{} Play script and introduction


Frozen clothes, a truce and modern art

 Characters and cast size
Music in the play     

 Props and safety

This play has received public performances, to sizeable, paying audiences. I was the director and played the part of the boxer who tried to become a concert violinist. The performances took place a long time ago, and at the time I acted, I was already too old for the part. The other members of the cast were much, much younger.

I received assistance with the stage set and other practical aspects of the production from someone I respect and admire very much, a very experienced director, whose work has left a deep impression on me, a very versatile and gifted man of the theatre. 

After acting - for the first time - in the play I'd written, I felt absolutely no wish ever to act again. The experience left an indelible impression. This was one of the more demanding - or most demanding - tasks I've ever undertaken. I did ensure that my part involved no speaking at all, with no lines to learn.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         The script contains many contrasting elements. A very striking and unusual example, preceded by farcical events and followed by farcical events but with a central dimension of horror, is discussed below in  Frozen clothes, a truce and modern art.

Many of the developments in the play have an unexpectedness, an incongruity, and although there's a continuous story, there are also sudden and unexpected changes of tone. These are integrated into the fluid and continuous action so that all the events, even the most unexpected, seem inevitable. This is a view of reality according to which stability, continuity and consistency can't be taken for granted - in events, but also, to an extent, in human personality. There may be irruptions of unexpected violence, irruptions of beauty, 'epiphanies,' tragedy suddenly giving way to farce, common-sense succeeded by a refusal to face reality, deep irrationality co-existing with practicality. The world of the play is exceptionally varied, including the grotesque and the deranged, extreme and nightmarish experience, completely normal experience and conversation, but above all good humour in abundance.

The incongruities in the play reflect the incongruities of life. Some of them are not much  more surprising than the incongruities of real life. In the final scene of the play, after scenes conducted in dim light or darkness lit by lamps, there’s  bright sunshine and in this Himalayan scene there’s a beach shelter with a colourful striped wind-break as a background. Mother sits in a deck-chair. Incongruous items have found a place in mountaineering sometimes, as in the successful Italian expedition to Everest in 1973. ‘At Base Camp the leader had a carpeted five-roomed tent equipped with leather upholstered furniture.’ (Walt Unsworth, ‘Everest.’) There are also incongruities which are purely farcical, such as the episode which immediately precedes this one, an interpretation of the stage direction in ‘The Winter’s Tale,’ the exit of Antigonus ‘pursued by bear.’ The pursuit in this play is different. Both victim and bear are tired out and suffering from the effects of high altitude. They have to stop twice to recover their breath before the pursuit resumes - but then there is a sudden transition to ferocity.

In the first scene, which takes place in a hall in Las Vegas, the hall is dark and dismal and the inadequate lights fail - not the associations of Las Vegas and its bright lights. The fight in this scene is not between two boxers but between a boxer and a wrestler, and the referee isn’t at all impartial. In one round, he keeps hitting the wrestler. Junkies, in the squalid urban setting of an underground car park, use their paint cans to spray very surprising graffiti on a wall. 

In the play ‘The King,’ an unsuccessful boxer, tries to become a concert violinist. Pressure is applied by his mother, his devious manager, ‘Kiddo,’ and a crooked ‘violin teacher.’ Later, in the Himalayas, Kiddo attempts an even more unlikely transformation for him, after the arrival of a bear, which Kiddo takes to be the Abominable Snowman. The King never speaks in the play, except, supposedly, for two words in the closing seconds, but it's some time before the audience will realize that he's no conversationalist. In the first scene, he is boxing, and boxers aren't expected to speak during the match. In the second scene, he's in desperate circumstances. 

Although the play is predominantly light, it's essential in performance that the serious elements should be given enough weight. The piece should not be played in a whimsical or facetious way, not excluding the dialogue. The one exception is some banter near the beginning of Act 2. 

The opening boxing/wrestling fight, conducted in half-light, has farcical elements, but these are contrasts within a deadly serious confrontation. (The wrestling in Ken Russell's film of D. H. Lawrence's 'Women in Love' is a suitable guide, although the boxing/wrestling match covers a greater area and should be amongst other things a display of very vigorous athleticism.) When The King appears to have been mortally wounded and his grieving mother is by his side, then the grief should not be mock grief. This will make the contrast which comes unexpectedly all the more marked. In Scene 2, which shows The King as a vagrant, his condition should be shown as shocking, his distress and destitution very graphically portrayed, even if the conclusion of the scene is comic. The plight of the junkies should be conveyed just as strongly. The gunfight should be shown as a determined confrontation, but not for long. It ends in pure farce, when Vic the Vegan uses progressively more powerful weapons but his aim is ludicrously bad. Violence  is shown with full intensity in a later episode, in the artillery bombardment which precedes the truce. 

When the King meets his first girlfriend, in grotesque circumstances, their embraces should be romantic and then more and more erotic. When the bear (or Abominable Snowman) is dying, this should be depicted with poignancy, as if this is a pet. The bear attack near the end of the play should be ferocious, without any admixture of farce. Kiddo, in a dismal hall in Las Vegas, should not show comic frustration but real frustration, disappointment verging upon panic, and despair at the poor results of his venture, even if his spirits lift very quickly. The poetic elements which irrupt into the play in Act 2, just as strikingly as the violence, should be deeply realized. 

Vic the Vegan should be played as an incompetent buffoon as well as a violent and dangerous psychopath. This accentuates the contrast when a transformation takes place at the beginning of Act 2. He becomes The Guide, reflecting poetically. There are other transformations in this act. For example, the beach shelter - used instead of a proper tent and a very incongruous thing to find in the Himalayas - becomes transformed into a thing of beauty. 

I've given a great deal of thought to form and structure, but in such a way as to eliminate very often the predictable. The unexpectedness of events includes events which occur unexpectedly and events which are expected and don't occur.  In an essay on Arnold Schoenberg, Theodor Adorno wrote 'This absence of all mediations introduced into the work from outside makes the musical progression seem fragmented and abrupt to the unnave-naive listener ...' The dramatic progression of this play involves abruptness and a degree of fragmentation.

At the same time, there are recurring events in the play, which help to unify it, such as the appearance of The King's mother, managing to find him in whatever part of the world he is, and two chases which have similarities, although in very different circumstances - around the boxing ring and in the Himalayas, when the bear pursue Kiddo. The play is unified too by other elements - recurring fighting and conflict, and recurring sporting activity. There's boxing and wrestling, cross-country skiing, climbing - abseiling - and football. 

The play has been produced by an amateur group, very successfully, although the script was very different from the revised and extended version given here. Even though much too old for the part, I played The King. 


('The King' is usually abbreviated as 'T.K.')

ACT 1 Scene 1. A hall in Las Vegas

The hall is very dark, lit by only a single small sign 'Vegas.' This isn't Las Vegas of the bright lights. Kiddo, The King’s manager, finds that most of the equipment in the dismal hall he has rented for the fight has been removed by bailiffs but the mat has been left. The chorus enters. They are spectators at the boxing match. The chorus can be few or many in numbers, depending on availability and finances. Here, there are four members of the chorus. Kiddo announces the name of the boxer, 'The King,' who bounds into the ring with massive energy. Next, he gives the name of his opponent, Vic the Vegan. When Vic enters the ring, it’s obvious that there has been a bad mistake. Vic is a wrestler, not a boxer. He shouts abuse at his incompetent manager, who remains out of sight. The manager has a habit of arranging completely unsuitable contests for him. After Vic gives a little homily, Round 1 begins. In this round, Vic has the advantage, bounding around the stage athletically and frustrating every attempt by the slower-moving King to hit him. In Round 2, Vic has the advantage again. The referee - far from impartial - repeatedly hits him. The Referee is Signor Capone, Kiddo's associate. In Round 3, Vic has the advantage to begin with but the referee hits him again and this time, Kiddo joins in the assault. The King, the referee, Kiddo and then the members of the chorus chase Vic in diminishing circles and fall on him. Vic the Vegan manages to extricate himself, pulls out a gun and shoots The King. . Despite lying flat on the floor, T. K. is declared the winner by the referee. Vic protests and then exits. T. K.'s mother enters - as she does at crucial moments throughout the play - and grieves over her stricken son. Kiddo, however, finds that he has simply over-reacted and is very much alive. Mother berates him for remaining in boxing. T. K., mother and Kiddo exit.

Scene 2. Speaker’s Corner, Hyde Park

Vic the Vegan speaks about his beliefs. The members of the Chorus are the hecklers, but they soon warm to Vic and are sorry when he exits. The Octogenarian has also been heckling, but is eventually outwitted. T. K. enters. He has been reduced to destitution, as his mother had predicted in Scene 1. A busker appears who plays Irish fiddle music and is very successful at taking money. T. K. improvises a drum, and plays to the music. One by one, the members of the Chorus begin to dance in an Irish folk style. (The dancing needs instruction and practice, and can be omitted.) T. K. steals the violin. His mother enters and orders him back home.

Scene 3. At home

T. K.'s mother and his manager, Kiddo, discuss, in his absence, his future. The mother tells of her yearnings. She would like him to have a cultural or intellectual career. As he now owns a violin, why should he not become a concert violinist? Kiddo finds this suggestion an interesting one. He would very much like to become his artistic manager. As luck would have it, he has a friend who ‘teaches the violin good. One of the best. Signor Capone. He only lives round the corner. I’ll give him a ring.’ He leaves to phone him. Very soon, Signor Capone arrives, carrying not a violin case but a viola case. He explains that he deals in violins as well as teaching the violin. He’s contemptuous of the violin (because it’s ‘out of tune’) and shows the mother the instrument he has, a Stradivarius, he claims. The mother asks, ‘Are you sure that it is a violin, Signor Capone? It looks much too large to be a violin. Isn’t it some other instrument of the string family?’ Kiddo replies for Capone, ‘Stradivarius made this violin specially for boxers, see? Boxers have big hands, an ordinary violin would be too small for them.’ Exorbitant terms are agreed for the purchase of the ‘violin’ and arrangements are made for violin lessons. Capone is persuaded to give T. K, a short lesson immediately, with Kiddo but not mother in attendance. During the lesson, T. K. hits himself hard and seems to be knocked out. After the lesson, a change of name for him is suggested and adopted. Mother is blissfully happy.

Scene 4. The Concert

The setting is almost identical to the dismal hall in Las Vegas where the boxing match took place. This hall, though, is at Salzburg - the Salzburg Festival Fringe. Kiddo admits the audience, played by the Chorus. They are Austrians and wear evening dress. They react badly to their surroundings, and to the lack of chairs but almost immediately they show that they are good-natured, in fact, high-spirited. Kiddo apologizes for changes to the programme. The very ambitious programme has been reduced. The Beethoven, Brahms, Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky and Berg violin concertos aren't being offered. The conductor has phoned in to say that he's sick. The orchestra has also phoned in to say that they're sick - all of them, it seems. However, The King is here, and he'll be playing just one work, or one movement from a work, accompanied by a recording.

T.K. enters, dressed immaculately for the occasion. He handles the violin like a professional, puts it to his chin and waits for his entry, whilst the recording is played of the orchestral introduction to the Beethoven violin concerto. When the time comes for him to play, he's helpless. Kiddo calls 'Prompt!' The violinist who was the busker plays the first few bars of the soloist's entry.

Vic the Vegan now enters. His hopeless manager has blundered again and booked the wrestler into a classical music concert. Vic sees his enemy and draws a gun. Vic has other weapons as well - he’s armed to the teeth. A loud and protracted gun battle now follows. T. K. manages to take a weapon after some hand-to-hand fighting. The gun battle is bitterly fought and T.K. has both arms injured. Towards the end of the battle Vic, after using progressively larger weapons - a handgun, a mortar, what seems like the barrel of a field-gun - is shown up as incompetent again. He can’t manage to hit T. K. and Kiddo even at point-blank range.

Scene 5. At home

Mother and Kiddo discuss the concert and ways of furthering T. K.’s career in music. His social development is then discussed. It's agreed that this is holding him back. Kiddo exits. The Mother, embarrassed, calls her son and gives him a severely technical explanation of human reproduction. Before doing that, however, she asks him to play the violin for her. She's anxious to find out how much progress he's been making. Since he has not one but both arms in a sling, he finds this difficult. She tries hard to make him play, and accuses him of only pretending to have his arms injur

Scene 6. Interviews for the post of girlfriend

Mother has placed an advertisement in the personal columns of the local newspaper and those who responded have had to fill in an application form, as if applying for a job. The mother, with her son, now interviews the candidates, all of them members of the Chorus.

Candidate 1 screams (out of sight) as soon as she sees T. K. Mother is deeply hurt. Candidate 1 exits. Candidate 2 bursts out laughing (out of sight) as soon as she sees T.K. Candidate 2 exits. Candidate 3 is warned by mother that if she is successful, she will have a very hard time (later, she says that this is because of the manager.) The response of this Candidate is heartening. She will accept any number of difficulties. She soon finds there has been a mistake. She was under the impression that she was being interviewed for a post with a computer company. She insults T. K., the atmosphere is suddenly acrimonious and she exits. Candidate 4 makes no reply to any of mother’s questions. Mother becomes increasingly exasperated and says that she's unfit to be a girlfriend for her son, although, of course, in her silence she’s the exact counterpart of him. Candidate 4 exits. Candidate 5 is very pleasant but is soon antagonized and exits.

Candidate 6 almost glides into the room and gazes into T. K.’s eyes longingly. He returns the look. He still has both arms in slings but rips the slings off. When mother accused T. K. of pretending to be injured, she was not callous but perfectly correct. Soon, Candidate 6 and T. K. are embracing passionately. There is a prolonged, passionate, erotic exchange. They exit, arm in arm. Mother has watched all this in growing desperation. She shouts after him, “Don’t go! Don’t leave me!”

Scene 7. In the vegan restaurant

There is a diner (a member of the Chorus) with Vic in attendance. Vic, as often, is in a murderous mood. The diner makes a criticism of the food and Vic immediately shoots her. Her face falls into the dessert. Vic drags the diner out of sight. Mother, Kiddo, Capone, The King and Anne, who was Candidate 6 (now his fiancée), enter and sit down. Vic is surprisingly amiable, despite outspoken comments about the menu. Soup is ordered. Whilst it is being fetched, Capone is shown as completely ineffectual, the victim of Mother’s and Kiddo’s scheming. Anne is obviously a very compassionate person. She has an interest in rescuing stray animals. Vic brings in some sea-vegetable soup but spills it down his trousers. Kiddo: “Waiter, there’s soup in your fly!” Anne is very sympathetic. She exits with Vic. T. K. is distraught. He exits, together with mother, Kiddo and Capone.

Scene 8. The car park

The scene is dismal but demonic. There is a wall with graffiti. The members of the chorus, now junkies, enter and spray on words which were carved in the Temple at Delphi, the site of the oracle, the original words and their translations:

The octogenarian Priestess (the octogenarian of Scene 2, Speaker’s Corner) is standing with head bowed. The mood is intensely charged. Mother, The King, Kiddo and Capone enter. The Priestess addresses them with cryptic warnings which predict, accurately, the events at the close of the play. All exit.


Scene 1. The Himalayas - a pass.

The Guide addresses the audience, setting the scene with a poetic evocation. There has been a metamorphosis. The guide is played by the actor who in Act 1 played the part of Vic the Vegan. He is now wise and profound. The King shuffles on stage, wearing cross-country skis. The sound of Sherpa singing can be heard. Kiddo enters, followed by the Leader of the Sherpa girls and then the Sherpa girls themselves. After some harmless banter between the Leader of the Sherpas and Kiddo, the Leader and her Sherpas exit.

Scene 2. An episode - conflict and a truce.

Kiddo feels very cold. He also finds the need to have a change of clothes. They haven't been changed since they left Kathmandu. He asks The King to get the clothes and the tent out of the rucksack. The spare clothes amount to four pairs of trousers and four shirts. The next events to take place are described in a separate section, Frozen clothes, a truce and modern art: an episode in the play.

Scene 3. After the truce, and entry of mother.

The King erects, not a proper tent, but a beach shelter. This is a further incongruity in the play - a beach shelter in the Himalayas.

At this point, mother enters. As in some previous scenes, she has been looking everywhere for her son, but her entry now is far more dramatic. There are various possibilities. (1) She abseils down a wall onto the stage (2) She swings on to the stage at the end of a climbing rope, like a human pendulum. Although neither operation is at all dangerous, with proper precautions, (3) mother can simply enter on foot, carrying a coiled climbing rope.

Mother, son and Kiddo get into the beach shelter. Light grows dimmer. Dusk is falling, then night. A lamp is turned on. The shelter is filled with soft, diffuse light and the scene is one of beauty. The Guide enters and speaks - a poem about falling snow.

Scene 4. The entry of the bear

A bear enters. T. K. looks out and tries to communicate what he has seen. A few moments later, mother and Kiddo see the bear for themselves. The three get out of the shelter as fast as they can. Kiddo shouts out that this is the Abominable Snowman, and then “Catch him!” The bear tries to get away. Kiddo shouts out, “Halt, or I shoot.” He’s reminded that bears don’t understand English, repeats the warning in German and then shoots. The bear falls but is only wounded. Kiddo claims that the bear is the Yeti, the Abominable Snowman. With T. K.’s assistance, he alternately tries to put the bear out of his misery and to save his life, all the alternations taking place in a mysterious and protracted state of great poignancy. Eventually, the bear dies. Kiddo drags him into the tent and asks T. K. to go inside as well. Mother is bewildered. The bear emerges again quite soon. Mother is even more bewildered. Kiddo explains that he has skinned the Yeti and put T. K. inside the skin. Kiddo is completely fed up with The King. He's a freak, completely useless, no good to man or beast but useful, perhaps, as a beast. He's going to sell him to a zoo. They will pay a good price for a genuine Yeti and Kiddo will at last make the money which T. K. failed to generate as a boxer or as a concert violinist. “Over my dead body,” she protests. “Exactly,” Kiddo replies. He grabs hold of her and begins to pull her towards the edge of the stage. The bear charges Kiddo, who releases his hold. The bear slashes Kiddo with his claws, producing shocking and bloody wounds. Kiddo falls. The bear grabs hold of him and drags him. They move out of sight of the audience. A long scream is heard. Kiddo has fallen to his death. If an acrobat is available, this gives him the opportunity to change into the bear costume, and to give a display of acrobatics in the next scene.

Scene 5. A proposal.

The scene is a colourful one. Behind the beach-shelter, mother has erected a wind-break, as used at beaches. She sits in a deck-chair. The bear frolics on the stage, retrieving in his mouth a ball which his mother throws towards him. [If an acrobat has changed into the bear outfit] he does an exuberant display of handstands, cartwheels and somersaults. He comes over to his mother, who embraces him and says that she's so happy now that Kiddo has gone. “He was never a good father.” T. K. realizes that he has killed his father. “Will you marry me?” T. K. replies, “I will.” His mother cries out, “His first words! This is the happiest day of my life!” The King is a modern-day Oedipus.

Frozen clothes, a truce and modern art: an episode in the play

The horror in this episode is preceded by farcical events and followed by farcical events. It illustrates the swift modulations of tone to be found in the play.

The frozen clothes used in this scene are optional. If this effect is implemented: it's found that trousers and shirts which haven’t been folded properly before being put into a rucksack have been frozen into comical shapes in the intense cold of the mountains. (The clothes have been soaked and put in a freezer some time before the performance and removed during the interval.) The clothes are then transformed into a potent and desolate symbol - the broken bodies of the dead in no man's land, arms and legs splayed at grotesque and awkward angles. The awkwardness will convey vividly the state of the dead, not at all in peaceful repose, at the centre of the bleak and otherwise empty stage.

Not optional: the two protagonists re-enact - a section of a play within the play - the horrors of bombardment during the First World War. A truce is then re-enacted, the mood lightens and, as in some of the separate truces of 1914, there's a game of football, ending in the suspense and excitement of a penalty shoot-out. The truce ends, the two resume their hostility to each other. The wartime hostility is a vast intensification of personal hostility. The hostility shown by T. K. is Oedipal. The wartime truce is a vivid counterpart of the lulls which can interrupt personal enmities.

Contemporary art

The stark emotional impact of the bodies in no man's land will be increased if care is devoted to (1) the preparation of the clothes before freezing, which gives the rigid figures needed (2) the arrangement of these figures on the stage. There’s a linkage with modern visual art. The arrangement on the stage may even amount to a genuine contribution to visual art. The theatre as well as galleries of contemporary art can display powerful and interesting art forms, and the theatre has the advantage of possessing, often, sophisticated lighting and sound systems which can be used in the creation of distinctive works of art, but always integrated into a performance rather than self-sufficient. Although the arrangement of figures will only be temporary - since the figures thaw out - the same is true of some other contemporary works of visual art, for example ones made with some natural materials. Transience isn’t an objection to the contemporary art work.

Practical and artistic decisions

(1) The preparation of the clothes before freezing involves ensuring a degree of fullness for the clothes. They should not be flat, like the clothes on shelves. They can be packed with newspaper to some extent before freezing to give the degree of fullness, but the fullness of an actual human figure can't be achieved, unless a very large chest freezer is available. Freezing capacity rather than the capacity of the rucksack is the constraint. If the clothes are approximately the fullness of the human body, they certainly cannot be contained in even the largest rucksack. However, the Sherpas have carried loads, and some of the clothes can be contained in these packs, with a few alterations to the script. If the clothes are much less full and correspondingly flatter, then they can be frozen in quite a small chest freezer and will fit in the rucksack.

Very important are decisions concerning the approximate angles between legs and the angles between arms and the rest of the upper body, the degree to which there's bending at the knee and elbow of each figure. It may be decided, for example, that one of the figures will have arms raised when placed on the stage, like the dead soldier with outstretched arms on the right of Picasso's very well known portrayal of aerial bombardment, 'Guernica,' or with one arm raised. I would think differently, since this makes one of the figures a focal point and I think there should be no focal point within the ensemble, but it's an idea which can be used.

(2) The placing of the figures in the three-dimensional space of the stage involves many decisions. This need not require protracted thought and planning - there are many chaotic placings which would be very effective - but thought given to the matter will not be wasted. It will be best to experiment with models, such as artists' jointed models, on a flat surface which is a model of the stage. These artists’ models have one disadvantage, a rigid back. The arching of the back in itself can convey so much - from the residual power of the living person to a state of extreme tension (the arching of the back in untreated tetanus is this tension visible in extreme form.)

I myself would avoid placing the bodies in a heap, but there are innumerable alternative possibilities. The figures may be separated widely or not. What artists call the ‘negatives’ - the spaces in between - should not be consistent in size. Regularity of spacing is not called for here, or regularity of arrangement. A rectangle or circle could be used as an organizing principle, but the plan should be hardly discernible in the chaotic ensemble. If the four figures are placed 'at the corners of a rectangle...the eye tends to stay in the composition for longer as there is no obvious exit.' (Stan Smith, 'Anatomy, Perspective and Composition for Artists.') The arrangement of the group should not be linear, although linear composition can again be used as an approximate organizing principle. One at least of the figures should be significantly nearer to the audience. 'The tedium of regular visual repetition can be easily relieved through a change of scale...The eye which swept from left to right across the surface...is now forced to travel back into the picture space as well.' (Stan Smith.) Bombardment during the First World War sometimes flung apart upper body from lower body but I think it's best if the upper figure and the lower figure are closely associated.

Half the trousers and shirts are grey (the German uniform in the First World War was field-grey) and half are khaki, the British colour. I think that there should not be clear spatial separation between British and German but that the uniforms belonging to the opposing sides should be mixed.


The episode offers very great scope for artistic lighting, but I make only a few comments here. The activation of empty space by means of shadows, definition of form by means of shadows, other aspects of lighting, are very familiar aspects of theatrical technique. The episode begins with the stage in dim light. The thunderstorm begins and the stage is almost completely dark, as if black storm clouds are overhead, except for the flashes of lightning which illuminate the two actors and the bodies in no man’s land. Then the artillery action begins, and flashes of light from the guns, now predominantly orange or red instead of the cool white light of lightning, are the only source of illumination for actors and bodies. During this phase, the lighting effects, like the sounds, are 'in canon.' This is explained in the next section. When the truce begins, the stage is again in dim light, a light similar to the grey, wintry light which might illuminate a frozen lake. The football match should have something of the fluidity of skating on ice.


The sound of the artillery barrage should be as loud as possible, consistent with the well-being of the audience and actors. The artillery should seem to be firing very near to the actors, by including, if possible, the clatter of large cartridges being ejected from the guns after the shells have been fired. British and German artillery fire should not be distinguished, even if experts could state differences due to different calibres and other factors.

There should be symmetry in the sounds, two equally powerful and localized sound-groups, one German, at stage right, and one British, at stage left. The sounds should be 'canonic,' that is, using the musical form of canon. This accords with an interest in form and structure even for the portrayal of extreme events. One part begins and the theme is repeated by a second part. So, the sound effects could be arranged as two sections. During section A, the German sound source begins on the right, artillery fire at high volume, followed after a short interval by exactly the same sounds from the British sound source at left. During most of this section, the sounds from the two sources will reinforce each other, but at the end of the section, the British source will be alone and unreinforced, since it started later than the German. A short period of silence (except for the continued screams of Kiddo - T. K. is silent, as always) and then section B begins. Now, the British sound source begins first and the German sound source begins a little later, in canonic imitation. Lighting too - the flashes from the guns - is also canonic.

Optionally, the explosions of light and sound may be preceded by a playing of the Canon at the 12th from Bach's 'The Art of Fugue.' The canon is for violin and cello only. A cellist must be available, in addition to the violinist required for the production. The violinist and cellist are hidden, at opposite ends of the stage.

To present the light and sounds in this way is in accordance with the stylization to be found in this scene and reflects too the actual use of artillery in the First World War. As the war went on, artillery was used with ever-increasing control. This devastating instrument of war was used in accordance with meticulous plans and very precise timing.

Characters and cast size

The minimum cast size is 6, if the Chorus is reduced to one member, who also plays the part of The King’s Fiancee, all the Candidates for the post of girlfriend and the Octogenarian (whose face isn’t visible in the scene in the underground car park.) Otherwise, the cast size is 10. A musician, a violinist, is also required. The play can accommodate a larger cast, if preferred,, by adding to the number of the Chorus. If available, another musician can take part, a cellist, and a gymnast can be given a part. The gymnast wears the bear outfit and the bear can then perform somersaults or other gymnastic skills towards the end of the play, another aspect of the friskiness which the bear shows at this point. The gymnast would have to be male, since the bear speaks at the end of the play: the words 'I will,' in answer to mother's marriage proposal.

The King (T. K.) He can be played in very different ways. The stress may be upon the contradictory elements in his personality, as someone who is inscrutable, childish, confident, passionate, aggressive and his facial expression subject to innumerable changes. Or the stress may be upon him as a fundamentally damaged person, driven deeper into despair by the scheming of others, his face often showing the extent of his depression and despair. There are other interpretations, of course. Whatever the interpretation, he should show particular hostility to Kiddo. His physical vitality, his athleticism, should be emphasized. In Act 2, like Kiddo, he does suffer from the effects of high altitude and his breathing is often laboured. During the episode which re-enacts an episode of the First World War, his inner state undergoes intensification, a transformation into a shell-shocked soldier.

His mother. Resourceful, energetic (capable of climbing solo in the Himalayas), irrepressible, well-educated, very competent, often, but not always, warm. In Act 2, unlike Kiddo and T. K. she appears not to suffer at all from the effects of high altitude. Both her breathing and her speech are as usual. One limitation - not at all realistic as regards her son, T.K. All too easily, wonderful vistas open up and to imagine is to achieve. More than that, she clearly has some irrational ideas.

Kiddo (Mr Kid), The King’s manager. Amiable, although not always, unscrupulous, often world-weary. He shows hostility towards T. K. but more by facial expression than by his words, except for parts of Act 2. In Act 2, he shows increasing signs of altitude sickness. His speech tends to be more clipped and slightly slower, and he often breathes heavily. During the episode of the football match and the truce - the temporary ending of his general hostility towards T. K., which mirrors the truce of Christmas 1914 - his character changes very dramatically, in the ways indicated in the script, and so does his accent. During the episode, he has a German accent, although only a slight one.

Capone. A representative of the underworld, but a very limited one. Plays the part of the referee at the boxing/wrestling match. Wears the bear costume. Also speaks the lines of Vic the Vegan's manager. Mother uses the pronunciation 'Cah-poh-nay' and Kiddo pronounces the name 'Ca-pony.' (with a short 'a.')

Vic the Vegan. Someone who is very contradictory (the contrasts and contradictions in reality are a prominent theme in the play): idealistic, sometimes very good-humoured, usually incompetent and also fanatical, murderous. (Compare, for his fanaticism and murderous instincts the real-life vegan who murdered the Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn.) He brings to mind the murderer in Robert Browning's 'Bishop Blougram's Apology': 'Our interest's on the dangerous edge of things,/ The honest thief, the tender murderer... He's transformed in Act 2 into ... 'The Himalayan Guide', who resembles Sarastro in Mozart's The Magic Flute in his benign wisdom. In Act 1 he has an American accent, in Act 2 an English accent.

Octogenarian - is one of the hecklers at Speaker’s corner. Later, an Octogenarian Priestess, the Oracle.

Chorus, Four in number, although all the parts can be played by one person if absolutely essential and the Chorus can also be expanded in numbers. The parts are:

Spectators at the boxing/wrestling match.

Hecklers and (optionally) Irish dancers at Speaker’s Corner.

Members of the Austrian audience at the Salzburg Festival.

Junkies who spray graffiti in the underground car park.

Sherpa girls in the Himalayas.

Candidates for the post of girlfriend.

In ancient Greek drama, of course, the Chorus commented on the action and danced as well. In this play, they have other roles, but they comment on the action by cheering, applauding, jeering, heckling, and they are Irish folk dancers in one scene, although the dancing can be omitted, in view of the demands it makes.

One of the members of the Chorus is... Anne, The King’s fiancée, who is a very compassionate person, with a particular interest in stray dogs and a general concern for waifs and strays.

Bear/Yeti/Abominable Snowman played by Signor Capone in a bear-skin. If an acrobat is available, he later replaces Signor Capone and gives an exuberant display of acrobatics.

A violinist - a real violinist, rather than an acted one. There are no lines to speak. Plays the part of the busker, and plays mic at the concert. at the concert. May be male or female. If a cellist is available, then he can play music with the violinist - information in the next section.

Vic the vegan’s manager is a voice only. He's not seen on stage.

Music in the play

If possible, productions should make use of live music rather than recorded music. All productions require a violinist. If the violinist is able to play the viola, and very many violinists are also violists, and a cellist is available, then all the music in the production can be live. The members of the chorus can take part in a vocal Although all the music will be performed with reduced forces, except for the canon from Bach's 'Art of Fugue,' which is for violin and cello only, the gain outweighs the loss. Musical standards will obviously be much lower than the standards of performers with international reputations, but 'falling short' is one of the themes of the play.

In the comments below, I concentrate on the situation where a cellist is available as well as a violinist who can also play the viola. Directors can freely adapt, taking advice from musicians if they're not musicians themselves.

Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture

The first 22 bars only are played, with the reduced forces available, or, if necessary, in recorded form, not the later, better known loud and stirring passages with explosions, for a large orchestra. The opening passage of the Overture is written for two violas and four cellos only, and one violist and one cellist can convey its pathos. The musicians can make a fuller sound by using double stopping, if they wish.

This piece is performed twice in the play, in Act 1, Scene 1, when The King is thought to be dying, and in Act 2, Scene 4, when the bear is thought to be dying. The music:

Irish fiddle music

I make no recommendations here. There are many, many suitable pieces. Irish fiddle music is played by the busker in Act 1, Scene 2.

Opening of Mozart's Overture to Don Giovanni

This demonic music is played before and during the entry of the Octogenarian Priestess. As with the other music, live performance is preferable to a recording, even though live performance can only hint at the power of the original, shown here in full score, and above the power of the opening chords in bars 1 - 4. The violinist plays the first violin part and the cellist, if available, the cello part here. The members of the chorus - in this scene, drug addicts - scream the opening chords (at the musical pitch which falls within their range) and their vocal contribution will compensate to an extent for the lack of instruments.


Canon at the 12th from Bach's 'The Art of Fugue'

This is optional. It can form an intense contrast with the effect of the canonic explosions of light and sound which make up the artillery barrage. If a cellist is available, then the cellist plays the music with the violinist.

Opening of the Brahms' Double Concerto for Violin and Cello

The opening orchestral introduction is only a few bars long. A recording of this can be played, it can be played by piano or on a keyboard, or the members of the Chorus, knowledgeable and helpful Austrians in this scene, can do their best to sing it. If a cellist is available, he plays the music of the unaccompanied solo entry which follows.

Otherwise, the cellist of the recording is heard. The King fails to play any of his music and the prompt is called upon to play the beginning of the violinist's unaccompanied solo entry:

[The music of these two parts is playable by non-professional players. The music is much easier, technically, than the music which follows, not played here, when the two soloists play together. Before changing to the violin, I played the cello, and I've played the solo cello and violin parts, although not in a public performance.]

Props and safety


For productions, I can supply these things, at a nominal cost for hire and delivery: boxing gloves, climbing rope and climbing harness, *cross-country skis, ski poles and boots, beach shelter, wind-break, two blank-firing guns, violin and viola, each with bow and case, mechanical metronome, bear outfit.

If frozen clothes are used in the interlude, some time before the performance - at least 8 hours, although it may be days or weeks before - four pairs of trousers and four shirts will have been soaked in water and the excess water squeezed out. These are placed in the freezer with the legs and sleeves at various angles. The clothes are removed during the interval of the play and are used in the play within a short time so that they remain frozen stiff and maintain their shape.

*Downhill skis, poles and boots, which are much more widely available than cross-country equipment, can be substituted in a production. Although moving on the stage will be more difficult, the shuffling action is appropriate.


Here, in my wish to stress safe practices, I err towards stating the obvious, perhaps.

In Act 2 Scene 1, The King's Mother enters by either abseiling down a wall, the preferred method, or by swinging at the end of a climbing rope. If by abseiling, the standard safety precautions must be followed. It will need a little instruction. Many, many school pupils carry out abseiling every year, and the skill is very easily learned. If by swinging at the end of a rope (1) She wears a climbing harness, attached to two ropes, or two sections of the same rope. (2) The ropes have two separate points of attachment to a beam or other secure object. (3) The rope is short enough to ensure that she cannot make contact with the stage at the lowest point in the swing. (4) There are no actors or objects in the path of her swing. It's safer to have KIDDO and T. K. exit just before she enters and enter immediately after. (5) The whole system is checked by someone with a knowledge of simple climbing equipment. To avoid even these minimal risks, she can enter by walking, but carrying a coiled climbing rope.
When Kiddo hits the bear over the head with his gun (Act 2 Scene 2) the actor wearing the bear costume should wear head protection underneath the costume! A cycling helmet would be suitable.
When T. K. takes off his cross-country skis, he should take off the cross-country boots which have been the means of attachment to the skis and change into ordinary boots, since cross-country ski boots have smooth soles and will slide and slip very readily.
T. K. and Kiddo both suffer from lack of oxygen at the high altitude of Act 2 and breathe much more deeply to try to compensate. Since there can be ill-effects from hyperventilation, this should not be done to excess


Scene 1. A hall in Las Vegas 

(The hall is dark and shabby. The only light comes from a small, dimly illuminated sign, 'Vegas.' The stage is bare, apart from a large mat. KIDDO enters and looks at the scene with astonishment, then distaste, then mounting despair and anger.) 

KIDDO: The ropes! They’ve even taken the ropes, the stupid bailiffs. Come on, what’s wrong with you? Why didn’t you take the mat as well? Too much trouble, was it? Or was the truck crammed full? You could have squeezed in the mat, surely. Well, you’ll be back, I’m sure, you bloodsuckers. I’ve given up caring. (He looks towards backstage.) Oh, you’re there, Jim. Do we still have a microphone here? (There is no reply but he sees the microphone, with its lead.) We do? You hid it, did you? And the amplifier and speakers? Good man. (He walks to the microphone and picks it up.) Testing, testing. One...two...(The amplification system fails to work.) This hall’s very downmarket. It cost me enough to hire. The robbers. Next time, we’ll try to hire something a bit more attractive, eh? Something cheap and cheerful, not dear and dismal. Well, the crowds outside are getting impatient. The masses, the eager masses. They have their uses. We’d better let them in, before they break the door down. I’m forgetting. The bailiffs have already broken the door down. (He goes to stage right and admits the spectators - the four members of the CHORUS. It’s obvious that he was expecting far more than four, and looks deflated. They take up position around the mat. KIDDO picks up the microphone and goes to the centre of the mat.) 

KIDDO (looking very worried): Well, I know The King’s here, but what about the opposition? (He goes backstage for a look and returns to the centre of the mat.) That’s all we need. (His worries seemingly forgotten, in the loud, ponderous and emphatic tones of boxing announcers.) Ladies and gentlemen ... from Las Vegas, Nevada, a heavyweight contest...between 'The King' of Great Britain and from the United States of America ...Vic...(louder) the...(with a roaring voice) VEGAN! The contest will be of fourteen rounds...each round of three minutes’ duration. And now, would you welcome (very loudly) The King. (T. K. bounds into the ring triumphantly, as if he has already won. The SPECTATORS cheer loudly. His expression becomes deadly serious, and he jogs on the spot, awaiting his opponent.) 

KIDDO: Ladies and gentlemen, and now would you welcome...Vic...(louder) the...(even louder) Vegan! 

(VIC THE VEGAN lumbers into the ring, after depositing the bag he was carrying, to the accompaniment of jeers from the SPECTATORS. It is immediately apparent that a  mistake has been made. He’s  dressed as a wrestler, not a boxer.)  

VIC THE VEGAN: I don’t believe it! You’ve done it again. Can’t you ever get it right? Call yourself a manager! I’m a wrestler not a boxer. You’re supposed to book wrestling matches, you dumb guy. Is that too much to ask? (He looks around for his MANAGER. He is nowhere to be seen.) Where are you hiding? Come on out! Come on out! 

VIC’S MANAGER (in a cringing voice, from some suitable hiding place offstage): I’m sorry, boss, let me off. I got the dates wrong, that’s all. 

VIC THE VEGAN: What do you mean, that’s all? I’ve had to wrestle on football fields and baseball fields, and now I’ve got to wrestle at a boxing match!  

VIC’S MANAGER (a little less shaken now): You’ve got to admit that wrestling is pretty close to boxing. I’m getting closer, I’m getting better. 

VIC THE VEGAN (not appeased at all): Dope! Fool! Imbecile! Numbskull! You’re fired, do you hear? Fired, fired, fired, fired, fired! 

VIC’S MANAGER: Do you mean that? Am I really fired? Just one last chance...(ingratiatingly) please. 

VIC THE VEGAN: Okay, but no more chances after this. Next time, get it right, huh? 

VIC’S MANAGER: I will, boss. You can trust me. 

VIC THE VEGAN: Now come on out. 

VIC’S MANAGER: I can’t bear to watch. I’m going home. You know I hate the sight of blood. 

VIC THE VEGAN (looking at THE KING): I hope you mean this guy’s blood, not mine. Is that what you mean? (There is no answer.) Say something. (There is no answer. He looks contemptuous but resigned. He takes a piece of paper and reads from it.) As before every fight, I would like to read out this statement. I fight with one purpose only, Not for fame, not for wealth, not for honor, but to show that vegans have the physique, the strength, the stamina and the social skills to take on the world, to take over the world. My opponent is not one man but the carnivorous life-style. (His speech now rises to an impassioned climax.) I want to see the vegan vision on television. I want the State of Nevada to became a state of nirvana. I want Las Vegas to become... Las Vegans! (Quietly.) Thank you for listening. 

KIDDO (obviously bewildered by this homily, but suddenly business-like): And now, would you welcome your referee, from Hungary, Mr Hegedüre Gyakorlat. (THE REFEREE enters. This part is played by SIGNOR CAPONE, KIDDO’S crony. THE REFEREE brings the two fighters together and talks to them about how he wants the contest to be conducted. His explanations seem to be detailed but cannot be heard. He makes chopping motions with his hands, waves his fingers, points to his watch, his feet, his head. THE REFEREE ends his detailed explanations.)  

KIDDO: Round one. 

(The bell rings. VIC THE VEGAN has the advantage, bounding around the stage athletically and frustrating every attempt by the slower-moving King to hit him. He succeeds just once and VIC THE VEGAN falls on his back.) 

THE REFEREE (counting as fast as possible, so as to disadvantage VIC THE VEGAN): 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4... 

KIDDO: Wrong way round. 

THE REFEREE (again, very fast): 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6... 

(VIC THE VEGAN struggles to his feet just in time. The fight continues. The bell rings for the end of Round One. The fighters go to their respective corners but there are no seats for them. They sit on the floor. KIDDO looks inside The KING’S mouth and wipes off the sweat from his forehead with a handkerchief. VIC THE VEGAN has nobody to attend to him and looks completely dispirited. The bell rings and Round 2 begins. VIC THE VEGAN has the advantage again in this round. He grips The King in agonizing holds, forces him to the floor, knocks him towards the sides of the ring. THE REFEREE hits VIC THE VEGAN and tries to dislodge him when he takes hold of THE KING.) 

KIDDO: Go for it!  You can do it! Left arm out more! (THE KING extends his left arm but is soon forced to the ground and VIC THE VEGAN sits on him. THE REFEREE begins thumping VIC THE VEGAN again. Despite this, he manages to grab THE KING again. KIDDO evidently realizes that this is a good time to end the round and bring some relief to THE KING. He rings the bell for the end of Round Two. As before, the fighters retire to their corner, KIDDO again solicitous, VIC THE VEGAN unattended.)  

(The bell rings for the start of Round 3. VIC THE VEGAN has the advantage to begin with but is now thumped by THE KING, the REFEREE and by KIDDO, who begin chasing him in wide circles, clockwise, round the ring. The members of the CHORUS join in. This is shown by the diagram below, at left, in which VIC THE VEGAN is shown as a larger black rectangle. The circle becomes tighter, and now the four members of the CHORUS, at the end of the chase, are now very near to VIC THE VEGAN. They take the opportunity to reverse their direction suddenly, so that now they are facing him. They fall on him, hitting him repeatedly, and are joined by the others.

VIC THE VEGAN manages to extricate himself from underneath the pile, reaches for a gun from the bag he had carried and shoots THE KING once. THE KING staggers, falls to the floor and then his body writhes, tenses, heaves, shakes violently, traversing large areas of the mat. He tries to find the pulse in his wrist, then the pulse at the sides of the neck, although the boxing gloves make this more than difficult. He manages to lift himself from the floor and stagger towards VIC THE VEGAN but then collapses, face down. He is unconscious but THE REFEREE comes over, takes hold of his right arm and lifts it.) 

THE REFEREE: The winner! 

VIC THE VEGAN: You goddamned crook, I’m the winner! (He exits in disgust, together with THE REFEREE and the SPECTATORS. KIDDO goes over to THE KING and fans his face, in an attempt to revive him. The attempt fails. His MOTHER enters.)  

MOTHER: So this is where you’ve got to! (She bends down next to THE KING.) My poor darling! 

KIDDO: He won. Aren’t you pleased? 

MOTHER (now noticing that THE KING hasn't reacted to any of her words): He can't hear me! (Looking closer at THE KING). He's dead! 

KIDDO (looking intently at THE KING.): I saw him move slightly. He's alive. (MOTHER sits next to THE KING, cradles his head in her arms and begins to cry. The opening of Tchaikowsky's '1812 Overture' is played. See Music in the play for information. full of pathos.

MOTHER: He is dying. (After a pause) He is sinking fast. (After another pause) He has not long to go.

KIDDO (He looks at THE KING very carefully. He turns THE KING over on to his back and examines his chest.): Not one of those shots hit him! He over-reacted. 

MOTHER: Are you sure? 

KIDDO: Get to your feet, you big baby. 

MOTHER: Do you mind! 

(THE KING gets to his feet sheepishly. MOTHER is intensely relieved.)

MOTHER (addressing THE KING): If you stay in boxing, you’ll damage your brain and you’ll damage your looks. You’ll be a vegetable by the time you’re thirty, you’ll be pea- brained, a cabbage, with cauliflower ears and a squash nose. You mark my words, you’ll end up badly, a down and out. 

KIDDO: Down and out. It wouldn’t be the first time. 

MOTHER (ignoring this comment): And after all I’ve done for you! Do you want to become a useless vagrant? Get out of boxing! Do something constructive with your life. We’re flying back to England. Mr Kid, help my poor boy, will you?

THE KING, KIDDO and MOTHER exit. Two members of the STAGE CREW enter. One of them disconnects the microphone and pockets it. The two roll up the mat on the floor and drag it off. The audience may assume that they are bailiffs, seizing some more property. The lights go out, as if the electrical equipment has failed completely. This allows for the change of scene in a theatre without a curtain. 

Scene 2. Speaker’s Corner, Hyde Park 

(VIC THE VEGAN enters, carrying a step-ladder. He erects the step ladder and climbs almost to the top. HECKLERS enter - the CHORUS - and stand in front of the step-ladder. The OCTOGENARIAN enters.)  

VIC THE VEGAN: It feels real good to appear at Speaker’s Corner again to talk to you folks about the most important of all issues - veganism. (Loud groans from the HECKLERS.) Now, if you give up flesh-eating, you’ll be in good company. Do you realize just how many famous vegans I can name? Well, these famous people weren’t vegans exactly, they were vegetarians, or almost vegetarians, but if they lived today, they’d definitely be vegans. (He calls out each name in a portentous, booming voice)...Leonardo da Vinci...George Bernard Shaw...Shelley...Gandhi 

1st HECKLER: Never heard of them. (Other HECKLERS laugh loudly.) 

VIC THE VEGAN: Tolstoy... And that’s just a start. Some other  vegetarians are... 

1st HECKLER: Adolf Hitler. 

2nd HECKLER: Locusts. 

VIC THE VEGAN (Less composed now.) Please... 

3rd HECKLER: Deathwatch beetles. 

4th HECKLER: Slugs. 

VIC THE VEGAN (Trying hard to contain his anger): If you’re smart, you’ll know the health benefits of a vegan diet... 

OCTOGENARIAN: Don’t listen to him. He needs to get some lovely pork and dripping down him, fatten him up a bit. He looks like a stick insect, don’t he? An overweight stick insect. 

VIC THE VEGAN: Will you please listen to me! 

2nd HECKLER: Get off! You’re rubbish! We want our money back! 

ALL THE HECKLERS: You're absolute rubbish! 

3rd HECKLER (imitating an American accent): Give me an 'S'...give me an 'H'...give me an 'I'...give me a 'T'...give me an 'E'... 

ALL THE HECKLERS (very loudly): Shite! 

4th HECKLER (imitating an American accent): Give me a 'V'...give me an 'E'...give me a 'G'...give me an 'A'...give me an 'N'... 

ALL THE HECKLERS (very loudly): Shite! 

VIC THE VEGAN (wearily): You're wrong, all wrong. 

OCTOGENARIAN: You may be a vegetarian, but you seem to know a lot about tripe. (All the HECKLERS roar with laughter.) 

VIC THE VEGAN (Pointing to the OCTOGENARIAN): I happen to know how old that person over there is...and the facts may surprise you...(with a smirk of satisfaction)...only thirty! That’s what eating meat, fish and dairy products does to the body! (The CHORUS laughs at the OCTOGENARIAN who is fuming with anger but makes no reply.) Now look at me, nice smooth face, all my own hair, all my own teeth, just a few fillings....and a touch of dandruff...you won’t believe this, but I’m nearly sixty! That’s the benefit of a vegan diet. (The CHORUS laughs good-naturedly at this obvious falsehood.) I must be going now. See you next week. 

1st HECKLER: Don’t go yet! You’ve only been here two minutes. 

2nd HECKLER: Yes, stay a bit longer. 

VIC THE VEGAN: No, I must be off. 

(VIC THE VEGAN climbs down and folds up his step ladder. He exits, followed by THE OCTOGENARIAN, who is still angry. The HECKLERS show their appreciation by applauding as he leaves.) 

1st HECKLER: He’s a good man. 

2nd HECKLER: Best speaker in Hyde Park. 

(The HECKLERS gossip aimlessly. THE KING enters, very slowly and laboriously, carrying a black bin bag which contains his few possessions. His mother’s prediction that he would become a vagrant if he continued to box seems to have  been fulfilled. His hair - a wig - is long and unkempt. His clothes are full of holes and almost rigid with dirt. The HECKLERS ignore him. He sits on the ground, placing before him a battered hat for donations. The HECKLERS continue to ignore him. No money whatsoever comes his way. He begins to look even more despondent. He’s  also ravenously hungry. When the 1st HECKLER throws down a sweet wrapper, he leaps out and licks the wrapper greedily before returning to his place.)  

(A BUSKER - male or female - enters, carrying a violin case. S/he takes out a violin S/he places a hat on the ground and begins to play some Irish fiddle music. The HECKLERS listen to him/her with rapt concentration. They respond with a generosity which has been completely denied to THE KING. There is a shower of coins. They open wallets, take out notes and put them in the hat, with broad smiles. THE KING is able to forget his troubles for a short time. He gets out some of the assorted possessions in his black bag. They include a football and, for some reason,   an Irish drum, a Bodhran. (Alternatively, he has an object  which can be used to improvise a drum.) Although Bodhran-playing is an exacting skill, even relatively simple drumming can complement in a very pleasing way the fiddle-playing. As, later, he attempts more ambitious music making, it's important that now, he should play with an obviously good rhythmic sense, to establish the fact that he does have some musical talent.) 


(One by one, the BUSKERS begin to dance to the music, in Irish folk style. They dance together for several minutes. The dancing requires practice and can be omitted if necessary. Suddenly, THE KING looks gloomy again, puts his drum and drum-stick into the black bag, takes out a pair of boxing gloves, puts them on, gets to his feet and with a threatening look advances on the BUSKER. The BUSKER hands over the violin and flees the scene. All the money collected is left behind. THE KING puts the violin to his chin and tries to play, still wearing his boxing gloves. The results are inevitably poor. Whilst he plays, there is the slightest trace of a smile on his face, as if this is an attempt at humour on his part. There are loud guffaws from the HECKLERS, but the joke has obviously fallen flat. Nobody gives any money. The HECKLERS exit. MOTHER enters.) 

MOTHER: So this is where you’ve got to! I’m taking you back home immediately! Never run away from home again! You look as if a good wash would do you good. Tidy yourself up - now! (THE KING takes a spray can from his cardboard box and sprays his armpits. MOTHER seizes the can and looks at it intently.) That isn’t deodorant, that’s flyspray! (She looks at her son intently and seems to see little insects in the air near him. She gives a wave of her hand, as if to keep them away.) You’d better put plenty on. (THE KING sprays the flies of his trousers liberally. She now notices the violin.) Oh, what’s that? A violin! Marvellous. (She sees the money.) Is that what you've been given? That's a lot of money! Come on, now. (MOTHER and THE KING exit, taking the violin and bow, with violin case, but leaving everything else.) 

Scene 3. At home 

(A tastefully furnished room, with table and chairs. MOTHER and KIDDO sit opposite each other.) 

MOTHER: You’ll soon be without a job. I may be able to find you some gardening to do. 

KIDDO: Well, the King’s 28 but I reckon he’s got a few more years in the ring. He’s getting better now. 

MOTHER: No, I want my son to have an intellectual or cultural career. 

KIDDO (incredulously): To have a what? 

MOTHER: He owns a violin now. Why shouldn’t he become a concert violinist? 

KIDDO: And if he owned a stethoscope he could become a doctor and if he owned a plane he could become a pilot. 

MOTHER: Although money isn’t the important thing, thousands of pounds a concert would help my finances. 

KIDDO: Is that what they earn? What’s 20% of that? Not that the money interests me, of course. Culture’s all I’m bothered about. 

MOTHER: So you think this is a good idea? 

KIDDO: Definitely. I’ve a friend who teaches the violin. One of the best. Signor Capone. (KIDDO pronounces the name ‘Ca-pony.’) He only lives round the corner. I’ll give him a ring. (He exits and returns very quickly.) He’s on his way. 

MOTHER: I've seen a man near here carrying a violin case, except he doesn't look like a musician. He looks more like a gangster! 

KIDDO: That's probably him, but he's a real musician. 

MOTHER: Well, I say I've seen him, but I haven't seen him for the past five years until recently. Where has he been all this time? 

KIDDO: He's away on business a lot. 

(CAPONE enters, dressed like a gangster. He’s  carrying a bag and a case -  not a violin case but a viola case, which is very old and battered.) 

CAPONE: Evenin’ all. (He puts the viola case on the table and stands next to it.) 

MOTHER: Good evening, Signor Capone. (The MOTHER pronounces the name as an Italian would, ‘Cah-poh-nay.’) 

CAPONE: Where’s the artiste? (With a heavy emphasis on the second syllable.) 

KIDDO: In his bedroom. I'll call him. (Going to the door and calling upstairs.) Come down here, please. And bring your violin. (THE KING enters, carrying his violin case. He puts it on the table and sits in the spare chair.) 

CAPONE (picks up the violin case from the table, opens it, picks up the violin and examines the violin closely. He strums each string gently, starting with the lowest, the G.  The two lower  strings sound reasonably in tune, but not the lower two. Then, in a very forthright matter): They sold you a duff violin there, my boy. That violin’s out of tune. No good at all. You been done. 

KIDDO: He didn’t buy the violin, he was given it. 

MOTHER: I’m sorry to hear the violin is poor. He’ll need a fine instrument for his international career. 

KIDDO: Signor Capone deals in violins as well as teaching the violin. Show her what you’ve brought, Capone. 

CAPONE (puts the violin back in the case, opens his own viola case and takes out the viola.) Take a look at this, then. 

MOTHER: It’s beautiful. Where did you buy it? 

CAPONE: I was given it, same as the artiste. 

MOTHER: How could anyone let an instrument of that quality go? 

CAPONE: They did let go of it, eventually. I managed to persuade them. 

KIDDO: Isn’t it a Stradivarius? (MOTHER is obviously deeply impressed.) 

CAPONE: Yeah, it’s one of them Stradivarius jobs. 

MOTHER (taking hold of the viola with great care): There is one thing, though, Signor Capone. Are you sure that it is a violin? It looks much too large. Isn’t it some other instrument of the string family? 

KIDDO (answering for CAPONE, who is not nearly so quick-witted): Stradivarius made this violin specially for boxers, see? Boxers have big hands. An ordinary violin would be too small for them. 

CAPONE: This bloke knows what he’s talking about. Oh, the violin has a Full Service History. 

KIDDO: And Capone can insure it, third party fire and theft. He can give you a crook-lock to fit on the fingerboard, as well. 

MOTHER (smiles slightly, turns the viola over to look at the back and frowns abruptly): Oh look, there are some marks on it. Nothing much, but won’t they  reduce the value? 

KIDDO: Don’t worry! He knows all about that. He still has to sand it down and give it some undercoat and a coat of gloss. Won’t show at all when he's done that. 

MOTHER (looking into one of the sound holes): Signor Capone, there’s a label inside the violin that says, 'Stradivarius fecit.' ('fecit' pronounced as 'fake-it.') 

CAPONE (flustered and worried): That violin's not a fake! 

KIDDO (also worried): He's right! It's not a fake! 

MOTHER (smiling): Don't worry. It's spelt F-E-C-I-T. Latin for 'made.' 'Stradivarius fecit 1727.' 'Stradivarius made it in 1727.' (CAPONE and KIDDO are relieved. She looks into the other sound hole.) I can't see very well. It's dark in there. Oh, there's another label! 'Made in China.' I thought Stradivarius was Italian, not Chinese! 

KIDDO (not at all ruffled): Didn’t you know, the insurance companies insist that every Strad has that label in? It’s to deter thieves. If someone comes along to nick it, he takes one look at the label and leaves it alone. 

CAPONE: I’ve heard that. Stands to reason. 

MOTHER: How much is it? 

CAPONE: Just 100... 

MOTHER: What a pleasant surprise. 


MOTHER (Wearily): I suppose you get what you pay for. And I suppose it's extra for the bow. 

CAPONE: Correct. A lot extra. Let's say 40K. No use having a third rate bow. 

MOTHER (looking at the viola case). You can at least give me the case. It doesn't look as if it's worth anything. 

CAPONE (seeming quite shocked): This isn't any old case! This is a genuine Stradivarius case! 

MOTHER (wearily): how much, then? 

CAPONE: Just 10K to you. 

KIDDO: What about violin lessons? Tell her about them. 

CAPONE: Well, the top guys charge about 50 quid an hour, but I’ve got my teaching worked out so I can teach more in 10 minutes than other people can in an hour. It’s 50 quid for ten minutes, then. 

MOTHER: Well, I suppose you get what you pay for. Fine. All the same, I wouldn’t like to pay all this money out if my son hasn’t got genuine talent. I’m sure he has, but I’d like an expert’s opinion. I’d like him to play something for you. 

CAPONE: A pleasure. 

MOTHER: You’ll have to show him exactly how to hold the violin and bow. 

CAPONE (with a worried look): I do have an advanced lesson to give somewhere else, though, very soon. 

MOTHER: You’ve time before you go, I’m sure. 

KIDDO: One thing about Signor Capone’s methods of teaching you may not realize. He uses what’s called 'the discovery method.' It’s like school teaching. Those old- fashioned teachers spoon feed them, tell them how to go about everything. It takes away their initiative. The best teachers let them find out for themselves. It teaches them much more. (CAPONE is obviously very relieved.) Capone lets the kids find the holds that suit them. Everyone’s different, see? Different length hands and arms, different size chins. 

MOTHER (not fully convinced at all): I see. Well, can he play on your violin, Signor Capone? 

CAPONE: Give us a tune. 

(THE KING takes the viola and bow, holds them in an unorthodox position and tries to play. The bow slides off the strings and the tone is rasping but he seems very pleased by his efforts.) 

CAPONE: Ain’t that the start of one of those modern concertos? Not my taste in music but he’s playing advanced stuff already. You asked me for my opinion. I’ve never had such a pupil in my life. 

MOTHER: So you think he’s got a gift. 

CAPONE (laughs): Well, he definitely ain't got the gift of the gab! 

MOTHER (offended): I beg your pardon! 

CAPONE: What I meant to say is, he’s a genius. 

MOTHER (beaming): So, he’ll start lessons with you, then. 

CAPONE: Yes, of course. I must be off. 

MOTHER: Wait a moment. I want you to give him a proper lesson now. 

CAPONE: Now? Not now! 

MOTHER: Yes, now. Otherwise I may have to find another teacher. 

CAPONE: Alright. 

MOTHER: Just five or six minutes, if you like. I don’t want my son to be put under any strain at all. I don’t want him  to feel he’s being pressurized. I can go upstairs whilst you give the lesson, if you like. 

KIDDO (obviously delighted): Oh, that’s a pity, but I think you’re right. You don’t mind if I attend the lesson, do you? 

MOTHER: I suppose not. But  you’ve got to teach him the proper way to hold the violin. I won’t expect him to play anything in this first lesson. 

KIDDO: Alright. We’ll give you a shout when the lesson’s finished. 

MOTHER: I’ll go. (She exits.) 

(KIDDO and CAPONE look unhappy.) 

CAPONE: What are we going to do? 

KIDDO: I don’t know. (Looking at THE KING) Whatever happens, you’d better behave yourself, scum bag, or I’ll have your guts for violin strings. 

CAPONE: I suppose we have to start with holding the violin. Do they hold it in the left shoulder or the right? Do they hold the bow with the right hand or the left? 

KIDDO: Haven’t a clue. 

CAPONE: I suppose it depends whether someone is right handed or left handed. 

KIDDO: Probably. If someone’s right handed, then they’re going to be using the right hand to press the strings down. (He waves the fingers of his right hand up and down.) That’s the hard part. 

CAPONE: You’re right...dead right...(with less conviction) I think.  Is he right or left handed? 

KIDDO: I’ve forgotten. 

CAPONE: Ask him to write something, like his signature. (He reaches into his pocket for a pen and offers it to THE KING) Here, write your name. 

KIDDO: No use doing that. He can’t write. (CAPONE puts the pen back in his pocket.) 

CAPONE: Hang on, a book came with the violin. (He goes over to the viola case and takes out the book.)‘Six lessons with Yehudi Menuhin.’ (He looks at the photo on the cover, showing Yehudi Menuhin.) There’s a photo on the book. That solves it. You’re supposed to put the violin on your left shoulder and hold the bow with the right hand. We were wrong. 

KIDDO: But this Yehudi Menuhin, is he right handed or left handed? (CAPONE looks unsure and bewildered.) Here, give me the book. (CAPONE gives him the book. KIDDO flicks through the pages and seems mildly encouraged by what he finds on one page - this is Page 108.  This is better. There’s an exercise here that doesn’t involve holding the violin. It seems all about developing  the right sort of  arm and wrist...flexible. We’ll give it a go. (To THE KING, indicating a particular place.) Stand there, arsehole. Left-Hand Movements, it says here. Shifting...vibrato...proceeding from a waving action...variable amplitude...narrow vibration and broad sweep...lateral movements...left hand pizzicato. I don’t think we’re any better off. (He seems very discouraged). 

CAPONE: Oh no! I thought violin playing was just about moving your fingers up and down! 

KIDDO: I think it gets a bit easier. I hope so. (He  looks at  the book and gives instructions based on the text. He pauses at various points. At each of these points, a PAUSE,  THE KING carries out the instructions - very well. Meanwhile, CAPONE looks intently at THE KING to see if he’s carrying out the instructions.) Wave motion...left hand...hold your hand  in playing position...wrist loose...palm towards you...wave it...imagine you’re saying goodbye to yourself. (PAUSE) Next, make your hand   wave by moving the forearm backwards and forwards.   (PAUSE) Now make a circular swing in the hand that’s waving...what’s he on about?...by a sideways oscillation of arm and elbow.  (PAUSE) Make very big circles in the air. 

CAPONE (to THE KING): Much bigger. 

 KIDDO: Looking down on the circle, it has to be clockwise. (CAPONE looks intently at the circle, sees that it’s clockwise and nods in approval.) The waving of the hand has to be horizontal as well.  (CAPONE  looks and nods in approval.) And the planeof the circle  has to rise away from you.   (Again he looks and nods in approval.) To make a big circle, increase the opening and closing of the forearm and the sideways swing of the elbow and upper arm towards and away from your body.  (PAUSE) Next, give an impetus on each wave. The first one on the outward movement of the forear...this is becoming ridiculous...imagine you’re going to smack a wall in front of you with the back of your hand.  (PAUSE) 

CAPONE: A bigger smack, a much bigger smack. (THE KING gives a much bigger smack.) 

KIDDO: And on every inward movement of your forearm, as if you’re smacking your chin.  (PAUSE). 

CAPONE: Harder! Much harder! (At the end of the next rotation of the arm, THE KING smacks his chin very hard rather than appearing to smack it. He crumples to the floor and lies on his back.) 

KIDDO (in a state of panic): Wake up! I don’t believe it. She’s never going to believe this! Why did you say that? 

CAPONE (treating the whole thing as a joke): One...two...three... 

KIDDO: Shut up! You’re not a referee now. (THE KING gets to his feet, to the intense relief of KIDDO and CAPONE) Thank God for that. Violin teaching’s too dangerous for my liking. (He gives the book to CAPONE). You take over. You’re supposed to be the teacher. 

CAPONE (he looks at a few pages in the book and settles on page 31.) Got it. Just the thing. (Giving instructions based on  the book). Relaxation exercise...After you’ve practised these stretching and resistance exercises, lie on the floor, completely relaxed.  (THE KING lies on the floor again, this time voluntarily, and closes his eyes.) Let all the tension in your body go. Let the heaviness in each limb sink into the floor. Pay attention to your breathing. 

(KIDDO and CAPONE lie next to THE KING, in a state of complete contentment. All three breathe in and out slowly and audibly,  in synchrony. After a short time, CAPONE reaches out to the bag which he had brought with him and takes out a mechanical metronome. He winds it up, adjusts it so that the rate of swing is very slow and then lies flat on the floor again.) 

CAPONE (Together with the ticking of the metronome, a bell sounds at regular intervals., sounding like a mechanical cash register. At the sounding of the bell.)One pound...two pounds...three pounds. 

KIDDO: This is the life! Well, we slogged our guts out to earn this money. Let’s enjoy it now. 

CAPONE: Where had I got to? Oh yes, twenty pounds...twenty one pounds... 

(Voice of MOTHER outside the door). 

MOTHER: Is the lesson finished yet? I don’t want you to overdo it the first time. 

KIDDO (without moving): Nearly! Just a bit longer. 

CAPONE: Thirty...thirty-one, thirty-two...thirty-three... 

MOTHER (after waiting a short time): He’s not used to this pressure! Show some consideration! 

KIDDO: Just about finished now...Alright, that’s about it. (To THE KING, very quietly) Get up, scum bag. (All of them get up). You can come in now! (MOTHER enters). 

MOTHER (very happy): How much do I owe you, Signor Capone? 

CAPONE: Just forty pounds for this first lesson. 

MOTHER: That sounds reasonable. Send me an invoice, will you. 

CAPONE: I will. Must be off now. 

MOTHER: Goodbye, Signor Capone. And thank you for everything. 

KIDDO: Bye. 

(CAPONE exits.) 

KIDDO: Now, I’ve got some business to attend to. Just one more thing. He’s going to need a new name. A musician can’t be called ‘The King.’ Something that sounds German or Polish would be more up-market. How about ‘Königewski?’ 'König' is German for ‘King’ and the ending is Polish. 

MOTHER:Yes, I like that. 

KIDDO: I’ll get Capone to fix him up with a new birth certificate. 

MOTHER: Is that absolutely necessary? 

KIDDO: Just to make it official. See you. (He exits.) 

MOTHER (dreamily): Königewski... The Great Königewski... Königewski and his Singing Strings... An Evening with Königewski... The Romance of Königewski...The Magic of Königewski... The Legend of Königewski... The Immortal Königewski. (MOTHER exits, very happy indeed.) 

Scene 4. A hall in Salzburg. The Concert 

(The hall is dark and shabby. The stage is bare. KIDDO cannot be seen. He is trying to make the electrical equipment work. He thumps some of the equipment and the lights come on at full power, then go dim again. He thumps the equipment again and the lights come on at full power. He admits the audience, the members of the CHORUS. They are very prosperous Austrians, dressed for the occasion. One of them is carrying a large magazine. On their entry, they look around at the shabby hall. They look at the floor, and see that there are no chairs. They look perplexed and disdainful, but only for a very short time.)  

1st MEMBER OF THE AUSTRIAN AUDIENCE: Schrecklich! [terrible!] 

2nd MEMBER OF THE AUSTRIAN AUDIENCE: Unglaublich! [unbelievable!] 

3rd MEMBER OF THE AUSTRIAN AUDIENCE: Wo sind die Sitze? [Where are the chairs?] 

KIDDO: Verzeihung. Es gibt keine. [Sorry. There aren't any.] We did have chairs but they seem to have been taken. Would you mind standing? At our Promenade concerts at the Royal Albert Hall, some of the audience stand. This isn't going to be a long concert...(The MEMBERS OF THE AUSTRIAN AUDIENCE ignore this request and sit on the floor to listen to the concert, although the fact that they smile shows that they aren’t  offended. They have very quickly adapted.. Before they sit, the one carrying the magazine gives each of them a few pages from the magazine to sit on.)  

KIDDO: Ladies and gentlemen, meine Damen und Herren, welcome to our concert from the Salzburg Festival Fringe. There are one or two changes to the advertized programme for tonight's concert.

1st MEMBER OF THE AUSTRIAN AUDIENCE (very pleasantly): What a pity! 

KIDDO: The conductor has phoned in to say that he's sick. He's not well at all. And the orchestra has phoned in. They're sick as well. 

2nd MEMBER OF THE AUSTRIAN AUDIENCE (in heavily accented English, with a mock groan): That's very bad luck! 

KIDDO: But we do still have our soloist, making his debut tonight! 


He'll be playing (he consults the paper) Brahms. It's (again he consults the paper) The Brahms Double Concerto, with a cellist - I'm sorry, I've forgotten his name. And now, here is our soloist, Maestro Königewski, and a cellist.

(THE KING and the cellist enter, dressed formally for the occasion, in appearance and manner indistinguishable from any top-rank soloist. The MEMBERS OF THE AUSTRIAN AUDIENCE applaud enthusiastically. He bows and the recorded music begins (or the members of the Chorus, very helpful and knowledgeable, do their best to sing the orchestral introduction, which is only a few bars long. The cellist plays his unaccompanied entry. When the time comes for the entry of The King, he puts the violin to his chin and his violin bow is poised above the strings. His left arm is not extended suffiiciently but is too near the body of the violin.) 

KIDDO:  Go for it!  You can do it! Left arm out more! (THE KING extends his left arm slightly, but when he should begin to play, he's silent.)

KIDDO: Prompt!

(The Prompt plays the first few bars of the soloist's entry but THE KING is still helpless and makes no attempt to play. There is a clatter as VIC THE VEGAN enters, wearing a military camouflage uniform and carrying a very large, enormously long bag. The lights, which are very erratic in this venue, come on suddenly. The MEMBERS OF THE AUSTRIAN AUDIENCE quickly get to their feet.) 

VIC THE VEGAN: Now you've booked me into a concert! Call yourself a manager? You're fired! (He sees THE KING and recoils. He draws a handgun immediately. The MEMBERS OF THE AUSTRIAN AUDIENCE exit very hurriedly. THE KING dives for cover behind a packing case, together with KIDDO. VIC THE VEGAN shoots once. The shot misses T. K. The lights are dimmed immediately, as if the bullet has hit some electrical equipment.) 

(The fight which follows, in the half-light, should be sustained and the details are left to the DIRECTOR. Vic the Vegan fires episodically, as if trying to conserve ammunition, whenever he thinks he has a chance of hitting T. K. Immediately each shot is fired, KIDDO can hit the packing case as if a bullet has hit the case, to make the effect more realistic. T. K. should leave the protection of the packing case. taking temporary cover behind other objects, and advance on VIC THE VEGAN. When T. K. is not far away, he should rush and try to seize his gun. There is a hand-to-hand fight. He takes cover again, in possession of the gun, and VIC THE VEGAN reaches into his bag, which contains a store of weapons, for another gun. There is a more intense gun battle between the two for a short time. VIC THE VEGAN then reaches into the bag for a mortar and the projectiles which are fired from the mortar. He erects the mortar and an extract from Tchaikovsky's '1812 Overture' is played. The timing here relates to the recording by Sian Edwards, conducting the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. Conveniently, this recording, like others, includes the sound of explosions, eliminating the need to produce them on the stage. VIC has to synchronize, so far as possible, dropping the projectiles into the barrel of the mortar with the sound of the recorded explosions. At each explosion, the darkness is broken by a short explosion of light. The recorded explosions, 5 in all, begin at 11 minutes and 24 seconds and end at 11 minutes and 29 seconds, so that VIC has to be very fast. VIC now reaches into the bag for a much bigger weapon, which is telescopic. By pulling out the sections to full length and clipping on an attachment, where the shells are loaded, he is able to make a piece of artillery. All these actions are arduous, as if he's straining with very heavy objects. During this phase, the music is very varied: hectic and quite fast, slower, and then triumphant, with heavy chords. By this time, VIC has almost assembled his weapon, despite the difficulties, and by the time the recording is at 13 minutes and 21 seconds, he has completed the process, and is able to show joy and exultation. At 13 minutes and 31 seconds, the recorded music ends. The barrel of the weapon is pointing directly at KIDDO and T. K. and near to them, so it would seem that he can hardly miss. 

VIC THE VEGAN: Load! (He takes a shell out of the bag and loads it into the weapon.) Aim! (He makes a very small corrective adjustment.) Fire! The noise of firing is disappointingly small. The sound of the exploding shell is puny and the shell has exploded quite some distance from the target.  

VIC THE VEGAN: Damn! Missed! 

(All exit. Two members of the STAGE CREW enter. They take all the props left on stage - the bag, the weapons, the violin and bow. As in the case of the Las Vegas Hall, the audience can assume they are bailiffs, seizing property.) 

Scene 5. At home 

MOTHER: How did the concert go? 

KIDDO (looking very battered after his experiences in the gunfight, but with no major injuries): Why weren't you there? 

MOTHER: I've told you so many times. You should never have hired a pathetic little hall. My son should be playing in a concert hall in Salzburg or Vienna. You obviously don't appreciate him. 

KIDDO: He has to start somewhere. 

MOTHER: No! Not at all! 

KIDDO: The concert began well...then... 

MOTHER: You're just being negative. Listen to this plan of action. It makes a great deal of sense.  First of all, my son should play with the second violin section, not the first violins but the second violins, of, let’s say, the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Then, after a few months, he’d be promoted to the first violins, then he’d become leader of the orchestra, and then he’d be offered concert engagements as a soloist as a matter of course. 

KIDDO: If sonny boy got a job in Berlin, would he commute? 

MOTHER: Oh, don’t be unrealistic, of course not. He’d go and live there, and so would I, and you, and perhaps his teacher Mr Capone, although I'm sure there are good teachers in Berlin. 

KIDDO: Now listen, don’t get me wrong, the Berlin Philharmonic’s a good band, one of the best, and I’d love to move to Germany. I used to work there, as you know, love the place. Don’t you think we’re still being over-ambitious, though? Shouldn’t he start a bit lower down and then work his way up? Let him join an orchestra a bit lower in the league first, something like the Bermuda Symphony Orchestra or the Honolulu Philharmonic, or perhaps even the Ibiza Chamber Orchestra. 

MOTHER (after a little thought): Or perhaps the Scunthorpe Philharmonic? (’Scunthorpe’ is an example only. Another name, such as the name of a suburb, can be substituted,  to give local relevance.) 

KIDDO: No, they're very good. It's being too ambitious. 

MOTHER: Perhaps you're right. 

KIDDO: I’ll fix him up with some auditions and then Capone will do something to give him that competitive edge when the auditions come up 

MOTHER: Good. 

KIDDO: It’s definitely not lack of talent that’s holding the boy back. 

MOTHER: I agree. But what is it? 

KIDDO: If you ask me, we’ve neglected his social development. 

MOTHER: He’s  happy, I’m sure. 

KIDDO: He's 28 now, isn't he? 


KIDDO: Has he ever had a girl-friend? 

MOTHER: Oh, of course not! 

KIDDO: Has he ever mentioned the subject? 

MOTHER: Not once. 

KIDDO: Does he know about the relations between men and women, that sort of thing? 

MOTHER: Er... 

KIDDO: Did you ever teach him? 

MOTHER: How could you suggest such a thing! 

KIDDO: Well, I think you should. 

MOTHER (with unexpected meekness): If you insist. 

KIDDO: I’ll leave it with you. I’ve got to go now. (He exits.) 

MOTHER (She goes to the door and shouts upstairs. She shows evident distaste for the ordeal to come): Come here! I want to talk to you. Bring your violin. (THE KING enters, with violin in case. He has his left arm in a sling and his right arm in a sling, as a result of the injuries he received during the gunfight. He sits down very slowly, as if in great discomfort.) I want to tell you about something very important. I want to explain that there are two sorts of people, men and women, who used to be boys and girls. First, though, I want you to play something for me. I haven't heard you play for quite a time. I want to know if you've been making progress. I hope you have. It's essential. The lessons are very expensive. (She opens the case and takes out the violin and bow.) Here, take the violin. (She puts it to his left shoulder, although he understandably finds this very difficult.) Take the bow. (She puts it into his right hand, although again he finds it very difficult to hold. He seems very awkward and uncomfortable, both arms being effectively out of action.) Now, play something. (He makes a real effort but finds it difficult and the sound is very poor.) You're just not trying! Try harder! (He does try harder, but the results are no better.) It may be the start of one of those modern concertos but I don't like it at all. I'll have to have words with your teacher. (She takes the violin and bow from him, put them back in the case and closes the case.) Back to men and women. When they get married, they may want to have a baby. I want to explain how it happens. (He looks very sheepish.) You see, how shall I put this, it’s like this, you see, are you listening still? Well, the spermatozoa, which are the male gametes, travel down the vas deferens and urethra, up the uterus into the oviduct. There, one of them may fuse with an ovum, which is the female gamete, to form a zygote. The diploid number of chromosomes is then re-established. Implantation in the uterus occurs and mitosis and cell differentiation take place. (Her son listens patiently, bemused.) I think this is enough for now. I’ll explain parturition another time. Go to your room now. (He exits. MOTHER is lost in thought, obviously aware of the momentousness of the occasion. She exits.) 

Scene 6. Interviews for the post of girlfriend

(THE KING and his MOTHER enter. THE KING'S arms are still in slings and he walks very slowly, in evident discomfort. He sits down, grimacing as he does so. His MOTHER sits. MOTHER is holding a newspaper. A third, empty seat faces them. In this scene, MOTHER begins calmly. She becomes more and more frantic, more and more desperate.)

MOTHER: It’s been decided that you must have a woman friend. After a courtship of one year, you’ll be married. We’ll go away on honeymoon, you, your new wife and myself. After that, you’ll occupy married quarters in this house. I hope these arrangements are satisfactory for you. I’ve placed an advertisement in the personal columns of the local newspaper. Listen to what it says. (She opens the newspaper and reads.) ‘Quiet, respectable gentleman seeks lady.’ We’ve had a lot of replies. Most of the people are very unsuitable. I’ve made up a short-list of the more suitable ones and we’re going to interview them soon. I'll just go and get ready. When the candidates come in, do try and be as welcoming as you can. And remember! Women like a man with a twinkle in his eye! 

(She exits. THE KING goes over to a mirror on the wall and looks into it. The twinkle is completely lacking, and he realizes it. He summons up all his strength and looks at the mirror more intently, this time with something resembling a smile. The twinkle is still lacking. He turns away from the mirror, towards the audience, shuts his left eye and thrusts his face towards the mirror, with no better result. He turns away from the mirror, shuts his right eye and looks into the mirror. Still, there's not a trace of a twinkle. Again he turns away, screws his face up into a grimace and tries again, pressing his face almost against the glass. Still no success. He gives up and sits down again. MOTHER enters.)

MOTHER: I'm ready! (MOTHER goes to the door and opens it.) Come in, please.  

(The candidates are all members of the CHORUS. CANDIDATE 1 doesn't enter but screams, unseen, as soon as she sees THE KING. He and   MOTHER look deeply hurt.)  

MOTHER: Obviously not our type of person. Come in, please. 

(CANDIDATE 2 doesn't enter and bursts out laughing as soon as she sees THE KING. He and mother react as before.) 

MOTHER: Not suitable at all. 

(MOTHER  admits CANDIDATE 3, who shows no obvious reaction on seeing THE KING. She sits down.)  

MOTHER: Let me explain. I’ll be frank with you. We’re looking above all else for someone who can take the rough with the smooth. Success in this interview will bring new burdens and new difficulties. We all have our aspirations, our hopes, our yearnings, but in the end we may have to settle for something less than the ideal. But later, we may discover that our life is far more rewarding than we thought, that we are better off, in fact, than countless others, that destiny has been kind to us after all. (Abruptly.) I’m referring to possible problems with the manager. He’s not very pleasant and not particularly efficient. He’ll be going before very long, I think, but for the time being  he’s someone you’d have to deal with.  How do you feel about this? Could you put up with the manager? 

CANDIDATE 3 (quietly, in tones of real sincerity): I realize that we can strive for perfection and for contentment but we can never find them for very long. My life has presented me with real difficulties but I’ve managed to surmount them and to emerge, I like to think, not only cheerful - sometimes, anyway! - but a wiser  person. I’ve come to realize that a selfish attitude is never justifiable. I’m ready to face difficulties, any number of difficulties. I’ll try to overcome them patiently, with your help, I trust. Difficult managers aren’t a problem for me at all.  I’ve experience of the worst type. 

MOTHER (very calmly, with evident relief): I’ll always do my utmost to help, in any way I can. You’ll be committed, then, fully committed? 

CANDIDATE 3: I will. 

MOTHER: Well, I’ll have to interview the other candidates, as a pure formality, but I’m certain that our search for the right person is over. I would like to welcome you here, most warmly. We’re so glad that you applied. Can I ask you just one final question? 

CANDIDATE 3: Of course. 

MOTHER: If you prefer not to answer it immediately, then of course I’ll quite understand, but it’s something to think about. How would you feel about becoming not simply a friend to my son but also his wife? 

CANDIDATE 3: What do you mean...friend...wife? What’s that got to do with the job? 

MOTHER: What do you mean by ‘job?’ 

CANDIDATE 3: I applied for a job as an administrative assistant with your computer firm. I thought the manager was a manager with the firm. 

MOTHER: There’s been a terrible mistake...(shouting) time- waster! 

CANDIDATE 3: You stupid fool. 

MOTHER: Get out! 

CANDIDATE 3: With pleasure. I’d sooner marry a computer than that son of yours. (She exits.) 

(MOTHER and THE KING are  very shaken but she manages to control her emotions and goes to the door to admit CANDIDATE 4.) 

MOTHER: Take a seat, please. (CANDIDATE 4 sits down.) Did you manage to find the house easily? (CANDIDATE 4 does not answer this or any of the questions put to her. She is completely inscrutable and self- possessed. MOTHER becomes more and more frustrated and angry.) Was the map I sent clear?...How did you travel here? By train? By car? I’m trying to put you at your ease, don’t you realize? How long were you with your last friend? How long were you with the friend before that? Why did you decide to make the change? If this post is offered to you, will you take it? This is  too much. Why don’t you talk? What’s the matter with you? Say something! (MOTHER is now shouting.) Say something! (A little more quietly now.) It’s obvious, you’re completely unsuitable for my son. You’ll receive your travelling expenses. Now get out! Just get out! (CANDIDATE 4 exits.) 

(MOTHER again manages to control her emotions, but with far greater difficulty now. She goes to the door to admit CANDIDATE 5.)  

MOTHER: Good evening. Please take a seat. 

CANDIDATE 5 (very pleasantly): Good evening. 

MOTHER: You talk! You respond! Marvellous! I can’t believe it! I can’t thank you enough! Thank you! Thank you! 

CANDIDATE 5. I beg your pardon? 

MOTHER: What a fluent speaker! Eloquence! Wonderful eloquence! 

CANDIDATE 5: What are you... 

MOTHER: The power of speech! You talk - but you don’t...laugh hysterically? 

CANDIDATE 5: Laugh hysterically? 

MOTHER: Or scream? You don’t have a habit of screaming? 

CANDIDATE 5: Of course not. 

MOTHER: Wonderful! Now, why are you here? Are you here for a job? 

CANDIDATE 5: For a job? Definitely not. 

MOTHER: What for, then? 

CANDIDATE 5: For interview. 

MOTHER: An interview for what? For a job? 

CANDIDATE 5: No, I’ve told you once. 

MOTHER: Why are you here, then? 

CANDIDATE 5: I want to become your son’s friend. 

MOTHER: Oh, this is amazing!  Let me ask you this. Given the choice, would you rather marry a computer or my son? 

CANDIDATE 5. I can’t stand any more of this. I’m going. Goodbye. I feel so sorry for him. (She exits.) 

(MOTHER is now shaking with frustration and anger. She goes to the door to admit CANDIDATE 6, who almost glides into the room. She sits and gazes into THE KING’S eyes. MOTHER sits down and looks on dumbfounded as he returns the gaze. He suddenly rips off both of his slings - obviously, there is nothing wrong with his arms at all - and extends both his arms towards CANDIDATE 6. He seems to lose confidence and lowers his arms. At this point KIDDO enters and stays for a few moments, giving words of advice and encouragement.)
KIDDO: Go for it! You can do it! Left arm out more! (THE KING extends his left arm.) Now the right! (THE KING extends his right arm. KIDDO exits. THE KING instantly regains confidence. The lights are lowered and they embrace passionately. They sit on the sofa and continue to embrace, more and more erotically. MOTHER watches in horror. Then they get up and move towards the door.)

MOTHER (in a state of shock): Don’t go! (THE KING and CANDIDATE 6 exit. MOTHER is close to callapse. She exits.) 

Scene 7. In the vegan restaurant

(The decor of the restaurant is very simple. There is a table with six chairs stage right. There are menus on the table. There is a smaller table stage left with two chairs. THE DINER, a member of the CHORUS,  is sitting at the small table. She is eating a dessert, contained in a large bowl. VIC THE VEGAN hovers nearby.) 

VIC THE VEGAN: I hope you like your dessert? The vegan cream? 

DINER: No, I don't. It tastes like vegan pigswill. 

(VIC THE VEGAN stands behind her and draws a handgun. He shoots her immediately in the back of the head, which falls  into the bowl. He pulls her out of sight, still sitting on the chair, and returns with a cloth to remove the mess on the table. He then exits)  

(THE KING enters arm in arm with Anne, who was CANDIDATE 6 and is now his FIANCEE, followed by his MOTHER and then by KIDDO and CAPONE. They sit an the long table, all facing the audience, in this order, from right to left: CAPONE, KIDDO, MOTHER, ANNE AND THE KING. Mother looks at THE KING and his fiancee with evident despair, and evident hostility towards ANNE.  The look is maintained until the end of the scene, interrupted by criticism of the restaurant and its menu, until later, she becomes a little less hostile to ANNE  and even manages to engage her in conversation.  The diners take a menu each and scrutinize it. CAPONE AND KIDDO find it hilarious and burst out laughing as they read some of the items. MOTHER, in the centre, seems deeply unhappy. ANNE shows by her expression that she warmly approves of the menu, whilst THE KING looks contented and curious.) 

MOTHER: Organic this, organic that. Why does everything have to be organic nowadays? It’s not natural. Next time, we’ll go to a restaurant that serves proper food. (ANNE gives a pained expression. The diners return to scrutinizing the menu and then the decor.) 

KIDDO: Waiter! Waiter! We’re the waiters here, we’ve been waiting for ages. (VIC THE VEGAN enters. KIDDO  is shocked and then dismissive.) Oh no! 

CAPONE: Let’s go. 

VIC THE VEGAN (unflustered): Steady! Let’s put our little disputes behind us. 

CAPONE: We’ll have a truce, shall we? 

KIDDO: Alright. We’ll have a truce, like the one at Christmas in the First World War. But next time we see him, he’s had it. 

VIC THE VEGAN: If you insist. 

MOTHER: There’s no fish on this menu. 

VIC THE VEGAN: Ah, we are a vegan restaurant, you do realize. 


MOTHER: You mean a vegetarian restaurant. 

VIC THE VEGAN: A vegan restaurant. 

MOTHER (ignoring this correction.) A vegetarian restaurant that doesn’t serve fish! I’ve never heard of anything so ridiculous. 

VIC THE VEGAN: You’re not vegetarians or vegans, then? 

ANNE: I am! A vegan! (VIC THE VEGAN looks at her approvingly.)  

KIDDO (glancing towards THE KING): Yeah, this young man’s fiancee is. The rest of us are carnivores. 

CAPONE: Let’s have some soup first. 

KIDDO: We’ve been having a butcher’s at the menu. It’s very interesting. What’s the soup of the day? 

VIC THE VEGAN: Sea vegetable soup. 

CAPONE: I hope you wash them sea slugs off! (VIC THE VEGAN and ANNE are not amused.) 

KIDDO: And give it plenty of seas-oning. 

CAPONE: With sea salt. 

KIDDO: What does sea vegetable soup have in it? Sea cucumbers? 

VIC THE VEGAN: Sea cucumbers are animals, not plants. It contains sea weed. 

KIDDO: I see. 

CAPONE: I’d be sea-sick if I had that! 

KIDDO: Let’s order. I’m so hungry I could eat a sea- horse. Give us a laugh. Sea vegetable soup for five. 

MOTHER: For four. I refuse to touch it. 

VIC THE VEGAN: Right, soup for four. 

KIDDO: It says on the menu you even offer bread with the soup. It says ‘please ask about the bread.’ Ask what? 

VIC THE VEGAN: About the different kinds.  We offer breads made with different flours, singly or combined. (A pause before he rattles off the list.) Wholemeal, rye, barley, spelt, emmer, amaranth, buckwheat, gram, millet, soya and Quinoa. 

KIDDO: We’ll have  sliced white. 

VIC THE VEGAN: We don’t serve white bread. 

KIDDO: Give us the wholemeal stuff, then. 

ANNE: The food here is marvellous, absolutely delicious, cooked to perfection. I’m sure my fiancee will like it, even though it’s completely different from what he’s been used to at home. 

MOTHER (angrily): He’s been used to good food at home. 

CAPONE (looking at KIDDO and MOTHER): Don’t mind my mentioning this, you’ve had quite a bit of stuff from me. Musical instruments for example - the violin, a piano. And a lot more besides - antiques, paintings, jewellery ...Do you think you could see your way clear to giving me a cheque? Don’t want to push you, but... 

MOTHER (offended): Really, you’ve got to give  us more time. We’re your best customers. We can always take our custom somewhere else... 

CAPONE (in panic): Oh, I’m not suggesting... 

KIDDO: Good. 

MOTHER: We can’t rush these things. It takes time to decide. I think I like the mellow tone of the Stradivarius, for instance, but perhaps it isn’t penetrating enough. As soon as we decide the goods are absolutely right for us, you’ll have a cheque straight away. 

KIDDO: Honestly, you don’t think we’re going to do a runner to South America, do you? Call round sometime next month and we’ll be glad to discuss it further. Now’s not the time. We wouldn’t want to spoil the meal, would we? 

CAPONE: Sorry... 

KIDDO: Besides, you’ve never delivered the church organ and the stained glass you promised us. You said you knew this bloke, works in a big cathedral. 

MOTHER: Yes, not a verger, a bishop. 

CAPONE: That was just a joke...obviously I wasn’t serious... 

KIDDO: A joke! A joke, you say! I hope you’re joking! 

CAPONE (very unhappily): I’m not joking. It was just a joke. 

KIDDO: We were looking forward to those things. We’d have paid good money for them. You’ve disappointed us now. 

CAPONE: Sorry... 

KIDDO: One thing you can’t expect us to pay for are the violin lessons. You’ve been teaching him for ages now and he still hasn’t made it as a concert soloist. He hasn’t even made it as the leader of an orchestra. 

CAPONE: Sorry about that. 

KIDDO: To show there are no hard feelings, I insist on paying for everyone’s meal tonight. 

CAPONE: Thanks... 

KIDDO: I’ve left my wallet behind, but if you can lend me something, you’ll get it back when you next come round, whenever that is. Tonight, you won’t have to pay for anything. The hospitality’s on me. 

CAPONE: Thanks again... 

(VIC THE VEGAN enters, carrying a tray, on which are four bowls of soup He puts them in front of KIDDO, CAPONE, THE KING AND ANNE.) 

KIDDO: You’ve forgotten the bread. (VIC THE VEGAN exits. All except MOTHER begin the soup. CAPONE and KIDDO screw their faces up in disgust, MOTHER sits with arms crossed, still obviously full of disapproval. ANNE   obviously finds the soup delicious. She savours every mouthful. THE KING is enthusiastic too, and eats very, very quickly, his spoon in constant motion.) 

CAPONE: This soup ain’t half hot...So you’ll definitely let me have a cheque as soon as you think the goods are right for you? 

KIDDO: I’ve told you once, don’t spoil the meal. Let’s not mix business with pleasure. If you can call this pleasure. (His face continues to show complete distaste. VIC THE VEGAN enters with a basket containing very solid-looking lumps of bread. He puts the pieces of bread on the table with a thump.) Have you anything to drink? Alcoholic, I mean. 

VIC THE VEGAN: We do serve vegan beer. 

KIDDO (genuinely astonished): Vegan beer! (Cynically) Beer without any meat in it? I didn't know ordinary beer had meat in it! 

VIC THE VEGAN: Beers are often cleared with chemicals called 'finings.' Gelatine's often used, and gelatine's often manufactured from the hooves of cattle! 

KIDDO: Well, you've told me something I didn't know. 

VIC THE VEGAN (warming to his theme, and obviously glad to be a source of enlightenment): And isinglass is used for finings as well. You'd never guess what part of an animal is used to make isinglass. 

KIDDO: Don't tell me! Kangaroos' tonsils? (VIC THE VEGAN shakes his head at this suggestion, and the other suggestions put forward) The umbilical cords of squirrels? Not hamsters' retinas! 

VIC THE VEGAN: No, the swim bladder of a fish, the sturgeon. 

KIDDO: Amazing! Fetch me some beer that hasn't got cows' hooves or sturgeon's swim bladders in it. Anybody else want any? (Nobody answers). Just for me, then. 

(VIC THE VEGAN exits and returns very quickly with a glass of beer which hasn't been cleared in any way - very dark brown and very thick and opaque. This can be made by allowing yeast to ferment for some days and adding it to ordinary beer. He puts it in front of KIDDO, who takes a sip and reacts as he did with the soup, making a grimace.) 

MOTHER (looking at ANNE): What do you do for a living? 

ANNE: Oh, I don't work. I don't have a paid job, if that's what you mean. 

MOTHER (with a look of extreme disapproval): Oh... 

ANNE: I do a lot of voluntary work, though...mainly in animal rescue. 

MOTHER: What sort of animals? 

FIANCEE: Waifs and strays in general, but stray dogs, mainly. I can't bear to see dogs that have been abandoned, that have nobody to look after them. 

MOTHER (less hostile): I see. I prefer cats, though. I love cats. Do you help to rescue cats as well? 

ANNE: Oh I do. 

MOTHER (MOTHER seems, reluctantly, quite impressed.) Do you have any dogs of your own? 

ANNE: Three. I used to have four. 

MOTHER: That's a lot. 

ANNE: It keeps me busy! 

MOTHER: What about feeding them. Don't you mind giving them meat? 

ANNE: Oh, they're vegetarians as well. They've never eaten meat, not since I got them, anyway. I buy a complete food in sacks. All you do is add water. 

MOTHER: That's new to me. 

KIDDO (who has heard the last part of this conversation): I'm sure they've got sacks of the same stuff in the kitchen. I bet the chef's a real artist at adding water. (Looking at THE KING, who has almost finished his soup, and then addressing VIC THE VEGAN): The boy likes his soup. Fetch him another bowl. It’ll keep him quiet. 

(VIC THE VEGAN exits and returns with another steaming bowl. He is about to put the bowl in front of THE KING when he spills the contents down the front of his trousers.) 

VIC THE VEGAN: Aaaargh! Oooh! 

KIDDO: Waiter, there’s soup in your fly! (KIDDO and CAPONE laugh loudly.) 

ANNE: (getting up from her chair, very concerned and taking hold of VIC THE VEGAN’S arm): What a terrible thing to happen! I can’t bear to see anyone suffer! (She exits with VIC THE VEGAN, who limps. THE KING looks on helplessly, obviously shattered. His MOTHER looks stern. KIDDO and CAPONE find the whole spectacle hilarious.) 

MOTHER: This is a madhouse. We’re going. 

KIDDO: We can pick up some fish and chips on the way home. 

MOTHER: I want to go straight back! 

KIDDO: To the underground car park! 

(MOTHER, KIDDO and CAPONE begin to leave but THE KING stays where he is. The others force him to leave. Although he tries to hold on to the table, they loosen his grip, take hold of his arms and slowly force him to go. All exit.) 

Scene 8. The underground car park

(All that needs to be shown as scenery is a wall, apparently of concrete, with routine, squalid graffiti already on some of the wall. This is the setting for a modern counterpart of the ancient Oracle at Delphi. There are junkies, members of the Chorus, two of them with spray cans. As in the case of THE KING’S poverty at Hyde Park Corner, they should give a forcible  impression of need and despair and not of anything comic. One of the two begins to spray new graffiti on the wall in Greek. The other begins to spray the English translation. The light is lurid and dim. The opening chords of the Overture to Mozart's opera 'Don Giovanni' are played by the violinist and cellist (if available) whilst the members of the Chorus lend weight to the chords by screaming (at the musical pitch which lies within their range). The music of the Overture continues, now much softer. The OCTOGENARIAN PRIESTESS enters, with head and face covered.  She stands with head bowed. The members of the Chorus continue to spray graffiti until they have completed the words below. The words in Greek were carved on the temple at Delphi, where the oracle was to be found.

(The members of the chorus exit. THE KING, MOTHER, KIDDO and CAPONE enter and stand before the PRIESTESS.) 

OCTOGENARIAN PRIESTESS (lifting her head and pointing towards THE KING): It’s a wise child that knows its own father. 

KIDDO (obviously shaken, without any confidence):Any more gems, oracle? 

OCTOGENARIAN PRIESTESS (pointing at KIDDO): Look before you leap! 

OCTOGENARIAN PRIESTESS (pointing at MOTHER): Marry in haste! Repent at leisure! (She bows her head again and is suddenly immobile again, like a statue.) 

MOTHER (shaken): Why are we standing here listening? 

None of what she says makes any sense. 


The Script, Act 2 

Scene 1. The Himalayas - a pass 

(The stage is completely bare, the milky-white colour of ice in the dim light. There should be no representation of the high mountains which surround the pass. THE GUIDE enters.) 

THE GUIDE (his delivery should be elevated throughout): He forgot his tiredness and the cold. The view ahead seemed as fine as he could wish and he was eager to go on. Massive peaks rose before him and their enormous mass seemed to draw him on. Between the peaks were fissures down which thin streams plunged and cascaded, edged with ice in long slivers of translucent crystal. Winding up into the peaks was a path, almost obliterated by snow. Soft, downy snow was falling steadily as he began to climb. As he climbed, he became entranced by the pure, almost featureless landscape into which he was climbing, the sloping walls of snow which in the dim light were beginning to merge with the snow-filled sky. The path began to level and he saw before him a sea of snow, now stormy.  The howling wind swept above it, lifting the snow, driving it on, piling it up into what seemed a continuous curtain of snow, spread across the sky like the Northern Lights. He strained his eyes to see beyond. He pressed on at once. On and on he went. He paused often to gaze around him with serene face, a face which shone with snow. Quite suddenly the wind dropped,  there was the descent of calm and he came to this place of refuge high in the mountains. The others followed.  

(THE GUIDE exits. T. K. enters, dressed in a bulky anorak, carrying an enormous rucksack. He shuffles in cross-country skis and is carrying ski poles. [Downhill skis, poles and boots, which are much more widely available than cross-country equipment, can be substituted.] Until he removes the skis, which he does after a short time, his movements, turning in particular, are severely restricted. He  changes his ski boots and puts on ordinary hiking boots and takes off the rucksack. He sits down wearily.) 

SHERPA GIRLS (singing. In the first line, ‘Tooting’ and ‘Balham’ can be replaced with the names of suburbs or other places near to the theatre): 

From Tooting and Balham to dear Kathmandu,
we'll show the whole world what we can do.
Kingston, O Kingston is our school,
we will try to follow every school rule.
To give one example to show what we mean,
Rule nine hundred and seven, subsection fourteen.
Don't throw snowballs,
it's forbi-i-den,
if you do the teachers will confiscate them. 

(The SHERPA GIRLS and the LEADER OF THE SHERPA GIRLS enter, each carrying a  load - a large cardboard box. They put the boxes at stage right. They are colourfully dressed. KIDDO enters, wearing a bulky anorak similar to T.K.'s. He wears boots. Throughout, he shows obvious signs of deep fatigue, although he tries to overcome it when he speaks.) 

KIDDO (to the LEADER OF THE SHERPA GIRLS): How much do I owe you and your Sherpas? 

LEADER OF THE SHERPA GIRLS: 5 000 Nepalese dollars. 

KIDDO: How much is 5 000 Nepalese dollars in British money? 


KIDDO: 99 pence! That's nearly a pound! 

LEADER OF THE SHERPA GIRLS: Your calculations are correct. 

KIDDO: It's a bit pricey but I'll write you out a cheque. (He takes out his cheque book from a pocket, writes out a cheque and gives it to the LEADER OF THE SHERPA GIRLS.) 

LEADER OF THE SHERPA GIRLS: What about a tip?  

KIDDO: Put the money on Dancing Duff in the 3.15 at Kathmandu Racecourse Monday next week. Capone's going to nobble the other runners. 

LEADER OF THE SHERPA GIRLS (looking at T. K.): What's the name of your friend? (Lingering over the phrase) I find him extraordinarily attractive. 

KIDDO: The King. 

LEADER OF THE SHERPA GIRLS: No, his real name. 

KIDDO: Sidney. 

LEADER OF THE SHERPA GIRLS: A lovely name! This place will be called 'Sidney' in honour of your friend. 

KIDDO: Don't be stupid. You can't call a place 'Sidney.' 


KIDDO: It's obvious, surely. It would be like calling a place 'Fred.' You can't imagine saying 'Are there any flights to Fred still available?' or 'Let's go to Sidney next year for our summer holidays.' Besides, this place is just a pass over the mountains. It's not worth giving it a name. It's never going to become one of the really important financial, industrial and cultural centres of the world. 

LEADER OF THE SHERPA GIRLS: I suppose so. Well, we must be going. Why don't you want us to carry your equipment back? 

KIDDO: It's downhill all the way. 

LEADER OF THE SHERPA GIRLS: Bye! (LEADER OF THE SHERPA GIRLS and the SHERPA GIRLS exit, singing their song again.) 

Scene 2. An episode - conflict and a truce 

Guidance about aspects of this episode is given in the Page 'Maestro: Introduction.'

KIDDO (going over to the enormous rucksack): We'd better unpack, have something to eat, then put the tent up. (He lifts the rucksack, very easily, with one hand.) I thought your rucksack was really heavy! It's as light as a feather! What have you got in there? Nothing much, I'm sure. The food's in a side pocket, yes? (He opens a side pocket of the rucksack and removes a tin.) Where's the tin opener? (Much more angrily) Where's the tin opener? You forgot the tin opener! You monstrosity! (His anger subsides a little. He takes a metal tent peg out of the rucksack, picks up a rock and uses the rock as a hammer and the tent peg as a chisel in an attempt to open the tin. His anger and his frustration increase as he efforts get him nowhere. He gives up. He rummages in the side pocket of the rucksack again and takes out a small package containing two very thick sandwiches. He looks intently at the sandwiches. With deep disgust.) Salad sandwiches! (He drops one to the ground and it makes a thudding sound. Obviously the sandwiches are frozen. He is now more angry than ever, but too angry even to insult T.K. KIDDO begins to show the effects of the intense cold and his teeth begin to chatter a little.) I've never known such cold! I feel cold and I feel filthy and I feel tired and I’ve had no sleep and I'm hungry and I feel short of oxygen. We're so high up. (He seems more and more confused. He looks at the sandwiche he is holding very intently. The green of frozen lettuce can be seen poking out between the two thick slices of bread.) Plants give out oxygen, that's what I've heard. This lettuce is just what I need. (He struggles to take off the top slice and in the end succeeds. By now he is very short of breath. He sits down and holds the lower slice of bread with lettuce and other unappetising filling on top near to his mouth. He breathes in deeply. His mind continues to wander.) Haven't had a change of clothes since we left Kathmandu. There are spare clothes in  the rucksack, I think. I'll put another layer of clothes on. I'll have to forget about changing. The cold's so bad. (KIDDO now opens the flap to the main compartment of the rucksack and looks very, very surprised.) What have we got here? This is unbelievable. (He removes from the rucksack spare clothes - four pairs of thick trousers and four thick shirts. Half of these are grey in colour and half are khaki. In the intense cold, they have all become frozen stiff. Some time before the performance, the clothes are soaked, the excess water is wrung out and the clothes are placed in a chest freezer. They are removed during the interval. KIDDO  puts them down in the centre of the stage. He and T. K. Should block the audience’s view of the clothes so far as possible. There will be an unobstructed view later, under very different circumstances. KIDDO looks at the clothes with astonishment and anger.) 

KIDDO (shouting out): So this is what you've been carrying! You were too idle or too stupid to fold the clothes properly before you put them in there! I underestimated you! I underestimated your stupidity! (He puts a few of the items of clothing in a vertical position.   Whilst in this position, the view of them is not blocked.  The clothes are self-supporting - they stand upright unaided. He lays them down again.) You're the densest person I've ever known!  (Losing self-control and screaming and shouting) I’ll kick your head in! (He shoves T. K., who shoves KIDDO in return. He continues to scream and shout. )  Keep away from me, you scumbag! 

(Without speaking, KIDDO picks up the rucksack and carries it to stage right. T. K. meanwhile walks to stage left. The stage becomes completely dark, as if storm clouds are overhead. [Optionally, the Canon at the 12th from Bach's 'The Art of Fugue' is performed by the violinist and cellist, hidden at opposite sides of the stage] Then there is a 'canon' of sound and light: flashes of artillery fire lighting up the clothes, the massive sounds of artillery bombardment, from the two sides of the stage. The audience will realize by now that the clothes  symbolize the dead in no man’s land. KIDDO and T. K. both sit, separated by the width of the stage. KIDDO puts his hands to his ears and flexes his body, looking with horror at the broken bodies of the fallen. He screams over and over again. T. K, seems to be in a state of shell-shock and rocks backwards and forwards repetitively, his hands clenched tightly in front of him. This is an intensification of the damaged state of mind apparent in the rest of the play, just as the military action is an intensification of the conflict between the two. After a minute or two, the flashes of light and the sounds die away. The stage is lit by a dim light.) 

KIDDO (There is complete silence for a time.  He gets to his feet, slowly and warily. He begins to sing, a little warily to begin with, then with more confidence, a verse of the old German carol which contains Latin as well as German, 'In dulce jubilo):' 

In dulci jubilo
Nun singet und seid froh!
Unsers Herzens Wonne
Leit in praesepio,
Leuchtet vor die Sonne
Matris in gremio.
Alpha es et O. 

(As he sings, T. K. gets to his feet, still very shaken and also wary. The two then walk towards each other slowly, and meet near the corpses lying on the stage. They shake hands. They each take a 'body,' made up of trousers and shirt. The ones which are  field-grey are  the colour of the German uniform in the First World War. The British ones are  khaki.  KIDDO carries a field-grey body to stage right and T. K.takes a khaki body to stage left. They remove the other two bodies, field-grey and khaki. The bodies are now out of sight, as if they have been buried. KIDDO and T. K. face towards them for a moment and bow.) 

( T. K. takes from the rucksack, which has been left at stage right, a ball and some tent poles, or sections of tent poles. He has the habit of carrying seemingly unnecessary items, such as a ball, as well as useful items, such as, in this case, the tent poles. When he was a vagrant in London, carrying a black refuse bag, a ball was one of the items in it. He puts the ball down in the centre of the stage and gives two of the tent poles to Kiddo, keeping two for himself. They go to stage right and left again and place the poles in hidden supports, some distance apart, so that the poles are vertical. They represent the goal posts. Both of them return to centre-stage and stand next to the ball very purposively, as at the beginning of a football match. The match begins.Throughout, the level of technique will necessarily be amateurish but nothing should be played for laughs. There are no rough tackles. The flow of play should be as smooth as possible. The setting is important - the bare stage milky-white in dim light, as if on a frozen lake.  The combination of physical excitement and the sombre beauty of the setting should belong to the same world as the episode of skating on the ice of Esthwaite Water in Wordsworth’s ‘The Prelude.’ The breathing of KIDDO and T. K. is laboured. Two or three times, they stop playing for a few moments to get their breath back. Otherwise, KIDDO is almost as silent as T. K. He speaks a few words to compliment T. K.  

KIDDO: Good. Very good. 

(The first phase lasts two or three minutes, and in that time the score is 1 - 1. If by accident the ball is kicked into a goal to make the score 2- 1, then they should ensure that the result is a draw before the next phase. They stop playing for a moment.) 

KIDDO: One - one. Extra time. (They resume playing for another couple of minutes, during which time there's no score. If by accident the ball is kicked into a goal, they ensure that another goal is scored to give a draw. Again they stop playing.) Penalty shoot-out. Two attempts each. I shoot first. 

( T. K. goes to his goal and takes up the usual goal-keeper's position, with knees bent, awaiting the shot. KIDDO places the football some distance from the goal and walks some distance back from the ball. He shows immense concentration. Suddenly, he runs and kicks the ball. Whether or not he scores depends upon the actors, who should do their best to score in the one case and make a save in the other. Likewise for the other shots made in the penalty shoot-out. Then he goes over to his goal and takes up a goal-keeper's stance. T. K. now makes two penalty shots. If the score is still level, there are successive penalty shots in groups of two until a winner emerges.) 

KIDDO (whether he's the winner or not): Well done! 

(The two stand facing each other a short distance apart. They bow towards each other.) 

Scene 3. After the truce, and entry of mother

KIDDO (The truce ends, abpruptly): Right, scumbag, put the tent up.(He  is silent and gloomy as he watches T. K. put up the 'tent.' This takes very little time. There are flexible poles, inserted into the fabric. It's quickly apparent that this is far from being a proper tent. The task is completed and T. K. sits.) I asked you to cut costs on the tent. Not that much! I called it a 'tent' but you brought along a  beach shelter! A beach shelter in the Himalayas! We've been lucky with the wind when we've been camping. If it blows a gale tonight, we've had it. Shredded shelter. (Looking towards the boxes at stage right.) Let’s take a look at what else we’ve got. (He goes over to the boxes and opens the one at the top. He pulls out a long, slim striped and colourful package, a wind-break. He doesn’t unroll it.) A wind-break! Just the thing for the beach at Blackpool! Protection from the sea breezes. Useless here, totally useless. Just like you. (He slides the wind-break back into the box.) Eating. Forget the beans. Let's have some sandwiches instead. (He takes out a lunch box from the rucksack, opens it, flings  a sandwich at  T. K., who catches it,  and takes a sandwich for himself. They eat, with backs turned to the spectacle which unfolds in the meantime, completely unaware of the entry of MOTHER. She uses a climbing rope to abseil (rappel) down a wall of the theatre. She begins to abseil at a place high up where she can't be seen, but is quickly visible to the audience. Alternatively, she can swing on to the stage, using a climbing rope like a human pendulum, or enter simply by walking on stage, although carrying a coiled climbing rope. Whichever method is chosen, she should enter behind KIDDO and T. K.)  

MOTHER (unclipping the karabiner which is the method of attachment to the climbing rope, if a rope has been used.): So this is where you've got to! Why do you keep running away from home? (T. K. and   KIDDO look intensely surprised. If entry was by using the climbing rope, she takes off her climbing harness. ) 

KIDDO: After all this excitement, let’s get to bed. 

MOTHER: We may as well. I'm tired. (She begins to stamp on the ground a short distance from the beach shelter.) 

KIDDO: What exactly are you doing? 

MOTHER: I’m stamping the snow down for you. 

KIDDO: For me? Why? 

MOTHER: So you can sleep there more comfortably. 

KIDDO: I’m sleeping in the shelter. 

MOTHER: I can’t possibly sleep in the shelter with you. 

KIDDO: Is sonny-boy going to sleep outside as well? 

MOTHER: Of course not. He might catch cold. 

KIDDO: If anything’s certain in this confused old world of ours, it’s that I’m going to sleep in the shelter tonight. You and your offspring can join me if you want. I’d sooner have it to myself, though. (MOTHER does not reply. She looks at KIDDO with hatred. KIDDO gets into the shelter, then T. K., followed with extreme reluctance by MOTHER. Beach shelters are usually open on one side. If so, this one will need a curtain. This is now used to cover the opening. If the shelter has a zipped side, this is zipped up. Darkness quickly falls. The next stage is to transform the beach shelter - which must be plain, in one colour, preferably yellow or green, elegant and similar to a dome tent in shape, into a thing of beauty. An electric lantern is turned on. This must give a diffuse light. The mountain pass is suffused with beauty as the shelter shines a soft light into the darkness. [If snow-making equipment is available.] It begins to snow lightly. THE GUIDE enters and walks over to the shelter.) 

THE GUIDE (The poem must be spoken with great contrasts of tempo, volume and intensity. For example, a marked slowing with the words ‘far, and wide,’ a speeding up at the next line, ‘But we drift, then fall,’ the next lines faster still, until at ‘weakly, weakly there is an abrupt slowing. The words ‘...and sleepy’ at the end of the poem should be spoken in hushed tones.) 

Sifted, unfallen snow,
settling and unsettling snow,
snow resting like mortar on the stone
of the cold, unroofed, unfinished home
we call the world,
snow drifting far, and wide.
But we drift, then fall.
Suddenly small,
finding nothing to grasp,
we suddenly gasp
weakly, weakly,
soon silenced...and sleepy. 

(The lantern is turned off. THE GUIDE goes to stage right. The moon begins to rise, casting a silver light on the shelter and the ledge.

Scene 4. The entry of the bear 

(THE GUIDE enters). 

THE GUIDE (addressing the audience): Your life,
full of chance and finalities,
can have the smiling assurance
of someone who never thinks.
Be like nature,.
which accompanies wars and killings,
its own discreet or dramatic killings,
with snow settling, winds blowing,
the moon rising or setting with such simplicity,
on such carnage.
Be happy, be contented, be unsatisfied, be many.
Feel the ecstasy of the hunter,
the terror of the hunted,
the anger of the one who acts to stop the killing -
but of course, so rarely can. 

(He exits. Soon afterwards, a BEAR enters - CAPONE in a bear outfit. The BEAR examines the shelter with some care. The opening to the tent is unzipped by T. K. - or the curtain is moved aside. He thrusts his head out and looks at the BEAR with astonishment. He tries to communicate his sighting wordlessly.) 

KIDDO: Get back to sleep. 

(KIDDO and MOTHER put their heads to the opening of the shelter and see the BEAR for themselves. KIDDO, MOTHER and THE KING squirm to get out as fast as they can. The BEAR simply looks on. MOTHER thinks that the BEAR may well be harmless.) 

MOTHER: Glad to meet you. 

KIDDO: Get hold of him! Catch him! (The BEAR now begins to walk away. KIDDO pulls out a gun.) Hands up! Halt or I shoot! 

MOTHER: Don’t be stupid, bears don’t understandEnglish. 

KIDDO: It's not a bear! It's the Yeti! The Abominable Snowman! Haende hoch! Halt, oder ich schiesse! (The BEAR turns slightly but does not stop. KIDDO fires once and the BEAR falls to the ground.) 

MOTHER: You murderer. (The BEAR moves slightly. He is still alive. KIDDO, THE KING and MOTHER sit next to him, the MOTHER cradling the head of the BEAR in her lap. Although the facial expression of THE BEAR cannot alter, the plight of the noble creature will be conveyed. The next episode should be conducted in a dream-like way, as if in a trance, but also in a very poignant way, particularly at the beginning of the episode. The discordant actions in which there are alternate efforts to save his life and to put him out of his misery should not disturb the essential calm. The opening of Tchaikowsky's '1812 Overture' is played. See Music in the play for information. About 45" into the recording or live performance, MOTHER speaks.) He is sinking fast. (The BEAR moves slightly. He is still alive. About 1' 30” into t he recording or live performance.) He has not long to go. (The BEAR continues to hold on to life. The extract from the recording or the live performance ends. MOTHER looks at the BEAR wistfully and compassionately but distantly. She continues to do so, without reacting, whilst KIDDO tries alternately to end the life and to save the life of the BEAR.) 

KIDDO: He’s suffering. He may not show it, but he’s suffering. I’m going to put him out of his misery. (He hits the BEAR over the head with his gun.) That hasn’t worked. (The BEAR hardly reacts. He's still very much alive.) I think there’s hope for him yet. I’ll try mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. (He puts his mouth to the that of the BEAR and attempts to resuscitate him.) It’s hopeless. (He points his gun at the BEAR’s head and pulls the trigger. Nothing happens.) I shouldn’t have hit him. The gun’s jammed. I’ll try some heart massage. That might work. (He attempts heart massage, with both hands clasped on the chest of the BEAR. The BEAR seems worse rather than better as a result.) He’s still suffering. I think I’ll strangle him. (He puts his hands round the broad throat of the BEAR and tries to strangle him.) He’s got such a big neck. (He removes his hands. He addresses THE KING.) Put your hands round his neck and I will. When I say, ‘Squeeze!’ then squeeze, will you? (The two encircle the neck of the BEAR with their hands.) Squeeze! Once more, squeeze! (The two squeeze hard but there is no discernible effect.) It’s no good. (They take their hands away. KIDDO looks closely at the BEAR’s head and chest.) I can’t see a bullet-hole. (He looks at the BEAR’s stomach very intently.) Ah, there it is, a stomach wound. There’s no blood, though. Must be the cold. It stops the bleeding. (He gets up and goes over to a rucksack and pulls out a needle and cotton from a side pocket. He again sits next to the BEAR.) I’ll just stitch his wound up. (He threads the needle and then tries to sew up the ‘wound.’) 

MOTHER (coming out of here reverie abruptly and attentive again): What are you sewing up his belly button for? (She falls back into her trance-like state.) 

KIDDO (He looks ashamed. He puts the needle and cotton back in the rucksack and resumes his seat.): I’ve forgotten...casualties should be kept warm...he’s losing body heat...he’s in a state of shock...(looking at THE KING) give me your anorak. (THE KING takes off the anorak and gives it to KIDDO, who puts it over the chest of the BEAR.) That’s better! (KIDDO and THE KING look at the BEAR for a short time but the casualty seems to have deteriorated now.) I’m going to have to suffocate him. (He moves the anorak to cover the BEAR’s face and presses down. The BEAR’s arms flail. THE KING’s teeth are chattering. His MOTHER’s daydream again ends abruptly and she notices how cold her son is.) 

MOTHER: Let him have his coat back now! (KIDDO removes the anorak and gives it back to THE KING, who puts it back on. The head of the BEAR is raised and then falls back.) He’s died. 

KIDDO (suddenly preoccupied): I’ve an idea. (He gets up, takes the shelter, which is self-supporting, and places it over the BEAR. To THE KING) Get inside (He goes inside, followed by T. K.) 

MOTHER: What are you doing? 

KIDDO: I won’t be long. (After a short time, he emerges from the tent with the BEAR. This may be CAPONE in the bear outfit or THE KING, who has put on the bear outfit. 

MOTHER (astonished and perplexed): What have you done? Has the bear come back to life again? 

KIDDO: Of course not. Your son’s inside the skin. 

MOTHER: Why have you done that? What are you up to? (Very loudly) Come out of there at once! 

KIDDO: Listen, I’ve had enough. I’m fed up with him. He’s a freak, completely useless... 

MOTHER: How dare you! 

KIDDO: He’s no good to man or beast, but he may be useful as a beast. I’ve made no money from his boxing and nothing from his violin-playing. I’m going to sell him to a zoo. (MOTHER says nothing. She is close to fainting.) They’ll pay a high price for a genuine Yeti. He’ll earn me something, and not before time. (MOTHER recovers and is suddenly defiant.) 

MOTHER: Over my dead body. 

KIDDO: Exactly. (He grabs MOTHER and begins to drag her towards stage right. The BEAR charges Kiddo, who releases his hold and runs away. If it seems likely that there will follow an exit similar to the one of Antigonus in ‘The Winter’s Tale,’ ‘pursued by bear,’ it does not take place. KIDDO and the BEAR are both exhausted and still suffering from the effects of the high altitude. They stop at the same time and take very deep breaths. Then they begin to run again, more slowly, following a roughly circular path on the stage, but again only a short distance.They have to stop and this time they sit down whilst they recover their breath. They stagger to their feet and the slow chase resumes. The BEAR catches up with KIDDO and slashes him with his claws, producing shocking and bloody wounds. Kiddo falls. The BEAR grabs hold of him and drags him. They move out of sight of the audience. A long scream is heard. Kiddo has fallen to his death. [If an acrobat is available, this gives him the opportunity to change into the BEAR costume, and to give a display of acrobatics in the next scene.])

Scene 5. A proposal 

(Dawn has broken. The sun begins to rise and quickly the stage is flooded with golden light. This is going to be a glorious day. MOTHER is  rummaging around the boxes which the Sherpa girls have transported. She opens the long box on top  and takes out the wind-break.)  

MOTHER: A wind break! (She erects it behind the tent, to make a colourful background. Unotrusive supports will be needed to keep the poles of the windbreak erect. She goes back to the boxes and opens the largest one. She removes a deck-chair, colourful and striped.) A deck-chair! That’s useful. (She erects the deck-chair near to the tent,   takes off her jacket and sits down. The sunlight is now very bright, as on a perfect day at the beach. She takes from the jacket a bottle of sun-tan lotion and applies it to her face. She takes out sunglasses and puts them on. She relaxes in the chair with a look of utter contentment for a time and then sits up. The BEAR frolics on the stage, retrieving, with his mouth, a ball which his mother throws towards him. [If an acrobat has changed into the BEAR outfit] he gives an exuberant display of handstands, cartwheels and somersaults. He comes over to his mother, who embraces him.)

MOTHER: Here, puss, puss, puss. (THE KING obligingly comes towards her and lies down next to her. She reaches down, pats his head and he rolls over on to his back. His MOTHER tickles his stomach gently.) He likes having his tummy tickled, doesn’t he? (She sits in utter contentment for a time. She embraces THE KING in an erotic rather than simply affectionate way, then stops.) Isn’t it better now that man has gone? I never liked him. He was never a good father to my dear little puss. (THE KING sits up at once, realizing that, like Oedipus, he has killed his own father.) Puss, will you marry me? 

THE KING (after a short pause): I will. 

MOTHER: His first words! This is the happiest day of my life.