"The Comedy of Love and War"
by Richard Nathan
Scene One continues where we left off at the end of Act I. We are in the parlor of Pantalone's house. The Captain has just announced he intends that his daughter Isabella will wed King Brighella. Isabella has fainted into Lelio's arms. The servants Truff, Arlo and Smeraldina are aghast. Pantalone tries to figure out how he can best profit from the situation.
How can you give your daughter to your sworn
He was only my enemy during the war. Now that
the war is over, we're allies.
I thought you hated Zanniland!
I did, with a passion. I lost my only son on the
battlefield in the first war with Zanniland. But
now it's time to move on to new wars, with new
enemies to hate. Zanniland and Commedia have
changed from enemies to allies. It happens all the
The war with Zanniland is only over because I took
That's King Brighella to you.
That's right. Show some respect.
I captured him for you, to win your war for you!!!
That's right, you robbed me of the glory of beating
(under his breath)
You couldn't beat a dead rat which was tied
to a stake.
What was that?
I said, who wouldn't eat a red radish beside
I wouldn't. I don't like radishes.
It doesn't matter what anyone says or does. I'm
going to marry Isabella!
Don't be absurd. Why would I let her marry you
when she can marry a king and be queen of a
Because we love each other!
The Captain pretends to weigh the value of love in one hand against the value of a kingdom in the other hand.
Let's see,... love... kingdom... love... kingdom...
Surprise! Kingdom wins over love!
Sorry, kingdom wins! Come, your Majesty, let's
plan the nuptials.
Oh boy, nuptials!
Brighella says "nuptials" as though he thinks it means something sexual. Exit the Captain and Brighella. Pantalone calls after them.
Captain! Perhaps you have a lucrative post in the
government of Zanniland that you'd like to give to
your old friend.
Pantalone exits, following the Captain and Brighella. Isabella moans, starting to regain consciousness. Smeraldina decides to give Lelio and Isabella some privacy.
I think they deserve a moment to themselves.
She pulls Truff and Arlo out of the room. Lelio and Isabella gaze into each other's eyes before speaking.
Now everyone against us starts to scheme,
Like armies joining forces for a fight.
As raindrops merge together in one stream,
The foes who fought each other now unite.
They join as allies to attack our love!
They think their greater numbers will prevail,
Like scores of savage eagles 'gainst one dove!
But they can't win! We know they're bound to fail.
For we'll outfight whatever odds we face
And we'll endure our testings and our trials.
What matters is who finally wins the race.
And we can run a million times their miles.
We'll take whatever torments fate may send.
Because our love will triumph in the end.
They kiss. Smeraldina enters, followed by Truff and Arlo.
It's time to get to work. I've got a plan.
I hope it works better than your last plan.
My last plan captured Brighella, didn't it?
Yeah. It's not her fault the Captain is such a
Lelio cuffs Arlo.
You're talking about fat head of the woman
I love. I mean, father of the woman I love.
It's all right. I know he's a fat head.
The fat head wants my lady to marry Brighella so she'll
be Queen of Zanniland and he'll be Lord Chamberlain.
So we must make sure someone else is crowned
King of Zanniland in Brighella's place. If Brighella is
no longer King, he'll have nothing to offer the Captain,
and the Captain will have no reason to let Brighella
That makes sense.
You three have to go back to Zanniland and make
sure someone replaces Brighella on the throne.
I'll stay here and see that the wedding doesn't take
place while you're gone.
Lelio takes Isabella's hands and looks into her eyes.
Now I have to part from you again, and it feels like we
You did, about ten minutes ago.
Our parting is bitter, but the next reunion will be that
much the sweeter.
Come on, Truff, Arlo. We've got to go back to
Zanniland, and find a king to crown.
The public square in the capitol city of Zanniland. In the middle of the square is slapstick stuck in a stone. Fichetto and Scapino, who wear bandages to cover their wounds from Act I, try to pull the slapstick from the stone, but they fail. As Fichetto and Scapino exit, Lelio, Truff and Arlo enter. The notice the slapstick in the stone, and go to investigate it.
Looks like some kind of stick stuck in a rock.
There's writing on the stone. It says, "Whoso pulleth
out this slapstick of this stone is rightwise king born of
all Zanniland." And there's something on the other
side. "Made in Bergamo."
As Lelio is reading, the DOCTOR enters.
Come to try your luck, have you? Though "luck" isn't
precisely the right word. It's more a matter of fate, of
predestination. A man's fate will never change, though
his luck may change as often as he changes his underwear.
What makes him think I change my underwear?
Is it true what is says on this stone? Is this how
your king is chosen?
You must be strangers. We've used this method
to select our rulers for generations.
Inspired by King Arthur, no doubt.
Arthur, King of the Britons. He was chosen as
king because he pulled a sword from a stone.
They took that idea that from us! But they used a
sword instead of a slapstick.
I think the sword in the stone was first.
Nonsense. You only have to say them to see
which came first. Sword in a stone, stick in a
stone. Stick in a stone is obviously
preferable. The repeating "st" sound' has much
more ass... ass.... what's the word for when
the consonants sound alike but the vowels sound
different, or sometime the vowels sound alike,
but the consonants are different. It starts with
Thank you. A stick in a stone is much more
But why choose your king this way?
We tried a hereditary monarchy and our kings were
tyrants and fools. We tried elections and our rulers
were liars and scoundrels. So we asked a wizard
to build this for us. The results are no worse than
those achieved by any other method.
Can anyone try, or only citizens of Zanniland?
Anyone may attempt it.
Lelio tries to pull out the slapstick, but it won't budge. Truff tries to pull out the slapstick, but it won't budge.
Not many of our own citizens will try
Arlo tries to pull out the slapstick, and it comes out easily. Lelio and Truff are busy looking at the doctor, and the doctor is looking away, so no one notices what Arlo has done.
I suppose that's because the King keeps being
Arlo plunges the slapstick back into the stone before anyone can see he's pulled it out.
The problem is the stick usually recognizes more
than one suitable King at a time, and all those who are
selected keep killing each other. Over the past decade,
the average reign of the King of Zanniland has been
slightly less than two months. However, things have
been improving lately. Because so few are willing to
risk wearing the crown, the assassinations are less
frequent. They say the life expectancy of the next King
should be greatly increased over the old averages.
Heartened, Arlo pulls the slapstick loose again. Arlo starts to walk away from the stone, carrying the slapstick.
He might last as long as five or six months!
Arlo leaps back to the stone and sticks the slapstick in. This time, when he puts the slapstick in, it starts to pop out on its own. Arlo has to lean upon the stick to keep it in the stone.
Our last king, King Brighella, lasted four months before
he was assassinated. Of course, the government is
claiming he just disappeared one day, but I'm sure
he was assassinated.
The Doctor interrupts him.
Please address me by my proper title: doctor.
I am Doctor Baloardo, the most learned scholar
The Doctor offers his hand to Lelio, and they shake hands. Arlo manages to get the slapstick wedged securely in the stone.
Doctor, are there any untried candidates
who you think could pull out the slapstick?
It's hard to say. No one has been able to
ascertain exactly what qualities the magic finds
kingly. But if I were to choose, there is one
man who is handsome, brave, generous,
intelligent, a born leader - unfortunately he's in the
dungeon serving a life sentence for moral turpitude.
Wouldn't that rule him out as King?
No, if he were King, he could pardon himself.
What did he do?
By his own count, he seduced four thousand
six hundred and fifty-three young women. So of
course we had no choice but to lock him up. The
odd thing is we weren't able to find a single woman
who would corroborate any of his seductions.
Every single woman said he was an insufferable
What did the married women say?
What's his name?
He's called Scaramouche.
May we see him?
Are any of you related to him? Oh, no, you
couldn't be. He was a foundling, so there are
no relatives. The only way you could see him
would be if you were to be imprisoned yourselves.
Have you committed any crimes?
Lelio, Truff and Arlo take a moment to whisper privately to each other. Then they turn back to the Doctor.
What if we were to tell you we were Commedian
I'd say that's a capital offense, punishable by
Then it's a good thing we're not going to tell you
How many women did you say Scaramouche had
confessed to seducing?
Four thousand six hundred and fifty three.
An amateur. I've seduced five thousand this
I seduced five thousand this past month!
I seduced five thousand this morning.
Lelio and Truff give him a look of disbelief.
I think. I might have lost track after the
Guards! Take these degenerates and lock
The Doctor looks around for guards, but there don't seem to be any guards within earshot at the moment.
You only had one set of twins?
Truff is making an accusation that one set of twins isn't sufficient.
Did I say one set? I just said twins. I meant
three sets of twins. Six ladies. I call them "the
twins" for short.
You expect me to believe that you made love to
three sets of twins at one time??????
Any man who's never made love to three sets
of twins at one time can't really call himself a
man, can he?
Doctor, you don't mean to tell me that you've never
made love to three sets of twins at one time, do you?
Lelio, Arlo and Truff giggle at the Doctor. Enter Fichetto and Scapino. The Doctor doesn't see them.
Who, me? Of course I've made love to three sets
of twins. I was just surprised to hear that this
fellow had done it!
The Doctor points at Arlo. Fichetto and Scapino grab the doctor from behind.
Come along, you pervert!
You're under arrest!
They start to march off with him.
No, they're the perverts! They corrupted my
It's true. We're no less perverted than the
Fichetto studies Lelio, Truff and Arlo, then he turns to Scapino.
Hey, don't these guys look like the spies we were
questioning last week, when we got knocked out
and Brighella disappeared?
Arlo, Truff and Lelio examine Fichetto and Scapino.
No, the guys who were questioning us didn't look
anything like you.
It must have been somebody else then.
But we are perverts!
Fichetto and Scapino take Lelio, Arlo, Truff and the Captain off-stage.
Fichetto and Scapino push Lelio, Truff, Arlo and the Doctor into a dark dungeon cell. Chained to a wall of the cell is SCARAMOUCHE. He is dashing, but surprisingly short. In attitude, he resembles Errol Flynn on even more uppers than the real Errol Flynn ever dreamed of taking.
More guests! The more the merrier! Ha ha!
Who is that?
Ha ha! I am Scaramouche! You may have caught
me up short, but I won't be caught up for long!
You've been saying that for five years!
Perhaps I am lulling you into a false sense of
We're lulled already!
Ha ha! My plan is working perfectly! I have
you exactly where I want you.
You new prisoners behave yourselves, or you'll be
chained up like he is.
Fichetto and Scapino leave. They leave, and once they are offstage, we hear the sound of the prison door slamming shut.
What crimes did you commit to be thrown in here
Nothing. We only pretended we were guilty so we
could rescue you, and make you king of Zanniland!
King Scaramouche! An excellent plan! I approve!
You mean, you didn't make love to three sets of twins?
Of course not!
Don't be ridiculous!
The Doctor looks at Truff, waiting for his answer. Finally, Truff responds:
Mind your own business.
The Doctor looks at Scaramouche.
Scaramouche, do you still claim that you made
love to thousands of women?
I never claimed to have made love to thousands
of women. I said I seduced them. I seduced
them into lusting after me in their hearts, which is
just as bad as making love to them. I am guilty of
making thousands of women want me carnally. But,
on the other hand, who can blame them?
I heard that all the women said you were a bonehead.
Ah, the darlings, so shy they dare not confess how
much they love me!
The Doctor turns back to Lelio.
What is your plan to rescue him?
We thought - once we were here - we'd think of
Ah! That's my plan too! Great minds think alike!
What about me? I'm stuck in here, and I didn't do
What do you mean? You were the one who called
But you wanted me to!
But you didn't know that!!!
Don't worry, my friends. When I, Scaramouche,
escape, I will bring all my friends with me to
Very, very long period where no one speaks.
These walls look very solid.
Do you ever get any earthquakes around here?
Not for as long as anyone can remember.
Maybe we're due.
Another very, very long period of silence.
I wish Smeraldina were here.
Yeah, that would be fun. But then they'd have a
reason to lock us up.
No, I mean if she were here, she'd think of a way
for us to escape!
Why do you wish someone else were here, when
you have the finest mind in all Zanniland right next
How perceptive of you to notice. It's true, I am a
I meant me!
All right. What do you think we should do?
Should we try to convince them we're
No, it wouldn't matter that we haven't actually
done anything. By bragging about our supposed
sexual conquests, we've displayed a contempt for
basic moral standards. My countrymen take matters
of morality extremely seriously. We always say, if
one can't live morally, why bother living at all?
If a man doesn't have honor, he has nothing!
That's what my countrymen believe. It is how
they live their lives. I'm afraid our chances are slim.
Hey guards! Would you take a bribe to let
Fichetto and Scapino run in as fast as they can.
How about fifty scudi to let all five of
A hundred scudi - and not a scudo less.
We need to talk among ourselves. Come
back in a minute.
Fichetto and Scapino leave. We hear the cell door slam shut.
How much does everyone have?
Everyone counts their money and hands it to Truff. Scaramouche, being chained to the wall, is unable to check his purse, so Truff checks it for him and takes his money.
I've got twenty-five scudi.
Here's thirty, but I want it paid back!
I have five.
I think I have ten, but you'll need to check my
scudi bag for me.
Together with what I've got, that's seventy-five scudi.
That should be enough.
He calls to the guards.
Hey, guards, come here!
Fichetto and Scapino run in.
You said you wanted a hundred scudi right?
That's right. Not a scudi less.
I'll tell you what. I'll pay you half what I owe you
now, and I'll pay you half what I owe you when
you unchain Scaramouche.
You can pay us the whole thing when we unchain
I don't want to take advantage of you. I'll pay you
half of what I owe you now. Half of a hundred
scudi is fifty scudi. Here's fifty scudi.
He pays them.
Now we'll unlock Scaramouche!
Scapino unlocks Scaramouche, who steps away from his chains.
Now I'll pay you half what I owe you. I owe you
fifty scudi, and half of that is twenty-five scudi, so
here's twenty-five scudi.
Wait a minute. I though you owed us fifty scudi
when we unchained Scaramouche!
That's right, and our deal was that I'd pay you half
what I owed you when you unchained Scaramouche,
and half of fifty is twenty-five.
But we agreed it cost a hundred scudi to get out of here,
and all I've got is seventy-five!!!
Is it my fault if you can't keep track of your money?
Scapino turns on Fichetto.
How could you lose twenty-five of our scudi!!!
Scapino slaps Fichetto on the forehead!
Can we run through that again?
Sure, but first you have to give me back a hundred
You don't expect me to pay you twice! I already
paid you once. If you want to run through it again,
you've got to pay me back the whole bribe so I
don't pay you twice.
Wait a minute! We're not going to fall for that!
This time I'll be you, and you be the guard!
Okay. Let's start. You have to pay me a hundred
scudi to get out of the dungeon.
Okay, I'll pay you half now, and half when you
Scaramouche is already unlocked. How about half
now, and half when I show you the key to the dungeon
So - give me half now.
Here's fifty scudi.
He pays Truff.
Now give me the key so I can show it to you.
Scapino gives Truff the key to the dungeon. Truff takes the key and shows it to Scapino.
Now give me half of what you owe me. You
owed me a hundred scudi before and fifty now. A
hundred plus fifty are a hundred and fifty scudi.
Don't forget to divide by two! I only pay you half when
you show me the key!
That's right. I can't fool you. Half of a hundred and
fifty is seventy-five. So you only owe me another
I thought I only owed you fifty! Where did the other
twenty-five come from?
You remember how you hit your partner for losing
twenty-five scudi? Well, you just found it.
I knew it! I told you there were twenty-five
Yeah, you were right, all right. Nothing gets by
you! So that's seventy-five scudi you owe me.
Scapino hands Truff seventy-five scudi, giving him a total of one hundred twenty-five scudi, plus the key to the dungeon.
So long. It's been a pleasure doing business
Truff motions for the others to follow, and he exits with Lelio, Arlo, the Doctor and Scaramouche.
I guess I showed him!
We hear the dungeon door slam shut.
The public square in the capitol city of Zanniland, with the slapstick stuck in the stone. Lelio, Truff, Arlo, the Doctor and Scaramouche enter.
There it is, Scaramouche. All you have to do
is pull out the slapstick, and you'll be king!
Scaramouche dramatically approaches the slapstick, puts his hand on the grip, then seems to hesitate.
You know, it really seems too simple. I can't help
feeling there must be a dragon to be defeated, an
army to be vanquished.
Just pull out the stick.
Are you sure that people won't think it was too
simple for me? I am sure there must be other
countries where there are more heroic ways to
become the king. Perhaps we should go there.
Just take it out before someone comes to arrest
It seems to be stuck. Maybe it got rusted the
last time it rained.
Now we can tell that Scaramouche has been trying to pull out the slapstick. Now he tries with both hands. The stick won't budge. Lelio turns to the doctor.
I thought you said he could do it!
I said he seemed like a good candidate to me! I
never said the magic would be as discerning as
Scaramouche is trying harder and harder to pull out the stick, without success. Enter Scapino and Fichetto!
You're under arrest for fraud!
Yeah. We paid you good money to let us
out, and you locked us in.
So what are you doing here!
The joke's on you! That lock is broken!
Scapino and Fichetto shake hands to congratulate each other, as Lelio, Truff, the Doctor and Scaramouche look on. As everyone else's attention is captured by Scapino and Fichetto, Arlo grabs the slapstick underneath the grip where Scaramouche is still holding it, and pulls it gently out of the stone. Then he lets it go. No one notices what he's done.
Look! He pulled it out!
As Scapino and Fichetto enter, everyone sees that Scaramouche is holding the slapstick free from the confines of the stone!
Ha ha! How could you have doubted me? I am
He attacks Scapino and Fichetto with the slapstick. He repeatedly whacks them! They retreat and then bow down in submission.
Don't hit us any more!
Ha ha! All give way before the might of King
Scaramouche. I like this slapstick!
Scaramouche is enjoying the slapstick so much that he threatens his allies with in. Lelio, Truff, Arlo and the Doctor all back away from him and bow down.
Your Majesty, now that you've shown you are
entitled to be King, it is customary to put the
slapstick back in the stone.
Scaramouche whacks the stone with the slapstick. The stone crumbles apart.
That could make it difficult to select the next king.
No, it will be easy. We will get our next king the
old fashioned, traditional way.
No. By having babies! My babies! Ha ha!
It's nice that he's able to see the humor in every
Your Majesty knows, of course, that a heroic
king must use his slapstick to hit villains only.
Exactly! As I am a heroic king, anyone I hit with my
slapstick must be a villain! Find me some villains!
I know of a terrible villain - he is about to force a
beautiful young woman to marry him!
And no doubt you want me to marry her instead?
No! Only a genuine princess would be a suitable
bride for your majesty. In fact, I love the woman
in question and hope to marry her myself.
Aren't you concerned that she will fall in love with
me when I rescue her?
I'll take the risk. The villain is Brighella, the former
king of Zanniland. The woman's father wants her
to marry Brighella, because he believes
Brighella is still a king. But if the father learns you are
now the king, he will stop the marriage! You will have
defeated the villain, and I can marry Isabella.
Yes, I must go to Commedia and defeat my enemy!
But as a favor to you, my friend, I will not let the woman
get a good look at my face. That way, she is less
likely to fall in love with me. When shall we leave
But you haven't had your coronation yet!
True, I can't announce I am King of Zanniland before
I have been crowned. First I will be crowned, then
I will go to Commedia and save the girl.
Thank you, your Majesty.
Lelio turns to Truff and Arlo.
You two have to go back home and tell Isabella and
Smeraldina to keep stalling the wedding. I'll stay here
and make sure the coronation goes smoothly. Tell them
I'll arrive with the new King of Zanniland in a few more
You can count on us!
Truff and Arlo race off.
Come! Let us arrange for my coronation!
Scaramouche leads the Doctor and Lelio off stage, leaving Scapino and Fichetto.
Did you hear that? Brighella is still alive! He's in
So? We've got a new king!
Yeah, but I don't know how nice he's going to be to
the two guards who kept him prisoner for five years.
We'd be better off if we could get Brighella to come
back and be our king.
You're right! We better go to Commedia and find him!
THE END OF ACT II
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© 2004 by Richard Nathan. All rights reserved
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