A Ring of Lies

This is a sequel to our popular script “The Ring of Truth.”  The Wise Woman of the Wood has offended the Duchess of York and is brought to the castle. Though she lost the Ring of Truth in a poker game, she does have the Ring of Lies, which forces the wearer to tell only lies. At first blush, this may not seem helpful, but a complete lie can lead to the whole truth.  The ring reveals the hidden motives of characters—and one lucky audience member who gets to wear the ring to tell us how she manages her husband. Though honesty is the best policy, this script shows that fabrication is the best complication.

Cast Size: 4 Male, 5 Female, and Extras 2M, 3F, 2M/F

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CAST OF CHARACTERS 

JESTER (M) the professional funny-man of the court.  

FIONA (F) a servant woman in the castle.

TOWN CRIER (M) the professional announcement-maker of the court. 

PRINCE GARETH (M) a quiet and shy monarch, though the actor need not be so in real life.

QUEEN MUM (F) domineering mother to Prince Gareth.  She would like to be the regent for a while longer.  A good while longer. 

DUCHESS OF YORK (F) wants a rich and weak husband.  The Prince fits that description. 

PRINCESS DAFFODIL (F) wants a kind and honest husband. The Prince fits that description.

DUKE OF BURGUNDY (M) has his eye on Princess Daffodil. He wants to win her . . . wealth. 

WISE WOMAN (F) a true and discerning woman of the wood. 

SERVANTS (NON-SPEAKING) (2 M/3 F) Larry, Harry, Mary, Keri, and Vivian: they can set a table faster than an Indy 500 pit stop.

2 GUARDS (NON-SPEAKING) (M/F) escort service to the dungeon.

SAMPLE PAGES 

FANFARE AND WELCOME 

(When the guests have been seated, a BRASS FANFARE will signal all entertainers to clear the hall.  Lights up on stage. Another BRASS FANFARE. JESTER enters.) 

JESTER: Good evening, gentle folk, and welcome to Cumberland Castle! The Queen is looking forward to—(Distracted by the sudden entrance of FIONA and the servants.)

FIONA: (To SERVANTS.) Go, go, go!  (The servants enter and set out dishes and goblets as quickly as possible.  Think of an Indy 500 pit stop. After they finish, they come to attention in a straight line.)  Mary!  Too slow on the goblet filling.  And you spilled three drops.  Three drops!  Keri, don’t rattle those dishes.  You’re a scullery maid, not a percussionist.  Larry, keep your toes en pointe.  This is a ballet, not a break dance.  Harry, clean those fingernails.  (Looks down.)  And those toenails.  Vivian . . . Vivian, change your name.  Next time I want it faster, quieter, and cleaner.  Is that understood?

SERVANTS:  Ma’am, yes ma’am.

FIONA:  That is all.  Dismissed. (SERVANTS exit quickly.) 

JESTER: Fiona, are you all right? You seem . . . on edge.

FIONA: (Crosses to JESTER.) Of course I’m on the edge.  The Duke of Burgundy is coming to dinner.

JESTER: Not that sack of whine.  He is never satisfied.  He’s not bringing his neighbor –

FIONA:  Oh, yes. The Duchess of York—

JESTER:  You mean the Ruckus of Dork?

FIONA: Yes, her.

JESTER: She is a loud, obnoxious, harpy.  Why are they coming to the castle?

FIONA:  The Queen Mum is still trying to wed the Prince and the Duchess.

JESTER:  Didn’t the Prince hide in the dungeon the last time she was here?

FIONA:  Yes.  He said that if he had to spend time with an iron maiden, he preferred the quiet one. (Beat.) And to make this more complicated, Princess Daffodil is coming.

JESTER:  Never has a woman so fit her name.  Whenever I think of the Duke of Burgundy, that boorish swine, chasing that delicate flower, I see –

FIONA:  Red?

JESTER:  Burgundy, actually.  He does not love her. Besides, she loves the Prince.

FIONA:  Of course she does. Everyone but the Prince knows it.

JESTER:  Even if he did know, the Prince is too shy, and he would never cross his mother. She clearly favors the Duchess to be his wife.

FIONA: I will quit if the Prince marries the Duchess. She’s never happy.  “The table wasn’t set quickly enough. The goblets are half-empty. The main course is not quite dead.”

JESTER:  Well, at the harvest feast –

FIONA:  The Duchess said she liked her venison rare.

JESTER: That was a rare sight, all right.

FIONA: There is no pleasing that woman.  She finds fault with everything.

JESTER:  Princess Daffodil would make a much better queen.

TOWN CRIER: (Enters hurriedly.) Jester, what are you doing?

JESTER: Match-making?

TOWN CRIER: Well, clear out! The Queen Mum will be arriving soon! And do you know who’s coming to dinner?

JESTER: The Duke of Burgundy, the Duchess of York, and Princess Daffodil?

TOWN CRIER: (Beat.) I see news travels fast.

FIONA: I’d better get ready. It’s going to be a long night! (Exits.)

Later, the Duchess recounts her journey to the castle . . . 

QUEEN MUM: So, Duchess, the Prince and I are so glad you came. How was your journey here?

DUCHESS:  Absolutely atrocious.  We met the most horrid commoner near Penny Lane.

DUKE:  A witch by the look of her.  (FIONA takes notable interest and listens closely.) You really do need to purge your woods more frequently.

QUEEN MUM:  Indeed, it is time for another round of evictions.  You get the worst sort of people in those hovels.

DUCHESS:  She was spouting the most seditious nonsense. She had the nerve to call me strong-willed.

PRINCESS:  The words she used were harpy, harridan, and battle-ax.  She must have a whole shelf of reference books in that hovel of hers.

DUKE:  She dared to call me thrifty.

PRINCESS:  Actually, she said that your purse is like a ravenous boar.  (Beat.) I thought that you would appreciate the metaphor for being cheap.

DUKE:  I am not cheap.

PRINCESS:  (To PRINCE.) Oh, please.  He still has the first shilling he got from his tax on puppies.

QUEEN MUM:  I can assume that you rebuked her by burning her hovel to the ground?

DUCHESS:  We would have, but someone stopped us.  (DUCHESS and DUKE look at PRINCESS.) 

PRINCESS:  I found her charming.

DUCHESS:  She said that you were coddled.

PRINCESS:  Well, after looking at her home, I have to agree. (Beat.) And I’m still thinking about her parting words.

QUEEN MUM: And what were those, pray tell?

PRINCESS: That the Prince would find the truth if only he lived the lie.

QUEEN MUM: (Pause.) What could that possibly mean?

DUKE: Blather and nonsense, if you ask me.

QUEEN MUM: Well, such impertinence cannot go unpunished. Guards! (GUARDS rush in.) Go to Penny Lane and bring me the old Woman of the Wood. (FIONA smiles and exits. GUARDS exit quickly.) I’ll show her what it means to live a lie.

The Prince takes a break from the feast . . . 

(JESTER & TOWN CRIER enter; PRINCE enters from opposite side.) 

JESTER: Prince Gareth, what are you doing here?

PRINCE: I needed some peace and quiet.

TOWN CRIER: Peace and quiet?  In that case, let me shoo the Jester on out of here.

PRINCE: No, the Jester’s fine.  He doesn’t interrupt me every time I speak.

JESTER: Is something bothering you, my prince?

PRINCE: (Looks around.) Well, yes. You see, I love Princess Daffodil, but she doesn’t know I exist.

TOWN CRIER: Well, I’ve heard that—

PRINCE: And to make matters worse, the Duke of Burgundy is here, and I can’t get a word in edgewise.

JESTER: Yes, but the Princess is in love with—

PRINCE: With the Duke. I know. He even wrote her poetry.  Or should I say, stole her some poetry.

JESTER: But, Prince, if you’ll just listen for a moment—

PRINCE: Oh, how can I compete with such an accomplished suitor?

TOWN CRIER: But I don’t think you have to—

PRINCE: And my mother thinks there will be a betrothal soon. He doesn’t deserve her.

JESTER: But we’re trying to tell you that—

PRINCE: And that is what’s bothering me! (Exits and returns to Royal Table.) 

JESTER: (To TOWN CRIER.) What was that about getting a word in edgewise?

TOWN CRIER: Maybe we still can. (Exits with JESTER.) 

The Wise Woman is brought to the castle . . . 

(FIONA enters as GUARDS bring in the WISE WOMAN.)

FIONA:  I cannot believe it.  It’s really you. The Wise Woman of the Wood.

WISE WOMAN:  Do I know you?

FIONA:  I was a servant when you came to the court of King William ten years ago.  But I thought you’d look older. (Beat.) You haven’t aged a day.  What’s your secret?

WISE WOMAN:  Clean living and a clear conscience.  (Beat.) And Botox.

FIONA:  Botox?

WISE WOMAN:  I inject cobra venom in my face.

FIONA:  That makes you look younger?

WISE WOMAN:  It makes you not care how you look.  (Beat.) So, why have you moved to this castle?  I thought the Ring of Truth improved things in King William’s court?

FIONA:  It worked wonders.  The King is more humble, and women are now equals.  I didn’t move because of that.

WISE WOMAN:  Oh.  (Beat.) So, you moved here for a man, did you?

FIONA:  No, this castle has a great dental plan, and I . . . oh, all right. Yes, I moved here for the Town Crier. But he doesn’t even know I’m alive.

WISE WOMAN:  And now you’re in a Court where the women are not treating the men with respect.

FIONA:  How did you know?

WISE WOMAN:  They don’t call me the Wise Woman of the Wood for nothing.

FIONA:  I’m so glad you’re here.  With the Ring of Truth—

WISE WOMAN:  Sorry. I lost the Ring of Truth.

FIONA:  You lost it?

WISE WOMAN:  In a poker game to a crazy Scotsman. His four aces trumped my flush. Now that he has the Ring of Truth, I imagine it will just rust away.

FIONA:  So, you can’t help us?

WISE WOMAN:  All I have is the Ring of Lies. (Fishes a ring from her pocket and puts it on.) 

FIONA:  That’s the Ring of Lies?

WISE WOMAN:  No.

FIONA:  But, you just said. (Beat.) Oh, I see. You say the opposite of what you mean, correct?

WISE WOMAN: Incorrect.

FIONA:  So, how will this help—

JESTER: (Enters and speaks to GUARDS.) There you are! Is this the Wise Woman of the Wood?

WISE WOMAN:  I am the Stupid Man of the Plain.

JESTER: (Beat.) I don’t even know what to say to that.

FIONA:  Jester, look at her hand.  She is wearing –

JESTER:  (Looks.)  Is that the Ring of Truth?  Keep that thing away from me!

FIONA:  Relax, Jester. It’s the Ring of Lies. She flushed the Ring of Truth.

JESTER:  Excuse me?

FIONA: It’s a long story.  But I think the Ring of Lies can help the Prince.

JESTER: We’ll have to talk about this later.  The Queen Mum is waiting—very impatiently—for this woman! Let’s go!

(Lights up on Royal Table. FIONA exits.)

QUEEN MUM:  Guards, what took you so long? I sent you to Penny Lane, not the Norwegian Wood. (GUARDS bring the WISE WOMAN forward then step to the side.)

DUCHESS: That’s the woman, my Queen.

QUEEN MUM: Are you the woman who spreads lies about the good nobles of this land?

WISE WOMAN: Yes, I am not.

QUEEN MUM:  Well which is it?

WISE WOMAN: I am not the Wise Woman.

QUEEN MUM: Agreed. You are very unwise. Now, your answers to these next questions will determine how much time you spend in the dungeon.