"The Comedy of Pirates"
by Richard Nathan
This play takes place sometime in the imaginary 18th Century, in the imaginary Caribbean.
On board the ship "The Golden Zannie." Upstage is the railing of the starboard side of the ship. The deck should either be raked, or raised, so that later in the play, when someone goes over the starboard side, that person can disappear from view and someone can throw up a glass of water (to suggest a splash when that person falls into the ocean). Somewhere on the deck is a coil of rope.
As the play begins, ISABELLA is alone on the deck. She walks to the deck, and stares sadly out at the sea. A moment later, her true love LELIO, disguised as a sailor, enters and starts to walk over to her. Before he can reach her, Isabella's father the CAPTAIN enters. (Please note, although this takes place on a ship, the CAPTAIN isn't the ship's captain; he's a military Captain.) LELIO turns and walks off stage as the Captain greets his daughter.
Isabella! Good to see you on deck! I
don't think I've seen you out of your quarters
the entire voyage. Have you been seasick?
No, heartsick. I miss Lelio!
Lelio! My true love! The man I've sworn to
Lelio? Have I met him?
Lelio! The son of your old friend Pantalone!
Lelio! The hero who overthrew the tyrant King
of Zanniland and installed your son,
Scaramouch, on the throne! Lelio!
Sorry, doesn't ring a bell.
The man whom you swore you would never let
me marry in a million years!
Oh, that Lelio! If I can forget him so easily, I
don't see why you can't!
Because I love him!
How can you love someone of no social status?
His father Pantalone has plenty of money,
but he's never achieved any rank.
I thought Pantalone was your friend!
He is! But that doesn't mean I like him! I know
who I'd fall in love with if I were a young girl...
Have you ever met Governor Gratiano?
Do you know anything about him - his interests,
his wit, his appearance?
Then what makes you think you'd fall in love with him?
I said if I were a young girl! Who knows why young
girls do anything? But I will say he is the governor of
Zanniland's finest colony.
It's only colony!!!
I don't think the name of our first colony is very
Why? What's the matter with San de Feliquez?
It's not San de Feliquez! It's Sand Flea Key!
We changed the name. We though San de Feliquez
would attract more investment.
Investment in what, besides sand fleas?
That is what we are going to San de Feliquez to find
out! I'm sure we will find that San de Feliquez is a
For the sand fleas!
BRIGHELLA and his two cronies SCAPINO and FICHETTO cross the stage carrying a large rope. They wear garb a pirate might wear, including handkerchief tied around their heads. Isabella is stunned to see them, but the Captain doesn't even notice them.
Come on, boys! Let's get that rope off the deck!
Brighella takes one end of the rope, and Scapino and Fichetto take the other end. Not bothering to check to make sure they are all going in the same direction, Brighella goes off in one direction, and Scapino and Fichetto go off in the other. Brighella is pulled off his feet when the rope becomes taut. Brighella yanks on the rope and pulls Scapino and Fichetto off their feet. He points the way he was going.
Brighella, Scapino and Fichetto all take the rope off, going in the same direction. As soon as the three men exit, Isabella turns to her father.
Did you see that? That was Brighella and
his two cronies!
Our sworn enemy! The villain who vowed to
Oh, you mean Lelio!
I think I'll go find Pantalone and ask what I owe
him for our passage. Strange that he didn't ask
me to pay in advance. On second thought, I'd
better ask Cap'n Carbonado what our passage
The Captain exits. As soon as he's gone, Lelio re-enters and starts to approach Isabella, but before he can get to her, PANTALONE enters. Lelio exits before either of them notices him.
Pantalone! My heart is breaking. Why wouldn't
you allow Lelio to come with us?.
Isabella, I know how much you care for my
son. But as his father, it's my duty to do
everything I can to ensure his happiness. And
that is why I had to keep you two apart - for his
But why? Do you think we are too young? Do you
think our backgrounds are too different? Do you
worry our passion isn't strong enough?
No, it's not your age or your background or your
passion. It's something more fundamental
than that. It's money. I know your father can't
afford to pay a dowry for your marriage.
But Lelio said it wouldn't matter to him if I had no
I know, but it would make me miserable. And what
kind of son could stand to see his father miserable?
I couldn't do that to my boy!
Enter the Captain.
There you are, Pantalone! I want to know what
I owe you for the passage.
Well, let's see. I got a ticket for you, one for your
daughter, Isabella, and one for your servant.
Smeraldina. Now, normally, passage to Sand Flea Key..
San de Feliquez!
Sorry. Passage to San de Feliquez would cost
you Two Hundred Scudi per passenger, but I
was able to get a slight discount from Cap'n
A slight discount?
Yes, and naturally I want to pass on the savings to you...
Excellent. Because I was just speaking with Cap'n
Carbonado, and he told me he gave you the tickets
That's not true! I had to give him a very valuable book, the
journal of my late twin brother, Pietro Pantalone!
I never knew you had a twin brother.
That shows how little you know. My brother was a great
sailor! He was such a great sailor that Cap'n Carbonado
was willing to take as many passengers as I wanted on
this voyage in exchange for that journal.
What happened to your brother?
He was lost at sea thirty years ago. and that journal was
all I had to remember him by, the only memento of my
own twin brother! A man who was not just my twin,
but the closest friend I ever had. And you say I got
the tickets for nothing! I'm sorry I gave that journal to the
Maybe you could buy it back from him if you paid
for the tickets.
Are you crazy?
Let's go find Cap'n Carbonado and ask him what that
journal was worth.
All right, we'll ask him. Come on!
The Captain and Pantalone exit. As soon as they're gone, Lelio re-enters and crosses to Isabella, who is standing by the railing, staring out at the sea.
Good morning, my lady. Care for a shipboard
She spins into his arms. They share a passionate kiss. Then her curiosity gets the best of her.
You didn't think I'd let them take you away from me,
did you? I signed on as a sailor!
Lelio, you must be careful. I think I saw Brighella and
I've seen them too. Fortunately, they didn't
recognize me. I'm sure they're up to something,
but I haven't found out what yet! In the meantime,
let's enjoy ourselves.
They stand, with their arms around each other, looking out over the rail at the ocean.
I feel the kiss of life within these winds.
A tropic climate's best for nursing life.
Oh no - your eyes are where my love begins,
And lives, and grows, protected there from strife.
But tears fill up my eyes when you're away
And fall in torrents like a tempest wild.
In such a storm, has love the strength to stay?
Or can it only thrive in climates mild?
My love won't wash away because you weep,
Although your eyes are where my love did start.
But since its birth my love has grown so deep
You'll find its roots are planted in your heart.
And yet, the tropics are a place for birth.
But our love's fit for any place on Earth!
TO BE CONTINUED
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© 2004 by Richard Nathan. All rights reserved
The author grants all internet uses to print these scripts for their own, personal, non-commercial use. No other use may be made without the author's permission. Without limiting the foregoing, the plays may not be staged without the author's express permission.
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