Author: Chris Cook
Disclaimer: Based on characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer created by Joss Whedon and his talented minionators, and A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare.
SCENE, - The Town of MONTE ATHENA in Tuscany, and a Wood not far from it.
ATHENS. An Apartment in the Palace of GILES.
[Enter GILES, JENNY, WESLEY, Lords and Attendants.]
Jenny: 'Tis strange, my Giles, that these lovers speak of.
Giles: More strange than true. I never may believe
These antique fables, nor these fairy toys.
Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,
Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
More than cool reason ever comprehends.
The lunatic, the lover, and the poet
Are of imagination all compact;
One sees more demons than all hells can hold;
That is the madman; the lover, all as frantic,
Sees Helen's beauty in a brow of Egypt;
The poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven,
And, as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
Turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.
Such tricks hath strong imagination,
That, if it would but apprehend some joy,
It comprehends some bringer of that joy;
Or in the night, imagining some fear,
How easy is a bush supposed a bear?
Jenny: But all the story of the night told over,
And all their minds transfigur'd so together,
More witnesseth than fancy's images,
And grows to something of great constancy;
But, howsoever, strange and admirable.
[Enter TARA, XANDER, WILLOW and ANYA.]
Giles: Here come the lovers, full of joy and mirth. -
Joy, gentle friends! Joy and fresh days of love
Accompany your hearts!
Tara: More than to us,
Joy wait upon your royal walks, your board -
Anya: And your bed.
Giles: Come now; what masques, what dances shall we have,
To wear away this long age of three hours
Between our after-supper and bed-time?
Where is our usual manager of mirth?
What revels are in hand? Is there no play,
To ease the anguish of a torturing hour?
Wesley: Here, mighty Giles.
Giles: Say, what abridgment have you for this evening?
What masque? What music? How shall we beguile
The lazy time, if not with some delight?
[Xander clamps a hand over Anya's mouth before she can speak.]
Wesley: There is a brief how many sports are ripe;
Make choice of which your highness will see first.
[Giving a paper.]
The battle with the Hound of the Baskervilles, to be sung
By an Irish half-demon to the harp.
We'll none of that; that I have told my love,
In glory of my kinsman Sherlock Holmes.
The riot of the tipsy Bacchanals,
Tearing the Thracian singer in their rage.
That is an old device, and it was play'd
When I from Rome came last a conquerer,
The thrice-three Muses mourning for the death
Of learning, late deceas'd in beggary.
That is some satire, keen and critical,
Not sorting with a nuptial ceremony.
A tedious brief scene of heroic Angel,
And his love Cordelia; very tragical mirth.
Merry and tragical! Tedious and brief!
That is, hot ice and wondrous strange snow.
How shall we find the concord of this discord?
Wesley: A play there is, my lord, some ten words long,
Which is as brief as I have known a play;
But by ten words, my lord, it is too long,
Which makes it tedious; for in all the play
There is not one word apt, one player fitted;
And tragical, my noble lord, it is;
For Angel therein doth become entomb'd;
Which when I saw rehears'd, I must confess,
Made mine eyes water; but more merry tears
The passion of loud laughter never shed.
Giles: What are they that do play it?
Wesley: Hard-handed men that work in Athens here,
And one woman of questionable virtue,
Which never labour'd in their minds till now,
And now have toil'd their unbreath'd memories
With this same play against your nuptial.
Giles: And we will hear it.
Wesley: Good, then I shall- what? No, my noble lord,
It is not for you; I have heard it over,
And it is nothing, nothing in the world;
Unless you can find sport in their intents,
Extremely stretch'd, and conn'd with cruel pain,
To do you service.
Giles: I will hear that play;
For never anything can be amiss
When simpleness and duty tender it.
Go, bring them in; and take your places, ladies.
[Exit Wesley, muttering.]
Jenny: I love not to see wretchedness o'er-charged,
And duty in his service perishing.
Giles: Why, gentle sweet, you shall see no such thing.
Jenny: He says they can do nothing in this kind.
Giles: The kinder we, to give them thanks for nothing.
Our sport shall be to take what they mistake;
And what poor duty cannot do,
Noble respect takes it in might, not merit.
Where I have come, great clerks have purposed
To greet me with premeditated welcomes;
Where I have seen them shiver and look pale,
Make periods in the midst of sentences,
Throttle their practis'd accent in their fears,
And, in conclusion, dumbly have broken off,
Not paying me a welcome. Trust me, sweet,
Out of this silence yet I pick'd a welcome
And in the modesty of fearful duty
I read as much as from the rattling tongue
Of saucy and audacious eloquence.
Love, therefore, and tongue-tied simplicity
In least speak most to my capacity.
Wesley: So please your grace, the prologue is address'd.
Giles: Let him approach.
[Flourish of trumpets. Enter LARRY as PROLOGUE.]
Prologue (haltingly): If we offend, it is with our good will.
That you should think we come not to offend
But with good will. To show our simple skill,
That is the true beginning of our end.
Consider, then, we come but in despite.
We do not come as minding to content you.
Our true intent is. All for your delight.
We are not here. That you should here repent you.
The actors are at hand; and, by their show,
You shall know all that you are like to know.
Giles: This fellow doth not stand upon points.
Tara: He hath rid his prologue like a rough colt; he knows not the stop.
Willow: Babbling, even.
Tara: Yet a good moral, my lord; it is not enough to speak, but to speak true.
Jenny: Indeed he hath played on this prologue like a child on a recorder; a sound, but not in government.
Giles: His speech was like a tangled chain, wasn't it? Nothing impaired, but all disordered. Who is next?
[Enter JONATHAN as ANGEL, DEVON as CORDELIA, HARMONY as SKIP, MICHAEL as CONNOR, and SCOTT as the GARDEN of the hotel (with a pot-plant tied to his head).]
Prologue: Gentles, perchance you wonder at this show;
But wonder on, till truth make all things plain.
This man is Angel, if you would know,
Heroic vampire endowed with human soul;
This beauteous lady Cordelia is, certain.
This man, with pot-plant attached, doth present
The garden of the hotel wherein Angel makes his home,
And in which garden, hidden from the sight of others,
He and his lady whisper, at the which let no man wonder,
And by their concealment did they seek to escape
The censure of their allies, for risking the banishment
Of Angel's soul, in the event that he and his lady did...
And anyway, they shall arrange to meet at Verona Beach.
This grisly beast, which by name Skip hight,
The trusty Cordelia, coming first by night,
Did transport away, or rather did elevate;
And as she rose, so her purse she did fall;
And comes Angel, sweet youth and tall,
And finds his trusty Cordelia's mantle fallen;
Whereat in despair he is condemned by unfaithful son
To life everlasting, inescapable, at the bottom of the ocean deep,
Forever there to wait. For all the rest,
Let Skip, Connor, Garden, and lovers twain
At large discourse while here they do remain.
[Exeunt Prologue, Cordelia, Skip and Connor.]
Giles: I wonder if the creature Skip be to speak.
Xander: Don't ask me, I can't tell one demon from another.
Xander: I didn't mean you.
[Anya allows herself to be snuggled reassuringly.]
Garden: In this same interlude it doth befall
That I, one Scott by name, present garden tall;
And such a garden as I would have you see
That had in it a secluded palm-leaved tree,
Behind which the lovers, Angel and Cordelia,
Did whisper often very secretly.
This pot-plant perched ungainly on my head doth show
That I am that same garden; the truth is so;
And this the tree's trunk is, right and sinister,
At which the fearful lovers are to whisper.
Xander: It is the wittiest garden that ever I heard discourse, my lord.
Anya: You should talk.
Giles: Angel draws near the tree; silence now.
Angel: O grim-look'd night! O night with hue so black!
O night, which ever art when day is not!
O night, O night, alack, alack, alack,
I fear my Cordelia's promise is forgot! -
And thou, O tree, O sweet, O lovely tree,
That stand'st between us and our colleagues' sight;
Thou tree, O tree, O sweet and lovely tree,
Show me thy fronds, to blink through with mine eyne.
[Garden ducks so Angel can see through the leaves of the pot-plant.]
Thanks, courteous tree; Jove shield thee well for this!
But what see I? No Cordelia do I see.
O wicked tree, through whom I see no bliss;
Curst be thy bark for thus deceiving me!
Giles: The tree, methinks, being sensible, should curse again.
Angel: No, in truth, sir, he should not. Deceiving me is Cordelia's cue; she is to enter now, And I am to spy her through the fronds of the tree. You shall see it will fall pat as I told you. - Yonder she comes.
Cordelia: O tree, -
[Devon's soprano is not good.]
- full often hast thou heard my moans,
For parting my fair Angel and me;
My cherry lips have often kiss'd thy bark.
Angel: I see a voice; now will I to the tree,
To spy an I can hear my Cordelia's face.
Cordelia: My love! Thou art my love, I think.
Angel: Think what you will, I am thy lover's grace;
And like Limander am I trusty still.
Cordelia: And I like Helen, till the fates me kill.
Angel: Not Elizabeth to vampire James was so true.
Cordelia: As Elizabeth to James, I to you.
Angel: O, kiss me through the fronds of this vile tree.
Cordelia: I kiss the tree's fronds, not your lips at all.
Angel: Wilt thou at Veruca Beach -
Larry (offstage): Verona Beach!
Angel: Verona Beach! meet me straightaway?
Cordelia: 'Tide life, 'tide death, I come without delay.
Garden: Thus have I, garden, my tree discharged so;
And, being done, thus garden away doth go.
[Exeunt Garden, Angel and Cordelia.]
Giles: Now is the mural down between the two neighbours.
Xander: No remedy, my lord, when trees are so wilful to hear without warning.
Jenny: This is the silliest thing I ever saw.
Jenny: Alright, second silliest.
Giles: Here come a noble beast, the creature Skip, and Connor.
[Enter Skip and Connor.]
Skip: You, ladies, whose gentle hearts do fear,
The smallest monstrous mouse that creeps on floor,
May now, perchance, both quake and tremble here,
[The ladies are stifling their giggles at Harmony's delivery.]
When demon rough in wildest rage doth appear.
Then know that I, one Harmony, the actress, am
A demon fell, nor else no demon's dam;
For if I should as demon come in strife
Into this place, 'twere pity of my life.
Giles: A very gentle beast, and of a good conscience.
Willow: Huh! You didn't have to go to school with the vacuous tramp.
Xander: The very best at a beast, my lord, that e'er I saw.
Tara: This demon is a fox for her courage.
Giles: True; and a goose for her discretion.
Willow: Yep, that's Harmony alright.
Xander: Not so, my lord; for her valour cannot carry her discretion; and the fox carries the goose.
Giles: Her discretion, I am sure, cannot carry her valour; for the goose carries not the fox.
Tara: What the heck are you guys talking about?
Xander: You started it.
Giles: It is well; leave it to her discretion, and let us listen to Connor.
Connor: I do the vampire-child Connor present.
Xander: Should he not be wearing fangs?
Giles: He is not a vampire himself, but a child of such.
Connor: I do the vampire-child Connor present;
Myself enrag'd at the death of my father -
He being not Angel, you see, but the man who rais'd
Me as a child, and so I call 'father' -
And whom I now mourn, and whose death
I blame on Angel, who be my true father.
Xander: Wait, who's whose father now?
Anya: Try to keep up, honey.
Tara: Proceed, Connor.
Connor: All that I have to say, is to tell you that I am Connor; this -
[Enter Scott, carrying ropes and a stick to represent the mast of a ship.]
My ship; this -
[Enter Larry painted grey, as if metal.]
My big metal box; and this dog, my dog.
[Michael's terrier is hanging off one of Scott's ropes. Enter Cordelia.]
Cordelia: This is Verucca Beach. -
[Larry looks pained.]
- Where is my love?
[Skip throws glitter over Cordelia, then slings her over her shoulder and carries her off.]
Xander: Well perform'd, Skip.
Giles: Well ascended, Cordelia.
Jenny: Well brooded, Connor.
Giles: Well gnawed, dog.
[Cordelia drops her purse as Skip carries her off to a higher plane of existence, stage right.]
Xander: And so comes Angel.
Tara: And then the demon vanishes.
Angel: Sweet moon, I thank thee for thy sunny - but not too sunny! - beams;
I thank thee, moon, for shining now so bright;
For, by thy gracious, golden, glittering streams,
I trust to taste of truest Cordelia's sight.
But stay; - O spite!
But mark, - poor knight,
What dreadful dole is here!
Eyes, do you see?
How can it be?
O dainty duck! O dear!
Thy handbag good,
What! Covered in demon-glitter?
Approach, ye furies fell!
O fates! Come, come;
Cut thread and thrum;
Quail, rush, conclude, and quell!
Giles: This passion, and the death of a dear friend, would go near to make a man look sad.
Jenny: Beshrew my heart, but I pity the man.
Angel: O wherefore, nature, didst thou demons frame?
Since demon vile hath here deflower'd my dear; -
Xander: Did we miss a bit of the play?
Anya: He meant metaphorically.
Angel: Which is - no, no - which was the fairest dame
That liv'd, that lov'd, that lik'd, that look'd with cheer.
Tara (quietly, to Willow): Lik'd with cheer, eh?
Willow: He mispronounced 'liked'.
Willow: But now that you mention it...
[Tara and Willow snuggle discreetly.]
Angel: Come, tears, confound;
Out, child, and wound
The pap of Angel;
[Connor hauls Angels onto his 'ship'.]
Ay, that left pap,
Where heart doth hop; -
Well, it would, if it did hop at all
It would be just there, to the left; -
[Connor wraps Big Metal Box's arms around Angel.]
Thus die I, thus, thus, thus.
Now am I dead,
Now am I fled,
Confined for all eternity;
My soul never shall reach the sky;
Tongue, lose thy light!
Moon, take thy flight!
Now die, die, die, die, die.
[Connor pushes Big Metal Box and Angel off the ship. Exit Connor. Enter Skip, still carrying Cordelia.]
Cordelia: Swimming, my love?
What, drown'd, my dove?
O Angel, arise,
[Harmony is struggling under Devon's weight.]
Skip (sotto voce): Hurry the hell up!
Cordelis: Speak, speak. Quite dumb?
Dead, moreso? A tomb
Must cover thy sweet eyes.
[Devon is actually doing a decent job of acting.]
These lily brows,
This cherry nose,
These yellow cowslip cheeks,
Are gone, are gone;
Lovers, make moan!
His eyes were green as leeks.
O creatures from high,
Come, come to me,
With hands as pale as milk;
Lay them in gore,
Since you have shore
With shears his thread of silk.
Tongue, not a word; -
Come, trusty demon;
Come, warrior, carry me
From this earth, where I wish
No longer to dwell;
And farewell, friends; -
Thus Cordelia ends;
Adieu, adieu, adieu.
[Skip carries Cordelia away. There is a loud crash off-stage as Harmony collapses. The assembled guests applaud the Players as they return to take their bows.]
Giles: The iron tongue of midnight hath told twelve; -
Lovers, to bed; 'tis almost fairy time.
I fear we shall out-sleep the coming morn,
As much as we this night have overwatch'd.
This comic tragedy play hath well beguil'd
The heavy gait of night. - Sweet friends, to bed. -
A fortnight hold we this solemnity,
In nightly revels and new jollity.
[Exeunt Giles, Jenny, Xander, and Anya.]
Willow: Think you we shall out-sleep the coming morn?
Tara: Who said you're going to be getting any sleep?
Continue to Willow & Tara's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act Five, Scene Two