All rights reserved: Kei Bailey [www.keibailey.co.uk]

 

The Frog Prince

 

SCENE THREE: KING MONTGOMERY’S PALACE GARDENS

FULL SET: A BEAUTIFUL AND EXTRAVAGANT GARDEN LANDSCAPE WITH AN EXQUISITE FOUNTAIN AND POND CENTRE PIECE. THERE ARE TWO SMALL ARBOURS OVER TWO SEATING AREAS EITHER SIDE OF THE WATER FEATURE, SURROUNDED BY AN ARRAY OF ORNATE STATUES, URNS AND CAREFULLY CRAFTED TOPIARY. THE SCENE IS LUSH WITH BRIGHT, COLOURFUL FLOWERS AND BLOSSOM.

King Montgomery is seated, relaxed and admiring his gardens. He is the elderly and slightly bumbling ruler of Aching. Benevolent and compassionate, he is a popular monarch, but he has a tendency to be a little feeble and downtrodden, particularly in matters involving his youngest daughter, Angelica.

ANGELICA: (Screeching from off stage) Daddy?! 

King Montgomery jumps to his feet with a start. He is visibly anxious at the sound of his daughter’s voice.

KING: (Calling off) Over here, precious!

Enter the spoiled and shallow Princess Angelica. She is often obnoxious, snide and frivolous, but can be superficially sweet, winsome and amiable.

ANGELICA: (Sharply) Ah! There you are! I’ve been looking for you the past half an hour. Where have you been?

KING: Nowhere in particular, my sweet. Just here in the gardens, taking some time to enjoy the flowers and get some fresh air.

ANGELICA: (Turning her nose up) Enjoying the flowers? Why would you want to waste time doing that? Now, listen very carefully daddy, I need a new dress and you need to buy it for me.

KING: But you have hundreds of dresses . . .

ANGELICA: But they’re all old and I hate them! I need a new dress to impress Prince Justin when he arrives tomorrow. I’ve seen the perfect one I want in Top Princess. It’s on sale so it’s a real bargain at ninety nine gold pieces. 

KING: That’s an awful lot of money for a dress . . . 

ANGELICA: (Firmly) You simply have to buy it for me! I need to look absolutely beautiful for him tomorrow. Don’t you want him to love me?

KING: You will look beautiful in whatever you wear, honey pie! He will love you if it’s meant to be. Anyway, you may not love him.

ANGELICA: I already do. I’ve seen his picture, he’s gorgeous and I fancy him rotten. And if you don’t buy me this dress, you will be the meanest father in the whole world and I shall cry and cry for the rest of my life!

KING: Now darling, I didn’t say I wouldn’t buy it for you . . .

ANGELICA: (Sickly sweet) Oh, daddy! You’re the best father ever! I shall look stunning in my new dress and Prince Justin will want to marry me and I’ll live happily ever after in his castle in a kingdom far, far away. 

DOTTY: (From off stage) Cooee! It’s only me, your Majesty!

ANGELICA: (Looking off) Oh no! Whatever does she want?

KING: She made an appointment to see me. I think she wants to cater for my Diamond Jubilee.

ANGELICA: Well, you simply mustn’t let her! Her food is awful and the service isn’t much better.

Enter Dotty Trotter, Jimmy and April. 

DOTTY: Good morning, your Majesty. (She bows low and struggles to get back up) I do hope we’re not late. I had to get changed out of my work clothes into one of my best frocks. Do you like it?

KING: You look like an accident searching for somewhere to happen.

DOTTY: (Interpreting his insult as flattery) Why thank you! I try my best. The saleswoman told me it matched my eyes perfectly.

JIMMY: She was pulling your leg. That colour’s not a bit like bloodshot!

DOTTY: (Annoyed) You’ve met my loud-mouth, good-for-nothing nephew, Jimmy Jamms before, haven’t you?

KING: (Sarcastically) Yes, I’ve had that pleasure on a number of occasions.

JIMMY: (Giving his thumbs up to the King) Alright, your Maj. (Doe-eyed to Angelica) Hello Princess.

ANGELICA: (Uninterested) Hello Jimmy.

DOTTY: Now correct me if I’m wrong, but being the kind-hearted and lovely King you are, you have decided to invest in local business and use outside caterers to supply the food and service for your forthcoming Diamond Jubilee.

KING: That is very true. 

ANGELICA: (Disgruntled) Goodness knows why though! We’ve got some of the best chefs in the land working in our palace kitchens.

APRIL: I think it’s a very generous gesture on your father’s part, particularly in light of the current economic climate.

ANGELICA: Get to the point.

DOTTY: Well, as my diner is the only local catering establishment locally, I was wondering if you might consider using my catering establishment to cater for your catering. 

APRIL: It would be such a boost to us. Things have been really tough lately. 

JIMMY: People just can’t afford to eat out like they use to.

DOTTY: (Getting emotional) You might even be able to save us from going under? All I ask is that you agree to think about it.

KING: (Hesitantly) Well . . . er . . . yes . . . I suppose I could . . .

DOTTY: (Over excited) Really? You mean it! We’ve got the contract?

KING: Er . . . I didn’t say . . .

DOTTY: (Interrupting) Oh thank you, your Majesty! You won’t regret it!

Enter Cordelia Glitch, a smart and sophisticated business woman with a ruthless and scheming nature. She strides towards the King purposefully and shakes his hand. 

CORDELIA: (Brisk, clipped) Good morning, your Majesty, apologies for interrupting. But I’m on a tight schedule and time is money. I am Cordelia Glitch. (Presenting a small card) Here’s my card. I run a chain of restaurants simply known as Cordelia’s. We offer delicious, wholesome food made with only the finest quality ingredients that can be enjoyed in peaceful and refined surroundings. I recently identified a gap in the market in your area and have acquired a property in Little Twinge to open as my latest restaurant . . . 

KING: Delighted to meet you Miss Gl . . .

CORDELIA: (Interrupting) I haven’t quite finished yet. During my market research, I discovered you were looking for a first-rate organisation to cater for your Diamond Jubilee. This would be an ideal opportunity for me to showcase my food and service to the local people.

DOTTY: I’m sorry to burst your bubble love, but you’re too late! I’m Dotty Trotter, proprietress of the local and extremely well established top-notch eatery, Dot’s Diner, located in the town square of Little Twinge.

CORDELIA: Dot’s Diner? Oh yes, I did happen to see a run-down, tatty, old hovel of that name two doors down from my property when I arrived yesterday.

DOTTY: For your information, that run-down, tatty, old hovel has just secured the catering contract for the Diamond Jubilee. 

KING: Well, I didn’t actually make any promises.

CORDELIA: (To the King) Have you seen her credentials?

DOTTY: He most certainly has not! I’m a respectable lady!

ANGELICA: She wants to know whether you’re capable of the job! 

CORDELIA: Exactly! This is a terribly high-profile event and you can’t afford to make any mistakes with a function of this calibre. (To the King) At least sample my cuisine before committing yourself to Dot’s Diner.

DOTTY: (To the King) You said I could have the contract!

KING: That was before I knew someone else was interested.

ANGELICA: I think you should give Miss Glitch a chance, daddy. After all it can’t be any worse!

KING: Very well. I have decided that, in order to make this absolutely proper and above board, I will visit each restaurant for a meal and will choose the caterers for my Jubilee based on whoever’s service and food impresses me the most. Now, let us find my head secretary and we can finalise the details.

Exit King Montgomery and, a rather smug, Cordelia. Dotty gives Cordelia a black look as she follows on behind. 

APRIL: Looks like we better get back to the diner, Jimmy, and start preparing for our Royal visit.

Jimmy hasn’t heard April. He is too busy staring, dreamily, at the Princess.

JIMMY: May I say Princess how lovely you look today.

ANGELICA: You may.

JIMMY: You look very pretty in that dress.

ANGELICA: What? This grotty, old thing! I was going to give it to a jumble sale. Perhaps you might like it, April?

APRIL: (Holding her temper) No thanks.

ANGELICA: Please yourself! I was thinking about going for a horse ride, Jimmy, you can come along if you like.

JIMMY: (Thrilled) Really?

ANGELICA: Yes, you can ride my donkey and keep telling me how beautiful I look.

JIMMY: Oh Princess! I’d love to join you. 

ANGELICA: April can come too!

APRIL: (Dubiously) Can I?

ANGELICA: Yes. You can follow behind with a bucket and a shovel. You’ll be doing your bit to improve the royal rhubarb! (Giggles) Come on! Let’s go!

Princess Angelica exits. Jimmy follows, adoringly.

APRIL: (Shaking her head) What does he see in her?

SCENE FOUR: SOMEWHERE IN FANGTHORN FOREST

FRONT CLOTH: AS IN ACT ONE, SCENE TWO

Enter Repugna Coldfinger, cackling. She is ecstatic.

REPUGNA: (Responding to audience) I wouldn’t boo me if I were you! We’ve found the buried chest and soon I will be holding the most powerful spell book in the world! So you better start showing me some respect or I’ll make you wish you’d never been born!  (Shouting off stage) Hurry up, Hognog! It’s time for me to claim my prize! Years of endless searching have finally paid off!

Enter Hognog, carrying his spade in one hand and dragging a big, ornate, wooden chest behind him with the other. He is out of breath and exhausted.

HOGNOG: Here is the chest, mistress. It’s very heavy!

REPUGNA: I’m not surprised! It’s made of solid oak! And it’s probably lead-lined to help prevent any magic from escaping. Anyway, enough of this idle chit-chat, let’s get the thing opened!

HOGNOG: But it’s locked, mistress, and we haven’t got a key!

REPUGNA: Break it open with your spade, fool!

There is a crack as Hognog manages to force the chest open with his spade.

HOGNOG: Well, that was pretty easy.

REPUGNA: Of course it was! The Spell Collector was a soothsayer not a sorcerer. The enchanted book he collected the spells in was allegedly stolen from a travelling wizard. Now, out of my way! (Pushing Hognog aside and stands over the chest.) This is it! This is the moment I’ve been waiting for.

Repugna slowly lifts the lid of the chest and takes out a large, tattered tome. The witch holds the book in front of her, silent, in awe. A pause.

HOGNOG: (Innocently) Mistress, can I go to the toilet?

REPUGNA: Belt up, you blithering buffoon! (Slowly flicking through the pages) Such formidable power lies within these pages! So many wonderful and terrible spells! 

Repugna gasps, and suddenly stops and stares at a page.

REPUGNA: But this is the one I’ve been waiting for. The one I’ve wanted to get my hands on all my life! Once I have cast this spell nothing can stand in my way! (Quickly scanning the page, assessing) The incantation looks slightly complicated, written in an ancient language I’ve never seen before. It’s probably a long forgotten elf or dryad dialect. But the ingredients are pretty rudimentary – we should have most of these in my potions bag.

HOGNOG: What do you need?

REPUGNA: A pinch of powdered peacock pancreas . . . 

HOGNOG: Got plenty of that.

REPUGNA: Three cups of crocodile bile . . .

HOGNOG: Sorted.

REPUGNA: Two dollops of rancid rat fat . . . 

HOGNOG: Mmmm! Delicious on toast! Yep!

REPUGNA: A cockerel’s claw and a monkey’s paw . . . 

HOGNOG: No problem!

REPUGNA: The crushed tail of a stale sea snail . . .

HOGNOG: Yep!

REPUGNA: A dash of goose juice . . .

HOGNOG: Should just have enough.

REPUGNA: One drop of blood from a frog who was once a human prince . . .

HOGNOG: (After a short pause, disappointed) Oh.

REPUGNA: (Pensively) Yes, that one is a little trickier. Where am I going to get the blood of a frog prince from?

HOGNOG: Maybe I could pick some up from ASDA?

REPUGNA: Don’t be so ridiculous!

HOGNOG: What about Tesco then?

REPUGNA: Imbecile! This is a highly specialised ingredient – it’s very rare. There are not many princes out there who have been turned into frogs!

HOGNOG: You’ll just have to do it yourself.

REPUGNA: That’s all very well, but where am I going to find a prince?

Black out.

SCENE FIVE: LITTLE TWINGE TOWN SQUARE

FULL SET: AS IN ACT ONE, SCENE ONE

Prince Justin has just arrived in town and is looking around. He is an archetypal fairy tale prince: valiant, gracious and charming with a slight air of arrogance. He remains upstage, exploring his surroundings, as Jimmy enters downstage and addresses the audience.

JIMMY: (To audience) Next order! (Audience response) Brill! You remembered! But you’ll have to do it much louder than that – you see I got some jelly and custard in my ears this morning so I’m a trifle deaf! Ha ha! Here goes! (Shouting) Next order! (Audience response) That’s much better! Hey! I’ll tell you what! You’re lucky you’re out here and not in the diner! Auntie Dot is busy preparing for her visit from the King later this week and she is in a fowl mood! Yeah, she’s plucking a chicken! Ha!

Prince Justin approaches Jimmy

JUSTIN: Excuse me, my good fellow! 

JIMMY: (In a mock American West accent) Howdy stranger! What brings you to these parts?

JUSTIN: I’m looking for the town of Little Twinge.

JIMMY: Then look no further!

JUSTIN: This is Little Twinge? How splendid! That must mean I am in the vicinity of King Montgomery’s Palace.

JIMMY: Yes, it’s in that direction. But I wouldn’t bother trailing all the way up there if you haven’t got an appointment.

JUSTIN: Actually I do have an appointment – well, sort of. The King’s daughter, Princess Angelica, has requested an audience with me.

JIMMY: (Sullenly) Oh, so you’re Prince Justin.

JUSTIN: Why yes! I am. How do you know?

JIMMY: (Smugly) Because the Princess told me. She tells me everything. (Crossing his fingers) We’re like that, me and the Princess.

JUSTIN: And you are?

JIMMY: Jimmy. Jimmy Jamms.

JUSTIN: Please to meet you, Jimmy. I hear the Princess is very beautiful.

JIMMY: (Forgetting himself) She’s gorgeous! And sweet and kind and . . .

DOTTY: (From off stage, yelling) Jimmy! Jimmy, where are you? (Entering) Oh, there you are! What do you think you’re doing? You haven’t got time to stand around here chatting. There are jobs to be done, young man. Get back into that kitchen, grab a plunger and start unblocking the sink.

JIMMY: In a minute, I’m just talking to Prince Justin.

DOTTY: Never mind in a minute! Get into that kit . . . Prince? Prince Justin, you say?

Jimmy nods slowly with a big, smug smile 

DOTTY: (Through gritted teeth) Take that silly smile off your face.

JIMMY: You’re just jealous. If you tried, your teeth would drop on the floor.

DOTTY: I’m not going to rise to that – I’m too much of a lady.

JIMMY: Yeah! About three stone too much!

DOTTY: I’ll swing for you in a minute! Now clear off!

Dotty pushes Jimmy and he reluctantly exits.

DOTTY: (Bowing low to the Prince and struggling to get back up) Your highnessness, may I say what an honour it is to make your acquaintance.

JUSTIN: Thank you, dear lady. 

DOTTY: (Babbling) You must forgive me for not looking my best – I’m in the middle of a spring clean! I’m normally a stickler for taking care of my appearance. I run our local diet group, the Belly Busters. I’m always watching my weight! I’ve got one of them fitness dvds. I put that on every morning from 7 til 9 – then I get out of bed ready to face the world! Now be honest, do I look like a woman of forty?

Enter Miss Bragg

BRAGG: Oh no! You look much older than that!

DOTTY: (With a fake laugh) You’re such a wit, dear! (Under her breath to Miss Bragg) I wondered when you would show up.

BRAGG: I bumped into Jimmy. He told me we had a very special guest in town. Aren’t you going to introduce me?

DOTTY: If I must. (To the Prince) Your highnessness, this is Miss Magnolia Bragg, a dear friend of mine and a fellow Belly Buster. As you can see she is a relatively new member of the diet group and is still a long way off her target weight.

JUSTIN: Delighted to meet you, madam.

BRAGG: (Curtseying) The pleasure is all mine, your highness. Have you travelled far?

JUSTIN: I’ve journeyed many miles from the Kingdom of Flimflam.

BRAGG: Goodness! You must be exhausted. Might I be so bold as to invite you to my humble dwellings for some light refreshments?

DOTTY: (Hastily) Oh . . . er . . . you’re too late I’m afraid, dear. His highnessness has just agreed to partake in tea and cake at my diner . . .

JUSTIN: (Confused) Have I?

DOTTY: (Firmly) Yes, you have! (Ushering him in the direction of the diner) Now, off you go love! Make yourself at home and I’ll be with you in a moment to take your order. 

JUSTIN: Well, if you insist.

DOTTY: (Shoving the Prince off stage) I do! (Turning to Miss Bragg) That should be good for business – Dot’s Diner as endorsed by his Royal Highnessness, Prince Justin of Flimflam.

Miss Belcher, Trisha, Mrs Rummage and other townsfolk enter excitedly

BELCHER: Where is he? Where is he?

RUMMAGE: Have we missed him?

DOTTY: He’s at my place having a cuppa!

TRISHA: Was he good-looking? I hear he’s really handsome.

BRAGG: He was very charming and polite. 

TRISHA: I’m not bothered about his manners. What did he look like?

DOTTY: Trish, he was gorgeous. 

TRISHA: Come on girls! Let’s get into our best frocks and go for a coffee!

BELCHER: Good idea! I got a lovely dress the other week.

RUMMAGE: I thought you were going to lose a few more pounds before wearing that.

BELCHER: I was, but I should be able to squeeze into it. I’ve been eating like a bird all week!

BRAGG: Yes – a vulture!

Enter Cordelia with Jean-Pierre Flambé, a masterly chef she has enlisted to work in her new restaurant. He is renowned for his fiery temperament and manic outbursts.

CORDELIA: Good morning, ladies! Good morning, Miss Trotter! I’m surprised to find you here, gossiping. I thought you’d be busy getting ready for the King. 

DOTTY: Everything is under control love – don’t you worry about me!

CORDELIA: I won’t. (To the ladies) Now, let me introduce you all to my new chef, Jean-Pierre Flambé. 

RUMMAGE: Not the Jean-Pierre Flambé?

CORDELIA: The very same. 

BELCHER: But he is one of the greatest chefs of all time!

JEAN-PIERRE: Not one of the greatest chefs, the greatest chef! Delia bows to my supremacy! Jamie Oliver cowers in my presence! Cooking is an art and I am the master! 

CORDELIA: I have been fortunate enough to secure some of Monsieur Flambé’s incredibly valuable time to run the kitchen in my restaurant for the next few weeks.

JEAN-PIERRE: People will travel from miles around to eat food from a menu designed by moi. I have seen people audibly gasp in delight at the taste of my stilton and celery soufflé. I have known ladies so overcome by the smell of my lobster and lime linguine that they actually pass out!

DOTTY: That’s nothing! I’ve seen grown men burst into tears at the mere sight of my dumplings. 

CORDELIA: (To Jean-Pierre) This is the woman I was telling you about. 

JEAN-PIERRE: Ah, qui – the competition! I’m looking forward to sampling what you have to offer, mademoiselle.

DOTTY: (Flirtatiously) I bet you are! Cheeky!

Dotty giggles girlishly and flutters her eyelashes

DOTTY: Why don’t you pop over on Friday evening for a plate of something hot and tasty!

CORDELIA: But surely that’s when you’ve got your visit from the King?

DOTTY: The more the merrier! 

CORDELIA: In that case, I’ll come too! 

DOTTY: Prepare yourself for a culinary experience you’ll never forget.

CORDELIA:  I was rather dreading you’d say that. Good day.

Exit Cordelia, followed by Jean-Pierre