HOW SHARPER THAN A SERPENT'S TOOTH

IT IS TO HAVE A THANKLESS CHILD

                                                              by Richard Nathan

 Act I

Scene 1

A room in King Lear's palace.  Enter KENT and GLOUCESTER, with Gloucester carrying his son EDMUND on his arm.  Edmund is a haughty, impish little man, with a high, nasal voice.  He wears a monocle over one eye.  Actually, Edmund should ideally be a ventriloquist's dummy.  Gloucester is the ventriloquist, although he is not very good about not moving his lips.  Alternatively, Edmund could be played by a live actor who acts like a ventriloquist's dummy, but the stage directions will assume he is an actual dummy.  

Kent should have a beard in this scene.

                                                KENT
                        I thought the King had more affected the Duke
                        of Albany than Cornwall.

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        So it had seemed to me, but it now appears that
                        he will give equal shares to the husbands of Regan
                        and Goneril, while reserving the finest lands for
                        whatever man shall wed Cordelia.

                                                KENT
                        Is this your son, my Lord?

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        He is my issue, though there is an issue as to
                        his legitimacy.

                                                KENT
                        I don't understand .

                                                EDMUND
                        He means I'm a little bastard.

                                                KENT
                        Oh.

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        Edmund, say hello to the Earl of Kent and remember
                        him as my honorable friend.

                                                EDMUND
                        As opposed to all your dishonorable chums.

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        Perhaps I should be ashamed of having a son out
                        of wedlock, but I was a young rake in my salad
                        days.

                                                EDMUND
                        And now you're an old wreck, and your salad is
                        wilted.

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        All the women liked my looks, but Edmund's 
                        mother appreciated my finer qualities...

                                                EDMUND
                        The gold, the silver, the estate...

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        Edmund!  Do you think your mother was interested
                        only in the money I gave her.

                                                EDMUND
                        No!  No!  She was also after the money you 
                        didn't give her!

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        I'm ashamed to hear you talk that way!  

                                                EDMUND
                        I could talk better if you'd raise my allowance.

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        You always want money for being good.  Why 
                        can't you like your legitimate brother Edgar?  He 
                        never wants anything for being good.

                                                EDMUND  
                        Yeah, he's good for nothing.

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        Shhhh!  The King is coming.

Enter KING LEAR, a grandiose, stout man with a bulbous nose.  Following him are his eldest daughter GONERIL, her husband the DUKE OF ALBANY, Lear's middle daughter REGAN, her husband the DUKE OF CORNWALL, and Lear's youngest daughter CORDELIA.  Also enter various ATTENDANTS.

                                                KING LEAR
                        Gloucester!  Attend the lords of France and 
                        Burgundy!  

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        I shall, my Lord.

Gloucester bows and exits, taking Edmund with him.

                                                KING LEAR

Present the map!

An Attendant holds up a map of England.  The King points to it with his scepter and accidentally pierces it.  He pulls the map off the scepter and hands it back to the Attendant.

                                                KING LEAR
                                    (handing back the map)
                        Careful with that thing!

The King again points to the map, but is careful not to pierce it this time.

                                                KING LEAR
                        Know that we have divided our kingdom into 
                        thirds, and 'tis our intent to shake all cares and 
                        business from our age, conferring them on younger 
                        strengths, while we unburdened crawl toward 
                        death.

Goneril snorts with contempt.

                                                GONERIL
                        If he's lay off the booze, he could walk toward 
                        death.  

The King glares at Goneril, but doesn't say anything to her.

                                                KING LEAR
                        Before we bestow the divisions of our domain, we 
                        shall propose this inquiry:  tell us, daughters, which 
                        of you shall we say loves us most?  Goneril, our 
                        eldest born, speak first.

                                                GONERIL
                        I love you more than words can say.  Beyond all, 
                        no less than life, as much as any child ever loved, 
                        and more than that I love you.

                                                KING LEAR
                        Good.  Very good.  (He gestures to the map.)  
   
                     All this land, we confer to you and your husband 
                        Albany.  What says our second daughter, our Regan, 
                        wife of Cornwall.  Speak.

                                                REGAN
                        I find my sister echoes my love, only her words fall 
                        short.  I won't allow any other feelings, thoughts or 
                        senses to interfere with my love for my father.

                                                GONERIL
                        I meant to say that, but I so absorbed in feeling 
                        love for my father, I forgot to mention it.  

                                                REGAN
                        I'm sorry.  Did you say something?  I was so busy 
                        loving my father, I didn't hear a word you said.

Goneril starts chanting.

                                                GONERIL  
                        I love my Dad!  I love my Dad!  I love my Dad!

Regan puts her hands over her own ears and chants more loudly:

                                                REGAN  
                        I love him more!  I love him more!

Goneril grabs Regan by the neck and starts choking her.

                                                GONERIL
                        Knock it off!  I love the big baboon just as much 
                        as you do!  

Regan breaks away from Goneril and gulps in her breath before she can speak.  She decides not to argue any longer.

                                                REGAN
                                    (panting for breath)
                        Okay... We both... love... the old goat... equally.

                                                KING LEAR
                        You touch our heart, both of you.  To Regan and 
                        her husband Cornwall we impart this ample third 
                        of our fair kingdom.  And now our joy, our youngest 
                        daughter Cordelia, what say you?

                                                CORDELIA
                       
What.

                                                KING LEAR
                       
What say you?  

                                                CORDELIA
                       
What!

                                                KING LEAR
                       
You haven't been paying attention, have you?

                                                CORDELIA
                       
Yes I have.

                                                KING LEAR
                       
Then perhaps you will enlighten us.  What did we 
                        just inquire of you?

                                                CORDELIA  
                       
You asked if I'd been paying attention.

                                                KING LEAR  
                       
Before that!!!

                                                CORDELIA
                       
You mean before you asked me to say what?

                                                KING LEAR
                       
Yes!

                                                CORDELIA
                       
I don't remember!

King Lear takes a moment to calm himself down before proceeding.

                                                KING LEAR  
                       
We believe we asked you to tell us what you think 
                        of us.

                                                CORDELIA
                       
I think you're being awfully silly.

                                                GONERIL
                       
It's clear she doesn't respect you at all!

                                                CORDELIA
                       
Of course I respect him!  He's been like a 
                        father to me!  

                                                KING LEAR
                       
I am your father!  

                                                CORDELIA  
                       
And that's why I respect you for being like a father
                        to me!  I wouldn't respect you for acting like my 
                        father if you weren't my father, would I?  

                                                GONERIL
                       
You're not going to give this ungrateful witch any 
                        of your kingdom, are you?

                                                REGAN
                       
You can't even consider it!  After all the love we've 
                        shown you, we deserve her share!

                                                GONERIL
                       
If you have any respect for yourself at all, you'll 
                        exile this little traitor!

                                                KING LEAR
                       
Silence!!!  We remember, when we were a lad, 
                        our father the King expounded to us upon our 
                        duties of filial devotion.  "Prince Lear," he said, "if 
                        every day you demonstrate to us the complete and 
                        total adoration that a son owes to his progenitor, 
                        then when we die you shall be the king and live in 
                        ease and luxury.  But if even once you fail to show 
                        us perfect love, then we shall disown you utterly, 
                        abandon you to the elements, and leave you to die 
                        in misery, cold and hunger."  So I killed him.  Conked 
                        him in the cranium right then and there.  No use 
                        taking any chances, I thought.  Cordelia, we have to 
                        make sure you won't be around to conk us in our 
                        cranium!  

                                                CORDELIA
                       
Oh, don't be silly!  I could never do that!

                                                KING LEAR
                       
You couldn't?  

                                                CORDELIA
                       
Of course not!  I don't even know where our 
                        cranium is!

                                                KING LEAR
                       
Here I disclaim all my parental care!

                                                KENT
                       
Good my Liege  

                                                KING LEAR
                       
Peace, Kent!  Come not between the dragon and 
                        his wrath!  We do invest our power in Goneril and 
                        Regan, keeping for our self one hundred knights 
                        and the name of King.  Our loving daughters shall 
                        sustain and care for us!

                                                KENT
                       
Royal Lear, this is madness!  You are making a 
                        terrible mistake!  It is wrong!  It is evil!

                                                KING LEAR
                       
What!  You dare to question me!  You vassal!  
                       
You miscreant!  You have ten days to leave 
                        England forever!  Out of my sight!

                                                KENT
                       
Very well!  Freedom lives hence, and banishment 
                        is here!

Kent exits.  Enter Gloucester, still carrying Edmund, followed by the KING OF FRANCE and the LORD OF BURGUNDY.  The Lord of Burgundy is a vain, stingy man, who claims to be thirty-nine, but is in fact quite a bit older.  The King of France smokes a cigar and smiles between puffs.   He is a perfect husband for Cordelia.

                                                CORNWALL
                       
Here are the King of France the and Lord of 
                        Burgundy, my noble Lord.

                                                KING LEAR
                       
My Lord of Burgundy, you and the King of France 
                        have been rivals for our daughter, Cordelia.  What 
                        is the smallest dowry you would require to take her 
                        as your wife?  

                                                BURGUNDY
                       
For this wonderful girl?  I hate to ask anything, and 
                        I certainly wouldn't expect more than what you've 
                        already offered, your Highness, a third of your 
                        kingdom.  

                                                KING LEAR
                       
That was what we offered when she was dear to 
                        us, but now her price has fallen.

                                                CORDELIA
                       
He's mad because I said he was like my father.  

                                                KING LEAR
                       
This ungrateful wretch wouldn't say how much 
                        she loved me!

                                                BURGUNDY  
                       
Is that all?  I'm sure she didn't mean anything wrong.  
                       
She's so young, and tender and innocent.  So 
                        unspoiled.....  

                                                KING LEAR
                       
So I've disinherited her!  

                                                BURGUNDY  
                       
Why that slut!!!

                                                KING OF FRANCE  
                       
I'll take her!

                                                KING LEAR  
                       
She is yours!  I never wish to see her face 
                        again!  

Lear exits, followed by everyone except for Burgundy, the King of France, Cordelia, Goneril and Regan.

                                                BURGUNDY
                       
But why do you want her?  She hasn't any 
                        dowry!

                                                KING OF FRANCE  
                       
Are you kidding?  If I ever get tired of being King 
                        of France, she'd be worth a fortune in vaudeville.  
                       
Say goodnight, Cordelia.

                                                CORDELIA
                       
Goodnight everybody.

The King of France leads Cordelia off.  Burgundy follows them.

                                                REGAN  
                       
Can you believe it?  He gave us everything and 
                        disinherited Cordelia.

                                                GONERIL
                       
Is he crazy or just drunk?  

                                                REGAN  
                       
Both, I'd say.

                                                GONERIL
                       
We'd better be careful, or he could turn against 
                        us the same way he turned against Cordelia and 
                        Kent!

                                                REGAN
                       
We shall further think on it.

                                                GONERIL
                       
We must do something!  

Regan and Goneril exit.

*********************************************************

Scene 2  

Edmund sits in a window frame (so that the actor playing Gloucester may operate him from behind and below the window) in the castle of the Earl of Gloucester.  Edmund holds a letter in his hand.  (Okay, being a ventriloquist's dummy, he can't exactly hold the letter, but it is in his hand.)

                                                EDMUND
                        Thou, Nature, art my Goddess.  I don't believe in 
                        man made laws.  Why should my brother Edgar 
                        get everything, just because my father had the bad 
                        taste to marry Edgar's mother?  Well, I'll soon take 
                        care of that.  Ooops, here comes Dad.

Edmund becomes still.  A moment later, Gloucester enters and picks him up.

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        Hello, Edmund.  I can't get over what happened in 
                        Court today!  Kent banished!  Cordelia disinherited!

Edmund waves the letter back and forth, as though fanning himself with it.  

                                                EDMUND  
                        Yes, and it certainly is warm in here, isn't it?  

He continues to wave the letter, but Gloucester ignores it.  Finally, Edmund hits Gloucester in the face with it.

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        What is that thing?

                                                EDMUND
                        What, this?  I was hoping you wouldn't notice it.  
                       
It's just a letter from Edgar.

                                                GLOUCESTER  
                        Oh, is that all?  I certainly am upset about what 
                        happened in court today.  Kent banished!!!  

                                                EDMUND
                        Yes, there's no reason for you to be interested in 
                        this letter.  I'm sure Edgar was just kidding when 
                        he said he wanted to kill you!

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        What?

                                                EDMUND  
                        He said he wanted to kill you for your money.

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        Let me see that!

Gloucester grabs the letter, opens it, and reads it aloud.

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        "Dear Edmund, I want to kill Dad for his money.  
                       
Love, Edgar."  Are you sure Edgar wrote this?  
                       
I could have sworn he didn't know how to write.

                                                EDMUND
                        Well, um, he dictated it to me.  That's how I 
                        know for certain it's from him!

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        This is monstrous!  He's a villain!  An abhorred 
                        villain!  Unnatural, detested, brutish villain!  
                       
Worse than brutish!  

                                                EDMUND
                        He isn't very nice, is he?

Gloucester placed Edmund back in the window, and starts to exit.  

                                                GLOUCESTER
                                   
(as he exits)
                       
I'll find him and have him punished.  My horoscope 
                        predicted there was trouble coming.  We're in for 
                        bad times, I'm afraid!

Gloucester exits.

                                                EDMUND  
                        You don't know the half of it!  

Edgar enters through the window Edmund is sitting in, and sits beside Edmund.  Edgar is played by another ventriloquist's dummy.  (Or, like Edmund, he could be played by a live actor, but the stage directions will assume he is a dummy.)  He is an incredibly stupid, bucktoothed hayseed.

                                                EDMUND
                        Edgar!  Just the man I want to see.  Do you 
                        know something?  

                                                EDGAR
                        Uh, nope!  Nope.  Probably not.

                                                EDMUND
                        Someone's been saying bad things about you to 
                        our father.  Do you have any idea who might have 
                        done it?  

                                                EDGAR
                        Well... um...  let's see... I'm pretty sure it wasn't me.

                                                EDMUND  
                        Good.  We'll rule you out.  Has anyone else been 
                        criticizing you?  

                                                EDGAR
                        Yup.  Uh.. hmmm... Somebody said...  I should be 
                        able to remember this...  They said... um...  I know 
                        they said something...  

                                                EDMUND
                        You haven't got a clue, have you?

                                                EDGAR
                        That's it!  That's what they said!  

                                                EDMUND
                        Edgar, how can you be so stupid?

                                                EDGAR
                        I get a lot of practice.

                                                EDMUND
                        You're in terrible trouble!  Your life is in danger!

                                                EDGAR
                        Yup!  Well, that's the way it goes.  

                                                EDMUND
                        You have to hide until I tell you things are safe.
                        Go!  Get out of here!

                                                EDGAR
                        Um....Okay.  

Edmund pushes Edgar out the window.

                                                EDMUND
                        Let me, if not by birth, have lands by wit.  All with 
                        me's meet that I can fashion fit.

Edmund exits.

*********************************************************

Scene 3  

In the castle of the Duke of Albany, Goneril talks to OSWALD, her steward.  

                                                GONERIL
                        Did my father strike you for chiding of his Fool?  

                                                OSWALD
                        Aye, Madam.

                                                GONERIL
                        By day and night, he wrongs me!  I'll not endure
                        it.  When he returns from hunting, I will not speak 
                        with him.  Say I am sick.

                                                OSWALD
                        Yes, Madam.  

                                                GONERIL
                        And let his knights have colder looks among you.  
                       
I will write to my sister and tell her to hold my very 
                        course.  Prepare for dinner!

Goneril exits one way, and Oswald goes off in the other direction.

*********************************************************

Scene 4

In another part of the castle of the Duke of Albany, Kent enters, disguised as a peasant.  He no longer wears a beard.

                                                KENT
                        Now banished Kent, although the King thinks 
                        you gone, in this disguise, with beard shaven 
                        off, you may yet do him service here unrecognized.

Enter King Lear with KNIGHTS and other ATTENDANTS.

                                                KING LEAR
                        Home are the hunters, home from the hunt! 
                        performed prodigious feats of marksmanship 
                        today, if you'll excuse the braggadocio.  Ah,
                        what magnificent beasts did I slay today with 
                        my mighty bow and arrows!

An Attendant looks at a list of the creatures killed by the King.

                                                 ATTENDANT
                        Let's see:  you shot your best bloodhound, one 
                        horse, two cows and a serf.

                                                KING LEAR
                        No boars?

                                                ATTENDANT  
                        No boars.  

                                                KING LEAR
                        What about the serf.  Wouldn't you say he was a 
                        bit uncultivated... somewhat crude?  

                                                ATTENDANT
                        He wasn't exactly genteel.

                                                KING LEAR
                        Put him down as a bore.

The Attendant corrects his list.  

                                                KING LEAR
                                   
(triumphantly)
                       
The King hath killed a boar!

The King notices Kent.

                                                KING LEAR
                        Who are you?

                                                KENT
                        A man, no less than I seem.

                                                KING LEAR
                        No more, either.  What do you want?

                                                KENT
                        To serve you!

                                                KING LEAR
                        Fine!  Serve me a bottle of the good stuff.  I'm 
                        thirsty.  

Kent bows and exits.

                                                KING LEAR
                        And I want my dinner, and my daughter, and my 
                        fool!  

                                                ATTENDANT
                        Since Cordelia went to France, the Fool has pined 
                        away.  

                                                KING LEAR
                        No more of that!

Oswald enters and crosses the stage.  

                                                KING LEAR
                        You!  Where's my daughter?  

Oswald exits, ignoring the King.

                                                KING LEAR
                        Didn't I speak?  Can't a monarch get any service 
                        in this establishment?  

Kent comes back with a bottle of wine upon a tray.

                                                KING LEAR
                        About time! 

King Lear takes a good strong drink from the bottle. 

                                                KING LEAR  
                        Where's my Fool?  I haven't seen my Fool for two 
                        days!

Oswald enters and starts to cross the stage again.

                                                KING LEAR
                        It's you again.  Do you know who I am?

Oswald ignores the King again, but Kent grabs him and brings him before the King.

                                                KING LEAR
                        Who am I?  

                                                OSWALD
                                   
(contemptuously)
                       
My Lady's father.

                                                KING LEAR
                        Your Lady's father???  You dog!  You knave!  
                       
You cur!

King Lear raises the bottle of wine to hit Oswald with it, then realizes he doesn't want to spill any of the wine, so he carefully puts the wine down, takes the serving tray from Kent, and conks Oswald on top of his head with the serving tray.

                                                OSWALD
                        I'll not be struck, my Lord!  

                                                KENT
                        Nor tripped, neither.

Kent trips Oswald, and pushes him offstage.

                                                KING LEAR
                        Well enacted.  Nicely done.

Enter Lear's FOOL.  The Fool wears motley, has a greasepaint mustache, and carries a cigar.  He lopes across the stage to Kent.

                                                FOOL
                        I'll say.  I take my hat off to you.  In fact, I give my 
                        hat to you.

The fool removes his hat (a coxcomb) and hands it to Kent.  

                                                KENT  
                        Why?

                                                FOOL
                        I don't like it.  It doesn't go with my cigar.  But it goes 
                        with you.  And you go with it.  And the sooner the 
                        better!  Go!  Scram!  

                                                KENT
                        But I came here to serve the King.

                                                FOOL
                        You can take him with you.  And you can take me too.  
                       
I don't think I'm appreciated here.  

The Fool breaks into song.

                                                FOOL
                                   
(singing)
                       
There was a King
                        Who had two wicked daughters,
                        Under the greenwood tree!
                       
The only nice one went to France,
                       
Where ladies wear  
                        Lace underpants.  
                        Hey nonny, knobby knees!  

                        And so my King,
                        I'm expecting lots of slaughter
                        Under the greenwood tree.  
                        And that is why I say,
                        The rain  
                        It rainth every day.
                        Hey nonny, knobby knees!

                                                KING LEAR
                        You call that funny?

                                                FOOL
                        If you think you can do better, we could change 
                        jobs.  Or did we already do that, Nuncle?  

                                                KING LEAR  
                        Are you calling me a fool?

                                                FOOL
                        You gave away all your other titles.  That one you 
                        were born with, Nuncle.

The Fool wags his eyebrows up and down at Lear.

                                                KENT
                        Why does he keep calling you "Nuncle"?  

                                                KING LEAR  
                        It's short for "mine uncle," a term of endearment.

                                                FOOL  
                        Actually, it's short for "Nuncle-head," a term of 
                        contempt.  Which reminds me, Nuncle, I've got a 
                        riddle for you.  What's the difference between a 
                        dung heap and a stupid old king who gives everything 
                        away to his two wicked daughters?  

                                                KING LEAR
                        A dung heap and a stupid old king?  Hmmmm.  I
                        know!  The answer is that when a fool displeases 
                        the king, the king can force the fool to eat the dung 
                        heap!

                                                FOOL
                        That's true.  I don't know why I didn't think of that.  
                       
You know, I'd rather be anything in the world than a 
                        fool.  Except you.  Or am I being redundant?

Goneril enters, looking angry.

                                                KING LEAR
                        How now, daughter?  Where have you been?  

                                                GONERIL
                        Never mind that! It's time we talked about those 
                        hundred knights of yours!  The way they've been 
                        behaving, this place is more like a tavern or a brothel 
                        than a palace.

                                                KING LEAR
                                   
(smiling)
                       
Yes, I know.  I know.

                                                GONERIL
                        That was a complaint!  

                                                KING LEAR
                        Oh, was it?  I'm sorry.  I'll have to make a mental 
                        note of that.  Palace is good; tavern and brothel are 
                        bad.

                                                GONERIL  
                        What do you need all those men for anyway?  I want 
                        you to get rid of half of them.  

                                                KING LEAR  
                        If you insist, my child, I shall notify them of their 
                        termination, and advise them to depart within a 
                        fortnight!

                                                GONERIL
                        Not a fortnight!  Tonight!  This instance!  

                                                KING LEAR
                        Might they not finish their repast, and join me in a 
                        final quaff of ale before they go?

                                                GONERIL
                        No!  I knew you'd be difficult about this, so in order 
                        to insure some decent behavior around here, I just 
                        poured out all your alcohol.

                                                KING LEAR
                                    (
enraged)
                       
Devils and darkness!  Saddle my horses!  Thou marble-
                        hearted fiend!  Go, go my people!  

Lear's knights and attendants scurry off to get ready to leave Albany's palace.  Albany enters, confused by the commotion.  King Lear continues to berate Goneril.

                                                KING LEAR
                        Blasts and fogs upon thee!  Hear me, Nature!  If this 
                        creature ever conceives a child, let it stamp wrinkles in 
                        her brow, and turn her pains to laughter and contempt, 
                        so that she may feel how sharper than a serpent's tooth 
                        it is to have a thankless child!  Away!  Away!  I have 
                        one daughter left.

Exit Lear, followed by his Fool and Kent.  Only Albany and Goneril remain on stage.

                                                ALBANY
                        What's the matter?

                                                GONERIL
                        Oh, I poured out all his booze.  

Goneril shouts for her steward.

                                                GONERIL
                        Oswald!

Oswald enters.

                                                GONERIL
                        Did you write that letter to my sister?

                                                OSWALD
                        Aye, Madam.  

                                                GONERIL
                        Then go and deliver it to her!  Get you gone!

Oswald exits.  

                                                ALBANY
                        I don't like this.  How far your eyes may 
                        pierce I cannot tell; striving to better, oft we 
                        mar what's well.

Albany and Goneril exit.

*********************************************************

  Scene 5  

Outside of Albany's palace, Lear prepares to leave for Gloucester, where he hopes to find Regan.  Lear gives instructions to Kent, while the Fool watches.  

                                                KING LEAR
                        Go you before with these letters.  Tell my 
                        daughter Regan and her husband Cornwall that 
                        I am coming.  

                                                KENT
                        I will not sleep, my Lord, until I have delivered 
                        your letter.

Kent exits.

                                                FOOL
                        Do you really think Regan is going to treat you any 
                        better than Goneril did?

                                                KING LEAR  
                        She would not refuse me a libation to wet my 
                        parched throat.  

                                                FOOL
                        I suppose she might give you a glass of water.  

                                                KING LEAR
                        Water!!!!  A beast would not show such odious 
                        ingratitude!  

                                                FOOL
                        You know, you're a pretty funny fellow.  With a 
                        little training, you could be both Lear and his Fool  
                        and I could go home!

                                                KING LEAR
                        Let me not go mad.  

                                                FOOL
                        I'll teach you a riddle.  This is a classic, one of the 
                        finest riddles of all time.  Do you know why there 
                        are no more than seven stars in the Pleiades?  

                                                KING LEAR
                        Because there are not eight?

                                                FOOL
                        That's a pretty good answer.  I was going to say, 
                        "To keep his pants up."  But I like your answer 
                        better.  You're pretty smart for a man who's as 
                        stupid as you are.  

                                                KING LEAR
                        Let me be not mad, sweet heaven.  I would not 
                        be mad!  I had an uncle who was mad.... Uncle 
                        Theophilus.  He believed  if he killed a lion, 
                        tore out its heart and ate it while it beat, he 
                        would gain the strength and courage of the lion.  

                                                FOOL
                        Did it work?

                                                KING LEAR
                        I don't know.  Uncle Theophilus never killed
                        anything larger than a duck.  

                                                FOOL
                        So if a lion had eaten your Uncle Theophilus, would 
                        the lion have gained the strength and courage of 
                        Uncle Theophilus, or the strength and courage of 
                        a duck?  

                                                KING LEAR
                        I fear there was little difference, my boy.  Very 
                        little indeed.  

Enter a GENTLEMAN in Lear's service.

                                                KING LEAR
                        Are the horses ready?

                                                GENTLEMAN
                        Ready, my Lord.

                                                KING LEAR
                        Come, boy.

Everyone exits.

*********************************************************

Act II

Scene 1

A room in the Earl of Gloucester's castle.  Edmund is sitting in a window.  CURAN, a courtier, enters.  

                                                EDMUND
                        Save thee, Curan.

                                                CURAN
                        And you, Sir.  I have been with your father.

                                                EDMUND
                        Oh?  Did he say what he plans to do to my 
                        brother, when he finds him? 

                                                CURAN
                        No.  

                                                EDMUND
                        Edgar is a vile, treacherous, depraved, scheming, 
                        murderous villain, but aside from that, he's a good 
                        boy.  I hope my father won't torture him too 
                        severely before he kills him.  

                                                CURAN
                        Did you know the Duke of Cornwall, and Regan 
                        his Duchess are coming here this night?  

                                                EDMUND
                        No, but I'm looking forward to seeing them again.  
                       
They're such a nice couple.

                                                CURAN
                        Fare you well, sir.

Curan exits.  Edmund looks around to make certain no one is watching, then he calls to his brother.

                                                EDMUND
                        Brother!  Brother, come out!  The coast is 
                        clear!  Edgar!  

Edgar emerges from behind the window and sits next to Edmund.

                                                EDMUND
                        Where were you?  

                                                EDGAR
                        I don't know.  I found such a good hiding place, 
                        I couldn't find myself.  Does this mean I win?  

                                                EDMUND
                        Win what?

                                                EDGAR
                        Didn't I just beat you in a game of hide and 
                        seek?  

                                                EDMUND
                        No!

                                                EDGAR
                        Oh.  You beat me?  

                                                EDMUND
                        You were hiding from our father!

                                                EDGAR
                        Oh!  I beat him!

                                                EDMUND
                        He wants to kill you!  

                                                EDGAR
                        Well, he is a sore loser, isn't he!

                                                EDMUND
                        He thinks you are a traitor.  Do you know what a 
                        traitor is?

                                                EDGAR
                        A kid who likes to swap baseball cards?

                                                EDMUND
                        You'd better leave the castle before he kills you - 
                        or before I save him the trouble.

                                                EDGAR
                        Where will I go?  

                                                EDMUND
                        I'm sure you'll think of something.  

                                                EDGAR
                        Could be.  They say there's a first time for 
                        everything.  

                                                EDMUND
                        Get out of here!!!

Edmund gives Edgar a shove.  Edgar disappears out the window.  Edmund looks after him for a moment, to make certain Edgar is gone, then he shouts for his father:

                                                EDMUND
                        Father!  Father!  Come quickly!  Edgar's 
                        escaping!

A moment later, Gloucester rushes on stage and picks up Edmund.

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        Where?  Where's the villain?

                                                EDMUND  
                        Gone!

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        Why didn't you stop him?  

                                                EDMUND
                        I tried!  But he pulled a knife on me!  And a sword!  
                       
And a cudgel!  And an axe!  

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        All that?  It's lucky he didn't kill you!

                                                EDMUND
                        He tried.  But all those weapons were so heavy, 
                        when he raised them over his head to strike, he 
                        overbalanced and fell out the window!

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        You had a close call!  

                                                EDMUND  
                        Yes, but I would gladly risk my life again and again 
                        for my beloved father, even though I'm only his 
                        poor illegitimate son who won't even inherit any 
                        of his property when he kicks the bucket!  

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        Don't you worry about that!  I've already changed 
                        my will, and I'm leaving everything to you!  

                                                EDMUND
                        Oh!  This is so unexpected!

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        Really?  

                                                EDMUND
                        Yes!  I thought you'd need at least a dozen more 
                        hints.  

Gloucester looks offstage, and sees that Regan and Cornwall are about to enter.

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        Look who's coming!

Enter Regan and Cornwall.  Cornwall grasps Gloucester by the hand.

                                                CORNWALL  
                        My noble friend.  We have heard the grievous 
                        news!  

                                                EDMUND
                        What do you mean, grievous?  I'm gonna be rich!

                                                REGAN
                        He means the news that Edgar sought his father's 
                        life!  How are you, my Lord?  

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        My poor old heart is cracked!  It's cracked.  

                                                EDMUND
                                   
(perking up)
                       
Really?

Edmund listens to Gloucester's heart, and is disappointed to hear it beating normally.

                                                REGAN
                        Didn't Edgar associate with those riotous knights 
                        that serve my father!  I blame them!  They're a 
                        bad influence!  In fact, that's one of the things we 
                        came to talk to you about.  

                                                GLOUCESTER
                                   
(bowing)
                       
I serve you, Madam.  Your Graces are right 
                        welcome.

Everyone exits.

                                                *********************************************************

Scene 2  

Outside Gloucester's castle, Kent and Oswald enter from opposite sides of the stage.  Oswald does not recognize Kent.  

                                                OSWALD
                        Good dawning to thee, friend.  Art of this house?

                                                KENT
                        Aye.  

                                                OSWALD
                        Where shall I put my horse?  

                                                KENT
                        Are you staying here a while?

                                                OSWALD
                        Yes.

                                                KENT
                        Then put your horse in your room.

                                                OSWALD
                        Put him in my room?  What about the smell???

                                                KENT
                        He'll get used to it.  

                                                OSWALD
                        Why do you insult me?  I don't even know 
                        you.

                                                KENT
                        I know you.  Don't you remember me, oaf?  
                       
I tripped you up at your mistress's castle.  
                       
Draw your sword!

Kent draws his sword.  Oswald screams for help and scampers away from Kent.

                                                OSWALD
                        Help!  Help!

Enter Gloucester, carrying Edmund, followed by Regan and Cornwall.  Cornwall and Gloucester separate Kent and Oswald.

                                                EDMUND
                        What's going on here?  

                                                REGAN
                        These are the messengers from my sister and the 
                        King.

                                                KENT
                       
This man is a knave, a cowardly rascal, and a 
                       
whoreson lying villain.  Draw your sword, oaf!  

Kent tries to go after Oswald, but Cornwall and Gloucester keep them apart.  

                                                KENT
                        Whatever message this man brings cannot be 
                        trusted.  

                                                EDMUND
                        
            (to Regan)
                       
What message did he bring?

                                                REGAN
                        That my father's men are ruffians who are always 
                        starting fights.

Kent looks at his own drawn sword and realized that he cannot deny the charge.

                                                KENT
                        Okay, that can be trusted.  But he is still a filthy, 
                        lily-livered rouge!  

                                                CORNWALL
                                   
(calling off-stage)
                       
Fetch the stocks!  We'll teach this man a lesson!

                                                KENT
                        And well he deserves to learn it!  

                                                CORNWALL
                        Not him!  You!!!  

                                                KENT
                        Me!!!  

                                                REGAN
                                   
(calling offstage, as her husband did)
                       
Fetch the stocks!

                                                KENT
                        But I serve the King!

                                                REGAN
                        You are not fit to serve!  I cannot abide an 
                        uncouth ruffian.  Servants to the royal family 
                        must have stature, dignity, and above all 
                        refinement.

Enter three Servants:  The FIRST SERVANT is a mean bossy man with his hair in bangs.  The SECOND SERVANT has particularly fuzzy hair.  The THIRD SERVANT is a fat, bald idiot.  The Third Servant has his hands in the holes of a set of stocks, as though he were imprisoned.  However, because this set of stocks is designed to hold legs rather than arms, the holes are large enough so that Third Servant can easily remove his arms, when he wants to.  The Three Servants greet Regan one at a time.

                                                FIRST SERVANT
                        Your Highness!

The First Servant kneels, with his head bowed, upstage of the other Servants.

                                                SECOND SERVANT
                        Your Highness!  

The Second Servant, kneels with his head bowed, downstage of the other Servants.

                                                THIRD SERVANT  
                        We're Low-ness!

The Third Servant tries to kneel between the other Servants, but when he does so, he hits his companions on their head with the stocks.  They scream in pain and jump to their feet.  The First Servant hits the Third Servant on the top of his head, and the Third Servant squeals.  Then they all turn back to Regan.

                                                FIRST SERVANT
                        Here are the stocks you asked for.  

                                                THIRD SERVANT  
                        Guess where we got it?  At the stock market!!!  

The Third Servant chuckles, and the First Servant slaps him.  When the First Servant turns back to face Regan and Cornwall, the Third Servant withdraws his right hand from the stocks and hits the First Servant on the back of the head.  The Third Servant quickly puts his hand back in the stocks.  The First Servant turns angrily, sees that the Third Servant has his hands in the stocks, and decides the Second Servant must have struck him.

                                                FIRST SERVANT
                        What's the big idea of hitting me?

The First Servant slaps the Second Servant.  

                                                SECOND SERVANT
                        Hey, he's the one who smacked you.  He took his 
                        hand out of the stocks!

The Second Servant points at the Third Servant, and the First Servant eyes him suspiciously.

                                                FIRST SERVANT
                        Do you promise me you can't get your hands out 
                        of those stocks?  

The Third Servant takes out his right hand and holds it palm out as he swears.

                                                THIRD SERVANT
                        I swear it!

The First Servant hits the Third Servant on the head.

                                                EDMUND
                        Good help is hard to find.

                                                CORNWALL
                                   
(pointing at Kent)
                       
Put this man in the stocks!  

                                                KENT
                        You wouldn't treat your father's dog this way!  

The Servants lock Kent's legs in the stocks.  

                                                EDMUND
                        That's true.  I've never seen a dog in the stocks.

                                                CORNWALL
                        We'll leave him there till noon.  

                                                REGAN
                        Till noon?  Till night, my Lord, and all night too!

Regan and Cornwall exit with their servants.  Edmund looks at Kent, then turns to Gloucester.

                                                EDMUND
                        Can we take off his shoes and tickle his feet?

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        I don't think that would be a good idea.  

                                                EDMUND
                        You're right, they're probably filthy.  

Gloucester approaches Kent.

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        I'm sorry you are being treated this way.  The 
                        Duke's to blame!  

Gloucester exits with Edmund.

                                                KENT
                        Fortune, goodnight.  Smile once more, turn thy 
                        wheel.

*********************************************************

Scene 3  

The same location, outside Gloucester's castle, with Kent in the stocks.  Edgar looks up from behind a wall, where he has been hiding.  

                                                EDGAR
                        I heard...  I heard...  I'm sure I heard something.  

Kent notices Edgar.

                                                KENT
                        Hello.  Are you not Edgar who is proclaimed a 
                        traitor throughout the land, condemned to die the 
                        death for plotting to kill his own father, the Earl 
                        of Gloucester?  

                                                EDGAR
                        Uh, could you repeat the question?  

                                                KENT
                        Are you not Edgar who is proclaimed a traitor 
                        throughout the land, condemned to die the 
                        death for plotting to kill his own father, the Earl 
                        of Gloucester?  

                                                EDGAR
                        That's starting to ring a bell.

                                                KENT
                        All your father's soldiers seek to lay their 
                        hands on you and subject you to the most vile 
                        torture.  

                                                EDGAR
                        Yup.  That's the way it goes, all right.

                                                KENT
                        Did you really plot against your father?  

                                                EDGAR
                        I doubt it.  I'm not too good at plotting.

                                                KENT
                        You're not?  

                                                EDGAR
                        Nope.  I have trouble plotting to wake up  
                        in the morning.  

                                                KENT
                        Then you had better disguise yourself.  Grime 
                        your face with filth, rend your clothing, and 
                        call yourself poor Tom of Bedlam, the mad 
                        beggar.  Can you do that, for your life depends 
                        upon it!  

                                                EDGAR
                        Let's see, I grime my filth with clothing, rend 
                        my face, and call a beggar names until he's 
                        mad at me.  That shouldn't be a problem.

                                                KENT
                        Edgar, how can you be so stupid?

                                                EDGAR
                        I think it runs in the family.

                                                KENT
                        Go hide!  And remember, if anyone finds you, 
                        you're poor Tom!  

                                                EDGAR
                        Poor Tom!  Poor Tom.  

Edgar exits.

*********************************************************

Scene 4

The same location, outside Gloucester's castle, with Kent still in the stocks.  Enter King Lear, talking to his Fool.  

                                                KING LEAR
                        'Tis strange that they should so depart from 
                        home, and not send back my messenger.

Kent calls to Lear from the stocks, and Lear notices him there for the first time.

                                                KENT
                        Hail to thee, noble master.

                                                KING LEAR
                        Ha?  My messenger!!!  Did you, by any 
                        chance, voluntarily elect to confine your 
                        limbs within these wooden fetters?

                                                KENT
                        No.

                                                KING LEAR  
                        Then am I to assume, as it were, that 
                        someone else has placed you here?

                                                KENT
                        That would be a correct assumption.  

                                                KING LEAR
                        Vengeance, plague, death and confusion!  
                       
This is an insult to my royal personage!  

                                                KENT
                        It wasn't exactly a compliment to me, either.

                                                KING LEAR  
                        Who hath committed this violent outrage?  

                                                KENT
                        Regan and Cornwall.

                                                KING LEAR
                        No!

                                                KENT
                        Yes!

                                                KING LEAR
                        No, I say!  

                                                KENT
                        I say yes.

                                                KING LEAR
                        It is worse than murder!  Stay here!  

                                                KENT
                        I don't have much choice in the matter.

King Lear goes off to enter the castle.  Kent speaks to the Fool.

                                                KENT
                        Where are all the King's followers?  

                                                FOOL
                        You're looking at him.  

                                                KENT
                        You?

                                                FOOL
                        Yeah, and I'm leaving if I get a decent offer 
                        from the King of France.  I'd make a great 
                        French Fool.  

The Fool starts imitating the sort of juvenile, silly, over-the-top comedian who might appeal to a French King.

                                                FOOL
                                   
(doing an imitation)
                       
Oh boy!  I love France.  France, with the 
                        thing and the thing and the snails to eat!  

                                                KENT
                        I believe the current King of France favors
                        Cordelia's humor.  

                                                FOOL
                                   
(dropping the imitation)
                       
That's any even better reason to go.  

                                                KENT
                        But why have King Lear's followers deserted 
                        him?

                                                FOOL
                        If they put you in the stocks for asking that 
                        question, you deserved it.  Kings are supposed 
                        to be strong and powerful.  That's what makes 
                        them popular.  This King is as powerful as a 
                        ninety year old prostitute with an advanced 
                        case of syphilis, but not nearly as popular... 
                        or attractive...or hygienic.

King Lear returns, accompanied by Gloucester, who is carrying Edmund.

                                                KING LEAR
                        Where is my offspring, my child, my little 
                        daughter, my issue Regan?  

                                                EDMUND
                       
What was that last part?

                                                KING LEAR
                        Issue Regan!  Issue Regan!

                                                EDMUND
                       
No, I isn't regin'.

                                                KING LEAR  
                        Let me be clear.  

                                                EDMUND
                        You can try, but you better sober up first.

                                                KING LEAR
                        Silence, you little blockhead!  I demand to 
                        see my daughter.  

                                                GLOUCESTER  
                        But your majesty, you can't...  

                                                KING LEAR
                                   
(interrupting)
                       
No buts!  The King can see anyone or anything!  

                                                EDMUND
                        Especially after he's had a snootful... which in 
                        your case must be about six quarts.

                                                KING LEAR
                        The King would speak with Cornwall and his 
                        wife!  

Enter Cornwall and Regan, followed by their three servants.  During the ensuing dialogue, the servants unlock the stocks and set Kent free.  Then the servants exit.

                                                CORNWALL  
                        Hail to your Grace.

                                                REGAN
                        I am glad to see your Highness.

                                                KING LEAR  
                        I think you are indeed... unlike your sister, 
                        that sharp-toothed vulture.  You would not 
                        give credence to the depths of her depravity...  

                                                REGAN
                                   
(interrupting)
                       
Oh no!  Not Goneril!  

                                                KING LEAR
                        I hate her!  

                                                REGAN  
                        I'm sure you misunderstood her.  You are old, 
                        and are likely to misunderstand.  I pray you, 
                        return and tell her you have wronged her.  

                                                KING LEAR  
                        Apologize to her???  What would you have me 
                        say?  

King Lear gets down on his knees.  

                                                KING LEAR  
                                   
(sarcastically)
                       
Dear Daughter, I confess that I am old.  Age 
                        is unnecessary.  On my knees, I beg that you 
                        will grant me fresh rags to wear, straw to 
                        sleep upon, and a tiny crust of stale bread to 
                        eat.

Goneril enters as Lear completes his speech.  She answers him.

                                                GONERIL
                        All right, but no booze!

Regan hurries to Goneril, and the two sisters kiss each other on the cheek.

                                                REGAN  
                        How good of you to come and take back our 
                        father.

                                                GONERIL
                       
Only if he promises to mend his ways.  

The two sisters turn to address their father.

                                                REGAN
                        Exactly!  You should act your age....

                                                GONERIL
                       
Spend your evenings in a rocking chair...

                                                REGAN  
                        Playing checkers...  

                                                GONERIL
                        Singing hymns...

                                                REGAN
                        And drinking lemonade.

                                                KING LEAR
                                   
(in a towering rage)
                       
You unnatural hags!  I will have such revenges 
                        on you both that all the world shall... I will do 
                        such things, what they are yet I know not, but 
                        they shall be the terrors of the Earth!  You 
                        think I'll weep.  No, I'll not weep.  I have full 
                        cause of weeping, but this heart will break into 
                        a hundred thousand fragments before I'll weep!  
                       
Oh Fool, I shall go mad!

Lear exits, followed by his Fool and Kent.

                                                GLOUCESTER  
                        Wait!

Gloucester runs after them.  

                                                CORNWALL  
                        Let us withdraw.  A storm is coming.

                                                GONERIL
                        Whatever happens to our father, he's brought 
                        it on himself.

Gloucester returns.

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        The King is in high rage.  

                                                GONERIL
                        It's his own fault!  

                                                REGAN
                        If he wants to run out into the storm, let him.  
                       
Maybe this will teach him a lesson.  

                                                CORNWALL  
                        Shut up the doors, my Lord.  'Tis a wild night.  
                       
My Regan counsels well.  Come out of the storm.  

Everyone exits.

*********************************************************

Act III

Scene 1  

A heath outside of the Earl of Gloucester's castle.  A storm is raging, very, very, loudly.  Enter Kent from one side of the stage and an ITALIAN GENTLEMAN from the other side.  They have to shout to hear each other above the storm.  

                                                KENT
                        Who's there, besides foul weather?

                                                ITALIAN GENTLEMAN
                        Owl leather?  I haven't got any owl leather!

                                                KENT
                        Not leather!  Weather!  Weather!

                                                ITALIAN GENTLEMAN
                        Sure it's wetter.  That's what happens when it rains. 
                       
Everything gets wetter.

                                                KENT
                                   
(aside)
                       
I know this man.  He is brother to the King's Fool.

Kent turns back to the Italian Gentleman and shouts to be heard above the storm.

                                                KENT
                        I seek the King!

                                                ITALIAN GENTLEMAN
                        You sink the King?

                                                KENT
                        I seek!  I seek!

                                                ITALIAN GENTLEMAN
                        Well if you're sick, you shouldn't be out here in
                        this storm!

                                                KENT
                        I have to find King Lear.  I've heard Cordelia is
                        coming to Dover with an army from France.  If
                        you see the King, take him to Dover.  Do you
                        know where Dover is?

                                                ITALIAN GENTLEMAN
                        Sure.  It's d'over there!

The Italian Gentleman points in the direction of Dover.

                                                KENT
                        Fie on this storm!  I will go seek the King.

Kent exits in one direction and the Italian Gentlemen exits the other way.

                                                *********************************************************

Scene 2

The storm continues to rage loudly in another part of the heath.  Enter King Lear and his Fool.

                                                KING LEAR
                        Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks.  Rage, blow! 
                       
Spit fire!  Come drench the wretched father of
                        Regan and Goneril!

From high offstage, someone throws a cup of water, representing rainfall, onto Lear.  (Lear is standing toward the side of the stage, so the water is able to reach him.)

                                                FOOL
                        If I didn't have my reputation as a professional
                        comic to think of, I'd say you were all wet.

                                                KING LEAR
                        I tax you not, you elements, with unkindness.  I
                        never gave you kingdom, called you children. 
                       
Not like my daughters, Regan and Goneril.

Another cupful of water is thrown from high offstage, wetting King Lear.

                                                KING LEAR
                        Here I stand, your slave, a poor, infirm, weak,
                        and despised old man. 

                                                FOOL
                        Don't forget wet.

                                                KENT
                         Alas, sir, are you here?  Things that love night love
                         not such nights as these.

                                                KING LEAR
                        This night has joined forces with my two pernicious
                        daughters, Regan and Goneril!

A cup of water is thrown from offstage onto the King.

                                                KING LEAR
                        I am a man more sinned against than sinning!

                                                FOOL
                        And more wetted against than wetting.

                                                KENT
                        I know a hovel nearby, where we may seek
                        shelter from the storm.

The King walks over to the Fool, and puts his arm around him. 

                                                KING LEAR
                        My poor fool.  Look how we are treated by Regan
                        and Goneril!

A cupful of water hits the King and the Fool.

                                                KING LEAR
                        My wits begin to turn.

                                                FOOL
                        In which direction?  You know, I can remember
                        when I had enough sense to come in out of the
                        rain.  Ah, those were the days.

                                                KING LEAR
                        Come on, my boy.  How dost, my boy?  Art
                        cold?  I am cold myself.

King Lear turns to Kent.

                                                KING LEAR
                        Come, bring us to this hovel!

Kent leads the others off stage.

                                                *********************************************************

 Scene 3

Gloucester's castle.  Enter Gloucester, carrying Edmund.

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        Alack, alack, Edmund.  I like not this unnatural
                        dealing.

                                                EDMUND
                        You sound like you've been playing cards with
                        King Lear.

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        No, I mean the way the King's daughters have
                        been dealing with him.  Letting him out into the
                        storm!  Can you believe a child would treat a
                        parent to cruelly?

                                                EDMUND
                        It is shocking, isn't it!  Most savage and unnatural!

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        Can you keep a secret?

                                                EDMUND
                        My lips are sealed, which is more than I can say
                        for yours.

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        I have some secret intelligence!

                                                EDMUND
                        And you've kept it secret for years!

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        It's all spelled out in a letter I received, which I've
                        hidden in my room.  It says the Dukes of Albany
                        and Cornwall aren't getting along.  And what's
                        more, Cordelia is coming back from France with
                        an army!  It looks like there will be a bitter three-way
                        struggle for England.  Be very careful Edmund! 
                        Trust no one!

                                                EDMUND
                        Oh, I won't!  I won't!

Gloucester puts Edmund down in a window, and exits.  After Edmund has exited, the actor playing Edmund sneaks back behind and under the window, unseen by the audience, so that he can operate Edmund.)

                                                EDMUND
                        I wonder what Regan and Cornwall will give me
                        for that letter.  It should draw me that which my
                        father loses; not less than all.  The younger rises
                        when the old doth fall.

Edmund exits.

                                                *********************************************************

                                                Scene 4

The heath in front of a hovel, near Gloucester's castle.  The storm continues to rage, although not quite so loudly as before.  Enter King Lear, Kent and the Fool.  Lear is more relaxed for the moment.

                                                KENT
                       
Here is the place, my Lord.

Kent opens the door to the hovel, but Lear ignores him.

                                                KENT
                       
Good my Lord, enter.  The night's too
                        rough for nature to endure.

                                                KING LEAR
                        Let me alone.

                                                KENT
                       
My Lord, enter here.

                                                KING LEAR
                        You go in.  I prefer the storm.  It's touch is kind
                        compared with my ungrateful daughters, Regan
                        and Goneril!

From high offstage, a cupful of water is thrown on King Lear.

                                                KING LEAR
                        In such a night, to shut me out!  Pour on! 
                       
I will endure!

                                                KENT
                        My Lord, please go in out of the storm.

                                                KING LEAR
                        After you.  This storm's fury is gentle as a cooing
                        dove compared with my ungracious daughters,
                        Regan and Goneril!

Another cupful of water splashes on King Lear.

                                                KING LEAR
                        Your poor old father gave you all!

Edgar sticks his head out from the open door of the hovel.

                                                EDGAR
                        Excuse me, but would you mind closing the door? 
                       
It's getting cold in here!

                                                KENT
                        It's poor Tom o' Bedlam!

                                                EDGAR
                        Oh.  Hello, Tom.  You can come in, if you want
                        to.

                                                KENT
                        No, no!  You're Tom!

                                                EDGAR
                        I am?  Okay, then I can come in if I want to.  But
                        I'm already in.

                                                FOOL
                        This guy's nuts!

                                                KING LEAR
                        It must have been his cruel daughters, whose filial
                        ingratitude made him mad.

                                                FOOL
                        What were their names again?

The Fool is intentionally trying to get the King to say "Regan and Goneril."

                                                KING LEAR
                        Regan and Goneril!!!

A cupful of water splashes on Lear.

                                                FOOL
                        I'm going inside.

The Fool goes inside, and Edgar disappears inside with him.

                                                KENT
                        Go in, my Lord, I pray you.

Enter Gloucester, searching in the storm.

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        Who's there?

                                                KENT
                        The King and his servant!

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        My Lord, I had hoped to find you.  Your
                        daughters will not let me bring you back to the
                        castle, but you shall have shelter here.  I will
                        bring you food and fire when I can.

Gloucester enters the hovel, and comes out a moment later holding Edgar.

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        Who is this?  I believe I have seen his face
                        somewhere else.

                                                EDGAR
                        No, it's always been right between my ears!

                                                KENT
                        He calls himself Tom o' Bedlam.  Do not concern
                        yourself with him.  He is mad.

                                                KING LEAR
                        His daughters drove him to dementia.

                                                EDGAR
                        Nope, nope.  I'm pretty sure I walked here.

                                                KING LEAR
                        I say it was his nefarious daughters!

The Fool sticks his head out of the hovel.

                                                FOOL
                        Daughters?  What were the names of your wicked
                        daughters?

Lear pulls the Fool out of the hovel, and makes the Fool stand where Lear has been standing when he's been hit by all the water.  Then Lear goes over to the other side of the stage, where he thinks he will be out of reach of the water.

                                                KING LEAR
                        Regan and Goneril!

A cupful of water is thrown onto Lear from the other side of the stage.

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        Go in!  Go in!  Keep warm!

Lear reaches to take Edgar from Gloucester.

                                                KING LEAR
                        I want to converse with this wise philosopher
                        about his daughters and their dire cruelty.

                                                EDGAR
                        Yup.  That's the way it goes.

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        Take him!

                                                KING LEAR
                        Come, good Athenian.

King Lear takes Edgar and goes into the hovel.  Kent and Gloucester and the Fool follow him in.

*********************************************************

Scene 5

 Inside Gloucester's castle.  Enter Cornwall carrying Edmund.  Cornwall puts Edmund down where he can be operated behind the scenes by the actor playing Gloucester.

                                                CORNWALL
                        I will have my revenge ere I depart his house.

Edmund hands Cornwall the letter which Gloucester was hiding.

                                                EDMUND
                        Here's the letter.  I hope your realize it isn't easy
                        for me to rat on my own father.

                                                CORNWALL
                        It hath made thee Earl of Gloucester.

                                                EDMUND
                        That makes it a little easier.

                                                CORNWALL
                        I will put my trust in you, and you shall find a
                        dearer father in my love.

                                                EDMUND
                        Thank you.  Thank you.

Cornwall departs.

                                                EDMUND
                        If he's on the level, he's a bigger chump than my
                        old man.

Edmund exits through the window he has been sitting in.

*********************************************************

Scene 6

Inside the hovel on the heath.  There are several stools and benches, and a cot.  Enter Kent and Gloucester, talking.

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        Here is better than the open air.  I will go back to
                        the castle and bring you what comfort I can.

                                                KENT
                        The gods reward you for your kindness.

Exit Gloucester.  Enter King Lear, carrying Edgar, and the Fool.  King Lear puts Edgar down in a window, next to Kent, then King Lear moves away to sit down.  Edgar speaks to Kent privately.

                                                EDGAR
                        Say, what's wrong with the guy with the big red
                        nose?

                                                KENT
                        That's the King!

                                                EDGAR
                        Oh.  So that's it.  That explains it.

                                                KENT
                        Explains what?

                                                EDGAR
                        It explains he's the King!

                                                KENT
                        He has lost his reason!

                                                EDGAR
                        I didn't think Kings needed a reason.

                                                KENT
                        I mean he is mad!

                                                EDGAR
                        Oh.  I thought that was me.

                                                KENT
                        No, no!  You only pretend to be mad!

                                                EDGAR
                        Oh!  Right.  That's right.  How am I doing?

                                                KENT
                        Most excellently!

                                                EDGAR
                        Well, you know what they say.  Some of us got
                        it, and some of us can't give it away!

Abruptly, the mad King decides to stage a trial.

                                                KING LEAR
                        Hear ye!  Hear ye!  Hear ye!  It is propitious that
                        we proceed with the inquisition of those two
                        daughters of iniquity:  Goneril and Regan!

                                                FOOL
                        I dare you to step outside and say that!

                                                KING LEAR
                        You learned sages shall be judges!

King Lear points to the Fool and Edgar.

                                                FOOL
                        Okay, I judge you're mad, and he's an idiot.

                                                KING LEAR
                        I shall now interrogate the prisoners at the bar.

                                                FOOL
                        Where else?

King Lear points to an old, warped, wooden stool which he (in his madness) thinks is Goneril.

                                                KING LEAR
                        I take my oath before this honorable assembly
                        that this is Goneril, who kicked the poor King
                        her father!

The Fool gets up and goes over to question the stool.

                                                FOOL
                        Is your name Goneril?

                                                KING LEAR
                        She cannot deny it!

                                                FOOL
                        I beg your pardon.  I mistook you for a stool. 
                       
I hope you'll be chair-itable and forgive me.

                                                KING LEAR
                        And here stands her evil sister!

The King points to another wooden stool.

                                                FOOL
                        I can see the family resemblance.

King Lear addresses the Fool and Edgar, as though he were addressing judges.

                                                KING LEAR
                        I submit to you...

                                                FOOL
                                   
(interrupting)
                       
It's about time you submitted to me!

                                                KING LEAR
                        These dreadful daughters have, ipso facto, ...

                                                FOOL
                                   
(interrupting)
                       
I've got a brother named Ipso.  Or is it Facto?

                                                KING LEAR

                        These dreadful daughters would deny their father
                        even that shred of mercy shown to Socrates. 
                       
His executioners gave him a quick death by
                        hemlock!

                                                EDGAR
                        Who?

                                                FOOL
                        Hemlock, Prince of Denmark.

                                                KING LEAR
                        My daughters want me to suffer a prolonged death
                        by lemonade.  They would deny their father that
                        sweet surcease of sorrow afforded by the loving
                        hand of gentle alcohol.

                                                FOOL
                        Maybe they just want you stop shooting pink
                        elephants when company comes.

                                                KING LEAR
                        It's a lie!  A gross and palpable canard!  I never
                        shot a pink elephant in my life!

                                                FOOL
                        Not even in your pink pajamas?

                                                KING LEAR
                        Quite the antithesis.  My aim is hopeless when I've
                        been imbibing.

                                                KENT
                        My good lord, lie here and rest awhile.

Kent leads King Lear over to the cot, where the King lies down.

                                                KING LEAR
                        Make no noise.  Draw the curtains.  I will drink my
                        supper in the morning.

Lear falls asleep, and Kent pulls a blanket over him. .  There is a moment of silence, then the Fool speaks.

                                                FOOL
                        I wonder what my brothers are up to.  I think I'll
                        go look for them as soon as this scene is over.

Enter Gloucester.

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        Where is the King?

                                                KENT
                        Here, sir, but his wits are gone.

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        I have reason to believe his daughters plan 
                        to murder him!  Get him to Dover at once!  
                       
Come, come away!

Everyone exits.

*********************************************************

 Scene 7

Inside Gloucester's castle.  Enter Cornwall carrying Edmund, followed by Regan, Goneril and the Three Servants.  Cornwall speaks first to Goneril and then to Edmund.

                                                CORNWALL
                        Post speedily to my lord your husband.  Show
                        him this letter.  The army of France is landed! 
                       
Edmund, you had better leave with Goneril. 
                        The revenge we will take upon your father is not
                        fit for your beholding.

Goneril takes the letter from Cornwall, and also takes Edmund.  She exits, carrying Edmund.  Cornwall turns to the servants.

                                                CORNWALL
                        Go, seek the traitor Gloucester.

The three servants exit.

                                                CORNWALL
                        It might not be wise to take his life, but we shall
                        punish him for aiding the French invaders.

Enter the servants, holding Gloucester.

                                                CORNWALL
                        Bind him to that chair!

The servants force Gloucester into a chair and tie him to it.

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        What will you do to me?

                                                CORNWALL
                        We know you have been conspiring with the
                        French who even now invade our lands!

                                                REGAN
                        Where is the King?  Where has he gone?

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        To Dover.

                                                REGAN
                        Why to Dover?

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        Because I would not see your cruel nails pluck 
                        out his poor old eyes!

                                                CORNWALL
                        See it shalt thou never!

Cornwall takes out a dagger as he approaches the chair in which Gloucester is tied.  He speaks to the servants, who are beginning to look very upset.

                                                CORNWALL
                        Hold the chair!

                                                FIRST SERVANT
                        What are you going to do?

                                                CORNWALL
                        Pluck out his eyes!

                                                THIRD SERVANT
                        Don't you mean poke him in the eye?

                                                CORNWALL
                        I said pluck and I meant pluck!

                                                FIRST SERVANT
                        You can't do that!

                                                CORNWALL
                        Why not?

                                                THIRD SERVANT
                        It isn't funny!

                                                FIRST SERVANT
                        Now if you were to poke him in the eye, that 
                        would be funny.  There's nothing funnier than a 
                        finger in the eye.

                                                THIRD SERVANT
                        Unless its fingers in two eyes!

                                                CORNWALL
                        I am not trying to be funny!

                                                FIRST SERVANT
                        Okay, but don't ruin it for the rest of us!

The first and third servants have moved in front of Gloucester.

                                                CORNWALL
                        Get out of my way, your dogs!

The third servant barks at Cornwall.

                                                THIRD SERVANT
                        Ruff!  Ruff!

                                                FIRST SERVANT
                        Look, boss, why don't you try a poke.  You might 
                        like it.

                                                CORNWALL
                        You mean like this?

Cornwall slowly presses his fingers against Gloucester's eyes.  Then he pushes his fingers in, blinding Gloucester.  Gloucester screams in agony!

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        Augh!  I cannot see!  I cannot see!

                                                FIRST SERVANT
                        Why not?

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        Because he has plucked out my eyes!

(A note about that last line.  A friend of mine pointed out that to get a laugh, Gloucester's line should be "Because he plucked my eyes out."  My friend was right, but I hadn't intended that line to be funny.  So if you want to go for a moment of pain and horror, have Gloucester say, "Because he has plucked out my eyes!"  If you want to go for the laugh, have him say, "Because he plucked my eyes out." )

                                                FIRST SERVANT
                                    (to Cornwall)
                        You shouldn't have done that!

                                                THIRD SERVANT
                        That wasn't funny at all!

Cornwall takes his sword and hands it to the second servant, who has been cowering over to one side.

                                                CORNWALL
                        You!  Take this sword and kill these impudent
                        villains!

                                                SECOND SERVANT
                        What impudent villains?

                                                CORNWALL
                                    (pointing at the other servants)
                        Those impudent villains!

                                                SECOND SERVANT
                        Oh, those impudent villains.  Couldn't I just poke
                        them in the eye?

                                                CORNWALL
                        Kill them, unless you wish to die yourself!

                                                SECOND SERVANT
                        Okay.  Sorry guys!

The second servant swings the sword way back over his head in order to deliver a blow, and he accidentally stabs Cornwall.  Cornwall is fatally wounded, but he doesn't die immediately.

                                                CORNWALL
                        Augh!

                                                REGAN
                         Give me that sword!

Regan grabs the sword and runs through all three servants at once!  They are all pierced by the sword like three pieces of meat on a shish kabob.

                                                FIRST, SECOND & THIRD
                                                            SERVANTS
                        Oh!  We are slain!

They die in unison.

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        Where is Edmund?  He will avenge this atrocity!

                                                REGAN
                        Edmund hates you!  It was he that informed us
                        of your treason!

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        Then Edgar was abused!

Regan unties Gloucester from the chair and shoves him from the room.

                                                REGAN
                        Go out the gate!  Smell your way to Dover!

As soon as Gloucester is gone, Regan turns to Cornwall, who is mortally wounded.

                                                REGAN
                        How are you, my lord?

                                                CORNWALL
                        Hurt.  I bleed apace.  Give me your arm.

Regan help him from the room.

*********************************************************

Act IV

Scene 1

On the heath, on the way to Dover, Edgar sits on a stone wall.  He hears something and looks offstage.

                                                EDGAR
                        Who comes here?

Gloucester, who is now blind, is led on stage by a very OLD MAN.  The old man is very weak and tired, and he can barely walk.

                                                OLD MAN
                        You must let me help you, my good lord. 
                        have been your tenant and your father's tenant 
                        for eighty years.

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        Go away.  No one can help.  As flies to wanton 
                        boys are we to the gods.  They kill us for their 
                        sport.  

Gloucester feels his way around the stage, and bumps into Edgar.  He picks him up.

                                                EDGAR
                        Look on the bright side.  Things could be worse.  
                       
And I bet they will be.

                                                OLD MAN
                        You call that the bright side???

                                                EDGAR
                        Um.  I don't really know.  I've never been on the 
                        bright side, myself.  

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        Who is this?  His voice is familiar.

                                                OLD MAN
                        It's poor mad Tom.  

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        Then let him guide me to Dover.

                                                OLD MAN
                        But he is mad!

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        And you are old.  I trust his youth above your 
                        wits.  Mad Tom, can you tell me how to get to 
                        Dover?  

                                                EDGAR
                        Dover?  Let's see.  You want to get to Dover?  
                       
Are you sure you don't want to get here.  Because 
                        I could tell you how to get here.  

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        No, I don't want to get to here.  I want to get to 
                        Dover.

                                                EDGAR
                        And this isn't Dover, is it?

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        No.  

                                                EDGAR
                        Well then, if you want to go to Dover, I guess you 
                        should start by going away from here!  

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        Never mind.  We will find it together.  And when 
                        we get to Dover, you will take me to a cliff high 
                        over the ocean.  If we can find that cliff, I will need 
                        no one to lead me from there.  

                                                EDGAR
                        Uh, yup!  That's the way it goes.  I will lead you 
                        to Dover.

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        Good.

                                                EDGAR
                        Will you lead me?  

                                                OLD MAN
                        Dover is that way!!!

The old man grabs Gloucester and pushes him off in the direction of Dover.  Gloucester stumbles off, carrying Edgar.  The old man exits in the other direction.

*********************************************************

Scene 2

On the road to Albany's castle.  Enter Goneril, carrying Edmund.  

                                                GONERIL
                        Welcome, my lord, to our castle.  I marvel that 
                        my mild husband did not meet us on the way.  

She puts him down in a window.

                                                EDMUND
                        Your husband is a gentle man, isn't he?

                                                GONERIL
                        He thinks too much of others.  I'll bet you don't 
                        think too much of others.  

                                                EDMUND
                        Well, I don't think too much of your husband.  
                       
That's for sure!

Enter Oswald, the servant.

                                                GONERIL
                        Where is your master?

                                                OSWALD
                        He is within.  I do not know what has come over 
                        him.  When I told him the French army had 
                        landed, he smiled.  When I told him you were 
                        coming, he scowled.  

                                                GONERIL
                        He is a spineless coward! 

Oswald exits.

                                                GONERIL
                        Edmund, go back to the Duke of Cornwall and 
                        lead his army.  I will command my husband's 
                        forces.  

                                                EDMUND
                        We'll beat those French invaders.

                                                GONERIL
                        You're so firm!

                                                EDMUND
                        You noticed that, did you?

                                                GONERIL
                        You are a man after my own heart!

                                                EDMUND
                        And that's not all I'm after!

                                                GONERIL
                        Bend your head.

Edmund bends his head, and Goneril kisses him passionately.  When the kiss is over, she nearly swoons.

                                                GONERIL
                        Fare thee well.  

She kisses him again.  This time Edmund swoons and falls backward out the window.  Albany enters.

                                                GONERIL
                                   
(aside)
                       
Oh the difference between man and man!  

Goneril turns and addresses her husband.

                                                GONERIL
                        They say it is a poor dog that is not worth the 
                        whistling.  Why haven't you sent for me?  I am 
                        worth the whistle.

                                                ALBANY
                        Oh, Goneril, you are not worth the dust which 
                        the rude wind blows in your face.  What have 
                        you and your sister done to your poor father?  

                                                GONERIL
                        No more nor less than he deserved.  I have 
                        treated him according to his merits, what little 
                        they are.  Would you have me welcome him 
                        and the French to take all we own?

                                                ALBANY
                        If you had left him a shred of dignity, the 
                        French would not have come!

Enter a messenger.

                                                MESSENGER
                        My lord, the Duke of Cornwall is dead, slain 
                        by his servants as he blinded Gloucester!  

                                                ALBANY
                        What?  Gloucester, blinded!  And Cornwall dead?

                                                GONERIL
                                   
(aside)
                       
I don't like this.  It means that Regan is free to 
                        pursue Edmund.  

Goneril exits.

                                                ALBANY
                        Why didn't Edmund protect Gloucester?

                                                MESSENGER
                        It was he that informed against his father.

                                                ALBANY
                        Come, my friend, and tell me more of what you 
                        know.

Exit Albany and the messenger.

*********************************************************

Scene 3

Near Dover, Kent enters with the Italian Gentleman from Act 3, Scene 1.

                                                KENT
                        Why has the King of France so suddenly gone 
                        back?  Know you the reason?

                                                ITALIAN GENTLEMAN
                        I think he left the water running in France.

                                                KENT
                        Did you tell Cordelia that King Lear was coming 
                        to Dover?  

                                                ITALIAN GENTLEMAN
                        Yeah.  He thought that was very funny. 

                                                KENT
                        He???  Cordelia is the King's daughter!!!

                                                ITALIAN GENTLEMAN
                        He is?

                                                KENT
                        She
is!  She's a woman!

                                                ITALIAN GENTLEMAN
                        That's funny.  I wonder why she was dressed up 
                        like a big, hairy man.  Hey, I got it.  I bet she was 
                        in a shipwreck!  

                                                KENT
                        A shipwreck?

                                                ITALIAN GENTLEMAN
                        Sure.  Her brother drowned, but she's washed 
                        up on an island where her father's a magician.  
                       
So she dresses up like a boy to work for the 
                        Duke who she's in love with.  Only the Duke 
                        thinks he's in love with someone else, so she 
                        runs into the forest and has a dream that the 
                        fairies turned her into a big hairy man!   And 
                        that's why the King's daughter is a man!  

                                                KENT
                        That's preposterous!

                                                ITALIAN GENTLEMAN
                        Things like that, they happen all the time!

                                                KENT
                        Don't you think it is more likely that instead of 
                        giving the news to Cordelia, you gave it to a man? 

The Italian Gentleman thinks this over, but decides it is ridiculous.  

                                                ITALIAN GENTLEMAN
                        Why would a man be the King's daughter?  That's
                        just silly.

                                                KENT
                        I must find the King and persuade him to come to 
                        Cordelia.  He is so plagued with guilt, he refuses 
                        to see her.  I pray you, go along with me.  

Exit Kent with the Italian Gentleman.

*********************************************************

Scene 4

In Dover, at the camp of the French army, Cordelia enters with SOLDIERS and the Italian Gentleman.  She speaks to a Soldier.  

                                                CORDELIA
                        Alack!  I hear my father was seen running 
                        around the beach with brown weeds in his 
                        hair.

                                                ITALIAN GENTLEMAN
                        That's too bad.

                                                CORDELIA  
                        Yes.  With his complexion, he'd look much nicer 
                        with violets, don't you think?   

A MESSENGER enters.

                                                MESSENGER
                        News, Madam.  The British Army has been 
                        spotted.

                                                CORDELIA
                        I've been spotted --  when I was six years old. 
                        had chicken pox.

                                                MESSENGER
                        I mean the British are at hand!

                                                CORDELIA
                        Good!  They can help us find my father!

                                                MESSENGER  
                        They want to send us back to France.  

                                                CORDELIA
                        That's very generous of them, but I've already 
                        booked our return passage.

                                                MESSENGER
                        No!  They mean to fight!

                                                CORDELIA  
                        Then let them fight, just so long as they don't 
                        bother us.  Why are soldiers always fighting?  
                       
They're just like little boys.

                                                MESSENGER
                        They are angry because we French are on their 
                        shores.

                                                CORDELIA
                        Then tell them as soon as we find my father, we'll 
                        take him back to London, and they can have the 
                        shores all to themselves.  Come on, let's go find 
                        the King.  Soon may I see him.  

Cordelia exits, followed by the soldiers and the Italian Gentleman.

*********************************************************

Scene 5

Regan enters with Oswald.  

                                                REGAN
                        But are my brother's powers set forth?  

                                                OSWALD
                        Aye, Madam.

                                                REGAN
                        Will he lead them against the French?

                                                OSWALD
                        If forced to it, although to my mind, your sister 
                        is the better soldier.

                                                REGAN
                        I assume she has been in close contact with 
                        Edmund.

                                                OSWALD
                        I am certain of it.  

                                                REGAN
                        How close?

                                                OSWALD
                        That I cannot say.

                                                REGAN
                        Cannot, or will not?

                                                OSWALD
                        I am your sister's faithful servant!

                                                REGAN  
                        But is she a faithful mistress?  I have seen the 
                        way she looks at Edmund.  Did you know he 
                        has been sent to find his father and kill him?  
                       
Gloucester never should have been permitted to 
                        live.  We should have cut out his heart instead 
                        of his eyes!  

Regan hands a sealed letter to Oswald.

                                                REGAN
                        If you see Edmund, will you give him this letter?  
                       
Why do you smile?  Do you also have a letter 
                        for him from my sister?  She would do well to 
                        remember she already has a husband.  

                                                OSWALD
                        I will deliver your letter.

                                                REGAN  
                        And if you chance to hear of that blind traitor, 
                        preferment falls on him that cuts him off.  

                                                OSWALD
                        If I meet him, I will show what party I follow.  

                                                REGAN
                        Fare thee well.

Regan and Oswald exit in opposite directions.

*********************************************************

  Scene 6  

Near Dover, Gloucester enters, carrying Edgar.

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        When shall I come to the top of that same hill?  

                                                EDGAR
                        I think you get to the top when you can't go 
                        any higher.

Gloucester is becoming exhausted.  

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        I do not think I can go any farther.  

                                                EDGAR
                        Well, then, you must be at the top now.

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        It is odd.  I thought I was walking on even 
                        land.  

                                                EDGAR
                        Well if it's odd, then it can't be even.

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        So we must have been climbing.  Are we 
                        truly atop the cliffs at Dover?

                                                EDGAR
                        I don't know.  How can you tell?  

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        If we were truly at Dover, the people below us 
                        would be so small, they would look like ants.

Edgar looks down at the floor. 

                                                EDGAR
                        Those look like ants to me all right.

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        Then I must be at the very edge.  You must go 
                        further off.  

Gloucester puts Edgar down.

                                                GLOUCESTER  
                        This world I do renounce!  

Gloucester attempts to jump off what he thinks his a cliff, but since he is on level ground, he merely falls to the floor of the stage.  After a moment, he feels around at finds Edgar.  He picks him up and speaks to him.

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        What happened?

                                                EDGAR
                        You fell down.

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        All the way down from where I stood at the 
                        top of the cliff?  How is it I live?

                                                EDGAR
                        I don't know.  One time I fell off a steep cliff, 
                        and when I got to the bottom, there was a big 
                        crowd of people looking at me, and some fellow 
                        asked me what happened, and I said, "I don't 
                        know, I just got here myself."

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        Who are you?  You sound like the madman I 
                        left at the top of the cliff, but you could not be 
                        he.  I left him high above.  But who comes here?  

Enter King Lear, who is quite mad.

                                                KING LEAR
                        Who wants to know?  They said I was a mighty 
                        monarch, lusty and strong, and so robust that I 
                        could stay out every night 'til dawn, quaffing ale 
                        and playing cards, and never suffer the slightest ill 
                        health.  But they lied.  I caught a nasty case of the 
                        sniffles once.  I believe I sniffle still.  

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        I remember that voice!  Is it not the King?  

                                                KING LEAR
                        Aye, every inch a king, but far from home.  
                       
This sandy shore reminds me of a journey I 
                        once made to the far Antipodes, in search of a 
                        rare fermented brew known as Ambrosia.  
                       
While scouting through the underbrush, I brushed 
                        against a beautiful blonde.  Her hair was like 
                        waves of the finest amber beer, her lips were 
                        red as wine.  Unfortunately, from the waist 
                        down she was a horse.  A centaur!  We chatted 
                        about the local wildlife, and about the libations 
                        that made the life so wild.  And soon I lost my 
                        heart to her upper half.

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        What was her name?

                                                KING LEAR
                                   
(lost in the mists of memory)
                       
What?

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        The centaur!  What was her name?

                                                KING LEAR
                        Lilypetal Blossomtide.  Many were the moonlit 
                        nights we wandered through the dusky woods 
                        and dappled dales, conversing upon the finer 
                        points of our philosophies.  Then one evening, 
                        when I chanced to arrive at our rendezvous 
                        ahead of schedule, I found her lower half 
                        engaged in an act of sexual congress with a 
                        horse.  Needless to say, I was distraught!  She 
                        begged me to forgive her.  She vowed that she 
                        would never again descend to such debauched 
                        carnality.  I said to her, "Lilypetal, swear thou 
                        unto me!  Shalt thou e'er again..."  We always 
                        spoke formally to each other.  "Shalt thou 
                        e'er again act in any manner like unto a horse?"  
                       
And she answered, "Nay!"  I left the Antipodes 
                        that very hour, and never heard from her again!  

Lear turns back to Gloucester.

                                                KING LEAR
                        Give me an ounce of civet, good apothecary, to 
                        sweeten my imagination.

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        Oh, let me kiss that hand.

                                                KING LEAR
                        Let me wipe it first.  It smells of mortality.

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        Do you know me?

                                                KING LEAR
                        I remember your eyes.  I believe you had two 
                        of them.  Yes, I remember them well.  Unfortunately, 
                        I cannot say the same for the rest of you.  But you 
                        look like an honest man.  You look like what 
                        happens to an honest man.  If I find your eyes, I 
                        shall return them, for I too am an honest man.  

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        You poor creature.

                                                KING LEAR
                        We are all poor creatures.  When we are born, 
                        we cry that we are come to this great stage of 
                        fools!  We cry.  We weep.

Enter the Italian Gentleman, accompanied by a curly-headed MUTE attendant.  They approach the King.  

                                                ITALIAN GENTLEMAN
                        Have you seen the King?  His daughter wants 
                        us to find him.

                                                KING LEAR
                        Which daughter is that?

                                                ITALIAN GENTLEMAN
                        The one who wants us to find him.

                                                KING LEAR
                        Do you have any idea what the King looks 
                        like?  

The Mute nods enthusiastically.  He puffs out his cheeks, rolls his tongue up in his mouth, and crosses his eyes.  He looks ghastly.

                                                KING LEAR
                        What makes you think the King looks like that?

                                                ITALIAN GENTLEMAN
                        We heard the King was crazy, and that's as crazy 
                        as he knows how to look.  

                                                KING LEAR
                        I believe I may be of assistance.  Would you be 
                        so good as to gaze over in yonder direction?  

The King points off in one direction, and as the Italian Gentleman and the Mute look off in that direction, the King runs off the other way.  The Italian Gentleman turns around, and is surprised to find that the man who gave him directions is gone.  He spins the Mute around.

                                                ITALIAN GENTLEMAN
                        Hey, where'd he go?  

The Mute searches the stage for King Lear.

                                                ITALIAN GENTLEMAN  
                        I bet he went to find the King for us!  

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        That was the King!

                                                ITALIAN GENTLEMAN  
                        It was?  Go get him!  The war's about to start.  
                       
Hurry!  

The Mute runs offstage after King Lear.  

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        You'd better hurry if the war's about to start.

                                                ITALIAN GENTLEMAN
                        Yeah, we've got to move fast if we want to get 
                        good seats.

As the Italian Gentleman exits, Oswald enters from the other direction.  He spots Gloucester, and takes out his sword.

                                                OSWALD
                        Who have we here?  The proclaimed prize!  
                       
Thou old, unhappy traitor!  The sword is out 
                        that must destroy thee.

                                                EDGAR
                        Now that isn't a very friendly thing to say.

                                                OSWALD
                        Stand aside, you dunghill, or I will kill you as 
                        well!  

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        Take my dagger and defend us!

Gloucester takes out a dagger and holds it in Edgar's hand.  Blindly, he carries Edgar in the direction of Oswald's voice.  Oswald grabs Edgar's arms and grapples with him, but the dagger finds it's way into Oswald, who is mortally wounded.  

                                                EDGAR
                        I may be stupid, but no one ever said I wasn't 
                        strong.  

                                                OSWALD
                        Thou hast slain me!

Oswald takes out the letters to Edmund he received from Regan and Goneril and tries to hand them to Edgar.  

                                                OSWALD
                        If you wish to be rewarded, deliver these letters 
                        to Edmund, the Earl of Gloucester.  You will find 
                        him on the English side.  Oh, untimely death!  

Oswald dies.

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        Is he dead?

                                                EDGAR
                        I'll ask him.  Are you dead?

There is no answer from Oswald.

                                                EDGAR
                        He won't answer.  

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        Then I think we can assume he's dead.  I'll take 
                        those letters he was talking about.

Gloucester feels about on Oswald's body until he finds the letters and takes them.

                                                GLOUCESTER  
                        We'd better get out of here before the war starts.

                                                EDGAR
                        I hear the beaten drum.  Come, Father.  

They exit.

*********************************************************

Scene 7

At the French Camp in Dover, Cordelia enters talking to Kent.  Kent is still disguised in the rough garb of a peasant.

                                                CORDELIA
                        Oh thou good Kent, Thank you so much for 
                        taking such good care of my father.

                                                KENT
                        I wish it had been better care.  Under my care he 
                        has lost his authority, his followers, his health and 
                        even his sanity.  The only thing he has not lost 
                        under my care is his life.

                                                CORDELIA
                        Well, I'm sure you did the best you could.

                                                KENT
                        He is now just a pathetic, miserable wretch.

                                                CORDELIA
                        No one can blame you for that.

                                                KENT
                        I blame myself.

                                                CORDELIA
                        No one can blame you for that either.  Now, why 
                        don't you go change out of those filthy rags?  

                                                KENT
                        I would rather stay in disguise while I might still do 
                        some good.  

                                                CORDELIA  
                        All right, Kent, I won't reveal your secret identity.

Enter a DOCTOR who has been looking after King Lear.  Cordelia questions him.

                                                CORDELIA
                        How is the King?  

                                                DOCTOR
                        He sleeps.  I have asked some men from your 
                        camp to bring him to you.  Look, here they 
                        come!

The Italian Gentleman and the Mute enter, carrying the sleeping King Lear in a chair.  The Italian Gentleman and the Mute struggle with the weight of the King.  

                                                ITALIAN GENTLEMAN
                        Boy, this King's a heavy sleeper!  

                                                DOCTOR
                        Has he been sleeping comfortably?

                                                ITALIAN GENTLEMAN  
                        I don't know.  I'll ask him.

The Italian Gentlemen shakes the King roughly, but King Lear does not wake up.

                                                ITALIAN GENTLEMAN
                        Hey, King!  Wake up!  The doctor wants to know 
                        if you've been sleeping comfortable!  

                                                DOCTOR
                        That's no way to speak to a King!

                                                CORDELIA
                        That's right.  Let me do it.

She curtsies daintily, like a perfect princess, before the King.  Then she gets up and shakes her father roughly.

                                                CORDELIA
                        Dad!  Wake up!  The doctor wants to know if 
                        you've been sleeping comfortable.  

But Lear doesn't wake up. Cordelia looks down on him, her heart filled with pity.

                                                CORDELIA
                        You know, I still can't believe my sisters let him 
                        stay out all night in that terrible storm!  I would 
                        have let my enemy's dog stay indoors by my fire 
                        on a night like that, even if he had bitten me.

                                                ITALIAN GENTLEMAN
                        That's not nice of your enemy to bite you, but it's 
                        good you let the dog sit by the fire.

                                                CORDELIA
                        No, I meant if the dog bit me.  Wouldn't you have 
                        let your enemy's dog sit by your fire during that 
                        storm, even if your enemy's dog had bitten you?  

                                                ITALIAN GENTLEMAN
                        I don't think my enemy has a dog.

                                                CORDELIA  
                        Well, I'm sure my enemy would lend your enemy his 
                        dog.

                                                DOCTOR
                        I am concerned that the King will not wake up!

                                                ITALIAN GENTLEMAN
                        Maybe we should get your enemy's dog to bite 
                        him.

The Mute bites the King on the arm.  The King cries in his sleep, and begins to slowly awaken.

                                                KING LEAR
                        Drat!  

                                                CORDELIA
                        How does my noble lord?

                                                KING LEAR
                                   
(not yet fully awake)
                       
You do wrong to take me out of the grave.  Thou 
                        art a soul in bliss, but I am bound upon a wheel of 
                        fire, that my own tears do scald like molten lead.  
                       
And I believe somebody bit me.  

                                                DOCTOR
                        He's scarcely awake.  Let him alone awhile.

                                                KING LEAR
                        Where have I been?  Where am I?

He tries to get up, but stumbles to his knees.

                                                CORDELIA
                        You don't have to kneel to me!  

                                                KING LEAR
                        Pray do not mock me.  I am a very foolish fond 
                        old man, and to deal plainly, I fear I am not in my 
                        perfect mind.  A slight touch of delirium tremens.  
                       
Do not laugh at me, but I think this lady to be my 
                        child Cordelia.  

                                                CORDELIA
                        That's what I think too!  

                                                KING LEAR
                        I suppose you'll want to poison me with lemonade.  

                                                CORDELIA
                        I don't have any lemonade.  Would you like to 
                        be poisoned with ginger ale?  

                                                KING LEAR
                        I will drink it!  You must despise me.  Your 
                        sisters hate me without reason, but you have 
                        cause.  

                                                CORDELIA
                        No cause!  No cause!  

                                                KING LEAR
                        Am I in France?  

                                                CORDELIA
                        No, you're right here!  Come on, let's go for a 
                        walk and I'll introduce you to the army!  

                                                KING LEAR
                        You must bear with me.  Forget and forgive. 
                        am old and foolish.

King Lear exits with Cordelia.  Everyone else follows them off.

*********************************************************

Act V

Scene 1

At the British camp, near Dover, Regan enters carrying Edmund.  She puts him down on a wall.  

                                                REGAN
                        Tell me but truly, do you not love my sister?

                                                EDMUND
                        I love her like a sister.  Your sister, to be precise.  

                                                REGAN  
                        But have you not found your way to her 
                        husband's place?  

                                                EDMUND
                        That thought abuses you!

                                                REGAN
                        But you haven't answered the question!  

                                                EDMUND
                        That's because I don't want you to abuse me.  
                       
But on my honor, I would never dream of 
                        making love to your sister.

                                                REGAN
                        On your honor?  How far can your honor be 
                        trusted?

                                                EDMUND
                        How far do you think?  

                                                REGAN
                        Based on how you treated your father, I'd say
 
                        less than the space between the eyes of a flea.  

                                                EDMUND
                        Well, there's your answer!

                                                REGAN  
                        If you know what is good for you, you will not 
                        be familiar with her!  

                                                EDMUND
                        Careful!  The lady in question - or should I 
                        say the questionable lady - is approaching with 
                        her husband!  

Goneril enters with Albany.

                                                ALBANY
                        The King has joined the French forces not far 
                        from here.  I cannot allow the French to conquer 
                        England.  However, my quarrel is not with King 
                        Lear or with Cordelia.  

                                                EDMUND
                        No, no, of course not!

                                                GONERIL
                        
            (brazenly lying)
                       
I am certain we are all in agreement on that 
                        point.

                                                EDMUND
                        I will meet you presently at your tent to discuss 
                        our strategy.  

Regan picks up Edmund and carries him out holding him with obvious affection.  Goneril follows them off stage, showing her jealousy.  Albany is left alone on stage.  Then Edgar pops up from behind the wall.  He has in his hands the letters he and his father took from Oswald.  

                                                EDGAR
                        Excuse me, but I've got some letters here for 
                        Edward.  They're supposed to be pretty important.  
                       
My father said he thought I ought to give them to 
                        the Duke of...   Duke of...  Let's see, who was it?  

                                                ALBANY
                        I am the Duke of Albany.  Give the letters to me!  

                                                EDGAR
                        That sounds about right.  

Albany takes the letters from Edgar.

                                                ALBANY
                        If, after the battle, I need to speak to you about 
                        these, I will sound a trumpet.

                                                EDGAR
                        That's pretty good.  I do bird calls myself.

                                                ALBANY
                        Fare thee well.

Edgar gets down behind the wall.  A moment later Regan re-enters carrying Edmund.  

                                                REGAN
                        Edmund has news for you!

She puts Edmund down on the wall.  

                                                EDMUND
                        The enemy is in view!  Draw up your powers!  

                                                ALBANY
                        I will do so!

Albany exits with Regan, leaving Edmund alone on stage.

                                                EDMUND
                        I have sworn my love to both these sisters.  
                       
Which of them shall I take?  Both?  One?  
                       
Or neither?  Neither can be enjoyed if both 
                        remain alive.  Oh, why did I have to be born 
                        such a handsome man?  It will be the death of 
                        me yet.  Well, if Goneril wants me, she'll have to 
                        do something about getting rid of her husband 
                        Albany.  And she better do it before he does 
                        something stupid, like showing mercy to Lear 
                        and Cordelia.  I'll have to do something about 
                        them.  

Edmund exits behind the wall.

*********************************************************

Scene 2

At a battlefield, the Italian Gentleman and the Mute enter, followed by Gloucester carrying Edgar.  Edgar is dressed in battle armor.  

                                                ITALIAN GENTLEMAN
                        Let's sit in the shadow of this tree!  We can see 
                        the war good from here!  

Everyone sits.  The Italian Gentleman and the Mute take out pennants with "FRANCE" written on them.  They wave the pennants as though they were at a football game.

                                                ITALIAN GENTLEMAN  
                        Go France!  Go France!

From offstage, we hear a FRENCH SOLDIER giving an order to retreat:

                                                FRENCH SOLDIER
                                   
(off stage)  
                       
Retreat!  Retreat!  

                                                ITALIAN GENTLEMAN  
                        Oh-oh!  I say, "Go France," and the French 
                        decide to go.  You know what this means?  

The Mute nods "yes."  He and the Italian Gentleman put down their "FRANCE" pennants" and pick up pennants which say "ENGLAND."  

                                                ITALIAN GENTLEMAN
                        Go England!

                                                EDGAR
                        Maybe we should go.

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        Why go?  A man may rot even here.

                                                EDGAR
                        Well, sure, if you like rotting.  But, um, I don't
                        think I'm  ripe yet.

                                                GLOUCESTER
                        That's true too.  

                                               *********************************************************

Scene 3

At the English camp, ENGLISH SOLDIERS enter.  One of them carries Edmund, and puts him down on a wall.  Other soldiers bring in King Lear and Cordelia as prisoners.

                                                EDMUND
                        Officers, take them away!  

                                                CORDELIA
                        Thank you.  Could you take us away to London, 
                        please?  

                                                KING LEAR
                        No, no, no, no.  Come, let's away to prison, to 
                        our durance vile.  We two alone will sing like birds 
                        in the cage.  When thou dost ask me blessing, I'll 
                        kneel down and ask of thee forgiveness.  We'll 
                        tell old tales and laugh at gilded butterflies.  

                                                CORDELIA
                                   
(laughing)
                       
Oh, I always think gilded butterflies are so funny!  

                                                KING LEAR
                        Yes, we'll hear poor rouges talk of court news.  
                       
And we'll talk with them too who loses and 
                        who wins, who's in, who's out; and take upon 
                        us the mystery of things.  

                                                CORDELIA  
                        I love a good mystery.  Did you see "Hamlet"?  
                       
That was a complete mystery to me!  

                                                EDMUND
                        Take them away!

A soldier starts to take Cordelia, but Lear pushes him aside.

                                                KING LEAR
                        Unhand her, you ruffian!  Come, Cordelia, 
                        my little fleur-de-lis!

King Lear gallantly leads Cordelia out.  Edmund speaks to the CAPTAIN of the soldiers.

                                                EDMUND
                        Captain, follow them to prison!  You know 
                        what to do!

                                                CAPTAIN
                        I'll do it, my Lord.

Exit the Captain.  Enter Albany, Goneril and Regan, along with more ENGLISH SOLDIERS.  Regan looks very ill and occasionally clutches her stomach.  Albany speaks gruffly to Edmund.  

                                                ALBANY
                        Sir, I require that you give me your prisoners, 
                        the King and Cordelia.

                                                EDMUND
                        I thought it would be best to lock them up 
                        away from here for their own protection.  You 
                        know how viscous red-blooded soldiers can 
                        get when war gets their red blood flowing.  
                       
No, I suppose that's something you've never 
                        experienced.  Anyway, I've put them safely 
                        away under lock and key.

                                                ALBANY
                        That is something for me to decide, not you.  

                                                REGAN
                        You forget that he led my army!  If I choose, 
                        I can make him my equal!

                                                GONERIL
                        You really think you can bring him that far 
                        down?  

                                                REGAN
                        I intend to marry him!

                                                GONERIL
                        And do you intend to enjoy your marriage?  

                                                ALBANY
                        You cannot marry him, Regan.  He is already 
                        spoken for.  By my wife!!!

                                                EDMUND
                        Ooops!

Albany reveals the letters which Edgar gave him.

                                                ALBANY
                        Edmund, I arrest you for capital treason!  
                       
These letters prove you made love to both my 
                        wife and her sister.  What do you have to say 
                        for yourself?

                                                EDMUND
                        You've got to understand.  I come from a 
                        broken home!  

                                                ALBANY
                        And you're the one who broke it! 

                                                EDMUND
                        I just wanted to experience the affection I 
                        never had as a child!

                                                ALBANY
                        By making love to my wife?????

                                                EDMUND
                        Well, I never had that experience as a 
                        child.

                                                ALBANY
                        Sound the trumpet!  Let the witness appear 
                        who can tell us of these letters!  

A Soldier sounds a trumpet, as Regan clutches her stomach.

                                                REGAN
                        I feel sick.

                                                GONERIL
                                   
(aside)
                       
If not, I'll never trust my medicines.

                                                EDMUND
                        I would like to prove my innocence!

                                                ALBANY
                        Can you?  

                                                EDMUND  
                        No, but I'd really like to.  

                                                ALBANY
                        Sound the trumpet again.  

The Soldier sounds the trumpet again.

                                                REGAN
                        I must leave.  I'm sick.

                                                ALBANY
                        Take her to my tent, and sound the trumpet 
                        again.  

A Soldier helps Regan to leave as another Soldier sounds the trumpet.  When the Soldier who helped Regan leave returns, he is carrying Edgar.  Edgar is wearing battle armor, including a helmet which hides his face.  He has a sword in his hand.

                                                SOLDIER
                                   
(carrying Edgar)
                       
This man claims he was told to come when we 
                        sounded the trumpet.

The Soldier puts Edgar down on the wall next to Edmund.

                                                ALBANY
                        He will prove you are a traitor!  Take up this 
                        sword!  

Albany puts a sword into Edmund's hand.  

                                                EDMUND  
                        I can't fight him.  It isn't fair.  He has a helmet, 
                        and I don't.

                                                ALBANY
                        Then we will remove his helmet.

Albany tries to pull off Edgar's helmet, but it's stuck.  He asks for help from the Soldiers.

                                                ALBANY
                        It's stuck!  Help me pull it off.

Some of the Soldiers hold Edgar's body, while others pull at the helmet.  Suddenly, the helmet pops off, and Edgar (in Albany's arms) goes flying into Edmund, stabbing him fatally.

                                                GONERIL
                        Edmund!

                                                EDMUND
                        I am slain!

                                                ALBANY
                                    (to Goneril)
                        He is justly served!  These papers prove you 
                        planned to murder me to win his love!

                                                GONERIL
                        What if I did?  Who will judge me?

                                                ALBANY
                        I will.

Goneril runs off stage.

                                                ALBANY
                        Go after her!  She's desperate.

A Soldier follows Goneril.  

                                                EDMUND
                        I'm dying!  Who was it that killed me?  

Edgar turns to face his brother.

                                                EDMUND
                        It's my brother, Edgar!

                                                ALBANY
                        It's true!  You are Edgar.  I recognize you now!  
                       
Where is your noble father?

                                                EDGAR
                        He's dead.  He died right after I told him who I 
                        really am.  "I'm really me!" I said.

                                                ALBANY
                        And his poor old heart could not take the news.

                                                EDGAR
                        No, his heart took it fine.  He was really happy to 
                        learn I was me.  But then he walked off the side 
                        of a cliff.  He was blind, you know.  Yup, that's 
                        the way it goes.

Enter the Soldier who followed Goneril.  He carries a bloody dagger.

                                                SOLDIER  
                        She's dead!

                                                ALBANY
                        Who?  

                                                SOLDIER
                        Goneril!  Your wife!  She confessed that she had 
                        poisoned her sister Regan, out of jealous love for 
                        Edmund, and then she stabbed herself!  They both 
                        are dead.  

                                                EDMUND
                        Two jealous women!  When I meet up with them 
                        in the afterlife, I know there's going to be hell to 
                        pay!

Enter Kent.  

                                                ALBANY
                        Who comes here?

                                                KENT
                        The Earl of Kent.  When I was banished, I disguised 
                        myself as a lowly slave so that I could continue to 
                        serve the King.  I have heard he is your prisoner.  
                       
If so, make me your prisoner too, so that I may end 
                        my life with him.  

                                                ALBANY
                        The King!  Where is the King?

                                                 EDMUND
                        He's at the castle, locked up with Cordelia.  But 
                        you'd better hurry.  I'm afraid I let my mischievous 
                        side get the better of me.  

                                                ALBANY  
                        What do you mean?  

                                                EDMUND
                        I ordered them to be hanged.

                                                ALBANY
                        What?  You call that mischievous?  How could 
                        you?  This was supposed to be a comedy!  

                                                EDMUND
                        All right, all right!  So I miscalculated.  What are 
                        you going to do, kill me twice?  Do you think I like 
                        the way things turned out?  

Edmund dies.  Then, before anyone can do anything,  Lear enters carrying the body of Cordelia.  An English soldier follows him.

                                                KING LEAR
                        Howl, howl howl, howl!  She's gone for ever. 
                        know when one is dead, and when one lives.  
                       
She's dead as earth!  My poor fool, Cordelia.  
                       
Her voice was ever soft, gentle, and low, and funny.  
                       
An excellent thing in a woman, or in anybody. 
                        killed the slave that was hanging thee.

                                                SOLDIER
                        It's true, my lords.  He did.

                                                KING LEAR
                        Why should a dog, a horse, a rat, have life, and 
                        thou no breath at all?  Thou'lt come no more, 
                        never, never, never, never.  I'd give up drink to 
                        have you live again.  I'd even give up comedy.  

Lear dies.  Albany rushes to him.  

                                                ALBANY  
                        He's dead!

                                                KENT
                        Vex not his ghost.  Do not stretch him out any 
                        longer upon the rack of this tough world.  The 
                        wonder is, he that endured so long.  

Albany gives orders to his soldiers.  

                                                ALBANY
                        Bear them from hence.  I want no more of politics.  
                       
Kent you must rule this realm.

                                                KENT  
                        I am too old and sick.  I can't live long.     

                                                ALBANY
                        But who shall be King?  If not you or I, then that 
                        leaves only...  

Kent and Albany stare at Edgar.

                                                EDGAR
                        Yup.  That's the way it goes, all right.  The weight 
                        of this sad time we must obey:  speak what we feel, 
                        not what we ought to say.  The oldest hath borne 
                        most:  we that are young shall never see so much, 
                        nor live so long.  

Everyone bows their head solemnly.  Then the Fool bounds in.  

                                                FOOL
                        Hey, everyone, I'm back!  Did I miss anything?  

The curtain falls.  

THE END  

2000 by Richard Nathan.  All rights reserved

The author grants all internet uses to print these scripts for their own, personal, non-commercial use.  No other use may be made without the author's permission.  Without limiting the foregoing, the plays may not be staged without the author's express  permission.

Send e-mail to the author at Richard-Nathan@att.net.

 

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