Sunday, 15 July 2007

CINDERELLA: A FAIRYLESS FAIRYTALE

Scene 1

(The scene is set in London in the 1940’s. Nakati Ville-A typical British home with a fireplace in the centre with a comfortable chair and an empty vase on the side table near it, three beds placed side by side to the left and a dressing table adjacent to a huge closet on the right. On the mantelpiece above the fireplace is a black and white picture of a family-a father, mother and two plain looking girls. Also on the mantelpiece is an old cuckoo clock.

A young girl dressed in old worn out clothes is straightening out the things on the dressing table. She looks at herself in the mirror and smiles sadly. She gets up and moves towards the fireplace, dusts the mantelpiece and picks up the photo frame. Examining it for a few seconds see wrinkles her brow.)

Cinderella: It’s a wonder I’m not in this picture? (She stares at it as if trying to remember something) It was taken 7 years ago, just after father married this horrid woman. She hides behind that perfect frame. I don’t blame papa. He didn’t know how mean she could be. Beatrice and Bernadette look the same- idle, spoilt, (she pouts in frustration trying to find another word to describe them) They think they’re so smart. (with bitterness in her tone) Huh! Just because they’ve been to fashionable private schools while I was trapt here washing dishes and dusting windows all the while. (Sigh. Sits in chair still mulling over her misery)

(Enter Bernadette)

Bernadette: Ella!! What do you think you’re doing there?! Have you fixed my bath? What about the flowers I asked you to get? I don’t see them in the vase yet? What is the matter with you? Lying around here while you have so much work to do! (Notices the photo frame in Cinderella’s hand) What’s that in your hand? How dare you touch that! It’s the only decent picture we have without your ugly face in it! (Snatches the frame out of Cinderella’s hands and places it back on the mantelpiece)

(Enter Andromeda)

Andromeda: What’s the matter, Berny? Is she being stubborn again? This is just like her father. Do you know how persistent I had to be to get him to make me the sole heir of Nakati Ville? It’s outrageous. After all I am his wife, his widow.

(Enter Beatrice)

Beatrice: Mother! Mother! Guess what I found in the letter box. Mother! Look!

(She produces a large envelope with the royal seal on it. It has the letters ‘You’re invited’ hand written across the front)

Andromeda: OOO! What do you make of this? What could this mean? Open it quick! Quick! Beatrice!

(Berny pushes her mother aside and grabs the envelope)

Bernadette: What is it? Let me see!

(The girls wrestle for the envelope as their mother screams and Cinderella giggles)

Andromeda: (turning her attention to Cinderella) What’re you laughing about? (slaps her on the back) make yourself useful. Go get me a letter opener! Go on, what’re you standing here for?

(Cinderella exists left)

Oh, stop it now girls. Try to act like adults. Here. Hand me the letter. Let me have it.

(Beatrice lets go)

Berny! (looks at her threateningly through her pince-nez trying to get the envelope out of her daughters hand. Berny pouts and let’s go)

(Enter Cinderella with letter opener. Hands it to Andromeda)

(opens the letter and reads aloud)

You and your family are cordially invited to a ball held at the ball held in honour of Lord Mountbatten, Viceroy of the British India (gasp)

(all stare in amazement)

Beatrice and Bernadette: Huh! Let me see that!

( they snatch the letter and fight over it until it is torn into shreds, they stomp out of the room as Andromeda orders Cinderella to clear up the mess.)

Curtain

Scene 2

(The day before the ball. Same room. The closet is open. A few evening gowns are strewn carelessly on the bed. Bernadette is trying to fit into a red dress which is way too tight for her. Beatrice is trying on jewellery in front of the dressing table)

Beatrice: (to her sister, teasingly) I told you to get a larger size. This is what happens when you eat too many apple pies with cream. (holding up a gold pair of earrings, to herself) Are these big enough?

Bernadette: (in a huff) why is it that you always have the better life? The better figure, the better clothes, the better shoes, the better grades, the better boys! And I’m stuck in this ugly skin struggling to live upto you. (Gives up on her gown, goes to the bed to choose another one. Exists left with three gowns in her arms)

Beatrice: (shrugs shoulders with arrogance. Smirks.)

(Cinderella enters with white gloves on a salver)

Cinderella: Is this how you wanted it done, Beatrice. I sewed them as per your instructions.

Beatrice: My! What an age you take to get things done! Really, you should be ashamed of yourself! (tries on the gloves, admires her slender arms) Perfect! These will look marvelous on the shoulders of the viceroy as I dance with him at the ball tomorrow, don’t you think, Cinderella?

Cinderella: And how can you assume he’ll want to dance with you?

Beatrice: He can’t possibly dance with you?

Cinderella: why not?

Beatrice: Cos mother says you wont be coming. You see, the invitation is clearly addressed to Lady Andromeda and her daughters. You don’t count.

Cinderella: But—

Beatrice: And besides what would you wear? Huh!

Voice from stage left: Beatrice! Beatrice, darling, won’t you come help your sister out of this dress. She’s stuck! Relax, Berny, you’ll tear it!

Beatrice: (an eyebrow raised) This should be fun. (exists left)

Cinderella: (centre stage) This is so unfair! I deserve to go too! (starts to cry, crumbles to the floor) If only he were alive. Papa would want me to go, wouldn’t he? He would have bought me the best gown and escorted me there himself. I would be the one feasting. I would be the one dancing with the viceroy. If only…..

Curtain

Scene 3

(The day of the ball. Cinderella is helping the sisters into their gowns. Andromeda is hovering around, fully dressed, telling the girls to hurry up, hurling abuses at Cinderella once in a while, complaining about her wrinkles and cursing the carriage for arriving on time. By and by, they get dressed and leave. Cinderella is left alone)

Cinderella: They’ve gone. They’ve gone to the ball without me. I couldn’t make it even if I tried. Even if had the clothes to wear, I would need a carriage to take me there and I suppose they check the invitations at the gate. It’s useless. There’s no way I could get there. Maybe they’re right. Maybe I don’t deserve it. I belong here, obeying orders, keeping the fire hot and clearing up the mess they leave behind. Maybe—

(A doorbell rings)

Cinderella: (wiping her face) who could that be? Maybe Bernadette left something behind. Maybe they’ll take me if I plead one last time.

(Exists left. Voices heard. Enter strange woman with a portmanteau followed by a very confused Cinderella)

Agnella: But why aren’t you dressed yet dear?

Cindrella: Madam, I don’t understand. How can you just walk in like this? If I be so forward to ask who are you?

Stranger: Didn’t you get my letter, dear. I said I would be arriving today. I’m your Aunt Agnella. Your father’s sister. Oh may he rest in piece.

Cinderella: Oh but I don’t understand. How is this possible? My father never told me you were in London.

Agnella: (smiling) Well, that’s because I just arrived from India dear. I wasn’t in London till this morning. I wrote explaining all this to you. Whatever happened to that letter!

Cindrella: It was probably ignored with all the other mail that came in the day of the invitation.

Agnella: What invitation?

Cindrella: Haven’t you heard? There’s a ball held in honour of Lord Mountbatten tonight at the Town hall.

Agnella: (laughes loudly) oh that invitation. Well, that’s why I’m here darling. I’m here to make sure you attend the ball. The invitation was for all of Lord Mc Claken’s daughters. Specifically for you, dear. The viceroy has been waiting to meet you. After all you are the one he has been engaged to all these years.

Cinderella: Engaged??!!

Agnella: You see dear. Your father was no ordinary man. He was the one who made the deal with the vireroy of India. He made sure Lord Mountbatten would come to power. It’s taken a long time since his unfortunate death but the day is here and ball was held to commemorate him.

(Cindrella gasps in amazement)

Cinderella: So I can go to the ball?

Agnella: You can do more than that, my child. You can pack all your things and plan to leave this place forever. You’re going to India with the viceroy.

Cindrella: India! Wow! This seems unreal. I can finally leave my life in London behind and start over as the wife of a viceroy. This is better than anything I ever dreamt of.

Agnella: You deserve it darling. After all you’ve been through. You deserve this.

(They Hug)

Curtain

The End

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