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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