Happy Ever Laughter


Act 1,
Scene 1

The stage is set with a TABLE OF PROPS, a CHAIR for the narrator to one side of the stage, a SCREEN for projection and ANOTHER TABLE either empty or with a tablecloth.

The NARRATOR enters, makes himself comfortable and then notices the audience. On SCREEN, there is an image of the NARRATOR’S READING CHAIR. The lines here are the key places to move the plot on, but lots of ad-libbing and talking to the audience can go on here.

Image: Pixabay

Image: Pixabay

NARRATOR: Oh, hello. I didn’t see you come in. I suppose you’ll be wanting a story then?

The NARRATOR prompts the audience to reply in the affirmative. He insists they aren’t loud enough and works them up to shouting.

NARRATOR: Well if you insist, then a story you shall have. But I know the kind of things you like! You like those fancy-pants Hollywood stories with the whizz-pop graphics and the sound effects, don’t you? Well if you want that kind of story I might need a bit of help. Can you do that for me?

The NARRATOR prompts the audience to reply in the affirmative. He insists they aren’t loud enough and works them up to shouting.

NARRATOR: Look there’s no need to shout all the time. Now, if you’re ready then we’ll begin.

The NARRATOR slowly opens a MAGICAL BOOK. He looks confused. He shuts the book again and reopens it, but nothing happens.

Image: Pixabay

Image: Pixabay

ON SCREEN the words ‘OH NO!’ appear. The NARRATOR points to these words as he says…

NARRATOR: Oh no!

The NARRATOR encourages the children to say it with him. The idea is that by the third or fourth time the words ‘Oh No’ come on to the screen the children will call them out, unprompted.

When the kids have joined in with the ‘Oh No’ the words ‘WE NEED SOME...MAGIC!’ appear on THE SCREEN.

NARRATOR: Oh no! We need some magic.

Images: Pixabay; The Noun Project

Images: Pixabay; The Noun Project

THE NARRATOR selects a couple of children and gives them each a set of SLEIGH BELLS. The ON-SCREEN text fades and is replaced by the BELL SYMBOL. He instructs the children to ring the SLEIGH BELLS whenever the BELL SYMBOL appears ON SCREEN. The BELL SYMBOL fades.

NARRATOR: Right, let’s try that again.

THE NARRATOR opens the MAGIC BOOK. ON SCREEN the BELL SYMBOL appears. Hopefully the children with the SLEIGH BELLS will ring the bells in time with the BOOK opening. If they go on too long, THE NARRATOR can give them a signal to stop. The BELL SYMBOL fades.

NARRATOR: Now then, a story. Ah yes. Once upon a time, in a far away land, there lived a boy named Jack…

 

Scene 2


Enter JACK.

JACK: Hello!

NARRATOR: Jack was a handsome fellow…

JACK looks into A HAND MIRROR and preens.

NARRATOR: ...with a smile like a sunrise…

JACK contorts his face into a grotesque parody of a smile.

NARRATOR: ...and a head so full of knowledge he knew that two times seven was…

JACK: Twenty-seven!

NARRATOR: ...and that the capital of France was…

JACK: (HOLDING UP POTATO) A potato!

NARRATOR: Unfortunately, one thing Jack definitely wasn’t was rich. He had almost no money at all. The number of pennies in his pocket added up to only…

JACK: (COUNTING ON HIS FINGERS) Twenty seven?

NARRATOR: And he couldn’t afford anything to eat, not even…

JACK: (HOLDING UP POTATO) A potato!

NARRATOR: But Jack had big dreams. He would often lie in bed and imagine a better place, beyond the clouds. A place filled with gold. A place called...The Monk’s Field.

JACK: That’s right. And one day I’m going to go there and I’m going to play in the park.

NARRATOR: But, of course, that’s ridiculous. There is no Monk Field Park*. Anyway, one day, Jack was sitting at home with his mother…

Image: Pixabay

Image: Pixabay

ON SCREEN, JACK’S HOUSE appears. Enter OTHER as MOTHER. They sit down at the EMPTY TABLE.

NARRATOR: They had just sat down to a delicious dinner of empty pie, with a side order of thin air all washed down with a pint of fizzy nothing, when Jack’s mother cried out…

MOTHER: Ooooh! This is intolerable. All day I slave over a hot stove to make a nice nutritious meal but without any ingredients it hardly seems worth the effort. What are we going to do Jack?

JACK: We should run away to the Monk’s Field and there we will play in the park.

MOTHER hits JACK with a ROLLED UP NEWSPAPER.

MOTHER: Don’t be ridiculous. There is no Monk Field Park. Do you have any practical suggestions?

JACK: Perhaps we could ask Daisy.

MOTHER holds up a COW PUPPET, her arm hidden below the table.

JACK: (TO PUPPET) Daisy. We have no food. What are we going to do?

Image: Pixabay

Image: Pixabay

ON SCREEN the words ‘OH NO!’ appear. The NARRATOR points to these words as he says…

NARRATOR: Oh no!

Again, THE NARRATOR encourages the children to join in. When the kids have joined in with the ‘Oh No’ the words ‘WE NEED SOME...MOOS!’ appear on THE SCREEN.

NARRATOR: Oh no! We need some moos.

The ON-SCREEN text fades and is replaced by the COW SYMBOL. THE NARRATOR instructs the audience to MOO LOUDLY whenever the COW SYMBOL appears ON SCREEN. The COW SYMBOL fades.

NARRATOR: Anyway, that was when Jack said…

JACK: So what do you think, Daisy? Any bright ideas?

Image: Pixabay; The Noun Project

Image: Pixabay; The Noun Project

The COW SYMBOL appears ON SCREEN. The audience say ‘MOO’. The COW SYMBOL fades.

JACK: That’s a good idea, Daisy. Why don’t we sell Daisy’s milk, Mother?

MOTHER: Well there are a few reasons, my boy. One...

JACK turns to the audience and holds up one finger, and says…

JACK: One.

MOTHER: ...we have no bucket to carry the milk in. Two…

JACK turns to the audience and holds up two fingers. ON SCREEN the COW SYMBOL appears. The audience say ‘MOO’. The COW SYMBOL fades.

MOTHER: ...everyone we know is lactose intolerant. And three…

JACK turns to the audience and holds up four fingers, and says…

JACK: Three.

MOTHER: ...well, I don‘t know how to tell you this, Jack, but Daisy is just a puppet.

JACK: What?

MOTHER: It’s true. Look.

MOTHER holds up her arm to show that Daisy is a puppet.

JACK: (TO DAISY) You lied to me!

ON SCREEN the COW SYMBOL appears. The audience say ‘MOO’. The COW SYMBOL fades.

JACK: Well it’s all very well saying that now. But I feel so betrayed. Is this why we didn’t win the Cow Of The Year competition last year?

ON SCREEN the COW SYMBOL appears. The audience say ‘MOO’. The DAISY PUPPET nods. The COW SYMBOL fades.

JACK: I’m shocked. Shocked I tell you. Why did we ever buy this cow puppet?

MOTHER: I don’t know, Jack. That’s why I want you to go out first thing tomorrow and sell Daisy. I don’t know who would buy such a thing; perhaps you will find a passing amateur dramatic group or something. Whatever happens, do not come back until you have got some money for her, so we can finally have some food.

JACK: Right, off I go.

Exit JACK, with DAISY.

*Monkfield Park is a local primary school.

 

Scene 3


Image: Pixabay

Image: Pixabay

ON SCREEN the scene changes to MORRISON’S SHOP. While the NARRATOR speaks, OTHER changes into the MORRISON costume and rotates the table by 90 degrees to form a counter.

NARRATOR: So the next day, Jack set out with nothing but the clothes on his back and an old cow puppet on one arm. Many hours he travelled until he encountered a mysterious merchant.

Enter JACK. He mimes knocking at the door, but there is no sound.

Image: Pixabay

Image: Pixabay

ON SCREEN the words ‘OH NO!’ appear. The NARRATOR points to these words and waits for the children to respond. When the kids have joined in with the ‘Oh No’ the words ‘WE NEED SOME...KNOCKING!’ appear on THE SCREEN.

NARRATOR: Oh no! We need some knocking.

THE NARRATOR gives someone a pair of CLAVES. The ON-SCREEN text fades and is replaced by the KNOCKING SYMBOL. He tells them to hit them together whenever the KNOCKING SYMBOL appears on the screen. The KNOCKING SYMBOL fades.

NARRATOR: Right, where were we? Oh yes, Jack is just about to meet the mysterious merchant.

Images: Pixabay; The Noun Project

Images: Pixabay; The Noun Project

JACK mimes knocking. The KNOCKING SYMBOL appears on the screen and the knocker bangs the claves together. The KNOCKING SYMBOL fades.

JACK: Hello. Are you a mysterious merchant?

MORRISON: Might be.

JACK: (TO AUDIENCE) What a mysterious answer.
(TO MORRISON) Do you have a name, oh most mysterious of merchants?

MORRISON: That I do, lad. My name is Morrison*.

JACK: Morrison the merchant?

MORRISON: Aye, that’s me. Morrison, son of Morris. The most magnificent merchant who ever made mad money in this ‘ere merchandise market.

JACK: So this is the shop of Morrison? Pray, what do you call this momentous emporium?

MORRISON: What else, my boy, what else? I call it...The Co-op!**

JACK: I have always dreamed of visiting such a place. Do you sell food?

MORRISON: As much as you can eat.

JACK: Do you sell newspapers?

MORRISON: As many as you can read.

JACK: Do you sell … bags for life?

MORRISON holds up a fistful of BAGS FOR LIFE.

MORRISON: 10p a go for a bag to last a lifetime.

JACK: What wonders. I mean, I’ve already got about two hundred. But you can never have enough I always think. Listen, Morrison: I have travelled far to find someone to buy my cow. I don’t suppose you would have anything to trade for this noble beast?

JACK holds up DAISY which he is wearing as a puppet.

MORRISON: Well let’s see here...

Images: Pixabay; The Noun Project

Images: Pixabay; The Noun Project

MORRISON inspects DAISY. He looks inside her mouth, examines one of her hooves, etc. He strokes her on the head and when he does the COW SYMBOL appears ON SCREEN and the audience say ‘Moo’. The COW SYMBOL fades.

MORRISON: She’s certainly a fine cow.

JACK: Yes…?

MORRISON: Very valuable, I’d say.

JACK: Yes…?

MORRISON: Why I’d probably pay upwards of one hundred pounds for a cow like that.

JACK: So it’s a deal.

MORRISON: No. I’m sorry. I have no need for a cow. What I need is a cow puppet!

JACK: Well bless my socks! For you see, Daisy is a cow puppet.

JACK takes DAISY off his hand and shows it to MORRISON.

MORRISON: Bless your socks indeed. And bless your coat and smelly underwear. This is just the sort of cow puppet I need.

JACK: Wonderful. How much will you pay me for her?

MORRISON: Let’s not spoil the moment by talking about money. Besides, I don’t have any money! But I do have...this!

Images: Pixabay; The Noun Project

Images: Pixabay; The Noun Project

MORRISON holds up a MAGICAL BAG. ON SCREEN the SLEIGH BELL SYMBOL appears. The children with bells ring them. The SLEIGH BELL SYMBOL fades.

JACK: What a magical sounding bag. What is in it, pray tell? Is it a lamp with a genie inside?

MORRISON: No.

JACK: Then could it be some kind of lucky charm or amulet?

MORRISON: No.

JACK: Wait a minute!
(TO AUDIENCE) I think I’ve heard this story before.
(TO MORRISON) Could it be…five magic beans?

MORRISON: Alas, no. I gave my last bag of magic beans to the last chap. This is a bag of magic...grapes.

JACK: Oooh! Red or green?

MORRISON looks inside the bag.

MORRISON: Green.

JACK: Oh! I prefer red. No matter. What is so magical about these grapes?

MORRISON: If you plant them in your garden, they will grow into a tree which reaches up beyond the clouds.

JACK: And what’s the benefit of that?

MORRISON: It will be very impressive and annoy all your neighbours for miles around.

JACK: Well I do like annoying my neighbours. Tell me merchant - would this Vine, reaching up beyond the clouds, take me as far as the Monk’s Field?

MORRISON: That it would.

JACK: At last! I can finally realise my dream of playing in the park.

MORRISON: Listen: I can’t guarantee a park, my boy, but it’s certainly worth a visit.

JACK: No matter. You’ve got yourself a deal.

He exchanges DAISY for the MAGICAL BAG.

JACK: Wait till mother hears about this.

Exit JACK, running.

*Morrisons is the main local supermarket.
**The Co-op is the other local supermarket.

 

Scene 4


Images: Pixabay; The Noun Project

Images: Pixabay; The Noun Project

NARRATOR: Jack rushed home as fast as his legs could carry him.

On SCREEN the images changes to JACK’S HOUSE. Enter JACK, running.

JACK: Mother! Come quickly! Look at this!

JACK mimes knocking and the KNOCKING SYMBOL appears ON SCREEN. The child with the claves bangs them together. The KNOCKING SYMBOL fades.

MOTHER: Wait! Don’t come in!

The OTHER frantically changes from MORRISON back into MOTHER and rearranges the table as it was before. When she is ready, she sits calmly at the table and says…

MOTHER: Come in.

JACK mimes opening a door and sits down.

MOTHER: Sorry, dear, I was just shaving.* Now, how did you get on?

JACK: I sold Daisy!

MOTHER: Wonderful.

JACK: And I got this in exchange.

Images: Pixabay; The Noun Project

Images: Pixabay; The Noun Project

JACK holds up the MAGICAL BAG. ON SCREEN the SLEIGH BELL SYMBOL appears. The children with bells ring them. The SLEIGH BELL SYMBOL fades.

MOTHER: That looks like a lot. How much is it?

JACK: Five…

MOTHER: Hundred? Thousand?

JACK: Grapes!

MOTHER: Wicked, stupid child.

MOTHER hits JACK with a ROLLED UP NEWSPAPER.

MOTHER: Wait. Red or green?

JACK: Green.

MOTHER: Wicked, stupid child.

MOTHER hits JACK with a ROLLED UP NEWSPAPER.

JACK: But, mother, they’re magic grapes. Look…

JACK opens the bag but there is nothing inside.

JACK: Oh. Where have they all gone?

NARRATOR: For that is the thing about magic grapes. They are never exactly where you left them. But don’t worry. They must all be in this room. Can you help us find them?

THE AUDIENCE can get up and run around the room finding the MAGIC GRAPES, which are LAMINATED IMAGES. When they find one, they should go and put them in THE MAGIC BAG. They don’t need to be well hidden so after 30 seconds or so (no need to time it) they will all be back in the bag. This is also a good opportunity for children to go to the toilet and get a drink. It’s not an intermission, as such, but it is a break in the main flow of the story.

*The actor playing OTHER in our production had a beard.