COMMEDIA!

"The Comedy of Love and War"

                                                               by Richard Nathan

 

This play takes place sometime in the imaginary 18th Century, in the imaginary kingdoms of Commedia and Zanniland.

 

Act I

SCENE ONE:

Near a pig sty on Pantalone's estate.  PANTALONE enters and looks offstage in disgust.  Lying on the ground, relaxing, are his son LELIO and Lelio's servants ARLO (short for Arlecchino) and TRUFF (short for Truffaldino). 

                                                            PANTALONE
                                    Disgraceful!  My son and his two servants
                                    relaxing in the sun, while right over there,
                                    my estate looks like a pig sty!

Pantalone points off-stage to the part of his estate that looks like a pig sty.  Lelio looks in the direction where Pantalone is pointing.

                                                            LELIO
                                    Dad, that is a pig sty.

                                                            PANTALONE
                                    That's no reason for it to look like one.  I'm forty,
                                    but do I look forty?

                                                            TRUFF
                                                    (under his breath)
                                    You're fifty and look sixty!

                                                            PANTALONE
                                    What was that?

                                                            TRUFF
                                    I said you're fit and look sexy!

                                                            PANTALONE
                                    That's true.  Now get that place cleaned up!  We're
                                    expecting company!

                                                            ARLO
                                    In the pig sty?

                                                           PANTALONE
                                    My old friend Captain Cocodrillo is coming to visit.   
                                    He's a very important man.

                                                            LELIO
                                    So naturally he'll be concerned with the cleanliness
                                    of our pig sty.

                                                            ARLO
                                    I like our pig sty.  It's brown.  Brown's a good
                                    color for a pig sty.

                                                            PANTALONE
                                    The Captain will want to view the entire estate. No
                                    detail is too small to escape his attention.  That's the
                                    military mind for you!  I remember when I was one of
                                    his foot soldiers.  Every morning he'd inspect my feet. 
                                    He said I had the trimmest toenails in the regiment!

                                                            TRUFF
                                                    (under his breath)
                                    I can't believe you won that war.

                                                            PANTALONE
                                    What was that?

                                                            TRUFF
                                    I said, I can't believe your feet weren't sore.

                                                            LELIO
                                   Why is he coming here?

                                                            PANTALONE
                                    He's leading our noble forces of Commedia against
                                    the hordes of Zanniland.  You might join him and
                                    cover yourself in glory!

                                                            TRUFF
                                                    (under his breath)
                                    Cover yourself in gore.

                                                            PANTALONE
                                    What was that?

                                                            TRUFF
                                    I said I love a good war.

                                                            PANTALONE
                                    Good.  Maybe my son will go and take you two
                                    with him. 

                                                            ARLO
                                    I can't go to war!  I have to clean the pig sty!

                                                            PANTALONE
                                    Then get to it!  What are you waiting for?

Lelio, Arlo and Truff stand. 

                                                            ARLO
                                                    (under his breath)
                                    Miserable goat. You're the meanest man!  War
                                    isn't fun, and you're creaky old fool.

                                                            PANTALONE
                                    What was that?

                                                            ARLO

                                    Nothing!

                                                            PANTALONE
                                    I thought I heard you say I was a miserable goat.

Arlo has heard Truff get out of similar situations before.  He looks to Truff for encouragement, and Truff nods his head at Arlo.  Arlo gives it a try.

                                                            ARLO
                                    I said I miss my coat.

                                                            PANTALONE
                                    That I was the meanest man.

                                                            ARLO
                                    It was green and tan.

                                                            PANTALONE
                                    War isn't fun. 

                                                            ARLO
                                    It kept me warm, like the sun.

                                                            PANTALONE
                                    I'm a creaky old fool!

                                                            ARLO
                                    A creepy old mule!

Pantalone kicks Arlo in the pants.

                                                            PANTALONE
                                    Arlecchino!   Aren't you ashamed!  I think Truffaldino
                                    here has had a bad influence on you, but you can be
                                    better than that.  I know in my heart you're loyal to me. 

                                    You understand the deference a servant owes his
                                    master.  If you look deep within yourself, I know
                                    you can be
the kind, sensitive, obedient, devoted  servant, 
                                    that I know in my heart you are.    

                                                            ARLO
                                    I know in my heart you're a louse.

Pantalone kicks Arlo again.

                                                            PANTALONE
                                    Clean up that sty!  And make sure you put all the
                                    pig droppings where the Captain won't see them!

Pantalone exits.

                                                            TRUFF
                                    Hey, boss, you're not going to go to the war,
                                    are you?

                                                            LELIO
                                    Why not?  It couldn't be worse than cleaning up
                                    pig droppings, could it?

                                                            TRUFF
                                    Nobody ever died from pig droppings.

                                                            ARLO
                                    My uncle did.  He walked under a cliff, and
                                    somebody dropped a pig on him.  They said 
                                    it was a hamicidal maniac. 

                                                            LELIO
                                    I'll tell you what.  If you boys will cart away the pig
                                    droppings and hide them someplace the Captain
                                    won't find them, I'll fix the fence, hoe the ground, and
                                    put fresh feed and water in the troughs.

                                                            TRUFF
                                    You got a deal!  Come on, Arlo!

                                                            ARLO
                                    After you, Truff.

Truff and Arlo exit toward the sty.  As they leave, ISABELLA enters.

                                                            ISABELLA
                                    Excuse me, sir, I fear I'm lost.  Can you tell me
                                    where I might find...

Lelio turns, and when their eyes meet, it is love at first sight.

                                                            LELIO
                                    Above.

                                                            ISABELLA
                                    I beg your pardon?

                                                            LELIO
                                    I recognize an angel when I see
                                    You shining bright enough to blind the sun. 
                                    No mortal woman's eyes could capture me
                                    Within the magic web your eyes have spun. 
                                    And so I tell you heaven is above,
                                    For heaven is the place where angels dwell. 
                                    And yet I lie, for I will swear by love
                                    That heaven's in your eyes!  A fool could tell!

                                                            ISABELLA
                                    I think my eyes indeed know heaven's grace
                                    When they behold yourself and look upon
                                    Your handsome, fine and honest manly face. 
                                    I look, and know my heart's forever won.

                                                            LELIO
                                    It's you I'll love past reason and past rhyme.

                                                            ISABELLA
                                    And you I'll love until the end of time.

They kiss.

                                                            LELIO
                                    What is your name, sweet angel?

                                                            ISABELLA
                                    Isabella.  And yours, dearest heart?

                                                            LELIO
                                    Lelio. 

They kiss again.

                                                            LELIO
                                    When shall we marry?

                                                            ISABELLA
                                    The instant my father says yes. 

                                                            LELIO
                                    He couldn't say no!  It isn't possible!

                                                            ISABELLA
                                    We've only just met, but I know we are fated
                                    to wed.

                                                            LELIO
                                    That's true beyond all doubt. 

                                                            ISABELLA
                                    Where do you live?

                                                            LELIO
                                    In that house, on the hill.                                   

                                                            ISABELLA
                                    I must tell my father.  We're staying at the inn.   I
                                    was headed there, but lost my way.  No, my way
                                    was lost until I found you; now all is found!

                                                            LELIO
                                    The only inn I know of is straight down that road. 
                                    I'll take you there!

                                                            ISABELLA
                                    No.  It's best I see him first, to prepare him.  I'll
                                    bring him here to meet you.

                                                            LELIO
                                    Are we to be parted already?

                                                            ISABELLA
                                    Only for an hour, my love, my life, my soul!

                                                            LELIO
                                    It will be a thousand lifetimes of torture until you return!

                                                            ISABELLA
                                    My servant, Smeraldina, was following me, but she's
                                    so slow, she fell behind.  If you see her, will you
                                    direct her to the inn?

                                                            LELIO
                                    Of course, divine quintessence of love.

                                                            ISABELLA
                                    My darling, I must go now, or I will never be able
                                    to leave your side.

                                                            LELIO
                                    Then stay, and never leave me.

                                                            ISABELLA
                                    I must, but only for an hour!  My heart will beat
                                    only for you until I see you again.

                                                            LELIO
                                    And mine will beat only for you for ever after.

They kiss, and as they gaze into each others' eyes, Isabella exits.  Lelio stands looking after her.  A moment later, Truff and Arlo enter.

                                                            TRUFF
                                    Hey, boss, we hid the pig droppings where the Captain
                                    will never find them, unless he looks in the tool shed.

                                                            LELIO
                                    I've never been this happy!  The world is a marvelous
                                    place!

                                                            TRUFF
                                    Yeah, it's always better when you hide the pig
                                    droppings. 

                                                            LELIO
                                    Truff, Arlo, I'm in love!  Everything is perfect!

                                                            ARLO
                                    Does that mean you're not fixing the pig sty?

                                                            LELIO
                                    It doesn't need fixing!  That's the most beautiful pig
                                    sty I've ever seen.  I'm going up to the house to tell
                                    my father the news!

                                                            ARLO
                                    Tell him to stand back next time he opens the tool shed.

Lelio starts to leave, then comes back.  He turns to Arlo and Truff.

                                                            LELIO
                                    I need you to do something for me.  Wait here until
                                    a girl named Smeraldina comes up the road.  When she
                                    gets here, tell her how to get to the inn.

Lelio runs off.

                                                            TRUFF
                                    Smeraldina!  That must be the girl the boss is in love with.

                                                            ARLO
                                    Must be.  What do you think she's like?

                                                            TRUFF
                                    If the boss lover her, she must be sweet, delicate, refined,
                                    a real lady!

Enter SMERALDINA oozing with bawdy sex appear.  This girl is triple-X rated.

                                                            SMERALDINA
                                    Hi boys, my name is Smeraldina.

                                                            TRUFF
                                    Or maybe not.

                                                            SMERALDINA
                                    I've lost my way.  Would one of you be sweet enough
                                    to guide me to the inn?

Truff pulls Arlo aside.

                                                            TRUFF
                                    This girl's not right for the boss.  To protect him, I
                                    think I better take her off his hands.

                                                            ARLO
                                    You'd do that for him?

                                                            TRUFF
                                    It won't be easy, but somebody's got to do it.

                                                            ARLO
                                    I could do it.

                                                            TRUFF
                                    You?  She'd eat you alive!

                                                            ARLO
                                    Maybe.  But I'd do it for the boss.

                                                            TRUFF
                                    No, I'll do it for the boss!

                                                            ARLO
                                    I'll do it!

                                                            TRUFF
                                    I saw her first!

Truff and Arlo start fighting.  They end up with their hands around their necks, each trying to strangle the other.

                                                            SMERALDINA
                                    You boys aren't fighting over me, are you? 

She gently separates the two servants.

                                                            ARLO
                                    No, we're fighting over who gets to help the boss.

                                                            SMERALDINA
                                    Couldn't you help me find the inn?

                                                            TRUFF
                                    Sure, we'll help you in just a minute. 

                                                            ARLO
                                    We just have one thing we have to finish first.

                                                            SMERALDINA
                                    What's that?

Truff and Arlo resume trying to kill each other.  Once again, Smeraldina gently parts them.

                                                            SMERALDINA
                                    Stop it!  Stop it!  Wouldn't you rather be a lover than 
                                    a fighter?

                                                            TRUFF
                                    Sure, just as soon as I kill him.

                                                            ARLO
                                    You'll kill me over my dead body!!!

They resume fighting.

                                                            SMERALDINA
                                    If that's the way you feel about it, I'll find the inn on
                                    my own!

She storms off stage, but Truff and Arlo are too busy fighting to notice.  After a moment, they notice she is gone and stop fighting.

                                                            TRUFF
                                    Hey, where'd she go?

                                                            ARLO
                                    She's gone!  She didn't even say goodbye!

                                                            TRUFF
                                    Isn't that just like a woman?  You can't rely on them!

                                                            ARLO
                                    I'm sorry we fought over her.

                                                            TRUFF
                                    Me too.  But we're friends, now, right?

                                                            ARLO
                                    Friends forever!

They shake hands and pat each other on the back.  Smeraldina re-enters.

                                                            SMERALDINA
                                    I was just thinking....

Immediately, Truff and Arlo go back to trying to kill each other.

                                                            SMERALDINA
                                    Never mind!

She exits again.  Blackout.

 

 

SCENE TWO:

The parlor of Pantalone's house.  Pantalone is lost in thought.  Lelio enters.

                                                            LELIO
                                    Father!  I'm in love!

                                                            PANTALONE
                                    Oh?  Does she have a big dowry?

                                                            LELIO
                                    I didn't ask.

                                                            PANTALONE
                                    I've told you a thousand times, I won't let
                                    you wed unless there's a big dowry. 
                                    You've never paid enough attention to finances!

                                                            LELIO
                                    I don't need your permission to marry.

                                                            PANTALONE
                                    But you need my money!  Now sit down!  I
                                    want you to help me decide what to serve the 
                                    Captain for dinner!

Pantalone hands a quill and a piece of paper to Lelio and sits him down at a table.

                                                            LELIO
                                    But I'm in love!

                                                            PANTALONE
                                    Write this down:  tender roast capons; green peas,
                                    fine imported wine, and for desert, apple pie with
                                    ice cream and pistachio nuts.

                                                            LELIO
                                    I met the most wonderful girl.  Her name is Isabella.

                                                            PANTALONE
                                    Read me back what I said.

                                                            LELIO
                                    Roast capons, green peas, fine imported wine, and apple
                                    pie with ice cream and pistachio nuts. 

                                                            PANTALONE
                                    Nothing is too good for my friend the Captain.

                                                            LELIO
                                    Sounds expensive. 

                                                            PANTALONE
                                    Expensive?

                                                            LELIO
                                    This will cost more than you usually spend on our food
                                    for an entire month. 

Pantalone looks over Lelio's shoulder at the list.

                                                            LELIO
                                    Let me tell you about Isabella!

                                                            PANTALONE
                                    On the other hand, I'm sure the Captain won't want pie 
                                    or ice cream.  He needs to stay trim for the war!

                                                            LELIO
                                    That leaves capons, peas, fine imported wine,
                                    and pistachio nuts.

                                                            PANTALONE
                                    Nothing's too good for the Captain.

                                                            LELIO
                                    That's how I feel about Isabella.  She...

                                                            PANTALONE
                                    He might not like the imported wine.  Imported means
                                    foreign.  He's about to go to war for his country!  
                                    I'm sure he'd prefer to drink a nice, pure glass of
                                    water from a Commedian well!  It's so much more
                                    patriotic! 

                                                            LELIO
                                    That leaves capons, peas and pistachio nuts.

                                                            PANTALONE
                                    That's still a fine meal, and nothing's too good for the
                                    Captain.  Wait a minute!  Did you say "peas"?  I can't
                                    serve peas to a soldier!  It sounds too much like "peace!" 
                                    He'd think I was insulting him.

                                                            LELIO
                                    That leaves capons and pistachio nuts.

                                                            PANTALONE
                                    Well, nothing's too... hmmm.  Aren't capons neutered
                                    fowl?  I can't have anything neutered for the Captain! 
                                    No, absolutely not.  It's not manly.

                                                            LELIO
                                    That leaves nuts. 

                                                            PANTALONE
                                    I can't ask the Captain to eat just nuts!

                                                            LELIO
                                    So take away the nuts.

                                                            PANTALONE
                                    Which leaves....

                                                            LELIO
                                    Nothing!

                                                            PANTALONE
                                    Well, nothing's too good for the Captain!

                                                            LELIO
                                    Let me tell you about Isabella!!!

Enter the Truff and Arlo.

                                                            TRUFF
                                    Hey, boss, there's some old man here to
                                    see your father.

Enter the CAPTAIN!

                                                            CAPTAIN
                                    Signor Pantalone!

                                                            PANTALONE
                                    Captain Cocodrillo!

The two old men embrace.  The Captain takes off his coat and hands it to Arlo.

                                                            CAPTAIN
                                    Here, take my coat!  Take good care of it, or I'll
                                    see you are beaten severely!

Arlo and Truff exit with the coat.

                                                            PANTALONE
                                    I thought you weren't coming until tomorrow!

                                                            CAPTAIN
                                    A good soldier always arrives when least 
                                    expected!

                                                            PANTALONE
                                    Why?

                                                            CAPTAIN
                                    To gain the advantage!

The Captain suddenly draws his sword and points it at Lelio.

                                                            CAPTAIN
                                    Is this your son?

                                                            PANTALONE
                                    Yes.

                                                            CAPTAIN
                                    If he were an enemy, I'd have killed him on
                                    on the spot.  Why doesn't he wear a sword?

The Captain slides his sword back in its scabbard.

                                                            PANTALONE
                                    The only thing he cares about is some girl.

                                                            CAPTAIN
                                    Take my advice, young man.  The only way to gain a
                                    woman's heart is by winning honor on the battlefield!

                                                            LELIO
                                    I've already won her heart.

                                                            CAPTAIN
                                    You think so, but you don't know anything!
                                    You need to go to war to learn about life! 
                                    Your must join my campaign.  I'm going to
                                    lead an army against Zanniland and overthrow
                                    King Brighella! 

                                                            LELIO
                                    Why should you attack Zanniland?

                                                            CAPTAIN
                                    Because they hate us for our goodness! 
                                    They would like nothing better than to sneak up
                                    on us while we're sleeping and chop us all into
                                    little pieces.  They're savage monsters, evil,
                                    bloody-minded!  The only way to ensure our
                                    safety is to kill them all!  You'll see I'm right when
                                    you meet them on the battlefield.

                                                            LELIO
                                    I'm not going to any battlefield!

                                                            CAPTAIN
                                    Of course you are!  I'm conscripting you into the
                                    Commedian army!  As Captain, I can conscript anyone 
                                    I choose!

                                                             LELIO
                                    Father!

                                                            PANTALONE
                                    He's right, son.  It will do you good.  How many
                                    men do you have, Captain?

                                                            CAPTAIN
                                    Counting your son, one.  It will take a month or so to
                                    conscript the rest of the army.  In the meantime, you can
                                    put me up.

                                                            PANTALONE
                                    What? 

                                                            CAPTAIN
                                    Certainly.  You're wealthy.  It's your patriotic duty.

                                                            PANTALONE
                                    But I'm giving you my son.  Isn't that enough?

                                                            CAPTAIN
                                    I lost my own son on the battlefield.  But I don't regret it. 
                                    No sacrifice is ever enough!  Or do you want Zanniland  
                                    to win?  Have you become a traitor in your old age?

The Captain draws his sword.  Truff and Arlo enter.  The Captain turns on them!

                                                            CAPTAIN
                                    What!  Did you think you could ambush me?

                                                            LELIO
                                    You're insane!

Lelio rushes the Captain and easily disarms him.  The Captain, who is in reality an abject coward, huddles in a corner of the room.

                                                            CAPTAIN
                                    Don't hurt me!  I'm your father's friend!  Don't let him 
                                    hurt me, Pantalone!

Lelio tosses the sword to the Captain.

                                                            LELIO
                                    Take your sword.  But don't expect me to join
                                    your war!

The Captain takes his sword and tries to re-capture his dignity.

                                                            CAPTAIN
                                    I wouldn't take you if you begged!  You realize I could
                                    have killed you with my bare hands, but I didn't want to
                                    hurt the son of my friend, Pantalone!  Where's my coat? 
                                    Someone stole my coat!  Some traitor has stolen my
                                    coat! 

                                                            LELIO
                                    You gave it to the servants! 

                                                            TRUFF
                                    Yeah, we put it in the shed, behind the house. 

                                                            ARLO
                                    No we didn't...

Truff pokes Arlo in the ribs.

                                                            LELIO
                                    Where we keep our swords!

                                                            ARLO
                                    We haven't got any...

Truff pokes Arlo again.

                                                            TRUFF
                                    Sure!  That's where his coat is!  In the shed with
                                    the swords!  Do you want us to get it?

                                                            CAPTAIN
                                    Ha!  You think I'm fool enough to let the enemy
                                    get its hands on its swords?  I'll retrieve my own coat.

The Captain exits.  Lelio, Truff and Arlo explode into laughter.

                                                            PANTALONE
                                    What's so funny?

It takes a few moments for Lelio, Truff and Arlo to stop laughing.

                                                            LELIO
                                    The shed is where they hid the pig droppings.
                                    When the Captain opens the door...

Enter Isabella.

                                                            ISABELLA
                                    Lelio!

                                                            LELIO
                                    Isabella, my love!

They run into each other's arms!

                                                            ARLO
                                    I thought you were in love with Smeraldina.

As Arlo says her name, Smeraldina enters.

                                                            SMERALDINA
                                    He's in love with my mistress, Isabella!

As soon as they see Smeraldina, Arlo and Truff try to strangle each other.

                                                            ISABELLA
                                    Where's my father?  They told me at the inn that he
                                    was here.

                                                            LELIO
                                    Your father?

                                                            ISABELLA
                                    Yes, my father, Captain Cocodrillo!

Truff and Arlo stop fighting.  The Captain enters, covered in pig droppings!   Arlo slips out.

                                                            ISABELLA
                                    Father!  Meet the man I am going to marry!

                                                            CAPTAIN
                                    Never!  Not in a million years!  Not if he were the last man
                                    on Earth!

The Captain takes Isabella by the hand and pulls her out of the house.  She begins weeping.  As they are about to exit, Arlo steps in with the Captain's coat.

                                                            ARLO
                                    Your coat.

The Captain grabs the coat and exits with Isabella, who is sobbing.

                                                            SMERALDINA
                                                    (furious)
                                    What have you idiots done???

Blackout!

 

SCENE THREE:

The throne room in the royal castle in the Kingdom of Zanniland.  BRIGHELLA the King sits upon a very large throne, which is on a raised platform .  Standing to his left and right are his chief stooges, FICHETTO and SCAPINO.  Brighella, Fichetto and Scapino all wear swords.  They don't use them in this scene, but they will be necessary in Act III.

                                                            BRIGHELLA
                                    Send in Agent X!

Fichetto and Scapino shout into the wings:

                                                            FICHETTO
                                    Send in Agent X!

                                                            SCAPINO
                                    Send in Agent X!

AGENT X sneaks in, unseen by Fichetto and Scapino.  He wears a cape with a hood, which hides most of his face.  Agent X taps Fichetto on the shoulder, startling him.

                                                            FICHETTO
                                    Who are you?

                                                            AGENT X
                                    They call me Agent X!

                                                            FICHETTO
                                    No kidding!  We were just calling you, Agent X!

                                                            BRIGHELLA
                                    Report on your infiltration of the forces of Commedia!

                                                            AGENT X
                                    Your Majesty, Captain Cocodrillo is raising an army to attack
                                    us.  We must attack Commedia first.  They are weakest on
                                    their Northern border!

                                                            BRIGHELLA
                                    Go and draw up plans to attack on the Northern border!

                                                            AGENT X
                                    Yes, your Majesty!

Agent X bows low and exits.

                                                            BRIGHELLA
                                    Send in Agent Y!

                                                            FICHETTO
                                    Send in Agent Y!

                                                            SCAPINO
                                    Send in Agent Y!

AGENT Y sneaks in, unseen by Fichetto and Scapino.  He wears a cape with a hood, which hides most of his face.  In fact, Agent Y could be played by the same actor who played Agent X.  Agent Y taps Scapino on the shoulder, startling him.

                                                            SCAPINO
                                    Who are you?

                                                            AGENT Y
                                    They call me Agent Y!

                                                            SCAPINO
                                    Why?

                                                            AGENT Y
                                    I don't know why.  That's just what they call me.

                                                            BRIGHELLA
                                    Did you spy on Agent X, as you were instructed?

                                                            AGENT Y
                                    Your Majesty, Agent X is in the pay of Captain Cocodrillo!
                                    Captain Cocodrillo wants us to attack on the Northern border,
                                    where he will have his troops waiting for us.  We must surprise
                                    him and attack on the Eastern border!

                                                            BRIGHELLA
                                    Go and draw up plans to attack on the Eastern border!  But
                                    first, go assassinate that traitor, Agent X!

                                                            AGENT Y
                                    Yes, your Majesty!

Agent Y bows low and exits.

                                                            BRIGHELLA
                                    Send in Agent Z!

                                                            FICHETTO
                                    Send in Agent Z!

                                                            SCAPINO
                                    Send in Agent Z!

AGENT Z sneaks in, unseen by Fichetto, Scapino and Brighella.  He wears a cape with a hood, which hides most of his face.  In fact, Agent Z could be played by the same actor who played Agent X and Agent Y.  Agent Z stands near Brighella and clears his throat, startling him.

                                                            BRIGHELLA
                                    Have you seen Agent Z?

!                                                            AGENT Z
                                    I am Agent Z!

                                                             SCAPINO
                                    But have you seen him?

                                                            BRIGHELLA
                                    Did you spy on Agent Y, as you were instructed?

                                                            AGENT Z
                                    Your Majesty, Agents X and Y are both in the pay of
                                    Captain Cocodrillo!  They will tell you to attack on the Northern
                                    border and on the Eastern border, but if you want to
                                    win, you must attack on the Southern border!

                                                            BRIGHELLA
                                    Go and draw up plans to attack on the Southern border!  But
                                    first, go assassinate Agent Y!  But wait until he first assassinates
                                    Agent X!

                                                            AGENT Z
                                    Yes, your Majesty!

Agent Z bows low and almost exits, but then he comes back to speak to Brighella.

                                                            AGENT Z
                                    My conscience forces me to confess!  I too am in the pay
                                    of Captain Cocodrillo!  He doesn't really care where we
                                    attack!  He just wants to know for certain where the
                                    attack will be, so he can arrange to be somewhere else!

                                                            BRIGHELLA
                                    Good!  Go and assassinate yourself!  But first go assassinate
                                    Agent Y, but only after he's assassinated Agent X!

                                                            AGENT Z
                                    Yes, your Majesty!

Agent Z bows low and exits.

Enter Lelio, Truff and Arlo, with their hands raised in surrender.  Behind them, holding a long spear, and disguised in the cloak of a Zanniland agent, is Smeraldina.  She also wears a false beard and mustache, and she disguises her voice. 

                                                            SMERALDINA
                                    Your Majesty, I found these men lurking by the castle.  
                                    I suspect they are spies!

                                                            BRIGHELLA
                                    Good.  We were running low on spies!

                                                            SMERALDINA
                                    I don't mean our spies!  I think these spies are in the pay 
                                    of Captain Cocodrillo!

                                                            SCAPINO
                                    Sounds like our spies to me!

                                                            LELIO
                                    Your Majesty, it's true that we are citizens of
                                    Commedia, but we came to Zanniland to offer
                                    services to you.

                                                            BRIGHELLA
                                    Why would you betray your own country?

                                                            TRUFF
                                    What other country could we betray?

                                                            LELIO
                                    Captain Cocodrillo has refused to let me wed the 
                                    woman I love.  He is my mortal enemy!

                                                            TRUFF
                                    And any enemy of the boss is an enemy of ours!

                                                            ARLO
                                    And any enemy of an enemy of my boss's enemy is an
                                    an enemy of an enemy of ours!

                                                            BRIGHELLA
                                    What does that mean?

                                                            ARLO
                                    I have no idea.

                                                            BRIGHELLA
                                    What would you do to prove your loyalty to me?
                                   

                                                            LELIO, TRUFF
                                                                & ARLO
                                                                (together)
                                    Anything!

                                                            BRIGHELLA
                                    Here in Zanniland, we have a time honored way to
                                    test loyalty.  To prove you'll do anything for me,
                                    each of you must try to kill the other two! 
                                    Whichever of you survives will be my trusted agent!

                                                            ARLO
                                    I don't like killing.  Couldn't I clean out your pig
                                    droppings instead?

                                                            BRIGHELLA
                                    Bring them the swords!

                                                            FICHETTO
                                    The swords!

                                                            SCAPINO
                                    The swords!

Fichetto and Scapino exit and return with three swords.  (They keep their own swords.) They give one sword to Lelio, one to Arlo and one to Truff.

                                                            BRIGHELLA
                                    Let the best traitor to his country win!

Lelio, Truff and Arlo run at each other, waving their swords and manage to wound Fichetto and Scapino and pretend to wound Smeraldina.  Fichetto and Scapino fall where they stand (but they aren't dead - they'll be back in Act II).  Smeraldina crawls to the top of the platform before (apparently) collapsing next to Brighella's throne.

                                                            LELIO
                                    I think you are now our prisoner, King
                                    Brighella!

                                                            BRIGHELLA
                                    I think not!

Brighella throws a switch on the arm of his throne, and a huge muzzle of a cannon comes out from beneath the throne, aimed at Lelio, Truff and Arlo!  The muzzle stretches out obscenely between Brighella's legs.

                                                            BRIGHELLA
                                    I keep a cannon concealed under my throne for
                                    just such emergencies.  I think you are now my
                                    prisoners!

                                                            SMERALDINA
                                    I think not!

Before Brighella realizes what is happening, she has the point of her spear at his chest!

                                                            SMERALDINA
                                    Step away from that throne, now!

Brighella does what he is told.  Smeraldina pushes back the cowl and takes off the fake beard and mustache.

                                                            LELIO
                                    Your plan worked!

                                                            SMERALDINA
                                    Of course it did!  I told you my plans always work. 
                                    Now we'll take him back to Commedia,  and Captain 
                                    Cocodrillo will be so impressed and grateful, he'll gladly
                                    give you the hand of Isabella.

                                                            TRUFF
                                    How do we get him back to Commedia?

                                                            SMERALDINA
                                    It shouldn't be hard once we gag him, put him in this
                                    robe and this fake beard and mustache. 

                                                            BRIGHELLA
                                    It's lucky for you I just had all my agents kill each other!

                                                            SMERALDINA
                                    Gag him quickly, and let's get out of here!

Blackout!

 

SCENE FOUR:

The parlor of Pantalone's house.  Pantalone paces.

                                                            PANTALONE
                                    Why do these things always happen to me?  My friend
                                    the Captain abuses my hospitality by expecting me to
                                    feed and house him while he raises an army.  And
                                    instead of helping me in my hour of need, my son
                                    runs off to who knows where!  The only good thing
                                    is that he took those two idiot servants with him!

Enter Truff and Arlo!

                                                            TRUFF
                                    We're back!

Enter Lelio and Smeraldina with Brighella, who is bound and gagged.

                                                            LELIO
                                    Father, do you know where the Captain is?

                                                            PANTALONE
                                    Probably in the kitchen, eating my food and drinking
                                    my wine.

                                                            LELIO
                                    Go get him, and tell him your son has won his war for
                                    him!   King Brighella is my prisoner!

                                                            PANTALONE
                                    That means he doesn't need to stay here any more! 
                                    I'll tell him at once!

Pantalone hurries off.   As he leaves, Isabella enters and runs into Lelio's arms.

                                                            ISABELLA
                                    My darling.  I flew to you as soon as I heard your
                                    voice.

                                                            LELIO
                                    Of course you flew.  That's how angels travel. 
                                    We've captured Brighella.  Now your father must
                                    approve of our marriage!

Enter Pantalone and Captain Cocodrillo.

                                                            CAPTAIN
                                    Is it true?  Is King Brighella your prisoner?

                                                            LELIO
                                    No, he's your prisoner!  I turn him over to
                                    you!

                                                            CAPTAIN
                                    If this really is King Brighella, that means the
                                    war is over!  Let me interrogate him in
                                    private.

The Captain takes Brighella (still bound and gagged) into another room.

                                                            ISABELLA
                                    I told you we were fated to be wed!

                                                            LELIO
                                    And I told you that was true beyond all doubt.

                                                            PANTALONE
                                    There's still the matter of the dowry. 

                                                            LELIO
                                    Father, would you prefer that I let Brighella go, so
                                    the Captain can live with you while he raises an
                                    army?

                                                            PANTALONE
                                    No!  No!  I'm sure we can work something out.

                                                            LELIO
                                    Then it's a happy ending for everyone!

                                                            TRUFF
                                    And I get to marry Smeraldina!

                                                            ARLO
                                    You mean I get to marry Smeraldina!

                                                            TRUFF
                                    That's what I said, I get to marry Smeraldina.

Truff and Arlo try to kill each other.  Smeraldina pulls them apart.

                                                            SMERALDINA
                                    What makes you think I want to marry either one of
                                    you?

                                                            ARLO
                                    Lelio said it was a happy ending for everyone.

                                                            TRUFF
                                    Don't you want to get married?

                                                            SMERALDINA
                                    Maybe some day, when I feel ready to settle down, but
                                    not now!  Of course, that doesn't mean I wouldn't like
                                    to be courted.

Truff and Arlo resume trying to kill each other.  Smeraldina pulls them apart.

                                                            SMERALDINA
                                    By both of you!

Enter the Captain.

                                                            CAPTAIN
                                    I have an announcement to make.  Daughter, you
                                    are going to be wed!  And even better than that,
                                    you are going to be a Queen!   And I am to be
                                    Lord Chancellor of Zanniland!  Come, kiss your
                                    husband, King Brighella.

Enter Brighella, no longer bound or gagged.  He goes to greet Isabella, but she faints into Lelio's arms.  Everyone is horrified, except for the Captain and Brighella.

Blackout!

                                   

THE END OF ACT I

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COMMEDIA!

 

2004 by Richard Nathan.  All rights reserved

The author grants all internet uses to print these scripts for their own, personal, non-commercial use.  No other use may be made without the author's permission.  Without limiting the foregoing, the plays may not be staged without the author's express  permission.

Send e-mail to the author at Richard-Nathan@att.net.