By Trevor Fletcher
When it comes to Christmas, so many of us focus on the wrong things: the presents, the food, the shopping, etc. Imagine if the wise men treated the arrival of Jesus in the same way that we prepare for Christmas.
Wise Guy I (Sidney)
Wise Guy II (Cedric)
Wise Guy III (Cecil)
Joseph (optional - non-speaking)
A magazine labelled “Astrologers’ Weekly”. Some presents.
The three wise guys are at home in the East (wherever that is) discussing a new star that has appeared.
Narrator: After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod, wise guys from the East came down to breakfast. The Biblical reference to the East, by the way, can now, after intensive scholarly research by reference to many original scrolls, categorically be stated to mean (pauses and waves vaguely in a direction that is not north, south or west) over there somewhere.
Sidney: Morning Cedric. Morning Cecil.
Cedric & Cecil: Morning Sidney.
Sidney: Have you two eaten all the scrambled eggs again?
Cecil: ‘Fraid so – there’s still some camels’-milk yoghurts and a couple of goatburgers though.
Sidney: Suddenly I don’t feel so well - I think I’ll skip breakfast, thanks. Any post this morning?
Cecil: A couple of bills and an invitation to take out a Babylon Express Goldcard.
Cedric: And the “Astrologers’ Weekly” has arrived. Would you like to take a look?
Sidney: I suppose it is a possible alternative to watching paint dry as a way of passing time. That reminds me – I saw a star last night.
Cecil: Yeah, so what? I saw loads – it’s because they’re all in town for the Persian Oscars. I even saw that Keira Sightly yesterday: she was opening a new bazaar.
Sidney: Not that sort of star, sparrow-brain: I mean a self-luminous celestial body consisting of a mass of gas held together by its own gravity in which the energy generated by nuclear reactions in the interior is balanced by the outflow of energy to the surface, and the inward-directed gravitational forces are balanced by the outward-directed gas and radiation pressures.
Sidney: A bright-shining jewel in Heaven’s wondrous diadem of light.
Sidney: A bright shiny thing in the sky.
Cedric: Oh that sort of star!
Cecil: I counted the stars once, you know.
Cedric: You never! How many are there then?
Cecil: Well, I got as far as nine and then one of them went out and I had to start again. Then my abacus went wrong, so I er… (shamefacedly) gave up.
Sidney: So you actually counted nine stars. That’s handy – we now know there are more than nine stars! Hold the front page of the Babylon Gazette! Honestly, Cecil, if you were twice as smart as you are, you’d be half way to being a half-wit
(Cecil looks puzzled and mimes trying to work this out.)
Cedric: So what’s so special about this star then? After all, there are at least eight others – probably more.
Sidney: I don’t know really – it just looked… I don’t know… (shrugs his shoulders and continues rather lamely) special I suppose. I couldn’t help feeling that it means something.
Cecil: Yeah, what it means is that you had one too many sherbets last night. Really, Sidney, if you were half as smart as you are you’d be ten times… (gradually tails off, realising he’s gone wrong somewhere) …er, what you said earlier.
Cedric: Tell you what, let’s check it out in the Astrologers’ Weekly... (picks up the magazine and flicks through the pages)… here it is! (Hands the magazine to Sidney)
Sidney: (Reading) “A new star will appear, rising in the East, foretelling the birth of a king who shall be the King of the Jews, blah, blah, blah…” Oh that’s interesting!
Cedric: What’s interesting?
Sidney: It says “Sagittarians may expect a sudden and unforeseen trauma in the very near future.”
Cecil: What a coincidence - I’m a Sagittarian!
Sidney: (Rolls the magazine and hits Cecil over the head with it.) That’ll be the sudden and unforeseen trauma then! (Sidney and Cedric give each other a high five and enjoy the moment.)
Cecil: ‘Ere, how did they know that was going to happen? Makes you think, don’t it?
Sidney: I don’t think anything would make you think, Cecil. So what about this star then? How about we follow it and see where it takes us?
Cecil: Yeah, a road trip!
Cedric: Better take some presents for the baby’s Mum then – you can’t visit a king without presents.
Sidney: Good idea, Cedric – she must be some sort of top bird, being the king’s mother and all that. Well, she’s got to be a Princess at the very least hasn’t she?
Narrator: So the wise guys went to the newly opened Keira Sightly bazaar to buy gifts for the new King’s Mum and to stop off for a double McGoatburger with cheese before setting off on their camels. We couldn’t afford the camels so you’ll have to imagine them. Come to that, we couldn’t afford a proper play or real actors either.
(Wise Guys mime mounting camels and riding off, imitating the rolling motion of a camel rider – except for Cecil who mimes driving a car.)
Sidney: New camel Cedric?
Cedric: Yeah, just picked it up from the dealer as it happens. Got it at Camels R Us. Latest model – fully automatic.
Sidney: Lovely bodywork. What do you get out of her?
Cedric: Nought to twenty in twelve point three minutes and about five hundred miles to the oasis.
Sidney: Not bad, not bad at all. So what did you buy for the baby’s Mum then?
Cedric: Oh, I got her one of those makeover vouchers. You know, the bird turns up at the health spa and gets made into something vaguely human. Thought the poor love could do with a bit of pampering after the birth.
Sidney: Nice thinking, Cedric: that’ll go down a treat with Her Majesty, that will. I went the jewellery route myself – got her a nice little tiara from Argos.
Cedric: What about you Cess? What did you get the royal old girl?
Cecil: I didn’t really get a present for the Queen: I was going to give mine to the baby.
Cedric: The baby! What would a baby want with a present? Still, a nice rattle always goes down well with the little nippers– is that what you got?
Cecil: No, not a rattle.
Sidney: A pretty little bib then – or one of those novelty ones that say something like “All I do is drink, burp and sleep – just like my Dad”. Even kings must dribble a bit when tucking in.
Cecil: No, not a bib. I bought him myrrh.
Cedric & Sidney: Myrrh?!!!.
Cecil: Yeah, myrrh.
Sidney: Cecil, you’ve never been way up there in the list of top intellectuals of all time, have you? When they were handing out the brains you were still queuing for lunch. It’s a well-known fact that you think a Persian rug is a kind of wig worn in Babylon. However, on this occasion you have exceeded even your own exacting standards of stupidity. Myrrh’s for funerals, not new babies!
Cecil: (Defensively) Well, it just seemed right, that’s all.
Narrator: Finally, after a long and arduous journey, using their primitive system of satellite navigation, the wise guys arrived in Jerusalem and asked at the royal palace for the new King of the Jews. This surprised King Herod slightly, as he had always imagined that this was his job and wasn’t too pleased to hear that a replacement had been brought in over his head while he was still in post. It also puzzled the wise guys, who were a little surprised to find that a new king had been born without anyone apparently knowing about it. Finally, however, they were directed to Bethlehem where, parking their camels in the disabled bays at the end of the High Street, they set off on foot to find the baby King. Finally the star led them to an unprepossessing house in an unprepossessing street in an unprepossessing area of what, after all, was a pretty unprepossessing town. It was all rather unprepossessing. In case you’re wondering, there’s a special offer on the word “unprepossessing” today – buy one, get four free.
Cedric: Are you sure this is the place, Sid? It all looks a bit too unprepossessing to me.
Sidney: Don’t you start – it’s bad enough when that Narrator chap keeps saying “unprepossessing” without you joining in.
Cecil: What’s “un-reprocessing” mean?
Sidney: It means if you don’t shut up you’ll be needing your myrrh for your own funeral because I’ll stick this tiara so far up your… (door opens and he quickly changes tone – imagine John Cleese doing it!) … Ah, so nice to see you. We’re wise guys from the East…
Mary: The East?
All Wise Guys: (pointing east-ish) Over there.
Mary: Oh! Do come in then, wise guys from the East.
All Wise Guys: Thank you.
Mary: Sorry the place is a little unprepossessing but I haven’t had time to do the hoovering. I suppose you’ve come to see…
Sidney: (Interrupting) You. Yes, that’s right, we’ve come to see you, Queen…
Sidney: We’ve brought you presents, Queen Mary.
Mary: No, just Mary. I’m not a queen. This is my husband, Joseph, and I’m sure you’ll want to see our, er, my little one, Jesus.
Sidney: Oh, yes, very nice. Hello, little boy. Now, Queen Mary, I have a lovely present for you; I know you’ll like it.
Mary: A tiara! How, er, lovely! I’m sure it’ll come in useful some time. (To Cedric) And who are you?
Cedric: My name is Cedric, your Royal Queenliness.
Mary: Hello and welcome Cedric. This is my son, Jesus: a gift from God.
Cedric: And a very nice gift too, I’m sure. He’s the image of his Father.
Mary: Oh yes, I think he is.
Cedric: Anyway, if you could pop him over there in the corner out of the way, I’ve got a lovely present for you. Looks as though you need it, if you don’t mind my saying so, but I suppose you’ve had a bit of a time of it.
Mary: Er, thank you Cedric, a voucher for the Queen Jezebel Beauty Clinic! What can I say?
Sidney: Your turn Cecil, and try not to make a pig’s ear of it.
Cecil: (Kneeling in front of Jesus) I have a gift for you for the day of your death, my Lord and Saviour.
© Trevor Fletcher, all rights reserved
This play may be performed free of charge, on the condition that copies are not sold for profit in any medium, nor any entrance fee charged. In exchange for free performance, the author would appreciate being notified of when and for what purpose the play is performed. He may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org