Amateurs and Professionals are warned that this play is copyrighted ©1985, 1999 by John Mucci
and Richard Felnagle. This play may not be performed without its accompanying music.
For licensing performance rights and musical materials, contact the The authors.
RUSSEL's BACK YARD
a cycle of musical plays for Community Theatre
Russel and the Ugly Little Gnome
a play in two acts
Russel Kunkle: An eleven year old boy.
In this play:
Zingarelle Yucca: The Ugly Gnome.
Dumbletup : The Jester.
*( should be played by the same actor)
[RUSSEL's back yard consists of a number of multi-leveled sets, only as elaborate as the resources of the theatre will allow, enhanced by props. There is a large tree in the center, with RUSSEL's treehouse built onto some lower branches. This play finds RUSSEL's old, rusty broken-down bicycle at the base of the tree.]
1. Overture: RUSSEL'S SONG
PART OF THE WORLD IS REAL,
I CAN BELIEVE
[LIGHTS pick out RUSSEL'S friends, who enter one by one, as HE sings in recitative:]
THIS PERSON WHOM I ADMIRE VERY MUCH, BUT WHO LIKES TO BEAT ME UP A LOT IS CASEY HOLLENSTEIN.
PAULINE SHISHNINSKI IS HIS GIRLFRIEND, AND I WOULD DO JUST ABOUT ANYTHING IF SHE WERE MINE.
AND THIS IS JAMAL LEMAGE, WHO IS THE BEST 'BEST FRIEND' YOU COULD EVER FIND.
JAMAL, CASEY, PAULINE:
WE HANG OUT IN RUSSEL'S BACKYARD IF FOR NO OTHER GOOD REASON WE CAN THINK OF THAN WE GOTTA KEEP HIM IN LINE.
WE'RE GLAD THAT YOU ALL STOPPED
WE CAN BELIEVE
COME ALONG WITH ME AND SHARE MY DESTINY: WE'LL SEE WHAT WE WANT TO SEE.
AND IF WE SAY IT'S SO. . .
[We are, as usual, in Russel's back yard, with its prominent tree in the center and his treehouse. Part of his front porch is visible, r, and some bushes are part of the landscaping, but all in all it's a shabby yard which only Russel can transform into something better by his imagination.]
AT RISE, LIGHTS UP as HELEN KUNKLE hangs laundry to dry on the clothesline, which stretches from the tree to the house.
The MUSIC of a triumphant processional is heard, and in march PAULINE, CASEY, and JAMAL. PAULINE is holding a large book entitled Knights of the Table Round, which she carries with her up into the treehouse.
2. MUSIC IN: Hail, Hail, The Conquering Hero!
PAULINE, CASEY, JAMAL:
HAIL, HAIL, THE CONQUERING HERO!
CAN YOU NOT ALL SEE WHO
CASEY: It is I!
[The others applaud and cheer. CASEY bows, as though addressing a large and grateful crowd:]
JAMAL: I, the king, salute you, Sir Casey!
CASEY: Thank you, King Jamal .
[There is an awkward pause. JAMAL looks up. PAULINE has now climbed into the treehouse with the book.]
JAMAL: What happens next, Pauline?
PAULINE: Hold your horses. I lost my place. Here on page thirty one it specifically states: "...and when the hero was brought through the streets in triumph, the Prince took the head of the dragon and showed it to the people. Then the fair damsel..." --that's me... "Gave him a kiss."
[CASEY licks his chops.]
CASEY: Oh, yeah. I've been waiting for this one all day.
PAULINE: Hold it there, Prince. No dragon, no smooch. It's in the book. Besides, we have to drag you through the streets in a Triumph.
CASEY: Well, let's get on with it. I'm ready for battle. Bring on the dragoon. [He waves his plastic sword around.]
JAMAL: [calling out] Dragon? .... Dragon!?... O thou mighty and fearsome fire-breathing dragon, we do bid thee into combat with the Prince, or else... Wherefore art thou, dragon? [there is no response.]
CASEY: [Breaking role, looking around the house] Russel! Get out here before I kill you for real! [to MRS. KUNKLE:] Just a figure of speech, Mrs. Kunkle.
PAULINE: Come on, Casey, I can't wait up here forever.
JAMAL: Just keep your sweatshirt on, Pauline.
CASEY: Pauline, can you see him anywhere from up there?
PAULINE: Nope. The last I saw of him he was going to squirt me with the garden hose.
HELEN: He was what?
PAULINE: You heard me, Mrs Kunkle. I said your son was going to use that fancy sendaway nozzle to get my freshly washed hair dirty under your hose. He's not coming. I'm going home.
HELEN: Oh, that boy! One of these days he's going to have to learn to play with you instead of against you.
CASEY: That's just the way he is, Mrs Kunkle. If he doesn't get to be the Prince, he doesn't want to play.
JAMAL: And, Mrs Kunkle, he promised! And now he's wrecking our game!
[RUSSEL enters, ripping off a rubber Frankenstein mask—he's very angry.]
CASEY: [under his breath] There you are, you little fink. Where've you been?
RUSSEL: [top of his lungs, throwing the mask at him] I quit! I don't want to be the dragon any more!
PAULINE: This is too much. I am leaving. I came over here to be rescued, not to watch "This is Your Tantrum."
CASEY: Wait, Pauline, please!
JAMAL: Russel, you agreed to be the dragon!
RUSSEL: I was forced into it!
PAULINE: Naturally: you're so good at it! What a roar.
RUSSEL: But why do I have to be the dragon all the time?
HELEN: [with finger pointing in the air] Russel, I think if your little friends have invited you over to play in their game, then you should...
RUSSEL: I always have to be the dragon! I never get to be anything but the dragon. I wanna be the Prince!
CASEY: The way you act all the time? That's pretty funny, Prince. You're always screaming and yelling and throwing your weight around... it's type-casting!
HELEN: Russel, do you hear that?
RUSSEL: Casey, do you hear this? [he gives a loud Bronx cheer]
CASEY: Mrs Kunkle, I think your son doesn't have very nice manners.
RUSSEL: You're the one who got to pick out who gets to be who! That's how come you always get to be the Prince!
CASEY: Well, it's my book!
PAULINE : You've got ten seconds. Do I get a dramatic rescue or not?
JAMAL: Oh, come on, Russel. You're wrecking everything!
CASEY: Can't you do anything with him, Mrs Kunkle?
HELEN: [picking up her laundry basket on the way back toward the house] Russel, you are embarrassing me. Now if you don't behave and play fairly, I'll have to make you come in the house.
[SHE goes in.]
PAULINE : Russel, I'm getting numb and sunburned up here waiting for you. I'm leaving.
CASEY: Pauline! Kunkle! Are you going to play the dragon or not?
RUSSEL: All the dragon does is get killed. I am not playing the dragon unless I get to kill somebody! I mean, come on! I get to eat unicorns or something!
JAMAL: But that's not in the book!
RUSSEL: I don't care!
CASEY: Russel, you are so immature.
RUSSEL: I am not. What does that mean?
PAULINE: It means you act like a baby. [SHE climbs down from the treehouse] You know: so bombastic. And you're right, Casey, he is imageyour. And I am leaving. Goodbye!
[SHE goes off, left.]
CASEY: Wait, Pauline! What about my after-the-rescue kiss!
RUSSEL: Aw, go kiss a hot water bottle.
RUSSEL: Creep schmeep. I don't want to be any image-sewer. I just want to be the prince. You always get the good parts. When we played Superman you got to be Clark Kent, and I had to play the Crawling Spinach Plant that Ate Flushing Meadow!
CASEY: You made Pauline leave. I ought to punch you right in the schnozz. Why couldn't you do what you're told?
RUSSEL: What do I get out of it? All I get is a whack on the chops with a piece of plastic and a sore rear end from being dragged around like a little red wagon.
JAMAL: Look, I can see this day is about ruined. We went way off the track of the book.
CASEY: Maybe Russel has a different version: "and so the dragon tore off his own ugly head, and was really a Prince in disguise." I don't like science fiction!
RUSSEL: If you don't let me be the Prince, I'll tell Pauline about the time you were stuck in the curly-slide on the playground and the janitor had to spray you with WD-30.
CASEY: You wouldn't dare! [HE notices the laundry hanging on the line] All right Russel. Maybe we will let you be the Prince. Once.
JAMAL: He's never read the book. Or seen the movie. Or even played the Game Boy version. Are you crazy?
CASEY: I said Russel gets to be the Prince.
RUSSEL: Yeah, and do I get the fair damoisel if I kill the dragon?
CASEY: Sure! Anything you want, buddy. Okay, Prince Russel. Catch me if you can!
[ CASEY rams the Frankenstein mask on his own head and roars off, with RUSSEL chasing after him, waving the plastic sword. CASEY manages to lead RUSSEL near the laundry line, and points to the knot that holds it up, to JAMAL. CASEY stops, turns, and menaces, as RUSSEL's sword catches the line. It buckles, and JAMAL: unloops the knot, and the laundry line comes falling on top of RUSSEL. ]
CASEY: Be the prince! Be the prince! Nyahhhh!
RUSSEL: Help! Mother! Help! -- Ma!
[JAMAL and CASEY stick around long enough to see RUSSEL's trouble, laugh at him cruelly, then run off. HELEN comes rushing out of the house. The damp laundry is draped all over RUSSEL.]
HELEN: Russel! My laundry! Come out of there this minute!
RUSSEL: Ma, look what they did to me!
HELEN: [putting the laundry back in the hamper] Oh, Russel, can't I leave you alone for one little minute without you bringing the world down on top of you? Oh, Russel, now I have to wash everything again.
RUSSEL: But mother, it's not my fault! They tricked me! They're the ones who did it!
HELEN: The next time you go to bed in clean, white sheets, just remember that I have to put all these in the washing machine and how I have to hang them all out to dry. I work hard, Russel, hard, and cleaning up after you is even harder.
RUSSEL: But mother! --here, this sock isn't dirty.
HELEN: I wish you could be more like that Casey boy.
RUSSEL: [nearly choking in disbelief, dropping the sock on the ground] Casey...!
HELEN: When are you going to grow up? I'm just waiting. You wait until you have a son and he ruins every little thing you try to do. Then you'll see! When are you going to grow up?
[SHE gathers everything up and rushes into the house.]
RUSSEL: Grow up? I am grown up. There isn't a thing I can't handle. I'd make the best Prince anybody's every seen, if only they'd give me half a chance. Well, this is my backyard. And what I say goes!
3. MUSIC IN: RUSSEL'S SONG.
ALL THAT I SAY IS TRUE.
I CAN BELIEVE ANYTHING I WANT
[amazingly, two cardboard turrets appear over the porch, in rhythm with the music. More detail can fly in, be pushed in, etc.]
AND THE PEOPLE OF THIS KINGDOM BOW AND SCRAPE TO HIM IN FLANKS AND SQUADS AND LONG FLUTTERING ROWS-A!
BUT SOME EVIL HAS DESCENDED ON THIS HAPPY KINGDOM FOR WHICH NO ONE A SOLUTION CAN PROPOSE-A!
WHAT THIS PLACE NEEDS IS A BRAVE PRINCE TO COME ALONG AND FIND THE VILLAN WHO'S RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL THEIR WOES-A, AND PUNCH THEM IN THE NOSE-A!
AND WHO COULD THAT YOUNG PRINCE
I CAN BELIEVE
RUSSEL: Step right up here, ladies and gentlemen! Here you see Russel Kunkle's Knight Errant Errand service! Brought to you by Coldgoose Palmoily, maker of the world's best armor-grease! [a beat: nothing happens] Maidens rescued... evil spells cast off... dragons exterminated. I give double coupons, Wednesdays. [still no takers. a beat:] Boy, some kingdom I dreamed up. Next time I make up a story, I better make up some people to go with it. Where is everybody? [HE notices somebody approaching from offstage, l.]
4. MUSIC IN: The GNOME's ENTRANCE
[Enter A LITTLE OLD GNOME, whom we will learn is named ZINGARELLE YUCCA, dressed in a hooded robe that covers her face & most of her other features completely. SHE is staggering under the weight of a huge sack of —something.]
RUSSEL: Yes, ma'am, what can I do for you? I am loyal, friendly, helpful, obese...uh...I can't remember all I am, but I am it! Cross the street? Need help picking out wallpaper? Aspirin from CVS?
ZINGARELLE: [stopping] I can do everything by myself. Thank you.
RUSSEL: Well, I can help you carry that sack. It must weigh a ton.
ZINGARELLE: [barking:] No. Stop. Stay away. Why aren't you in hiding?
RUSSEL: Hiding-from what?
ZINGARELLE: From the king! The king has ordered everyone to stay in hiding today, bright one, not to dare to step outside, not to dare to open a window!
RUSSEL: Guess that explains why no one was around when I arrived.
ZINGARELLE: ...arrived? Are you new here?
[HE springs to help her, touching her arm]
RUSSEL: Let me help you there!
ZINGARELLE: [pulling away] Don't touch me! [more gently:] I have very brittle skin. I don't like to be touched. [SHE puts down the sack]
RUSSEL: Oh, sorry. I didn't know. I am Prince Russel, and I've just arrived in this kingdom to be of service to anyone who needs help.
ZINGARELLE: You're wasting your time. The people here are beyond help. The only thing this kingdom needs now is a plague to wipe it all out.
RUSSEL: Why has your king ordered everyone into hiding?
ZINGARELLE: Leave. Now. If you stay here, this place will change you.
ZINGARELLE: Don't ask to know more! Leave the kingdom of Bomboza before it is too late!
RUSSEL: Lady, you're not making any sense. [stepping toward her] Here, at least let me help you pick that thing up...
ZINGARELLE: No. Stay away!
[THEY try to pull the sack away from each other.]
RUSSEL: I have to! It's the code of chivalry!
ZINGARELLE: Oh, Shival sombody else. Let me go! Don't!
RUSSEL: Hold still! Don't be so... immature!
[In RUSSEL's enthusiasm to get the sack away from her, SHE has fallen to the ground, back to the audience, her hood having fallen off her head.]
RUSSEL: [not seeing her at first] Now if you let me hold it up while you get under it and... [seeing her face] ...Oh! [drops the sack] I think I'm gonna be... a little a little... sick...
ZINGARELLE: I warned you! I tried to warn you!
[SHE turns to face the audience. We see her face for the first time: ugly, distorted, pitiable, ugly in the textbook fairy-tale sense of ugly.]
Go ahead. Barf. Or better yet, laugh at me! That's the next step. Tell me your watch just stopped 'cause my face stopped it, or I look like a million bucks, all green and wrinkled. I know 'em all.
RUSSEL: I didn't say any of those things.
ZINGARELLE: [moving away from him] For pity's sake, get out of this place! Leave us alone!
5. MUSIC IN: ZINGARELLE's TANGO.
PERHAPS YOU KNOW WHAT IT'S LIKE TO BE YOUNG,
RUSSEL: Aw, please let me help you with that!
ZINGARELLE: Stay away!
[As THEY struggle over the sack this time, a red plastic hairbrush falls out onto the ground with a clunk.]
RUSSEL: [picking it up and examining it] What are you, some kind of medieval Avon Lady? You got tupperware and magnets, too?
ZINGARELLE: Give me that back! [RUSSEL does] Now get away! Get away from me! And go back where you came from —before it's too late.
[SHE picks up the sack and is gone, r.]
RUSSEL: I gotta admit there have been some weird people in my backyard before, but that about eats the cake.
[Suddenly leaping onto the stage from the right is PRINCE RALPH . HE is dressed in a quasi-Renaissance outfit, but is wearing a veil over his head.]
RALPH: Stand fast, villain!
RUSSEL: Maybe I spoke too soon.
RALPH: One false move, and I'll be forced to run your vitals through with this sword, and spill torrents of blood on your doublet!
RUSSEL: Must have been something I ate.
RALPH: And there is nothing harder to get out of a doublet than blood stains! Even with a stain-stick!
RUSSEL: What are you giving me?
RALPH: I'm giving you three feet of steel, that's what! Unless you confess immediately, thief!
RUSSEL: Thief? I'm no thief. And how come you're wearing that stupid shower curtain—or, uh—veil?
RALPH: King Bomboza made everyone put one on this morning. [HE peeks out of his] You could use one! Don't ask me why! You know why!
RUSSEL: You're a fruit cake.
RALPH: And you're a thief! [a beat] I like fruitcake! With syrup! [a beat] Where's my hairbrush!?
RUSSEL: Hey, I haven't seen any—
RALPH: It was a nice red plastic one, with a rattail on the end...
RUSSEL: Come to think of it...
RALPH: And it said Souvenir of Denver on it... Aha! You admit it! To my face! It's just as well! King Bomboza comes here this very moment!
[A flourish. Enter THE LORD HIGH BOMBOZA and QUEEN AZALEA. THEY are both similarly veiled.]
BOMBOZA: Ah, Azalea, there is one more mirror-ball in the garden, there, I think.
AZALEA: Oh, dear! Who is that? And one of them... undraped!
BOMBOZA: Well, one is your son. Ralph! Good, boy! You caught something! Darn, I can't see well with this linoleum bedsheet on, or whatever it is. We were covering up the mirror-balls in the gardens, you know, the ones on the birdbaths, when we...
RUSSEL: Your majesty, if only I could...
RALPH: Scoundrel! You brigand! Varlet! You second-class burglar! They will read about this in the Royal Enquirer in the Morning Edition!
AZALEA: Ralph! Son! So brave! I'm so proud of you.
RALPH: He had a gang of at least ...sixteen men with him! I threw him to the ground in a double hammerlock...
RUSSEL: Oh, brother.
BOMBOZA: [taking RALPH aside] Go on, Ralph. Where's the stuff? Did you find my girdle yet?
RALPH: Not yet, sire. I had just begun the questioning him when you arrived. [to RUSSEL] Where were you on the night of the fifteenth?
RUSSEL: But-your majesty...
RALPH & BOMBOZA: Answer the question!
RUSSEL: [fed up] Answer it yourself! [HE simply grabs the sword from RALPH.]
RALPH: Mama! [HE tries to run, but trips over his own feet. From the ground:] Whiplash! Whiplash! Get his license!
BOMBOZA: [quietly] Get up, you ninny.
AZALEA: Do something, Ralph!
RUSSEL: [brandishing RALPH 's sword] Quiet, everyone! I say what goes here... [a little offended, BOMBOZA: huffily huffs] ...and I'm not going to be blamed for something I didn't do. I am Sir Russel!
BOMBOZA: [impressed immediately] Not the Sir Russel?
RUSSEL: [thinking] ...No, that's my Dad. I'm Sir Russel II.
BOMBOZA: [flabbergasted] Not the Sir Russel II?
RUSSEL: I think so. [firm] Yeah. Do I have the honor of addressing the Lord High King Bomboza, for whom this kingdom is named?
BOMBOZA: Oh, Sir Russel II! please forgive my stupid son. [to RALPH: ] Get up, boob! This is the Sir Russel II. The famous knight who has come to help us recover...our beauty-aids.
AZALEA: [under her breath] Ralphie, why can't you do anything right?
RALPH: Aww, the veil, ma, the dumb veil!
RUSSEL: Why don't you take it off?
[ BOMBOZA, AZALEA and RALPH all react in horror. ]
BOMBOZA: Oh, no, Sir Russel II. You don't know what you're demanding.
RUSSEL: [with relish] You can't mean to say, you're all turning... ugly?
AZALEA: [wailing] Yes! Yes! It's horrible!
RUSSEL: [remembering] Well. . . ok, leave 'em on.
AZALEA: Thank you for understanding. You see, if we took off these practical veils, we would be in danger of breaking the law of the realm.
BOMBOZA: Yes: it is the law here that everyone must be [HE raises his hand as though indicating a high notch on a yardstick]...beautiful. Everyone must spend at least twelve hours a day trying to make himself better looking. For the good of humanity.
RUSSEL: How do you know when you've gotten [making the same gesture to the same notch]...beautiful?
BOMBOZA: There are standards. You can just tell. Years of just "knowing."
AZALEA: And it's published every Sunday in the magazine section.
RUSSEL: [a beat] When did you first start to notice that you're changing?
AZALEA: Just this afternoon.
RUSSEL: Wow! That fast...
AZALEA: Yes. Everyone in the kingdom was taking their beauty nap— in our tongue it is called, "Yooui Siesta Du Faceliff" — when someone crept into the palace, and stole everything of value. All our makeup! The rouge! The liner! The blush! The frosted lip gloss!
BOMBOZA: We can be frank: all the wigs. The eyelashes, the combs, the avocado smears and the mud packs; the egg shampoo, my girdle!—dash it!, even the pads from the shoulders of my cloak!
RALPH: [explosive: impetuous] And the hair dryer! The Communal Hair Dryer! What am I going to do without it! Now I have to waste time drying my hair in the sun, shaking it around! THINK of all the split ends!
BOMBOZA: [hand at his veil] Just look at how ugly that rotten thief has tried to make me!
RUSSEL: I've seen an example, I think! It's OK! I'll take your word for it.
AZALEA: When I think of all those happy hours I used to spend curling my royal lashes, brushing my royal wig, getting my royal teeth capped... [turning on RALPH: ] And you, dummy! You just sit there! I can feel bags forming under my eyes just watching you sit there and do nothing.
BOMBOZA: How could you have thought that Sir Russel here might be the culprit! Obviousy the dirty blackguard who's done this deed will be carrying a big sack full of all the things that he's stolen.
RUSSEL: There you go.
RALPH: I'm doing my best!
BOMBOZA: Well, it's not good enough! Just look at what that villain has done to your old man. [HE grabs his veil]
RUSSEL: No, please don't!
[But it is too late. BOMBOZA: pulls off the veil and leers at his son, revealing if not a handsome, then at least a perfectly normal looking face.]
BOMBOZA: You see this? What are you going to do about it?
RALPH: It's too late! Your receding chin made a total retreat!
AZALEA: [ripping off RALPH: 's veil] Oh yeah? How about you? Those eyes couldn't be farther apart if they were on two different people!
RALPH: [pulling off AZALEA: 's veil] Watch out! Even the bags under your eyes have bags! Those are whole suitcases!
BOMBOZA: You're the biggest nincompoop I've ever seen!
RALPH: You're the biggest thing I've ever seen! Without your girdle, you look like the Grand Coulee Dam!
AZALEA: I wish your five o'clock shadow were a total blackout!
[RUSSEL has not turned around to see this royal free-for-all. THE ROYAL FAMILY now burst forth in shocking ad libbed invectives aimed at one another. Finally, RUSSEL can't stand it any more, and grabs RALPH's sword to restore order.]
RUSSEL: Now, quiet, please! This is no time to stoop to that sort of thing. We have a crisis on our hands which is going to require the utmost...[looking at them more closely] Say, I don't know what you're all complaining about. You all look all right to me.
AZALEA: Oh, thank you, Sir Russel. You're very kind to say that. I hope you're taking notes, Ralph.
RUSSEL: Whatever this ugly sickness is, it doesn't seem to be bad in your case.
BOMBOZA: You're right, Sir Russel.. This is no time to be standing around squabbling. Help us get our beauty aids back again, so we can fight off the uglies. I can't be King if I'm not better than handsome.
AZALEA: And I can't be Queen if I'm not at the peak of beauty.
RALPH: [turning to the audience] I'm not going to say a thing.
RUSSEL: I'll do whatever I can.
BOMBOZA: [blustering, tearful:] Oh, thank you, Sir Russel! You have our undying gratitude. Here! Take this ring. If you ever need a favor, don't hesitate to ask me!
[HE gives RUSSEL a gaudy bauble of a ring, which RUSSEL puts on, awkwardly.]
Azalea, let us return to the castle. I don't want any of our subjects to catch us undraped.
AZALEA: Ralph, stay with Sir Russel. Learn from him. If you can. Oh, Ralph, I wish you were a little more like Sir Russel.
RALPH: [choking with disbelief] Russel!
RUSSEL: I've been waiting all my life to hear someone say that.
BOMBOZA: We're off! Azalea: don't forget your veil!
AZALEA: Good-bye. Good luck!
[THEY process, out left.]
RALPH: Good riddance.
RUSSEL: Aw, don't be so hard on yourself. We'll lick this thing.
RALPH: Everything I do turns out wrong.
RUSSEL: What you need is a little self-confidence. What you need is...
[From offstage comes the not so friendly sound of DUMBLETUP, the jester]
DUMBLETUP: What you need is to find yourself. Only in your case, there's nowhere left to look.
RALPH: Just what I need. That smart-mouth jester.
[Enter DUMBLETUP, a small and surly court comic, dressed in motley; a cracked lute and a bell or two on his cap]
DUMBLETUP: [Taking RALPH's veil in hand] Is this some kind of new hairnet? Or are you in mourning for your face?
RUSSEL: Hey, you in the pajamas, who do you think you are?
DUMBLETUP: I am Dumbletup, squire, from a long line of Dumbletups, resident court wit. The Good Humour Man, as they say. And you, I believe, are Sir Russel.
RUSSEL and RALPH: The second.
DUMBLETUP: Aha. Well, they say third time is lucky. I guess I can wait.
RUSSEL: Why aren't you wearing a veil? I thought it was king's orders.
DUMBLETUP: I'm not in the habit of covering my face, squire. I prefer to see things as they are. Take Ralph here. I like him this way. He's been wandering around in the dark all his life... only now it's for real. Black is your color, Ralph. Matches the dirt under your nails.
RUSSEL: Why don't you lay off Ralph?
RALPH: [smirking] Aw, don't worry. That's his job. He's the jester.
DUMBLETUP: Sure. Every time I tell the king he looks like Bozo the Clown with all his makeup on and his girdle, he thinks it's a stitch.
RALPH: Oh, stop! Ha! ha! Not that one again. He's got a whole routine he does, with a balloon with Dad's face on it that gets bigger and...
DUMBLETUP: See, no one takes me seriously. Well, now that all the beauty aids have been taken... I may be out of a job. I'm out of material!
RALPH: Come on, let's not sit around waiting for unemployment checks. What's our first step, Sir Russel?
RUSSEL: First step is to take off that stupid veil!
RALPH: But my face! Someone might see me!
RUSSEL: [HE tears off the veil. RALPH looks perfectly OK.] You look fine. [to DUMBLETUP] No smart remarks, now!
DUMBLETUP: I admit it's an improvement. With that veil on, you looked like an extra from "Aladdin."
DUMBLETUP: [can't stop] ...after the camel stampede.
RALPH: Oh, that's good. I'll have to remember that one for the king!
RUSSEL: Well, if anybody cares to stop cutting each other up, I think I already have a clue.
DUMBLETUP& RALPH: What? What is it?
RUSSEL: A few minutes ago an unfortunate little old lady came buzzing through...
RALPH: ...She was real little?
DUMBLETUP: And ugly? I mean, beyond ugly—they-haven't-invented-the-word-yet-ugly?
RUSSEL: [a little ashamed at the attribution] Yeah...
DUMBLETUP & RALPH: Zingarelle Yucca.
RUSSEL: You know her?
RALPH: Oh, yes. She used to work at the palace. Helped comb mama's hair, and pulled the girdle tighter for the old man. Quite a privilege. She didn't used to be ugly, though. That just happened.
RUSSEL: How—just happened? Something in the food? The water?
RALPH: Don't know. But she just got uglier by the day. We kept her on as long as we could, but... you know... they couldn't stand to look at her and they asked her to leave.
RUSSEL: Well, then. End of mystery. She—
DUMBLETUP: [agitated] Stop there. That's it. Russel, let us be ugly. We'll get used to it. Once we're all ugged up, no one will know the meaning of the word. Right? Case closed.
RALPH: What's got into you, Ralph?
DUMBLETUP: Isn't it easier now, Ralph? Doesn't it feel better without all that pancake and rouge and lipstick?
RALPH: No. We have to recover the communal hair dryer, at least! Russel, if you know something, you have to tell us. You came here to help us, remember?
RUSSEL: Yeah, you're right. But I don't feel good about it. A few minutes ago, Zingarelle Yucca passed through here carrying a huge sack on her back.
RALPH & DUMBLETUP: Aha.
RALPH: What was in it?
RUSSEL: I didn't get to see inside, but a hairbrush fell out.
[RALPH: begins to salivate.]
DUMBLETUP: A brush! Red? [RUSSEL nods] Plastic? [RUSSEL assents] With rhinestones? In the shape of a shoe? [nod] And it said "SOUVENIR OF DENVER!!" on it??
RUSSEL: Yes, that's it!
DUMBLETUP: Then it belongs to Ralph.
RALPH: [with a macho tug at the air] Yes! Yes! She has my hairbrush! She's the thief! Wait till I get my hands on her. Somebody give me some gloves so I can get my hands on her!
DUMBLETUP: Oh, stop trying to play the hero, Ralph. It's not one of your better impersonations.
RALPH: I'm not faking! Not this time! I have a mission. It's clear as when I first put my contacts in. I'll get the bag! Then I'll get the bag!
DUMBLETUP: [imitating RALPH: 's mannerisms] Listen, Ralph, you look like a chicken with an over-sized eagle suit on.
RALPH: Cut it out! [laughing] I need to get to work!
RUSSEL: I think we can take care of this, fellas. What's out that way? [HE points to where ZINGARELLE exited].
DUMBLETUP: The caves.
RALPH: Oh, if she's hiding out there, we'll never get her. Thousands of little dark holes. It's like being stuck in a bad Nintendo game.
RUSSEL: Well, we'll just wait for her to come back. I bet she will. And we'll leave a little something for her to be interested in.
[HE pulls a comb out of his pocket. ] Mother always said to carry one of these around with me.
RALPH: Oh, great! Gimme that! This cowlick just won't stay put...
DUMBLETUP: Don't worry about your 'do, Dodo!
RUSSEL: Just leave it here. Let's all hide. I'll go up here [to his porch] and you hide there [behind the tree] and you [to DUMBLETUP, pointing to the treehouse] go on keep lookout up there.
[THEY grudgingly do as they are told. RALPH is extremely uncomfortable.]
RALPH: Sir Russel, can't I just... [HE moves toward the bait-comb]
RUSSEL: Don't even think about it, Ralph!
[RALPH edges behind the tree. All is quiet, and the stage looks empty. Suddenly, with an enormously loud cry, RALPH bolts out from his hiding place, runs to the comb, makes three furious swipes across his head, and runs back as though nothing had happened. Another pause.]
RALPH:: [with enormous relief]: Ahh!...
RUSSEL: [sticking his head out, to the audience] His mom would be proud.
[After a moment, ZINGARELLE enters again, and quickly passes through, like a shadow. SHE stops, keenly aware of something wrong; SHE doesn't know what it is, but...]
ZINGARELLE: My work is finished now. I just want to get out of this stupid kingdom and... what's that? That stranger must have pulled it out of my bag...
[SHE stoops to pick it up. RALPH makes the same samurai-like sound and dashes out again, holding HER around her waist.]
RALPH: Gotcha! So, trying to make us all uggy, are ya?
ZINGARELLE: Let me go, let me go, you prince of primping! You are ugly! I don't have to make you anything!
DUMBLETUP: You're hurting her, Ralph!
RALPH: Gee, you're strong, for a girl.
[ZINGARELLE: breaks free, and as SHE turns to face RALPH: her hood is whipped aside, revealing her face to him.]
Yaa! This out-uglifies ugly!
ZINGARELLE: [calm, but angry] Laugh now, Ralph. Your turn will come.
RUSSEL: [emerging] Don't let her get away, Ralph!
RALPH: [tries to approach] I can't! I have a weak stomach!
ZINGARELLE: I hate you all! Fools, all of you!
[As SHE turns to flee, SHE runs into the arms of the waiting RUSSEL: . HE holds her gently.]
DUMBLETUP: You blew that one, Ralph-the-conquering-Zero.
RUSSEL: Oh, leave him alone.
DUMBLETUP: Yes, shown his true colors again. Lemon-yellow, Canary yellow, Daisy yellow...
RALPH: That isn't funny! [to RUSSEL: :] I'm sorry, Russel. I guess I'm just not the prince I need to be. I'll go get a twenty foot pole to drag her off with.
RUSSEL: Wait. Ralph, you may have you place yet in history.
DUMBLETUP: Along with Custer's Last Stand, Pearl Harbor, and Watergate...
RALPH: Oh, be quiet, jester! Give your jest a rest!
RUSSEL: Zingarelle, we know you're the one who took the beauty-aids.
RALPH: And the hairdryer. Don't forget the communal—
ZINGARELLE: That's all you know.
RUSSEL: But we've got you now. Tell us where they are, and then things will go easier on you with the king...
ZINGARELLE: Fat chance.
RALPH: Ooooooo! You ought to be run through with a pinking shears!
ZINGARELLE: You ought to be spanked with a hairbrush. If you could find one.
RUSSEL: : Oh, stop it you two! Does everyone in this kingdom insult everyone else? I'm tired of listening to it! Zingarelle, come on! Where are they!
ZINGARELLE: I warned you, Sir Russel. This place is having its effect on you.
RUSSEL: Don't give me riddles, lady, give me answers!
DUMBLETUP: [gently] Zingarelle, please. Tell them what they want to know. Don't let them hurt you.
ZINGARELLE: DUMBLETUP! I hadn't seen you. Don't stare at me.
DUMBLETUP: [out of character for him] It doesn't matter. I don't care what you look like. I just don't want them to hurt you. Please tell them where the things are.
ZINGARELLE: The caves. They're in the caves.
RALPH: Oh, great. There are only ten zillion caves up there.
ZINGARELLE: The one third from the top row. Near the pine tree.
RALPH: I know that one. That's more like it.
RUSSEL: All right. Now here's what you'll do. Go up there are recover the stuff. I'll go to the palace and get everybody out here to see you bring back the beauty-aids. Don't forget the girdle! Then you'll get to be the hero!
RALPH: I get to be the hero!
[HE swells with pride, and leads off to the caves, singing to the tune of the Toreador Song from Carmen:] I'll get my hair dry, And I'll dry my tears. Polish my nails, Shave both my ears...
DUMBLETUP: Does that mean you're setting her free?
RUSSEL: That's up to Bomboza. You stay here while I rouse the palace.
[RUSSEL leaves, l. ZINGARELLE & DUMBLETUP are alone on stage. SHE pulls her hood over her face again.]
DUMBLETUP: Don't do that. I don't mind.
ZINGARELLE: I don't want you to look at what's happened to me.
DUMBLETUP: Everything will be all right.
ZINGARELLE: Good old Dumbletup. You always had something nice to say to me. You could have had a field day with my looks.
DUMBLETUP: Oh, never. I like you. You're the only one around here who isn't trying to be something else.
ZINGARELLE: Oh, that was so long ago. That's why I went up to the palace to work. I wanted to be near the queen. I wanted to be like the queen. I used to pretend I was the queen. I wanted to be the queen. [laughing] Me! Look at me.
DUMBLETUP: Don't say it like that.
ZINGARELLE: What happened to me? I was good looking. All I had years ago was this mark on my hand. And the royal family made fun of it. I kept it in my pocket. Look at it now. It's the most perfect, beautiful hand in the kingdom. On me...! They called me a gnome. Made fun of my walk; and it all got worse and worse. They laughed at my nose! One day I realized that I was becoming what they were saying. Isn't that horrible? They made me into what I am with their ugly words and their ugly glances. Is there any wonder why I want to get them back?
DUMBLETUP: Listen. We could escape. You and I. Now.
ZINGARELLE: What? What are you saying?
DUMBLETUP: I'm saying that before they all come back, we can vamoose. Split. Make like a tree and leave. You know?
ZINGARELLE: No. What's the use? I can't run away from who I am. People would just start making fun of me all over again.
6. SONG: LEFT-HANDED COMPLIMENTS
DUMBLETUP: I wouldn't make fun of you! I like who you are.
YOU ARE WHAT YOU ARE;
ZINGARELLE: [interrupting] No,Dumbletup. It would never work. You are very kind, but I'm afraid I could never be away from... Prince Ralph.
DUMBLETUP: [dumfounded] Pardon me? I didn't quite hear what
you said. It sounded like you said you could never be away from ...Ralph.
Ralph the Wonder-Boy. That's funnier than anything I've said all day: and I'm
DUMBLETUP: No doubt. There is no doubt about it. Definitely, I will
throw up right here.
6A. SONG CONTINUES: LEFT HANDED COMPLIMENTS
PLEASE LEAVE HIM ALONE.
DUMBLETUP: Wait a minute. You have the chance to get away. Now. With me. And you won't take it?
ZINGARELLE: Understand, Dumbletup\. I can't. Please help Ralph.
DUMBLETUP: Sure. I'll do everything in my power to help him.
ZINGARELLE: Thank you, Dumbletup. I knew I could count on you. This Sir Russel is good for Ralph, too. If Ralph can be the hero, then maybe they'll all start leaving him alone.
DUMBLETUP: [aside] Don't hold your breath.
[VOICES are heard, off, r. BOMBOZA, AZALEA, and other members of the court are entering. ZINGARELLE pulls her hood tightly over her face.]
RUSSEL: And here is the thief, your majesty. Zingarelle Yucca: a misguided woman who used to work in the palace.
BOMBOZA: You don't mean that cute gnome who used to hang around the kitchen...? Made a whopping rat-a-tat-touille, if I recall.
AZALEA: No: he means the ugly gnome that you fired because it's against the law to be ugly and be in the palace all at the same time.
BOMBOZA: Egad, you're right! Why, you nasty little ...thing! that's no way to repay our open kindness to you!
[ZINGARELLE doesn't respond.]
AZALEA: [to RUSSEL:] Tell me once again the story of my brave son.
RUSSEL: [uncomfortable, but warming to it] Well: you see, once he'd figured out who the thief was, he had the idea to lay a trap for her. When she came by, he pounced like a tiger, fought like a lion...
DUMBLETUP: He lies like a rug.
MEMBER OF THE CROWD [pointing off]: Here he comes now! It's... —Ralphie-boy!
BOMBOZA: Does he have the ... you know... with him?
MEMBER OF THE CROWD: Looks like it.
BOMBOZA: That's my boy!
AZALEA: [barking]: Ralph! Ralph!
7. MUSIC IN: HAIL, THE CONQUERING HERO, Reprise
HAIL, RALPH, THE CONQUERING HERO!
RALPH: It is I!
[The crowd yells out Huzzah! and Hubba hubba! and other such nonsense. What follows should be reminiscent of the opening scene.]
It was nothing! Thank you! It was nothing!
BOMBOZA: My son, I salute you. I crown you with bay leaves.
[HE opens a jar of cooking spice and scatters the leaves over RALPH's head.]
AZALEA: I am so proud of you! Did you find my mascara? The ladies' tapestry club is going to sketch this moment for posterity! ...Ladies?
[A FEW LADIES approach with sewing frames, and start to make little studies in petit-point, holding up their needles to check perspective, concentrating with their tongues out to get the right effect, etc.]
BOMBOZA: [Aside, stealthily approaching] The girdle, the girdle, the girdle...
RALPH: It's all here, folks, all here. [RALPH: sets down the sack, and pulls out—a soda can. ]
BOMBOZA: Very funny. [to AZALEA: ] Did you use that to set your hair? [HE unceremonioiusly dives at the sack and pulls out a foam hamburger container and other trash]. This is no time for games! Where is it?
RALPH: That's funny. Where is everything? [HE dumps the contents of the sack out on the ground.] The royal trash!
AZALEA: Junk! Junk! Junk!
BOMBOZA: Easy, dear. [reflecting: then to RALPH, just as manically: ] Junk! Junk! Junk! What's going on?
AZALEA: Oh, I could... [SHE makes a somewhat threatening gesture, and all the LADIES' AUXILIARY simultaneously stop sketching and start pulling out threads.] ...Ralph! What's going on! I don't understand.
RALPH: I do! She's played a trick on us!
ZINGARELLE: Ralph! No! I swear it! That's my sack. Everything was in there!
BOMBOZA: Then where's everything now??
ZINGARELLE: I don't know. Someone has taken everything out of this sack.
BOMBOZA: You expect us to believe that?
ZINGARELLE: But it's the truth!
BOMBOZA: You lying old hag! You disgusting wretch!
DUMBLETUP: Oh, stop that!
BOMBOZA:: [not relenting] Ugly wartnose! Wrinkled! Horrible! stomach-turning, shriveled old vampire!
ZINGARELLE: [bending lower, crouching] Stop. Please...
BOMBOZA: Where are the things you stole?
ZINGARELLE: Don't know.
BOMBOZA: Tell me!
ZINGARELLE: Don't know!
BOMBOZA: Then I have no choice. You get what you deserve.
RALPH: What are you going to do?
BOMBOZA: Ralph, pack your things and get out! You are a first class embarrassment to the Royal Family!
RALPH: Aw, Dad!
BOMBOZA: And as for you, Ms. Zingarelle Yucca, the law is very clear.
DUMBLETUP: You mean...?
BOMBOZA: Send for the executioner!
[General astonishment through the CROWD]
DUMBLETUP: What? That's an old law! It came from King Finknod the Foolish! It's not on the books any more!
BOMBOZA: [to ZINGARELLE:] You have until dawn to turn over our property. If you have not by then, it's The Close Haircut for you, lady.
ZINGARELLE: But I don't know where they are now! Someone's playing a dirty trick!
RUSSEL: I bet she's telling the truth!
8. MUSIC IN: ACT ONE FINALE
BOMBOZA: I AM THE KING HERE AND I GIVE THE ORDERS.
AZALEA: MY SON, YOU'RE SO STUPID!
RALPH: I THINK I'VE BEEN DUPÈD!
ZINGARELLE: WHERE ARE THE THINGS...? I DON'T KNOW!
[Suddenly BOMBOZA and the royals spin and turn on RUSSEL, who starts to cower and hide in his cloak.]
BOMBOZA: RUSSEL KUNKLE, YOU'VE BEEN ABOUT AS MUCH HELP AROUND HERE AS WARTS ON A FLEA!
DUMBLETUP: RUSSEL KUNKLE, IF YOU HAD LISTENED TO ME WHEN I TOLD YOU TO BE QUIET, NONE OF THIS WOULD EVER HAVE COME TO BE!
RALPH: RUSSEL: KUNKLE, I SINCERELY WANT TO THANK YOU FOR MAKING A FOOL OUT OF ME!
EVERYONE: RUSSEL KUNKLE, AS A KNIGHT YOU ARE WORTHLESS, YOU ARE A DISCREDIT TO THE CODE OF CHIVALRY!
[From here to the end of the act, RUSSEL shrivels and becomes gnarled as the insults take their toll on him, and HE sinks to the floor.]
RUSSEL: What's happening to me? I feel all funny. My skin's starting to wrinkle. What's going on? Oh, what a world! What a world!
[FRANK, THE EXECUTIONER, has now entered, bare torso and black hood, with a menacing if not a musical-comedy-styled ax slung over his shoulder. HE drags ZINGARELLE off, laughing with evil intent.]
EVERYONE: GOODBYE, ZINGARELLE!
RUSSEL: Help me, somebody!
NO MORE TO EMBARRASS,
[MUSIC continues to end of the act.]
MEMBER OF THE CROWD: Look at Russel!
AZALEA: What's happened to him?
BOMBOZA: Arrest him, too! He's broken the law!
ANOTHER MEMBER OF THE CROWD: Oh, I think I'm gonna lose my lunch!
RALPH: [In a great panic] Run! It may be contagious!
[EVERYONE runs off the stage in mortal terror, leaving RUSSEL alone on stage. HE jerkily turns and faces the audience.]
RUSSEL: Help me! I've caught the uglies! Help me!
[And indeed, he is suddenly much uglier than anything we can possibly imagine.]
To Act Two.
END OF ACT ONE.