him a true sense of majestical monarchy. So royal, so regal... so creative. Richard beams. TIMES Oh you picked up on that too? Because I loved the way everyone was so afraid of the king - afraid to touch him, kiss him... or do anything with him. It really showed what it’s like to be around Kings and Queens. To be afraid of their stature and position at the top of society. RICHARD Well, that was the unique, creative style I was aiming for. Harry snorts. TIMES Ah, Harry. Good to see you again. You were wonderful. POST You really have proven yourself to be a master of Shakespeare. TIMES I loved how you cared for the King throughout the performance. Cradled him and protected him. And yet you had such loathing and hatred at the beginning of the performance. DANIELLE Funny that. © Thom Goddard 2011


Harry smiles and nods. POST You must be Danielle Clarkson. Danielle cheers up immediately. POST Yes, I’ve seen your ‘acting’ before. But tonight you were certainly one to watch. Excellent performance. TIMES Where is Sir Thomas? RAY Pushing forward Hi, I’m Ray. I always read your column. Turning to the Post Critic And yours too. What did you think of ‘comedy’ Ray Keaton? TIMES Being polite Very good. You have such wonderful comic timing. Just what an audience needs... HARRY In a Shakespearean tragedy. POST But really. Is Sir Thomas here? Simon looks down at Sir Thomas’ feet sticking out from under the banner. Simon leaps in front of them. SIMON I’m Simon Lamberton. The Critics look confused. SIMON The Producer. POST Well... well done. You’ve put on a fabulous show. TIMES That looks like we’ve met everyone. But where is Sir Thomas Betterman? Can we congratulate him on what I can only describe as a soulchanging performance? SIMON He’s... under-wraps. Doesn’t like to be disturbed after a performance. TIMES Oh but what a performance it was by Sir Thomas. He truly is the greatest actor of our time. Harry snorts. TIMES He touched my very soul. © Thom Goddard 2011


HARRY With his? The Times Critic begins to cry. TIMES His performance was so moving. HARRY While he wasn’t? Danielle hits Harry. Simon mouths ‘thank you’ to Danielle. POST Consoling her fellow critic Yes, Sir Thomas showed so much energy. Now the whole cast begin to snigger. TIMES Young, vibrant, youthful energy. The whole cast begin to laugh. The critics are not amused. POST His voice sounded so young. The whole cast are laughing loudly. TIMES Sir Thomas brings the whole play to life. The cast’s laughter grows. POST With Sir Thomas Betterman as King Lear, this play could run for years and years. The cast fall about laughing. TIMES Now, look. What is so funny? Richard composes himself first. RICHARD I apologize. It’s been a long night. And, of course, Sir Thomas Betterman might not always be the lead. Simon picks up on what Richard is saying. SIMON Ah yes, only this morning Sir Thomas said he wasn’t feeling well. DANIELLE Yes. Chest pains, wasn’t it? TIMES But this play would be nothing without Sir Thomas. © Thom Goddard 2011


RICHARD We are looking at Harry taking over as Lear. HARRY IF... anything should happen. To Sir Thomas. SIMON Between now and... say two weeks time. RICHARD But meanwhile, everything is fine. You can write your reviews and the public can come and see a magnificent performance from Sir Thomas Betterman. The Understudy comes stumbling out from behind the throne. He is covered in sweat and exhausted. The Understudy collapses on the floor between the theatre crew and the critics. The Understudy does not move. There is silence on stage as everyone looks at the Understudy. Richard turns to the actors and Simon. RICHARD This is what we’re going to do. Blackout CURTAIN End of Act 3

Š Thom Goddard 2011

The Show Must Go On  

The plot revolves around a Producer and a Director who put on the most expensive Shakespeare production of all time. They rent the biggest t...

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