Noahs Nuclear NicheAnthony E Thorogood / Humor
Noahs Nuclear Nice
A Collection of Crazy Plays
by Anthony E Thorogood
Copyright Anthony E Thorogood 2010
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A Good Fun Read
A collection of humorous plays that can easily be read and enjoyed and just as easily performed. All the plays in this collection have been staged with great success and I would recommend them to any aspiring theatre buff or to any reader who loves irrelevant humour.
Plays by Anthony E Thorogood
Noahs Nuclear Niche: An Assortment of Crazy Plays
Julio & Romiette
Life Love & Lavenham
L'Hotel Le Big Knob
Noahs Nuclear Niche
Noahs Nuclear Niche
Robin Hood and the Gnu
First Class to Mandalay
Planet of the Cows
Anthony E Thorogood
Who the Hell am I
What the Hell do I Write
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Noahs Nuclear Niche
First performed July 1975 at the Balcony Theatre Adelaide and presented by the Adelaide University Drama Society in conjunction with the Association of Community Theatres as part of 'Another Almost Free Season' and directed by me!
Noah: Mathew Farger.
Wife: Annette Green.
Lancelot: Michael Griffin.
God, Salesman, Scientist, Ecologist, Doctor, Gypsy: Susan Tonkin.
Set: A pile of junk, any props needed can come from and go back into the pile of junk and finally the pile of junk is used to build the bomb shelter.
Noah: (Noah's wife and Lancelot Marine walk off talking and Noah runs on) Was that my wife I just saw talking to a soldier? If it was I'll batter her brains in. What a cheek, a married woman taking to a soldier. And that's not the end of my problems, there's money too. I earn a comfortable but small income and she takes the credit card and paints the town red. My philosophy of life is simple enough take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves, a penny saved is a penny earned, money doesn't grow on trees but somehow it's too profound for her to comprehend. (shouts) Wife! Come out here.
Wife: I'm busy.
Noah. Do as you're told.
Wife. I'm not a slave at your beck and call.
Noah. I courteously condescend to inform you that I am your husband.
Wife: (enters) My husband courteous and condescending, and I never thought I'd live to see the day. Wonders never cease, hallelujah, ring the bells, put out the flags, crowds gather in the streets. Armageddon has arrived.
Noah: You bag of bones, I'l1 blister, batter and bruise your cretinous carcass.
Wife: Darling, life is so sweet with you around. You're so kind, gentle, considerate and thoughtful.
Noah: I love you too.
Wife: Yes, we were made for each other. Where have you been all my life?
Noah: Married to you mostly.
Wife: Yes, I sensed that something had come between us.
Noah: Never mind that now. Let's go through the shopping list.
Wife: The shopping list?
Noah: The shopping list.
Wife: Do we have to?
Noah: Do we have to? I work my fingers to the bone and all you want to do is to splash my hard earned cash on food. We should go hungry now and then it would save money.
Wife: Yes dear, what's a little hunger when you're happily married, we have our love to keep us warm.
Noah: First things first, I gave you five dollars (holds up five fingers) is that correct?
Wife: (Holds five fingers up in reply, counts them) One, two, three, four, five dollars, check, double check, A.O.K., Roger over and out.
Noah: You purchased potatoes.
Wife: I purchased potatoes.
Noah: What is the current market price for potatoes?
Wife: Fifty cents per kilogram.
Noah:. How many kilograms did you purchase?
Wife: Two pounds.
Noah: Two pounds?
Wife: Two pounds, or thereabouts.
Noah: But how many kilograms?
Noah: That's fifty cents multiplied by one equals fifty cents. So you purchased potatoes for fifty cents correct?
Noah: Now we're really getting somewhere. But you have another four dollars fifty to account for yet.
Wife: Yes dear.
Noah: Can't we give up potatoes?
Wife: No dear.
Noah: I'm not so sure but go on, what else did you buy?
Noah: You bought bread. How much is bread?
Wife: Fifty cents a loaf.
Noah: How many loaves did you buy?
Noah: Just one?
Wife: Just one.
Noah: Aha, that's fifty cents, so it's a compound sum of a dollar. You have accounted for a dollar. What else?
Wife: Eggs, dollar fifty a dozen.
Noah: What! One dollar fifty a dozen?
Wife: A dollar fifty a dozen, (with pleasure at his pained reaction) or three dollars for two dozen, four dollars fifty for three dozen and only six dollars for four dozen.
Noah: I don't even like eggs.
Wife: (with Pleasure) I like eggs; scrambled, boiled, fried, poached, omelettes and comboed.
Noah: How many?
Wife: One dozen.
Noah: One dozen at one dollar fifty a dozen. That's a total of two fifty. Do we really need eggs?
Wife: One cabbage at fifty cents a cabbage.
Noah: Three dollars.
Wife: One kilogram of peas, fifty cents a kilogram.
Noah: Three dollars fifty.
Wife: Kilogram of tomatoes, one dollar.
Wife: Kilogram of onions, forty-eight cents.
Noah: Four dollars ninety-eight (pause as Noah holds out hand for change) Well?
Wife: Well what?
Noah: Four dollars ninety-eight from five dollars leaves two cents.
Wife: Two cents.
Noah: Where is it?
Wife: I tossed it in the river.
Noah: You what?
Wife: I tossed it in the river. You know, throw, hurl, pitch, bowl, water, H20, liquid, running, moving, flowing, coin, token, money, splash, crash, plash.
Noah: Almighty God, Jesus Christ, for God's sake why?
Wife: I felt like it.
Noah: You felt like it.
Wife: I felt like it.
Noah: Two cents, I slaved my guts out for that two cents. Here am I working my life away, my fingers to the bone, and you throw my hard-earned meagre pay to the wind. Here zephyrs get rich quick, hey breezes, make your fortune.
Wife: You expect me to believe all this hot air of yours about money? I wasn't born this morning. All I would like is a few crumbs, one or two coins to buy a few pieces of clothing with. Now that's quite reasonable. And perhaps I wouldn't mind it if we had enough food to eat each day. Come on, let me into your secret. How much do you make?
Noah. What do you want to know that for? You just keep your nose out of my business, mind your own business.
Wife: (mimicking) 'Where's my two cents, where's my two cents,' you've got thousands and thousands saved up in the bank.
Noah: Who told you that? I'm poor, I'm poor I tell you. Can't even trust your own wife these days. You're after my money aren't you? Admit it.
Wife: Me after your money, it's easier to get blood out of a stone. You're an old piece of granite, rough as they come, you probably haven't got any blood, just little hard crystals flowing through your veins.
Noah: I've got blood just like the next man. It's red too. You're just venting your frustrations on me because you married a poor man.
Wife: You're a miserable, measly, miser.
Noah: Me? Generous me? What about all the money I gave you to do the shopping? I get no gratitude.
Wife: Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful. I admit I've a lot to be grateful for. You're a very generous and kind-hearted man. You're so good to me, you always make sure that my little comforts are seen to.
Noah: That's more like it.
Wife: And to show you how grateful I am, Noah, I've been saving up all the bills over the last month so I can give them to you all at once.
Wife: There's a gas bill, and electricity, plus water rates, council rates and taxes and land tax. You see what a grateful person I am? It all comes to a pretty penny, believe me. I'll just go inside and gather them altogether. Don't go away. Just wait here and suffer.
Noah: Oh no, Armageddon, all that money, I'm going to have a heart attack. Wife help me, someone help me, I'm dying, I'm dying. (he falls to the floor)
Lancelot: (enters as a commando, armed with a rifle searching for the enemy. When he has checked out the place he relaxes) Did someone call for a friendly hand? I can't see anybody, (stands to attention) I'm on leave from the front. The front is where the enemy are. (He acts out the rest as if he was at the front himself) As they approached in the mist, in the hazy shadows of dust, like fate slowly creeping towards us over the cold damp earth, 'let 'em have it,' the two-way radio cracked. Automatic rifle-fire burst out into the night, red bloody flashes in the once ghostly, almost sacred haze. Machine-guns rattled beating the night into spitted corrugations of colour, noise and death. Mortars, howitzers and field guns blasted huge yellow, orange, red, explosions into the shaking night. Bazooka rockets pierced out into the flashing technicolour tornado. A fireworks display of death and broken bodies. Helicopters hurdy-gurdied into the hurly-burly, dispatched racks of rockets, swooped, zoom, laid egg-clusters of bombs, smothered the earth in staccatoed straffings of machine-gun fire and hurdy¬-gurdied away. Jet bombers swooped in, pounded huge chasms into the ground with missiling megatons and swooped up and away into the unaffected, unnoticing sky. Tanks added rockets, missiles, bombs, and shells, (he suddenly stops and addresses the audience in a newsreader's voice) and from a few miles to the rear after all the bombs, bullets, rockets, missiles and napalm had done their job, a small tactical nuclear war-head whistled through the air. The field disintegrated, the enemy were never identified.
Noah: I'm dying.
Lancelot: Did one of them get you?
Noah: One of who?
Lancelot: The enemy.
Noah: Which enemy?
Lancelot: I don't know, I only know they're out there.
Lancelot: The enemy. The enemy who I am trained to meet, face and repel.
Noah: But who are they?
Lancelot: I'm not sure really.
Noah: Who are you then?
Lancelot: Lancelot Marine, defender of the faith, of life, liberty, freedom, and the rights of man. (Winston Churchill style) Never before in the field of human conflict have so many owed so much to…
Noah: I don't owe you anything, I'm broke.
Lancelot: (W.C.) We will fight them on the beaches, we will fight them on the shores, in the valleys, in the hills, in the mountains, to the last gun, to the last self-propelled missile-launcher, to the last man.(pause) You're not an enemy are you?
Noah: No, no.
Lancelot: Positively identify yourself within thirty seconds or your life will be terminated.
Noah: I'm Noah, proprietor of various private enterprises and friendly.
Lancelot: Friendly. That means you're on our side. All the friendlies seem to be on our side, Mr Noah I shake your hand.
Noah: The enemy, they haven't got any money we could capture from them?
Lancelot: Oh I shouldn't think so. The enemy are never as civilized as the friendlies. Anyway, we must make plans for the defence of this area against commando raids, air strikes, guerrilla activity, enemy spies, agents and nuclear fallout. There's one thing you must remember in this war torn wide world the enemy are everywhere. Your wife, your children, everyone is suspect. Be on your guard.
Noah: Listen, wouldn't it be cheaper to surrender?
Lancelot: Lancelot Marine never surrenders, he doesn't know the meaning of the word.
Noah: Hang on I'll get a dictionary.
Lancelot: Mr Noah, Lancelot Marine doesn't use a dictionary, Mr Noah, Lancelot Marine doesn't read Mr Noah, people who read are suspect.
Noah: I'm totally illiterate, I haven't read a word in my life, I'm one of the good guys.
Lancelot: (Taking out a map of the local area where the play is being performed) We can set up a sand-bag machine gun emplacement here. You will be requisitioned for the materials.
Noah: What? I'm poor, I have no money, I'm poor.
Lancelot: (Referring to map) A nuclear shelter will go very well here… that's three million dollars.
Noah; Look, if you go away I'll buy you a new lightweight automatic air ¬cooled sub machine gun.
Lancelot: (referring to map) A nuclear missile system over there, only for retaliation purposes you understand. Slit trenches here and here. Barbed wire fences over there, a mine-field in there, artillery positions through there, mortar pits, communications bunkers. Over there dummy tanks and there a decay assault gun. Plus tents to house the troops, a field kitchen, a field hospital, a field H.Q., a playing field, a supply depot. general masters store, officers club, swimming pool, a services hotel.
Noah: How much, how much for God's sake?
Lancelot: Oh not much, several billion will be an adequate start.
Noah: And I'm to pay for this?
Lancelot: Of course. Who is to pay but the tax-payer? Everyone has to chip in, rich or poor, worker and boss. The whole of our side, every person on our side, whether they're on our side or not.
Noah: But I don't like bombs.
Lancelot: Pay up or else. I'll just check out this house, we can convert it to a field headquarters, knock out a wall or two, install radio and radar devices, board up the windows, camouflage the whole place as a tree. (exits)
Noah: Oh no, not my house, my hard-earned corner of the world, I've only just finished paying for it. It's no easy task paying off a house all your life. (Falls to his knees and prays) Oh God, God on high, Almighty God, protect my little sphere of interest, my small commercial enterprise. I've lived a good life, I never did nothing wrong. I gave money to charity, my wife baked cakes for the Sunday School fete. I worked hard all my life, started a little business, increased my productivity. I spent two hours every alternate month of my spare time teaching woodwork to abandoned mothers and I never littered the streets, I never polluted, I put all my rubbish in bins. I've been a good citizen, I planted native trees and grew organic vegetables. Oh God, God on high, Almighty God, help me.
God: (suddenly appears) Noah.
Noah: Who's there?
God: It is I, Noah.
Noah: I'm poor, I have no money, I'm only one single little man, what do you want from me?
God: What do I want? I want nothing. You prayed to me.
Noah: Well you can go now, I'm all right.
God: Noah, you prayed for help, I can give you warning. The world is coming to its Grand Finale, the cup final has arrived, you are an actor in a play and the curtains are about to be drawn on the last act. You stand in the spotlight but the blackout is upon you. In short, the world will erupt in an enormous explosion and for forty days and nights radiation shall rain down upon the earth, pollute the land, flow in the rivers, and poison the sea. All the fountains of the great deep skies will spurt forth and the windows of heaven shall be opened. This mud and bricks, machine and radio, concrete and bitumen civilization that mankind has evolved over thousands of years shall be wiped off the face of the earth.
Noah: What is to be done? I shall die with the rest. I'll be covered in radiation and turn into a mutant, I'll get leukaemia, I'm going to die. (To God) Look it's your fault, if you're the spirit of life you owe it to humanity to stop the oncoming holocaust. You owe it to me to save my life. It's your responsibility.
God: I owe you nothing. You evolved with the guiding hand of fate and fate shall reclaim you. Your fate is to be yourself and in being yourself you destroy yourself.
Noah: But I don't want to die. (pause) You're lying to scare me, there's not going to be any nuclear holocaust.
God: Time is running out.
Noah: Help me. Look, perhaps everyone else is going to get sick and die, but not me, not me. Tell me that's how it is.
God: I'm afraid not.
Noah: Look, stop the holocaust, I'll give you money. Go back in time and stop the discovery of nuclear energy, I'll make it worth your while, I'll grease your palm, you'll come out of this handsomely.
God: Time moves forward not back.
Noah: (angry) Rubbish, rubbish you just don't want to help me. You just don't care. You want to see me dead. Admit it, admit it. You're sick, a sadist, you like to see people in pain. Well you're small, very small, a child.
God: You must accept death. If I help you, you can only put off the end for a while. All perishes.
Noah: No, no, let all the others die, my wife, my friends, my parents, my family, everyone, but save me.
God: There is a way.
Noah: Anything, anything.
God: Noah, go forth and build a nuclear shelter of reinforced concrete and lead. One large room shalt thou make in the shelter, big enough for yourself and your family. Thou shalt line it within and without with lead. Dig it deep into the earth's womb. The length shall be twenty cubits and the breadth ten cubits and the height six cubits. Use the finest materials modern technology can develop. Radio communication, radioactivity sensors devices, telly screens, oxygen devices, insulated, reflective air sensors, and in seven days when the shelter hereafter named 'the Ark' as a symbol of its life-preserving function is finished, you shall enter its warm protective body and remain there for forty days and nights. After this time check the percentage of radio-activity in your area. When a safe limit has been reached you may again emerge from your cave into the sunlight and there upon go forth, be fruitful, multiply and replenish the earth. (God exits)
Noah: Thank you, thank you God. (Looks up, sees God has gone) Where have you gone? Don't leave me, I'm afraid, don't leave me, I'm scared.
God: (offstage) Noah, build your nuclear shelter, build your Ark.
(Noah collects all the money he threw into the air earlier)
Wife: (rushes in) Here are the bills, twenty dollars, forty dollars, eighty dollars, one hundred and sixty dollars and three hundred and twenty dollars. (Throws them up into the air) I can just see you fuming at the gills when you have to pay off this little lot. Your eyes will turn red with rage, when you look at a book you will burn up every page you will be so fiery and hot-tempered, you will be ablaze with anger. Steam will bellow out of your ears, all present will be filled with fears. You will stamp up and down like a distraught old clown. We'll call in the fire brigade and they'll douse you with lemonade. Gallons of petrol will explode and romantic poets will compose odes. You will rage, explode, get violent, hit the roof, drive me up the wall, go round the bend… come on… come on… anger, violence, temper, spit, curse, fume.
Noah: (Unaffected) A bit more self-control please.
Wife: (sarcastically) What's come over you? Hit me, go on, kick me, punch me, like you used to, come on, show me you care for me.
Wife: Oh Noah, don't you love me anymore?
Noah: Love? What's that? Never mind, I've been saved, I've been chosen.
Wife: Chosen? By whom?
Noah: By God.
Wife: What about me? Wait a minutes what crap are you talking about? God doesn't exist, everyone knows that.
Noah: Be that as it may, but I have been chosen to live on and begin mankind again. I have been saved for a higher purpose.
Wife: Wait a minute. What are you and me going to be saved from?
Wife: You're crazy, I'm married to a crazy man. All I wanted was to be happy and I get a wealthy tight-fisted eccentric. You're not going to be saved, you're going to be put away.
Noah: Disbelieve and be doomed!
Wife: I'm with you.
Noah: Here's two dollars, take it, go and spend it.
Wife: My God, you're out of your mind.
Noah: I'm a generous man. (Is about to hand two dollars to her) No, two dollars is perhaps a bit extravagant. Here's a dollar.
Wife: I don't understand. The old scrooge gives his wife a dollar. Hallelujah: Armageddon has arrived.
Noah: I wouldn't joke if I was you. It just happens to be perfectly true.
(Lancelot enters studying his map, we can only see his legs, the map hides everything else)
Lancelot: Barrage balloons over there, a soup kitchen here, an emergency radiation decontamination relief centre over there…
Noah: Ah Lancelot, my newly found disciple.
Lancelot: Ah stingy Noah.
Noah: I've changed my mind. I'll finance a nuclear shelter. We shall begin work on it straight away.
Lancelot: (overjoyed) What? You don't mean…
Noah: And then we can construct a fully-defensible self-supporting enclave.
Lancelot: My dream's come true utopia, that paradise in the sky here on earth. (embraces Noah) Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Noah: But the shelter first.
Lancelot: Sure thing.
Noah: Oh, meet my wife, Lancelot. She'll be helping us build the shelter.
Wife: We have already met.
Noah: Well, I can't stand around chatting all day. I have got to get this shelter off the ground. There's an old saying: 'God helps those who build their own nuclear shelter.' Our lives are in our own hands. If we can get down to business and build a proper fallout shelter we shall survive. But it's up to us, there's no one else to help us. The nuclear shelter, hereafter named the Ark, has a deadline of seven days if it's not finished in seven days we're dead.
Lancelot: (saluting) A.O.K. In memory of you Mr First Citizen Noah, we shall call the shelter, 'Region Seventy One Nuclear Safety Shelter One, Type 427DDT, Noah's Ark.'
Noah: Look I can't talk now, I have to arrange to meet top level nuclear specialists to advise me on all the ins and outs of nuclear shelters.
Wife: Yes, it will be good if we can get in and out of the shelter.
Noah: You two can begin digging. (picks up two small garden spades from the pile of junk and hands them to Lancelot and wife) Right, dig a small hole here, let me see fifty foot deep, ten foot wide and ten foot long, the width will be em, let me see, ten foot, and the breadth another ten. That should do for a start.
Lancelot: He certainly had a sudden change of heart. There was I organizing this whole area to convert it into an efficient military zone and he totally unconcerned about the community, turned me down flat. But now I almost think his heart's in the right place.
Wife: He hasn't got a heart. Just a small gristly mass. Well I think I'll go and carry the groceries into the kitchen. I only got them as far as the lounge and Noah arrived.
Lancelot: But that's a man's job.
Wife: Alright, you show me a man and I'll let him carry them. Well, what are you smiling for?
Wife: I beg your pardon, I don't understand.
Lancelot: Me, myself and I.
Wife: It's all above my head.
Lancelot: I shall carry your groceries.
Wife: But it's a man's job.
Lancelot: I am a man.
Wife: You're a child's toy soldier, more child and toy than soldier.
Lancelot: I've got medals.
Wife: I've got work to do, a scrooge of a husband, and I prefer men.
Lancelot: I've been in combat,
Wife: You're not a real soldier until you have taken my husband on and come out of it alive.
Lancelot: Does he beat you?
Wife: Let's put it this way, we beat each other.
Lancelot: You should take up with a younger bloke. It may teach him a few manners.
Wife: You know, you could be right.
Lancelot: A man hitting a woman, it's bad form.
Wife: What about a woman hitting a man?
Lancelot: You wouldn't do that, it's unladylike.
Wife. That's true, and I'm such a great lady.
Lancelot: And what did you say your name was?
Wife: I didn't.
Wife: Well aren't you going to ask me what it is anyway?
Lancelot: Oh yes,
Wife. It's Guinevere. What do you do Lance?
Lancelot: Me? I try to save the world. That's my mission in life. I try to save the world from itself.
Wife: But who's going to save it from you?
Lancelot: (Making a well-rehearsed speech, clears throat) You see, there's a lot wrong with the world and I want to change it. But the first thing that has to be done is to defeat the enemy. You may say, 'But there's always been an enemy and always will be.' Well, I dream about the day when all the enemies will be defeated. I met a cynic once who said, 'When you've defeated all the enemies you'll find some more to fight, and to kill,' that's just not true. One day all the enemies will be gone and only our boys and the friendlies will be left.
Wife: Do you think it will ever come true?
Lancelot: Just between me and you, our side are right now working on an even bigger bomb and when that's ready, in about seven days, I think we'll be able to finish off all the unfriendlies in one, quick as a zip, strike.
Wife:(sarcastically) And then everyone will be happy.
Lancelot: People won't hate anymore.
Wife: No more war.
Lancelot: Everyone will agree with each other.
Wife: There will be parties.
Lancelot: And festivals.
Wife: People in the streets.
Wife: And it won't be long.
Lancelot: No! seven days and it shall herald the new world of love and joy.
Wife: Oh Lance you're a hero.
Lancelot: I do my duty.
Wife: You do more.
Lancelot: Everyone should do their duty.
Wife: You're a hero above and beyond the call of duty.
Lancelot: One day there will be no more enemies.
Wife: What a stupid idea.
Lancelot: What? You don't mean that.
Wife: Of course not.
Lancelot: Let's drop the formalities, Guinevere. Call me Lance and I'll call you Guinnie.
Wife: And what do you intend doing when you drop your formalities?
Lancelot. I thought that I might be able to make your life a little more exciting.
Wife: Well you do have your good points.
Lancelot: I'm fully trained in unarmed combat.
Wife: It would teach Noah a lesson if I paid you a little attention. Besides, you're not such a boy really and I'm sure one day you'll grow up.
Lancelot: Did I ever tell you about the time I single handed, held a bunker for six days that was fully surrounded by an enemy battalion?
Wife: An enemy battalion did they know you were there.
Lancelot: It wasn't like that at all.
Wife: Don't get upset, I'm sure you did a wonderful job. All those enemies and you all by yourself. You put up a wonderful show for our side.
Lancelot: I got a medal, this one.
Wife: I got calluses on my hands from digging in the garden. Does that count?
Lancelot: You shouldn't dig in the garden.
Noah: (rushes in) Hey you two get back to work the world's going to end in seven days.
Lancelot: Who told you that? It's a military top secret. You're not a spy for the unfriendlies are you?
Wife: He's a fumbling fool, he couldn't tell a top secret from a bottom drawer.
Noah: I got it straight from the top.
Lancelot. The President of the United States of America? His royal personage himself? Why, Mr Noah, you must be a very important personage. A V.I.P. in fact. Is there anything I can do for you Mr Noah?
Wife: Him a V.I.P.? Only if it stands for a Vaguely Imbecilic Peanut.
Lancelot: Now Guinnie, Noah's a close friend of His Royal Personage himself.
Wife: He's just an old scab bag.
Lancelot: Guinnie I thought you were a red-blooded Australian housewife but now you're talking like an unfriendly.
Wife: (reconsidering her words) Oh Lance, Noah's a V.I.P., Lancelot's a big strong handsome hunk of a man, isn't he Noah?
Lancelot: Why thank you, you're kind of cute yourself.
Wife: Lancelot, you're better than three men of Noah's sort.
Lancelot. I don't like to admit it but I am pretty good.
Wife: (Dragging Lancelot off) Noah darling, I'm flirting with a tall, dark, handsome soldier.
Noah: Go ahead.
Wife: What: You condone it? Gesticulatoriously jealous Noah, who beats his poor wife if she so much as steps out of the house?
Noah: Life's short and we haven't got much time left, I'm too busy to worry about petty jealousies anymore.
Wife: Noah, he's holding my hand.
Noah: Enjoy yourself, God knows I'm useless when it comes down to brass tacks.
Wife: Your brass tacks are not so bad. Come on blow your top, rant and rave with jealousy.
Noah: What's marriage and jealousy when the sky's going to fall in on your head.
Wife: Oh Noah, you don't love me anymore.
Lancelot: Don't worry about Noah, he's got more important things on his mind. Come and see my new self-propelled one hundred and fifty millimetre howitzer.
Noah: Go on you two enjoy yourselves. There's not much time left. Take life less seriously for once be carefree. Besides I've arranged some top level on the spot conferences and I don't want you two in the way, so get out of here.
(Exit Lancelot and wife)
Salesman: (enters) The Salesman cometh. Now listen Mr… I didn't quite catch your name.
Noah: Arthur Noah, but let's not be informal just call me Mr Noah.
Salesman: Oh Mr, Noah, very nice name if I do say so myself, and I do, it has a nice ring about it, mythical, biblical, saintly, prophetic, poetic. Oh by the way my name's Merlin Smythes. Now Mr Noah you look like a man who's interested in saving money, now I've got some quality merchandise here and if you buy it you'll save heaps, did I say heaps, why I'm understating the case, you'll save bags and bags of the stuff, you'll save so much that you will be able to bath in filthy lucre. Now I've got a little number here worked on by top nuclear physicists and scientists at top rating American universities. Am I going to sell you an insurance policy? No! Am I going to sell you a set of brushes? No! Am I going to land you with a fifty volume encyclopaedia? No! Am I going to talk you into a food plan? No! A washing machine? No! A dish washing machine? Again I say, no, no, no! Now Mr Noah you look like a man of high intelligence, I'll tell you what I'm going to do for you, I'm going to sell you a new lease of life. Now most salesmen get you to sign your life way but I'm going to sell your life back to you. I'm going to sell you the key to survival. Now right here in this glossy covered booklet we have a choice of six varieties of modern nuclear shelters, all mod cons. Now I know what you're going to say to me, 'there's not going to be a nuclear holocaust,' but that's what the government would like you to think, why, the way they're digging it out of the ground these days, the place just might blow to bits by itself. Remember Atlantis, the biblical flood, the fall of Rome, the fire of London, the Black Plague, the San Francisco Earthquake, World War One, World War Two, Nagasaki, Hiroshima. Back to the booklet, first there's the 'Penthouse Radiator Reflector' luxury model. Now this deep carpeted dream shelter comes equipped with swimming pool and hot and cold flowing air. This model is designed to reflect radiation away at its source in the upper atmosphere. It has many excellent design characteristics, comes in three colours, red, white and blue, and has the optional feature of a round table, you're not interested in this one?
Noah: The round table idea sounds all right, but what if the building falls down during the explosion and we're all killed?
Salesman. There's a money back guarantee if you're not satisfied with our shelter, and if you're still alive after your first nuclear holocaust you get all your money refunded.
Noah: Can I see another?
Salesman: Well here's model five, a slightly cheaper version of model six. It's called 'Penthouse Economy,' it uses lead plate and concrete. This model does not contain the highly reflective overhead radiation stoppers but it has a money back guarantee to keep you alive for forty days and nights.
Noah: It's still much too high. I'd like something closer to the ground, in fact I'd…
Salesman: How about model four, our 'Family Safety Four Bedroom Bungalow.' It comes equipped at no extra cost to you with nuclear bomb proof dog kennel and insulated lead plate cat flap.
Noah: I don't like pets.
Salesman: Oh you want model three. Model three was tailor-made for you, yes three is your dream shelter, when you step into your own personal three and take a deep breath you'll know that three is the paradise you have been dreaming about all your life. It's called the 'Nuclear Family Shelter' or the Z.P.G. Shelter.
Noah: I would like one dug down deep into the ground.
Salesman: Could I sell you a swimming pool?
Salesman: There's model one, the single man sewerage hole shelter.
Noah: Not deep enough.
Salesman: Are you sure I can't interest you in model two, our 'Economy Take a Chance Corrugated Iron Mobile Shelter?'
Noah. No sale.
Salesman: Well I don't seem to be able to interest you in any of this year's models, perhaps you'd be interested in a little science. Now sit down here.
(The Salesman takes a chair from the junk heap and pushes Noah into it, he then changes into a lab coat)
Scientist: Super Scientist here to solve your nuclear worries. (Takes a note pad and pencil out of his pocket and starts figuring) Adding the sum of the total mean likelihood of nuclear non-proliferation, total expansionist holocaust divided by the square root, we now achieve the basic fundamental probability. We can move on from here to set up a study of the likelihood of the events in question and the estimated results that are foreseen to occur. Ipso facto, quid pro quo, therefore, vis-à-vis, from this we can conclude that and so I leave it up to you to determine in your own…
Noah: Oh yes, I understand every word but what I want Einstein, is a nuclear shelter.
Scientist: Oh yes a little nuclear niche for Noah. Let me see, fundamentally getting down to the bare bones, getting down to the nitty gritty, a nuclear shelter. Now to begin at the beginning, twenty-four inches of concrete rapidly reduces radiation one thousand times, now isn't that interesting and thirty six inches of earth reduces radiation by another one thousand times and then twenty seven inches of brickwork reduces radiation by another one thousand times. But and this is the point, if you add them all together, twenty four inches of creamy concrete, thirty six of brown earth, and twenty seven of red brickwork, you would not reduce radiation by three thousand percent but by a much greater amount. It has a compound effect you see, isn't that interesting. Eighty-seven inches compounded of bricks, concrete and earth, think about it.
Noah: Is eighty seven inches essential, it seems like an awful lot of inches?
Scientist: Convert it to metric and there won't be any inches to worry about.
Noah: Time's running out, only about six days, then poof, will you answer my question, yes or no?
Scientist: Couldn't say really. I'd have to construct an hypothesis, set up a control, test the hypothesis, analyse my results, draw cross-references, retest my hypothesis, establish the variable error in my results, wait ten years, publish my results, have a public controversy, then retest my hypothesis. Then write my autobiography, die, finish the last chapter of my autobiography, be rediscovered, reprinted, hailed as a prophet, be the hero of a generation, a hero of science, be the last word on everything for a decade, then go back into oblivion when people prove me wrong.
Noah: Don't you see I've only got seven days and one's gone already. I can't wait that long. Science got the world into this mess it's up to science to get it out.
Scientist: Science did no such thing, man got himself in and he can get himself out. But I do admit the problem is pressing. We must look elsewhere for an answer, we must turn to ecology.
(takes off his lab coat, puts on a poncho and small rimmed glasses, sits on the floor with legs crossed)
Ecologist: I am a prophet of Ecology, eat dirt, bird droppings and worms, go live in a cave, run naked through the undergrowth, make love, be free. You are a free person no other person has power over you. Life is beautiful, live, be free, run naked through the undergrowth.
Noah: But what about the oncoming big one?
Ecologist: As lightning flashes, the fiery eagles will soar in from the heavenly spheres. Mount Vesuvius will erupt and destroy Pompeii once again. The firmament shall burst and death rain down upon the naked city. Great fireballs spread across the heavens and radiation like rain in a thunderstorm pours down upon the slimly-built houses of civilization. Down from the blue sky gamma and beta as a thin mist at dawn wander down to poison the earth below. Gamma penetrates deep into the earth's flesh, beta lays its dust over the surface, a tablecloth of poison across the world.
Noah: This isn't helping. You're a specialist, what's to be done? I'm about to have a hernia, nothing's going right.
Ecologist: You need to get fit. How about a bicycle? (picks up an old bicycle from the heap of junk) The bicycle an alternative source of transport, very little pollution is produced by the safety cycle. It runs on human power and keeps its human fit at the same time. Thus it, so to speak, recharges its batteries. Cars should be forbidden, made illegal, persecuted.
Noah: But what has that to do with nuclear shelters?
Ecologist: You're never satisfied.
Noah: Yes I am.
Ecologist: No you're not, nothing I do is good enough for you.
Noah: Yes it is.
Ecologist: No it's not the only person you're interested in is yourself. What about the rest of humanity? And another thing, I wouldn't help you if I could.
(puts bicycle back and removes chair to pile of junk)
Noah: Can I speak to my accountant?
(Ecologist changes to Accountant. Puts on a waistcoat)
Noah: And all in all incorporating the latest technical breakthroughs I have just studied, how much will my nuclear shelter cost? Oh yes, before you calculate only include the technical breakthroughs that are cheap.
Accountant: One and one that's two, plus three that's four, minus the smallest common denominator, add the square root and minus the first principle. Add six, take seven, un, deux, trois.
Accountant: Be right with you, plus A to the X of P minus M the tangent of the past participle and pi r squared, Baa baa black sheep have you any wool, one minus one is two, humpty dumpty sat on the wall, once times one is one, once times two is two, once times three is three, once times four is four. (Looking up) Oh yes thank you, two sugars please, left over right, right over left and tie, that just about does it. (Looks up, proud smile)
Accountant, Three hundred and sixty-seven and a half, nine hundred billion, one hundred trillion, sixty dollars sterling, ten francs, eight roubles, four deutsch marks, and a partridge in a pear tree.
Noah: Oh no, I feel sick, I've got dropsy, diarrhoea, dysentery, diphtheria. A doctor, a doctor, help me get a doctor.
(Accountant changes to a doctor. Puts on a stethoscope)
Noah: Oh doctor, I'm sick, I'm dying, you must save my life. But I'm poor, if it costs too much don't bother about saving it.
Doctor: So you feel a bit under the weather do you? Well you have come to the right man in me. I'm the best doctor on the market. Right, first things first, continue breathing for now.
Noah: Doctor I'm still young, I want to live, I'm even prepared to pay money.
Doctor. My fee is three gum nuts, half a pound of burnt toast and all the money you possess. Say arr.
Doctor: Good. Say see.
Doctor: Now Zee.
Doctor: Gee gee.
Noah: Gee gee.
Doctor: Now say see bee zee bee gee gee.
Noah: See bee zee bee gee gee.
Doctor: Good, now say round and round the hurricanes hardly, on the plains, brown cow, Peter Piper picked.
Noah: What is this?
Doctor. Ah ha. An acute case of speechlessness. Take off all your clothes.
Doctor: Take off all your clothes.
Noah: Get out of here you old booby.
( Noah picks up a big padded slap stick thing and attacks the Doctor)
Noah: You broken down old bludger.
(Doctor exits taking salesman's outfit with him)
Noah: There's only one thing for it, this holocaust has got to be stopped. Frankly I can't afford all that money. I made a sterling effort but I'm poor, I haven't got a red cent to my name.
Lancelot: Mr Noah, how's the shelter coming along? Have you finished it yet? I've brewed up a batch of the old familiar juice to celebrate with. We can give it a proper launching me, you and Lady Noah.
Noah: Where's my wife? What have you two been up to?
Lancelot: Inspecting the structural solidarity of your bedroom in case the big one happens on top of it.
Noah: Never mind that now. Look this nuclear game's a bit expensive. I'm as patriotic as the next man but there's a limit to everyman's wallet I'm still young, I've got a whole life to lead, I haven't achieved anything yet. If something goes wrong - poof, we're all goners. Now what I'm going to suggest is that perhaps we can do without the planned holocaust altogether. Oh yes, and while we're at it let's disband the Army, Navy and Air Force. To hell with the military, they just cost me money.
Lancelot: Mr Noah, that's treason.
Noah: I'm trying to save the taxpayer a few pennies.
Lancelot: Either you stand up and be blown to pieces with the next man or you're a traitor.
Noah: I love my country, Australia the Land of the Free.
Lancelot: That's better. We're not petty men Noah, you have to understand that. We're doing it for freedom, we're doing it for the future,
Noah: (Heartbroken) Yes I see. Well I guess I'd better build my shelter for the future, but the cost is rocketing and I'm poor, I can't afford much this financial year what with the recession and interest rates where they are.
Lancelot: Have no fears me and Mrs. Noah will lend a hand and put our shoulders to the grindstone.
Noah: But I warn you I'm not very rich, I'm just an average man, nobody special.
Lancelot: But Mrs. Noah tells me you're rolling in money, that it's coming out of your ears. You should be able to build a first class shelter.
Noah. Lies, lies, look don't listen to my wife, I'll get her out here and she'll tell the truth this time. Wife, come out here immediately.
Wife. After all these years he doesn't remember my name.
Noah: What's got into your head woman of course I remember your name. What is it again?
Wife: I'm a human, I've got a name.
Noah: Your name's wife.
Wife: It's Guinevere.
Noah: The world's coming to an end and she decides to emancipate herself.
Wife: Just watch your step that's all.
Noah: Have you still got that dollar I gave you?
Wife: Here it is. (Only to show him)
Noah: (snatches it) Well I'm taking it back. That will teach you to tell people I'm rolling in money. And as for you Lancelot and your pathetic puerile patriotism I'm building this shelter to save my life, not for any other reason you see. Not one penny more than is necessary and keep your hands off my wife.
Lancelot: Well in that case we have nothing further to communicate to each other you scab of a swindling skin flint.
Noah: Wife, tell him I'm poor.
Wife: Oh I love you in a bad mood. (to Lancelot) He's rich, he's rolling in money, money oozes out of his ears.
Noah: We'll build the shelter here.
Wife: Well I thought just here will be better.
Lancelot: No Guinnie humour him or we'll get no shelter at all. Here's fine.
Wife: No, Noah's wrong.
Noah: Listen do you want a clip on the ear? I'm a sick man but not too sick to clip you one.
Wife: Now there's no need to get violent.
Noah: I'm not getting violent.
Wife: Yes you are.
Noah: No I'm not.
Wife: Yes you are.
Noah: No I'm not.
Lancelot: (restraining Noah's wife) A wife should respect her husband.
(Wife kicks him)
Lancelot: Ahh aah ow she kicked me.
Noah: Serves you right. We can fight if we want.
(Noah Kicks Lance on other leg)
Lancelot: Ahh aah ow he kicked me. Just you wait until the Commander in Chief gets here.
Noah: We'll put it here.
Wife: No, here.
Noah. I'll squeeze that tiny brain of yours out of your little head if you don't shut up.
Wife: That's right get violent, that's the old Noah I used to know. Get yourself into a state become unbearably angry because I'm never going to agree with you.
Noah: You're my wife, you must obey.
Wife: An old crazy man like you. (mimics) 'The world's going to end, the world's going to end, holocaust, holocaust, the end, the end.' You're a pathetic little man.
Noah: (defensively) God told me.
Wife: Another pathetic little man, I'm going off to enjoy myself. Come on Lance, and I'm not going in your silly sausage of a shelter.
Lancelot: I wouldn't take refuge in the same shelter as a money grubbing lick penny like you.
(Noah's wife leads Lancelot off)
Noah. Well desert me then 'cause when you're dead you'll be sorry. I'll laugh I will, I'll laugh my head off and I won't be lonely.
(Noah inspects the pile of junk and the Salesman enters and stands behind the pile of junk)
Salesman: This is some of the finest junk money can buy. Nowhere in Australia can you buy finer junk. Step right up ladies and gentlemen get your junk here. Junk for sale get good junk here finest quality junk. Good quality rusted ¬through crap.
Noah: How much the lot?
Salesman: How much you got?
Noah: An old pencil rubber and three cents.
Salesman: (jokes) Got any lead in your old pencil? Let me see, you can have the lot for forty four thousand four hundred and forty four dollars sterling.
Noah: I'm being serious.
Salesman: Fifty five thousand five hundred and fifty five dollars sterling.
Noah: How about trade discount?
Salesman: Alright but this is my minimum, I can't go any lower. Sixty six thousand six hundred and sixty six dollars sterling.
Noah: Three dollars fifty cents.
Salesman: Two dollars fifty cents.
Noah: Four dollars fifty cents.
Salesman. One dollar fifty cents.
Noah: I'll take it.
Salesman: Fifty dollars.
Noah: Look I'll give you forty five dollars.
Salesman: Forty nine.
Noah: Forty six.
Salesman: Forty eight.
Noah: Forty seven.
Salesman: Forty seven fifty.
Noah: Forty seven fifty. I'll take it.
Salesman: Forty eight.
Noah. Forty seven.
Salesman: Forty nine.
Noah. Forty six.
Noah: Forty five, I'll take it at fifty.
Salesman: Forty nine.
Noah: I'll take it, I'll take it.
Noah: Listen would you hold all this for me and I'll pay for it later?
Salesman: Sure thing, of course you have to pay interest, compound interest, transport, handicap, overtime, long service leave, superannuation, so your sum total will be forty eight dollars,
Salesman: A pleasure doing business with you.
(They shake hands, the salesman exits)
Noah: I know this pile of junk's not the best material to build a nuclear shelter with, but I reckon it's good enough, it's cheap too. After all I don't know if the holocaust is really going to come do I? I don't want a white elephant on my hands.
(He begins to build the Ark he is obviously unused to physical work and lifting materials. He also has no real conception of what he is doing. He whistles popular war songs. This scene should be made as comic as possible and shelter should be built as quickly as possible)
God: For seven days did Noah build the Ark. On the first day he heard the word of God and he did fear for his life. On the second day Noah began plans for the Ark and he prepared for his salvation. On the third day Noah contracted the labour and materials required for the Ark. On the fourth day the labour went on strike and Noah prepared the foundations with his own bare hands. On the fifth day Noah began to build the Ark. On the sixth day the Ark was finished and brightness shone all around. On the seventh day Noah and all those around him panicked.
(Wife rushes in while Noah is sitting in front of his shelter. She drops to her knees)
Wife: Oh Noah, Noah the world's coming to an end. Save me, I don't want to die. Help me Noah, I've deserted Lancelot for you. He's not as good as you, no sir, no siree, you're two of him Noah, he's just a boy but you are a man. Noah this is the end if you don't let me in your shelter you'll be all by yourself. You'll be terribly lonely, Noah. I don't want to die, I'm still young, I can do things. I want to do something with my life please let me in.
Noah: If from now on you promise to love, honour and obey me, and no back talk.
Wife: Oh Noah you're asking a lot.
Noah: It's my final word.
Wife: How about a compromise? I'll try to be nice to you on Sundays and I'll freeze the shopping bill for six months.
Wife. (embracing his knees) Oh Noah, oh thank you, you saved my life. I know my life isn't worth much but I deserve to live, my life's very valuable to me.
(Wife gets up and brushes her hair. Lancelot rushes in, drops to his knees in front of Noah)
Lancelot: Oh Mr Noah I'm sorry I'm late. I've just come to help you build the shelter. I was trying to get the holocaust delayed you see so we would have more time to build the shelter. Noah you must let me in.
Lancelot: Oh Noah you must save me. If I'm killed I'll just die.
Lancelot: I'll give you money.
Noah: How much?
(Lancelot takes out a handful of small coins and counts them)
Lancelot: Sixty seven cents.
Noah: You're in.
Lancelot: (embracing Noah's knees) Oh Mr Noah you saved my life. This deserves a drink. I'm going to live, to live. (takes out army drink container) Here have a drink Guinnie this stuff will blow your mind.
(Lancelot and Wife sit and drink)
Noah: Hay you two stop drinking there's still plenty to do.
Lancelot. Oh we're safe, we got our place. What are you complaining about? Let's have a party to celebrate.
Wife: Have a drink Noah you old fart. What's the good of living if you don't enjoy life?
Noah: (joining in) Listen you two, I've got something to say.
Lancelot: Mr Noah, you were right about the Army. It's just a big waste of money. When all this is over I'm going to surrender to the enemy.
Wife: You're the silliest soldier in the army.
Lancelot: I was top of my squad.
Noah. Let's have a taste of your brew Lance? I've decided not to be a scrooge any more.
Wife: This is no time for jokes.
Noah: This might be the last thing I ever say so listen, I'm serious. I've decided to share all I have with you two.
Wife: I never believed it before, but hey I'm convinced the world is really coming to an end. Oh God I'm not scared, I'm terrified.
Noah: I want to share everything I have because when you're dead nothing matters. But we're not going to die, I know that now. We are going to live on. We will live through these dark days and emerge as better people, Lancelot, you can even have a third of my wife, I'll have a third and she can have a third.
Wife: I feel like a piece of rump steak at the butchers. Oh, what the heck, you can both have a third of me and I'll have both of you.
Lancelot: You can't have two men, it's not good form,
Wife: Good form be damned. I've got two men and I'm keeping them both. I'm greedy, besides I like you both.
Lancelot: I'm sure we're going to survive. Everything's working out so well. I'm going to quit the army and Noah's changed and Guinnie you're so friendly to everybody.
God: And at midday on the seventh day from land and sea, lightning flashed and ripped through the sky, sirens wailed. Humanity had but half an hour.
Noah: (frantic) What? It's come the end, quick everybody get a helmet, get into the shelter.
(Noah distributes helmets. The others who greeted the news with stunned shock now frantically rush around getting in each other's way and bumping into each other. Noah stands still)
Noah: Wait a minute let me check. (he checks his pockets) Bankcard, bankbook, savings account, Christmas club, stocks and shares, lottery tickets, book and record vouchers, yes everything seems to be here. Right everybody stand at attention. (they do) Number off.
Noah: All present and accounted for, your orders are to follow emergency plan Al.
Lancelot: (frantic) Women and children first.
(Lancelot dives into shelter and is pulled out by Guinevere who crawls in between his legs but he pulls her out and dives in followed by her)
Wife: Quickly, quickly, I don't want to be caught out here I've got the rest of my life to live.
Noah. Don't panic, don't panic but bloody well get in. I don't want to be caught out here. Quickly, quickly.
(As wife disappears Noah stops and looks up at the sky)
Noah: When we come out we will build paradise, brick by brick. All the hatred will be dead, all the armies wiped out. Only people shall emerge and we will stand up in the sun, look up into the sky and humanity and love shall reign. A war that will destroy wars has commenced.
Wife: (Inside shelter) No more speeches, you won't emerge as anything if you don't get in.
Lancelot: Quick get in the bombs are coming.
Noah: I'm a man, I'm not scared of a few bombs, Oh look wife, I can see them falling through the sky. They're only little we haven't got anything to fear.
Wife: (Poking head out of shelter) Will you get in I don't want to be the only woman in the world with dance-a-lot Lancelot the only man. When it's all over every day will be a new life for us, we will be very happy but you must come in. Oh yes, I can see them over there.
Lancelot: Don't worry about him Guinnie. We're all going to die anyway. We're just fooling ourselves, this Noah's Ark won't float it doesn't conform with Plan 92K46B.
Noah: When the morning comes we shall found a new city and call it Camelot. All survivors of the holocaust shall be equal and will work together for the future. Oh no, the bombs are really blowing up. Let me in, let me in it's really happening.
God: As Noah crawled into the ground the earth was beset by vast explosions, cities crumbled and civilization died. Noah's city slumped into the sea and all was waste and barren. After forty days and forty nights Noah was instructed to re-emerge from his shelter to go forth and multiply and repopulate the earth. Noah, God calls you forth, the armies are dead, dry land has been found. (pause) Noah come out!
(God knocks on the top of the shelter. Nothing happens, there is no sound from the shelter. Fade out. God exits. Noah coughs a spot light comes back onto the shelter and Noah with a blackened face crawls out)
Noah: It's alright come on out you lot.
(A dazed and stunned Wife and Lancelot emerge. Both with blackened faces they start laughing)
Noah: That was close, now all we have to worry about is global warming. I think I'll get into a little carbon trading, might be able to make a little money, yes!
Back to Contents
Robin Hood and the Gnu
A Mummers Comedy
First performed as a piece of street theatre The Cloisters the University of Adelaide 1975 and directed by me!
Robin Hood: Stuart Carter.
Maid Marion: Nona Monahin.
Sir Guy of Gisborne: Anthony Thorogood.
Friar Tuck: Neil Piggot.
Doctor: Susan Tonkin.
Setting: Sherwood Forest in merry old England.