The Midsummer's Taleby Michelle Hiley
I got feedback on 'Much Ado About Politixs', so this is for those who liked the first one. Thank you. Feedback equals encouragement. Encouragement equals stories. Stories equals fear, fear equals hate, hate leads to the Dark Side...oops no sorry, where was I?
This is a separate play entirely from 'Much Ado About Politixs', with everyone recast in new roles.
I started it June 23rd, Midsummer Eve, so one play sprang to mind as the template, and you'll probably get more out of this if you're at least familiar with the basic plot of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream.' Though 'The Winter's Tale' and several of the other plays contributed bits. If you're not familiar with Shakespeare don't worry, hopefully you can just follow it as a story, (though if you're not familiar with Shakespeare, why not try him?) Finished July 8th/9th, posted July 10th 2001.
Fairy spells ahoy -- I play with that idea at least once in every fandom. This is the West Wing's turn. Oh, and the characters might be a little mean and sexist in this at times -- but they're playing roles. OK? I've now seen the first few episodes of season two -- halfway through writing this, I got my first glimpse of Ainsley.
Be warned: One spoiler for a horror movie that came out late 1999. If that worries you, mail me, and I'll tell you which one.
SCENE, the White House. DONNA sits at her desk, reading the script. Enter stage left, JOSH and SAM.
Josh: Whoa. Deja-vu.
Sam: So how does this affect the other play?
Josh: Not at all. In fact, we're performing the other one again tomorrow. New archiving request.
Sam: Good. I ended up with Ainsley in the Rose Garden.
Josh (to Donna): So, what's in this one?
Donna: You start the play being threatened with execution.
Josh: WHAT? *Again*?
Donna: Yeah. Must be something about you, people want to shoot you.
Donna: I can't imagine.
Sam: Do I get Ainsley?
Sam: What? What aren't you telling me? (tries to grab script).
Donna (grinning): Nothing. Trust me Sam, you don't want to know.
Josh (annoyed): He doesn't end up kissing you does he?
Donna: Not *me*, no.
Sam: I'm not sure I like the sound of this.
Donna: Relax. This is G rated. Maybe a 15 age limit. Nothing explicit.
Josh: Do I die? If I die, I'm not playing.
Donna: No. You end up with me again.
Josh (brightening): I'm the romantic hero?
Donna: Strictly speaking, *I'm* the romantic hero.
(Enter MANDY, stage right.)
Sam: Mandy? What're you doing here?
Mandy: I'm in this one. Apparently I want Josh back.
Josh (preening): You do?
Mandy: Yeah. That's what the script says.
Donna: He's gonna be insufferable after this play, you realise.
Mandy: Tell me about it.
Donna: Did you read the bit about.....
Mandy: Yeah I did. (snickers at SAM.)
Donna: It's that scene in 'Shadow of Two Gunmen' that did it.
Mandy: Completely insufferable.
Josh (only half listening): I'm da man.
Donna: In everyone's opinion, apparently.
Sam: Wait a minute....
Mandy: Leo sent me to get you three. They're waiting to start. They just need to make Toby co-operate.
Donna: He's sulking again, isn't he?
Mandy: Yeah. He's refusing to wear any long gauzy robes, so they gave him a black leather look, with antlers. Kinda like the 1935 movie.
Donna: Well that's not so bad.
Mandy: Just don't mention the 'f' word in front of him. We're calling them 'otherworldly Americans.'
Josh: What do you mean?
Josh: Toby's a fairy?
Donna (straight-faced): This is a very fairy play.
Sam (looking ashen): I'm going to get a drink. Maybe a few.
Josh: What's with him?
Donna: Oh, nothing. So, ready to go do the play?
Josh (strutting): Let's go, ladies. I'm hot to trot.
(Exit JOSH, followed by a giggling DONNA and MANDY.)
The West Wing Players hereby present
The Midsummer's Tale
Another Verrie Tragical Comedie, this time in Five Acts.
As performed with great gusto before sundry and diverse persons.
ABBEY, the captive Queen of the Amazon women, betrothed to Jed.
MARGARET, a secretary...uh, weaver.
TOBY, King of the Fairies.
SCENE: The White House, and various other parts of Washington.
SCENE ONE. Day. The foyer of the White House.
(There is a moment of silence, then arguing can be heard, finally JED is pushed into the foyer.)
Jed: We didn't have the prologue!
Leo (off-stage): This play doesn't have a prologue!
Jed: Oh right. (looks around). Well I can't play the scene by myself...
(Enter ABBEY, in chains, SAM guarding her.)
Jed: That's better.
Sweet knees, I wooed you with my sword.
Abbey: The National Organisation of Women is gonna take a very dim view of this, Jed.
Jed: Look peaches, it's in the play. He defeats her in battle, then she marries him. It's not my idea, honest.
Abbey: Josiah Bartlet, you have five seconds to unchain me, or your life won't be worth living.
Jed: But you'll marry me anyway, right?
Abbey: You unchain me right NOW, Jed!
(JED swallows nervously, and nods to SAM, who unchains ABBEY.)
Abbey: That's better. And I'll think about it.
(There is a commotion off-stage).
Jed (wilting a little under Abbey's glare): Sam, go check on that noise,
Sam: Yes my lord. Sir, after this scene, could I request to stay here in the White House for the entire play?
Jed: You want to stay here?
Sam: I'm nervous, sir. There's magical stuff about.
Jed: Think you're going to end up with an ass's head?
Sam: Believe me when I tell you that's the least of my worries right now.
Jed: Just go see who it is.
(SAM sighs deeply, and exits, while JED takes a seat, with ABBEY beside him. SAM returns a moment later.)
Sam: My lord, here is a quarrel needs your judgement.
Jed (adopting a regal tone): Let them approach.
(SAM gestures to a group off-stage. Enter LEO, dragging JOSH by the ear, MANDY and DONNA trailing behind.)
Leo: I beg the law, the law upon his head!
Jed: Oh dear God. Josh, what did you do now?
Donna: Hey, I didn't touch his bosom. Well, maybe a few times....
Leo: Thou, thou Donna, thou has given him coffee,
Donna: The coffee's a lie.
Josh: Can I say something?
Jed: Leo, what's your point?
Leo: I gave him to Mandy. He's refusing to marry her, because he'd rather cavort with Donna. I could make a long poetic speech, but I want you to give him his options here.
Jed: Fair enough. What say you, Josh? Be advised, fair maid...Uh...he's not exactly a maid, is he?
Leo (nervously looking at Mandy): Of course he is! Unsullied and virginal! Perfect pure marriage material!
Mandy: Leo...he really isn't.
Leo: You knew?
Leo (sighing): OK. Truth up, he isn't. Not after Donna snuck in through his bedroom window last week.
Jed: He was before?
Leo: Of course! Donna deflowered him and stole his innocence!
Donna (as an embarrassed Josh coughs): Yeah *right*. Leo, face facts. Your son's virtue went a very long time ago. Way before me, probably way before Mandy.
Mandy: She's right there.
Leo (furious): I should have fitted him with a goddam chastity belt. For God's sake Josh, how am I supposed to get you married off if you're not a virgin?
Mandy: It's OK, I'll take him anyway. His dowry's pretty good.
Donna: I'll take him, Leo. You can keep the dowry.
Leo: I made a deal with Mandy. Keep out of it Donna, you hussy!
Josh: I don't wanna marry Mandy, I want Donna.
Jed: Son, obedience to your father's will is paramount. He says marry Mandy, Mandy it is.
Josh (looking mutinous): And if I refuse?
Jed: Either you marry Mandy, or you get executed, or you become a monk and give up sex. Your choice.
Josh: No sex? Like....not ever?
Jed: No sex.
Josh: Wow. And I thought death was the worst thing that could happen here.
Mandy: Hey Josh, just marry me already. It won't be so bad. Remember that thing I used to do with the butter?
Josh: Yeah, but Donna has this thing with whipped cream and bananas...
Jed: I've heard enough....
Leo (interrupting): You and me both. Josh, you're grounded.
That's it. You can choose Mandy, death or a monastery. I'll give you until tomorrow to decide. Come sirrahs, let's go see what Congress is doing, and give Josh a scene with Donna.
(Exeunt all, except JOSH and DONNA.)
Donna: How now my love! Why is your cheek so pale?
Josh: No sex. Like *ever*. Or death. Or marry Mandy.
Donna: Wanna run away with me? Once we're clear of the forest, we could buy a couple of plane tickets to Wisconsin. They'd never find us.
Josh: What forest?
Donna: There's a forest nearby. Full of communications staff.
Josh: And we're going through it?
Donna: You want to stay here, get your head or other bits chopped off?
Josh: Let's go. Do you need to stop off at your place, pack anything?
Donna: Nah. We can pick up some bananas on the way.
(Exit JOSH and DONNA, at a run.)
SCENE TWO. Day. By the water-cooler. Standing there are MARGARET, BONNIE, CATHY, GINGER and CAROL.
Carol: A play? We're putting on a play in the play?
Carol: Run it by me again.
Ginger: For the memo did say, any persons that hath a play to perform should bring it before the Duke and Duchess on their wedding day. And if they see fit to choose it for their entertainment, those persons shall each be paid one shilling.
Cathy: A measly shilling?
Ginger: And a bran muffin.
Cathy: Oh well in that case....
Bonnie: But we don't *have* a play to perform.
Ginger: Sure we do. Margaret wrote one. (starts handing out scripts.)
Cathy (reading aloud from her script): 'The Most Lamentable Comedie of Thee West Winge. An Tale Of An Presidente, and his Merry Men.' Why do I have a bad feeling about this?
Margaret: Hey, I was up all night writing it!
Ginger: Cathy, you're the evil power-mad Deputy Communications Director.
Ginger: Bonnie, you're the shy and retiring Deputy Chief of Staff.
Ginger: Margaret's gonna be the Chief of Staff, Carol, you're the Press Secretary, and I'm Communications Director.
Cathy: So who's the President person?
Cathy: It said there was a President. We don't have one.
(Everyone looks at MARGARET.)
Margaret: What, it's my fault now?
Carol: Maybe we could hire someone? How about that guy from 'Apocalypse Now'?
Cathy: We can't afford that guy!
Margaret: Fine. (grabs script) We'll rewrite, and Ginger can play two parts. I think we should improvise as we go, anyway.
Ginger: Out, out, damn plot.
Carol: When're we supposed to find time to rehearse this? We stay here, they'll dump work on us. Should we all meet up at Margaret's or something?
Margaret: No. Someone will end up paging us. We'll head up to the woods, rehearse there.
Margaret (craftily): Out of range for the cell-phones.
Ginger: Then we're agreed. Take pains, be perfect, and we'll meet in the forest, anon.
Carol: Anon where?
Ginger: Act two scene three, fourth glade on the left.
Margaret: It's a deal.
SCENE THREE. Day. The Mural Room. Enter MANDY, LEO and SAM.
Mandy: Josh did *what*?
Leo: Took off. Did a runner. He's gone. Donna too.
Mandy: We had a bargain!
Leo: Hey, I've set the FBI on them, what more do you want from me?
Leo (putting his arm around Mandy's shoulders): Look, face facts, kid. He didn't want to marry you. It happens.
Mandy: That's not the attitude you had earlier!
Leo: Yeah well, he's gone. I'm practical. I'm also gonna take a nap.
Sam: You? Really?
Leo: I've been sitting shotgun outside Josh's bedroom window three nights in a row. Someone wake me for the final act, OK?
Sam: He's right. Look Mandy, give Josh a break. It's his choice.
Mandy: I'm Mandy Hampton, I am NOT taking this lying down!
Sam: Maybe not, but I bet Donna is.
Mandy: Really not helping here, Sam!
Sam: Am I supposed to be?
Mandy: Sam, I want you to go into that forest and drag Josh back here!
Sam: Oh no. No way. In fact I have an urgent scene in a locked room to attend to. If you'll excuse me, Mandy.
SCENE FOUR. Day. A Bedroom at the Residence. At the back, slightly right of centre stage, a closed door. ABBEY is sitting in front of a mirror, doing her make-up and hair. Enter AINSLEY, stage left.
Ainsley (curtseying): My lady Duchess-to-be.
Abbey (glancing at her in the mirror): Hi. Who're you?
Ainsley: Ainsley, Madam. I'm a maidservant. Again, apparently. I gotta talk to my agent.
Abbey (comfortingly): I'm sure when the writer's seen more of you dear, you'll get better parts. Did you come to wait on me?
Ainsley: Yes Madam. You wanted some help with your hair?
Abbey: You can help me decide how to style it. I'm getting married tomorrow.
Ainsley: That was quick!
Abbey: Yeah well, Jed can be very persuasive when he tries. He's out arranging it all now.
(There is a sudden crash from off-stage, behind the closed door.)
Abbey (calling, but not bothering to turn around): Sam dear, did you hurt yourself?
Sam (off-stage): I'm fine. I'm fine.
Abbey: I warned him about those hat-boxes. Never listens. So, do you think I should wear my hair up, or let it hang loose?
Ainsley: Sam's in your closet?
Abbey: Locked in.
Ainsley (horrified): Why, what did he do?
Abbey (unconcernedly patting at her hair): Oh, it's his idea. He says he's staying there. (looks up, as running footsteps are heard.) Hey Jed!
Jed: Pumpkin! I arranged it all. We can get married tomorrow.
Abbey: That's nice, dear.
Jed: We'll get the senior staff to form an honour guard.
Abbey: They're not here, Jed.
Abbey (powdering her nose): Toby, Charlie and CJ are cavorting through the forest. Josh ran off with Donna. Leo washed his hands of it all and took a nap, and I think Mandy went to hunt Josh down.
Jed: So who's left?
Abbey: Sam. Sam, say hello.
Sam (off-stage): Hey sir.
Abbey (confidingly): Sam's having a few insecurity issues.
Sam (off-stage): I am NOT insecure! Or confused! About anything!
Abbey: If you say so.
Jed: Sam, come here would you? I'm going to need you.
Abbey: Sam's locked in. By choice.
Jed: You're kidding me!
Abbey: I'm really not.
Jed (crossing to the door and trying it): Sam? Sam, you unlock this door right now!
Sam: Please, Mr. Duke, don't make me.
(SAM reluctantly unlocks the door, and emerges. AINSLEY glances at him, then pretends to be concentrating on ABBEY's hair.)
Jed: Sam, go up to the wood, and get the senior staff back here. We've got a country to run.
Sam: You want me to go into the forest? Couldn't you send someone else? Please?
Jed: You want to keep your job or not?
Sam (resigned): I'll go, sir.
(Exit SAM, stage right.)
Jed: Now then peaches, we have half-an-hour spare before my next meeting...(meaningful smile.) Why don't I show you around the place, since you'll be mistress of it tomorrow?
Abbey: Fine. Ainsley, take the rest of the afternoon, OK?
(AINSLEY nods, and curtseys as JED and ABBEY depart, stage left. AINSLEY then looks stage right, longingly.)
END OF ACT ONE.
SCENE ONE. Night. The Forest, which is lit with moonlight. TOBY is sitting with his back to a tree, working on his laptop. CHARLIE is watching him, curiously.
Charlie: Mr. Zeigler? What are you doing?
Toby: Drafting a letter of complaint to the Fanfic Union.
Toby: She made me a Fairy King. A goddam Fairy King. I'm not sure if this is a step up or down from a jester. I mean what is *wrong* with the woman?
Charlie: You really have to stop taking this to heart so much, sir.
Toby: I've got to have some rights somewhere. There ought to be a damn fanfic constitution or something. These list people think they can just make us jump through hoops for them?
(There is noise off-stage, as of a crowd approaching.)
Charlie: How now! Who comes hither?
Toby (sourly): That'll be my wife and her minions, no doubt. Off to create havoc at the midnight briefing.
Charlie: All is not well in communications paradise?
Toby: You can say that again.
(Enter QUEEN CJ, with her court, the FAIRY PRESS CORPS, gaily flitting in circles around her. All are dressed in flowing, gauzy robes. DANNY, crowned with flowers is strumming on a lute, while KATIE and that blond one, who usually sits in the second row, Steve or whoever, cavort in joyous dance.)
Fairy Press Corps (singing): We are dainty little fairies, always singing, always daaaaancing.....
Toby: Didn't you steal that from Gilbert and Sullivan? Sam sometimes plays that in his office.
(The FAIRY PRESS CORPS halt in confusion.)
CJ (defensive): Oh it's you. Well wadda you want them to sing? The Jackal?
Toby (growling): That might be more appropriate in the circumstances, Madam.
CJ: What does *that* mean?
Toby: You know what it means. (yelling at Press Corps) GIVE ME MY BALL BACK, YOU THIEVING DOGS!
CJ: They don't have your ball.
Toby: They don't?
CJ: No. I have.
Toby: Give it back!
CJ: No. It's my turn to play with it.
Toby: I'm the damn Communications Director! I'm the one with the balls around here, not you!
CJ: Don't you take that tone with me, Skippy.
Toby: Was ever gentlemen thus grieved as I? Give me my ball back!
CJ: No. You yelled.
Toby (taking a deep breath): How long within this wood intend you stay?
Toby: You can keep your Press Room!
(CJ smiles, and sidles up to TOBY, suggestively, sliding her hands over him.)
CJ (seductively): C'mon Toby. Come for a drink with us. You know you want to...
Toby (taking a deep breath): Give me my ball, and I will go with thee.
CJ (laughing): Not for thy fairy kingdom! Fairies away!
(Exeunt CJ and the FAIRY PRESS CORPS, merrily.)
Toby: Dammit, she's doing it deliberately, rash wanton that she is!
Charlie: Maybe you shouldn't have yelled.
Toby: I'll fix her. Charlie, I have a plan of revenge.
Charlie: All this for a ball?
Toby: IT'S THE PRINCIPLE OF THE THING!
Charlie: Fine, fine, what's the plan?
Charlie: Whoa. That sounds like some serious shit. Are you sure it's legal?
Toby: Of course it's legal. We use it in the House all the time. How else do you think we get bills passed?
Charlie: And where do I get this plant?
Toby: There's a troll, over by the lake. Under the second rock from the left. Tell him to put it on my tab. Now get moving!
Charlie: I'll put a girdle round about the earth, in forty minutes!
Toby: Fine, just get back here. And stop by Radio Shack and pick me up some batteries for my laptop while you're at it.
(Exit CHARLIE, stage left.)
Toby: But who comes here? I am invisible.
(TOBY hides in the bushes.)
(Enter AINSLEY, stage right.)
Ainsley: Sam? Sam? (looks around, nervously, then sits down sadly on a tree stump.)
I am beguiled; yet sure he came this night,
(Gets to her feet, and wanders stage left.)
Ainsley: Saaaam! Sam! Do you hear me?
Toby (remerging): Poor nymph! Fare thee well. Thy love I'll see requited, by and by. Just as soon as the kid gets back with the primo stuff.
SCENE TWO. Night. Another part of the moonlit forest. Enter JOSH and DONNA, weary and footsore, helping one another to walk. DONNA lets go of JOSH, and looks around in confusion.
Donna: I'm telling you, we're lost. We must be walking in circles.
Josh: My feet feel like we've walked all the way to Montana.
Donna: We're gonna need to ask directions.
Josh: From who? We're lost in the middle of nowhere.
Donna: Would you rather be back there, marrying Mandy?
Josh: No. (sighing). Look, why don't we bed down for the night. Tomorrow, maybe we can find a stream or something to follow.
Donna: OK, but if I see any weird voodoo shit, or stickmen hanging from trees, I'm out of here.
Josh: That'd be all we'd need. 'In June of 2001, two politicians, who ought to have known better, disappeared in the woods near Washington. A year later their White House IDs were found.'
Donna: Wasn't there a Josh in that movie?
Josh: Yeah. First one to get....you know.
Donna: Aren't you scared?
Josh: You kidding me? I'm with a young blonde. You're classic first victim material. Nobody hacks up guys like me, unless they're the school principal. The psychopaths are gonna make a beeline for you, just like all the other gomers.
Josh: Listen, when you need to answer the call of nature in the middle of the night, don't tell me 'I'll be right back' OK? That way, you might get to survive to the end of the play.
Donna: We're walking on. Get moving.
Josh: But Donnnnaaa.....my feet hurt.....
Donna: I don't care, I'm not staying here to end up as Chucky's latest victim.
Josh: I'm just joking!
Donna: I'm not. We're drifting that way already. Look at Jed 'I see dead people' Bartlet.
Josh: One time. That was one time.
Donna: Yeah, well I know what I did this summer, and it wasn't getting massacred. We're not gonna sleep.
Josh: Donna - look around. It's a comedy. Honest. Look, no voodoo dolls, no people lurking in hockey masks...it's OK. And I'll be right there beside you.
Josh: C'mon. (gently pulls her to his side). I promise, you'll be safe. Let's find a comfortable grassy patch. Get some sleep.
Donna: That's the most overused line in the movies, you know that?
Josh: There's a reason for it. As my feet could tell you.
(DONNA relents, and leans against JOSH, as they exit, looking for a place to sleep.)
SCENE THREE. The moonlit forest. MARGARET, CATHY, GINGER, BONNIE and CAROL are rehearsing their play.
Cathy: Hold it. I'm confused. Didn't that character exit already?
Ginger: No, I'm being the President. That was Toby who exited.
Carol: How do we tell the difference?
Ginger: I'm using my Presidential voice.
Bonnie: OK, I'm sorry, but your Toby voice and your Jed voice sound the same. I'm just sayin'. We're gonna need something so we can tell who you are.
Margaret: Yeah. Toby or not Toby, that is the question.
Cathy: You know you're going to hell for that line, right?
Margaret: Doesn't frighten me, I work for Leo.
Ginger: Maybe I could wear a fake beard?
Cathy: That'd work.
Margaret: I'll add you a new line, saying you're the President. (grabs script, and adds in a line.)
(Enter CHARLIE, invisible, and unheard by the players.)
(checks watch). Yeah, I can spare five minutes.
(CHARLIE settles down to watch.)
Margaret: OK, from the top then. Ginger, let's do your entrance.
Ginger (as Jed): Verily, here am I, the President....
Charlie (becoming audible): Thou liest!
Ginger: Who said that?
Margaret: Oh no I didn't!
Charlie: Oh yes she did! Thou art a ginger lying fool!
Ginger (to Margaret): What's with you? Don't chide me, you wrote the line!
Margaret: I didn't say it!
Charlie (mocking Margaret): I didn't say it!
Carol: What the hell?
Cathy: Oh perilous fear! It came from the very air!
Charlie: Have thou an ass's head, in place of thine own!
(CHARLIE waves his hands at them, as they run screaming, afraid of his spell.)
(CHARLIE changes himself into a bear, and runs at MARGARET.)
Margaret: A bear! A bear!
(Exit pursued by a bear.)
Ginger: Fly masters! Flee masters!
(Exeunt all, screaming, in various directions.)
SCENE FOUR. Moonlit forest at night. Enter stage left TOBY, and stage right CHARLIE.
Toby: Welcome wanderer! What hast thou there?
Charlie (handing over herb): Here you go.
Toby: You took your time.
Charlie: I had a little diversion. So, now what?
Charlie: You're not worried about her sleeping with some monster? Coz with respect Mr. Zeigler...that ain't a nice way to treat your wife. I mean, she's under the influence and all....
Toby: I'll watch. I won't let it go that far.
Charlie: Cool. OK, you need me for anything, or should I turn in?
Charlie: Come again?
Toby: Oh for God's sake. There's a woman wandering around. Young, blonde, pretty, following some guy called Sam she's in love with. Probably found him by now. She said he's the shy type, so I'm guessing he doesn't have the nerve to tell her how he feels. Take the herb, find them, wait until they're asleep, anoint his eyes. He wakes, he sees her, he tells her he loves her. OK?
Charlie: Well why not just tell me that?
Toby: Get out of here. Now. And take half the herb! (thrusts half the herb at Charlie).
Charlie: I go, I go. You know, I think most of the readers only understand about half of what's going on.
Toby: That's OK, that just makes it more like authentic Shakespeare.
(Exit CHARLIE stage left.)
Toby: Now seek I for my Queen. (sing-song voice). Oh CJ......
(Exit TOBY stage right.)
END OF ACT TWO.
SCENE ONE. Yet another part of the moonlit forest. CJ is lying on a grassy bank, being sung to sleep by the PRESS CORPS.
Fairy Press Corps (singing):
(chorus) Filibusts with melody,
(CJ lies sleeping on the grassy bank. The PRESS CORPS tiptoe away, quietly, stage right.)
(Enter TOBY, stage left.)
(TOBY crosses the stage, and squeezes juice from the plant onto CJ's eyelids).
(looks at plant). You know, it's really a good thing this is in my hands. I hate to think what uses Lyman might have put it to.
(Exit TOBY. Curtain, to allow a scene change.)
SCENE TWO. Elsewhere, in this large, but somehow conveniently small forest when it comes to bumping into people. JOSH and DONNA are asleep in one another's arms. Enter CHARLIE.
(CHARLIE screeches to a halt on seeing JOSH and DONNA).
Charlie (speaking): Night and silence! Who is here?
(Examines JOSH and DONNA.)
OK then. (pats pockets) Where'd I put the herb?
(Produces herb, crosses over to JOSH, and anoints his eyes.)
(looks at DONNA). Hey, she's quite a stunner. What the hell's your problem anyhow, pal? Fine - wake up, see her, return her love. Mission accomplished.
(Exit CHARLIE. A moment later, he sticks his head back in, and addresses the audience.)
Charlie: You can start laying your bets now as to who he sees first. Coz you all KNOW this is gonna end in confusion.
(Exit CHARLIE. Again, a curtain to allow a scene change.)
SCENE THREE. Do I even need to bother describing it? Moonlit forest. Enter SAM.
(waits a moment, in silence.)
(sighing) Go to the forest, he said. Find the senior staff, he said. I could be home right now, watching sports. But what happens? I get one *tiny* scene with Ainsley, in which I don't even get to kiss her, then I'm all alone in the middle of a dark forest. I'm tired, I'm lost, and I'm still nervous about how this plot's going.
(SAM looks around.)
Sam: Well fine. If they want to be found, they'll have to find me. I'm gonna find a nice comfy grassy bank, and take a nap, just like Leo suggested. Running around dark forests has gotta be against the health and safety laws. I'll end up falling down a rabbit hole or something. His Royal High Dukeness can just get off his ass and come look for them himself. I'm done.
SCENE FOUR. A beach in the Caribbean. No, just kidding. Moonlit forest, as scene two. JOSH and DONNA are still asleep in one another's arms. Enter, stage right, AINSLEY.
Ainsley: Most dreadful fear! Methought, I saw...a bear! It was chasing that redheaded secretary of Leo's! I can't find Sam, I can't find my way out....(stops short on seeing JOSH and DONNA sleeping.)
Ainsley: Josh? (looks nervously around). Donna? Josh! (shakes JOSH.) Josh, I can't find Sam!
Josh (drowsily waking up): Uh...what...is the vote in already? We can't have penguins in the House of Representatives.....
Ainsley: Josh, wake up, you're dreaming!
(JOSH rubs at his eyes, and stares at AINSLEY. A slow grin, that can best be described as goofy, spreads across his face.)
Josh: Radiant Ainsley!
Ainsley: Excuse me?
Josh (jumping to his feet): Oh sweet Republican! Oh enemy most dear! Mine only love, sprung from mine only hate!
Ainsley: OK Josh, now you're scaring the crap out of me. Did you hit your head?
(JOSH grabs AINSLEY's hand, and starts running kisses up her arm.)
Ainsley: Josh! Cut it out, it's not funny! Have you seen Sam?
Josh (suddenly jealous): Why? Why are you looking for Sam?
Ainsley: I'm worried about him. There's a bear.
Josh (outraged): You care about him!
Ainsley (blushing): So?
Josh (muttering under his breath): I'll kill him!
Josh (normal voice): I'm sure he's fine. Sweet Ainsley, come down here with me! (attempts to pull her down beside him. He gets a knee in the groin for his trouble.)
Ainsley: Josh, snap out of it! Y'all think because I'm a woman, and a blonde, and a Republican, you can make fun of me like this! What if Donna woke up and got the wrong idea? (straightens her clothing.) If you see Sam, tell him I'm looking for him.
(AINSLEY storms off stage left, while JOSH clutches his groin, and winces.)
Josh (breathless, and clutching his groin):
(Exit JOSH, walking a little awkwardly, while DONNA sleeps on. Curtain, to allow a scene change.)
END OF ACT THREE.
SCENE ONE. The moonlit forest. MANDY and DONNA are arguing, bitterly. CJ is asleep nearby.
Donna: What have you done with him!
Mandy: What have *I* done with him? You're the one he ran away with! Where have you hidden him?
Donna: I haven't! You abducted him, and I....what's that noise?
Margaret: Oh thank God! Do you know the way out of this forest?
Mandy: No, and I don't care. (to DONNA) I'm NOT leaving without Josh, so you might as well just tell me where...
Margaret (pointing stage right): Josh? I just passed him, heading that way..... (trails off as both MANDY and DONNA rush off stage right.) Jeez, help me out why don't you.
(MARGARET sits down wearily, and sadly, on a nearby log.)
Margaret: Liars, and chiders and bears, oh my!
Margaret: Leo! What on earth are you doing here? I thought you were gonna sleep until the final act?
Leo: I realised I wasn't getting much action. You know last time, I was a ghost, I only got to walk on a couple of times. So I figured I'd come up here, create a little mayhem. So what's new?
Margaret: Some sicko fairy is trying to zap me with an ass head spell.
Leo: Geez. Why?
Margaret: They're a sicko fairy, how do I know?
Leo: I figured you know everything. You read my e-mail for a start.
Margaret: I DO NOT!
(CJ awakens, at the noise.)
CJ: What angel wakes me from my flowery bed?
Leo: See? Now you woke CJ.
(CJ yawns and slowly opens her eyes, as we draw a curtain and move onto...)
SCENE TWO. Moonlit forest. CHARLIE and TOBY are sitting against a tree.
Toby: Thou hast done well. (listening) And hark, here come those lovers now. Ensure they see us not.
Charlie (casting invisibility spell): My gentle lord, tis done.
(Enter AINSLEY, with JOSH hanging onto her arm, and being dragged along, as he pleads.)
Charlie: This is the man, but not this the woman!
Toby: Wadda ya mean, but not this the woman! This is the exact woman!
Ainsley: JOSH, STOP FOLLOWING ME!
Josh: But I love you! I want you! (whining) I neeeeedddd you!
Toby (sighing deeply, and putting his head in his hands): Tell me you didn't put the spell on the wrong guy. I told you, a pretty blonde woman, and the guy she loved.
Charlie: Yeah but....
Toby (looking up): Is it not obvious this isn't the guy she loves?
Charlie: But she was sleeping in his arms! I mean - *she* wasn't....
(Enter MANDY and DONNA.)
Mandy: THERE HE IS!
Charlie (pointing at Donna): SHE was! I thought you meant *that* woman! You gotta admit, they look alike.
Toby: What hast thou done!
Charlie: Moved the plot along?
Mandy and Donna (in chorus): *AINSLEY*?
Mandy: Oh no. Oh no. One rival is more than enough. I'll scratch your eyes out, you little tramp! (advances on Ainsley.)
Donna (to Josh): What the hell's with you, leaving me alone like that?
Josh: Donna, I can explain.....(turns as MANDY grabs at AINSLEY.) No! No, leave her alone!
(AINSLEY breaks free, and runs off stage right. JOSH attempts to follow her, but is detained by DONNA and MANDY.)
Donna (pulling Josh one way): Mine!
Mandy (pulling him the other way): Mine!
Mandy: Why you...! (launches herself at DONNA, who fights back. JOSH takes the opportunity to run off, in pursuit of AINSLEY.)
Donna (gaining the upper hand): I'll....wait, where'd he go?
(Exit DONNA and MANDY, in pursuit of JOSH.)
Toby: One thing. I farm one thing out for someone else to do, and it gets screwed up.
Charlie: It was an honest mistake!
Toby: Do I make mistakes like that? Do I say 'Oh hey, this isn't my wife whom I'm enspelling, but it looks enough like her, so that's OK?'
Charlie: You said she was a blonde girl, with some guy. Be fair.
Toby: You're gonna fix this.
Charlie: Fine. How?
Toby: Go find the Sam guy. Wait until he's asleep. Anoint his eyes AND DRIVE THE BLONDE TOWARDS HIM, SO SHE WAKES HIM! And not any blonde. Not the wrong blonde. The *right* blonde. OK?
Charlie: Yes sir.
Toby: I'm surrounded by idiots. It's like being at the office.
SCENE THREE. Forest. Moonlight becomes it, it goes with the hares. CJ is kissing a tree, while LEO and MARGARET watch in confusion.
Leo: She's literally a tree-hugger now. First it was all that thing with Pluie the wolf, now this.
Margaret: Why is she doing that?
Leo: Because she's gone nuts. That's why.
Margaret: Maybe it's her dental fillings. You know, I hear that certain types of filling, they use mercury in them. That's got to have an effect, long-term. Mercury causes insanity. And she had that root canal just last year.
(AINSLEY, being chased by CHARLIE, runs across the stage from right to left, and exits, screaming. A moment later a wailing JOSH follows her. Behind him, runs DONNA, then MANDY, both cursing and calling to JOSH. LEO and MARGARET turn to watch until all five are out of sight, then turn back to each other.)
Leo: Where were we?
Margaret: Root canal.
Leo: Oh right. Nah. It's probably the pressures of dealing with the media. She's completely out of her tree. If you'll pardon the phrase.
Margaret: Should we do something about it?
Leo: She seems happy enough. The tree doesn't seem to mind. I say we leave it.
Margaret: OK. You feel like strolling back into DC? I've had enough forest for one night.
Leo: Sure. I was going to drag Josh back with me, but it looks like leaving him here will be more effective punishment. Let's go.
(LEO takes MARGARET's arm, and they stroll off together. Curtain, to lead into the next scene.)
SCENE FOUR. All out of jokes. So gimme an N! N! Gimmee an I! I! We are the scenechangers who say Ni! Night. The forest. Moonlit. SAM is asleep on a grassy bank. AINSLEY enters, screaming, being chased by CHARLIE.
Charlie: Yes! Scream! I already did his eyes!
(SAM starts to stir. AINSLEY, terrified and not seeing him, falls over a tree root and screeches again. Enter JOSH.)
Josh: Ainsley! Dear heart, speak to me! Are you OK?
(SAM wakes up, and looks up blearily as JOSH helps AINSLEY to her feet. Enter an exhausted DONNA and MANDY.)
Ainsley (overjoyed): SAM!
Josh (wailing): AINSLEY!
Donna and Mandy (in chorus): JOSH!
Sam: JOSH! Darling!
(SAM grabs JOSH, and kisses him deeply, to JOSH's surprise.)
Mandy: WHAT THE HELL?
Charlie: Oh man, I'm gonna get it now. (snickers at Josh's expression). I ain't the only one. That guy's gonna need a bigger bed.
Josh (pushing Sam away): Get away from me! You tried to steal my Ainsley!
Sam: Your Ainsley? (to Ainsley) You keep your hands off him!
Ainsley: I don't want him!
Donna: Fine! I'll take him! (grabs at JOSH, as does MANDY.)
Josh: Ladies...OW! Ainsley, I'm only yours! (pulls away from DONNA and MANDY, only to be grabbed again by SAM.)
Sam: I've always loved you, you know that!
Josh (pulling away): Leave me alone! Everyone! Not you Ainsley! (jumps back as SAM lunges for him again.) HELP!
(Exit JOSH, chased by DONNA, MANDY and SAM. AINSLEY bursts into tears, and runs after SAM.)
Charlie: Lord, what fools these staffers be! Guess I'd better report this....
SCENE FIVE. The last moonlit forest scene. Ever. CJ is hugging a tree, in which JOSH is perched, looking down in terror. DONNA, MANDY and AINSLEY are arguing noisily underneath it. Enter SAM with an axe.
Sam: I'll get him down! (starts chopping at tree. This rouses CJ from her reverie.)
CJ: Rash mortal! What doth thou there!
Sam: CJ? That you? Hey, I haven't seen you all play!
CJ (in fury): Avert! Sleep, all of you!
(All but CJ instantly fall asleep. There is a thud as JOSH falls out of the tree, though fortunately MANDY breaks his fall.)
CJ (to tree): There, there, precious...
(Enter TOBY and CHARLIE.)
Toby: I knew they'd all end up here. Very convenient.
Charlie: She's in love with a tree? I thought you said it had to be a live creature?
Toby: Well strictly speaking, trees are alive. So the spell has a few kinks in it. So sue me. (removes herb from pocket.) Finale time. At last.
Charlie: More herbal spells?
Toby: This is the antidote. Removes all such spells. OK, let's see....
(TOBY anoints the eyes of JOSH and SAM.)
Toby: There. Spells dispelled. All back to normal. If he (points to SAM) doesn't speak to Ainsley after this, there's no hope for him anyway. He (points to JOSH) will go back to Donna, and she (points to MANDY)...hell, maybe we could introduce her to one of CJ's Press Pack.
Charlie: I read the script. She vanishes after the next scene, without explanation.
Toby: Figures. Well, she'll be back.
Charlie: And your lady?
Toby: Oh yeah. (crosses to CJ and anoints her eyes. She blinks, and looks at him.)
CJ: Toby, why am I hugging a tree?
Toby: Why not?
(CJ hesitates, looks at the tree, looks at TOBY.)
CJ: You did something. Did you do a spell?
CJ: On ME?
CJ: Tell me it wasn't the old head of the ass spell.
Toby (slight grin): Yeah....
(CJ turns away, annoyed. TOBY sighs.)
(Reaches for CJ's hands, and smiles. She hesitates, then smiles back.)
CJ: You know I'll get you for this, right?
Toby: Oh sure. Just don't beat up on me too bad, OK?
CJ: One joke, just one, about me grabbing a nice piece of ass next time, and you're dead, Ziegler.
Toby: Wouldn't dream of it.
Charlie: My gentle lord! Night's candles are burnt out!
Toby: Did we forget to pay the bill or something?
Charlie: Daybreak, sir. Daybreak.
Toby: OK. Can I have my ball back yet? Please?
CJ: Sure. Since you asked nicely.
(CJ hands TOBY his ball, and they exit, with CHARLIE in attendance.)
END OF ACT FOUR.
SCENE ONE. Daylight! The forest. AINSLEY, SAM, JOSH, DONNA and MANDY lie sleeping. Enter LEO.
Leo: Still here? (shakes JOSH.) Josh! Wake up!
Josh (waking): Huh? (rubs eyes sleepily).
Leo: Up and at em, son.
(The others also awaken.)
Mandy: Leo? (triumphant): Leo, I found Josh! Can I marry him now?
Donna (hopefully): No?
Leo: Sorry Mandy. Jed felt sorry for Josh, and overruled me and the law. Josh gets to choose.
Mandy: Wait. He said in act one there was no way he could change the law!
Leo: Yeah, I noticed that. Well, that's the difference between acts one and five I guess. Donna, can I still interest you in him? He's fairly healthy, got all his own teeth....
Donna: Do I get the dowry as well?
Leo: Don't push it.
Donna: OK. If he's willing.
Josh: YEAH! I don't have to be a monk? I can marry Donna, and she can do the thing with the bananas?
Leo: As long as you never let me know exactly what that is, yes.
Josh! YES! (to Donna). Look, I'm sorry about last night...I was spelled, or sorcelled, or something. It's you I want...
Donna: Great. Then marry me.
Josh: Happy to.
Mandy: Oh well. There were some pretty hunky fairies around last night. I guess I'll just console myself with a *lot* of good sex.
Ainsley (patting Mandy's shoulder): That's the spirit. Democratic family values.
Sam: Hey, they could be Republican fairies.
Ainsley: I wondered when you were gonna speak up. Have fun last night, did you?
Sam (blushing, and not looking at Josh): It was a spell.
Sam (earnestly): Really. I love you. Honest. And this time, I get to tell you before the end of the play, and if you're agreeable, we can get into the action on the wedding scene still.....
Donna: Ainsley, marry him already. You love him, he loves you.
Leo: And thus goes everyone to the world but I. I may sit in a corner and cry hey ho for a husband. I'm doomed to be single.
Josh: I see you had a few Margaret scenes this time.
Josh: Just saying.
Jed: You're all still here? Why this is very midsummer madness. I've got a wedding feast ready, a cathedral booked - GET MOVING! Haven't you seen enough of this forest for one play?
Ainsley: Amen to that.
SCENE TWO. The water-cooler. GINGER, CATHY, CAROL and BONNIE are standing around.
Ginger: OK, we give Margaret another half hour, then maybe we start looking around....
Cathy: The wedding finished an hour ago. They'll be on the dessert courses now. If we're gonna do this, we have to get there....
Carol: We can't do it without Margaret!
Bonnie: You don't think the bear ate her, do you?
Margaret: Not a chance.
(CATHY runs to hug her.)
Bonnie: Yes! We're all here! So what happened to you?
Bonnie: You really think they'll watch it?
Margaret: Leo's gonna try and fix it for us. No worries.
Ginger: Excellent. Come sirrahs!
SCENE THREE. A banquet, in the Great Hall of the White House. Sitting at the table, in their wedding finery, newlyweds JED and his bride ABBEY, SAM and his bride AINSLEY, and JOSH and his bride DONNA. All are feasting and quaffing.
Jed: Is it good?
Leo: Well it's not exactly Hamlet, no.
Jed: What're our other choices?
Leo: I could run the celebrity blooper tape again.
Jed: No, let us have the play.
Leo: Good choice. Between us, Margaret and the other women worked very hard on it.
Jed: Then shall we see it. (calling out) Let the players approach!
(Enter MARGARET, as the prologue, and GINGER behind her.)
Sam: It's an all-female cast? Didn't they used to be all-male?
Abbey: Yeah, score one for the sisterhood.
(Exit MARGARET and GINGER. Enter BONNIE as JOSH, CAROL as CJ.)
Carol/CJ: Woe! Woe, woe, and thrice woe!
Bonnie/Josh: Look, surely it wasn't that bad.....
Carol/CJ: The devil damn thee! Never again! Thou art exiled!
Bonnie/Josh: Fine, do your own damn press conferences then.
Carol/CJ: Woe, woe, woe!
(Enter MARGARET as LEO, GINGER as TOBY.)
Margaret/Leo: Secret plan?
Carol/CJ: We're screwed.
Ginger/Toby: Did he fall? Did he fall on his head?
Margaret/Leo: He will when I find him. (to CAROL/CJ). You got a Press Room of people baying, something about bumming cigarettes on Air Force One. Go deal with it
(Exit MARGARET/LEO, and CAROL/CJ. Enter CATHY/SAM.)
Ginger/Toby: And where the hell have you been?
Cathy/Sam: Lo, a star lead me here.
Ginger/Toby: Where did you intend to be? Nantucket?
Cathy/Sam: That's it. I've had enough crap from you. Years of doing what I'm told. Years of being the sweet, nice one. Years of being the butt of jokes, kept out of the loop and yelled at by everyone. Screw this. Uzi nine millimetre!
(CATHY/SAM fakes machine-gunning GINGER/TOBY to death.)
Cathy/Sam: Heh! Now for the rest of them!
Jed: Boy, that guy has some serious attitude problems.
Ainsley: Is there anymore dessert?
Abbey: Here, you can have what's left of mine, I don't want it.
Carol/CJ: What fire is in mine ears? Can this be true?
Cathy/Sam: Depends. What did you hear?
Carol/CJ: I'm getting reports you finally snapped, and decided to stage a military coup.
Cathy/Sam: You bet your sweet ass, baby!
(CATHY/SAM grabs CAROL/CJ, and pretends to strangle her.)
Carol/CJ: Argh! Now am I dead. Now is my soul fled.
Cathy/Sam: Just die already.
(CAROL/CJ collapses. GINGER/TOBY gets up, and pulls off her beard.)
Ginger/Jed: Verily, here am I, the President. Oh no! What happened here? What the - what're you doing with that carving knife? ARRRGHHHHH!
Ainsley: Urgh! Hey I'm eating here!
Josh: Yeurgh. No wonder the kitchen says they're low on ketchup.
Sam: The guy wielding the knife so needs help.
Donna: I dunno, he's doing a pretty good massacre job on his own.
Leo: Margaret wrote this?
Jed: That's what I heard.
Leo: Remind me to remove any sharp objects from my office.
(CATHY/SAM stands over the bodies, smiling maniacally.)
Bonnie/Josh: Oh dainty duck! Oh dear!
Cathy/Sam: You got a problem, punk?
Jed: Body count's really racking up there.
Abbey: I think that one just fainted though.
Donna: This is kinda surreal.
Ainsley: I'm betting the owls aren't what they seem, that's for sure.
(Enter MARGARET/LEO, pretending to choke, and joins the heap of ex and fainted staffers on the floor.)
Cathy/Sam (doing a little victory dance): HA HA! HA HA! HA HA! SCENE!
(The others get up. MARGARET, CATHY, CAROL, BONNIE and GINGER take their bow, to applause, and exit stage right.)
Jed: That was certainly different.
Ainsley: I'm sensing a lot of issues here. Maybe you guys should start being nicer to the assistants.
Donna: Good idea. Give them a pay raise while you're at it.
(Exit all. The torches are put out, and moonlight fills the empty room. In through the window glide CJ and TOBY, hand in hand, followed by CHARLIE and the FAIRY PRESS CORPS.)
Toby: Nice pad. This is what you can afford on Duke's wages I guess.
(Exit all but CHARLIE. CHARLIE goes to follow them, then turns to the audience.)