The Decent Rogues by Dan Lashbrook & Rob Pratt


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This Play is the copyright of the Author and must NOT be Performed without the Author's PRIOR consent


ACT 1 SCENE i

IT IS DARK IN THE VILLAGE OF HORSTON BARROW. A
BELL CHIMES. MIST SWIRLS OVER THE STREAM. A
LONELY FIGURE CARRYING A LANTERN APPEARS ON THE BRIDGE. IT IS BLINKER
THE NIGHTWATCHMAN.

BLINKER (SUNG) ENDLESS SEEM THE YEARS
THAT I'VE CARRIED A CROSS!
A BURDEN TO BEAR NOW I SWEAR
I'VE DISSEMBLED THIS LONG.
I WAS WRONG NOW IT'S TIME
TO REPAIR MY NAME.
AND WHILE YOU SLEEP
I'LL WATCH AND KEEP YOU SAFE
'TIL DAWN.
ALL SAVE FOR THE TWO
I'LL BE TRUE
THERE'S A PLAN I HAVE DRAWN

IN THE BACKGROUND, THROUGH A MUSLIN DRAPE,
WE SEE PERCY AND BEVAN ('THE DECENT ROGUES') CARRYING OUT A
PASTCRIME. BEVAN PICKS A LOCK, PERCY ENTERS THEN BOTH EMERGE CARRYING
A SHOTGUN EACH. THEY LOOK AT EACH OTHER AND SHAKE HANDS THEN LEAVE.
THE MUSIC CONTINUES AND BLINKER TALKS OVER THE TOP OF THEM.

BLINKER: (SPOKEN) Percival Goldsmith. A
wealthy merchant. Made his fortune in the rag trade. Used to keep
racehorses. Bevan Bawden - a locksmith his best
friend and once an employee at his manor house.
Pillars of village society. I was once their stable-hand.
Now look at them pillars of society they
might be, but they're also common thieves. And me?
How things have changed.

(SUNG) AND WHILE YOU SLEEP
I'LL WATCH AND KEEP YOU SAFE
'TIL DAWN.
ALL SAVE FOR THE TWO
I'LL BE TRUE
THERE'S A PLAN I HAVE DRAWN


SEGUE - ACT 1 SCENE ii

SUNDAY WORSHIP AT ST LEONARD'S CHURCH,
HORSTON BARROW. THE REVEREND BEAUCHAMP
WELCOMES THE VILLAGERS WHO THEN TAKE
THEIR SEATS. THE CHAPEL ORGAN PLAYS A
DOLEFUL OFFERTORY. THE MUSIC CONTINUES TO
PLAY AS THE REVEREND ADDRESSES HIS
CONGREGATION.

BEAUCHAMP: Friends of Horston Barrow, we give thanks for the advent of
Spring in our beautiful village. A time of great joy and anticipation.
Let us now all sing with
great fervour as we look forward to prosperous times
ahead.

THE ORGAN CONTINUES WITH THE INTRODUCTION
TO A HYMN.

ALL: (SUNG) PRAISE! FOR THE SPRINGTIME
SEASON IS HERE!
SAY FAREWELL FEEL THE WINTER'S
GRASP DISAPPEAR.
NOW THE FIELDS ARE DRESSED
AND THE MEADOWS BLESSED
THROUGH THE GLORY OF THE LORD.

THE VILLAGERS' CONTINUE TO SING BUT NOW
QUIETLY. AS THOUGH INVISIBLE TO THEM PERCY
GOLDSMITH AND BEVAN STEP OUT FROM THE
CONGREGATION. THEY CONVERSE OVER THE MUSIC.

PERCY: (SPOKEN OVER MUSIC) Look around,
Bevan. What do you see?
BEVAN: I see the fallen.
PERCY: All quietly reflecting

THE MUSIC CONTINUES. THE CONGREGATION GO INTO FREEZE FRAME.

PERCY &BEVAN: (SUNG) SO HERE WE ARE, THE PERFECT CRIMINALS!
WE JOIN AS ONE, WITH MINDS FORMIDABLE.
SEE BEFORE US, A HUMBLE CHORUS.
CONTEMPLATING THEIR DEMISE!
THE UPPER CRUST OF OUR SOCIETY
HAVE LIVED A LIFE OF IMPROPRIETY.
SO THOSE REMAINING JUST BEWARE
OF OUR DISGUISE!

THE MUSIC RETURNS TO THE DOLEFUL
OFFERTORY. THE ROGUES WALK AROUND THEIR 'VICTIMS'
WHO REMAIN IN FREEZE FRAME.

PERCY: (SPOKEN OVER MUSIC) Nathanial Ffyldes. The council chairman.
BEVAN: Couldn't keep his hands to himself.
PERCY: His prized muskets now grace the tea shop.
BEVAN: (SMILING) An anonymous donation. And not by him!
PERCY: Inigo Pomfrey. Member of Parliament.
BEVAN: Rigged the voting on election day.
PERCY: And now the communion is benefitting from his vintage wine.
BEVAN: Every drop is choking him.
PERCY: Agnes Hackett.
BEVAN: Widow, landlady
PERCY: And full-time harridan.
BEVAN: A woman as sour and as wretched as her principles.
PERCY: But as yet, unscathed

THE CONGREGATION COME ALIVE AGAIN.
REVEREND BEAUCHAMP ADDRESSES THEM.

BEAUCHAMP: We have taken bread and (SLIGHTLY SURPRISED) rather fine
wine as we honour the wondrous gifts around us. Let us leave today
with voices rich as we return to the sanctuary of our own homes.

THE MUSIC SWELLS WITH FULL ORGAN SOUND AS
THE CONGREGATION AND THE ROGUES SING
AGAINST EACH OTHER.

ALL/ PERCY &BEVAN: PRAISE! FOR THE SPRINGTIM/ SO HERE WE ARE ETC.


SEGUE ACT 1 SCENE iii

THE MUSIC CHANGES AND THE VILLAGE IS
REVEALED.FADES INTO THE BACKGROUND. PERCY
AND POLLY GOLDSMITH ARE STROLLING
CASUALLY.

PERCY: The congregation were in fine voice this morning.

POLLY: It was a beautiful service.

PERCY: And the Reverend was as garrulous as ever!

POLLY: (FIRMLY) Percy!

THEY MEET BEVAN AND GERTIE BAWDEN

PERCY: Ah Bevan! We were just saying how fine the singing was this
morning.

BEVAN: Quite!

GERTIE: (INNOCENTLY) And the communion wine was rather splendid

PERCY: Yes! I believe Reverend Beauchamp also reached that conclusion.
(ASIDE TO BEVAN) On several occasions! (THE ROGUES LAUGH)

GERTIE: I can't remember a time when the church has been so well
attended.

POLLY: Mind you, I don't what was with Mr Pomfrey this
morning

GERTIE: What do you mean?

POLLY: (IRONICALLY) He barely gave me the time of day!

BEVAN: Probably too busy planning his next electoral scam I should
imagine.

GERTIE: Bevan! (THEY ALL LAUGH)

PERCY: No, I agree. A high stature in our community comes with a moral
responsibility.

BEVAN: Of which you are the perfect example.

PERCY: The fortunes of trade have dealt me a rather good hand, it is
true. I just wish that others in my
position took a similar view.

POLLY: Whatever do you mean?

PERCY: Simply that there are some who have suckled heartily and grown
fat on the sweat of others, but have
neither a thought nor a care for their well-being.

BEVAN: Well said!

GERTIE: (TO POLLY) What say we take a stroll through the rose gardens?
If the gentlemen are to continue talking in this vein I would rather
excuse myself AND you.

POLLY: A fine idea. (ACKNOWLEDING THE MEN) Gentlemen!

PERCY/BEVAN: Ladies! (THEY BOW FORMALLY)

THEY LEAVE. ENTER CHIEF CONSTABLE PHINEAS

PHINEAS: Gentlemen! Enjoying the day, are we?

PERCY: Verily, Chief Constable Phineas. A wonderful display by the
village, as always

PHINEAS: Yes, isn't it!

BEVAN: (ADOPTING MORE SLY TONE) And there are the May Day celebrations
approaching, with the promise of more bizarre crimes.

PHINEAS: (SLIGHTLY AFFRONTED) May Day - yes! We will be redoubling our
efforts to apprehend those
responsible.

BEVAN: Do you have any clues as to who is responsible?

PHINEAS: To tell you, my dear fellow, would be quite against police
protocol.

PERCY: Does there seem to be any link between the crimes?

PHINEAS: Did I just mention protocol?

PERCY: Of course!

PHINEAS: (EYEING HIM COOLLY AGAIN AS IF SUSPICION IS AROUSED) In any
event, what is your interest in the cases?

PERCY: It could be any one of us next!

MRS HACKETT APPROACHES THE MEN. SHE IS IN A
TYPICALLY FOUL MOOD.

HACKETT: (TO PHINEAS) I would sooner you were chasing thieving urchins
than idling with these two gentlemen.

PERCY: (CHARMINGLY BUT SARCASTICALLY) And a glorious morning to you
too Mrs Hackett.

PHINEAS: Not idling, Mrs Hackett. More 'circulating'.

HACKETT: (DUBIOUSLY) Indeed. (TO BEVAN) Mr Bawden, might I remind you
that your rent is overdue?

BEVAN: Forgive me, Mrs Hackett. Circumstances have been rather
challenging lately.

HACKETT: (DELIBERATELY) By the end of today, Mr Bawden! Good day. (SHE
LEAVES. PERCY EXCHANGES A SYMPATHETIC GLANCE WITH BEVAN)

PHINEAS: (FAIRLY OBLIVIOUS) Now, there have been complaints about the
quality of the hops in Mr Bromley's Pale Ale.

BEVAN: (CHEEKILY) And you need to make certain that the situation has
been, ahem, rectified?

PHINEAS: (HOLDING HIS TRUNCHEON MENACINGLY UNDER BEVAN'S CHIN) Now
that IS police protocol! Good day gentlemen.

ROGUES: Good day, Chief Constable.
(ENTER YOUNG BOY WITH A COLLECTING TIN)

BOY: Penny for the school, sir?

PERCY: Have two, my boy!

(CUE SONG "WE'LL GET YOU!")

PERCY: IF YOU IMAGINE THAT YOU'RE ABOVE THE LAW
BEVAN: WE'LL STAND UP FOR THE MEEK AND LOWLY AND POOR
THAT YOU'VE TRODDEN ON.
PERCY: IF GREED IS YOUR MASTER
THEN PREPARE FOR DISASTER
BEVAN: WE'RE COMING TO EVEN THE SCORE!
BOTH: COMING TO EVEN THE SCORE!
PERCY: (SUNG) WE'LL TAKE YOUR BEST ANTIQUITIES
REVEAL YOUR WORST INIQUITIES
AND BURST YOUR BLOATED DIGNITY
WE'LL GET YOU!
PERCY: WE'LL PUT YOUR CONSCIENCE IN THE DOCK
BEVAN: WE'LL GIVE YOUR CONFIDENCE A KNOCK
PERCY: YOUR EGO WON'T SURVIVE THE SHOCK
BOTH: WE'LL GET YOU!

PERCY: (SPOKEN) Do you remember that terrible cad Montague?
BEVAN: Yes! Proud of his collectables but not so proud of
his behaviour!
PERCY: With good reason! Selling his mother's house from underneath
her like that.
BEVAN: Oh but he got what was coming to him all right.
PERCY: Every time he passes the jewellers,
He sees an ever-diminishing supply of his prized
pocket-watch collection!
(Laughter)

BOTH: (SUNG) WE LIKE TO MAKE THE POMPOUS FEAR
AND TO THE GREEDY MAKE IT CLEAR
WE'LL MAKE THEIR FOLLY DISAPPEAR
WE'LL TAKE IT!
BEVAN: EACH YEAR WE MAKE ANOTHER PAY
PERCY: AND HOPE THAT THEY WILL CHANGE THEIR WAYS
BEVAN: WE'LL SEE THAT THEY WILL RUE THE DAY!
BOTH: WE'LL GET YOU!

REV BEAUCHAMP: THROUGH THE YEARS THESE PERPETRATORS
HAVE SECURED A PLACE IN HIST'RY
VILLAGER: INCOGNITO AS THEY MOVE AROUND THE VILLAGE
WHAT A MYST'RY.

VILLAGERS: BEWARE! BEWARE!
WATCH YOUR BACKS, THESE WILY JACKS
COULD BARE YOUR SOUL AND SHOW YOU ALL IN
NOT SO FAIR OR FAVOURABLE A LIGHT!

THEY'LL TAKE YOUR BEST ANTIQUITIES
REVEAL YOUR WORST INIQUITES
AND BURST YOUR BLOATED DIGNITY
THEY'LL GET YOU!
THEY'LL PUT YOUR CONSCIENCE IN THE DOCK
AND GIVE YOUR CONFIDENCE A KNOCK
YOUR EGO WON'T SURVIVE THE SHOCK
THEY'LL GET YOU!
EACH YEAR THEY'LL MAKE ANOTHER PAY
CONFOUNDING THEM TO CHANGE THEIR WAYS
THEY'LL SEE THAT YOU WILL RUE THE DAY
THEY'LL GET YOU, GET YOU, GET YOU, GET YOU
JUST BE CAREFUL DON'T GET LED ASTRAY!
BOTH: WE'LL GET YOU!

PERCY: (SPOKEN) Shall we make plans to discuss the next caper?

CUE SONG: 'COME DEAR FRIEND &BLINKER'S
ENTRANCE'

PERCY: COME DEAR FRIEND! WE MUST REFLECT
ON WHAT WE'VE DONE SO FAR
DO YOU THINK NOW IT'S TIME TO RAISE THE BAR
FULFILLING OUR POTENTIAL
BEVAN: WE COULD BE THE FINEST GENTLEMANLY RENEGADES!
COME LET US PLAN OUR MASTERFUL CRUSADE
BE NOT DELAYED!

BLINKER THE NIGHTWATCHMAN LURCHES INTO
VIEW. THE GROUP TURNS ONE TO FACE HIM. HE
STOPS IN HIS TRACKS AND THERE IS A
MOMENT'S SILENCE AS THE MUSIC STOPS.

BEVAN: It isn't dark yet! What's a nightwatchman doing out from
under his stone?

BLINKER: A day like this belongs to everybody. (INDIGNANTLY) Including
me.

PERCY: Nothing belongs to you any more, Blinker. And don't you
forget it.

BLINKER: How could I? You won't LET me forget it.

PERCY: (MOCKINGLY) It is hardly our fault that you chose to steal from
me and commit larceny on a grand scale.

BLINKER: That was nine years ago!

PERCY: You nearly ruined me!

BLINKER: You barely felt it! Besides look at you now! Hardly
destitute are you?

PERCY: The choice we gave you is clear: help us and retain some
semblance of normal village life

BEVAN: Or go to gaol!

BLINKER: My debt to you is repaid.

PERCY: (INCREDULOUSLY) Repaid?! My stables had to be closed, leaving
all my staff jobless. My horses were all
confiscated, my reputation ruined all because you
chose to fix races for your own grubby enrichment.
Shame on you!

BEVAN: We will tell you when the debt has been repaid! Until then you
will suffer like you made so many others
suffer.

PERCY: (CALMLY) May Day is nearly upon us and we will require your
services once more.

BLINKER: (THREATENINGLY) There are revelations about May Day that
would make Phineas's mouth water…

BEVAN: An idle threat. It does not become your station.

BLINKER: (FORCEFULLY) This is not my station!

BEVAN: (ANGRILY) It is until we see fit!

PERCY: Any word of yours to the police will be met with
incredulity and denial from both of us. Without
evidence you will look very foolish.

BEVAN: Very foolish indeed.

PERCY: Understood?

BLINKER: (STONY SILENCE)

PERCY: Good. Be off with you!

CUE: 'WE'LL GET YOU' (REPRISE)
WE LIKE TO MAKE THE POMPOUS FEAR
AND TO THE GREEDY MAKE IT CLEAR
AND FROM THE LAW WE'LL DISAPPEAR
WE'LL GET YOU!
BEVAN: EACH YEAR WE'LL MAKE ANOTHER PAY
PERCY: AND HOPE THAT THEY WILL CHANGE THEIR WAYS
BEVAN: WE'LL SEE THAT THEY WILL RUE THE DAY!
BOTH: WE'LL GET YOU, GET YOU, GET YOU, GET YOU
JUST BE CAREFUL DON'T GET LED ASTRAY!

[end of extract]



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