Theatre of Blood

THEATRE OF BLOOD

written by Ian Wheeler

ACT ONE SCENE ONE
15th March. Graveyard. Night.

PHIBES is digging, dressed as a gravedigger. There is a crunch as he hits the coffin lid.

PHIBES
Ah! “Alas poor Yorick. I knew him, Horatio, a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy; he hath borne me on his back a thousand times, and now how abhorred in my imagination it is-my gorge rises at it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft. Where be your gibes now? Your gambols, your songs, your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set a table on a roar? Not one now to mock your own grinning? Quite chop-fallen?”

DOGBERRY, offstage
Here!

PHIBES
Ah. An audience.

CONSTABLE DOGBERRY enters, with torch.

DOGBERRY
Here! What do you think you’re doing?

PHIBES
Digging, constable.

DOGBERRY
I can see that! At three in the morning?

PHIBES
Well, they do call it the graveyard shift for a reason …

DOGBERRY
Don’t get funny with me. Whose grave is this?

PHIBES
“ Mine, sir, or a pit of clay for to be made”

DOGBERRY
What? What are you talking about?

PHIBES
“ Mine, sir, or a pit of clay for to be made”

DOGBERRY
You’re saying it’s yours? This is your grave?

PHIBES
“ You lie out on’t, sir, and therefore ‘tis not yours. For my part I do not lie in’t, yet it is mine.”

DOGBERRY
What??!

PHIBES, sighs
No, constable. It’s not mine.

DOGBERRY
That’s an old grave you’re digging up …

He points his torch at the gravestone.

“Hector Mossop, 1912-1970 … Beloved Father and Respected Critic.” What are you doing digging up a three year old grave?

PHIBES
I think there’s been some sort of error, constable.

DOGBERRY
And you made it sunshine. Out. Out of there.

PHIBES climbs out of the grave.

Telling me it’s yours and then it’s not. You’re digging your own bloody grave, I’m telling you.

PHIBES
So to speak.

DOGBERRY
Shut it. What’s all this for?

SEBASTION enters behind the CONSTABLE. PHIBES sees him.

PHIBES
“ For no man, sir.”

DOGBERRY
What?

PHIBES, patiently
“ For no man, sir.”

DOGBERRY
What?!

PHIBES
“ For no man, sir.”

Beat.

“What woman, then?” “For none, neither …” It’s Shakespeare, you idiot. Hamlet, Act Four Scene Three. The Gravedigger’s scne.

DOGBERRY
Hamlet ..? I did that at school.

PHIBES
Yes? And?

DOGBERRY
And I was glad to leave.

SEBASTION hits him with the shovel.

PHIBES
Philistine.

SEBASTION
I can dig it. I got the van, man.

PHIBES
Good. I’ll need help carrying the body, I dare say. And then …

PHIBES smiles.

SEBASTION
“ He’s dead, and at the murderer’s horses’s tail, in beastly sort dragged through the shameful field.”

PHIBES places his hand on SEBASTION’s shoulder.

PHIBES
Aye. “The dragon wing of night o’erspreads the earth, and stickler-like the armies separates. My half-supped sword that frankly would have fed, pleased with this dainty bait, thus goes to bed.”

Together, they descend into the grave as the lights drop.


ACT ONE SCENE TWO
15th March. Hendry’s London Apartment. Day.

The lights rise.

Stood around chatting and drinking are POLONIUS ALLEN, talking to JOAN St. JOHN, MORLEY WHYTE and SIR MARCUS FOSDYKE, who is casting occasional filthy glances at PHILLIPA FOSDYKE flirting with PERCIVAL DRAKE.

WHYTE
This pate … I really must ask Hendry where he buys it.

ALLEN
You like it that much?

WHYTE
Heavens, no. I’ve not had anything this foul in my mouth since, let me see … last Thursday week. What was his name ..? It’ll come. Lord knows I wish he hadn’t.

MARCUS
You’re a degenerate, Whyte.

WHYTE, ignoring him, carry on
No, but this would be quite marvellous for my babies.

ALLEN
Of course. Those flea-bitten animals of yours.

WHYTE
Flea-bitten! Do you have any idea of my babies’ pedigree?

MARCUS
I’ll say. Anything that inbred can’t possible support a parasite. It is a parasite.

MARCUS and ALLEN share a course laugh.

Bloody hell. What sort of grown man runs around after a pair of bloody cats?

WHYTE
Oh, I don’t know about that, dear heart. Watching your dear wife and Percival over there, I’d say I’m not the only one chasing after pussy.

MARCUS
She knows what I’d do if she ever … if she ever.

St. JOHN
So you keep telling everybody.

BROOKE DEVERAUX leads INSPECTOR GADSHILL into the sitting room.

Hendry, you’ve been ages! Oh ... Brooke, dear, who is this awful little man?

GADSHILL
Inspector Gadshill, Scotland Yard. Sorry to intrude. I’m looking for Mr. Hendry Carter and the London Critics Circle.

MARCUS, bullishly
Well, you’ve found us. What do you want?

WHYTE
A policeman. I just love a man in uniform.

MARCUS
He’s not in a bloody uniform.

WHYTE
Why, I like them even better …

ALLEN
Can’t you just drop the whole simpering queer routine for once, Whyte? It turns my stomach.

MARCUS
Too bloody right.

BROOKE
Guys, guys … I was just telling the Inspector here that we’re waiting on Hendry and Julius.

GADSHILL takes out his little book.

GADSHILL
That would be Julius Hargreaves? Theatre Critic for the National Record?

BROOKE
That’s the guy, yeah.

GADSHILL
And you’re all Theatre Critics?

ALLEN
No, it’s the annual meeting of the London Bricklayers Circle.

MARCUS
What do you bloody think, man?

WHYTE
Actually, these days I am primarily a Restaurant Critic, but he has a point, dear boy.

PHILLIPA, offering a glass
I’m Phillipa Fosdyke, and this my husband Sir Marcus – please excuse him. You’re met Miss Deveraux here. She’s visiting from over the pond – the New York Globe’s frightfully keen to be seen to have some sort of critical presence in the West End. Will you have a Sherry, Inspector?

GADSHILL
No, thank you.

PHILLIPA
No, I suppose not. I’m sorry, but we’re all out of brown ale.

She laughs a truly hateful snorting laugh.

GADSHILL, stonily
I’m on duty.

St. JOHN, takes the glass
I’ll have that.

GADSHILL looks in his little book.

GADSHILL
And you would be … Miss Joan Saint John?

St. JOHN, pronouncing “St. John” as “Sinjun”
It’s Joan St. John! St. John!

GADSHILL
Beg Pardon.

DRAKE
And I’m Percival Drake. I’ll bet its great being a copper. All those grieving widows, what?

GADSHILL
Er … not really, sir.

PHILLIPA, laughing
Oh Percy, you’re just so very basic. And of course last-

WHYTE
And least.

ALLEN bridles but is over-ridden before he can actually respond..

PHILLIPA
Is Polonius Allen, who, between you and me and the world, is something of a turncoat these days. These days he reveals films, can you imagine.

MARCUS
The theatre’s where it bloody happens, man. Films are just, just …

ALLEN
If there’s one thing I’ve always admired your work for, Marcus, it would be for its shear articulacy.

PHILLIPA
Honestly, you boys … What am I going to do with you all?

WHYTE
Well, dear, if anyone would know it would be you.

PHILLIPA
Honestly, Morley, you’re so very bad! The good Inspector here will have to arrest you!

She laughs her awful laugh again. GADSHILL shudders. These are awful, terrible people.
BROOKE, still standing next to GADSHILL, gets out a cigarette.

BROOKE
Hey, do you mind if I smoke?

GADSHILL
No Miss Deveraux. Not at all.

BROOKE lights up and smokes. GADSHILL reaches into his pocket and pulls out his pipe.

BROOKE
You never know. Some folks just hate it, right? Herb – that’s my last husband – he always liked to see me smoke. It was sort of his thing. We’d lie there at night and I’d feel him turn over in the dark and I’d know he was looking at me and then I’d hear this little voice … “smoke me a cigarette” … he loved that. “Smoke me a cigarette” …

PHILLIPA
Well, Marcus likes it when I-

MARCUS
For God’s sake, woman!

BROOKE
Well, anyway, you know, just one of those things. He died of throat cancer. He had one of those right things in his neck, right there. Ironic really, he never smoked in his life. But the Coroner’s report! Passive smoking my ass. He asked for it. Hey, you smoke?

GADSHILL, putting his pipe away
Not any more, no.

PHILLIPA
So, tell me, is there a Mrs. Gadshill?

GADSHILL
Thirteen years last month.

BROOKE
That’s just great. Hey, Thirteen years! That’s some co-incidence. Me too.

GADSHILL, confused
You’ve been married for thirteen years?

BROOKE
Three plus six plus four .. yeah. In total.

There is the sound of a door. HENDRY CARTER enters.

HENDRY, not quite in the room yet
Hey, all. Glad to see me?

GADSHILL, sotto voice
Not half.

HENDRY
Hey, angel …

BROOKE
Hiya, Bunny …

They kiss. As they pull apart, HENDRY notices GADSHILL.

HENDRY
Oh, hello. I’m sorry, we’ve not met ..?

GADSHILL
Inspector Gadshill, sir. You would be Mr. Hendry Carter, the current chairman of the London Critics Circle?

HENDRY
Yes, that’s right.

GADSHILL
So we’re just waiting on Mr. Hargreaves, then.

HENDRY
Waiting ..? I’m sorry, Inspector. Julius telephoned me earlier. He won’t be coming. Some other business has come up, apparently. Whatever you have to say will either have to wait or be said without him.

GADSHILL
Sir. I assume you all knew Hector Mossop?

General sotto affirmations.

BROOKE
I didn’t.

HENDRY
It was before you joined the Circle, sweetheart. He was a founder member, along with everyone else in the room here, and Julius. Three years ago he was mown down by a drunk driver. Well, you’re not going to tell us he’s dead, Inspector. We all know that.

GADSHILL
Would there be anyone with any sort of grudge against Mr. Mossop?

HENDRY
He was a Critic, Inspector. For twenty years.

GADSHILL
Ah. Right.

HENDRY
What’s happened?

GADSHILL
Well … Two officers stopped found a stolen horse running around the back streets near the cemetery where Mr. Mossop had been buried. Mr. Mossop … well, the fact is that Mr Mossop’s body had been dug up and tied to the poor beasts tail.

PHILLIPA
That’s horrible!

DRAKE comforts her while MARCUS glares.

WHYTE
Oh! Poor Hector!

St. JOHN
I need a drink.

GADSHILL
The body was in a bit of a state, as you can imagine. There were some valuables buried with Mr. Mossop – a watch, a silver St. Christopher, some gold cuff links – still on the body. We can rule theft out. Revenge seems unlikely. He was already dead. Frankly, sir, it’s a bit of a puzzler. I was wondering if you might have any thoughts?

HENDRY
I think … Troilus. Troilus and Cressida.

GADSHILL
Ah, that’s good.

He writes this down in his little book.

And what would their full names be?

St. JOHN
Oh, honestly! Where do they find these people!

HENDRY
It’s a play, Inspector, by William Shakespeare, set in the Siege of Troy. They’re just characters.

GADSHILL
Sir?

HENDRY
The Trojan hero Hector is slain by Achilles and his Myrmidons – his soldiers – and his body is tied to a horse and dragged around the walls of Troy. But I can’t think that that’s relevant, Inspector.

GADSHILL writes out a number on a sheet from his book, tears it out and gives it to HENDRY.

GADSHILL
No, I suppose not. Well, It may well be a further waste of time, but when you see Mr. Hargreaves, if you can ask him to telephone me at his convenience.

ALLEN
Wasting our time like this … some lunatic digs up a body and you harass the poor innocent. I should complain.

GADSHILL
Well, sir, you never know. I’m just making enquiries, just doing my job. Speaking of which – anyone here own a black Jaguar, a red Rolls or a green Bentley?

DRAKE
I’ll say.

ALLEN
What?

SIR MARCUS
What about it?

GADSHILL
They’re illegally parked. I’d move them, if I were you. Ladies, Gentlemen, good afternoon.

He leaves. POLONIUS and DRAKE share a look and follow. HENDRY laughs.

SIR MARCUS
Bloody oik. I’ve got a good mind to-

PHILLIPA
Oh, leave it alone Marcus, and move the car.

Grumbling, MARCUS follows.

BROOKE
Well, that was weird. Who’d do such a god awful thing?

HENDRY
I can’t thing of anyone insane enough to do such a thing – anyone still living, at any rate. It doesn’t matter.

HENDRY looks at the piece of paper.

I wonder where Julius has got his self?

The ‘phone rings. BROOKE answers it.

BROOKE
Hello? Hello? Who is this? Who is this, you filthy pervert!

HENDRY
Give me that. Hello. Who is this …? Slow down … What’s happening.

He goes pale, To BROOKE:

Get the Inspector back here. Now!

Blackout.


ACT ONE SCENE THREE
15th March. Cassius’ Office. Day.

PHIBES, as CASSIUS, is sat at the desk, writing. There is a knock at the door.

PHIBES
Come in.

SEBASTION enters, leading JULIUS.

SEBASTION
Your one o’clock, Mr. Cassius.

PHIBES
Ah, Mr. Hargreaves. Please take a seat.

They shake hands as he sits. SEWBASTION leaves.

JULIUS
This is highly irregular.

PHIBES
Oh yes.

JULIUS
Are you a new firm? I’ve never heard of you before.

PHIBES
New, yes. I think a coffee.

He buzzes his intercom.

JULIUS
No, thank you.

SEBASTION, over intercom
Mr. Cassius?

PHIBES
A tea, then. Some sort of fruit drink? Water?

JULIUS
Nothing. I just want to get this over with.

PHIBES
Coffee for one, Sebastion. There’s a good lad. Now, where were we?

JULIUS
This letter you sent me.

He pulls a letter out of his pocket and throws it onto the table.

I tried to ‘phone here, to change the appointment you made me. I’ll tell you, man, you’ll never stay in business if you don’t employ someone to answer your damn telephones. About this bequest …

PHIBES
Sizable bequest.

JULIUS
From my long lost Great Uncle Stanley, yes. I don’t have a Great Uncle Stanley.

PHIBES
Well, it does say, “long lost” …

JULIUS
To my knowledge I have a Great Aunt. One Great Aunt. She lives in Dorset, she has some property and the only thing I’ll get when she goes is an obligatory day out and a stale finger buffet.

PHIBES
But the words “sizable bequest” gave you pause for thought, didn’t they?

SEBASTION enters, places a coffee next to PHIBES, and moves to leave.

Ah, thank you Sebastion. Wait a minute, won’t you?

SEBASTION stops behind JULIUS.

Yes, and with such a sizable bequest at stake, you though, “I could be wrong. It couldn’t hurt to check.”

JULIUS, rising
I don’t know what your game is …

PHIBES
Sit down, Mr. Hargreaves. I want to assure you that I personally am going to make sure that you get exactly what is coming to you.

JULIUS
I don’t see why it had to be today. I have an important meeting.

PHIBES
Oh, yes. The tenth anniversary of the London Critic’s Circle. Apposite, I’d say.

JULIUS
What? What are you talking about?

PHIBES
But significant for another reason. March the 15th.

JULIUS
What?

PHIBES
The Ides of March.

JULIUS
What?

PHIBES
Julius Caesar. You must know it. I know you’ve seen it. Here.

He pulls out a file and pushes it towards JULIUS.

JULIUS
What is this?

SEBASTION
It’s all right, sir. You’re among friends.

JULIUS relaxes, and, puzzled, looks.

PHIBES
Please. Please, look.

JULIUS opens the file.

JULIUS
These are mine …

PHIBES
Your reviews, yes. The top one, particularly, makes an impression. For Vincent Phibes’ 1962 production of Julius Caesar, with Phibes as Mark Anthony. If memory serves – “It is difficult to know where Phibes’ greatest aptitude lies – as a director or a performer. In either sphere, shining clearly through is Phibes’ firm conviction that understatement, subtlety and entertainment are the province of lesser artists.”

JULIUS
I wrote that?

PHIBES
One of your more barbed entries, but yes. Let’s see “Inept”, “Obvious” and, ah, a personal favourite, “That the works of Shakespeare have survived four hundred years is astounding; that they have survived a performance by Vincent Phibes is little short of miraculous.”

JULIUS tries to rise, but SEBASTION forces him down.

JULIUS
I don’t understand …

PHIBES
Oh, dear … isn’t it obvious? Is it too subtle? Too much understatement?

PHIBES pulls away his disguise.

JULIUS
Phibes! No … you’re dead!

PHIBES
I got better.

JULIUS
We buried you!

PHIBES
In more ways that one. And I’m back to return the favour.

He nods to SEBASTION, who stabs JULIUS repeatedly in the back. JULIUS slides
out of his seat and grabs weakly at PHIBES’ legs.

JULIUS
Please ... I beg you …

PHIBES
“ I could well be moved, if I were as you;
If I could pray to move, prayers would move me.
But I am as constant as the northern star,
Of whose true-fixed and resting quality
There is no fellow in the firmament.”

JULIUS collapses, apparently dead.

Julius, come to be honoured with the riches of his inheritance, murdered on the Ides of March believing himself among friends. Well … well begun is half done.

SEBASTION
Yeah, man. He got the point.

PHIBES
Come, Sebastion. Another audience awaits, and we must prepare.

They leave. After a few seconds, JULIUS spasms into consciousness.

JULIUS
Oh, God, no …

JULIUS crawls over to the desk and pulls the phone to wards him. He dials.

JULIUS, choking, barely able to speak
Help … I’m bleeding, oh God, I’m dying, oh God … Hendry! It’s me, help me, God! Help me! It’s Phibes! He’s back! He’s …

With a final choke, he collapses and dies.

Blackout.


ACT ONE SCENE FOUR
15th March. Hendry’s London Apartment. Day.

The lights rise.

Stood in tableau behind HENDRY and GADSHILL are ALLEN, JOAN-St. JOHN,
WHYTE, SIR MARCUS, PHILLIPA, DRAKE, JULIUS and MOSSOP.
MOSSOP is holding the Lifetime Achievement Award.

HENDRY
Horrible. Horrible.

GADSHILL
By the time we traced the call, it was too late. I’m sorry.

HENDRY
It was good of you to let the others go.

GADSHILL
I couldn’t talk to you all at once. The murderer or murderers lured Mr. Hargreaves to his death with this.

He holds up the bagged letter. HENDRY reads it.

HENDRY
Yes, that would do it. Hargreaves always was a greedy sod.

GADSHILL
Sir … lady present. As far as we can tell the office where Mr. Hargreaves was killed was only recently leased, although we’re having trouble finding the lessee, one Sebastion Hathaway. Ring any bells?

HENDRY indicates no.

No? Can you tell me more about this Vincent Phibes?

HENDRY
It can’t be him. He’d dead. He’s been dead ten years, although … when you asked earlier, Inspector, about who’d be insane enough to do such a thing as dig up a dead body and desecrate it … it would be him. Oh yes.

GADSHILL
Why would he want to kill members of the Critics Circle?

HENDRY
It was ten years ago …

GADSHILL gets out his little book.

The London Critics Circle had just formed and we had just given our first presentation ceremony at the Hilton. Hector Mossop was still alive then – and at the time the Chairman. Our first award was a Lifetime Achievement In Shakespeare Award.

GADSHILL
Sir? Isn’t that a bit … specific?

HENDRY
Like him or loathe him, Shakespeare represents everything that’s noble and durable about theatre. So this award meant something to us. And we were the best, most respected Critics, then as now. It’s a horrible feeling, knowing you can close a show. I try to be positive. It’s not always possible.

GADSHILL
Quite.

HENDRY
We’d come back here, as a matter of fact, after the ceremony. At that time Marcus hadn’t married Phillipa. She was, with, well … everyone, basically.

GADSHILL, writing
With everyone …

HENDRY
Except Sir Marcus. Marcus was with Joan St. John at that time …

BROOKE
How could anyone … ugh!

HENDRY
Well, I did.

BROOKE
What?

HENDRY
I once had …an affair with Miss Joan-St. John.

BROOKE
You what?

GASDSHILL, writing that down
Really, sir? When was this?

BROOKE
It had better be before we met.

HENDRY
Yes, of course. Six years ago.

GADSHILL, writing that down
Right ho.

BROOKE
With that pickled old hag? How could you?

HENDRY
I’m sorry I mentioned it now. Look, it was just the once, and it was just sex.

GADSHILL, writing that down
Uh-uh. Just es-ee-ex. Nothing else.

HENDRY
The fact is that we were both quite drunk.

GADSHILL
Sir.

BROOKE
Hey! You’re not writing that down.

GADSHILL
I didn’t think that it was necessary, Miss.

HENDRY
Look, is any of this relevant?

GADSHILL
You never can tell. You were telling me about Phibes ..?

HENDRY
Oh, yes …

MOSSOP
Ladies, Gentlemen … and Morley Whyte!

Laughter.

Tonight was the sort of success I only dreamed it would be. Well done, well done all.

PHIBES enters, with EDWINA.

PHIBES
Yes. Well done all. I expect you’re very proud of yourselves.

EDWINA
Father! Don’t let them do this to you!

GADSHILL
He had a daughter?

HENDRY
Yes. Lovely girl. Utterly devoted to her father. She’s something in the British Museum now, I think.

GADSHILL, writing
British museum …

EDWINA
They’re not worth it.

PHIBES
Philistines. Philistines and Visigoths, the all of you.

MOSSOP
Steady on, old man. It’s just an award. Perhaps next year.

PHIBES
Next year! Do you know how many years I’ve slaved? I’ve travelled this country, theatre to theatre, playing to full houses and empty houses, honing the works and words of the greatest dramatist who ever lived and you give this accolade to a stripling! A mere boy, stumbling and shouting and spewing his garbage into the air, who couldn’t even be bothered to show up to receive your blind and empty praise.

EDWINA
Father! Please!

HENDRY
It was humiliating for Phibes. We’d given the award to a newcomer, Kevin Brannigan, he’d just done the most marvellous modern-dress Hamlet. Phibes was so sure he’d win he even rose to accept the award …

GADSHILL
He took it badly?

HENDRY
Oh, it got worse. Much worse.

SIR MARCUS
Get out.

MOSSOP
Marcus!

PHIBES
Do you know how I’ve suffered for my art?

PHILLIPA
Oh, absolutely. We’ve seen your plays.

General laughter. PHIBES snatches the Award.

ALLEN
Hey! That hasn’t even been engraved yet!

MOSSOP
Let him have it. For now. If it makes him feel better.

WHYTE takes a pill from a small pillbox.

WHYTE
Oh my … all this excitement. You all know I absolutely must avoid this type of stress …

HENDRY
I sometimes wonder what it is that makes a man walk out onto a stage, Inspector. It can’t possibly be just for the attention. All actors are a touch unstable, I think, and Phibes … You had to respect his conviction and his commitment, whatever else. So, he wandered out onto the balcony while we partied, holding the award. I tried to comfort Edwina. Everyone here respects your Father, I told her.

EDWINA
And that’s why they laugh? Is that what you’re telling me?

HENDRY
She said. I said, perhaps if he had demonstrated more range, perhaps appeared in something other than Shakespeare. She replied-

EDWINA
Thirty Seven perfect plays, exactly mapping the human soul. Why should my Father sully himself with trash?

HENDRY
Her mother died when she was just a child, and Phibes taught her well. Back then she was just finishing her masters in archaeological studies, something, I don’t know. So young, and yet so very intense. And then … I’ll never forget what she said to me next …

EDWINA
My Father is the greatest actor who has ever lived and you have made a public mockery of him. I will never forgive you. One day you will all pay for this, even you.

GADSHILL
I’d best have the lads check her out. What then?

HENDRY
Phibes was on the balcony. I had my back to the window, but she saw it all …

Phibes moves downstage, into a spotlight.

PHIBES
“ To be, or not to be, that is the question-
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them.”

More laughter from inside.

“To die, to sleep-
No more: and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to; ‘tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished.”

He opens his arms to leap.

EDWINA
Father!

Blackout. Lights fade back up. Phibes is gone. MOSSOP is comforting a weeping EDWINA

GADSHILL
He leapt from the balcony? You’re sure he’s dead?

HENDRY
I saw his embalmed body lying in an open casket. I was at his funeral. It can’t be him. It can’t be anyone else.

Blackout.


ACT ONE SCENE FIVE
16th March. Sir Marcus’ Lounge. Early evening.

Lights up. PHIBES enters the house, looks around, and steps back into the shadows. Fade down.

Lights up. MARCUS enters from iside the house, carrying a libretta. He looks around, clearly not able to see PHIBES. He checks his pockets and sees the keys on the table. He picks them up and leaves the house. PHIBES moves forward and places an identical bunch of keys on the table, and steps back as PHILLIPA enters. She picks up the keys, clearly satisfied. and picks up the telephone and dials.

PHILLIPA
Darling? It’s me. Yes, tonight it’s some beastly Opera. Yes, a long one. Darling, they’re all dull. And yes, he’s left his keys. Even if he does come back early he’ll have to ring up and I’ll have to let him in. I already told him I had one of my heads and have taken one of my pills. I can leave him on that doorstep for simply ages. Come soon. I want you.

Fade down.

Lights up. PHILLIPA, clad in skimpy nighty, leads DRAKE in by the hand. They kiss hungrily.

PHILLIPA
Oh, Darling …

DRAKE
Mmm, there’s only you, sweetie, only you …

PHILLIPA
I love it when you lie. We’re the same, you and I.

DRAKE
I do love you, as much as I ‘m able.

PHILLIPA
I know. That’s rather my point.

They laugh a dirty laugh, kiss again and move together. There is the sound of a door opening.

DRAKE
What was that?

PHILLIPA
It can’t have been anything.

She pulls him closer. SIR MARCUS enters.

MARCUS
What the bloody hell is going on here?

PHILLIPA
Marcus! What are you doing here?

MARCUS
Some bloody idiot rang a bomb threat through to the theatre. What are you doing with my wife?

DRAKE
Well, I think that this is between you two …

MARCUS
You stay put, you weasel.

PHILLIPA
You leave him alone-

SIR MARCUS strikes her.

MARCUS
You whore!

DRAKE
Really, old man!

PHILLIPA
Please! Calm down, Marcus! Enough!

PHIBES steps forward.

PHIBES
“ She says enough; yet she’s a simple bawd
That cannot say as much. This is a subtle whore,
A closet lock and key of villainous secrets;
And yet she’ll kneel and pray, I have seen her do’t.”

DRAKE
Phibes! But you’re … you’re dead!

PHIBES
So I’m told.

DRAKE
How?

PHIBES
Unimportant. They’re laughing at you, Marcus. Can’t you hear them?

MARCUS
Laughing at me, all of you … laughing at me …

DRAKE
They can’t see you … why don’t they know you’re here?

PHILLIPA
I’m truly sorry, I’ll do whatever you want.

PHIBES
“ Heaven truly knows, that thou art false as hell.”

MARCUS
You lie. I thought … how could you do this to me? How could you?

PHILLIPA moves in to MARCUS.

PHILLIPA
I never meant to hurt you.

MARCUS
What am I going to do? What am I going to do about us?

PHIBES
You know.

PHILLIPA
We can sort this out. We can.

MARCUS reaches out tenderly. They kiss.

PHIBES
“ Oh balmy breath, that dost almost persuade
Justice to break her sword. One more, one more.
Be thus when thou art dead, and I will kill thee,
And love thee after.”

Anger overtakes him. He pushes her away, then grabs her by the throat, and throttles her.
DRAKE tries to stop him, but PHIBES restrains him. She drops lifeless, and he sobbing to his knees.

DRAKE
Oh my God!

PHIBES
“ It is the very error of the moon;
She comes more nearer earth than she was wont,
And makes men mad.”

DRAKE
Oh God. Oh my God.

PHIBES
Go now, Drake. Enjoy what little time you have.

DRAKE
Othello. This is … this is Othello.

PHIBES
Yes. In which a jealous man strangles his wife wrongly believing her to be unfaithful. Of course, the fact here is that Phillipa Fosdyke is clearly, as you can attest, shall we say less than faithful in her marital relations, but I think I may be granted that much dramatic license under the circumstances. But the scene is not over yet.

DRAKE
Not over?

PHIBES
It was you who reviewed my Othello. What did you say? “Less is more, and the less seen of this particular Moor, the better.” Most amusing. Dredge your spiteful memory and tell me: what happens next?

DRAKE
Othello takes his own life. Oh my God.

PHIBES removes a pistol from his pocket.

PHIBES
I’d run, if I were you. I can cloud his mind, nudge him this way, or that way, but I cannot absolutely guarantee that he won’t use this on you.

DRAKE looks at the pistol, then PHIBES, the MARCUS. He flees.
PHIBES places the pistol in MARCUS’ hand. MARCUS looks up,
Confused, seeing him for the first time.

“Soft you; a word or two before you go.
I pray you in your letters,
When you shall these unlucky deeds relate,
Speak of me as I am. Nothing extenuate,
Nor set down in malice. Then must you speak
Of one that loved not wisely, but too well.”

PHIBES leaves.

MARCUS
“ I kissed thee ere I killed thee. No way but this,
Killing myself, to die upon a kiss.”

He raises the pistol to his mouth. Blackout, and the sound of a gunshot.


ACT ONE SCENE SIX
16th March. Hendry’s London Apartment. Night.

HENDRY enters with BROOKE.

BROOKE
That has got to be one of the worst meals I ever tasted.

HENDRY
You say that every time. Every single time.

BROOKE
That’s the deal. This is England.

HENDRY
Every meal is worst than the last?

BROOKE
Pretty grim, huh?

HENDRY
They can’t be progressively worse. You’ve been here, what … three years? Three meals a day at three hundred and sixty five days a year, that’s … well, a lot. You’d be eating poison by now. Stale poison. Cold stale poison, at that.

BROOKE
Stale poison would be a welcome change.

HENDRY kisses BROOKE.

Hmm … that’s good.

HENDRY
Do you want something? Some wine?

BROOKE
I’ll pass. You should, too.

HENDRY
Since when do I drink too much?

BROOKE
Since this afternoon.

HENDRY
Since this afternoon ..?

Realisation dawns.

Oh, I see. If I’d have known you’d have been so upset about it I’d have told you sooner. Honestly.

BROOKE
I don’t like secrets. I don’t like being the last to find shit out.

HENDRY
No. No, I understand.

He breaks away from her.

It’s been quite a day.

BROOKE
Oh yeah.

HENDRY
It can’t be Phibes.

HENDRY looks about him. Something is disturbing him.

BROOKE
Maybe his little girl went nuts. I mean, who else is it gonna be?

HENDRY
I can’t believe she’s involved. I just can’t.

BROOKE
Hmm. Yesterday, something you said she said. It’s bugging me. Every one’s gonna get it, even you. Why “even you”?

HENDRY, suddenly uncomfortable
Well, we were closer then,

BROOKE, smelling a rat
You were closer then.

HENDRY
Of course, after her Father’s death … she wouldn’t talk to me, wouldn’t even see me.

BROOKE
So you weren’t so close.

HENDRY
No. Not as we had been.

BROOKE
This closeness, did it involve the removal of clothing maybe? I’m just asking.

HENDRY, defeated
Only while we were having sex.

BROOKE
Ah. And you were going to mention this … when, exactly?

HENDRY looks about him again.

What is up with you?

HENDRY
Do you ever feel as if you’re being watched?

The phone rings. They both start. HENDRY answers.

Hello?

Nothing.

Hello there?

PHIBES, off-stage
Good evening, Mr. Carter. It’s been a while.

HENDRY
Phibes!

BROOKE
What?

HENDRY
You’re dead!

PHIBES, off-stage
Apparently so.

HENDRY
I saw you die. You can’t be alive!

PHIBES, off-stage
You know, you’re the second person today to inform me of that whilst actually talking to me. I can’t help but feel that this displays a certain wilful inobservance of the bald facts …

HENDRY
What do you want, Phibes?

PHIBES, off-stage
Ah. What do I want …”Thus the whirligig of time brings in his revenges … “

He laughs.

“I’ll be revenged on the whole pack of you!”

HENDRY
And that’s it, is it? Revenge. Frankly, that’s as petty as it is unimaginative. I’d have expected better from you.

PHIBES, off-stage
I doubt that. Are you alone, Carter?

HENDRY
What? What are you talking about?

PHIBES, off-stage
Oh, I don’t mean the American woman. Your cosy little apartment over looking the Thames. Are you sure that you’re all alone?

HENDRY
What have you done?

PHIBES, off-stage, mocking
“ O me, what hast thou done?”

He laughs again.

“A bloody deed, almost as bad, good mother, as kill a king, and marry with his brother.”

HENDRY
That’s Hamlet … the death of Polonius!

PHIBES, off-stage
You’re not alone. Check the curtain.

HENDRY hesitates.

Do it, man. You’re safe enough, for now. I swear to you on the grave of the Bard himself that you will be the last to go.

HENDRY, to BROOKE
Brooke, carefully … pull the curtain.

Gingerly, BROOKE pulls the curtain open. ALLEN topples forwards, dead.
She screams, and PHIBES starts to laugh while HENDRY rushes over to the corpse.
He checks for a pulse. BROOKE looks to him, and he shakes his head.
BROOKE breaks suddenly for the telephone.

BROOKE
You sick bastard! Who the hell do you think you are?

PHIBES, off-stage
Ah, the American. Hendry’s paramour. “Get thee to a nunnery! Why wouldst thou be a breeder of sinners? I am myself indifferent honest, but yet I could accuse me of such things that it were better my mother had not borne me. I am very proud, revengeful, ambitious; with more offences at my beck than I have thoughts to put them in, imagination to give them shape or time to act them in.”

Beat.

BROOKE
Speak English, you murdering faggot.

PHIBES, off-stage
It is true; while it is often a mistake to engage an American in intimate relations, it is always a mistake to engage one in conversation.

HENDRY grabs the phone.

HENDRY
You won’t get away with this, Phibes!

PHIBES, off-stage
Oh, I think I shall. Polonius, stabbed while eavesdropping … pre-stabbed, admittedly, but good enough, I feel. Four down. I’ll be seeing you, Hendry.

He hangs up. HENDRY looks helplessly to BROOKE.

Fade down.


ACT ONE SCENE SEVEN
17th March. The British Museum. Day.

HENDRY, GADSHILL AND BROOKE enter.

BROOKE
So, this is the famous British Museum.

She eyes a sarcophagus.

I haven’t been this close to a alcoholically preserved relic since Joan-St.John got really toasted that time and lap-danced for me thinking I was old Percy.

She looks at HENDRY.

Still, look who I’m talking to!

HENDRY
Give it a rest, would you? It was just the once, and before I even met you.

BROOKE
All right, all right! Jesus, this place is creepy. It reminds me of my second husband Milo. You know my second husband? The one I told you all about when we first got it together?

HENDRY, purposefully ignoring the gibe
I don’t know why you married him in the first place.

BROOKE
Oh, I don’t know. I mean, why does anyone marry anyone?

GADSHILL
Because they fall in love. Miss?

PRYCE passes by.

Excuse me, sir. We’re looking for Dr. Phibes?

PRYCE
Well, her office is over there-

He points. They start to move off.

But she’s not there. She’s just finishing up in one of the reading rooms. She’ll be along presently. Do you know her?

BROOKE, archly
One of us does.

PRYCE, oblivious
A brilliant, brilliant woman. Her work into the lost mystical works of the second dynasty … she’s a world authority on archaic languages, you know. She’s one of three people in England who can actually fluently speak Old Egyptian. Imagine that!

BROOKE
That must be a real keen trick at parties.

PRYCE
Er … yes. Well, I’d best be off.

PRYCE leaves.

GADSHILL
Nice chap, I felt.

EDWINA enters. She is carrying the Book of Set. She sees HENDRY and stops.
They look each other wordlessly.

BROOKE
Hey, kiss her if you want. Don’t let me stop you.

EDWINA slaps him, hard.

GADSHILL, to BROOKE
I don’t think so, Miss.

He offers his hand to EDWINA.

Sorry to intrude, Dr. Phibes. I’m Inspector Gadshill of Scotland Yard.

EDWINA, taking it
Inspector.

GADSHILL
There’s been some unpleasantness. I very much need to know your whereabouts yesterday.

EDWINA
Yesterday? I was … reading, for the most part. I have a new find, you see.

She shows them the Book of Set.

We found it at a new dig near Thebes. It’s very, very ancient and quite remarkable. The binding alone … an incredible piece of work.

BROOKE, sotto voice, to HENDRY
Dead languages, an interest in books … I can see what you saw in her.

HENDRY, sotto voice
Will you shut up!

GADSHILL
Er, very impressive I’m sure, Doctor. Can anyone verify this?

EDWINA
Pryce, my assistant … no, he wasn’t in yesterday. I’d sent him to Oxford for some reference materials I needed. No, Inspector. No-one. What is going on?

HENDRY
Somehow, your father has returned.

GADSHILL, quickly
Most likely someone impersonating him for some reason.

HENDRY
Oh, it was him, Gadshill. I’d know him anywhere.

EDWINA
Are you insane? My Father is dead! You took care of that. To think I loved you …

HENDRY
I’m sorry Edwina. You know how sorry I am, how sorry I was.

EDWINA
I know what you said. What is the point of this .. this fantasy?

GADSHILL
At approximately half-past eleven on the morning of the 15th of this month ago Mr. Julius Hargreaves was stabbed to death. Before he died he identified someone named “Phibes” as his killer. The following day, yesterday, at approximately ten o’clock Sir Marcus Fosdyke was goaded into the murder of his wife and then his own suicide. Mr. Percival Drake who was, er, present at the time spoke with an individual he identifies as the deceased Vincent Phibes. A half hour later the murdered body of Mr. Polonius Allen was discovered in Mr. Carter’s flat. There was a telephone conversation with the murderer, who once again identified himself as your Father. Have you had any contact with either your father or an individual claiming to be him, Doctor Phibes?

EDWINA
I don’t understand … this is just insane …

GADSHILL
This must have come of something as a shock, but I have to ask you more questions. Is there somewhere we can go?

EDWINA
My office …

GADSHILL
Very good, Doctor.

He reaches for the book.

Here, let me take that.

EDWINA, snatching it away
No! I’m sorry, Inspector. It’s very, very valuable. It represents my … life’s achievement. It is an exceptional find.

GADSHILL
I’m sorry, Doctor. After you.

She exits. GADSHILL follows, as does HENDRY.
As BROOKE is about to follow, PRYCE re-enters, poring over a book.

BROOKE
Hey!

PRYCE looks up and looks about him.

Yeah, you. Who else?

PRYCE
Can I help?

BROOKE
What’s the deal with that book your boss is so hot on? That Book of Set?

PRYCE
An astounding find. The binding alone …

BROOKE
Enough with the binding. I heard all about the binding. Why so special? What is it? Cook book? Short Stories? Travelogue? What?

PRYCE
It’s … The Book of Set was rumoured to be a myth. It’s meant to be dictated by the God Set himself. You know of the Egyptian Gods?

BROOKE
Vaguely. Lots of incest and animal headed people, like Arkansas but without the Banjos.

PRYCE
The Book of Set. It’s a philosophical treatise but also a practical working manual of the black arts. With it you can supposedly see into the future, disappear in one place and appear in another, become invisible, curse your enemies, re-animate the dead …

BROOKE
Whoa, back up. Did you say re-animate the dead?

PRYCE
Yes?

BROOKE considers for a moment.

BROOKE, dismissively.
Nah …

She follows after the others, Blackout.


ACT ONE SCENE EIGHT
17th March. The Playhouse Royale. Night.

PHIBES is asleep, moaning. He starts awake

PHIBES
“ I am a villain – yet I lie, I am not.
Fool, of thyself speak well – fool, do not flatter.
My conscience hath a thousand several tongues,
And every tongue brings in a several tale,
And every tale condemns me for a villain.
Murder, stern murder, in the direst degree,
All several sins, all used in each degree,
Throng to the bar, crying all, guilty, guilty.
I shall despair, there is no creature loves me;
And if I die, no soul shall pity me.
And wherefore should they, since I myself
Find in myself no pity to myself?”

EDWINA enters.

EDWINA, softly
“ My Lord.”

PHIBES
Edwina?

She offers her hand. He takes it, and is comforted.

EDWINA
Four more. Just four more.

PHIBES
Then I may rest? At long last?

EDWINA
We both may.

They exit together. Blackout.


I N T E R V A L


ACT TWO SCENE ONE
18th March. A Disco. Night.

GO-GO GIRL is dancing round her handbag centre-stage. DRAKE enters, with
CONSTABLE DICKON in tow. DRAKE sees Go-GO GIRL, and motions DICKON to
Stay put, and he stands at the side, looking uncomfortable. DRAKE makes his way
over to GO-GO GIRL.

They dance, and DRAKE is an embarrassment. He leans over and whispers something
in GO-GO GIRL’s ear. She reacts badly, and hit him before picking up her handbag
and stropping off. DRAKE recover his composure as DICKON looks away in
embarrassment.

EDWINA, as PUSSY, approaches DRAKE.

EDWINA
Hi! I’m Pussy!

DRAKE
What?

EDWINA, louder, over the music
Hi there! I’m Pussy.

DRAKE
How divinely appropriate.

PUSSY
Want to dance?
DRAKE
Oh, rather …

They dance.

EDWINA
You’re a really cool dancer, you know? Like, I bet you dance all the time. I bet you like to dance really, really close.

DRAKE
Oh yes …

The move closer, EDWINA running her hands over DRAKE, whispering in his ear,
at the same time stealing his wallet.

During this PHIBES appears behind DICKON, clubs him unconscious, and carries him off.

Oh darling, just what I was looking for.

EDWINA
I’m cheap and I’m clean.

DRAKE
Music to my ears. The truth is I had the most devilishly unsettling experience just the other night, and I could use a little TLC, especially of the, you know, negotiable variety. No strings, what?

EDWINA
We can have strings if you want. You can have anything you want.

DRAKE
Oh, my angel! Still, we have to lose my chaperone. I don’t suppose for one instant he’d approve of our little transaction …

Looks.

Oh, he’s buggered off. Oh well. Shall we?

DRAKE leads EDWINA off. She casually drops his wallet as they move away.

Go-GO GIRL re-enters, places her handbag down again and starts to dance.
Glancing down she notices the wallet, and stops.

DICKON re-enters, clutching his head. Seeing him, GO-GO GIRL
approaches him with the wallet. At first he tries to shoo her away, but
checks the wallet. He mouths a silent obscenity and rushes off.

GO-GO GIRL shrugs and resumes dancing. Fade down.


ACT TWO SCENE TWO
18th March. A Back Alley. Night.

Giggling, DRAKE and EDWINA enter. DRAKE is carrying a bottle.

EDWINA
This is fine.

DRAKE
A filthy, dirty back alley …

EDWINA
You don’t like it.

DRAKE
Poppet, I love it. It’s so divinely low rent.

He belches, and swaying unsteadily, puts the bottle down.

What is this that you’ve given me?

Without answering, EDWINA moves in. They kiss.

EDWINA
We have a deal?

DRAKE
What?

EDWINA
It’s a deal? Like, an oral contract? You and me?

DRAKE
Oral sounds quite quite exquisite.

EDWINA pushes him away.

EDWINA
I want to be clear. This is important.

DRAKE
Sweetheart, you’ll ruin the mood. Yes, it’s clear. Shall I pay you up front?

EDWINA
Yes. Yes, please. I was going to ask.

DRAKE
Let’s see.

He rummages through his pockets.

Where is it? Where the devil ..?

EDWINA
Can’t you pay me?

DRAKE
It’s got my credit card and my driving license, not to mention the rubbers for my old chap … ah well. I’m sorry, my poppet. My chaperone will probably be going spare, anyway. Perhaps next time.

He tries to stagger off. EDWINA blocks him.

EDWINA
We have a deal.

DRAKE
I’ve lost all my money, sweetie.

EDWINA
I can’t help that. We have a deal.

DRAKE
Be reasonable, girl. I can’t pay you with what I haven’t got, now can I?

He blinks, and staggers back, falling on his backside.

What on earth have I been drinking?

EDWINA
Then you must pay me with what you do have.

DRAKE
What does that mean? You’re being very silly. I don’t want to hear any more of this silly nonsense from you …

PHIBES appears.

PHIBES
“ I’ll have my bond, speak not against my bond,
I have sworn an oath that I will have my bond.
Thou call’st me dog before thou hadst cause,
But since I am a dog, beware my fangs.”

DRAKE
Oh Christ …

PHIBES
Feel your strength slipping away? A little something my daughter brought back from Egypt – the juice of something you’d think was more weed than plant, if you saw it. It paralyses but leaves the body alert, responsive – I’d hate you to miss what I have planned for you.

DRAKE
Please … don’t.

Weakly, he calls out.

Help me! Someone! Help!

EDWINA
There’s no-one to help you, Mr. Drake.

DRAKE
You can’t … how can you do this?

PHIBES
“ I am not bound to please thee with my answer.”

DRAKE
You can’t go around killing just because you had bad reviews. It’s not sane!

EDWINA
Don’t you think yours opinion have gotten you in enough trouble?

PHIBES
“ Hates any man the thing he would not kill?” Have you brought the scales, Edwina?

EDWINA
In the car, Father.

PHIBES
Good. After all, “nor cut thou less nor more, but just a pound of flesh”.

EDWINA
I’ll fetch them.

PHIBES
Please do.

She exits.

DRAKE
Lord, no … have mercy…

PHIBES
Ah, mercy. “The quality of mercy is not strained,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed –
It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes.
‘ Tis mightiest in the mightiest, it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown.”

DRAKE
Yes! Yes!

PHIBES
I’m afraid not. As beautifully expressed a sentiment as it is, I have no mercy in me Drake. As I lay there in the cold, cold earth all those years, I quite lost the ability to see the other man’s point of view.

DRAKE, almost whispering now
Please …

PHIBES
“ O lord, methought what pain it was to drown,
what dreadful noise of waters in mine ears,
What sights of ugly death within mine eyes!
Methought I saw a thousand fearful wrecks;
A thousand men that fishes gnawed upon,
Wedges of gold, great anchors, heaps of pearl,
Inestimable stones, unvalued jewels,
All scattered in the bottom of the sea:
Some lay in dead men’s skulls, and in the holes
Where eyes did once inhabit, there were crept,
As ‘twere in scorn of eyes, reflecting gems,
That wooed the slimy bottom of the dep,
And mocked the dead bones, that lay scattered by.”
For ten years I drowned in that black, black sea. Ten long years …

DRAKE
I’ll do anything, give you anything …

PHIBES
“ If every ducat in six thousand ducats
Were in six parts, and every part a ducat,
I would not draw them, I would have my bond.”

PHIBES takes out an enormous knife. DRAKE gasps in fear.

You will remember this, I’m sure, from the Merchant of Venice – Antonio, unable to pay his debt to Shylock stands to forfeit a pound of flesh in exchange. I’m going to take your heart, Drake. God knows you’ve had little enough use for it over the years.

PHIBES opens DRAKE’s shirt.

Goodbye, Mr. Drake. I’ll see you in hell.

The knife comes down. Blackout. A hideous shriek from DRAKE.


ACT TWO SCENE THREE
19th March. Henri’s Hair Salon. Day.

SEBASTION, in hippy gear, is fussing with the hairdryer.
JOAN St. JOHN enters, accompanied by CONSTABLE DICKON.

SEBASTION
Oh, hi there. What can I do you for?

St. JOHN
I have a three o’clock with Henri.

SEBASTION
Yeah? I’ll just take a peek. Wait a mo.

SEBASTION checks a diary.

Let’s see. Miss Joan-St. John?

St. JOHN, correcting her pronunciation
St. John!

SEBASTION
Right, I dig it. Well, blow me down. I’m sorry, love. No one told you?

St. JOHN
Told me? Told me what?

SEBASTION
All Henri’s bookings are off. It’s a personal, like, and I shouldn’t talk, but the bruises are enormous and they’re thinking of bringing charges, and you wouldn’t expect it when you’re just lying there in the all-together, would you?

St. JOHN
I have no idea what you’re talking about.

SEBASTION
It don’t matter.

He clicks his fingers as an idea strikes.

We’ve got Butch. He’ll do your do.

St. JOHN
I don’t know. I’m very particular about my hair.

SEBASTION
Butch is very classy, very chic.

St. JOHN
Is he?

SEBASTION
Oh, yeah.

St. JOHN
I’ve never heard of him before.

SEBASTION
Well, he just came over from LA, did all the stars, but he had to leave in a hurry, see. I shouldn’t say as it isn’t my business, but it was a terrible scandal in all and it’s enough to put you off pork for life, isn’t it?

ST. JOHN
What are you saying?

SEBASTION
No, Butch can squeeze you in, if you’re one of Henri’s. Butch!

PHIBES, off-stage
Aloha!

SEBASTION
Shop!

PHIBES enters, as BUTCH.

PHIBES
Well, aloha! Who have we here?

SEBASTION
Henri’s three o’clock.

PHIBES
Oh? I’m sure we can squeeze you in.

PHIBES heads straight for DICKON.

Especially you.

To SEBASTION.

Isn’t he butch?

SEBASTION
Isn’t he just?

PHIBES
But isn’t he?

SEBASTION
I’ll bet he’s a real brute.

PHIBES
An animal.

SEBASTION
Like an animal.

PHIBES
A big blue tiger just waiting to leap on his unsuspecting prey.

SEBASTION
All coiled and ready.

PHIBES
I’d love a taste of his truncheon, all right.

They laugh.

Would you like to wait in the outer salon, officer?

DICKON
Very, very much, sir.

PHIBES
Sebastion will show you the way. Help yourself to coffee. Now, Miss Joan-St. John. Won’t you take a seat?

SEBASTION leads DICKON off.

St. JOHN
Thank you.

She stops.

How did you know my name?

There is a moment.

PHIBES
How could I not? The great Joan St. John! I read all your critiques! My self and Sebastion here won’t go to see a show unless you give it the thumbs up.

St. JOHN
That’s very gratifying. I’m not infallible, you know. It’s just a point of view.

PHIBES
I know, but it’s not just an opinion, is it? I find you so delightfully and unnecessarily vicious.

She looks at him.

In a good way. You have to give good copy, don’t you, whatever the cost. After all, my love, you’re as much an artist and entertainer as the actors and directors you review, aren’t you?

St. JOHN
It’s … so few people understand that. You know, you’re more than just a hair stylist. I can see that.

SEBASTION re-enters.

PHIBES
Oh, you’d be surprised. Please, my sweet, take a seat.

St. JOHN, taking a seat
What I usually have-

PHIBES
What you usually have is a crime! Look at this! I can work miracles, if you just trust me.

St. JOHN
Well, I don’t know …

SEBASTION
Like I said, Butch is very chic. Does all the stars.

PHIBES
Absolutely, my love. I’m going to take years off you. Something fiery, I think, with maybe with ash highlights.

PHIBES and SEBASTION laugh.

St. JOHN, eager to be in on the joke
What?

PHIBES
Nothing, dear. Just hairdresser humour.

They start to tie her down.

St. JOHN
What’s this? What are you doing?

PHIBES
Don’t worry, dear heart. It’s all just part of the process.

SEBASTION
It’s new in, from California.

St. JOAN
Really?

SEBASTION
Trust us.

JOAN-St. JOHN
This usually where Henri asks me where I’m going on my holidays.

PHIBES
Somewhere warm, I expect.

PHIBES and SEBASTION laugh again. JOAN-St. JOHN looks nonplussed.

Hairdresser humour. Don’t worry.

St. JOHN
Oh. You really like my work.

PHIBES
Absolutely. I have to ask you something. Can I ask you something?

St. JOHN
Please, do.

PHIBES
Do you remember seeing Henry the Sixth, part one?

St. JOHN
Years and years ago. It was, let me see … one of the smaller London theatres.

PHIBES
You liked it?

St. JOHN
Heavens to God, no. It was appalling. Ham-fisted direction, amateurish acting … ghastly.

PHIBES
And you said so, no doubt. Viciously and amusingly.

St. JOAN
I don’t recall exactly.

PHIBES
“ Take her away, for she hath lived too long,
To fill the world with vicious qualities.”

St. JOHN
What?

PHIBES
That’s from the play. The play I acted in so amateurishly and directed so ham-fistedly.

PHIBES nods to SEBASTION, who deftly gags JOAN-St. JOHN.

“And hark ye sirs; because she is a maid,
Spare for no fagots, let there be enow.
Place barrels of pitch upon the fatal stake,
That so her torture may be shortened.”

SEBASTION
That’s from Act Five Scene Four. When Joan Pucelle – Joan of Arc – is lead away.

PHIBES
To be burned at the stake.

St. JOHN starts to struggle.

Ready the car.

SEBASTION exits.

You have no idea. No idea at all what it is like to spend week upon month carving words from the air itself simply to have them turned into fodder for spiteful little parasites like you. You’ve never stood in front of a paying crowd and opened your heart to them, just lurked behind the anonymity of a typewriter hurling your bile and vitriol at your braver betters. It is said that revenge is a dish best served cold. I beg to differ.

PHIBES flicks a switch. A buzzing starts. PHIBES stands away as smoke starts to pour off a thrashing St. JOHN.

DICKON, banging the door, off-stage
What’s that smell? Who locked this door?

PHIBES flees.

Oi, Jack! Help me!

There is a crunching noise at the door is forced. DICKON and DOGBERRY rush in. DOGBERRY moves forward toward JOAN-St. JOHN, but DICKON stops him. He looks around quickly for the switch and turns it off. JOAN-St. JOHN goes limp, and DICKON checks her pulse. He shakes his head in answer to DOGBERRY’s unspoken question.

DICKON
We’d better get Inspector Gadshill over sharpish.

DOGBERRY
Poor Miss St.John …

DICKON, automatically correcting his pronunciation
It’s St. John.

DOGBERRY
You’re not wrong there …

Blackout.


ACT TWO SCENE FOUR
19th March. Hendry’s London Apartment. Day.

HENDRY paces anxiously while BROOKE sits calmly, reading.

HENDRY
This … this is intolerable.

BROOKE
I’m fine.

HENDRY
Of course you’re fine. Phibes doesn’t want to kill you!

BROOKE turns the page. GADSHILL enters.

Gadshill! Is there any news?

GADSHILL
I’m afraid not. Mr. Drake’s still missing. And, er …

HENDRY
Is it Morley? Is it Joan?

GADSHILL
Mr. Whyte is fine, just fine … I’ve just come from Miss. Joan-St.John, and I’m afraid, well …

HENDRY, defeated
Her goose is cooked.

GADSHILL
I do wish you hadn’t said that, sir.

HENDRY
I mean, bloody hell! He’s picking us off! If Drake doesn’t show, or shows up dead, then that leaves just Morley and then …. oh God, I can’t even bring myself to consider it.

BROOKE
Then it’s your turn. Sayonara, sweetheart.

He looks at her.

You know.

She makes a cutthroat gesture and supplies a suitable unpleasant matching noise.

HENDRY
You’re a big help, thanks.

BROOKE
I try.

CONSTABLE DICKON enters.

HENDRY
What is it, Dickon?

DICKON
Visitor, for Mr. Carter. A Doctor Phibes.

HENDRY
Edwina?

BROOKE
What the hell does she want?

GADSHILL
All right, lad. Bring her in. And try not to lose her on the way.

DICKON reacts, turns and leaves.

BROOKE
I do not trust her.

GADSHILL
Now now, Miss.

DICKON e-enters, leading a distraught EDWINA. There is a livid bruise on her face.

HENDRY
Eddie! What’s happened?

BROOKE
“ Eddie”?

EDWINA
It’s Father … I saw him. Somehow, he’s alive!

BROOKE
Newsflash!

HENDRY
Shut up, Brooke.

EDWINA
I didn’t believe it before, it all seemed so impossible. I thought … I don’t know what I thought. But when I saw him …

She starts to sob, and HENDRY automatically goes to her.

How could he do this? How could he possibly be doing these awful things?

GADSHILL
What happened, Doctor?

EDWINA
It was late last night, at the museum. I don’t know how he got in, but there he was, standing there … he boasted about all the awful, awful things he was doing, all the awful, awful things he planned to do. It was … it was …

BROOKE
Awful?

HENDRY
Brooke, will you shut up!

EDWINA starts to sob some more. Reluctantly, BROOKE pulls a
handkerchief out of her handbag and passes it over to EDWINA, who
blows her nose loudly.

EDWINA
Thank you.

She passes it back, and with some bad grace BROOKE
shoves it back into her handbag.

I tried to talk him into stopping this madness, and he hit me … He called me a whore, and a traitor and gave me a message. He said … he said … tell Hendry I’ll meet with him at Regent’s Park at 5 O’clock tomorrow, to talk.

HENDRY
What can he have to talk to me about?

EDWINA
I don’t know. I don’t know.

GADSHILL
That sounds like a very bad idea, Doctor.

HENDRY
No, wait. We have to do something. I can’t just sit around here all my life, waiting for the axe to fall.

GADSHILL
It’s too risky. I won’t allow it.

HENDRY
When we spoke before, he swore I’d be the last, and if I know Phibes he’ll keep his word – I’m safe while Morley’s alive.

GADSHILL
You can’t believe him, sir. He’s a murderer. He’s insane.

HENDRY
That’s the point, man. If he was a sane murderer he’d simply have shot us and be done with.

GADSHILL
Yes, sir. But what would he have to gain with a meeting with you?

HENDRY
I don’t know. To gloat some more? There’s nothing an actor likes better than the sound of his own voice, Inspector.

DICKON arrives, carrying a package.

DICKON
Delivery, sir. For Mr. Carter.

GADSHILL
Let’s have it. Have the boys checked it over?

DICKON
It just came, sir … I didn’t think …

HENDRY grabs it.

GADSHILL
Here! That could be a bomb!

HENDRY
I’ve seen every single one of Shakespeare thirty seven plays, Inspector, and in none of them does some poor hapless sod get blown to pieces opening his mail. I can think of a couple where it might be a great deal more entertaining if they did.

He rips his open, opens the box and recoils in disgust.

Oh God.

GADSHILL
Let me see … oh dear.

BROOKE
What is it?

GADSHILL
It’s a human heart, if I’m not mistaken.

HENDRY, weighing the box in his hand
About a pound. A pound of human flesh. There’s a card … “All the best from Percival Drake. Literally. Two to go.”

EDWINA
Oh Father …

HENDRY
It’s your Father all right. Only he’d have the temerity to rewrite Shakespeare. Don’t you see, Inspector? It doesn’t matter if it’s a trap. We have to do something!

Fade down.


ACT TWO SCENE FOURb
19th March. A Police Interview Room. Day.

BENEDICT is sat with GO-GO GIRL, taking her statement.

GO-GO GIRL
So I was dancing on my own, like, ‘cos Shirl had pulled. Shirl always pulls. You’d not think it look at her – mousy hair, small tits, face like a dull Wednesday, if you want my opinion, but she’s got the fellers eating out of the palm of her hand, although if the rumours is right-

BENEDICT
Please, Miss. You were dancing.

GO-GO GIRL
You know, giving it some. This bloke comes up, all pleased with himself – you knows the kind, all money and breeding and thinks that’s the same as class. Anyway, he leans over and he says …

BENEDICT
Yes, Miss?

GO-GO GIRL
Something he oughtn’t. So I hit him. Just the once, ladylike, like.

BENEDICK
And then?

GO-GO GIRL
Off the ladies for a piss.

BENEDICK writes this down.

You’re writing this down? You’d best put that down as “went to powder my nose.” I wouldn’t want to appear vulgar.

BENEDICK
I’m sure.

GO-GO GIRL
I comes back, nose all powdered, and I’m dancing, and there’s a wallet on the floor. I picks it up, and has a look, and its old stuck-up Charlie! I’m telling you, if I wasn’t a good girl, I could have had that wallet. Then one of your lot swans over, all hot and flustered like, I gives him the wallet, he takes my name and I goes home. And now I’m back here.

BENEDICK
You didn’t see anything else?

GO-GO GIRL
There was this girl he was with, that I think he went off with – they was going off together when I went back to dance after, well …

BENEDICK
Powdering your nose.

He taps the paper with the tip of his pencil.

I know. I have it.

GO-GO GIRL
I like you, you’re nice. My mate Jess says all rozzers are evil-minded pigs, but she’s talking out of her fat arse, like always.

BENEDICK
Er, Thank you. Can you describe the girl?

GO-GO GIRL
Little, maybe even littler than I am. Blonde. Nice looker. White dress. I didn’t see much of her. It weren’t like she’d been around all evening. I just saw her the once, and that was going.

GADSHILL enters.

GADSHILL
Am I interrupting?

BENEDICK
Just finishing up, Inspector.

GO-GO GIRL
Am I done?

BENEDICK
Yes, Miss. Thanks for your co-operation.

GO-GO GIRL
My pleasure, I’m sure.

She leaves.

GADSHILL
Our only witness?

BENEDICK
I’m afraid so. Phibes definitely has an accomplice, though. A girl. You heard the body was found?

GADSHILL
A few streets away from the club, in a back alley. I heard. Could it have been Edwina Phibes?

BENEDICK
I wouldn’t have thought so. I’ve had someone watching her and her flat since you interviewed her at the museum – she goes to the work at the museum, she goes home at night, she doesn’t come out again.

GADSHILL
Maybe some sort of disguise … What about other people? Visitors?

BENEDICK
No-one matching Vincent Phibes’ description.

GADSHILL
I want Dr. Phibes followed, all the time. I want you to take care of it personally.

BENEDICK
Sir.

GADSHILL
Too many people have died. You watch your step.

BENEDICK
Sir.

GADSHILL
We’re at Phibes’ mercy. We just have to keep alert and hope that he makes a mistake …

Fade out.


ACT TWO SCENE FIVE
19th March. Gaston’s Restaurant. Day.

WHYTE is sat at a table, finishing his starter. Next to him is D.C. MONTAGUE.

MONTAGUE
Yeah, we used to have a cat. What are yours again?

WHYTE
My babies Princess Jade Epiphany and Lady Elspeth Blue Smoke are both prize-winning Persian Blues.

MONTAGUE
Yeah? We called ours Oy.

WHYTE
Oy?

MONTAGUE
Sort of a joke. “Oi, get off that table!” “Oi, get out of that cupboard!” “Oi, get your nose out of your arse!” That sort of thing.

WHYTE
How very earthy.

MONTAGUE
I have to say, sir, I’m not used to these sorts of fancy restaurants.

WHYTE
You do surprise me.

PHIBES enters, as GASTON.

PHIBES
Sir and madam enjoyed their starter?

WHYTE
Hmm. The salmon was a little dry, I felt.

PHIBES
Ah. I know the chef prefers not to drown the fish with oil. He has said as much.

WHYTE
Hmm. Interesting.

MONTAGUE
Cheers, mate. Nice fish.

WHYTE
No, still a little dry.

PHIBES
I trust sir will treat us well. A new restaurant such as ours … a kind word from the great Morley Whyte, why, it would be a great honour. This why we have cleared the restaurant, just for you.

WHYTE
Too kind.

PHIBES
No, thank you. Sir has had his fill?

WHYTE
I never eat my fill. The first taste is all.

PHIBES
D’accord. I believe I heard, once, that when you reviewed plays that you would rarely stay for the second half.

WHYTE
Usually not, no. By then I’d inevitably seen all I needed to see. Why should I have?

PHIBES
Out of respect for the performers whose show you had attended?

WHYTE gives him a look.

But of course, I joke.

PHIBES
Ah. I believe your main course is ready, however …

WHYTE
Yes?

PHIBES
We will not be serving the dish you ordered.

WHYTE
Chef has prepared something very special for you.

PHIBES leaves and re-enters with a trolley.

PHIBES
For your policewoman friend, her sausages, eggs and chips.

MONTAGUE, with enthusiasm
Ta, mate. You got the brown sauce I asked for?

PHIBES
D’accord.

He passes over a small tureen.

Chef has made this especially.

He passes a plate to Whyte.

And for you …

WHYTE, suspiciously
A pie?

PHIBES
A special pie, with special ingredients. Please, eat, and eat well. It’s a special recipe.

Suspiciously, WHYTE takes a bite. He nods approvingly and starts to eat.

PHIBES moves into a spotlight.

“Hark villains, I will grind your bones to dust,
And with your blood and it I’ll make a paste;
And of the paste a coffin I will rear,
And make two pasties of your shameful heads,
And bid that strumpet your unhallowed dam
Like to the earth swallow her increase.
This is the feast that I have bid her to,
And this the banquet she shall surfeit on.”

PHIBES moves back to MONTAGUE and WHYTE.

MONTAGUE is sat with a glazed look on his face.

Sir has enjoyed his meal?

WHYTE
Delicious. What was that? I’ve never had meat like that before, I’m sure. So very tender.

PHIBES
I’m glad sir enjoyed it. Before I answer your question, I have one of my own, if you’ll forgive the impertinence.

WHYTE
No … no, please ask.

PHIBES
Do you recall having seen Titus Andronicus?

WHYTE, a little uneasily
Yes. I reviewed it once.

PHIBES
You said of the lead, Vincent Phibes, “watching Phibes’ Titus between Jessica Bates’ Tamora in robes of flowing white and the milk-white innocence of Victoria Sherman’s Lavinia, one is inevitably reminded of a Ham Sandwich.”

WHYTE
Did I really?

PHIBES
Yes, you did. Do you also recall what happened to Tamora?

WHYTE
She … she …

He belches.

PHIBES
I’ll help you. The old queen is fed her own children, baked into a pie.

PHIBES whips off a serving lid to reveal a pie with two cat-heads.

Bon appetit.

WHYTE
Phibes!

Desperately, WHYTE grabs MONTAGUE. He flops forward, face first into his food.

Oh god, no!

He clutches at his chest. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out his pillbox.
PHIBES snatches it away.

My heart! I’ll … I’ll die!

PHIBES
That was the general intention, yes.

With much choking, WHYTE dies.

And now just one more. One final act of vengeance, and then …

He turns and exits. Fade down.


ACT TWO SCENE SIX
20th March. Regent’s Park. Day.

HENDRY is stood around looking nervous. BROOKE is with him.

HENDRY
I wish you’d go.

BROOKE
I’m staying right here.

An appreciable pause, then together:

HENDRY, over BROOKE
Look, I don’t want you in danger, too.

BROOKE, over HENDRY
What sort of chickenshit do you think I am?

They stop again. Another appreciable pause. This is clearly an argument in instalments.

HENDRY
Look, Gadshill has the Park surrounded. I don’t suppose that Phibes will even show.

BROOKE
Then I might as well stay.

HENDRY
Fine

BROOKE
Fine.

HENDRY & BROOKE together
Fine.

Another pause.

BROOKE
Chauvinistic pig. Keep the helpless little woman away from danger, is that it?

HENDRY
No, that’s not it.

Beat.

No, actually that is it. I mean, is that so very terrible? Is it?

A stony silence.

I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about Joan St. John. I’m sorry I never told you about Edwina Phibes. I’m sorry haven’t told you about … look, it doesn’t matter. If I’d even considered them important I would have. After this is over I’ll give you a detailed list of each and every single person I ever even thought about sleeping with. Do I have to spend the rest of my life apologising to you over a simple error of judgement?

BROOKE
Well, look on the bright side. Phibes gets his way, that won’t be long.

Pause. Again, over the other:

HENDRY, over BROOKE
Will you marry me?

BROOKE, over HENDRY
I love you so much …

They both recoil in surprise. GADSHILL enters.

GADSHILL
I’ve just checked the lads. You’re covered.

HENDRY
I don’t see anyone.

GADSHILL
With respect, sir, you’re not a trained police officer.

He points.

You see that young lady walking the dog?

BROOKE
Yeah?

GADSHILL
One of my best men.

BROOKE
The old lady or the dog?

GADSHILL
I beg your pardon? Oh, I see …

EDWINA enters.

BROOKE
Talking about dogs …

HENDRY
Eddie! What are you doing here!

EDWINA
I had to come! I … Can we talk?

BROOKE
What? Now?

EDWINA
Please.

HENDRY
I … Yes, Eddie. Of course.

BROOKE
Excuse me, “Eddie”.

Takes HENDRY to one side.

We were talking.

HENDRY
This is important. Her Father is trying to kill me.

BROOKE
Oh, and what is she going to say? “He’s still going to kill you!” “Look out, he’s still out to get you!” “He’s changed his mind … nah, he’s still going to fricassee your ass.”

HENDRY
I don’t know what she’s going to say, do I?

BROOKE
Maybe she wants to make nice. Maybe that’s the agenda. Maybe that’s it.

HENDRY
Oh, that again. Is it always going to be like this?

BROOKE
I don’t know. Is it?

HENDRY
I don’t know. Is it?

BROOKE
Well, fine.

HENDRY
Fine.

BROOKE & HENDRY together
Fine.

BROOKE grabs GADSHILL by the arm.

BROOKE
Come on, Inspector. Let’s go walk.

HENDRY
Well …

EDWINA
Well … I wasn’t sure you’d come.

HENDRY
I don’t really have a choice. There’s just me now. I’d rather face your Father sooner than later.

EDWINA
I did love you. I think you know that.

HENDRY
Yes.

EDWINA
But my Father was a great man. And you insulted him, all of you, drove him to his death.

HENDRY
I think I’ve heard all this before. You interrupted a very important conversation to tell me that? I thought you’d come to your senses.

EDWINA
Even so … I want you to know I’m sorry.

Suddenly, a blowing of whistles.

DOGBERRY, off-stage
Over here!

GADSHILL, off-stage
After him.

DICKON runs on, with PHIBES, disguised as a CONSTABLE.

HENDRY
What? What is it?

DICKON
One of the lads saw him outside the park. We think we’ve got him cornered, sir.

To PHIBES.

You. Stay with Mr. Carter. By God we’ve got him!

HENDRY
Thank God. Thank God.

EDWINA
I’m sorry.

HENDRY
You said that. What on earth do you have to be sorry for?

PHIBES strikes him from behind. He folds. Phibes removes his helmet and disguise.

EDWINA
Father.

PHIBES
How long will your glamour last?

EDWINA
Not long. Shadows are fleeting, after all.

PHIBES
“ Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more; it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.” Come, daughter.

They drag HENDRY off. GADSHILL and BROOKE run on.

BROOKE
I don’t believe it! I don’t frigging believe it!

GADSHILL
Phibes has them both!

BROOKE
Phibes ..? You asshole. They’re in cahoots.

GADSHILL
I can’t just assume that, Miss.

BROOKE
Watch me. Oh, my poor baby.

She starts to mist up, and reaches into her bag for a hanky.

Phibes is going to kill my fiancé …

GADSHILL
Fiancé? When did that happen?

Ignoring him, BROOKE daps tearfully at her eyes.

Er, congratulations ….

BROOKE glares at him, then raises the hanky again to her face. Looking at it, she stops.

BROOKE
Jesus!

GADSHILL
What?

BROOKE
The bitch!

GADSHILL
What?

BROOKE
The cast iron total bitch!

BROOKE races off, passing DICKON entering.

GADSHILL, after BROOKE
What??

DICKON
Sir?

GADSHILL
What?

Blackout.


ACT TWO SCENE SEVEN
20th March. Edwina Phibe’s Office, British Museum. Day.

The lights snap on as BROOKE storms into the room, followed by PRYCE.

PRYCE
You can’t just charge in here! This is private property!

BROOKE
And this is my fat ass. Pucker up.

She sees the sarcophagus.

Jesus. How many of these things do you need?

PRYCE
That’s actually third dynasty … I don’t know what that’s doing in here …

BROOKE
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Where’s the files around here?

BROOKE looks around.

PRYCE
If you think I’m going to let you … now you stop right now or I will have no choice but to call … now you’re just making trouble for yourself, you know …

BROOKE looks at the sarcophagus.

BROOKE
Wasn’t here before, huh?

BROOK picks up a crowbar from the floor and works at the door.
PRYCE
Stop that, that’s priceless! I’ll calling the police …

He picks up the phone while BROOKE jemmies open the sarcophagus.

Look. See!

BROOKE
Your Mom must be so proud.

PRYCE
Look! I’m dialling!

BROOKE
You do that.

PRYCE
9 …


Dials.

9 …

Dials. He hesitates.

Has Dr. Phibes … done something? I can’t believe that she’s done something … she was always such a lovely woman …

BROOKE
You can believe it.

The Sarcophagus swings open to reveal BENEDICK’s body.
PRYCE cries out, dropping the’ phone.

Your boss is a psycho she-witch who raised her Pop from the grave to wreak terrible vengeance.

PRYCE
Well … when you put it like that …

BROOKE looks at the desk and sees the desk drawer.
She moves over and tries it – it’s locked.

BROOKE
Hey, you little wiener. You got a key?

PRYCE
Wiener? What’s a wiener when it’s at home?

She hefts the crowbar in her hand.

BROOKE
This’ll do. There’s a Sherlock Holmes story, I think it’s called “The Purloined Letter.” Or is it a Sherlock Holmes story? I’m just a dumb-ass American, what do I know, right? Anyway, doesn’t matter. You want to keep something, so you hide it in plain sight and no-one’ll ever find it, right?

PRYCE
Very clever, yes.

BROOKE
Shit, no.

There is a splintering noise as the drawer is forced open.

You invest in a decent safe. That’s clever.

BROOKE pulls out the Book of Set and holds it up.

BROOKE
Here we go. One easy how-to-do-it manual on necrophilia.

PRYCE
Necromancy. You mean necromancy. My god, that man is dead-

BROOKE
Who cares? Let’s see, what else … One receipt for office space, name of Sebastion Hathaway. I knew the bitch was up to something. What else we got here … receipts for make-up, costumes and shit, wigs … what’s this?

She holds up a receipt.

PRYCE
I don’t know.

BROOKE
I wasn’t talking to you.

PRYCE
Well, pardon me for breathing. You try and help and, and-

BROOKE
Shut up! This is a six month lease for a theatre near here, the Playhouse Royale.

PRYCE
I used to go there. They closed it down to turn it into a Bingo Hall, then the company developing that went bankrupt, or some such. I pass it on the way to work, actually. It’s just around the corner, you just go-

BROOKE
I know where it is! Jesus! Phone the cops. Ask for Gadshill, Inspector Gadshill. He’s a stiff, but he’s a straight-up guy.

PRYCE
What shall I tell him?

BROOKE
Tell him Vincent Phibes is here,

BROOKE drops the receipt on the table. She pulls a pistol from drawer, examines it,
and jams it into her bag.

and that I’m going ahead to kick his lily-white ass.

She leaves.

PRYCE
Do I really have to tell him that?

Blackout.

ACT TWO SCENE EIGHT
20th March. The Playhouse Royale. Night.

The stage is very dark, lit by intermittent pools of light.

PHIBES sits patiently. HENDRY lies unconscious on the floor, hands bound behind his back.
He groans.

PHIBES
Good evening, Mr. Carter.

HENDRY
Oh my God …

PHIBES
Oh, your God indeed …

HENDRY struggles to his feet.

Don’t rush yourself. Take some time to come round. I want you properly awake and aware before we begin.

HENDRY
Before we begin ..? Oh great. Now, let’s see, what’s on offer that we haven’t already seen ? Drowned in a butt of wine, maybe? Head cut off? Hung as a thief? Poisoniug? Shakespeare liked a good poisoning, after all, didn’t he?

PHIBES throws him a withering glance. As he begins to speak,
EDWINA enters, carrying two swords and a lamp.

PHIBES
“ Is this a dagger which I see before me,
The handle before my hand? Come let me clutch thee.
I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.
Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible
To feeling as to sight? Or art thou but
A dagger of the mind, a false creation,
Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?

He takes a sword from EDWINA.

I see thee yet, in form as palpable
As this which now I draw.”

HENDRY
Ah, I see. You’re going to bore me to death.

PHIBES
Most amusing. You are the last, Mr. Carter, but not, I think, the least.

PHIBES cuts HENDRY’s bonds.

HENDRY
What? You’ve brought me here like this to compliment me?

PHIBES
Hardly. Still … it ends tonight, and I would that you had some small hope.

HENDRY
Hope of what? That you might actually shut up for fives minutes before you kill me?

PHIBES
A duel, Mr. Carter, to the death.

HENDRY
Are you mad?

PHIBES
Am I? “Though this be madness, yet there is a method in’t.”

HENDRY
And you can stop that right now. This may be the last conversation I ever have on this earth and I’m not having it via a dead four hundred year old playwright. If you’ve got something to say then cut out all the pretentious quotation and just bloody well say it. You’re not impressing anyone but yourself.

EDWINA
How dare you speak to my Father that way?

HENDRY
Ah. Daddy’s Girl chips in. Frankly, the only thing that’s more irritating than having to listen to him regurgitate half a page of mouldy soliloquy when he simply means “yes please, two sugars” is listening to you and your “Daddy was such a Genius, Daddy was just the Best, you killed my Daddy, oh, Daddy Daddy Daddy” routine. Face it, Eddie, he jumped off a balcony because a handful of people he didn’t much like or respect failed to give him a particularly ugly bronze paperweight. I mean, low-self esteem is one thing but that’s no tragedy, that’s just bloody pathetic. Ands the selfish git really had your best interests at heart when he threw himself out of my bloody window, didn’t he?

PHIBES
Have you quite finished?

HENDRY
I think so.

PHIBES
I have feelings, you know.

HENDRY
Boo bloody hoo.

PHIBES
As I was trying to say … a duel. You and me, Mr. Carter. To the death.

HENDRY laughs.

HENDRY
Right versus wrong? Good versus evil?

PHIBES
Self-preservation versus Sweet Revenge.

EDWINA
What’s in name? That which we call a rose-“

HENDRY
Stop that. Now.

PHIBES
Just you and me.

Taking it from EDWINA, PHIBES throws HENDRY a sword.

Stand away, Edwina.

EDWINA
Father.

HENDRY
I’ve seen you fight, on stage. You’re a master.

PHIBES
The advantage is mine, I’ll admit. Would you rather I just ran you through?

HENDRY attacks. After a short while PHIBES wounds him.

EDWINA
“ A hit! A very palpable hit!”

HENDRY
What does it take to shut you people up!

The fight continues and ends with HENDRY on his back, PHIBES stood over him.

PHIBES
Well fought, Mr. Carter, well fought. Any last words?

HENDRY starts to laugh.

Something amuses you?

HENDRY
A plague … “A plague on both your houses!”

PHIBES raises his sword. BROOKE enters, holding the pistol.

BROOKE
Back off!

PHIBES stops.

HENDRY
Brooke!

BROOKE
You don’t want to be dead, you back off!

HENDRY
How did you find me?

BROOKE
Through Edwina.

BROOKE reaches into her back and pulls out the handkerchief.

When she did her little tearful routine back at your place, I gave “Eddie” this, remember? Well, little Miss Raise-The-Dead should have been more careful. Greaspaint. Greasepaint from that lovely sympathy-inducing bruise. I always had you pegged for a no-goodnik.

EDWINA
You can’t stop us. Father will have his revenge!

BROOKE
Oh, change the record.

PHIBES raises his sword. BROOKE raises the pistol.

EDWINA
No!

EDWINA runs between them, throwing the lantern to one side.
There is a shattering noise and a whoomph! as flames start to flicker.
BROOKE opens fire. EDWINA falls, and PHIBES runs to her.

PHIBES
Edwina!

BROOKE
Come on. We got to get out of here.

HENDRY
We can’t just leave them here!

BROOKE
We got to go.

HENDRY moves towards EDWINA and PHIBES.

PHIBES
“ No, no, no life?
Why should a dog, a horse, a rat have life,
And thou no breath at all? Thou’lt come no more,
Never, never, never, never, never.”

BROOKE, to HENDRY
I’ve got a gun and I will shoot you.

HENDRY
What? You shot her and saved me so you can shoot me?

BROOKE
You’re my fiancé. It’s allowed.

HENDRY
Oh, am I?

BROOKE
Yes, you are.

HENDRY
Well, fine.

BROOKE
Fine.

BROOKE & HENDRY together.
Fine.

They kiss passionately. PHIBES rises, lifting EDWINA

PHIBES
“ Howl, howl, howl! O you are men of stones.
Had I your tongues and eyes, I’d use them so
That heaven’s vault should crack.”

HENDRY
Come on, man! We can get her some help!

PHIBES
“ She’s gone for ever. I know when one is dead, and when one lives.”

To HENDRY.

We belong dead.

There is a groaning as the building collapses. A scream and blackout.

The lights snap on as GADSHILL and DICKON run on.

GADSHILL
My God! Anyone in there’s a goner.

BROOKE and HENDRY emerge coughing from the smoke.

DICKON
Mr. Carter! Miss Deveraux!

GADSHILL
You’re alive!

HENDRY
Yes, Inspector. We are.

HENDRY and BROOKE kiss again.

We are.

GADSHILL
Well, that’s good, obviously … but what about Phibes?

HENDRY and BROOKE share a look.

HENDRY
Well, Inspector, as usual, his performance was clichéd, overblown and, frankly, hammy … but you’ve got to admit, he knew how to make an exit.

Blackout.