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Ancient of Anglia, Essex and the East Haunting shadowed lanes in the fog Upon the bones of weary travellers it is said I would feast. It is said Beware St George, the good doctor, highwayman, beware, Because for all your powers Black Shuck reigns here. I have the bones of little peasant men and women, Their skin and stringy meat stuck between my teeth. Every night afore the dawn, again and again I hunt them on the heath. Or so it is said…. But if you see me, and are not afeared and follow through dusty midnight fallow fields ancient oak and hollow past hayricks, past moonlit cow-slip banks, past wrecks of cars Barbed-wire nests, and leaking oil-filled drums Until You round the last… the very last… straggling outgrown hedgerow and reach - This magical realm a time out of place, a place out of time. MAGICAL REALM IMAGES.
[And here’s a cast of characters: some demon some woodland spirits, some royally divine some heroes, some just plain peasant folk. Hear their greetings. Princess Here the faerie-tale princess, charming all who meet her, charming all her subjects, the object of every suitor in the kingdom but still hoping for her Prince Charming, no less. St George And St George, a questing knight Wooing fair princess with all his might Defeating all villainous challengers Yet accompanied by his own devilish insight. Lady Jane The good Lady Jane, wise as the village head and wise in magic, all the same.
The Doctor Followed by the Good Doctor, miracle cures he will find, magic-maker of a different kind. The Highwayman And finally, a knaveish highway man Here to try his thieving luck With his villainous presence, we are stuck.] Black Shuck And here again - St George a tin-plated hero? or a man – we’re unsure despite his swooning over the princess fair What would we see, were his soul was left bare?
St GEORGE WALKS ON CLANK...CLANK...CLANK St George: (WISTFULLY, SIGH) She's like a princess, she IS a princess she's MY princess. Devil Doubt: (FARTS) She's got a lovely pair I must confess quite some gazoomas - and all the rest. St George: as she walks, it doesn't seem as if the ground really touches her feet they just whisp over the tips of the grass, like magic... Devil Doubt: (CONTEMPTUOUSLY) Feet don't seem to touch the grass Yeah - and what about that gorgeous ar.. St George: The dew is left like pearls in her wake, those smooth calves, those ankles... Devil Doubt: and those knees look strong enough to get a grip. nice legs too - child bearing hips (NUDGE) St George: Aaah, just like magic, she IS magic. Devil Doubt: (INGRATIATINGLY) Not so much magic, but better She's royalty, just right for a go-getter - like you. St George: Sigh. (LOOKS SOPPY, AND IN LOVE).
Devil Doubt: I know, you can do nothing now but think about those lovely pillows for you head to sink but, in a few years, also think, when she's no longer so absent (from your bed) that you seem fonder of her than your very life! in short - when for a while she has been your wife then your thoughts might start to stray and so also another part of you may and there'll be no-one to say nay Because Remember, marry her, marry her - and then you'll be King THEY get to do, just about anything St George: Stop that, stop it! that's enough, she's wonderful and I would never do anything so so ignoble and... and... disgraceful, and... and anyway - who or what are you you... fiend. Why do come in this gruesome visage to so rant and rage. Devil Doubt: Me? I'm your dark side mate, your own personal demon! Believe me, everybody has one but others are not as bad as some you're so good and great, so much of the perfect knight you see, so high, and morally bloody mighty that YOU get just little me. ****** And as for the way I look, know this, I feed off the blood from the lives you took but only from the good blood of your foes, not the bile which caused your woes that evil blood, is the blood you spill the rest is my food, and I take my fill. St George: Now I know that I must not hear you! Why, my enemies' blood is evil through and through! ******** Devil Doubt: Of course, of course, it is as you say. But shush, the one we were speaking of... SHE comes this way. (STAGE WHISPER) Now you must woo her with your goodness Then we will find how this progress
PRINCESS ENTERS Princess: Hello George (SIMPERING) St George: (EMBARRASSED) Oh, uh, yes, hello Princess. Princess: (TOUCHING ST GEORGE ON THE CHEST, OR SOMEWHERE) Mmm, isn't this suit of armour a bit tight in places, big strapping fellow like you? St George: Well ahem, yes, obviously it can get a bit uncomfortable. Princess: You'll have to let me help you relax, can't be very easy - to relax, strapped into this suit of armour all day. St George: Well, no, ahem. Princess: So, you do WANT to marry me, is that right? I wouldn't want anything now to go wrong for a suitable suitor I've waited so long and what they're suitable for, well, I almost forgot St George: Yes! Yes! I do want to marry you, Princess! Princess: And exactly why do you want to marry me George? apart from my nice Gazoomas, and my bottom, which certainly has it's admirers WHY would you want to marry me George? St George: Well, you're beautiful, and kind, and... and a princess. Princess: Yes, I am a princess, and you'd be King, and I'd be Queen eh? St George: Yes I suppose so, but.... ******* Princess: Hmm.. but court life is so complicated George,
would you be happy here? For example do you know what they're all in a lather about right now? St George: No, what's that Princess? Princess: Well, there's some noblemen who won't pay their taxes they say they've given quite enough for our 'legitimate purposes' Cheek! So they won't pay any more. But should we punish or persuade? or bribe some with whatever they wish and leave the others truly in the lurch - mmm, I wonder? would THAT work? St George: Well, I'm a knight, the greatest knight of the age and if these men your person or honour outrage then I must defend your honour and that of this Kingdom, with my very life, and my might of arms... to the death, to glory! With no quarter given. Princess: Perhaps affairs of state are something best left to others - me, even, But still, you are quite cute aren't you? ********* PRINCESS PATS ST GEORGE ON BOTTOM, RESULTS IN METALLIC, CLANGING SOUND. St George: Oh, if only you would marry me Princess I'd be true to you always, never betray you you would never have reason to doubt my faithfulness Princess: Hmm, I'm glad to hear it, George. Devil Doubt: (ASIDE) That woman's a caution to him and I both this world and any other, she would defy.
DEVIL DOUBT, St GEORGE EXEUNT (IE EXIT). Black Shuck: Here be the rogueish highwayman A plague he visits on the purses of travellers between the safety of coaching inns. They call him Dancing Dick for his fast feet and talk so loose, But some say he will end his days dancing with a noose. Highwayman: Psst Psst Princess: Who Pssts at me, who Pssts there? Highwayman: (CARRYING BOTTLE OF BEER) Here, it's me, I'm psst Quite a fellow that one, so brave and glory-bound knows no fear, knows no dis-honouring but after all, well, just a bit boring. Princess: Boring?! St George? The greatest knight in this large world and wide who knows any to compare beside? Highwayman: Me Highwayman: Who? Highwayman: (POINTING TO HIMSELF) Me Princess: Ha, and who might you be? Highwayman: (TAKING HAT OFF) I... I am the highwayman - Madam I'll stand and deliver - Madam so let me take your hand - Madam plus anything else that's going let me show you now a highwayman's woo-ing. ing.
Princess: Well, I 'm really not sure what to make of you though you are, of course, quite a comely fellow. Handsome above and well built below, a singular chin, and I see, a well proportioned - toe. Highwayman: I may well be a rogue but rogues are in vogue with ladies always and you're the sort who might them reform a man could really think of settling down and abandon his abandoned ways put his feet up, let others... let others... (THINKING) do his robbing like tax collectors and the kings men-at-arms. Princess: Cheeky fellow! HIGHWAYMAN SWEEPS HER INTO HIS ARMS St GEORGE RE-ENTERS. St George What's going on here! Unhand her immediately sir! Highwayman: Ah, St George, surely you must allow little sporting competition in your wooing as in all other - affairs. St George: Affairs!? This is the woman I love! We are betrothed, have you no decency this woman I intend to marry! She has no time for dalliance with a good-for-nothing like you! Highwayman: Perhaps she would prefer a little ruff (ACTING LIKE A DOG, PRINCESS SMILES). St George Oh no! She has better judgement, I'm sure what exactly could a cur like you offer a dainty damosel like her?
Highwayman: A dance, madam?
(THEY WALTZ, BRIEFLY, BLUE DANUBE, ON DRUMS, GUITAR, AND TIN WHISTLE?) This one I learned in France, where they know much about dalliance even there it was considered a scandal to hold so close, so intimate of course George here won't know it he lived thousand years before it was invented not very hip is he? St George: Ye Gads, I will allow this indecent display to continue no more, cease this I say! Highwayman: (BELLIGERENT AND PROBABLY DRUNK) Now look here Georgie boy I've dealt with the likes of you before treating everyone like hoi-poloi what makes you people think you can stand there laying down the law - because you're dressed like a two legged tank? You can call me a cur, but curs have teeth - here's mine (DRAWS SWORD)! It may be rusty, but the edge is still fine! (BELCH) Sorry, a disturbance in the force there St George: To fight and prove my honour I will not shirk, and of you, thou windy poltroon, I will make short work. THEY FIGHT, CAST ENCOURAGE. Princess: Lady Jane, Lady Jane, my maid of honour true Is there nothing anyone here can do? Lady Jane: (RUSTIC WITCH-LY) Stop this, stop this immediately! St George it be you this display demeans And Dancing Dick of Finchingfield (for so you sometimes are called) what would you gain here, by this manner so wild? For you are not noble, nor highly born your hope of marriage be quite forlorn.
St George: He must pay for these indignities!
Highwayman: I'll put a spanner in his works! THEY FIGHT AGAIN HIGHWAYMAN IS TIRING. ST GEORGE GETS UP ON A HILLOCK OF SOME SORT St George: It's over, highwayman, I have the high ground! - Don't try it! ******** (ASIDE) But I know you will not, for you are nothing but a drunken sot in search of gold and stolen favours it's neither love nor honour that your type savours. (PUTS SHIELD DOWN, RELAXES) Highwayman: (TO THE CROWD)Zounds! this fair princess, she has captured my heart not for any gold, but for her warm looks and charm I shall risk all and any harm. ******** (SWIGS BEER, BELCHES) Ha! After a couple of these you don't know how powerful I become! (or at least, think I am) HIGHWAYMAN JUMPS UP WILDLY AT ST GEORGE, MANAGES TO STAB HIM. St GEORGE FALLS HIGHWAYMAN STAGGERS TO HIS FEET.
ALL LOOK RATHER SHOCKED, ST GEORGE ON FLOOR. Lady Jane: (LOOKING OVER ST GEORGE) He be dead! Highwayman: Oh, I didn't mean... Princess: You idiot! You fiend! Just now I had a fiancee, now what I have is... this Highwayman: Hardly a recipe for wedded bliss, thing is, I really didn't mean to, usually I miss. Princess: (SCREAMS, CRIES) How dare you, how dare you - you called him boring but at least after all he was the real thing a suitor for me, here, in this time and place and now - alone - the future I must face? is my wedding (k)night completely done for? What... what about a doctor? Lady Jane: Yes, Yes, I knows a doctor, he live quite nearby a man - so another waste of time probably though I suppose it's worth a try. Yes, a man strange in thought and strange in deed You can see all sorts of things are going through his head so entirely full of thoughts which have never yet been said. And probably shouldn't be - ever. Doctor! Dr: (RUNNING IN) I'm a doctor! I'm the doctor! not only the doctor but the original doctor! (PRODUCES SONIC SCREWDRIVER) (you wouldn't think I was five thousand and forty four - would you? – don’t answer that!) I'm a man far ahead and behind of my time, and there's nothing - nothing! I can't cure. I can cure dropsy, I can cure Cholic whether you're a mouldering corpse or feeling just a bit sick I know all the ologies, I know Rock 'n Roll The politics of digestion, the mechanics of the soul and there's no subtle operation, no technical procedure about which I'm not an expert, of that you can be sure.
Lady Jane: (What I'm sure of is that there's nothing about you that's sure) And what is your fee Sir? Dr: A song, I provide my services for a song! And for a fee as small as that even if you end up much the worst You really can't go wrong. (Anyway he's dead, isn't he?) Lady Jane: A song, and what song shall we give you a lullaby for corpses, a Rhapsody in greenish-blue? Dr: No Madame, I...I shall sing the song I shall sing it perfect, I shall sing it better And, perhaps, who knows? I could end up on X-Factor. Lady Jane: 'Tis a very dear price to pay Dr: Yes - I'm a man after my own heart, it ran away, and hasn't been seen since I tried some keyhole surgery (PAUSE) on me. It panicked, squeezed through the keyhole and ran-off down the street (after growing a beautiful pair of size-18 feet). (EVERYONE GATHERS ROUND THE CORPSE) Ummm, Anyway… First - we must dance, the dance of life renewed a dance of hope (a dance for fools.) (LEADS OTHERS DANCING ROUND THE CORPSE) (DRUMS - Ba-Boom) And then we must have a melody a tune on the merriest of pipes to remind him of life, to remind him of strife. a melody to awaken even the dead!! NOKIA RING-TONE ON TIN WHISTLE (SAXAPHONE, OR INDEED, NOKIA PHONE)
********** DEVIL DOUBT TAKES ST GEORGE OVER TO FOOTSTOOLS BOTH CLIMB UP THEM TO TALK. ST GEORGE: do you think this doctor knows what he's doing? DEVIL DOUBT SHRUGS Dr: Swab! (BLOWS HIS NOSE, DROPS IT ON THE PATIENT) DRUMS Dr: Forceps! (PLUCKS HIS OWN EYEBROWS) DRUMS Devil Doubt: (BELCH) That's better. St George: Better?! That's just like you, isn't it? Disgusting. Devil Doubt: Better out than in: unnatural restraint - now that's a sin. DRUMS St George: Better out than in? (Wrinkling NOSE, ET AL) From your point of view. Devil Doubt: Well, I didn't get us killed did I? A lot of good you can do, there where you lie (POINTS) DRUMS St George: Am I.... Are WE I suppose, both me and you, actually dead?
Dr: (PRODUCES SAW AND AXE) Now, I must make the incision - here - or perhaps there - oh dear, does it matter? DRUMS Devil Doubt: If we're not right now, we soon flipping will be you dundering, too-good-for-your-own-good are you completely off your trolley?! St George: And there's nothing I, or we can do? DRUMS Devil Doubt: Mmmm, well there is one thing which might help a bit - trouble is, you're NOT going to like it. Highwayman: I'll say this for poor St George Lady Jane: And pray what be that? Highwayman: Well, he had plenty of guts St George: Not going to like it? try me it's you who’s nuts and the Princess ... I... I did so want to marry. Devil Doubt: Mmm, well we might just get out of this, together opposed we're weak, reconciled, much stronger. St George: But I have to oppose you you're everything I hate! Devil Doubt: It is as you say - oh well you must stay there, exactly where you fell.
Dr: Now, does anyone have a laser nano-cutter on them? No? Well a pen-knife then, that'll have to do. St George: Wait, just wait... (THINKS) be reconciled to you.. but.. how? Devil Doubt: Don't you know? St George: (k)No!? Devil Doubt: Look, haven't you ever, had that feeling getting a grip, inside your stomach, rising... until it reaches past your chest (though of course you'd do your very best) until finally... finally... (BELCH) there - it's out and stuff the conventions you'll have to flout haven’t you - really? St George: No. Devil Doubt: Really? St George: Well OK, yes, occasionally. Devil Doubt: You must give in to it then, have a go. St George: Why on earth should I, what for? No. Devil Doubt: Trust me. St GEORGE BELCHES VERY QUIETLY. Devil Doubt: You can do it you see! Now embrace your better judgement - ahem - of course that's me! ***********
THEY HUG, GOBBETS OF BLOOD COME OFF Devil Doubt AND STICK TO StG St George: Ugh! Dr: Look there, he's regaining the will to live! Someone: He's been there so long, he's forgotten about (contemporary reference, football?) Dr (AND OTHERS?) SING 'MOVE THOSE BONES' SONG, ACCOMPANIMENT GUITAR, DRUMS? WHILE St George TWITCHES, STARTS TO GET BACK ON HIS FEET. SINGING VERY LOW AT FIRST - GETTING LOUDER. Well Don't you Know You've Been Invited To A Party Tonight Move Those Bones Baby Move There'll Be Dancing and Singing Until Broad Daylight I said Move Those Bones Baby Move All you've got to Do, is Bring Yourself Along No Need to Worry Nothing Can go Wrong All together Now, Let Me Hear The Song Move Those Bones Baby Move There'll Be a Record for The D.J.To Play Move Those Bones Baby Move And if you Wanna Blow your Mind Well OK I said Move Those Bones Baby Move Think of All The Fun there to Be Had Everythings Good and Nothings Bad Live While you can, Life can be so SAD Move Those Bones Baby Move Chorus: We've Got No Time to Lose The Hours Pass quickly Away Tonight Let's Make The News Let's live for Tomorrow TODAY I said Let's Live for Tomorrow Today! PRINCESS AND St GEORGE EMBRACE. Devil Doubt: Yeah! Jump those Bones baby!
Princess: (ADDRESSING AUDIENCE?) Yes, I had a knight in shining armour The finest knight in all the land Now he's back, but I can see, just a man. Perhaps he's brave, perhaps he's strong, perhaps he can wrestle dragons, save me from all harm. Perhaps... he can just stay and speak with me. Perhaps he can break free the chains which fetter the world... perhaps, when people won’t do his will he’ll understand – they’re not so necessarily evil. Maybe when I point out HE's wrong In front of those who're grand and great later, when they've gone he'll still hold me in his arms. Lady Jane: A marriage we must celebrate - a hand-fasting, a festival, a frolic, a feast of together-being, of the old ways, and best ways - a BARLEYCORN wedding let us have now - music, food, drink, and dancing bread and beer, the produce of our fields in celebration - song - in celebration - words. Lady Jane: He is your Barleycorn King, and awaits your permission to rule as of right (PRINCESS CROWNS ST GEORGE) She is your Barleycorn Queen, to be your light in every dark thing. ST GEORGE CROWNS PRINCESS
Princess I am your Barleycorn Queen, that you may dream and it might become. St George: I am your Barleycorn King, that we will be as one in word and sign
Both: You are my Barleycorn King/Queen, that the world will turn And turn again.
JOHN BARLEYCORN SONG, PLUS CIRCLE DANCE, AND EXIT Everyone who's going to sing: The Ballad Of John Barleycorn There was three men come out of the West Their fortunes for to try And these three men made a solemn vow John Barleycorn must die. They ploughed, they sowed, they harrowed him in Throwing clods all on his head And these three men made a solemn vow John barleycorn was Dead. They've left him in the ground for a very long time Till the rains from heaven did fall Then little Sir John's sprung up his head And so amazed them all They've left him in the ground till the Midsummer Till he's grown both pale and wan Then little Sir John's grown a long, long beard And so become a man. They hired men with their scythes so sharp To cut him off at the knee. They've bound him and tied him around the waist Serving him most barb'rously. They hired men with their sharp pitch-forks To prick him to the heart But the drover he served him worse than that For he's bound him to the cart. They've rolled him around and around the field Till they came unto a barn And there they made a solemn mow Of Little Sir John Barleycorn They've hired men with their crab-tree sticks To strip him skin from bone
But the miller, he served him worse than that, For he's ground him between two stones. Here's Little sir John in the nut-brown bowl And brandy in the glass But Little Sir John in the nut-brown bowl's Proved the stronger man at last For the hunts man he can't hunt the fox Nor so loudly blow his horn And the tinker, he can't mend Kettles or pots Without Sir John Barleycorn.
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