ACT TWO
(18 Pages in Typescript)
 
 
 
 
 
The Cast:

BRUTUS:----.----Roman conspirator; in toga, with dagger tucked in his belt

LUCIUS: ---------his servant, in toga

CASSIUS:--------Brutus's partner in crime; toga

RALPH AND--.--a theatergoing couple, he in jacket and tie,

MYRNA:----.---. she in pretty dress, carrying a large purse

 
 
 
The Scene:

Brutus's garden. Angled at stage left, a solid bench with a low headrest; at stage right, bushes and a large rock. Upstage left, the door to Brutus's house. As the play progresses, the light goes from purple moonlight to radiant dawn.

In the darkness before the play begins, we hear—first from rear of the theater, then from the actors stumbling down the aisle—the following whispered exchange:






------------RALPH:

(excitedly) Honey, I told you the intermission was only ten minutes!


------------MYRNA:

(similarly) But there was a long line at the ladies' room! When will people who design theaters ever realize that ladies need more time than men—therefore a lot more bathroom? When they began flicking the house lights, there were still five people in front of me!


------------RALPH:

Well, it's a fact of life. Live with it. Theaters are designed by men.


------------MYRNA:

Don't men have wives? (pause) Now, what row were we sitting in?


------------RALPH:

It was somewhere in the middle, wasn't it? And toward the left?


------------MYRNA:

Yes, but I'm not sure we came in the right door! I think we belong on the other side! (pause; inspired) Do you have that little light you carry? Don't you usually carry a little flashlight?


------------RALPH:

Yeah, yeah, good idea. (reaching in his pocket, bringing out the light, fumbling) Damn. Where's the switch? What the heck's the matter with this thing? I shoulda bought a more expensive one, I know it. Okay, okay, here it is. (the light comes on, flashes around the theater)


------------MYRNA:

Honey, don't point it at the audience! Point it at the floor!


------------RALPH:

Oh. Sorry, sorry.




As they begin making their way forward,
RALPH stumbles against someone sitting on the aisle.


------------RALPH:

(whispering to the person) Sorry, sorry. (pause) What? (pause) I know you came to see theater, not to get a massage. We're just. . . having a little trouble finding our seats.




MYRNA advances down the aisle,
but reaching out for support in the darkness,
knocks someone's purse or Playbill on the floor.



------------RALPH:

(hurrying over) So sorry. I'll get it. No no, let me get it. (getting down on floor) No, that's your foot. I think it's under your seat. (with great fuss, crawling under seat, finally retrieving item and handing it to audience member) Here it is.




With a flurry of inaudible whispers
and audible comments to audience members—
"sorry, sorry, can't find our seats," "excuse me,
I think we came in the wrong door,"
"so sorry," "is this Row 14?" "it isn't?"—
RALPH and MYRNA continue down the aisle.



------------RALPH:

(shining his light down a row; to MYRNA) It was this one, wasn't it?


------------MYRNA:

(peering down the row; either:) Can't be! There aren't any empty seats! (or, if there are:) That man's way too big! We weren't sitting next to a man that big!


------------RALPH:

Shoot. You're right.




They continue on. Arms flailing, which causes the
flashlight beam to ricochet around the theater—
and making as much racket and disturbance as possible—
RALPH trips and crashes to the floor.
If the flashlight is sturdy enough,
he can drop it on the way down: bang!



------------MYRNA:

(bending over him; excitedly) Honey, are you all right?


------------RALPH:

Yeah, yeah, I'm fine! There was a bump—some unevenness or something—in the floor! Shsssh! (he gets to his feet, straightens his jacket)






RALPH and MYRNA eventually reach the front of the theater
and, realizing the futility of turning back,
advance toward, and past, the stage.




------------RALPH:

These stairs. I don't remember these stairs, do you?


------------MYRNA:

Well, there were stairs at the back of the theater. But I don't think these stairs are those stairs.


------------RALPH:

Let's go through here. Follow me. . . . (extinguishes light)



Enter Brutus in his orchard [garden]



------------BRUTUS:

What, Lucius, ho!
I cannot by the progress of the stars
Give guess how near to day. Lucius, I say!
I would it were my fault to sleep so soundly.
When, Lucius, when? Awake, I say! What, Lucius!





Enter Lucius.



------------LUCIUS:

Called you, my lord?


------------BRUTUS:

Get me a taper in my study, Lucius.
When it is lighted, come and call me here.


------------LUCIUS:

I will, my lord.


------------BRUTUS:

It must be by his death; and for my part,
I know no personal cause to spurn at him,
But for the general. He would be crowned.
How that might change his nature, there's the question.
It is the bright day that brings forth the adder,
And that craves wary walking. Crown him that,
And then I grant we put a sting in him
That at his will he may do danger with.
Th'abuse of greatness is, when it disjoins
Remorse from power. And to speak truth of Caesar,
I have not known when his affections swayed
More than his reason. But 'tis a common proof
That lowliness is young ambition's ladder,
Whereto the climber upward turns his face;
But when he once attains the upmost round,
He then unto the ladder turns his back,
Looks in the clouds, scorning the base degrees
By which he did ascend. So Caesar may.
Then lest he may, prevent. And since the quarrel
Will bear no color for the thing he is,
Fashion it thus: that what he is, augmented,
Would run to these and these extremities;
And therefore think him as a serpent's egg,
Which, hatched—




Looking startled—arms akimbo, flailing about and falling over themselves
as MYRNA inadvertently pushes RALPH forward—
they tumble through the upstage door and fall headlong onto the stage.
Momentarily startled, BRUTUS glances to his side and
acknowledges the intrusion with raised eyebrows.



------------BRUTUS:

—would as his kind grows mischievous,
And kill him in the shell.



Trapped in indecision,
knowing only that they must conceal themselves,
RALPH darts to the bench, left,
and drops to his hands and knees behind it.
MYRNA does the same behind the bushes, right.



Enter Lucius.



------------LUCIUS:

The taper burneth in your closet, sir.
Searching the window for a flint, I found
This paper, thus sealed up; and I am sure
It did not lie there when I went to bed.



Gives him the letter.



Eventually, thinking himself concealed, RALPH pokes his head
around the bench; from behind the bushes, MYRNA does likewise.
RALPH raises his hands as if to say what are we going to do?
MYRNA shrugs, motions with her head to the upstage door.
RALPH mimes what? and this time, MYRNA points.
RALPH shakes his head—no!—and with two fingers furtively points
first at the actors, then at the audience, then at his eyes.



------------BRUTUS:

Get you to bed again; it is not day.
Is not tomorrow, boy, the Ides of March?


------------LUCIUS:

I know not, sir.


------------BRUTUS:

Look in the calendar and bring me word.


------------LUCIUS:

I will, sir.



Exit.



------------BRUTUS:

The exhalations, whizzing in the air, [(raised eyebrows)]
Give so much light that I may read by them.




Opens the letter and reads.



Peeping over the bench,
RALPH removes a cell phone from his jacket pocket,
pulls the antenna out, and dials. From inside MYRNA'S purse,
we hear a musical call signal. In a flurry of motion
MYRNA extracts her cell phone from her purse,
pulls out the antenna, and puts the phone to her ear.



------------RALPH:

(while BRUTUS peruses the letter; whispering) This is some pickle we've gotten ourselves into—isn't it!


------------MYRNA:

It sure is! What are we gonna do?


------------RALPH:

Well, we can't just jump up and march across the stage, and out! We've created enough of a disturbance already!


------------MYRNA:

I told you those stairs didn't look familiar!


------------RALPH:

Then why the hell didn't you stop me! I was doing the best I could! It was pitch-black, back there!


------------MYRNA:

Well, you got us into this! You get us out! And next time, listen to me!


------------RALPH:

(pause) I can't remember. Does Brutus ever. . .sit on his bench?


------------MYRNA:

(considering her husband's predicament, and her own—and the fact that their presence isn't affecting the performance—shaking the bushes and giggling)

I wonder if this is the same greenery they used in Macbeth. (in a solemn voice) "Though Burnam Wood be come to Dunisane. . . ."


------------BRUTUS:

          "Brutus, though sleep'st. Awake, and see thyself!
          Shall Rome, etc. Speak, strike, redress!"
Such instigations have been often dropped
Where I have took them up.
"Shall Rome, etc." Thus must I piece it out:
Shall Rome stand under one man's awe? What, Rome?
My ancestors did from the streets of Rome
The Tarquin drive when he was called a king.


------------RALPH:

(into phone, whispering excitedly) Honey, do you have the camcorder? This would be a great opportunity to get some terrific footage! What a vantage point, what a view! There can't be many people who've ever watched theater this close, I mean, right on stage! Who's ever going to believe we did? Don't we want to be able to prove to our friends that we did?


------------MYRNA:

(quietly) Do you think there's enough light? Hold on, hold on.



As the following speeches are delivered, MYRNA,
alternately disguising herself and not bothering to,
rifles in her purse. Furtively raising herself to the top
of the bushes, she lifts the camcorder
to her face, and points it.



------------BRUTUS:

"Speak, strike, redress!" Am I entreated
To speak and strike? O Rome, I make thee promise,
If the redress will follow, thou receivest
The full petition at the hand of Brutus!



MYRNA withdraws, retrieves her phone, pulls out the antenna,
and dials. From RALPH'S phone we hear a musical call signal.
RALPH pulls out the antenna, answers.



------------MYRNA:

(whispering excitedly) I want to get you in the picture! Wave—so I can get you in the picture!



RALPH and MYRNA replace their antennas and phones;
MYRNA reappears with the camcorder.
RALPH awkwardly waves, smiles, mugs.



Enter Lucius.



------------LUCIUS:

Sir, March is wasted fifteen days.



Knock within.



------------BRUTUS:

'Tis good. Go to the gate; somebody knocks.



[Exit Lucius.]



MYRNA continues to take pictures. Relaxing, acquiescing
to his plight, RALPH smiles sheepishly at, then waves to the audience:
yoo-hoo! If the desired laughter is produced,
he makes faces, hams it up.


------------BRUTUS:

Since Cassius first did whet me against Caesar,
I have not slept.
Between the acting of a dreadful thing
And the first motion, all the interim is
Like a phantasma or a hideous dream.
The genius and the mortal instruments
Are then in council, and the state of a man,
Like to a little kingdom, suffers then
The nature of an insurrection.



Enter Lucius.



Growing bolder, RALPH raises himself
and looks around wonderingly,
then glances at his wife and motions to show that
his hands and knees are sore.
As BRUTUS and LUCIUS are preoccupied with their performances,
he impishly hops onto the bench, swings around, and lies back.

With a shrug that says,
well if it doesn't make any difference,
MYRNA comes forward from behind the bushes, sits on the rock,
wraps her arms around her knees like a fascinated schoolchild,
and follows BRUTUS and LUCIUS'S speeches.
She sits demurely, at first, then begins gesticulating,
frowning at phrases she doesn't like, giving arm pumps
at phrases she does, occasionally wagging her arm
with a hurry up, get-on-with-it motion.



------------LUCIUS:

Sir, 'tis your brother Cassius at the door,
Who doth desire to see you.


------------BRUTUS:

Is he alone?


------------LUCIUS:

No, sir, there are moe [more] with him.


------------BRUTUS:

Do you know them?


------------LUCIUS:

No, sir. Their hats are plucked about their ears
And half their faces buried in their cloaks,
That by no means I may discover them
By any mark of favor.


------------BRUTUS:

Let 'em enter.



[Exit Lucius.]


They are the faction. O conspiracy,
Sham'st thou to show thy dang'rous brow by night,
When evils are most free? O, then by day
Where wilt thou find a cavern dark enough
To mask thy monstrous visage? Seek none, conspiracy.
Hide it in smiles and affability:






There is a musical call signal from RALPH'S phone.
He takes it out, raises the antenna, and answers.



------------RALPH:

Sally? Hi, honey. Listen, I can't talk now, I'm at the theater. (pause) No. (pause) Yes. (pause) But let's talk about it tomorrow. (pause) You're right, I should have. They asked us to turn our ringers off, but I forgot. (pause) I can't right now, honey. (pause) I'll call you tomorrow. (pause) 'Bye. (he hangs up)


------------BRUTUS:

For if thou path, thy native semblance on,
Not Erebus itself were dim enough
To hide thee from prevention.



RALPH thinks a minute, and dials.



------------RALPH:

Henry? This is Ralph. Look, I'm sorry to bother you at home, but I've decided I want to unload General Chemical. I've been thinking about what you said, and you're right. It's not going to go above 36. (pause) I'm calling you now because tomorrow's gonna be a busy day. (pause) No, I'm at the theatre, with Myrna. (pause) No, not in our seats. I mean, we had good seats, terrific seats, but we're in better seats now. What happened was, there was a little accident during intermission. Henry, you're not going to believe this. . . . (considering his circumstances, smiling) I'll tell you about it another time, I'm sort of preoccupied, right now. (pause) Thanks, Henry. I appreciate it.



RALPH replaces the antenna and phone,
sinks back on the headrest,
catches himself, turns to MYRNA, winks, and,
joining thumb to forefinger, flashes an A-okay sign.



------------RALPH:

(sitting up; pleased with himself, forsaking all courtesy and propriety; to BRUTUS)

Hey, there! Excuse me! My wife and I are enjoying this performance immensely, but I'm absolutely dying for a drink, and there wasn't enough time at intermission to—


------------BRUTUS:

(realizing he can no longer fight it; interrupting) You want a drink?


------------RALPH:

(to BRUTUS) It'd be awfully nice. But I don't want to impose. I mean, only if it's not an imposition.



Enter LUCIUS, stage right.



------------BRUTUS:

(disoriented) Uh, what would you like?


------------RALPH:

How about a scotch on the rocks? Would that be all right?


------------BRUTUS:

Uh, Lucius, get this gentleman a scotch on the rocks. You'll find what you need in my dressing room. (afterthought) Or what, in this theater, they laughingly call a dressing room.


------------MYRNA:

(as LUCIUS passes to stage right; cheerfully) Could I have one too? Oh, but make mine, make mine. . .   (glancing at RALPH: what do I usually get?) Make mine a scotch and soda!


------------LUCIUS:

Certainly. (under his breath, borrowing the line from Hamlet) We'll teach you to drink ere you depart.



LUCIUS scowls at MYRNA and exits right;
BRUTUS fidgets. Pleased with themselves,
RALPH and MYRNA trade surprised smiles.

LUCIUS returns, a white towel draped over his arm,
a drink in each hand.



------------MYRNA:

(as she accepts hers) Thank you so much. Really, very thoughtful.



LUCIUS crosses to stage left.



------------RALPH:

(accepting his) Indeed, indeed, very kind of you. Thank you so much.


------------BRUTUS:

(rocking from foot to foot, fuming; to RALPH) I suppose you'd like a newspaper, too.


------------RALPH:

(crossing his legs and getting comfortable)
Well, only if it's not an inconvenience. I don't want to put you to any trouble, or anything.


------------BRUTUS:

No no, it's no trouble at all. (to LUCIUS, pointing to RALPH) Go get him the morning paper. It should be out by now.


------------MYRNA:

(catching LUCIUS as he departs; brightly)

And a program! Do you have a theatre program? You know, a Playbill?



LUCIUS stops, scowls at her.



------------MYRNA:

(coyly, coquettishly) You see, I left mine on my seat.


------------LUCIUS:

(definitively losing patience) Look, lady. This is Julius Caesar. This is Shakespeare.


------------MYRNA:

(as if her sophistication were being questioned) I'm quite aware of that, thank you very much. But I want to know who the characters are.


------------LUCIUS:

(holding out hands in a can't-you-see gesture) I'm Lucius. (pointing, palm up) This is Brutus.


------------MYRNA:

(as before) Oh, I know that. I know who you are. But I want to know who's playing you.


------------LUCIUS:

Damn it, lady! I'm playing me! And— (motioning to BRUTUS) Oh, phooey.



LUCIUS exits right,
returns with the newspaper and a Playbill,
distributes them as requested.

MYRNA, sitting on her rock, investigates the Playbill.

RALPH, drink in one hand, newspaper in the other,
peruses the front page, then sets his drink down,
extracts the Business Section,
and studies the day's stock quotes.

BRUTUS motions to LUCIUS.
They converge at center stage and whisper.
MYRNA and RALPH remain absorbed in their reading.
Eventually BRUTUS and LUCIUS separate and cross,
BRUTUS to RALPH, LUCIUS to MYRNA.



------------LUCIUS:

(to MYRNA, genially) Are you finding what you're looking for? Or are you reading the ads for other shows? (taking umbrage) I hope you're not checking the competition. Hell, you're presently in a show. Can't you be content with that?


------------MYRNA:

(talking to herself as she flips through the pages)

There's so much darn padding in these things. Makes it hard to find the one page you're looking for. All you want to know is who the characters are, and who's playing them, and whether or not there's an intermission. These plays can get pretty tedious, you know, so you really need an intermission, preferably two. But no. All you can find is restaurant ads and discount coupons, and endless lists of every play and sitcom and movie the actors have been in, since high school.


------------BRUTUS:

(to RALPH, genially) Is everything all right over here? Is there anything else I can get you?


------------RALPH:

Oh, no no. No, thank you, I'm quite comfortable. Everything's tickety-boo. It's getting much easier to read, now that the sun is coming up. My thanks to the lighting director.

(he holds his hand to his forehead to shield his eyes, then waves to someone at the back of the theater)

Thank you so much! Thank you!



Suddenly LUCIUS pounces on MYRNA and drags her behind
the bushes—anguished cries, sounds of resistance—
and suffocates her with his towel.
At the same time, BRUTUS pulls his dagger from its scabbard,
thrusts it behind the newspaper, and into RALPH'S chest.
The newspaper, followed by RALPH'S arm, falls slowly to the floor.
BRUTUS wipes the dagger on RALPH'S jacket, and replaces it.

Panting, BRUTUS and LUCIUS back away from their victims
and eye one another, first with fury, then with relief.




------------BRUTUS:

(appropriating a line from later in Julius Caesar; under his breath) The evil that men do lives after them.


------------LUCIUS:

(overhearing) Well, we've done it. They had their evil, we have ours. Now what are we gonna do?


------------BRUTUS:

(after a thought) They both have cell phones. Call nine-one-one.



LUCIUS glances over his shoulder at the bushes,
realizes that RALPH is the better choice,
and crosses to RALPH. He removes the phone from Ralph's jacket,
pulls out the antenna, raises the phone, and speaks.



------------LUCIUS:

(gesticulating, looking from side to side, at the ceiling, at his feet—even turning his back to the audience—as he speaks)

Uh, yes. I have a little accident to report. Actually a tragedy. Some theatergoers were trying to make a travesty of our art. (pause) Which art? Theater! Theater, of course! Which is why I said theatergoers! (pause; calming down) I'm one of the actors, I'm in a performance right now. (pause) Julius Caesar. (pause; excited again) You've never heard of Julius Caesar? Gimme a break! It's by William Shakespeare! It's one of his most famous plays! (pause) Okay, it's the [gives theater's name]. (pause) At [gives theater's address, with a qualifier, e.g., "between Eighth and Ninth Avenues"]. (pause) No, don't come right now, we've had enough commotion for one evening. (pause) Nine-thirty. Nine-thirty would be good, the play should be over by nine-thirty. It's an abridged version. (pause) No, but the house manager will be. (pause) So you'll do it? Thank you very much. I appreciate it.



LUCIUS pushes the antenna in, crosses to RALPH
places the phone on RALPH'S chest, and turns to BRUTUS.
They look at each other with what-do-we-do-now? expressions.

Moving downstage left, as if for privacy,
they huddle for a conference. The lights start to dim.
Their conversation is animated, if inaudible;
they gesticulate, nod, shake their heads.
BRUTUS, over his shoulder, points his thumb at the audience,
which leads LUCIUS to turn, shield his eyes,
and briefly contemplate it.

Finally they take their positions and resume their poses.




CASSIUS enters.



------------CASSIUS:

[(with a Shakespearian flourish)]

I think we are too bold upon your rest.
Good morrow, Brutus. Do we trouble you?



BRUTUS, LUCIUS, and CASSIUS cross downstage and,
raising their arms to their chests,
draw themselves up with military bearing
while confronting the audience
with triumphant, vaguely conspiratorial expressions.









The lights continue to dim, until



BLACKOUT






__________________





Note

The original production of Act Two added a STAGE MANAGER and ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER who, after the appearance of RALPH and MYRNA onstage, mimed horror from gaps in the upstage curtain. They wore headsets with attached microphones, and held clipboards, which they intermittently consulted as they tried to get BRUTUS and LUCIUS'S attention. They gesticulated, swiped their forefingers under their chins, and in slapstick fashion supplemented the audience's reaction to the action onstage.

A director may wish to add this touch.





 
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