The Catís Tale

By David Winfield

Summary

The Christmas story seen through the eyes of inhabitants of the manger. Two Narrators act the voices and the other cast members mime.

Cast

Narrator 1
Narrator 2
Innkeeper
Hen
Cat
Mouse 
Donkey
Mary  
Joseph
Shepherds

Script

(The innkeeper enters carrying a sack of grain. He ladles some out into a bowl and places on the ground.)
Narr.1: Chook, chook, chook! Here chook, chook, chook!
(The hen appears and runs across for the food. The cat lies sleeping on a bale of hay while appropriate introductory music plays. Slowly she wakes up, stretches and looks around. While this occurs the mouse appears, looking on from a safe vantage point.)
Narr.2: Miaow!
Narr.1: And about time you woke up and all. Youíre not just here to be an ornament you know Ė youíre supposed to be working. I just saw some signs of mice near the grain sacks. Thatís your department you know.
Narr.2: Oh, donít be too hard on me. I was up most of the night after all. Surely Iím entitled to a little cat-nap from time to time.
Narr.1: Nap indeed! Iíll bet youíve been lying there for hours. (kicks her off the bale) Címon, get earning your keep or thereíll be limited rations for supper. (exits)
Narr.2: I never noticed that my meals were particularly large anyway. Make them smaller and theyíll disappear completely.
Narr.1: Brrrck! Brrrck!
Narr.2: (cat jumps in surprise) And where did you spring from? Shouldnít be allowed, frightening me like that. You know I donít like sudden noises. Iím of a nervous disposition.
Narr.1: Donít be such a scaredy-cat. Honestly, you make such a fuss at times.
Narr.2: Oh, now youíre going to pick on me, too. First of all itís our master the innkeeper and now itís old dumb-cluck. Why donít you go back to your nest and lay an egg?
Narr.1: At least that would make me more useful than you are. Look at you, always complaining. Youíre such a wus puss.
Narr.2: Oh yeh! You want to make something of it? (shaping up for a fight)
Narr.1: Oh per-lease! Thatís not the way to settle anything; just keep your claws in your paws and back off. (leaves muttering) Iím sure I can find some more pleasant company around here.
Narr.2: (calling off) I can see what the old rooster means by being hen-pecked. Blimminí cheek. Oh well, time to freshen up I suppose. (resumes seat on hay bale and starts to clean and preen)
Narr.1: Hee haw! (cat falls off the bale with a start)
Narr.2: What on earth was that? (with shaky voice) Whoís there?
Narr.1: Hee haw!
Narr.2: (cat backs off) Show yourself whoever you are. (donkey enters)
Narr.1: I say, this does look rather comfortable. I think this will do quite nicely, yes indeed.
Narr.2: Who do you think you are? And what are you doing in my stable?
Narr.1: Your stable? Yours? I hardly think you can claim ownership here kitty.
Narr.2: Kitty! Kitty! Iíll thank you for a little more respect you Ö you Ö you Ö
Narr.1: Derekís the name. Derek the donkey. Has a nice ring to it donít you think?
Narr.2: Would have a better ring if they had called you Abel. (laughs) Get it, a-bell? Oh, never mind. What are you doing here?
Narr.1: Looking for a bit of a rest actually, old chap. Iíve had such a journey I think Iím suffering from hoof ache.
Narr.2:  How far have you come?
Narr.1: From Nazareth, would you believe. And with such a heavy load. She was a real weight, that lady. Somebody said she was with child but I didnít see any kids about; just a fellow called Joe something. Theyíre looking for a room in your inn. I hope they get one Ė this would be just ideal as far as my accommodation goes.
Narr.2: You'll be lucky, sport Ė everythingís full up right now, including us.
Narr.1: Donít tell me. I couldnít stand the thought of going any further tonight. Iím sure I couldnít clip another clop.

Song : ďThe Donkeyís SongĒ

(The donkey is lying down asleep. The cat is back on her hay bale, trying to sleep.)
Narr.1: (snores)
Narr.2: Oy! Derek! How about a bit of hush.
Narr.1: (snores)
Narr.2: Doesnít look like thisíll be much of a silent night.
Narr.1: (snoring dies down and stops)
Narr.2: Thatís better. A bit of peace and not before time. (The mouse suddenly topples from his vantage point with a very large crash. The cat sits bolt upright) What on earth was that? (goes to investigate, at which point the mouse scuttles across to the other side of the stable and hides. The cat follows cautiously) Whoís that?
Narr.1: No one.
Narr.2: Thatís all right then. (goes to walk away and then stops) Wait a minute, you canít fool me.
Narr.1:  Canít blame me for trying.
Narr.2: That sounds like Ö. Yes! Youíre a mouse.
Narr.1: Sort of. But only a little one.
Narr.2: (aside) Bite size we call it. Címon out where I can see you.
Narr.1: But you might hurt me. What Iíve been told about you cats is not very nice.
Narr.2: You donít want to believe everything you hear. Some of us are really quite friendly. Come on out Ė Iíd really like to eat Ö. meet you.
Narr.1: Youíre not going to do anything nasty?
Narr.2: As if I would. The very thought. In fact Iím really vegetarian so youíre quite safe.
Narr.1: If you promise....
Narr.2: Promise. Word of honour. All that stuff.
(The mouse cautiously emerges. Meanwhile the cat is tucking a serviette into her collar.)
Narr.1: Whatís that youíre wearing?
Narr.2: Wouldnít want to get any mouse crumbs on my coat, now would I? (grabs hold of the mouse)
Narr.1: But you promised.
Narr.2: Did I? Must have slipped my mind. Sorry. Where was I? Oh yes, lunch.
Narr.1: (knocks loudly on door)
Narr.2: Oh! (cat gives a startled jump and drops the mouse who scurries off) This is really getting annoying, all these noises Ė and bad for my heart Iím sure. This was supposed to be my mealtime as well. Who is that rat-a-tat-tatting anyway?

Song : ďThere isnít any roomĒ

(Door opens and Mary and Joseph enter. The cat has resumed her position on the bale of hay.)
Narr.2: Are you sure this is where he said?
Narr.1: I think so. It was good that he thought of it under the circumstances.
Narr.2: Oooh! (Mary clutches her stomach)
Narr.1: Are you all right?
Narr.2: Yes, but I donít think this babyís going to be long in coming.
Narr.1: Here, look lie down. This hay should make a fairly comfortable bed. (sees the cat) Shoo, moggie.
Narr.2: (indignantly) Moggie? Moggie? Iíll have you know that I am of royal descent. The Pharaohís court no less. Moggie indeed.
Narr.1: We might not have a room, but at least this is a bed of sorts. Shame we miss out on the dining room though.
Narr.2: Donít tell me your problems. Youíre the reason Iím going hungry at present.
Narr.1: Itís good to rest, that was a tiring journey. Must have been even worse for Mary, Iím glad sheís sleeping now. But Iím afraid the toughest part is still to come - when her labour begins.
Narr.2: Labour? Youíre going to put her to work? What sort of a cruel, heartless fellow are you?
Narr.1: Itís a real shame she had to come all this way, but when the authorities say "A census will be taken", you canít really argue.
Narr.2: What is this chap on about? 'Bout time he came to his own senses if you ask me.
Narr.1: Well puss, wonít be long now. I guess tonight will be the night.0
Narr.2: Tonightíll be what night? You really are confusing me. I wish you could understand me, there are a few questions Iíd like some answers to.
Narr.1: It is so peaceful here. Sleep on Mary, Iíll just be as quiet as a little mouse.
Narr.2: Mouse! Donít remind me. But thatíll have to wait, obviously something pretty important is about to take place around here, and whatever it is I donít want to miss it.
Narr.1: Will you look at those stars, how wonderful.

Song : ďA Starry NightĒ

(Mary is now seated on the hay bale cradling a baby. Joseph stands, looking on.)
Narr.2: So thatís what he was on about Ė a kitten. Well, of sorts. Itís a big one, though.
Narr.1: Ah choo!
Narr.2: Aha! My lunch is back. Címon in little mouse, things have really been happening since you disappeared.
Narr.1: Uh uh! Youíre not gonna catch me out twice in a row.
Narr.2: Itís all right - really. Thereís so much excitement around here I really seem to have lost my appetite. Look, see whoís just arrived now.
(The shepherds enter and kneel before the new born baby.)
Narr.1: Who are they? Havenít seen them around here before.
Narr.2: I think they call them sheep herds, or something like that. They live just outside of town.
Narr.1: Iíve never been outside of town, whatís it like?
Narr.2: Itís pretty empty, no houses or anything like that. And big; it stretches way, way off into the distance.
Narr.1: You really know a lot donít you?
Narr.2: I suppose you could say Iíve been around.
Narr.1: Those sheep thingummies must have been around, too, then. Iíve never been anywhere like that. (sniffs) Not since my mother went away. One day she just didnít come home and no-one knows what happened to her.
Narr.2: (embarrassed aside) Perhaps some of us know.
Narr.1: Itís not much fun being on your own.
Narr.2: Oh come on little chap, cheer up. Look, how about I take care of you from now on. (with sudden realisation) What am I saying?
Narr.1: Would you really? No going back on your word again.
Narr.2: No. I hate to imagine what the others will think. Probably say Iíve gone soft or something. But who cares. This really is a night for unusual things to happen.
Narr.1: Iím glad that lady came in here - and had her baby. We might never have become friends otherwise.
Narr.2: Youíre right, little friend. Isnít it strange, heís only been here for a few minutes but already that babyís changed things for us. I wonder if heíll ever make a difference for anyone else?

Song : ďThe Cat and the MouseĒ
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Copyright David Winfield 2001, all rights reserved.
This script may be used free, provided no entrance fee is charged. In return for free performance, the author would like to be told when the script is used. He may be contacted at davenjo@xtra.co.nz