Durhamageddon

Or how I learnt to stop worrying and love the bubble

Act Two, Scene Two

Cuthbert’s bedroom. CUTHBERT and HILDA sitting, GUARDS by ‘door’. Window at back of stage.

Hilda: So, why are the guards here, again?

Cuthbert: (reciting). “Because I’m a sexual pervert and the public must be protected from my perversions”. (HILDA looks blankly). Because father said so.

Hilda: Ah, well, I guess it’s for the best then.

Cuthbert: He says he’s going to have me castrated unless I recant.

Hilda: Recant what?

Cuthbert: Being gay.

Hilda: So, why don’t you?

Cuthbert: Because I’m not gay. I love Mary, remember?

Hilda: Oh, yes. Still, could be worse.

Cuthbert: How could it possibly be worse?

Hilda: You could actually be gay.

Cuthbert: And what of it if I were?

Hilda: Well, then you’d have no balls and your father would be right – which is an unprecedented occurrence and one which I don’t think the world is ready for.

Cuthbert: (screaming). I could throttle you.

Hilda: No need, dear. Three packs a day mean I can’t feel anything. (She punches her throat to demonstrate). See?

(CUTHBERT screams in exasperation).

Guard 2: Here, you two, keep it down. Sorry, John, what were you saying?

Guard 1: Well, Jon, if you take it purely from a perspective of results, it seems to me that communism and capitalism are essentially the same ideology.

Guard 2: How can you say that? Communism advocates a complete reallocation of industry to the majority under a state-directed infrastructure, whereas capitalism supports free-market economics with minimal state intervention to ensure a liberal development of wealth across the populace through the strengthening of industry via competition.

Guard 1: True, communism and capitalism are dichotomous when viewed by methods, but in objectives, both aim for a society whereby the individual is free to follow one’s own desire in a liberal society, communism via an anarchic utopia, capitalism via the fulfilment of an existence of self-sufficient independence as epitomized by the so-called ‘American Dream’. Therefore, surely one cannot be judged for following one ideology over the other?

(Knocking).

Mary: (offstage). Pizza.

Guard 2: Maybe so, but surely you are simplifying both ideologies to a grotesque degree, and in doing so are not only distorting the inherent differences in the cultural norms which spawned these two ideologies, but also saying that the ends justify the means?

Mary: (knocking insistently). Pizza!

Guard 1: I’m not saying that the ends justify the means, per se, simply that the exaggerated abhorrence that each side directs towards the other is to be vilified, not encouraged. (Pause). Did you order pizza?

(MARY, MELT and DR BUTLER burst in. MELT knocks the GUARDS unconscious with his axe).

Melt: I hate politics.

Mary: Cuthbert, we need to go, quickly now, come on.

Cuthbert: What? What’s going on here? (Pointing to DR BUTLER). Who’s she? What have you done to my guards?

Melt: No word of thanks, then. Fought my way through half a garrison of guards and what do I get? “What d’you do that for?” Bloody medieval re-enactment geeks.

Dr Butler: Cuthbert, my name is Dr Butler. Dr Butterwood is dead, murdered by the DSU. We need you to come with us to help find Stock-town, break the DSU’s power and free Durham forever.

Melt: No pressure or anything.

Cuthbert: I don’t know … I mean, what if … how would I … I’d love to, but…

Hilda: I’d do it, lad, while you’ve still got the balls.

Cuthbert: (nodding resolutely). You’re right, I’ve got too much to lose if I stay and nothing to lose if I go.

Melt: Apart from your life.

Mary: (hugging Cuthbert). Oh, thank you, Cuthbert, I knew you’d come.

Cuthbert: Yes, well, for you I’d do anything. Right, what’s the plan?

Dr Butler: First, we need to get out of here.

Melt: Easy. (To CUTHBERT). Your guards are wimps.

Cuthbert: No, wait, there’s an easier way. Wait here. (He exits and returns with a rope. He tosses it out the window). This’ll get us down to the moat. From there, it’s just a short distance to the bridge. I’ll go first.

Melt: Oh no you don’t, ponce. If anyone’s going first, it’ll be me.

Mary: That’s very noble of you, Melt.

Melt: Well, I wouldn’t want you to have all the fun if there’s anyone down there. (He takes the rope and moves to the window.)

Cuthbert: All right, just be careful: there aren’t many handholds and the morning dew can make it quite slippery.

Melt: (Tying rope to chair leg). Yes, thank you, mother. I’ll see you ladies at the bottom. (He climbs out the window and disappears).

Mary: Melt? How are you going?

Melt: Just dandy, fine and tickety-boo, never been … (He screams, there is a splash and Melt coughing and spluttering).

Mary: (rushing to the window). Melt! Are you all right?

Melt: (spluttering). Oh, yes, I’m fine. Some idiot seems to have dug a massive ditch at the bottom of the wall. Fortunately, it’s full of water.

Mary: (turning to the others). He’s fallen into the moat. Hang on, Melt, I’ll come help you out.

Dr Butler: I wouldn’t do that, Mary: Klute only knows what horrible stuff is in that water. I’ll go down and see what I can do; I am a doctor after all. (She goes through the window).

Mary: Well, Cuthbert, best say your goodbyes.

Cuthbert: (to HILDA). Goodbye, Hilda. You have been a good friend all these years; I don’t know what I would have done without you.

Hilda: It was nothing, dear. Oh, and when you two need a nurse, just give me a bell.

Cuthbert: Hilda! It’s a bit early to be talking about that.

Hilda: Really? (To MARY). How are you feeling, dear? You look a bit pale.

Mary: Actually, now you mention it, I am feeling a bit sick.

Cuthbert: No you don’t, darling. (To HILDA). Knock it off, you’re a bad influence: I’ve never heard anything more ridiculous in my life.

Hilda: (curtsying). We aim to impress.

Cuthbert: Come on, Mary. Goodbye, Hilda, try and keep father off our backs for as long as possible.

Hilda: Of course, dear.

CUTHBERT and MARY exit via the window. HILDA settles back down to her knitting.

A knock at the ‘door’.

Lord Castle: (offstage). Son? It’s your father. Your mother thought you and I should have a chat. Son? I’m sorry I threatened to have your balls cut off, it was a joke, understand? Son? Answer me, dammit! Right, that’s it, I’m coming in.

Enter LORD CASTLE.

Lord Castle: Son? Nurse, where is he? What’s happened to my guards? What have you done, you wretched woman?

Hilda: (looking up from her knitting). Hmm? Oh, your son went out the window, him and some of his friends.

LORD CASTLE crosses to the window and sticks his head out.

Lord Castle: Son! You get back here this instant or I swear I’ll have your balls on a silver platter by the time the day is through. (He withdraws his head). Right, only one thing to do. (He crosses to the GUARDS and kicks them awake). Get up, you sluggards. You, get me a golden sickle. You, get me a silver platter. Woman, you’re coming, too. We’re going hunting.

All exit.

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