(Os wanders on, picks up a notebook and flicks through it. He hears someone clear their throat offstage and hides in the wings. Will enters and looks round.)
Will Good. I’m alone.
(he puffs himself up and declaims)
“All the world’s a stage,
and all the men and women merely players.”
No, that won’t do. There are no women. Although I have to say I’ve always been partial to wearing a skirt ever since I appeared in the school play at the Grammar School. (Will notices the audience)
Oh, hello. What are you doing here? Forgive me talking to myself. I never could resist a good soliloquy.
(enter Dyl with a drink; he sees the audience immediately)
Dyl Oh, hello. What are you doing here?
Will Where have you been, Dylan?
Dyl In the bar. Very good prices. Nice staff.
Will Where’s Os? Where’s Don?
Dyl No idea. Os will be preening himself.
(Os springs from the wings, outrageously dressed)
Os One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art.
(He sits in the furthest chair from Dyl and addresses Will)
You’ve been practising your lines again, haven’t you?
Will (sheepishly) No.
Os I heard you.
Will Oh, alright then. I was just trying them out. What do you think?
Os It is always a silly thing to give advice, but to give good advice is fatal.
Will Don’t you like my, “cloud-capped towers”?
Os Your problem, dear Will, is that you talk like an architect and write like a weather
(Don arrives. He is grim-faced)
Dyl Ah, Don. At last. Where have you been?
Don The White House.
Will White Horse! White Horse! My…
Don I tell you most sincerely, folks, that’s what he said.
Dyl Well, you’re here now, Donald. Sit down, by here.
(Don sits next to Dyl and gives Os a disparaging look)
Don What is this place, anyhow?
Os It’s the Big Top.
Dyl The summit of our ambition.
Don You call this piece of flapping canvas big? I’ve got bigger pants than this.
Os I bet you have.
Don And I mean big! Seriously, folks, really big. Where are we anyhows?
Will In a place that is quite heavenly.
Dyl Where the angel-wing rustle of the soft-singing choir
Melts the sinews of the place.
Don Stop talking riddles and tell me where on earth we are.
Don Staining? You Brits sure know how to have a good time.
Os Strictly speaking, I’m from Ireland.
Dyl An Irishman, a Welshman, a Scotsman and an Englishman walked into a bar…
Will Dylan, you too much are seen in bars.
Os Or behind them.
Dyl No, that’s you Oscar. Reading Gaol, remember?
Os Always forgive your enemies: nothing annoys them so much.
Don So. This joke? Is it one I can tweet? Tell me or I’ll start a trade war.
Dyl I’m the Welshman.
Will I’m English.
Os And I’m Irish. Which leaves you, Don. I cannot hazard the slightest guess where you’re
Os Of course, America had often been discovered before Columbus, but it had always been
Will But to tell the story properly Dylan needs a Scotsman.
Don That’s me, folks.
Don I am the King of Scotland. I bought up the land, threw out the peasants, built a couple
of golf courses. The most bestest in the world, of course.
Will Begin, Dyl. Tell your tale to the assembled multitudes.
(Millie strides on to the stage before he can do so)
Don And who are you? Hurry up, lady, I’ve got a meeting with Kim.
Mill I’m Millicent Fawcett. You may know my sister.
Don You’re Kim’s sister?
Mill My sister is Elizabeth – Elizabeth Garrett Anderson. You look blank.
Don I always look like this.
Dyl He does.
Os He certainly does.
Don Gee, thanks for your support, guys. And who is this Elizabeth broad, exactly?
Mill She started a revolution. We have women doctors in this country because of her. She
was the first. I’m a revolutionary too. For women’s rights. A suffragist. They’ve just
put up a statue to me. And in Aldeburgh, where we lived, there have been blue plaques
to us for years. My sister was the first female mayor in the country too. We’re fighters.
Os I sometimes think that God, in creating man, overestimated his ability.
Will Speak for yourself.
Os I usually do.
Mill Never underestimate the power of a woman, young man. God most certainly got it right with us - after he’d experimented with you, no doubt. Now I am here to tell you that
this Festival is nearly over.
Os Our revels now are ended.
Will That’s my line.
Os I read your notebook, Will. I couldn’t help it.
Don I’ve never read a book.
Os There’s nothing an author likes so much as being unread. It gives him every hope for
Dyl Easy under the apple bows. Let her finish, boys.
Mill The Festival may be over but the revolution goes on. Nothing will ever be the same
Don Look lady, I’ve got a meeting to get to.
Mill Yes, and so have we. We shall meet again in two years’ time.
Don Say no more.
Os There is only one thing worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked
Will Oh, do shut up Oscar. We’ve had enough of your quips.
Os As I said to the wallpaper in my hotel room in France when I was dying, “Either this goes, or I do.”
Dyl And that’s the point. All of us have died a death. The dying of the light. But the spirit of the Festival lives on. In those who come after us.
Will As the sun goes down on the Festival, I shall give you one of my finest.
(Millicent turns to go)
Dyl Do not go, gentle, into that…
Will Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
All Up the revolution!
(Exit, pursued by a Bard)
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