The Jester of this court does not understand the serious nature involved with traditional Scottish dress. His jokes about kilts get him into trouble in this madrigal script when, in fact, one has been found . . . murdered! Highly-interactive with the audience, this tale tries to solve this horrendous crime! Oh, what villain knows how to wield a seam ripper so skillfully? And darning needle was also used? (What a darned bad way to die!) Using suspects from the cast as well as the audience, this medieval-based parody of Law & Order will keep you laughing until the end.
Cast size: 4 Male, 4 Female, 1 M/F, Extras
JESTER (M) professional levity-maker.
TOWN CRIER (M) professional announcement-maker of the court. This actor should either be very secure in his masculinity or a full-blooded Scot who understands things like kilts.
SHERIFF (M) local magistrate who investigates the crime (Scottish).
INSPECTOR (M/F) an official from Scotland Yard (English).
ROSALYN (F) a local who works at Tippets to Britches, doubles as the defense attorney.
MARILLA (F) a local peasant who works at Tippets to Britches.
JUDGE MENTAL (F) a fine English judge and very, uh, fair.
KING JAMES (M) king of this realm.
QUEEN ELINOR (F) yeah, yeah: she’s a peach.
2-4 COURTIERS (M/F) members of the royal table
2-4 VILLAGERS (M/F) extras who watch the proceedings
TOWN CRIER: Sire, I am afraid something terrible has happened!
KING: Well, what it is?
TOWN CRIER: I am afraid there has been . . . a murder!
ROYAL COURT: (Gasps.)
VOICEOVER: (While VOICE is speaking, the COURT is looking around for the source.) In the Scottish justice system, the Scots are represented by two separate, yet equally important groups: the sheriffs, who investigate the crime, and the magistrates, who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories. Dun-dun.
QUEEN: Who, or what, was that?
TOWN CRIER: That was the narrator.
KING: Is that all he does? Say that line?
TOWN CRIER: Yes, but he gets paid every time this show plays as a re-run on cable.
QUEEN: That’s a lot of money for one line, if you ask me.
KING: Yep. (Uncomfortable silence.) What now?
TOWN CRIER: Whoops! Time for the segue. Cue the music. (Play some police drama-type music, preferably on bagpipes. Lights down on Royal Court; lights up on side stage where a kilt is spread out. TOWN CRIER exits. SHERIFF enters and kneels by the kilt; INSPECTOR enters.)
INSPECTOR: So, what happened here?
SHERIFF: (Holds up kilt.) Kilt, sir.
INSPECTOR: Well, it’s rather obvious it was killed.
SHERIFF: No, kilt, sir, as in a Scottish man dress.
INSPECTOR: Don’t try to skirt the issue.
SHERIFF: I meant that it appears to be an article of clothing that a Scotsman would wear.
INSPECTOR: I know that, of course. Remember, I’m from Scotland Yard.
SHERIFF: Scotland Yard? Really, sir? You haven’t gone metric yet?
INSPECTOR: The Queen wanted to see me about that, but I refused to meet ‘er. Now, who found the kilt? (Takes kilt and lays it back down.)
SHERIFF: (Walks over to some audience members.) These peasants here found the kilt.
INSPECTOR: Really? And what was their reaction to stumbling upon this gruesome and heinous crime?
SHERIFF: They screamed.
INSPECTOR: Really? Like how? (SHERIFF & INSPECTOR stare at the audience members expectantly, waiting for them to scream. This is a good opportunity for improv-ing. React to their scream in a way that is funny. If it is wimpy, make them repeat the scream until it is appropriately loud and horrified. If it is loud and horrified from the first, comment on how close they felt to the kilt, what a good relationship they had, etc.)
SHERIFF: Not only were these peasants shocked, but the entire group of onlookers gasped in shock.
INSPECTOR: Gasped in shock, you say?
SHERIFF: Gasped in shock.
INSPECTOR: Like how? (Again an opportunity for improv-ing. Don’t stop prodding the audience until they have gasped appropriately. Get them trained so that when you deliver the line, “The entire group of onlookers gasped in shock,” that the audience gasps in shock.) Well, it’s only natural, considering how horrible this crime is.
SHERIFF: If you look carefully, the kilt was killed over there (Points to SR.) and dragged to here (Points to the kilt.) Do you see the trail of thread?
INSPECTOR: (Holds his handkerchief to his mouth as if he’s going to be sick.) There’s, there’s thread everywhere! Any idea as to the cause of its, uh, demise? Do you think it was suicide?
SHERIFF: Well, since the kilt doesn’t have any arms, legs, or any self-mobility whatsoever, I think we can rule out suicide.
INSPECTOR: So, if it wasn’t a suicide, then this must be . . .
SHERIFF: That’s right inspector. We are looking at a kilticide. (Prompt audience to gasp.)
INSPECTOR: It’s a good thing Scotland Yard has its own kilticide division. I am expert in these cases. Do you see that twist of worn out threads there? (Points at kilt.) Was that the cause of death?
SHERIFF: Frayed knot.
INSPECTOR: It was not the cause?
SHERIFF: No, it’s a frayed knot. As in a worn out twist of thread.
INSPECTOR: (Pause and stares.) That pun is bad enough to make any innocent witness scream (Looks at audience members expectantly.) or make any bystanders gasp in shock. (Looks at audience members expectantly.)
SHERIFF: Actually, the frayed knot was the point of entry of one of the murder weapons.
INSPECTOR: One of the weapons?
SHERIFF: Oh, yes. This wound was caused by a darning needle.
INSPECTOR: (Steps forward to address audience.) That is a darn bad way to die.
SHERIFF: And you talk about my puns?
INSPECTOR: It’s all in the delivery.
SHERIFF: Inspector, there is also evidence that the kilt was hung.
INSPECTOR: How horrible! Any leads as to where it was hung?
SHERIFF: We’re pretty sure that it was hung in the closet of that clothing shop over there. (Points to back of audience.)
INSPECTOR: Is there no end to the horrible cruelty?
SHERIFF: There’s more. If you look here, (Points to the seams.) the seam has been . . . ripped out.
INSPECTOR: (Steps forward to address audience.) What an unseemly end. (Audience should groan.) Sheriff, do you have the murder weapon?
SHERIFF: Yes. (He holds up a seam-ripper in a linen cloth.)
INSPECTOR: Good gracious! Is that what I think it is? It appears to be a seam-ripper.
SHERIFF: It would seem so. We have not recovered the darning needle, but we do, at least, have a place to start.
INSPECTOR: Well, start asking around. Find out if anyone saw a person with a seam-ripper.
Later, the Sheriff rounds up a few suspects . . .
ROSALYN: Might there be other men off-kilter? I’m just saying that you shouldn’t assume that the villain is a woman.
INSPECTOR: All right, fair enough. Then think, Rosalyn. Were there any suspicious men who came into your shop recently?
ROSALYN: Well, now that I think about it, several days ago, there was a man who bought a seam ripper just like that. (Points to seam ripper.)
INSPECTOR: A man, you say? Was he wearing a dress?
ROSALYN: Not at the time. But I remember it was unusual because–besides the Sheriff here–I don’t know any men who can sew. This man said he was “buying it for his wife.”
INSPECTOR: The old (SHERIFF/INSPECTOR make quotation signs with fingers.) “buying it for his wife,” excuse. Can you describe him?
ROSALYN: Well, it was at the end of a long day, but I remember that he was average height and average weight. (JESTER enters where he is visible.)
INSPECTOR: That’s it? Could you be a bit more specific? What about his hair color?
ROSALYN: I’d say it was about average.
INSPECTOR: What about his build?
ROSALYN: Also average.
INSPECTOR: Must be one of the peasants. (To SHERIFF.) Sheriff, we have a very detailed description now. Go round up some suspects.
SHERIFF: (Goes through the audience and gathers three men with as wide a range of height, weight, and age as possible. After all, “average” means something different to everyone.) Come on then! (Sees JESTER.) You, too! I don’t like the expression on your face.
JESTER: What? What did I do?
SHERIFF: Up to the front you go! We need a line-up. (He lines them up on stage and assigns them a number. Make sure the JESTER gets number one. If they are standing out of order, SHERIFF can add the following.) Nice job with the numbers, guys.
INSPECTOR: All right, Rosalyn, we have four suspects of average description. Do you think you can identify the man if you saw him again?
ROSALYN: Yes, I think so.
INSPECTOR: Take your time, then.
SHERIFF: All right, hold up your numbers in front. Now, turn to the right.
INSPECTOR: I think number 3 has done this before.
SHERIFF: Get your numbers in front of you. Back to the front. Now, put your right arm in. (Men comply.) No, put your right arm out. (Men comply.) No, put your right arm in . . . and shake it all about.
INSPECTOR: Do the hokey-pokey –
SHERIFF: And turn yourself around –
SHERIFF/INSPECTOR/ROSALYN: That’s what it’s all about.