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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The United Kingdom (01/22/09)

TITLE: Alas, Poor Yorrick
By Jan Ackerson


The curtain rises on the sparse interior of an English cottage from centuries ago. A fire burns in the fireplace at stage right, with an iron pot dangling in the flames. The only furniture is a rough wooden table with a few small chairs. Wooden shelves on the walls hold small household implements. EDWARD YORRICK is seated, a quill pen in one hand, gazing out the window at stage left.

SARAH, his wife, enters through an open doorway at the rear of the stage. She carries a spoon and a scrap of cloth. She walks over to the pot, lifts its lid, and stirs the contents.

Sarah: How would you like your rabbit, dear?

Edward: (sighing) Oh, I don’t care. As you like it.

Sarah: (wistfully) I wish I could cook like your mother did…

Edward: Don’t worry about it, Sarah. Your rabbit stew is just like hers, measure for measure. It’s just that…(another heavy sigh)

Sarah: I’m sure you’ll come up with an idea soon. Today, or if not today…

Edward: Tomorrow? And tomorrow, and tomorrow—I just don’t know, Sarah. I’m so downhearted, that stew you’re making might as well contain eye of newt and toe of frog.

Sarah: Ew! Edward, that’s gross. Who thinks like that?

Edward: Sorry, Sarah. Your stew will be swell, I’m sure. It’s just that I love writing so much, but…the course of true love never did run smooth. Why, just the other day, I wrote a wonderful sonnet, but that dog snatched my parchment and chewed it up! All of love’s labours lost…

A dog appears in the open doorway. It approaches Edward, tail wagging, then puts its paws up on the table and sniffs the parchment there.

Edward: Out, darned Spot!

Sarah: (she approaches Edward and massages his neck) Maybe you’re making too much of this.

Edward: Much ado about nothing, eh? Well, I’ve got to provide for you somehow. What else can I do? (He considers) There was a time when I wanted to be…or not to be…(muttering) that is the question…

Sarah: To be what, dear?

Edward: Well, a food critic. But when my friend Magnus gave me some agurkesalat—I’ll just say that something is rotten in the state of Denmark. That’s not the job for me.

Sarah: (Taking a seat) What else did you want to be, Eddie?

Edward: Well, when I was a boy, I wanted to be a knight. But we couldn’t afford a horse. A horse! (with a grand gesture) My kingdom for a horse…

Sarah: Well, I think you’ll be a very good writer some day, Edward. (She pats his hand) You going to be all right? I should add some vegetables to the rabbit. (She takes a knife from the shelf)

Edward: What’s that? Is this a dagger which I see before me? Where’d we get that?

Sarah: Some merchant came by the other day. Let’s see, where was he from…

Edward: The merchant of Venice?

Sarah: That’s the one! Did you know—his name is Rose—Richard Rose. Isn’t that a nice name?

Edward: Yes, but…what’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name might still sell shoddy merchandise. Let me see that.

(Sarah passes the knife to Edward)

Edward: Oh, that’s just swell. See, it’s already chipping. Lord, what fools these mortals be…people will fall for anything. Sarah, I love you, but you should be more careful. Richard Rose is James Smythe’s partner, I believe. Well, a plague on both their houses! (He stands and stretches). It’s obvious I won’t be writing anything today. Drat that Will Shakespeare! (Edward looks out the window again, shaking his fist) He thinks up all the good lines! How much longer for the rabbit? Maybe I’ll take a nap…to sleep, perchance to dream--something might come to me.

Sarah: It’ll be a while yet, Edward. We could…I mean…I don’t need to tend the rabbit for a little while. (She inclines her head toward another door, batting her eyelashes at her husband).

Edward: (leaping up from his chair and spinning Sarah around) Sarah, you’re the best! All’s well that ends well, eh? (He carries her through the doorway)

After a few seconds, we hear Edward from behind the closed door, saying “Wait! I’ve got it!” The door opens and Edward emerges, his shirt slightly untucked from his tights. He sits, picks up his quill and starts to write.

Edward: (speaking slowly, inking his quill after each word) All’s…swell…that… ends…swell…


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This article has been read 1395 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Melanie Kerr 01/29/09
Very clever! I know enough Shakepeare likes to pick them out, but I am sure I missed a few. Very witty!
Helen Paynter01/29/09
If you tickle us, do we not laugh? The quality of humour was not strained... it was twice blessed; it blesses her that gives and her that reads
OK I can't think of any more clever comments. Don't know how you do it!
Lynda Schultz 01/29/09
How totally clever you are!
Diana Dart 01/30/09
I love it, love it, love it. I was on the edge of my seat waiting for the next line, searching for the treasures! Too funny and just wonderfully creative. Bravo.
Chely Roach01/30/09
Tee hee...I love it. Very witty and clever. Absolutely wonderful.
Sheri Gordon01/30/09
Wow, I knew more Shakespeare quotes than I thought I did--but I'm sure I missed many, too. So very clever. This had me chuckling throughout, and looking for the next quote. It was fun. :)
Verna Cole Mitchell 01/31/09
Wonderfully hilarious to the last swell line!
Sonya Leigh01/31/09
Well, what a time I had brushing up on Shakespeare! And I was rusty, too...it took me a good chunk of time to read it because I kept googling the phrases, just to see which play the quotes were from. Wonderful and witty; you definitely had a method in the madness. :-)

Eliza Evans 01/31/09
SOOOOOO Delicious!!!

Joanne Sher 02/01/09
Oh my - what a LOAD of fun, wit, and delight! I'm sure I missed some of the quotes too - but I caught several. Love this! Incredibly clever.
Gerald Shuler 02/03/09
Marvelous writing. Shakespeare would approve... and so would your MC. This is the funniest entry I have read in a long time.
Connie Dixon02/03/09
Oh, this was hillarious. I LOVE the setting and the script is brilliant. When I read your writing I realize just how far I have to go. Amazing!
Bryan Ridenour02/03/09
Super Fun! Great Creativity! Thanks for sharing!
Myrna Noyes02/03/09
Perfect! Perfect! I loved the beginning, adored the ending, and admired everything in between! You are the "Queen of Clever" with this amusing piece! I doff my hat to you! :)
Karlene Jacobsen02/03/09
*laughing at self* how ridiculous I must have looked when I was listening to Edward say those lines and think, "Was he really Shakespear under a pen name? or Did I miss something?" HAHA to me. I caught on when Edward said that Wm Shakespear got all the good stuff.
I really enjoyed this, with my goofy brain and all.
Yvonne Blake 02/04/09
ha, ha, ha! Bravo! Bravo!
Dee Yoder 02/04/09
There are sooo many fun things in this, Jan, that I felt like a kid in a candy shop...which to choose?!

This made me laugh out loud (too clever, Thou):

"Out, darned Spot!"

Oh my. What a brain is in that head of your'n, m' Dear!
Carol Slider 02/04/09
Fantastic, Jan! Not only very entertaining, but a plausible alternative to that pesky Shakespeare-Bacon theory...
Loren T. Lowery02/04/09
I often wondered where he got the ideas and words for his work and now I know - in discussions with his wife : )
Who said marriage doesn't have its benefits? Wonderful job, Jan.
Leah Nichols 02/05/09
Amazing, just amazing....I laughed aloud at the Spot part too. :)
Connie Dixon02/05/09
Congratulations, Jan. Your writings are amazing. Thank you for sharing your talents in so many encouraging ways.
Sonya Leigh02/05/09
Congratulations, Jan!!
This was terrific...a well-deserved win!
Glynis Becker02/05/09
Fantastic! Such fun to read :) Congratulations!
Marty Wellington 02/05/09
It's a gem! Enjoyed every second of it! Congratulations!
Myrna Noyes02/05/09
CONGRATULATIONS, Jan!! I KNEW this was going to be a winner! :)
DiAnna Steele02/05/09
"The eagle suffers little birds to sing." {Titus Andronicus Quote Act IV, Scene 4.} Jan, you inspire this little bird! AND I was laughing so hard out loud, my son came into my office to check on me. Brilliant!
Beth LaBuff 02/06/09
What an absolute riot! Love this! Congrats Jan!
Debbie OConnor02/07/09
Congratulations, Jan! That was delightful.
Judy Bowers02/08/09
This is wonderfully hilarious and well-deserving of 1st place!
Beth B02/09/09
Loved your story! Congrats on first place! I appreciate your feedback on my stories, and wanted you to know.
Ashley Nicole 02/11/09
Aside from your exquisite writing talent (I've read several of your entries), I appreciate your command of grammar and mechanics--I've just learned how to write a play through reading this!
Dianne Janak02/15/09
This piece is one of my over-all favorites of yours! Knowing about your recent trip made it all the more fun... congrats Jan. Well deserved win here.
Norma-Anne Hough02/15/09
Congratulations on your first place. You really deserved it.
Love Norms
Joshua Janoski04/20/09
Loved the injection of Shakespeare throughout the story. So very clever and a ton of fun.