Prince Charming is not. Charming that is. So, he enlists the help of Rosalyn, a woman with ideas of her own who is serving time for distributing radical leaflets to the commoners. Rosalyn agrees to help Charming after hearing his atrocious attempts at love poetry. The problem is that Rosalyn is cynical about love after her own messy break-up, and she doesn’t really know which princess is the “object of Charming’s agitated physiological reaction.” Add in a Jester who can’t read and, well, this never turns out well.
Cast size: 3 Male, 6 Female, 3-5 Extras M/F
MIRANDA (F) Thanks to Sister Gertrude, she’s a serving girl who can read, though, that didn’t get her all that far in life.
JESTER (M) Also had Sister Gertrude, but he can’t read. But he did get a stand-up job at Court.
KING (M) He’s still stuck in the Middle Ages when it comes to his views on women. Oh, right: this IS the Middle Ages.
QUEEN (F) She’s stuck in the Middle Ages with the king who’s still stuck in the Middle Ages when it comes to his views on women.
PRINCESS GABRIELLA (F) Commonly known as Princess Gabby. She loves to talk, TALK, TALK.
PRINCESS ARACHNE (F) The Machiavellian middle child.
PRINCESS BARBIE (F) She may not be too bright, but at least she’s shallow.
ROSALYN (F) though she’s just had a messy break-up, she is quite a good writer.
PRINCE CHARMING (M) Charming is a family name. He’s more sincere than charming. But Prince Sincere doesn’t have the same panache, now does it?
SERVANTS (M/F) extras who help serve the meal and wassail.
GUARDS (M) every castle needs guards; one has small speaking part.
COURTIERS (M/F) extra nobility at the Royal Table. Otherwise, divide the lines of the toast between the princesses.
KING: What is the meaning of this?
GUARD: My lord, we have caught a scoundrel who has been posting unauthorized parchments in the village. (Hands KING a parchment.)
KING: Bring him forth! (GUARD signals another GUARD who escorts ROSALYN, who is holding several parchments, and places her before KING.) A woman?
GUARD: This woman was caught posting these (Grabs parchments from ROSALYN.) on doors throughout the village.
KING: (To ROSALYN, shocked.) You were wasting parchment on . . . commoners?
ROSALYN: The commoners have a right to be informed and entertained, your majesty.
KING: (Laughing.) Commoners have a “RIGHT” to be informed and entertained?
ROSALYN: Yes, your majesty.
KING: You do know that they can’t read, don’t you?
ROSALYN: Yes, your majesty. I’m working on that, too.
KING: What? How?
ROSALYN: I include nice, big pictures to go along with the text. I think everyone should learn to read.
KING: (Waving the parchments.) You wrote these?
ROSALYN: Yes, your majesty.
KING: (Gasps.) But . . . you are a woman.
KING: Women should not be straining their frail constitutions on reading! When would they have time to cook?
QUEEN: (Archly.) Oh, really, my king?
KING: Well, except for you, my dear.
QUEEN: So I do not fall under the category of “women?”
KING: You know what I mean.
QUEEN: I’m quite sure that I don’t.
KING: If common women start reading, they will forget their proper place.
QUEEN: (Irritated.) Well, let’s just see about that. (She reads a parchment and starts laughing.)
KING: What’s so funny?
QUEEN: This aphorism. Why, it is quite good.
KING: Aphorism? What’s an aphorism?
QUEEN: I thought you were taught by Sister Gertrude?
KING: (Rubbing his hand.) Well, I remember my education to be somewhat painful.
QUEEN: (Grabs another parchment and starts reading.) “All men have a fear of commitment with women, but they will still take out a twenty year loan on a boat.” (She laughs.)
KING: (Grabs a parchment and reads.) “What do you call a King who raises your taxes every year? (Pause.) A royal pain.” (He frowns.)
QUEEN: And here’s a riddle. “What’s the difference between government bonds and men? (Pause.) Bonds mature.” (She laughs.)
KING: “Why do men date smart women? (Pause.) Opposites attract?” This is outrageous!
QUEEN: Exactly, my lord. (Reaches for another.) Let me read more.
KING: (Holding parchments away from QUEEN and waving them at ROSALYN.) Why are you posting these in the village?
ROSALYN: Sire, I make my living by engaging the people through social commentary clothed in satire. (Beat.) I also write these because men are dirt.
QUEEN: (Nodding her head knowingly.) Had a messy break-up, did we?
KING: Well, these (Waves parchments.) are trash. (To GUARDS.) Take her to the dungeon.
QUEEN: I don’t think that Sister Gertrude would approve of your behavior, dear.
KING: (Pauses and rubs his knuckles again.) Oh, all right. I will fine you ten pounds for littering.
ROSALYN: Sire, while normally I’d love to lose ten pounds (QUEEN laughs.) I do not have any money at this time. Parchment isn’t cheap, you know.
KING: In that case, since you seem to be an expert on dirt, you will work off the fine scrubbing the dirt off of the castle flagstones. (He signals a GUARD, who bows and exits.)
ROSALYN: But your majesty, I am a philosopher and journalist. I work with my mind, not with my hands.
KING: (GUARD enters with scrubbing brush and bucket.) I’ve seen your work. It is time to clean up your act. (GUARD hands brush and bucket to ROSALYN.) You may start with the muddy boot prints in the hall.
ROSALYN: (Sighs.) Yes, your majesty. (She exits with GUARDS. Lights down on Royal Table and up on stage area.)
(JESTER & CHARMING enter from opposite sides.)
JESTER: Good evening, sir. Are you a visitor to the castle?
CHARMING: Well, yes, you could say that.
JESTER: Ah. Perhaps, you are here to court one of the princesses. And you are?
CHARMING: Charming. (Looks over his shoulder.) And you are?
JESTER: (Thinking.) Witty.
CHARMING: Witty? That’s your name?
JESTER: (Confused.) No. I’m the Jester. A jester who is witty.
CHARMING: Oh. My name is Charming.
JESTER: (Pauses.) Prince Charming? You’re kidding, right?
CHARMING: Do I appear to be kidding? Listen, I need someone to do a small service for me, to act as my intermediary, so to speak.
JESTER: And do what?
CHARMING: Woo the princess on my behalf. I saw her from a distance in the wood near my father’s estate. I would have spoken to her then, but, you see, I . . . well, I have the worst time expressing myself. When I get around the princess, I am completely tongue-tied. Do you have a bard, or a poet, or someone around here who might help me out?
JESTER: You are in luck, good man. It so happens that we have someone serving penance right now for her writing abilities. She was a capital hit with the queen, so I think she must know how to speak to women. And because I love a happy ending, I will lend you my services as well.
CHARMING: What good fortune! Lead the way so that I might soar to new heights with my lady love. (Thinking aloud.) For she is like a daffodil in a field of clover. Only she, unlike the daffodil, is ambulatory and does not photosynthesize.
JESTER: (Hesitates.) Whoa. That was . . . whoa. Your wooing skills just don’t need help, they need mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
CHARMING: Mouth-to-mouth? Um, Jester, you look like a nice sort of chap who brushes and flosses regularly, but—
JESTER: Mouth-to-mouth is a figure of speech. Follow me. We’ll find someone to help. (CHARMING & JESTER exit. Lights up on ROYAL TABLE.)