Time once again for another episode of...

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?"

Monrovia: "Ay."

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."


The End.

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