Happy Ever Laughter
I was a founder-member of our local amateur dramatic society, The Sundial Theatre Company. As we were devising our first season, another member had the idea of something very family focused where the children could get involved with making sound effects and things to help the story. The idea was to take a classic fairy tale and retell it in a funny way with lots of jokes about the local area - something very bespoke to our town.
The text of the play is below. It should be noted that as the plot is heavily rooted in a series of terrible puns on the names of our local schools, there is basically no way of staging it outside of Cambourne, Cambridgeshire. Nevertheless, you should be able to get the general idea.
Everything is exactly as it was before.
NARRATOR: Now where were we…? Oh yes. Jack had just said...
JACK: But, mother, they’re magic grapes. Look…
JACK reaches into the MAGICAL BAG and pulls out a REAL GRAPE from a hidden compartment. The effect should be that pictures of grapes go in and real grapes come out.
MOTHER: They don’t look very magical to me.
MOTHER eats the GRAPE.
MOTHER: Ugh! They’re really sour.
MOTHER takes the MAGICAL BAG from JACK and throws it away.
MOTHER: Out the window they go! Now off to bed with you, boy, before you do anything else silly.
Exit JACK AND OTHER.
NARRATOR: So off went Jack and his mother to bed. But while they slept a magical thing happened…
ON SCREEN the BELL SYMBOL appears and the children with the bells shake them. CAMILLE SAINT-SAENS’ THE AQUARIUM plays while the NARRATOR sets up the stage. As the bells ring and music plays, the NARRATOR lifts the top of a VINE so it appears to grow out of the ground. It should be light enough and designed so that it can be attached to the top of the screen to hold it up for the rest of the performance. The TABLE is rearranged in front of the VINE. The MUSIC and BELL SYMBOL fade automatically after 30 seconds.
NARRATOR: The vine grew all through the night. Higher and higher until it reached above the clouds. When Jack awoke the next morning, he rushed out to see the wondrous thing which had grown in his garden.
Enter JACK. Also enter OTHER dressed as the VINE KEEPER who goes to stand behind the table. I imagine the vine keeper with a French accent, but that has no bearing on the role and can safely be ignored.
JACK: Goodness me. What a magnificent vine. Can it be true that this enormous tree has grown from those magic grapes overnight?
KEEPER: Go away.
JACK: But this is my garden.
KEEPER: And this is the Vine. None are welcome here.*
JACK: Well that’s not very friendly.
KEEPER: No, it is not. I am not very friendly. The vine is not very friendly. The giants who live at the top of the vine are especially unfriendly. None are welcome here.
JACK: What was that about giants?
KEEPER: Who told you there were giants? I didn’t say anything about giants.
JACK: Yes you did. You said there were unfriendly giants that live at the top of the vine.
KEEPER: I did not! You mentioned the giants first. I don’t even know what a giant is.
JACK: Look you definitely said ‘giants’ and I can prove it.
KEEPER: Oh really? How can you prove this, Mr Smarty-pants?
JACK: Well it says it in the script here.
JACK pulls a script from his back pocket. He shows it to the VINE KEEPER.
JACK: There you are, see? ‘The giants who live at the top are especially unfriendly’.
KEEPER: Oh yes. So it does. I apologise.
JACK: And you got the other bit wrong, too. Look, you were supposed to say ‘all are welcome here’.
KEEPER: Let me see that.
The VINE KEEPER examines the script closely.
KEEPER: (MUMBLING) Now let me see this. Oh. All are welcome?
The VINE KEEPER throws the script over his shoulder and holds out his arms to hug JACK.
KEEPER: Welcome to the vine. All are welcome here.
JACK: Hooray! So what about these giants?
KEEPER: Oh yes. Big, mean, ugly ones. Right at the top of the vine. Why not go up and see them because of course…
JACK: All are wel…?
KEEPER: (INTERRUPTING, BOOMING) All are welcome here!
JACK: Aren’t they very dangerous?
KEEPER: Oh yes. Very dangerous. Why not take a look?
JACK: Is it safe?
KEEPER: Not at all. They’ll probably kill you in seconds. Up you go!
JACK: I might give it a miss, actually.
KEEPER: A shame to miss out on all that gold in The Monk’s Field.
JACK: Gold? The Monk’s Field?
KEEPER: Why yes. The giant’s castle is in the Monk’s Field and it’s full of gold.
JACK: Amazing. Just as I always dreamed! A giant’s castle, right next to the park.
KEEPER: Don’t be a silly billy. There is no Monk Field Park. Just a giant’s castle and a massive pile of gold. I mean, you’d think that would be enough! So are you going to have a look or not?
JACK: Well I suppose it couldn’t hurt to take a peek.
KEEPER: That’s the spirit. It’ll only hurt if they catch you. Good luck, my friend.
*The Vine is a local primary school.
‘All are welcome here’ is one of its founding principles.
On SCREEN, the image slowly transitions from JACK’S HOUSE to CLOUDS.
NARRATOR: Branch by branch, hand over weary hand, Jack began to climb the mighty vine. Within an hour he was so high that his house looked no bigger than a postage stamp on the ground, far below, but still he kept climbing. Hour after hour he climbed, as the sun climbed up into in the sky and then fell away once more, the shadows lengthening…
JACK: It didn’t take that long, really.
NARRATOR: Yes it did. It took so, so, so long. You really wouldn’t believe…
JACK: It took twenty minutes, tops.
NARRATOR: No it didn’t it took ages. You’d grown a beard by the time you got to the top. Who’s telling this story anyway?
JACK: You are. But this is my actual life we’re talking about and it really wasn’t that far.
NARRATOR: (TO JACK) Well fine. It was a hop, skip and a jolly old jump.
(TO AUDIENCE) Anyway, I guess the headline is, Jack climbed the vine and nothing especially interesting happened along the way.
(TO JACK) Right, what’s next?
ON SCREEN, the image slowly transitions from THE CLOUD BANK to THE PATH BY JEAVON’S WOOD.
JACK: Soon Jack reached the top and found himself on a long road. Walking along the road he came to an enormous shack. Gathering up his courage he knocked on the door.
ON SCREEN the KNOCKING SYMBOL appears. The child with the claves bangs them together. The KNOCKING SYMBOL fades.
NARRATOR: Anyone about? Wait - that’s your line. I’m getting all confused.
JACK: Sorry. Right, from now on I’ll be me and you can tell the story. But no exaggerating.
NARRATOR: Deal. Where were we? Oh yes, knocking...and then you say…
JACK: Anyone about?
NARRATOR: No sooner had the words left his mouth, than Jack heard some mighty footsteps coming towards him.
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...FOOTSTEPS!’ appear on THE SCREEN.
NARRATOR: Oh no! We need some footsteps.
THE NARRATOR gives someone a DRUM.
The ON-SCREEN text fades and is replaced by the FOOTSTEPS SYMBOL. He tells them to bash it in rhythm whenever the FOOTSTEPS SYMBOL appears on the screen. The FOOTSTEPS SYMBOL fades.
NARRATOR: Let’s try that again: no sooner had the words…
JACK: Anyone about?
NARRATOR: left Jack’s mouth, than Jack heard some mighty footsteps coming towards him.
The FOOTSTEPS SYMBOL appears on the screen and the child with the drum beats it in time. Enter OTHER as JEAVON THE GIANT. The FOOTSTEPS SYMBOL fades.
JEAVON: Fee, fie, foh, foosat. What I want to know is ‘who’s that?’
JACK: Excuse me, sir. I’m Jack. Can you help me please?
JEAVON: Jack, is it? Good to meet you, oh tiny-winy-one. My name is Jeavon the Giant. I’m a carpenter and this is my shop, ‘Jeavon’s Wood’*. Now, what can I do for you?
JACK: I am just a poor farm boy from the land far below. I have heard the tales of this land and the bloodthirsty giants who live here with vast fortunes of gold.
JEAVON: I see. Bloodthirsty giants, eh? Seen any giants about?
JACK: Only you.
JEAVON: And all the giants round here are thirsty for blood, right?
JACK: I suppose.
JACK: (TO AUDIENCE) Oh no!
JEAVON: Fee Fie Foh Flack,
JACK: Here it comes...
JEAVON: I smell the blood of a boy named Jack.
JACK: (TO AUDIENCE) Tell mother I love her.
JEAVON: Be he a teacher or a librarian…
JACK: Don’t eat me!
JEAVON: Don’t worry, I won’t because I’m vegetarian.
JACK: (HOLDING UP POTATO, JUBILANT) Have a potato!
JACK hands the POTATO to JEAVON.
JEAVON: (EQUALLY JUBILANT) Thanks, pal!
JACK: So if you’re not going to eat me, could you direct me to the nearest pile of gold?
JEAVON: But I don’t have any gold.
JACK: No gold?
JEAVON: No gold! I’ve only got this potato.
JACK: Well I’ll take that for a start.
JACK snatches the POTATO from JEAVON.
JEAVON: The only gold around here belongs to the giant who lives in the castle in the Monk’s Field. He’s got loads of money. Sadly.
JACK: Why sadly?
JEAVON: Well you see, he used to be my best friend. Back when he was the BFG - which stands for…
JEAVON pauses to let the children fill in the blank.
JEAVON: That’s right! The Blue Funky Giant. But all that changed when he won the lottery.
JACK: A terrible fate!
JEAVON: Indeed. Soon he became hard and wicked. He stopped being the Blue Giant and changed his name to Hardwick**. And now he sits in his drafty old castle, there in the Monk’s Field, counting his piles of terrible gold.
JACK: Is there anything I could do to help?
JEAVON: Well I suppose if someone could take all his money away from him, then he’d be my friend again.
JACK: I think that could be arranged. What a happy plot contrivance.
JEAVON: Indeed. So will you do it, Jack. Will you steal all of Hardwick’s gold and bring back my old pal Blue?
JACK: Well it’s a hard job, but someone has to do it. Any advice?
JEAVON: Don’t get eaten.
JACK: Any advice I couldn’t have thought of myself?
JEAVON: Don’t throw out old socks, use them as handy dusters. #Lifehacks.
JACK: Any advice relevant to this specific scenario?
JEAVON: Oooooh. (BEAT) No.
JACK: (TO NARRATOR) Let’s move it along shall we?
NARRATOR: So Jack waved Jeavon goodbye…
*Jeavons Wood is a local primary school.
**Hardwick And Cambourne (commonly known as Hardwick) is a local primary school.
It was formerly called ‘The Blue School’
ON SCREEN the scene changes to the CASTLE OF HARDWICK.
NARRATOR: ...and set off along the road. Soon he came to the Monk’s Field where he saw the castle of Hardwick. But the gates were barred shut and the walls towered high above him.
JACK: How will I get in? The walls are so high!
NARRATOR: Jack began searching around. All seemed hopeless until he saw...
JACK: No! It can’t be!
NARRATOR: But it was! After all his dreaming, Jack had finally found…
ON SCREEN, the CASTLE OF HARDWICK slides across to reveal a SLIDE.
JACK: (JUBILENT) The Monk Field park!
CELEBRATE GOOD TIMES by Kool And The Gang plays. JACK and the NARRATOR blow PARTY BLOWERS and pop PARTY POPPERS. They get out PARTY HATS and pass them round to the children. MUSIC fades automatically.
NARRATOR: With joy in his heart, Jack climbed to the top of the Monk Field Park slide, hopped over the wall and found himself inside the giant’s castle. There he saw the giant sleeping and snoring a terrible snore.
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...SNORING!’ appear on THE SCREEN.
NARRATOR: Oh no! We need some snoring.
The ZZZ SYMBOL appears on the SCREEN. THE NARRATOR tells the children whenever they see the ZZZ SYMBOL on the SCREEN they should make the loudest snoring noise they can. The ZZZ SYMBOL fades.
NARRATOR: So there Jack was, the giant sleeping before him, snoring a terrible snore.
JACK: Well there’s the giant but…
The ZZZ SYMBOL appears ON SCREEN and the children make snoring sounds. The ZZZ SYMBOL fades.
JACK: Shhhh! You’ll wake him up. Anyway, as I was saying, there’s the giant but where’s his…
The ZZZ SYMBOL appears ON SCREEN and the children make snoring sounds. The ZZZ SYMBOL fades.
JACK: Shhhh! Do you want me to get eaten? I’m trying to find the giant’s massive pile of…
The ZZZ SYMBOL appears ON SCREEN and the children make snoring sounds. The ZZZ SYMBOL fades and is immediately replaced by the FOOTSTEPS SYMBOL. Enter OTHER dressed as HARDWICK. The FOOTSTEPS SYMBOL fades.
HARDWICK: Fee Fie Foh Fakeup. All this noise is making me wake up!
JACK: (TO AUDIENCE) Now you’ve done it.
HARDWICK: There’s somebody here and I have a hunch, that whoever it is would make a good lunch!
HARDWICK spots JACK.
HARDWICK: (POINTING, EXCLAIMING) You!
HARDWICK looms over JACK.
HARDWICK: (SUDDENLY POLITE) Have you seen anyone about? I’m looking for whoever has come into my castle.
JACK: I haven’t seen anyone.
HARDWICK: Oh. Because when I find them, I’m going to eat them up.
JACK: Well I’ll be sure to let you know if I do see someone. Listen. Have you seen any gold about?
HARDWICK: Yes of course. I’ve got lots of gold in this bag here.
HARDWICK holds up a BAG OF GOLD.
JACK: Wonderful. May I see.
HARDWICK hands JACK the BAG OF GOLD.
JACK: Gosh, that’s heavy. It must be millions of pounds.
HARDWICK: Oh yes. Millions and millions.
JACK: Millions, eh? Well lucky old you. (BEAT) Bye.
Exit JACK with the BAG OF GOLD, running.
HARDWICK: (TO AUDIENCE) What a nice man. Now, have any of you seen whoever it was who broke into my castle? They probably came to steal my gold.
Hopefully, the children will by now have cheerfully grassed on JACK.
HARDWICK: (GASP) That was him wasn’t it?
Exit HARDWICK, running and bellowing loudly.
ON SCREEN the screen changes to the ROAD OUTSIDE JEAVON’S WOOD. Enter JACK.
JACK: Phew, I think I lost him.
The FOOTSTEPS SYMBOL appears ON SCREEN.
JACK: Oh no!
NARRATOR: Don’t worry. It’s only Jeavon.
Enter OTHER dressed at JEAVON. The FOOTSTEPS SYMBOL fades.
JEAVON: Hello again, Jack. Did you get the gold?
JACK: Yes. But now Hardwick is chasing after me.
JEAVON: Quick, then. Let’s get you back down that vine.
The FOOTSTEPS SYMBOL appears ON SCREEN.
JEAVON: I can hear him! Quick…
The FOOTSTEPS SYMBOL fades.
NARRATOR: But no sooner had Jeavon said these words, than Hardwick caught up with them.
OTHER: (TO NARRATOR) What? How?
The NARRATOR shrugs unhelpfully. OTHER thinks for a moment, and then gets a FELT TIP PEN and draws a line down the middle of his face. He turns to face one side of the stage so his face is in profile to the audience.
JEAVON: Hardwick. My old pal.
OTHER turns so that he is in profile facing the opposite way. The conversation continues in this manner, with OTHER turning to face the opposite way depending on who’s talking.
HARDWICK: Jeavon. It’s been so long.
JEAVON: Don’t you see, Hardwick. It’s your gold that came between us.
HARDWICK: I know. I’m so sorry.
JEAVON: Why not let Jack take your gold away and then we can be happy again.
HARDWICK: I will. Take it, Jack. Take the gold with my blessing.
JEAVON: I’m so happy to have my friend back. Give me a hug, buddy.
OTHER awkwardly hugs himself.
JACK: What a touching, if oddly staged, reunion. Well, so long gents.
OTHER turns to face the audience and waves with both hands.
GIANTS: Bye Jack.
Exit GIANTS. The FOOTSTEPS SYMBOL appears ON SCREEN. The FOOTSTEPS SYMBOL fades.
ON SCREEN, the scene transitions down to JACK’S HOUSE.
NARRATOR: So Jack climbed down the vine to where his mother was waiting for him.
Enter OTHER dressed as MOTHER.
MOTHER: Jack, my boy. I’ve been so worried. Tell me you’ve brought back something better than grapes this time.
JACK: I have, mother. But why have you got a felt tip line down the middle of your face?
MOTHER: It’s called fashion. That’s what all the cool kids who go to the Village College* do.
JACK: Very stylish. But look, mother. Gold!
JACK opens the BAG OF GOLD. The SLEIGH BELLS SYMBOL appears ON SCREEN. The SLEIGH BELLS SYMBOL fades. JACK reaches into the BAG OF GOLD and pulls out a handful of CHOCOLATE COINS.
MOTHER: But these are all made of chocolate. You know what that means?
MOTHER: We’ll never be hungry again!
CELEBRATE GOOD TIMES by Kool And The Gang plays. JACK and his MOTHER cheer and set off more PARTY POPPERS and blow the PARTY BLOWERS. MUSIC fades automatically. ON SCREEN the scene changes back into the NARRATOR’S CHAIR.
NARRATOR: So Jack and his mother lived happily ever after with enough chocolate coins to eat for the rest of their days. And if you ask very nicely on your way out, they might give you one too. But, for now that’s the end of our story and so we’ll say...
ON SCREEN the words ‘The End’ appear.
NARRATOR: The end.
*Cambourne Village College is the name of the local high school.