THE PRINCESS & THE UNICORN

CHARACTERS

King, an ineffectual ruler
Princess, who has really been around
Unicorn, a fabulous beast

SETTING

The Middle Ages. The throne room of a royal palace.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

(A fanfare. The King is sitting nervously on his throne.)

KING
Oh dear, oh dear. Ordinarily I find unparalleled delight in being the king. But on other occasions the crown rests heavy on my brow. This present moment, I fear, is one of those instances.—Ah, here she is! Looking truly as regal as a genuine princess of the realm.

(The Princess slouches in, scratching her side, rubbing her eyes and hitching up her immodest clothes.)

PRINCESS
You summoned me, Paternal Sweetie-Pie? God, it’s early . . . . Who gets up this early?

KING
Come here, my precious daughter. Pull up a throne . . . .

PRINCESS
(sitting on one of the smaller thrones)

I don’t mind taking the weight off . . . I didn’t sleep one wink—there was something under my mattress.

KING
A pea in your bed?

PRINCESS
(yawning)A what?

KING
A pea . . . in your bed?

PRINCESS
Naww—it was a bean or something.

KING
You have the delicacy of a true princess.

PRINCESS
(rubbing her backside)
That’s me all over. So what’s happening, Pops? Some new threat by the rabble to rebel? A new candidate for my exquisite little hand in marriage? I gotta tell you, the last one spent the whole date yakking about fletching.

KING
Fletching?

PRINCESS
His hobby—putting feathers on arrows. I couldn’t get to first base with him.

KING
First base?

PRINCESS
An expression. So what’s up?

(Aside)

In fact, nothing interesting has been up in this kingdom as long as I can remember.

KING
My priceless treasure of a daughter, the kingdom is in grave danger of perishing.

PRINCESS
(aside)

So am I, if I don’t get some action . . .

KING
A strange creature has been harrowing the kingdom. A great unicorn on a rampage.

PRINCESS
A eunuch on a rampage?

KING
A unicorn–he has this huge horn on his forehead.

PRINCESS
(aside)
Think of the possibilities . . .

KING
The people are sore oppressed.

PRINCESS
Sore oppressed, huh? That’s not good . . . . They could end up doing something drastic.

KING
Our cattle are dying, the crops are shriveling, and a peculiar lassitude is affecting our most promising youths.

PRINCESS
So that’s what’s wrong with ’em! Lassitude . . .

KING
You must emulate your heroic ancestor, Princess Isolde the Corpulent. It was she who saved the kingdom from the vast Unitarian hordes.

PRINCESS
How’d she do that, Pops?

KING
She trudged far to the north and blocked the mountain pass by sitting down in it.

PRINCESS
Big girl, huh?

KING
Enormous. And now, at an equally perilous time, only you can deliver us.

PRINCESS
How, Pops? I feel truly inspired. I’ll do anything, if I have the right clothes for it.

KING
According to the ancient wisdom, the only person who can subdue a unicorn is a virgin of royal blood.

PRINCESS
A virgin? I see . . . Right, a virgin.—You did say a “virgin,” didn’t you?

(She tries, with elaborate casualness, to find something to say.)

Well . . . how about . . . no . . . Now, in fact . . . no . . . Hey—what about my sister, Princess Hilda?

KING
I’m afraid she no longer qualifies.

(Confidingly)

She was ravished last January by the Saxon Ogre.

PRINCESS
(aside)
Yeah–she got to him before I knew he was in town.

(To King)

I don’t suppose Grandma qualifies?

KING
You are the only one. As a reward if you succeed, you may wed Prince Engelhart the Inept.

PRINCESS
That 90-pound weakling? I’d rather fletch. Listen, I’d be glad to save the kingdom, but I have a migraine.

KING
The royal physician will give you a powder.

PRINCESS
(aside)

I should take a powder.

(To King)

Tell me, Pops—how exactly does one define a virgin for the purpose of unicorn-subduing?

KING
A maiden who is pure of action, immaculate of thought, and innocent of all carnal experience.

PRINCESS
(aside)
That’s three strikes right there . . .

(To King)

What if–just speaking hypothetically–a maiden turned out to be less than–well–100% a virgin? Would the unicorn know?

KING
Indubit–indib–indibitable–without a doubt.

PRINCESS
And then what? Especially if she was, say, less than 10% a virgin?

KING
He would trample her. And gore her.

PRINCESS
Not my idea of a picnic.

(Crowd noises—“Help!” “Save us!” etc.)

What the hell is that? Why is the populace in an uproar?

KING
(seeing something off)

Mercy on us! It’s the unicorn! Storming the castle! It’s all up to you, dear one!

(Flees. Unicorn enters. He paws the ground and whinnies.)

PRINCESS
(quickly overcoming any fear)
Hey, unicorn! Yo, what’s happening?

UNICORN
I will destroy this kingdom stone by stone, beast by beast, blade of grass by blade of grass! I’m ready to organize the rabble to create a new order!

PRINCESS
Hold on—whose rabble do you think they are? And what’s wrong with peaceful evolution for gradual social change?

UNICORN
The dialectic of history won’t permit anything gradual. Life in this realm sucks!

PRINCESS
I hear your anger.

(He looks very closely at her. He circles around her. This can’t be a virgin. He shakes his head. She looks closely at him, circles around him.)

Irving?

UNICORN
Griselda? What are you doing here?

PRINCESS
For one thing, this is my castle. In fact, it’s Princess Griselda.

UNICORN
Since when are you a princess?

PRINCESS
Since my royal behind saw the light of day. It wasn’t something I discussed with the guys at Grendel’s Slurp & Burp. More to the point: when did you become a unicorn?

UNICORN
That’s a story. How’d you recognize me?

PRINCESS
Something crooked in your left eye. Could I forget? That night in the haystack under the moon? Whoo!!

(Fans herself with her hand.)

But enough about me. How’d you get in this unicorn racket?

UNICORN
A spell. Hannah, the Horrid Hag of Hanover, hexed me.

PRINCESS
The Horrid Hag of Hanover hexed you? Horrendous!

UNICORN
I loused up her Lenten levitation. It was quite a let-down.—Anyway, for now I’m a fabulous beast. It has its advantages, I’ll admit that.

PRINCESS
Fabulous, huh? You’ve got some kind of an agenda?

UNICORN
Listen, even a fabulous beast can’t go around destroying stuff all the time. What’s wrong with trying to create a new order? I get the aristocrats against the peasants, and the peasants against the aristocrats, and the bourgeoisie against the peasants and the aristocrats, and everyone destroys everything for me. If I’m lucky, the Inquisition sets up shop and goes after everyone else.

PRINCESS
That’s well and good, but what’s this attitude problem you have about non-virgins?

UNICORN
It’s like a complex with us unicorns. Something comes over me. Oo!

PRINCESS
Can’t you break the spell?

UNICORN
Sure, if a virgin princess kisses me on the forehead.

PRINCESS
What if we’ve lost our amateur standing?

UNICORN
A non-virgin princess can lift up my tail and give me a kiss.

PRINCESS
Yeah, right. And that breaks the spell?

UNICORN
No, but it makes a hell of a story back in the forest.

PRINCESS
Get serious, Irving. This isn’t about me and my petty vanity and self-concern, not to mention my narcissistic self-absorption. It’s bigger than me—it’s even bigger than Princess Isolde the Corpulent. It’s the whole kingdom—mankind, womankind, and kidkind.—God, I feel so noble!

UNICORN
That’s not so strange, for a princess.

PRINCESS
Yeah, but for me? Anyway, there has to be an alternative angle for dealing with a unicorn.

UNICORN
Okay.

(He trots around in a circle, to a dance rhythm, three times.)

PRINCESS
What’s this?

UNICORN
I’m thinking. Doesn’t everyone chase their tail when they’re thinking? Okay—here’s a brainteaser for you to figure: What has four legs, one horn, and is hung like a magnificent stallion?

PRINCESS
C’mon—I flunked Conundrums 101. Think again.

UNICORN
(starts to dance around in a circle, but stops)
Whoa!

PRINCESS
What? I’m not going anywhere.

UNICORN
No—I stopped myself. There’s one more method, but you may not like it.

PRINCESS
I’m desperate. I gotta save the kingdom—for one thing, it’s my dowry. What do I have to do?

UNICORN
Give yourself willingly and totally to the insatiable carnal appetite—

PRINCESS
That’s a sacrifice?

UNICORN
—of the unicorn.

PRINCESS
You know . . . I’ve never done it with another species. Unless you count some of the guys at
Grendel’s . . . I want you to promise to lay off the kingdom destruction. Even rousing the rabble?
Okay?

UNICORN
(raising a hoof)
Scout’s honor.

PRINCESS
They let unicorns in the Boy Scouts?

UNICORN
They don’t ask.

PRINCESS
Now, about this sacrifice . . . Hey, I’m feeling so noble, my knees are getting weak. I can’t swear it’s from nobility. Listen, you don’t want to come to my room—there’s these beans under the mattress.

UNICORN
I passed a pretty nice haystack out back.

(Seductively)

According to that sundial, the moon’s gonna shine before too long. It’ll look gorgeous on my horn.

PRINCESS
If you get hungry, you can help yourself to the hay. And you promise to leave the vicinity afterwards?

UNICORN
Why not? I heard there’s some virgins over in Hoboken [or some local place]. And they say Williamsburg is ripe for insurrection.

(Her hand around his neck, they start to leave. As they exit:)

PRINCESS
Do you think I could be another Princess Isolde? Will they tell stories about my great feat?

UNICORN
Your feet? They look all right to me. You know, Griselda, to the gang at Grendel’s, you’re already a legend.

[Blackout.]

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