Added: 21 November 2005
[Plays and Screenplays]

The Duel

The Duel

Note: This is a short play written for Stuart Green (M. Agnogue) and Jennifer Terpak (M. Muldouine) as part of the November 13-15, 2005, Spontaneous Combustion festival at Manhattan Theatre Source. Writers are assigned actors on a Friday evening, and must write a five-minute play specifically for them by noon the next day. There are two additional stipulations: The first line of the play and a shared reference (in this case "Before we go any further" and "Eggnog," respectively) must be used by all the writers. Actors learn the play on Saturday and it premieres on Sunday evening.

Characters:
Monsieur AGNOGUE (pronounced very much but not exactly like Eggnog)
Monsieur MULDOUINE (pronounced very much but not exactly like Mulled Wine)

Scene and Setting:
Two young musketeers face each other at sword point, obviously about to engage in a duel.

MULDOUINE: Before we go any further...

AGNOGUE: You have something to say? A surprise for me?

MULDOUINE: Perhaps.

AGNOGUE: You wish to tell me that you are really a young woman and not a man at all. There's no need. I've guessed it. Nevertheless I shall give you no quarter. You have offended me, sir madam, and now you must die.

MULDOUINE: I, a woman? You, sir, are a maker of absurd assertions. I am a fresh-faced bright young shiny little button of a lad and while I haven't yet had my first love affair I suffer no shortage of pluck and I daresay I am every inch the man you are. In fact you have now offended me, sir, and it is you who must die. But first, before we go any further...

AGNOGUE: I knew it. You wish to withdraw. You are a coward, young little missy sir.

MULDOUINE: It is not I who am a coward but you who are a fool. I simply wished to learn what offense I committed that now requires me to spill your blood, Monsieur Agnogue.

AGNOGUE: Gah! You've said it again! En garde!

MULDOUINE: Said what?

AGNOGUE: You called me by that name!

MULDOUINE: Which name?

AGNOGUE: I shall not utter it!

MULDOUINE: Agnogue?

AGNOGUE: That's the one!

The duelists cross swords and begin to fight.

MULDOUINE: I still wonder what it is about being called by your name that upsets you so.

AGNOGUE: It is not my name!

They stop fighting.

MULDOUINE: I must protest, Monsieur Agnogue. It is. Everyone knows that it is. You are well known in this town. I was behind you in line at the baker's the other day and when you purchased your croissants the baker said to you, "bonjour Monsieur Agnogue."

AGNOGUE: Yes, and the baker's funeral is this Thursday, for I ran him through impulsively! I am a fierce and adventurous fellow!

Agnogue tries to resume the duel but Muldouine pays no attention, being more interested in pursuing the point of conversation.

MULDOUINE: And your father, Monsieur Agnogue the elder, owner of Agnogue's Cobbler Shop, why...

AGNOGUE: Curses! Swear words! Unprintable expletives! I have changed my name legally!

MULDOUINE: Have you?

AGNOGUE: Oui.

MULDOUINE: I see. And what is it now?

AGNOGUE: Simply "Ag." I shortened it.

MULDOUINE: Monsieur Ag?

AGNOGUE: Just so.

MULDOUINE: Was it because your name sounded so much like, erm...

AGNOGUE: Yes, yes, yes, of course! That putrid undrinkable holiday beverage which I have never been able to tolerate!

MULDOUINE: I quite understand.

AGNOGUE (angrily): I appreciate your kind condescension of course, but I do not think you could possibly understand what it has been like for me, Monsieur Muldouine.

MULDOUINE: On the contrary. I also hate egg nog. In any case, you are an excitable fellow, fighting people to the death over what some people might call minor provocation.

AGNOGUE: I will not be mocked!

MULDOUINE: By god, I like that about you! It is rare to see such fine fighting spirit in a man of our age!

AGNOGUE: Well. Merci. Merci beaucoup. I also admire your, as you say, pluck. You are indeed a clean and well-scrubbed shiny little girly of a lad.

MULDOUINE: My apologies. I don't mean to make this awkward. Naturally we must continue our battle.

They raise their swords reluctantly.

AGNOGUE: Honor must be served.

MULDOUINE: Of course. It is an absolutely undisputed point that when a man is insulted he must leap at once to his sword and kill the other man, insulting him back along the way so that the other's honor, too, is offended and neither can possibly back down ever regardless of how fine each may perceive the other to be deep down inside.

AGNOGUE: Well said.

MULDOUINE: You are too kind.

AGNOGUE: And now...en garde!

They fight a bit, but not terribly enthusiastically.

MULDOUINE: I shall ensure your proper burial, you may be sure!

AGNOGUE: And I, yours! What adventures we could have had together!

They very briefly stop fighting again and look at each other warmly, then get embarrassed and resume the duel.

MULDOUINE: I can well imagine the sorts of intrigues and japes you and I would have gotten involved in had it not become unfortunately necessary for me to kill you.

AGNOGUE: Indeed! We'd leap on horses and dash around, receive sensational bits of news involving stolen diamonds and plots against the Queen!

MULDOUINE: Long may she live!

AGNOGUE: Hurrah! And death to the Cardinal!

They pause to smile at each other, pointing their swords at each other in friendly agreement. Then they start the fight up again.

MULDOUINE: Yes, we'd get in scrapes and rescue each other and defeat the Cardinal's best guards in nightly brawls!

AGNOGUE: And just when everything seemed lost for the Queen's good name...

MULDOUINE: If not her very life!

AGNOGUE: We'd save her at the last minute!

But just then Muldouine seizes the advantage in the duel, pressing his or her sword against Agnogue's neck. Agnogue drops his sword in surrender. They look into each other's eyes.

AGNOGUE (CONT'D): It seems you really are every inch the man I am after all.

MULDOUINE: I do apologize. Any last requests?

AGNOGUE: Yes. You really are a very remarkable, very plucky lad, young missy. May I...have a look inside your trousers?

Muldouine hesitates, then consents. He or she removes the sword from Agnogue's throat and takes a step back. Muldouine's back is to the audience as s/he pulls his or her trousers out a bit so Agnogue can have a peek inside. They look at each other, then embrace.

AGNOGUE (CONT'D): Hurrah!

MULDOUINE: Hurrah!

And the two friends skip arm in arm off stage.

An inside joke for the actors: Stuart had recently shortened his name from Greenbaum.

Comments

24 January 2006 20:16:02 John

Bang zoom....

22 January 2006 14:23:55 Ralph Kramden

What's the matter with eggnog? I just don't understand this.

3 December 2005 11:07:55 John

Well thank you very much indeed for your kind words. I find they put me in mind for a pint of Guinness somehow, though I can't quite put my finger on why. In any case, while none of us can be sure of the future of eggnog-related theater in such volatile times, or indeed in any times, however placid, at least we can look back and say that sentences that start out by saying "while" towards the beginning need some sort of other clause in this position here to fulfill the implied oppositional function. While this is always generally true, it is nonetheless also true here. Bravo, and hurrah. I thank you.

3 December 2005 09:30:33 Monsieur Paignterguinnes

Ah bravo! If there is a finer piece of five-minute eggnog-related theatre in circulation then I should certainly like to see it- and how often do we see a duel with such a happy ending in these troubled times? Hurrah! And bravo again!
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