A Loop in Time

Duke Dagon is visiting Court, but no one can stand him. Not only is he planning to usurp the throne, but he cheats at Tiddlywinks. The King has suffered memory loss from a recent injury, so the Queen hatches a plan to make Dagon think he is reliving the same day over and over again so that, eventually, Dagon will reveal his plot to overthrow the King. As the scene keeps repeating, Dagon gets crazier, with hilarious consequences. Lots of fun audience interaction and lots of laughs.

Cast size: 3 Male, 3 Female, Extras

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CHARACTERS

KING (M) A king who’s suffered a recent injury which causes him to repeat himself.

QUEEN (F) A clever queen who does not like Duke Dagon.

JESTER (M) The funny man of the Court. He has a thing for the Minstrel.

FIONA (F) A servant girl with a lot of spirit.

MERRY THE MINSTREL (F) Singer of songs and teller of tales. She has a thing for the Jester.

DUKE DAGON (M) Wants to usurp the throne and is generally a conniving personality.

EXTRAS

GUARD 1 (M) No lines, but still a fun role.

GUARD 2 (M) No lines, but still a fun role.

COURTIERS (M/F) Various royalty to fill the head table, if desired.

PAGES/SERVANTS (M/F) Those who escort guests to tables and serve the food.

SAMPLE PAGES:

Everyone is frustrated by Duke Dagon’s visit:

QUEEN:  (Entering.) Aaaaaaaaaaah!

JESTER:  (Bows.) My Queen, is something wrong?

QUEEN:  That man is so smarmy!

JESTER:  Who? Machiavelli?

QUEEN:  No.

JESTER:  Herod the Great?

QUEEN:  No.

JESTER:  Scar?  (ALL stare at JESTER.)  He tried to run over Simba.  With a herd of wildebeests!

QUEEN:  No, I was talking about that sewer-pipe of slime, Duke Dagon.

FIONA:  Oh, him. What has Duke Dagon done? (Glare from QUEEN.) What has he done this time?

QUEEN:  That no good, slippery scoundrel cheated at Candyland.

JESTER:  (Mock shock.) The fiend!

QUEEN:  Dagon played three skip cards in a row!

JESTER:  Uh, aren’t those Uno cards?

QUEEN:  Exactly!

FIONA:  It’s worse than you think, my Queen. Duke Dagon is scheming to usurp the throne.

QUEEN:  How do you know this?

JESTER:  He read it from his diary. It has a herd of cows on the cover.  Evil cows.

QUEEN:  That’s dairy, not diary.

JESTER:  It is still udderly evil.

QUEEN:  But Dagon is one of the King’s oldest friends. If I were to bring this to the King, I would need hard evidence. Unless you can get this evil cow diary, there is nothing I can do.

FIONA:  (Thinking aloud.) But, something must be done.

JESTER:  Yes, something must be done.  I know!  I’ve got a special deck for Go Fish. It’s nothing but sevens!  I would go first and ask, “Do you have any sevens?”  And Dagon would say, “Yes.”  Then I’d ask, “Do you have any sevens?”  And Dagon would say, “Yes.”  Then I’d ask—

FIONA:  Jester, focus! We must deal with Dagon for good!  If he usurps the throne, then I’ll be out of a job.

QUEEN:  I’ll be out of a husband.

JESTER:  And I’ll be out of sorts. (ALL stare at JESTER.)

FIONA:  Any ideas? If the King could only hear what Duke Dagon says behind his back, then Duke Dagon would be out of his job, and we’d all be much happier.

QUEEN:  Wait a minute: I have an idea.  Did you hear about the King’s accident?

JESTER:  Tragic.  And the trebuchet?

QUEEN:  Splintered.  It’s in the bonfire tonight.

FIONA:  And the King’s helmet?

QUEEN:  Smashed.  It’s an ashtray tonight.

JESTER:  The armadillo?

QUEEN:  Flattened.  It’s the main dish tonight. (Beat.) The King is recovering, but his memory has been affected.  Every time he falls asleep—which he does frequently—he forgets everything that has happened, and he starts all over.

FIONA: Almost like he’s living the same day over and over?

QUEEN:  Yes. But Duke Dagon doesn’t know this.  He hasn’t been here since the autumn harvest.  What if Duke Dagon thought he really was living the same day over and over?

FIONA:  I’m not sure I follow. (BRASS FANFARE.)

QUEEN:  I must join the Court.  I’ll explain later. (Speaks as she exits.) I think I know how we can finally catch that . . . that . . .

FIONA: Reprobate?

JESTER:  Degenerate?

QUEEN:  Yes, what you said!  (She exits.)

FIONA:  I can’t wait to find out what the Queen has planned. Imagine a world without Duke Dagon.  (They slowly come together in a very hippy, John Lennon-ish fashion as they speak.) Imagine there’s no Dagon.

JESTER:  It isn’t hard to do.

FIONA:  No cheating or plotting.

JESTER:  No evil cow diaries, too.

FIONA:  Imagine all the castle, living life in peace.

JESTER: (Sings his best imitation of John Lennon’s “Imagine.”) Oooh, oooh, ooh-ooh-ooh.  (FIONA stares.) What?

FIONA:  Never mind. Let’s go, Jester.  The King is on his way. (FIONA exits.)

JESTER: (Looks to the back of the hall.)  Ah, I see the King doth approach.

(Clears his throat and announces loudly.)
Ready the meal and heat the wassail!
Bring forth the meat and finest of ale!
Blow the clarion!  Singers appear!
The King and his court are drawing near! (Exits.)

There are others who are frustrated as well:

FIONA: Merry the Minstrel! So good to see you again. Are you performing at Court this evening?

MINSTREL: (Frustrated.) Aaaaaaaaaahh!

FIONA: Uh . . . is something wrong?

MINSTREL: That good-for-nothing reprobate!

FIONA: Oh. What has he done? (Meaningful look from MINSTREL.) What has he done this time?

MINSTREL: He thinks we need some space.

FIONA: Uh, isn’t that a good thing? I mean, all of us want to keep our distance from Duke Dagon.

MINSTREL: Duke Dagon?

FIONA: The good-for-nothing reprobate? Isn’t that who you are talking about?

MINSTREL: No. I’m talking about the Jester!

FIONA: The Jester? What did he do?

MINSTREL: He said he “needs more space.”  As if that space between his ears isn’t enough.

FIONA: I’m not sure what you mean.

MINSTREL: How long has he been courting me?

FIONA: Well, let’s see. It’s going on three years, isn’t it?

MINSTREL: And just when I thought he was going to make some sort of commitment, he tells me that he needs more space.

FIONA:  Men!

MINSTREL:  Men!   

FIONA: (BRASS FANFARE.) Merry, I don’t mean to rush off, but it’s time to bring in the boar’s head.

MINSTREL:  Good.  You get the platter and the apple.  I’ll get the Jester. (They exit.)

 

As planned, a version of this scene keeps repeating itself:

KING: Ah, Merry the Minstrel! Welcome back to Court.

MINSTREL: (Bows.) It is good to be back, sire. (Glares at JESTER.)

JESTER: Yes, it is good to have music in these halls once again! We have Merry to make us merry! (Laughs and smiles at MINSTREL, who glares at him.) Yes, uh, very merry indeed.

QUEEN: What songs shall we hear tonight?

MINSTREL: I was thinking of some songs about the hunt.  You know.  The boar. The cheetah. (“Cheater.” Gives hard stare to JESTER.)  The chicken.

KING:  The chicken?  Not much of a challenge.  It just runs away.

MINSTREL:  Don’t I know it.  I will, however, have to repair a string on my fairy harp.

KING: Fairy harp? What is a fairy harp?

MINSTREL: A very small harp for the wee-folk. (Squeezes thumb and finger to show size.)

KING: Fascinating! What do you need to string your harp?

MINSTREL: A fine hair will do.

KING: Wonderful. Jester, remove your hat so that Merry can pull a hair from your head.

JESTER: Uh, as you wish, sire. (Crosses to MINSTREL and removes his hat.)

MINSTREL: (Starts to reach but stops.) Actually, your majesty, I require a hair from the leg.

JESTER: My leg? But—

KING: Jester, make it so.

(JESTER hesitates then offers his leg. MINSTREL looks at him and smiles. She pantomimes plucking a hair very forcefully.)

JESTER: Ow! That hurts!

MINSTREL: (Glares at JESTER.) Yes it does! (To KING.) And now, by your leave, I shall re-string my harp and return to you. (Exits. JESTER exits opposite way, nursing his leg.)

KING:  Wonderful! Servants, bring us more ale! (SERVANT& FIONA enter and pour more ale. FIONA spills some on DUKE DAGON.)

FIONA:  Oops, so sorry, Duke Dagon! (Before DAGON can verbally react, KING speaks.)

KING:  Dagon, I just read this wonderful joke this morning at breakfast. (Takes out joke book and begins to read.) Knock, Knock.

DAGON:  (Reluctantly.) Who is there?

KING:  (Excited.) Banana.

DAGON:  Banana who?

KING:  Knock, Knock.

DAGON:  Who is there?

KING:  (Excited.) Banana.

DAGON:  Banana who?

KING:  Knock, Knock.

DAGON:  (Restrained annoyance.) Who is there?

KING:  (Excited.) Banana.

DAGON:  Banana who?

KING:  Knock, Knock.

DAGON:  (Restrained annoyance.) Who is there?

KING:  (Excited.) Orange.

DAGON:  Orange who?

KING:  Orange you glad I didn’t say banana? (Laughs and slaps his thigh. COURT joins in laughter.)

DAGON:  (Fake laughing.) Ah, your majesty.  That was a good one.

KING:  It just tickled me this morning.  You see, orange is a pun, so it sounds like I’m saying “aren’t you,” but I’m also saying a fruit, so the joke is . . .  (KING looks into audience to Nasty Nate’s table.  SEE PRODUCTION NOTES.) I do say, is that Nasty Nate, the pirate?

QUEEN:  Nasty Nate? I thought you banished him from the court?

KING:  I did.  Does he defy me?  Guards! (GUARDS enter, go to table, and stand on each side of audience member.  KING stands.)  Nasty Nate, you villain!

DAGON:  (To audience.)  Stand before the King when he addresses you, knave!  (GUARDS assist him to his feet.)

KING:  I thought I made it quite clear that you were not to appear at my court again.  Do you defy me, sir? (Improv with his answer.) Are you so anxious to live the rest of your days in my dungeon?  Or shall I have you hanged and be done with it?

QUEEN:  (Stands.) My lord, I think you are mistaken.

KING:  (To QUEEN.) Do you defy me?

QUEEN:  No, sire.  That is Lord Orville.  It is very easy to mistake the two; they could pass for twins.

KING:  (Takes a closer look.) Oh, so it is Lord Orville!  I forgot that Nasty Nate has a peg leg, hook, and swashbuckling attitude. (To audience member.) You clearly don’t.  Must have been the way you were sitting.  My apologies, Lord Orville!  Servants, bring him more ale!

(KING & QUEEN sit. SERVANT enters and pours more ale.  GUARDS exit.)

QUEEN:  My lord, have you forgotten?

KING:  Forgotten what?

QUEEN:  Today is your birthday! (COURTIERS take out wrapped presents, except DAGON.)

KING:  I can’t believe you remembered!  This is such a surprise!  I can’t believe everyone— (Looks down the table.) Ah, Dagon.  I see you have forgotten my birthday.  Again.

DAGON:  Of course not, your majesty!  I just . . . left it in my room.  If you’ll excuse me, I’ll go get it. (Exits quickly. Lights down on Royal Table as DAGON re-enters main stage.)  Stupid, stupid, stupid!  How could I forget?  If I don’t get him a gift, I’ll never be able to use OATMEAL. (Begins searching through the audience.) There must be something of value here . . . but wait. (Stops in front of an audience member. SEE PRODUCTION NOTES.) Sir Lancelot?  Is that you?  The King is a big fan.  A huge fan.  He has a life-sized poster of you in the hall.  May I ask a favor?  I’m in a terrible bind; I need a birthday gift.  I know it would mean the world to the King if he could get your autograph. (Pulls out paper.) If you could just sign right here with a note that says, “To my special and most cherished sovereign, the King.” (Waits for audience member to write.) Sovereign is spelled s-o-v-e-r-e-i-g-n.  (Pauses.) King is spelled k-i-n-g.  Perfect.  If all goes well, I will give you Belgium. (Stuffs paper into a gift bag and runs back to the stage.  Lights up on Royal Table.)