A Farce in 10 Minutes
Lord Dizzee – an eccentric upper-class gentleman.
Lady Rascal – Lord Dizzee’s wife.
Mungo Dizzee-Rascal – their son.
Miss Fannywagon – the housekeeper.
Gentry – The Butler.
Lord Lascivious – Lady Rascal’s secret lover (only ever represented by voice).
Scene – Rascal Manor, interior.
Enter Lady Rascal excitedly, holding a love-letter. As she reads, the voice of Lord Lascivious reads the letter out over voice-over.
Lord Lascivious: My Darling Lady Rascal,
Words cannot describe the secret love I feel for you. Every time I see you it is as if I am seeing you for the first time, sweet and fresh like the rising of the sun at the beginning of a brave new day. Every time our lips meet it is like a volcano erupts inside me, or like a million bubbles in an aero bar all explode at once like I’ve just eaten the entire bar in one go, or possibly like the feeling one gets after a blood vessel has exploded and one is about to suffer an imminent stroke. Whatever it is, it is love that I am feeling. I dream feverishly about the day that we finally run away together and leave our boring old lives behind. We could do anything we wanted. I could be a fisherman, and be out fishing while you stay by the fireside and knit woolly jumpers for me all day. And when I return home with the day’s catch we could feast on salmon, carp, haddock – you name it. Picture it, my love, all the haddock in the world, all night long, dripping in gorgeous, salty sea-water – mmmm, Haddock. The day you leave your husband Lord Dizzee cannot come soon enough. Make sure he does not find this letter.
All my love, eternally,
Enter Lord Dizzee.
Dizzee: What’s that darling?
She hides the letter in her pocket.
Dizzee: Oh ok, well I just came down to talk to you about our son. He’s giving me real trouble with all this applying to university business. Gentry!
Gentry: Yes, Lord Dizzee?
Dizzee: Fetch Mungo from the smoking and indoor polo parlour will you?
Gentry: At once, Lord Dizzee.
Rascal: What exactly is the problem, darling one?
Dizzee: The problem is that he won’t go to university where I damn well want him to go to university. It’s been downhill ever since he left Eton to go on his gap year. Ever since he started wearing Nike tracksuits and claiming it was to blend in with ‘the common people’ I knew it would be a struggle.
Rascal: I fear it was downhill for him ever since we decided to give him a double-barrelled name, Lord Dizzee.
Dizzee: I suppose you’re right, Lady Rascal.
Rascal: Where do you want to send him?
Dizzee: The options are slim. He wouldn’t get into Oxbridge with that brain even if he was a Russian oligarch. Durham won’t have him because he wears too many tie-dyed shirts. Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle won’t have him because they say he’s so posh he’ll invoke social revolution amongst the students. Exeter and Warwick have said no on the grounds that he’s ‘too much fun’. So there’s only one thing for it.
Rascal: What’s that?
Dizzee: Bristol. The only university in the land that will take a student who literally writes in his personal statement that he wants to do a BA in MDMA. The only institution in which posh people collectively pretend that they all live in ghettos. A fine university. I ought to know, I went there.
Enter Gentry with Mungo.
Dizzee: Ah, Mungo. Now listen to me, son, you’re going to Bristol like I did whether you like it or not!
Mungo: But Daddy, you know I’m not like you! I re-discovered myself in South-East Asia, and now I know that I’m not meant to live the life you’ve intended me to live. I’m like a beating heart, separated from the cruel body of past generations. All I want to do is live as a free spirit on the beaches of Thailand.
Dizzee: Disgraceful. How will you ever be able to send your children to public school, which as far as I can tell is the sole aim of life?
Mungo: Daddy, please, you don’t control me anymore. I’ve left Eton now. The only university I’ll even consider going to is Bristol UWE.
Dizzee: Bristol UWE! I’ll never be able to live it down at the gentlemen’s club!
Mungo: It’s basically like Thailand!
Rascal: That’s enough, both of you! Darling, please let’s discuss this later.
Dizzee: (Produces a letter) I have here a letter I’m going to send to the Bristol University admissions office asking for a place for you to study childhood studies or something. Gentry, post this for me as soon as possible.
Gentry: Very good, sir.
Dizzee: I’ll see you later.
Mungo: Daddy, wait! You’ve never even been to a Full Moon party!
Exit Dizzee and Mungo.
Rascal: Thank goodness they’re gone! Here, Gentry, please hide this love-letter I’ve just received from Lord Lascivious.
Gentry: Of course, Lady Rascal.
Rascal: For the love of God, Gentry, don’t let my husband see it. Oh, how I love haddock!
Exit Lady Rascal. Enter Miss Fannywagon.
Gentry: Miss Fannywagon!
Fannywagon: My love!
Gentry: Finally, Miss Fannywagon, we can be alone together, even if just for a moment!
Fannywagon: Ssh, my love, quiet! If Lord Dizzee and Lady Rascal find out their butler is having an affair with their housekeeper then they’d fire us on the spot!
Gentry: Careful, Lord Dizzee may enter at any moment!
Fannywagon: Quick, take this letter. I’ve written down all the reasons why I love you on it, plus a pornographic picture I drew.
He takes the letter and briefly scans over it.
Gentry: My, that picture certainly IS pornographic!
He hides it in his pocket with Lord Dizzee’s letter to Bristol.
You saucy minx, Miss Fannywagon!
They kiss, then hear Lord Dizzee calling Gentry’s name from offstage. Exit Miss Fannywagon.
Re-enter Lord Dizzee.
Dizzee: Oh, Gentry, terribly sorry to be a bore but can I have that letter to the Bristol University admissions office back? I just realised I forgot to put the cash bribe inside it.
Gentry: Of course, Lord Dizzee…
He extracts a letter from his pocket, but before he has time to check which one it is Lord Dizzee takes it from his hand and makes to exit, casting an eye over it as he does so.
Dizzee: Hold on a minute – Gentry, what on earth is this?
Gentry: (Failing to hide his anxiety) Is something the matter, sir?
Dizzee: (Reading) “My darling one, no one can ever know about this letter. Here is a list of the things I simply adore about you –“
Gentry tries to interrupt but Dizzee ignores him.
Dizzee: “Your imposing figure, your chiselled 12-pack abs, your perfectly carved derriere, your winking eyes that let me know you want me, the unmistakeable lure of haddock”… Gentry, is this a love letter for me?
Gentry freezes, unsure of what to say.
Dizzee: Gentry, I had no idea you felt this way about me.
Gentry: Well, sir, I…
Dizzee: And what’s this picture you’ve drawn at the bottom? …Oh. My, I haven’t seen one of those since 1969.
Gentry: Sir, I promise it’s not as it seems-
Dizzee: Of course, we can’t let the others know… Let’s just keep this between ourselves shall we? That you – you know – fancy a bit of the Diz. And who can blame you? I was quite the catch back in my Bristol days. I used to drop some mean shapes on Monday nights at Bunker.
Gentry: Sir, I can fully explain.
Dizzee: No, no, no need to explain anything Gentry. I experienced something quite similar myself for one of the 6th Form boys when I was at Harrow. Best kept for the showers though. As for the haddock… Well, personal taste I suppose. Goodbye now.
He gives Gentry the letter back. Exit Lord Dizzee.
Mungo: That’s it, Gentry! I’ve had enough of my parents, with their cruel, cold-hearted boarding school ways! All I want to do is live in Thailand! Picture it – by day discussing the philosophy of the self with Buddhist monks, and by night partying on sandy beaches. The life of a rich boy was not meant for I! Where’s my father’s letter to Bristol?
Gentry: (extracts the three letters in his possession) One of these I think…
Mungo snatches one out of his hand before he has a chance to see which it is.
Mungo: (Reading) “My sweet love, words cannot describe the secret love I feel for you… Every time our lips meet it’s like an aero bar or a stroke? Eat salty haddock all night long?” Gentry, what on earth is this? Is one of my parents having an affair?
Gentry attempts to reply but Mungo starts shouting before he can.
Mungo: Mother! Father! Miss Fannywagon! Someone come and tell me what this means!
Enter Lord Dizzee, Lady Rascal and Miss Fannywagon.
Lady Rascal: Mungo Dizzee-Rascal! What is the meaning of all this noise?
Mungo: I’ve just found a love letter – whose is it, and what does it mean?
All of them look individually shocked, thinking that it is the love-letter relevant to them.
Lady Rascal + Miss Fannywagon: Let me explain!
They get cut off by Lord Dizzee.
Dizzee: Um, well, now Mungo, I must explain something. Gentry here told me something just now which will be quite difficult for you to understand, but I suppose it is only natural for a butler to feel such a way about his master, especially such a handsome one as I am…
Miss Fannywagon: Gentry? What’s he saying?
Gentry: Miss Fannywagon, I promise it’s not what it sounds like!
Mungo: Wait – before you say any more, where is the letter you were going to send to the Bristol admissions office?
Mungo seems to realise.
Unless – unless this is it! My goodness, Father, you’re having an affair with someone in the Bristol admissions office just so I could get in!?
Dizzee: What? Give me that, and Gentry give me those letters you’ve got there.
Gentry, Miss Fannywagon and Lady Rascal beg him not to read them.
Dizzee: From the looks of these, more than one person has been having an affair!
Rascal: Ok, it’s true! I’ve been having an affair with Lord Lascivious, but darling I assure you it meant nothing to me apart from the haddock!
Fannywagon: And me, my Lord. I’ve been having an affair with Gentry, and we’ve been planning to run away together!
Rascal: (Cries) All I wanted was haddock!
Dizzee: My goodness, that’s a lot of information to take. Well, if we’re all telling our secrets, then I’ve got something to admit too. I didn’t really go to Bristol. I went to – Bristol UWE.
Dizzee: That’s right. I’m nothing – I’m – I’m – a fake!
Mungo: No, Father – you’ve done an honourable thing. Now I too will go to Bristol UWE.
Dizzee: You will?
Mungo: Yes. If it’s filled with people who are nothing like you – good, honourable, hard-working people, better than the lazy toffs who go to other universities. I was never meant for the University of Bristol. I was always meant for UWE.
Plus, it’s the only uni I’d be able to go to and still feel like I’m living a gap life.