Time once again for another episode of "Discount Shakespeare," written by the Bard when he was having an off day. Tonight's installment is titled "Wait No More."
The players: Lucretia and Monrovia, ladies-in-waiting; Nora, the queen; Dankworth, the king; Brassius, a fool; Lord Blackguard, the villain; Selantha, a ghost.
The setting: castle courtyard, England, late 1600s.
(Enter Lucretia and Monrovia.)
Lucretia: "We wait then?"
Lucretia: "My brow doth grow weary under the tyrannical yoke of most men."
Monrovia: "Ay. The king is a fool, and the queen is no help. She lives for his every utterance, though his vaporous words can do no more than foul the air." (Blackguard jumps from behind a bush.)
Blackguard: "Treason! Women with tongues that cut!"
Monrovia, Lucretia: "Gander, thy goose is cooked. It's the highway for you!" (They run him off; enter queen, wringing her hands.)
Monrovia: "Surely, good Nora, the 12-week therapeutic support group on 'Freeing the Woman's Spirit' could help? It gathers in earnest beginning at 7 p.m. Wednesday. A token fee of $35 per session is required. You could dial (213) 207-2427 for information, if we had a phone."
Nora: "I fear all is lost. The children, though their hearts are pure and their gaze strong and sweet, are driving me to imbibe heavily."
Lucretia: "Motherhood could make even poor Sisyphus' rock-bound predicament seem effortless. Get thee to 'The Realities of Motherhood and How to Cope' at 7 p.m. Thursday. It costs nothing. For information call (213) 398-4559."
Nora: "But we still lack the instrument?"
Lucretia: "A phone? Ay." (Enter ghost.)
Monrovia: "What is this? A distaff specter? I would run but am not fit! My burdens are many."
Selantha: "Wait no more."
Nora: "It speaks to us!"
Selantha: "I, too, was once like mortar fixed to earthly place. Time is swiftly winged. Women, wait no more! The Center for Applied Counseling holds a support group for all sisters. Stretch, relax and unburden your hearts at 7:30 p.m. Monday. Such good company for a modest levy of $5! Call (213) 820-3625." (Ghost exits.)
Nora: "A phone! My kingdom for a phone!" (Enter Brassius.)
Brassius: (Nora and Monrovia shrink from him) "Give us a kiss, give us a kiss, give us a kiss."
Lucretia: "Buffoon!" (Stares him down; he slithers off.) Much thanks I must offer to the the University of Judaism for its eight-week course on self-defense for women. Even the knowledge that it begins noonday Friday stiffens my resolve and spine. Information is a mere (213) 476-9777 away." (Enter Dankworth, the drunken king; he carries a goblet.)
Dankworth: "Is this a vessel of ale I see before me?" (He belches, sits under a tree, and falls asleep.)
Lucretia: (regarding king) "Finally, he offends no one."
Monrovia: "Even a blind pig finds an ear of corn now and then."