King Henry IX - The War of the Noses

 

ACT 1, SCENE 1

A wall bisects a stage. To stage right, a small room in the White Castle. In it the KING tilts back in a large chair behind a small desk. He is paging through a comic book. Comic books litter the desk and spill onto the floor. A nearby bookshelf holds two books. Lettered on the spine of one, "Thumpingbroke / ME!" On the other, "Khan / My Struggle." The only other furniture in the room is an anachronistic gold-plated toilet. An enormous portrait of the king hangs on the wall. He wears a clown's red nose. One other person is in the room: HUCKLEBERRY, who stands holding a clipboard and quill pen. She too wears a clown's red nose.

KING

Directly after our meeting, then. Proclaim! That's what thou dost for me, right? Right. So try not to look like a sour, poxy hound as thee bark 'em.

HUCKLEBERRY

Of course not my liege. I...

KING

Resting bitch face, I know. Prate, prate.

He smiles broadly. She begins to tidy up—gathering the strewn comic books.

And one more thing. These whoreson, unendable briefs! [He indicates the comic books] Too many words! Words. Wind. How they blow and blow. More pictures sirrah! Brighter colors! Art we Scotland: fog beswozzled? Brighter!

A knock.

HUCKLEBERRY

The council, my liege.

KING

'Tis open—'sblood!

Two men and an inflatable clown punching bag toy enter. BANNCOCK is disheveled, GIOVANNI is squinting over eyeglasses and carries the toy, and BEAUREGARD is the toy. Each wears a clown's red nose.

HUCKLEBERRY

Your privy council...

BANNCOCK

[Aside to Giovanni] It reeks o' the privy in here, alright.

Geoffrey BeauregardGIOVANNI

O my liege! Banncock saith saucily...

KING

I mark him sirrah, I mark him. Sloppy churlish varlet. Still, he swizzles the base-born, hencewise we keep him close.

BANNCOCK

'Tis but a friendly badinage spoke in jest. The Mayor Rube is pinched up again I warrant, Lord King.

KING

Very like. On with this, I do desire more o' the throne myself. [Glances at toilet] The roll, Huckleberry.

HUCKLEBERRY

All are present, my liege.

KING

[Exasperated] Call the roll, cryer!

HUCKLEBERRY

His most serene highness...

KING

[Smugly] They do say that.

HUCKLEBERRY

...is here with us. [Pauses] Mistress Huckleberry, King's cryer. Here. Been here, by my troth. [Makes a mark] Stephen Banncock...

GIOVANNI

[Aside to audience] Lord of the Underworld.

BANNCOCK

Present and ready to curl your hair, mouthpiece.

HUCKLEBERRY

Ugh. Mr Mayor, Rube Giovanni?

GIOVANNI

At the King's service. [Bows]

HUCKLEBERRY

Geoffrey Beauregard, security of the realm?

Crickets.

KING

O fie! He excuses himself. The mute, impotent slave! Spaniel. Go on, he's here. Brain the cur, Banncock!

Banncock backhands the inflatable toy, which rocks back-and-forth.

What tidings? Quick now! The Crook'd Witch? What of the Moor?

GIOVANNI

Crook'd Hilarity takes to her village. She stews. And she feeds stewed prunes to her lord, William the Randy.

KING

Virginous whores too, dost thou doubt?

GIOVANNI

No. I doubt not, my liege. His buffoon'ry is her chain to wear. She is no danger to you and shouldst no more harry your dreams. Nor neither the Moor.

KING

Foreign cur!

BANNCOCK

He sports on a beach of the Isle of Wight. Happy and fit seeming. A ruse.

KING

'Zounds! Who will rid me of these cankers? Fat fruit for Tyburn trees, these. I will see them in the Tower or my name isn't—wasn't—Donjon Thumpingbroke!

BANNCOCK

Wasn't it really Drumpfingbroke?

KING

What now Banncock, thou insolent palliard grease-pot? God's teeth!

Avaunt knaves! Do my will. Huckleberry, my excremental proclamations do thou read well.

HUCKLEBERRY, BANNCOCK, and GIOVANNI exit.

 
Previous pageNext page