AN ORIENT EXPERIENCE
CAST OF CHARACTERS
VANI : RANI ROOPMATI the Sultana of Sultanpur
MELI : major-domo to the queen
SUE : attendant to the queen
ROJA : WAASI the wassier
GIRI : IYAM the jailer
POKKIRI : MAUSIPI the lost prince
The setting is in the eastern part of the world a settee with lots of cushions. Here the RANI ROOPMATI (VANI) reclines eating a bunch of grapes. MELI who waves a large fan with one hand attends her and with the other sounds a gong. Each time the gong is struck everyone on stage vibrates.
The gong sounds. The curtain opens.
MELI: hello, what a job this is. Standing here all day waving this fan. You see I am the chief wave slave. Every waft causes a draught so that makes me the chief draught wafter. I have to bong the gong too so I am the chief gong bonger too.
VANI: oh where is my long lost son prince Musspi (POKKIRI)? He left the palace 20 years ago on his bike to get some bananas and never returned. And me, I have been waiting here for twenty bananaless years.
MELI: but I bring you grapes every day.
VANI: For that I am eternally grapeful. Oh my son Musspi, where is he?
MELI sounds the gong. Everyone on stage trembles. SUE enters.
SUE: Your highness, Wassi the wassier (ROJA) is 'ere
VANI: is he?
SUE: no Wassi. Wassi Waroo, the wassier, is 'ere
VANI: Yes, Wassi. Is he? I mean is Wassi 'ere? The wassier is 'ere?
The gong sounds. The wassier (ROJA) enters
MELI: Your highness, this 'ere is the wassier
VANI: is he?
ROJA: no Wassi. I am Wassi waroo
VANI: are you?
ROJA: no Waroo. Wassi Waroo, the wassier… I am here. The famous wassier, Wassi waroo, how do you do?
VANI: Tell me wassier; have you any news of my son who left here twenty years ago on his bike?
ROJA: Your highest highness. I have consulted the sands of the desert in which all knowledge is writ…
VANI: what rot!
ROJA: rot? 'Tis not rot. 'Tis right
VANI: 'tis right? That in the sands all knowledge is writ?
VANI: well then, who wrote what is writ?
ROJA: the spirits writ it
SUE: 'tis not writ…'tis wrote
ROJA: the spirits wrote it
VANI: wrote what?
ROJA: wrote what is writ.
VANI: what right load of rot.
ROJA: you cannot say what is writ is rot.
SUE: You should say what is written is rotten.
VANI: don't talk wet. I can say what is writ is rot, or what is written is rotten, or even 'tis a right load of rot what is wrote.
VANI: right. Wrote.
ROJA: what rot. What is written could be written as well as writ but never wrote.
SUE: right. You could have what it written writ rotten…
ROJA: or wrote rotten writ
SUE: or writing wrote rotten
VANI: how dare you question whether I, the sultana should say writ, rot, write, written rotten or wrote? What ever I say is right, whether it be wrongly wrote or truly writ you half-wits. Rote? I mean right?
They bow. The gong sounds.
VANI: what I want to know is what you know about my son, who left this palace twenty years ago on his bike?
ROJ: your highness, in the sands I am sure I have seen certain signs that your son will be seen soon.
VANI: can you be sure that these certain signs of my son that you have seen are certain? What do the signs say?
ROJA: 'tis mysterious, but the signs in the sand seem to signify that your absent son will be seen to have survived by (pause)… the partial eclipse of the moon.
VANI: an eclipse of the moon. When is the next eclipse?
ROJA: (dejectedly) in about sixty year's time
VANI: then you have failed to find my son
ROJ: but I have tried. I even disguised myself as a businessman and went to England to look for your son.
VANI: well what happened there?
The setting is a railway station platform in England. We can see a news stand stand-cum buffet, station nameplates and a tannoy speaker
The curtain opens. An off stage voice (CARYN) speaks for the tannoy. The destinations are incredibly garbled while all the other words are quite clear.
CARYN: the train now standing at platform four is for farnsbarns, norswold calling at Shropshire plingkington and all stations to smuckt.
Enter ROJ (as a businessman). He crosses over to the porter who is half lolling on a bench.
ROJ: I say porter (USHA), have you seen your level crossing? One gate is half-open and the other is half closed.
USHA: yes sir. We are half expecting a train. Tickets please.
ROJ: (handing over the ticket) punch it please, I must get a newspaper.
USHA takes the ticket in the palm of her hand and punches it with the other hand and then hands it over to Roj.
ROJ: thank you.
(Moves to the news stand and says sharply) Mirror please.
The saleslady (UMA) gives her a hand mirror. She takes it and realises what it is.
ROJ: is this the only mirror you have?
ROJ hands back the mirror
ROJ: do you have a sun?
UMA: he's at school
UMA: 'course he is.
ROJ: no…. Do you have a mail?
UMA: well, there is me husband
ROJ: ok. Telegraph please
UMA: The post office is just up the road
UMA: be along in a minute.
ROJ (distinctly annoyed): Guardian?
UMA: well, I dunno the guard's name.
ROJ (angrily): do you have the times?
UMA: the times are on the board. But you cannot rely on them for trains. Why don't you read a paper while you're waiting?
ROJ (sarcastically): I'd love to. What paper do you have?
UMA: oh we have the mirror, sun, mail, telegraph, express, guardian, times…
ROJ (Hysterically): well any one you like
UMA: Oh, I don't like any of 'em. Which one do you like?
ROJ (guessing): express?
UMA: we're waiting for it.
ROJ: well, can I have any paper you've got?
UMA: we haven't got any papers. They are coming on the express.
ROJ breaks down and sobs.
UMA: oh hang on… we have got the late extra.
ROJ: I'll have that.
(She hands it to her. While fishing for money she notices the date.)
ROJ: this is four days old.
UMA: I told you it was late. That is 50p
ROJ: it says here 23p
UMA: I told you it was extra!
ROJ: bah! (Exit Wassi)
Back at VANI'S palace.
ROJ: (shuddering at the recollection) your highness, I tried.
VANI: the only thing you have tried is my patience. Until my son is found you shall be dung into a flungeon. I mean flung into a dungeon. Call my jailer. Have I got one?
MELI: yes your highness
VANI: then call him.
SUE: (to the audience) this should be fun. The jailer's name is Iyam.
The gong sounds. Enter MELI.
MELI (announcing): Iyam, the jailer.
VANI: well, where are your keys?
MELI: no, She is outside
VANI: who is?
VANI: how can you be outside when you are in here?
MELI: I'm not outside. She is.
VANI: who is?
VANI: but you are here
ROJ: the jailer is outside
VANI: is she?
ROJ & MELI together: no, Iyam
The gong sounds. Enter the jailer (GIRI) Iyam with a slave. She has a large bunch of keys.
VANI: who are you?
GIRI (slowly): Iyam
VANI: go on
ROJ: Iyam the jailer
VANI: you are the prisoner.
GIRI: is she?
VANI: no Wassi. Who are you?
GIRI: Iyam the jailer.
VANI: well, where have you been?
MELI: She was outside
VANI: was She?
MELI: no, Iyam
VANI: is She the jailer?
ROJ: yes, Iyam
VANI: you are Wassi
GIRI: is She?
VANI: no Wassi. Who are you?
GIRI: Iyam, the jailer
VANI: is she?
MELI & ROJ: No, Iyam
VANI: oh I feel dizzy. Right, you lock her up and don't let her out till the partial eclipse of the moon.
ROJ: (drops down on her knees grovelling) oh no don't lock me up. Please
VANI: take her away
GIRI: 89 kilos
ROJ: no. Not weight, wait. What are these (pointing to the Giri's ankles)
GIRI: these are my bicycle clips given to me by a lad who is your slave.
ROJ: (rising to her feet) then what is writ is not total rot, just wrongly writ.
VANI: don't start those again.
ROJ: but your highness, don't you see. 'Tis the sign 'tis the sign
VANI: what? The partial eclipse of the moon?
ROJ: no. The bicycle clips of your son.
VANI: then the slave must be…
ROJ: Musspi, your son.
The gong sounds
ROJ: No Iyam
GIRI: I am Iyam
MELI & ROJ: no Iyam
VANI: No you were Iyam and the slave is now Prince Musspi, the inheritor of the riches in this kingdom.
POKKIRI: I am? Then I must be Musspi
VANI: but how did my son become a prisoner/slave???
GIRI: He stole some bananas 20 yrs back your highness!!!
VANI faints - so my son was here all the while?????
THE GONG SOUNDS
Edited by jasunap - 22 October 2007 at 5:01am