Alice in Space

By John & Claire McNeil

Summary

The great-great-great grandaughter of the original Alice is emigrating to a new planet with her parents when their space ship comes within the pull of a Black Hole.

Characters

Alice
Alice's mother
Droid
2 Time Lords
Talking Flowers
Caterpillar
All Black (New Zealand Rugby player)
Wallaby (Australian Rugby player)
TV Interviewer
Humpty Shakespeare
Cheshire Cat (a puppet)
Magician
Rabbit
Dormouse (a puppet)
4 Aliens
Dancing Girls (may be doubled with Flowers)
Droid Technician (doubled with a Time Lord)

Script

Scene 1 - The Time Lords

 

Scene: Two Time Lords are walking through the Galaxy (auditorium/audience). Around them is simply space. They are dressed in similar futuristic costumes.

TIME LORD 1

You have seen the reports of the Black Hole in Sector Q93?

TIME LORD 2

Yes. It is cause for concern.

TIME LORD 1

But not enough for intervention?

TIME LORD 2

I know the law as well as you. We Time Lords do not intervene ... unless ...

TIME LORD 1

Unless?

TIME LORD 2

Unless by not intervening, a bigger disruption is caused to the space-time continuum.

TIME LORD 1

What do you fear in this case?

TIME LORD 2

There is a space ship heading towards Sector Q93.

TIME LORD 1

That is not sufficient reason.

TIME LORD 2

Ordinarily no. But this ship carries a group of pioneer settlers bound for Wanda-Landarii. And among them is the girl Alice Liddell.
You know the Telling. A discontinuity affecting her would cause a severe rent in the whole story of her planet.

TIME LORD 1

I am far from convinced, but nonetheless we had better keep a close eye. Let us alert the other Time Lords in this Sector. (Exuent.)

 

Scene 2 - Falling down the hole

Scene: The interior of a spaceship - the passenger lounge. There is a window/porthole looking out to the stars. (See Technical Notes 1 and 1A.)

ALICE

(A young girl, 11-13 years. She is pacing about, thoroughly bored - it has been a long trip and the end is not yet in sight.)

When will we ever get to Wonka-Lanka, or whatever it's called? There's absolutely nothing to do on this ship.

MOTHER

(Sewing, or whatever 21st Century mothers do. Doesn't bother looking up. She's heard it all before.)

Wanda-Landarii. And we should reach there in another 10 solar days, as you well know. You check the screen every other hour.

ALICE

(Interposes herself between mother and whatever mother is doing.)

Will there be other children on Wanda-whatever, Mum? Or are you and Dad dragging me halfway across the galaxy just to
experience a new kind of friendless existence?

MOTHER

(Puts aside her work. Hugs Alice.)

I know it's been hard for you, dear, and I'm sorry that your father's work has taken us to so many out-of-the-way places.
But this should be the last move. Reports from the colonists already on Wanda-Landarii suggest it's a perfect planet to start a new life.

ALICE

But are there other children?

MOTHER

I'm sure there will be. Only couples were chosen in the first wave of settlers, and they're sure to have had children.

ALICE

(Fed up with the evasion, pulls away.)

Oh great!

MOTHER

(Goes to shelf, and takes a book.)

Here, let me read you some more of "Alice in Wonderland".

ALICE

Why do you like that story so much?

MOTHER

Haven't you guessed yet?

ALICE

Guessed what?

MOTHER

Lewis Carroll wrote this book 200 years ago for a young friend of his. Her name was Alice Liddell.

ALICE

But ... that's my name.

MOTHER

Yes. In fact, that first Alice Liddell was your great-great-great grandmother.

ALICE

Wow! That's amazing. All those adventures happened to one of my ancestors!

MOTHER

Well ... the adventures in the book all came from Lewis Carroll's imagination. But it's a strange thing - there has been an
Alice in every generation since, and each one has had some experience just like in the book.

ALICE

This is where tradition ends, then. We're in space now, not on earth. No white rabbits up here.

There is the sound of an alarm. Lights flash.

INTERCOM VOICE

This is an emergency. All crew to action stations at the double. All passengers, please return to your quarters immediately and
secure yourselves in your bunks. This is an emergency.

MOTHER

What on earth?

ALICE

Mother, what's going on?

A droid (bearing a resemblance to C3PO) scuttles by.

DROID

Oh my wires and circuits! We are all doomed!

ALICE

Droid, what's happening?

DROID

A Black Hole! We are being sucked into a Black Hole! We are all doomed! (Exits)

ALICE

(Starts to chase after the Droid to find out more.)

Come back! Tell us more! (Exits)

MOTHER

(Tries to catch hold of Alice, but misses.)

Alice, come here. We must go to our quarters. (Exits after her.)

ALICE

(Re-enters at the run, without Mother.)

Where did he go?

The ship lurches, begins to spin, as if starting to fall into the hole. Alice experiences everything in slow motion.
Surreal images flash past her - distortions of reality. (See Technical Note 2.)

 

Scene 3 - "Drink me, Eat me"

Scene: A mist-shrouded place, in feel rather like a cross between the Wood Between the Worlds ("The Magicians Nephew") and Dagobar ("Star Wars").
A door is hanging in mid-air. (See Technical Note 3.)

Alice is alone, with no hint of the fate of the rest of her family. There are background sounds, but it is not possible to determine their source or significance.

ALICE

Where am I? What has happened to the ship? Did we get sucked down the Black Hole? But if we did, how come I'm still alive?

(Searches around. Calls.)

Mum! Dad!

(Waits with the beginnings of panic for an answer.)

Mum! Dad! Is there anyone here?

The sounds become more like human voices, almost singing, but no words can be distinguished.

ALICE

(Desperate)

Is that you, Mum? (Pause) Who's there?

We see hints of people shapes. Alice chases after them, but they turn to mist. There are half-heard voices, as if calling to her,
but they cannot be pinned down.

ALICE

Please, stop playing games! Come out, whoever you are.

There is no reply. A vision of a beautiful garden begins to appear in the frame of the door, which Alice has not noticed up till now.
The door is about half human size in height. Alice starts in surprise.

ALICE

Where did that door come from? If it is a door. Where does it lead?

(She goes closer to look. We hear faintly the music that will be heard more fully in the next scene.)

My goodness, what a beautiful garden. Is that where everybody's gone?

(She attempts to go through, but cannot.)

It won't let me through.

(She spots a key in a keyhole at the top of the door.)

Oh, of course not. Obviously, I need to use the key.

(She turns it, and tries again to go through, without success.)

It still won't let me through. Am I too big, or is it in another dimension? For that matter, what dimension am I in now?
What sort of place is this? It's like I'm caught in some sort of space warp. Or perhaps I don't exist any more. I'm a soul lost in space.

She starts to give in to tears, when she spots a Coca Cola bottle labelled "Drink Me". It is suspended in midair.
Throughout the remainder of the scene, Alice is trying hard not to give in to panic. Even her seemingly flippant comments are an attempt to keep panic at bay.

ALICE

Good gracious! What a funny thing!

(Reads)

Drink Me! How will that help me? But then, I feel as if I'm past help anyway. But what if it's poison? (Turns the bottle around.)
No poison warning! Oh well, anything's better than the state I'm in now.

She drinks and begins to shrink.

ALICE

Oh my goodness, what's happening?

(Looks around)

I'm beginning to shrink. (Beat)

Further and further. How much more can I shrink? (Beat)

At this rate I'll soon be the size of an ant. (Beat)

It might end in my going out altogether, like a candle. I wonder what I should be like then. (Pause)

Whew! I seem to have stopped shrinking.

(Looks at the door, which has expanded in size as Alice has shrunk. The keyhole should be out of her reach.)

Well, at least I'm small enough to get through the door now. Just turn the ....

(She goes to turn the key, realises it is now out of reach.)

Oh, no!

(She looks round to find something to stand on. There is nothing. She tries jumping, but no matter what she does, she cannot reach the key.
She starts to cry, but realises that is not achieving anything, and pulls herself together. She suddenly notices a Moro bar hanging in mid-air.)

ALICE

It says, "Eat Me!". Curiouser and curiouser.

(She turns it around, can see no warning signs.)

Well, I'll eat it. If it makes me grow larger, I can reach the key, and if it makes me grow smaller, perhaps I can creep through a crack in the door.

(She nibbles a little bit)

Which way? Which way?

(She holds a hand to the top of her head, and is surprised to find she remains the same size. Shrugging her shoulders,
she eats the rest of the bar, and begins to grow.)

Curiouser and curiouser. Now I'm starting to grow. (Beat)

(The door shrinks as Alice "grows")

Now I'm opening out like a telescope. Goodbye feet! (Beat)

Who will put your shoes and socks on now? (Beat)

Goodness, I must be three metres high now. At least I can reach the key now.

(She turns the key, but realises she is too large again to go through the door, even though she attempts to do so.
At this, she gives in to tears. Gradually comes to herself.)

This will never do. I must have wept gallons of tears by now. I'm nearly knee deep in a puddle already. If I don't stop, I'll drown.

(She pulls out a handkerchief, and in the process discovers a small remaining piece

of Moro bar.)

Ooh, there's a bit of chocolate bar left. Perhaps that will bring me back to just the right height.

(She eats it, and begins to shrink.)

Going down. Fourth floor, toys and computer games. Third floor, haberdashery and women's clothing.
Second floor .... Whooooooooo........

She finds herself floundering in the pool of tears. (See Technical Note 4.) She has to swim for her life as she is swept along.
The tears become star points, like glitter confetti.

 

Scene 4 - The Garden of Flowers

Scene: Alice is lying bedraggled and half-dead on a strange asteroid. She is in a garden populated by talking flowers,
some tall (about teenager size) and some short (about primary school size). The flowers are scatty, imperious, self-absorbed.
The taller ones bear a remarkable resemblance to the Spice Girls. They are not moving, but just swaying slightly in the breeze.

ALICE

(Groggily lifts herself half up)

Ooh, I feel half drowned.

(Shakes her head.) Where am I?

(She looks around)

This must be the garden that I saw through the doorway. And look how tall those flowers are. I must still be shrunk.

(She pulls herself up to her feet, and starts to walk among the flowers. They don't move.)

How pretty they are! What a pity they can't talk, so they could tell me where I am.

FLOWER 1

(Not to Alice, who has her back to the flower)

We can talk, when there's anybody worth talking to.

ALICE

Who said that?

(She searches around. The flowers remain unmoving.)

For a minute I thought one of these flowers spoke. But that's impossible.

FLOWER 2 (a small one)

What's so impossible about talking?

ALICE

(Startled, she bends down to the flower)

Can all the flowers talk?

FLOWER 3

As well as you can, and a great deal louder.

ALICE

I've never been in a garden before where flowers could speak.

FLOWER 4

Strikes me you've never been anywhere much.

ALICE

(Stung by the comment)

Nowhere much! When I've just come halfway across the galaxy in a space ship and apparently fallen into a black hole.
And now I seem to have lost my way.

FLOWER 5

What do you mean your way? All ways around here belong to us.

ALICE

How can they belong to you, when you can't move.

FLOWER 6

Movement is as movement does. Sometimes the wind moves me.

FLOWER 7

A sad song moves me.

FLOWER 8

Sometimes we move in the Spirit.

The flowers begin to sing and dance. (Lyrics to come.) Alice is at first delighted with the notion, but quickly becomes frustrated,
because she wants help, but they have no concern for her.

ALICE

Please tell me, where am I and how do I get back to my ship?

FLOWER 1

As to where you are, any clod can see you're in our garden!

ALICE

That doesn't help me at all.

FLOWER 2

Some people just don't want to be helped.

ALICE

You haven't given me any yet!

FLOWER 3

(In a huff)

If you are going to take that tone of voice, it's no wonder no-one wants to help you. I doubt that even the Time Lords would.

ALICE

The Time Lords? Who are they?

FLOWER 4

As to who they are, who can say.

ALICE

Well, where do I find them?

FLOWER 5

You don't find the Time Lords, they find you. Every flower knows that.

ALICE

But I am not a flower!

FLOWER 6

That explains why you look so plain. I thought all your petals had fallen off.

FLOWER 7

If you are not a flower, you can't stay in the garden.

ALICE

But how do I get out of here, and even if I could where would I go?

(She begins to look around her, but can see no obvious path.)

FLOWER 8

A flower only leaves the garden when it is picked.

(Other flowers react in horror at the thought.)

ALICE

(She is still searching.)

But that's what flowers are for.

FLOWER 1

To be picked is not the same as to be chosen.

ALICE

(Finds something on the ground.)

Hello, what's this?

(Holds it up. It is a large pocket watch on a neck chain.)

Why, it's a large watch! (Beat)

(out of curiosity, some of the flowers try to look over her shoulder, while pretending they are not interested.)

ALICE

(Excited with realisation.)

Perhaps it belongs to a Time Lord, and he dropped it while visiting the garden. I wonder how long it has been here?

(Holds it to her ear.)

Still going ... I think.

(Hit by a sudden thought)

What if it should stop? If it's a Time Lord's watch would something dreadful happen? Would the universe stop?
Perhaps I'm in a time warp because he's lost it. What should I do?

FLOWER 1

Just take your time, dear.

(The other flowers giggle at the witticism. Alice is in too much of a quandary to be amused.)

FLOWER 2

But it's not her time to take.

(More giggles)

ALICE

At the very least, I think I should wind it. With a bit of luck, it might even send out a signal for help.

Alice winds the watch, which produces an unexpected result. With a cry, she is whisked away/vanishes from the garden.

Scene 5 - The Mushroom

Alice finds herself on an asteroid of what appear to be giant plants (because she is still in her shrunken size).

ALICE

The question is, are these giant plants, or have I not grown back to my proper size? But then, what is my proper size?
I'm not sure I know any more. (Beat)

And where am I now? Am I being blown around the universe like a dandelion in the solar wind, or is there some purpose to all this?

Who are the "Time Lords", and how can they help me?

So many questions - and the biggest one, are Mum and Dad still alive, and if so, will I ever see them again?

Alice sings. As she does so, she continues to explore. The song is punctuated by giant insects passing by, sounding like war planes.

Centuries pass, one by one

My time for dreaming's almost done

Yet still I reach to touch the sun

To kiss my dreams goodbye

Seems like I've been a thousand years

Shedding silent silver tears

Singing laments that no-one hears

Save empty crystal skies

(More lyrics still to come)

As she rests by a large mushroom, she hears a voice humming, which she realises is coming from above her.

Standing on tiptoe to look over the top, she discovers a seated figure bearing a slight resemblance to Yoda. (Technical note No. 5.)

ALICE

(Startled)

Oh! I didn't realise there was someone here.

CATERPILLAR

(Stares at Alice for some time before speaking)

Who are you?

ALICE

(Disconcerted by this abrupt opening)

I...I hardly know. At least, I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have changed several times since then.

CATERPILLAR

Explain yourself.

ALICE

I can't, because I'm not myself, you see.

CATERPILLAR

I don't see.

ALICE

I'm afraid I don't understand it myself. Being so many different sizes in one day is very confusing.

CATERPILLAR

It isn't.

ALICE

Perhaps your feelings are different. All I know is, it feels very queer to me.

CATERPILLAR

Who are you?

ALICE

I think, first, you should tell me who you are.

CATERPILLAR

Why?

ALICE

(Exasperated)

This is getting us nowhere.

CATERPILLAR

Where do you want to go?

ALICE

I want to go home.

CATERPILLAR

Where is home?

ALICE

That's the whole trouble. I don't know!

CATERPILLAR

Then how do you know you want to go there?

ALICE

(Has had enough)

This is ridiculous. There must be someone I can get some sense out of.

(She starts to leave. She has nearly exited when CATERPILLAR calls)

CATERPILLAR

Wait! I have something important to say.

ALICE

(Turns back, goes over to him)

Yes?

CATERPILLAR

Keep your temper.

ALICE

(swallowing her anger)

Is that all?

CATERPILLAR

No.

(There is a long pause while Alice waits for the next words of wisdom)

CATERPILLAR

Are you content?

ALICE

(loses it)

Content!? How can I be content, when I am only a few inches high, I have lost my parents and my home, and instead of help
I get a bunch of crazies talking in riddles, and I'm hungry and still wet, and....

(she breaks down in tears)

CATERPILLAR

(Just contemplates her, till she calms down a little)

The answer is before you.

ALICE

(Trying to control herself)

What do you mean?

CATERPILLAR

(Beginning to sink into the mushroom)

The answer is always before you.

ALICE

Wait! Don't go. I don't understand.

CATERPILLAR

(Part of him reappears briefly)

One side will make you grow taller, the other will make you shorter.

(Begins to sink again)

ALICE

One side of what?

CATERPILLAR

(Only his voice)

The future is forward. To return is behind.

ALICE

Please stop talking in riddles. Come back! Please!

(Beat, again despairing)

He's gone. (Beat)

One side will make me grow taller!? One side of what? (Looks round) The mushroom, I suppose. But which side is which?
They all look the same. I suppose I could take a piece from each side, and then if I start with the wrong side, I can eat the other to put me back.

(She takes a piece from each side)

Here goes!

(She nibbles a piece. Nothing happens)

Perhaps it's a delayed reaction. I'd better not eat any more until I know which way things are going to go.

(While she's waiting for a reaction, she takes the watch and looks at it, absently turns the winder.)

Do you have a secret, too? No-one came to my aid when I wound you last time, so you're obviously not a signal waaaaa..............

Alice is suddenly whisked away again.

 

Scene 6 - The All Black and the Wallaby (New Zealand and Australian Rugby players)

Alice lands on a green open space. In the distance can be seen Rugby goal posts.

ALICE

(Looks around)

Where am I now? It's the first open space I've seen. It looks more like a field back home.

(Suddenly realises. Bends down to pick a blade of grass.)

If this looks normal, then I must be my right size again. That piece of mushroom must have worked while I was being whizzed from there to here.

There is the sound of a referee's whistle and the roar of a huge crowd. Enter at the run an All Black and a Wallaby, trying to wrest a Rugby ball from each other.
On seeing Alice, they stop in surprise.

ALL BLACK & WALLABY

A girl!?

ALICE

What were you expecting, Mickey Mouse?

WALLABY

With the rule changes we've had to put up with lately, it was just possible.

ALL BLACK

Contrariwise, what do they think they're doing foisting a girl on us?

WALLABY

This makes a mockery of the whole game.

ALL BLACK

Next thing, we'll have to waltz a little, instead of doing the haka.

WALLABY

Nah, mate, we've already done that. Didn't work.

ALICE

What are you talking about?

ALL BLACK

What we're saying is ...

BOTH

We won't have a female referee!

They start tossing the ball to each other, doing warm-ups, etc, while talking.

ALL BLACK

So you just go back to the IRB, sweetie, and tell them to stick their fancy new rules up their jersey.

WALLABY

She's not bad looking, as sheilas go, though.

ALL BLACK

I still bet she wouldn't know a fly half from a free kick.

ALICE

Will you stop talking about me as if I wasn't here.

WALLABY

Strikes me you're not much use even if you are here.

ALL BLACK

The game's becoming a farce.

ALICE

Look, I don't care about your stupid game.

ALL BLACK

Then why have you got a ref's whistle round your neck?

ALICE

This is not a whistle, it's a watch that I .....

(Takes hold of the watch to show them. To her amazement it has become a whistle.)

Oh!

(In consternation, she blows the whistle)

WALLABY

So you do want us to play!?

(He kicks the ball to the All Black.)

ALICE

No ... I mean ... I didn't mean to blow it. I thought it was a watch.

WALLABY

(to the All Black, who he has just tackled)

They reckon the conductor of an orchestra's only there to keep time.

ALL BLACK

Wadda y'goin' on about now?

WALLABY

So ... who says we need a ref. We usually ignore the rules anyway, and we can just play until we win.

They form a scrum against each other. They hand the ball to Alice, who - not knowing what better to do - throws it between them.

ALL BLACK

Hold on! We've got to start the game properly.

WALLABY

Sorry, you're right.

They stand to attention, one hand across the breast. There are a few bars of music that sound like a cross between
'God Defend NZ" and "Advance Australia Fair". After the music, they chant ....

BOTH

The All Black and the Wallaby

were playing for the Cup.

The All Black claimed the Wallaby

had tried to trip him up.

The interviewer said, "Let's surmise

that both of you are wrong."

The referee said, "That's the point,"

And waved the players on.

A Tv interviewer dashes on, microphone in hand.

INTERVIEWER

Where do you think the battle's going to be won today, Fitzy?

ALL BLACK

Well, the tight five will have to set a good platform, so the backs get the go-forward they need to basically stamp the opposition into the ground.

WALLABY

It'll be a close-fought contest. But I'm sure the winner today will be Rugby.

INTERVIEWER

Well, the fans are on your side. How many points do you think the home ground's worth?

BOTH

Maybe five ... but with these guys - all credit to them - the game's not over until it's over.

INTERVIEWER

You've had a lot of injuries lately. Does that worry you?

ALL BLACK

Oh, they've not been much. Iceman had his arm torn off against the 'Boks - the Kamo Kid's out with a ruptured spleen - that sort of thing, I suppose.
But they're only minor niggles. They'll be back in a game or two.

INTERVIEWER

Right, well it's time to get underway again. Back to the commentary team.

WALLABY

Hey mate, do you know how to referee?

INTERVIEWER

Uh, yes, I do.

WALLABY

Good. Look, how about you take over from this sheila, and we'll get on with it?

INTERVIEWER

Oh, okay, why not.

(He throws the microphone off to one side, rolls his sleeves up, takes a whistle out of his pocket, and blows it. The two players begin to play.)

ALICE

(in despair, disgust)

For goodness sake ... beam me up, Hartie.

 

Scene 7 - The Cheshire Cat

Scene: In a dark wood. (See Technical Note 6.) Strange fluorescent creatures or shapes appear and disappear.
Some fly, some bounce, some whirl and whizz. They may vanish in one place and instantaneously reappear in another. Odd sounds are heard.
A dance is performed by several surrealistic characters. As they conclude, they weave around Alice - who enters following a path.
They turn her around a time or two, and then exit.

ALICE

Who... or what ... were they?

(Quite disorientated)

But I must keep to the path. Rule number one when in the forest.

(She starts to go one way, then hesitates.)

Was this the direction I was going before those creatures came upon me? (Turns) Or was it this?

(Turns again, perplexed.)

Oh dear, now I am totally confused. If only I knew which was the right ....

(With a start, she suddenly notices a pair of grinning teeth which have appeared in midair, close to her)

Oh!

The teeth vanish and immediately reappear elsewhere.

ALICE

Oh help, what sort of animal is this?

(Shouts)

Help!

(She starts to run, but trips and falls headlong. She cowers, waiting for the worst.)

Meanwhile, the shape of a Cheshire Cat, still grinning, has been revealing itself.

ALICE

(In relief, picking herself up)

Oh, it's only a cat! It looks... good natured? It's a bit hard to tell when parts of it are missing.

As they talk, the cat keeps vanishing a reappearing in unexpected places.

ALICE

(Timidly)

Cheshire Puss ...

The cat's grin grows even wider.

ALICE

Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?

CAT

That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.

ALICE

The trouble is, I don't know where...

CAT

Then it doesn't matter which way you go.

ALICE

... just so long as I get somewhere.

CAT

Oh, you're sure to do that if you walk long enough.

ALICE

What sort of people live around here?

CAT

(Indicating)

In that direction lives a Magician, and in that direction (indicating) lives a March Hare. Visit either you like - they're both mad.

ALICE

But I don't want to visit made people!

CAT

You can't help that. They're all mad here.

ALICE

I'm not mad!

CAT

You must be mad, or you would not have come.

ALICE

I can certainly see that you're not all there.

CAT

Don't judge by appearances.

ALICE

(Exasperated at the continual moving around of the cat.)

I wish you wouldn't keep doing that. Not only does it make me quite giddy, it is very hard to have a conversation with half a cat.

CAT

(Reassembles itself in a ludicrous fashion, eg, with the tail hanging from its head like a pigtail.)

I beg your pardon.

ALICE

That's even more off-putting.

CAT

(Its body parts whizz around and reassemble in some other absurd fashion.)

Is that better?

ALICE

Please, don't do that!

CAT

One has to do something to fill in time.

ALICE

Time! How could I forget? What I really need to do is find the Time Lords. Do you know where they live?

CAT

(Beginning to disappear)

Time doesn't live - it just flows. It winds through us and past us, but it cannot live for us.

ALICE

Please don't go!

Oh, why does everyone I meet vanish just when I need help?

CAT

(Its head only reappears)

You would find the answer to your real question, if you would just unwind.

ALICE

What do you mean?

CAT

I mean what I say. Or to put it another way, I say what I mean. (Begins to vanish for the last time.)

ALICE

(To herself)

It's going again!

(To the cat)

Please tell me ... where are the Time Lords?

CAT

(Voice only)

If time were on my side, I would try the Magician's place. But really you know, time is on nobody's side - it is quite neutral.

ALICE

What an infuriating creature!

The Magician's house ... now which way is that? Did the cat say? Yes, I think it did, but I'm not sure whether I remember correctly.

(Turns one direction, then another, finally chooses.)

I'll try this way ... if it's not right, I guess I can come back and try again. (Exits).

 

Scene 8 - Humpty Dumpty

Alice enters, on her way to the Magician's house. She discovers a rotund gentleman sitting on a balcony, with quill pen and paper in hand.
Throughout his conversation with Alice, Humpty constantly wavers on his insecure perch, and Alice involuntarily goes to catch him each time.

ALICE

(To herself)

Goodness gracious, it's Humpty Dumpty.

HUMPTY

(Offended)

I beg your pardon!?

ALICE

I'm sorry, I didn't man to speak out loud. But you are Humpty Dumpty, aren't you?

HUMPTY

(Threateningly)

To be or not to be, that is the question. Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of a churlish child,
or by taking arms against them, bring them to nought.

ALICE

(Beginning to get frightened, backs off, but not sure what she has done)

If I have offended you in some way, I beg your pardon. But all I said was ...

HUMPTY

I know perfectly well what you said.

ALICE

Could we start again? My name is Alice Liddell, and I am on my way to the Magician's house to try and find the Time Lords.

HUMPTY

(Begrudgingly)

Humpty Shakespeare at your service.

ALICE

Humpty Shakespeare!?

HUMPTY

If you can do nought but strew the path with insults and ask inane questions, you would best continue on your way as rapidly as possible.

ALICE

What I meant was, I have heard of William Shakespeare ....

HUMPTY

My younger brother.

ALICE

I didn't realise he had an older brother.

HUMPTY

It is not something he likes to be known. He prefers to take all the credit for himself. I do all the hard work, and he gets the glory.

ALICE

You are a writer, too?

HUMPTY

A writer? The writer! Every word he spouts has come from my pen. But do I get any credit? And why not? I have the name, the looks,
the wit, the connections - I am a close friend of the King, you know - but he goes partying and gets the glory.

ALICE

That does seem a shame.

HUMPTY

But things are going to change. I am working on a new play which will eclipse all others, and he will not see a single page of it.
I will perform it myself before the King. Perhaps you would like to try reading a little of it.

(He hands Alice a page)

I am sitting on a balcony, as you see - it is what has inspired me for this scene. You are walking in the garden below when you spy me,
and are smitten with love. Now read.

ALICE

(Reads)

Humpty-o, O Humpty-o, wherefore art thou, Humpty-o. (Pause)

Are you sure this is right?

HUMPTY

You have a problem?

ALICE

Well.... me down here and you up there? And I thought the name was Romeo?

HUMPTY

Romeo? Whatever gave you that idea? Too effeminate. Which reminds me

(indicates what he is wearing)

will this waistcoat suit the part, do you think?

ALICE

It's a very handsome waistcoat.

HUMPTY

I thought so, too. I was given it as an un-birthday present.

ALICE

I beg your pardon?

HUMPTY

I'm not offended.

ALICE

I mean, what is an unbirthday present?

HUMPTY

A present given when it isn't your birthday, of course.

ALICE

I like birthday presents best.

HUMPTY

You don't know what you're talking about. How many days are there in a year?

ALICE

365.

HUMPTY

And how many birthdays have you?

ALICE

One.

HUMPTY

That shows that there are 364 days when you might get unbirthday presents, but only one for birthday presents.

ALICE

I can't see my parents agreeing to that.

HUMPTY

That's the trouble with only living backward.

ALICE

Living backward! I never heard of such a thing.

HUMPTY

You would if you lived forwards as well as backwards - one's memory works both ways.

ALICE

I'm sure mine only works one way. I can't remember things before they happen.

HUMPTY

It's the secret of being a great author. I can remember things that happened the week after next. For instance, there's the king's messenger.
He's in prison now being punished, and the trial doesn't even begin until next Wednesday. And of course the crime comes last of all.

ALICE

I can't believe that!

HUMPTY

Can't you? Try again. Draw a long breath and shut your eyes.

ALICE

There's no use trying. One can't believe impossible things.

HUMPTY

I dare say you haven't had much practice. When I was your age I always did it for half an hour a day. Why sometimes I've believed as many
as six impossible things before breakfast.

ALICE

Oh dear, you shouldn't have mentioned breakfast. I am very hungry.

HUMPTY

Then perhaps you had better hasten to the Magician's house. It is always teatime there.

ALICE

(Starts to leave)

Thank you, I will.

HUMPTY

But do come back, and we shall read some more of my play.

ALICE

Perhaps. But in the meantime, please take care.

(Exits)

HUMPTY

Take care!? What does she meeeeee .......

Humpty falls from the balcony. Whereupon loud trumpet calls are heard, along with the sound of "hallo's" and the sound of galloping horses.

 

Scene 9 - The Magician's tea party

A long table is seen, with several chairs around it. On it are various items of food, a large teapot, and a large top hat.
Seated at the table are a Magician (conjuror) and a human-size Rabbit. (Technical note 7.)

The Magician and Rabbit take one bite of a cake and one sip of a drink, put them down and move onto a new seat before repeating the procedure.
During this, Magician casually produces a silk from nowhere, wipes his nose on it noisily, and vanishes it again.
From time to time, one or other produces a large pocket watch, looks and listens to it, shakes it, listens again, then puts it away in disgust.

Alice enters.

MAGICIAN / RABBIT

(At the sight of her)

No room! No room!

ALICE

(Sitting down)

There's plenty of room!

MAGICIAN

Then have some wine.

((Not offering any)

ALICE

I don't see any wine.

MAGICIAN

There isn't any.

ALICE

Then it wasn't very polite of you to offer it.

MAGICIAN

It wasn't very polite of you to sit down without being invited.

ALICE

Oh dear, I do seem to get off on the wrong foot with everybody I meet lately.

MAGICIAN

(Producing a joke rabbit or human foot)

Then it's time to get on the right foot!

(Hops it across the table to Alice)

ALICE

(Not sure whether he is joking or not)

Uhh ... thank you.

(Looks longingly at the food)

I'm sorry that I sat down uninvited. Do you mind if I rest a moment? It seems a long time since I last sat down .. or had anything to eat.

RABBIT

(Taking out his watch again)

What day of the month is it?

ALICE

The fourth, I think. But then again, I can't be sure ...

RABBIT

Two weeks wrong!

MAGICIAN

I told you that butter wouldn't suit the works.

RABBIT

It was the best butter.

MAGICIAN

Yes, but some crumbs must have got in as well. You shouldn't have put it in with the bread knife.

RABBIT

(To Alice)

Tell us a story.

ALICE

(A little startled)

What sort of story?

MAGICIAN

Anything you like, as long as it is not a sad story. I do so deplore sad endings.

ALICE

I could tell you what's happened to me today ... but it's all very confusing, and very strange ... and I'm sure I don't understand much of it at all.

MAGICIAN

In that case, I think the Dormouse should tell us a story.

RABBIT

Good idea.

(He delves into the large teapot, and pulls out a Dormouse glove puppet.)

Wake up, Dormouse. We want you to tell us a story.

DORMOUSE

Shall I tell you a story without end? I have a long tail. All us Dormice have long tails.

RABBIT

Not that one again. Sing us a song, instead.

DORMOUSE

(Sings)

'Twas brillig and the slithy toves

Did gybe and gambol in the wabe.

All mimsy were the borogroves,

And the moomraths outgrabe.

MAGICIAN & RABBIT

(Chorus)

All mimsy were the borogroves,

And the moomraths outgrabe.

ALICE

What funny words. They don't make any sense.

RABBIT

That's all you know. This is the start of a song about a most terrible beast. Tell her, Magician.

MAGICIAN

(sings)

Beware the Jabberwock, my son!

The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!

Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun

The frumious Bandersnatch.

MAGICIAN, RABBIT & DORMOUSE

(Chorus)

Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun

The frumious Bandersnatch.

DORMOUSE

He took his vorpal sword in hand;

Long time the manxome foe he sought -

So rested he by the Tumtum tree,

And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,

The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,

Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,

And burbled as it came!

RABBIT

One, two! One, two! And through and through

The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!

He left it dead, and with its head

He went galumphing back.

MAGICIAN

And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?

Come to my arms, my beamish boy!

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

He chortled in his joy.

RABBIT, MAGICIAN & DORMOUSE

'Twas brillig and the slithy toves

Did gybe and gambol in the wabe.

All mimsy were the borogroves,

And the moomraths outgrabe.

MAGICIAN

(Turns to Alice)

You're not eating, my dear!?

ALICE

(The food is out of reach, and she doesn't know whether to try and stretch, or ask for something to be passed.)

I wonder ...

MAGICIAN

Take some more tea.

ALICE

I've had nothing yet, so how can I take more?

RABBIT

You mean, you can't take less. It's very easy to take more than nothing.

ALICE

Perhaps I might ...

(half reaching for something)

MAGICIAN

(Restrains her)

No, no! Better fresh. Allow me.

The Magician takes a hat, empties some ingredients into it - such as egg, flour, sugar, milk - beats the mixture, turns the hat over on the
Rabbit's head, takes the hat away, and a cake can be seen resting there. The Magician takes the cake, cuts a slice from it and gives it to Alice.

ALICE

Thank you.

(She takes a bite.)

RABBIT

I want a fresh cup. Let's all move round one.

The Rabbit and the Magician get up and move round one place. Alice would prefer to remain where she is, but with stern looks they
ensure she moves also. Alice goes to take the piece of cake with her, but is restrained by the Magician.

MAGICIAN

Oh no, the cake belongs at that setting.

ALICE

I beg your pardon, but I thought you gave it to me.

MAGICIAN

No, I gave it to that position at the table. You just happened to be occupying it at the time. You must leave it so that you do not disadvantage the next person.

RABBIT

Jam yesterday, and jam tomorrow, but never jam today.

ALICE

But tomorrow becomes today when we pass on to the next day of the week.

RABBIT

But today has not become tomorrow, so ... no jam.

MAGICIAN

Unless you happen to be a Time Lord, of course.

ALICE

(With a start - realises she had forgotten about them)

You've seen the Time Lords?

MAGICIAN

Of course! They dropped in just this morning.

ALICE

(Hopefully)

They are not still here?

RABBIT

Yes.

ALICE

(Eagerly looks around)

Where are they?

RABBIT

I don't know.

ALICE

But ... you said they were here.

RABBIT

No, I didn't.

ALICE

But I distinctly ...

RABBIT

You said, "They are not here". And I said, "Yes". I was agreeing with you, they are not here.

ALICE

(In despair)

Then can you tell me where I can find them?

MAGICIAN

You should know, if anyone. You have their watch.

ALICE

(Takes it out)

So it does belong to the Time Lords!

MAGICIAN

Of course. May I show you the secret?

ALICE

(Hesitantly hands the watch to him)

Please be careful.

MAGICIAN

A beautiful time-piece. Reminds me of my most brilliant trick.

(He produces a silk)

First I wrap the watch in the silk...

(He does so, then produces a hammer)

Then I proceed to smash the watch to smithereens.

Before Alice's horrified gaze, and despite her anguished protestations, he repeatedly hits the watch with the hammer.

ALICE

(In tears)

Oh no, now what shall I do?

MAGICIAN

Ah, fear not, young lady. Did I not say this was my most brilliant trick? Regard! I make some magic flourishes ....
and say the secret words, Grandalagic. And voila!

The Magician unwraps the silk, and out tumbles pieces of the watch. Alice is distraught.

MAGICIAN

(Thoughtfully, mildly bemused)

Should it have been the secret words, "Bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches," I wonder?

(Brightens)

But do not lose heart, young lady! There is another way to get you to the Time Lords. Trust me and all will be well.

Before Alice can protest, or realise what he is doing, the Magician hustles her into a cabparadise standing to one side.
He opens front and rear doors to show it is empty, pushes her inside, closes the doors, turns the cabparadise around. There is a flash and loud report.
The doors fly open, and Alice has disappeared. The Magician shrugs nonchalantly and goes back to the table.

 

 

NOTE: The last two scenes of this script, for which a royalty may be requested, and the words to several additional songs, may be obtained by contacting the author.

© John McNeil 1999 All rights reserved

He may be contacted at soulcommunication@paradise.net.nz
Or at: 36B Stourbridge St, Christchurch 2, New Zealand.