Charlie: Scenes 9-12

SCENE 9 – London – King George II is sat on his throne reading the newspapers with his chancellor / enter Thomas Arne with three singers; Mrs. Cibber, Beard and Reinhold

Thomas
Your majesty

George
Mr Arne, a pleasure to see you once more

Thomas
The pleasure is all mine your majesty – I have finished the song & wish it to be sung in your presence

George II
Hmm, the ditty about me? Very well, sing it

Thomas
Your highness, may I present Mrs. Beard, Reinhold & mny sister Mrs Cibber

Cibber, Beard and Reinhold
Your highness

Thomas
Ladies… on the count of three.. one, two…

Cibber, Beard and Reinhold
God bless our Noble King,
God Save great George our King
God save the King:
Send him victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us:
God save the king.

O Lord, our God, arise,
Scatter thine enemies
And make them fall
Confound their politics,
Frustrate their knavish tricks,
On thee our hopes we fix:
God save us all.

From every latent foe
From the assassins blow
God save the King
O’er her thine arm extend
For Britain’s sake defend
Our mother, prince, and friend
God save the King

Lord grant that Marshal Wade
May by thy mighty aid
Victory bring
May he sedition hush
And like a torrent rush
Rebellious Scots to crush
God save the King

George
Yes, very good, excellent even

Thomas
I am delighted his majesty likes it.

George
It sounds familiar somewhat

Thomas
It is an old tune, your highness, my mother says she heard it sung in the street when the Prince of Orange was hovering over the coast. There is a received opinion that it was written and composed for the Catholic Chapel of James II. I have merely adapted it for a better, more deserving, more godsent king.

Chancellor
Since the descent of the demon Stuart wolfchild on our islands, demonstrations of loyalty to the reigning house are in especial demand.

Thomas
Yes sire, all of London are in total abhorrence to the arbitrary schemes of our invidious enemies. I have written this song to coalesce their passions with an anthemic chorus. The song shall be having its debut tonight, sire. The entire male cast of the Drury Lane theatre announced shall be announcing their intention of forming a special unit of the Volunteer Defence Force. They will be giving a performance of Jonson’s The Alchemist, at which conclusion Mrs Cibber, Beard and Reinhold will be singing my new song.

Chancellor
The stage is the most loyal place in the three kingdoms, your majesty

Enter the Duke of Cumberland

Cumberland
The soldiers of your army would dispute that very much – what is more loyal than to die for your king

George II
William Augustus, how are you my boy

Cumberland
In excellent health & spirits father, & you

George
I have read the dispatches – the news is dire – that dreadful band of savages – freely allowed to roam across our sovereign soil – unchallenged! They have already taken Carlisle, & are now on their way into Lancashire – There has been a run on the Bank of England, both man & merchant fleeing to France – I am in half a mind to join them

Chancellor
Thanks to the rebellion, your majesties, all trade & business in the country are at quite a standstill

cumber2.png

The Duke of Cumberland

Cumberland
These disturbers of his majesty’s reign will not be in England long. The Highland race dwells within a nest of fickle constraint. Obstinate & proud its army shall boast its way to London, then at the first push of bayonet slink back to the mists from whence they came

George II
Son, you are too confident – those howling barbarians the terrify the troops – look what happened at Prestonpans

Cumberland
Father, my king, if I am allowed to marshal your armies then I shall bring a speedy & resolute end to this bloody affair

George II
Perhaps I shall marshal them myself

Cumberland
With all due respect father, this is not Flanders, nor is it Dettingen; these are not the cowardly French – these are Highlanders, merciless murderers & the devil’s own – if you are caught you shall be flayed alive & hung from every mercat cross in Scotland – let me fight this war for you father, for after all, if Charles Edward represents his own father on the field of battle – it is up to I to represent your sacred self

George II
Very well – the commission is yours – I shall pay you an extra 5,000 pounds a year – but tell me, how do you intend to challenge that terrifying Highland charge of theirs

Cumberland
I have given the matter my best – let me demonstrate – stand here father, now, you there, slowly charge at us with your right arm held high

Thomas
Me?

George II
Yes, you Mr Arne, do as my son says

Thomas
Like this?

Cumberland
That’s right, now charge the king, slowly

Thomas
The king?

George
Mr Arne!

Thomas
Sorry your majesty, of course…

Thomas slowly charges the king

Cumberland
The bayonet is no match for a claymore – but they have a weakness – here…
{Cumberland stabs underarm of Arne}
This is their Achilles heel, well Achilles armpit, a fleshy weak spot – If the army is well drilled enough to attack the man, not facing, but to his right, then we can nullify the highlanders

George
Brilliant – have the army instructed at once

Cumberland
It is already being drilled

George
My boy, we cannot show that damned snivelling species any mercy – none whatsoever. If Britain is ever to become great they must be extirpated from this island – we must succeed where the Romans & Longshanks failed – there wont be peace unless this entire island is subjugated – let commence the crusade for civilisation

Cumberland
God willing, it will be, I shall attend to it at once

Exit Cumberland

George II
Ah, Mr Arne, do your ladies know your other patriotic number, the one about not become slaves, or something

Arne
We have prepeared it, your majesty, just in case

George II
Yes do sing it, I like it very much

Thomas
Ladies… on the count of three.. one, two…

Cibber, Beard and Reinhold
Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves!
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.
Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves!
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.


Scene 10 – Exeter House, Derby / the Prince has gathered his commanders for a council of war

Charlie
My cabinet, this is the vital hour
Carlisle has fallen, Lancashire is won
The bridge at Shakestone firmly in our power
The road lies open for to seize London
When English Jacobites shall surely rise
& with them all the gallantry of France
& crowns shall be reclaim’d, let’s grasp the prize
If we continue with our bold advance
We could be in Whitehall within the week
Come gentlemen, gather thy thoughts & speak

Lochiel
Ah would say march, your presence in this land
Has sparked a widespread panic rarely seen
If hardy Northern folk wo’ make a stand
The chances of the South standing seem lean
Friends o’ the King were the first dugs to flee
Spreading terror tae London’s grave concern
Whose banks are being emptied o’ money
Then whit will buy the bread their soldiers earn
While royal armies in their meagre league
Outmaneuvered & saddled wi’ fatigue.

Murray
My sacred liege, ye are the cavalier
& with advancing I cannot agree
At any point the redcoats may appear
We court romance or court reality
Cumberland is at Stone, not long delayed
Bradstreet says nine thousand at Northampton
Between us & the North their tarries Wade
& thirty thousand clog Finchley Common,
With winter coming in, the future blurr’d
Of yer promised Frenchmen there is no word…

Maclean
My liege, a’ speak for all the loyal clans
Warriors ready to gi ye their lives
It has been many moons since Prestonpans
They’d rather pass the winter wi’ their wives
No wi’ the English & their crude weather
Gi’ us the crystal lochs & thistle wylde
The meadows, the moorlands & the heather
Oor hearts are wi’ the glens, there let us war
Wi’ all those royal clansmen brutes reviled
Settle auld scores & Scotland overawe

Charlie
These words you bare are arrows to my heart
Why would ye want to waive the victory
If things shall not be finished, then why start
There seems some base betrayal close to me
But very well, tell my heroic men
Being unsure when Louis will invade
Let us retreat upon the sad morrow
When I hope this ardour shall never fade
For we may never come this way again
& this day be our eternal sorrow

D’Eguiles
Upon the march to London town
The Prince beset by spies
His Highlanders have let him down
He turns back north with weary frown
Hiding his teary eyes


Scene 11 – The Maclean village – Morag & a pregnant Rosie are at work waulking & fulling cloth

Rosie
I tell you ma, the boys have it right easy, while they’re off seeing the world, getting up to god knows what, we’re left here doing twice the work – & me in my state

Morag
Get used to it lassie – you know, I’ve come to think that the reason the boys have their little feuds & rush off to war at the drop off a kilt, is just to get out of doing an honest days work on the crofts

Rosie
As if they do anyway

Enter Fergus

Fergus
That’s a little harsh don’t you think

Rosie
Fergus – my love – what are you doing here

Fergus
I thought I’d slip away to see ma wee sweetheart – I’m sick of war now anyway, all I want to do is hold you in my arms

Rosie
Ah Fergus, come here, I missed ya

They embrace

Morag
Its grand to see you, lad, how ya keeping

Fergus
Och I’m fine, a bit worn oot from trekking up & down the whole island, but I’m in good fettle

Rosie
Have you not noticed anything different about me Fergus

Fergus
Well, I didna wanna say, but you have filled out a wee bit like

Rosie
A wee bit!! I’m six months pregnant lad

Fergus
You are – am I –

Rosie
We’re gonna have a bairn

Fergus
My dear Rosie -you’ve made me the happiest man alive

Morag
& I the happiest woman – my first grandchild – so Fergus how are my boys

Fergus
Fine, fine, not a scratch – the last time I was with the army they were besieging Stirling- but its no way to wage a war that – Falkirk was fine – an open field & an open foe – but attacking castles – its not the Highland way – believe me, I’m not the only one to leave the lines in the middle of the night

Rosie
We’ve been worried – the rebellion seems to be slowing down, tae be coming back north day-by-day

Fergus
Aye – there’s gonna be a bloody reckoning & soon – the Prince is determined on it – his dynasty died at Derby I reckon – the lads have already started calling that damned day black Friday – I wasnae that bothered myself, I dinna wanna die for some perfumed French prince – especially when the most beautiful girl in the world was waiting for me back hame

Morag
That beautiful girl’s father wouldn’t appreciate that kind of talk Fergus – he’d think you were a coward

Fergus
Ah, bollox to princes & kings, Morag – I just want to do what’s right – Rosemary will ya marry me my darlin

Rosie
Of course I will Fergus Maclean

Morag
Aw you two love birds… let me go & cook you up a feast lad, you must be awfa hungry after that hike

Fergus
Aye that I am, I’ve only had a couple of biscuits in the past few days

Morag
Well it looks like I’ll have to kill us a chicken

Exit Morag

Rosie
I’m so glad to have you back darlin, its been too quiet without the lads around

Fergus
Ah you too Rosie – I saw no lass fairer than you in the whole of Scotland, & England to for that matter – you were always in my thoughts, morning noon & night – I’ve written a song on the way hame

Rosie
Have you

Fergus
Aye, well I worked oot that its 500 miles to derby – & 500 miles back – that’s a thoosand miles by ma reckoning – & every step of the way I was singing for you

500 MILES

When I wake up yeah I know I’m gonna be
I’m gonna be the man who wakes up next to you
When I go out yeah I know I’m gonna be
I’m gonna be the man who goes along with you
If I get drunk yes I know I’m gonna be
I’m gonna be the man who gets drunk next to you
And if I haver yeah I know I’m gonna be
I’m gonna be the man who’s havering to you

But I would walk 500 miles
And I would walk 500 more
Just to be the man who walked 1000 miles
To fall down at your door

When I’m working yes I know I’m gonna be
I’m gonna be the man who’s working hard for you
And when the money comes in for the work I’ll do
I’ll pass almost every penny on to you

When I come home yeah I know I’m gonna be
I’m gonna be the man who comes back home to you
And if I grow old well I know I’m gonna be
I’m gonna be the man who’s growing old with you

But I would walk 500 miles
And I would walk 500 more
Just to be the man who walked 1000 miles
To fall down at your door

When I’m lonely yes I know I’m gonna be
I’m gonna be the man whose lonely without you
When I’m dreaming yes I know I’m gonna dream
Dream about the time when I’m with you.

Enter Morag

Morag
Quick, Duncan’s coming

Rosie
O hide Fergus

Fergus
I’m nae gonna hide fae no-one

Enter Duncan

Duncan
So Fergus, you decided to take a wee holiday did ya

Fergus
What if I did – I’ve done my bit – Ive fought at Prestonpans & Falkirk – I’ve walk’d a thoosand miles risking ma life fae your prince

Duncan
Oor Prince

Fergus
Im not interested in princes, me – just my cattle, my soon-to-be wife, & oor new baby

Duncan
Look lad, don’t try ma patience – while I’m ya chief, ye’ll do as ya told – as long as you rent my land, you’re mine boy,

Fergus
No more war, sir, I cannot face it again

Duncan
Look, Fergus, we need every man doon Inverness, – while you are a Maclean you will do as you are told – if you don’t come, I’ll take all your cattle – & set fire to your rooves & wee Rosie’s as well –

Fergus
Ah thats not fair

Duncan
Its the Highland way

Fergus
Alright, I’ll come

Duncan
Good,you can help me round up the rest of deserters, starting with old Archibald & his sons

Fergus
See you when I’m back Rosie… I love you

Exit Duncan & Fergus

Morag
He’ll be fine love – hes a braw lad that one

Rosie
I’m following him mother- I have tae

Morag
You’re in no condition lass

Rosie
I’ve got to – I maight never see him again – I have to stick to him as a limpet clings to a sea-rock

Morag
Alright lass, but be careful, a bloodthirsty enemy pays no heed to sex or age

Rosie
I’ll be as cunning as a fox, mother, don’t you worry

Exit Rosie

Morag
Och, so I’ve just killed a chicken for nothing

————-

Scene 12 – The Macleans are marching through Scotland

MARCHING ON WITH CHARLIE

I’m marching on with Charlie
I’m marching far from home
& when I march wi Charlie
A never march alone
I got my chieftan stood beside me
& in that man I trust
I’ll always be a highlander
Until I’m turned to dust

We’re marching on with Charlie
We’re marching far from home
& when we march wi Charlie
We never march alone
I got my chieftan stood beside me
& in that man we trust
I’ll always be a highlander
Until I’m turned to dust

I am marching on, marching,
Marching on with Charlie Boy

I’m marching on wi Charlie
Im marching fight to fight
& when I march wi Charlie
I’ll always march wi might
Got my brothers stood beside me
As solid as the stones
I’ll always be a highlander
Until Im turned to bones

We’re marching on wi Charlie
We’re marching fight to fight
& when we march wi Charlie
We’ll always march wi might
Got my brothers stood beside me
& in that man we trust
I’ll always be a highlander
Until I’m turned to dust

I’m marching on wi Charlie
Up by the Moray Shore
I’m marchin on wi Charlie
Down to Drumossie Moor
I’ll find an English redcoat
& slice a bloody spray
I’ll always be a highlander
Until my dying day

Marching on, marching on,
Marching on with Charlie Boy


THE CONCHORDIA FOLIO

“Its worth a pop, right, to try & knock
Shakespeare off his feffin’ perch!”

 

35062508_10156430365647520_5136386788406853632_n.jpg

Interview: Damian Beeson Bullen

Charlie: Scenes 5-8

Scene 5 : Edinburgh Cross

A crowd is anticipating the arrival of the Bonnie Prince. Two milkmaids, Jennie & Mary, are among them. Enter Annie, a third milkmaid.

Annie
Girls! The highland army has entered the city gates – their blue bonnets are bobbin up & down the Royal Mile like the waves on the windy Forth

Jenny
We should hide oorsells, I’ve heard tales of what that randy bunch of sex-starved maniacs get up to

Mary
I dinnae ken – I wouldn’t mind a bit of a highland fling, myself

Annie
Never mind the Highlanders, they’re but smelly bullocks the lot of em, but I’ve heard the Prince looks like an angel

Jenny
Good god, you’re right, here he comes now

Mary
He’s absolutely gorgeous

Jenny
Aye, look at his graceful mein & manly locks!

Annie
Hands off girls – I saw him first

Enter the Prince, Murray & Lochiel, with various other elements of the army

Murray
Welcome to Edinburgh, sir

Charlie
A most beautiful city – it reminds me somewhat of Firenze

Jenny
Oh my days – he sounds so sexy with that foreign accent

CHARLIE IS MY DARLIN’

Am Dm Am, Am F E am
E Am E Am, F C Dm Am E

Charlie he’s my darling,
my darling, my darling,
Charlie he’s my darling,
the young Chevalier.

Twas on a Monday mornin
Right early in the year
When Charlie came to our town
The Young Chevalier.

An’ Charlie he’s my darling,
my darling, my darling,
Charlie he’s my darling,
the young Chevalier.

As he cam’ marchin’ up the street
The city for to view
Right there he spied a bonnie lass
As she towards him drew

An’ Charlie he’s my darling,
my darling, my darling,
Charlie he’s my darling,
the young Chevalier.

Jenny sits on his knee

He set his Jenny on his knee,
All in his Highland dress;
For brawlie weel he ken’d the way
To please a bonny lass.

An’ Charlie he’s my darling,
my darling, my darling,
Charlie he’s my darling,
the young Chevalier.

Lochiel
You two girls, the Prince & his army will be needing milk, & lots of it – now get to work, & you will be suitably rewarded

Annie
But Jenny’s a milkmaid too, she should help

Charlie
Im afraid she will be attending to some personal business of mine

Murray
Now off with ya ya trollops, get to work

Mary & Annie
It’s upon yon heathery mountain,
And down yon scroggy glen,
We daur na gang a milking,
For Charlie and his men.

An’ Charlie he’s my darling, my darling, my darling,
Charlie he’s my darling, the young Chevalier.


Scene 6 – It is night, near Tranent

The Macleans are gather’d on the night before the Battle of Prestonpans

David
So son, are ye ready for yer first battle

Eric
Aye da – ah reckon so

David
Dinnae worry lad – Ive fought in five battles – & Ill be alive for five more

Angus
Stick with us & you’ll do no wrong Eric

Fergus
Dae ye have any advice Angus

Angus
All you need to do is shout like the devil & run like the wind

David
Then spill as much English blood as your god allows –

Angus
Aye, & dinnae let the sound of gunfire make your flesh cautious lads

Eric
What should I do when I’m face-to-face with a redcoat

David
Well boy – you look him straight in the eyeball… Then you kick him in the nuts & cut out his guts as he’s dropping – trust me, he wont be getting back up

Angus
Hey lads, have you seen my scars

Eric
Yes granda, aboot a thousand times

Angus
This one here’s the best – hand to hand combat with a seven foot English bastard – if he’d cut me just half an inch to the left he’d have had my heart oot

Fergus
What was your first battle like, Angus?

Angus
I remember it like it was yesterday – when I was barely a wee laddie I found myself marching with the redoubtable Dundee – doon at the pass of Killiecrankie – I fought under Lord George Murray on the very same field as Rob Roy McGregor & his mad rascals

Eric
I’m so excited for my first, I cannae wait

Angus
Ah, but grandson, war’s no pretty thing, I saw a lot of good lads die on those bloody slopes – let me sing you a song

THE BRAES OF KILLIEKRANKIE

An’ ye had been where I hae been
Ye wadna been sae cantie-o
An’ ye had seen what I hae seen
On the braes o’ Killiecrankie-o

I fought at land, I fought at sea
At hame I fought my auntie-o
But I met the Devil and Dundee
On the braes o’ Killiecrankie-o

The bauld pitcur fell in a furr
And Clavers gat a clankie-o
Or I had fed an Athol gled
On the braes o’ Killiecrankie-o

It’s nae shame, it’s nae shame
It’s nae shame to shank ye-o
There’s sour slaes on Athol braes
And the de’ils at Killiecrankie-o

An’ ye had been where I hae been
Ye wadna been sae cantie-o
An’ ye had seen what I hae seen
On the braes o’ Killiecrankie-o

Enter Maclean

Maclean
Boys, listen hear, you can save yer singing til after the battle – Lord Murray says we’ll be off at four in the morning – that’s two hours before dawn – apparently he’s found a track through the marshes so we’ll be coming right behind Jonnie Cope & his boys – they won’t stand a chance, that’s if you boys are up for it

David
You can count on us Duncan

Maclean
Good lads – I’ll see you all at four

David
You heard the chief, wed be better get some sleep boys, we’ll want tae have all us energy for the charge – good night to you all

All
Night

Fergus
Ah bollox! Has anyone got a spare blanket… Eric budge up pal – Let me share yours

Eric
Get off

Fergus
Go on…


Scene 7 – 21st September 1745, fields south of Prestonpans

The Bonnie Prince, Murray, Lochiel, Maclean & other chiefs are in counsel before the Battle of Prestonpans

Murray
Gorgeous morning yer highness, Prince of Wales
A wonderful manoeuvre come to pass
As the English sat at their stakes like snails
Yer army made its way thro the morass
Tracked thro the marshes, measuring their stealth
& now rest hard upon his other flank,
But not for long! the boys did toast yer health
& for this, Grace of God, did duly thank
Those men who eat dry crust & lie on straw
Shall fecht like kings, now watch them charge to war!

Charlie
Good work Lord Murray, now take up the right
A cannonball shall signal the attack
& now sir Jonathan your men must fight
Not slip away as at Corrieyairack
That cuckold marched two thirds of the kingdom
Not one chieftan has proffered him his sword
Let us announce the end of that empire
Ye gentlemen, ye warriors, now come
Join me in solemnity to our lord
‘Gloria Angele Dei!’ now men, fire!

After an exchange of artillery the Highland army embarks on its charge

Maclean
See how they gan! & what a gory sound
The highland roar, as if the Earth did quake
With furious groan, come see their cannons pound
Brave Camerons, line gis an awfa’ shake
But on they run! & wi’ a mighty crack
Oor muskets reap those eves o’ redcoat corn
& now they rush intae the killing ground,
By broadsword & scyth’d pitchfork limbs be torn
Carrying great slaughter to the English
To be in England, aye, their dying wish!

Lochiel
Sweet salutations sire, yer battles won
Peer thro the smoke & see those fleeing shapes
An entire English army on the run
Lord Percy shall see none of them escapes
The ghoul of Hanover must bare defeat
The field is littered with his bastard dead
Back to Berwick flies Jonnie Cope’s retreat
Wi’ not one of ‘is bayonets stain’d red
Tae praise this day there is nae better word
Tis Victory! God bless King James the Third

Charlie
Ours is the day, the field, the glory
Go spread its fame – fly north, south, east & west
Fly to Vienna, London & Paris,
Fly to Ferrol, Ostend, Dunkerque & Brest
& let us war! But ‘fore the march we sound
Carry the wounded to a better bed
At Holyrood let casks of wine be found
To toast our heroes & libate the dead
The motions of destiny are at hand,
Come tomorrow let us invade England

D’Eguiles
The Bonnie Prince has won the fray
Beside the fair Forth sands
The Highland army in his pay
Has never known a better day
Their fates are in his hands


Scene 8 : Tranent

The Macleans are gather’d after the battle

Angus
So Fergus, how did you find your first battle

Fergus
Aye, it was geat – I loved to see the English scattered like sheep

Angus
Aye, bottle-necked feartie-cats the lot of them

Eric
Here comes the chief

David & Duncan arrive with a barrel of Brandy & a bag of cups

David
Lads, the Prince has order’d casks of brandy to be opened to drink the king, his father’s health – each clan gets twa

Angus
Great stuff, I love a drop of the old French nectar

David
{Handing out the glasses}
Here you go lads

Duncan
To the King over the water

All
The King over the water

David
So lads, the chief’s got a few words to say

Duncan
Aye I do – a magnificent effort today lads, but its only the beginning – one battle does not make a war – grand estate or humble cottage, we clansmen of the north, we poet-patriots, have sworn to help the Prince in this enterprise wherever it may go – we will be inexcusable before god & man if we do not do all in their power to assist & support our undertaking, even into England if the Prince wills it – so ,enjoy tonight, you deserve it, & I’m sure there’ll many more nights like these as we march with Charlie

David
Well said, Duncan

Everybody
Aye

Angus
Let us shake hands with ruin & stare death in the eye, for the esteemed cause of King & Country

Fergus
Has somebody got a fiddle, lets get this party started!

HEY JOHNNIE COPE

The drums of war were sounding far,
When Johnnie Cope cam tae Dunbar,
When Johnnie Cope cam tae Dunbar,
Upon a misty Morning

Cope Sent a a Message tae Dunbar
Said; ‘Charlie meet me if you daur,
‘And I’ll learn you the arts of war,
‘If you’ll meet me in the morning’

Chorus:
Hey Johnnie Cope are you wauking yet,
Or are your drums a- beating yet?
If you were wauking I would wait,
Tae gang tae The Coals in the morning

When Charlie looked this letter upon,
He drew his sword the scabbard from,
Come follow me my merry men,
And we’ll meet Johnnie Cope in the morning.

When Johnnie Cope he heard o’ this,
He thought it wouldna be amiss,
To hae a horse in readiness,
To flee awa’ inthe morning.

Fye now Johnnie, get up and run,
The Highland bagpipes mak a din,
It’s better tae sleep in a hale skin.
For ’twill be a bloody morning.

When Johnnie Cope tae Dunbar came,
They spiered at him, ‘where’s a’ your men?’
‘The Deil confound me gin I ken,
For I left them a this morning.’

Now Jonnie troth, ye were na blate,
Tae come wi’ news o’ your ain defeat,
And leave your men in sic a straight
So early in the morning.

‘Faith’, quo Johnnie, ‘I had sic fegs,
Wi’ their claymores and their philabegs,
If I face them again Deil brak ma legs,
So I wish you a’ good morning.’


THE CONCHORDIA FOLIO

“Its worth a pop, right, to try & knock that Shakespeare
Off his feffin’ perch!”

 

35062508_10156430365647520_5136386788406853632_n.jpg

Interview: Damian Beeson Bullen

Charlie: Scenes 1-4

****

Scene 1: The Palace of Versaille

King Louis XV is sat in state, attended by his ministers. Enter the Marshall D’Eguiles with the Young Pretender, Charles Edward Stuart

D’Eguiles
I offer thee, your regal majesty,
Charles Edward Stuart, son of Scottish James
By his mother, pretty Clementina,
Reer’d mid the Muti Palace of fair Rome
The chosen child of Bourbon destiny
The hearts of half of Europe are in flames
Eager for his sword to start the battle
Well versed in war at the siege of Gaeta,
Expert with sword, master of the saddle
He rides to reclaim his ancestral home.

Charlie
Your majesty! We share a crucial bond
The Bourbon blood flows nobly thro’ my veins
For Catholic kings rule men, that fact is fair,
But now it is a Protestant that reigns
My legal birthright, L’Ecosse Ancienne
With her the rest of regal Albion
Where north to south command I loyal men
We sacred Stuarts ready to restore –
With me Paris speaks a peace with London
Tis now or never for to go to war.

Louis XV
Greetings, Dauphin, fond welcome here in France,
Thy sojurn shall run well at my expense
& furnished with suitable elegance,
Good tidings my little mercurial
The time has come to seek the recompense
For since we won the field of Fontenoy
The British lodged in Flanders to a man
Barely a musket elsewhere to employ
& so, young prince, you may have your battle
What are the rudiments kept by thy plan?

Charlie
I am ready, your highness, & god bless!
Ready to don my native highland dress
Protecting all honour & happiness
& die at their head, not live in exile
& play a role that’s worthy of my birth
To lay three crowns before my father’s feet
& all those who opposed him grant pardon –
Remember Otterburn & Bannockburn!
With broadswords & muskets my mighty share
I take my leave, adeui, I must prepare.

Exit the Bonnie Prince

Louis XV
Oui – there he flies, a charismatic bird,
The British expedition is begun
Let all his naval duties be deferred
Bedeck his galleons with heavy gun
& we shall send a storm across the seas
Thus… move an army to the Northern coast –
Ravishers of the Anglo-Saxon host!
Our enemy shall soon be on his knees
O seventeen hundred & forty-five
Mon Deiu! These days dashing days to be alive!

D’Eguiles
My name is the Marquis D’Eguiles
An agent of the crown
The Prince has gain’d the royal seal
His sparkling eyes & all their zeal
I follow out of town


Scene 2 : A Highland Bothy

Three generations of highland men – Angus, David, Eric – with David’s wife, Morag & their daughter, Rosie, are gathered for an evenings music & play

Eric
So you think its true father, what they’re saying down in Inverness

David
I don’t know lad, there’s been many a rumour before, its been a long time since the first Pretender came to Scotland – thirty years by my reckoning

Angus
& what a proper collieshangle that was, eh David, a real mess

David
Aye, father

Rosemary
Grandpa – I love those tales of yours from the great rebellion – wont you tell us one of yer poems

David
Aye, the one about the battle of Sherrifmuir – it is one of my favourites

Angus
I cannae remember ithat

Eric
Go on Grandpa

David
He remembers it alright. I think he might need a little… inspiration – Morag, fill his glass my love

Morag
Here you are Sir Poet

Angus
Thanks lass, ah… its all coming back the noo…
There’s some say that we won
& some say that they won
& some say that none won at a,’ man
But of one thing I’m sure
That at Sheriffmuir,
A battle there was that I saw, man
& we ran, & they ran:
& they ran, & we ran;
But we ran & they ran awa,’ man!

Enter Fergus

Fergus
I love that poem

Eric
Fergus

Fergus & Eric embrace

Morag
Hello, Fergus lad, welcome

David
Have you been with the cattle

Fergus
I’ve been a-herding all day

David
You’ll be thirsty then, do you want a drink

Fergus
Aye, thattle be bonnie

Angus
Get the man a glass Morag – Fergus, good to see ya – come & sit doon here lad, next to my Rosemary – she’s taken quite a shine to yer y’know

Rosie
Grandpa!

Eric
Its true, you’re all she goes on about – look she’s gone bright red

Fergus
Och, shes even bonnier when she’s blushing – so Rosie, do you want to take a wee stroll later, maybe, around the loch

Rosie
Aye, I’d love to

Fergus
Have you heard the news, by the way

David
Of course, but what do you know

Fergus
Well… old Tam says his wife’s sister’s brother was talking to a man who’s ain brother was waiting on a ship doon at Ullapool

Angus
Aye

Fergus
That ship was ready to meet the prince at sea

Morag
Charles Edward Stewart, such a bonnie name

Angus
He’s coming alright, I can feel it in my bones – they always start throbbing before a battle

Eric
Duncan’s sure to pin his badge to the Prince’s chest

David
Would you fight with the Macleans again father

Angus
Of course – I’ve only just turned sixty – I feel as fit a fiddle lad – besides, he’s our rightful prince, remember that – my father died fighting for the Pretender back in the ’15 – If my da was brave enough to fight for what he believed in, what we believd in, then so should I be

David
Aye, & me ‘n’ all father

Eric
I’ll be there, by your side, giving faithful service to the Prince

David
Good lad – there were three generations of us at Sherrifmuir too – your grandpappy would be proud to hear such talk

Morag
Aye, god keep his soul – boys, let me fill your glasses, we can make a toast – to the King over the water

All
the King over the water

David
& his fine lad, Charlie

All
To Charlie

COME O’ER THE STREAM CHARLIE

Come o’er the stream, Charlie
Dear Charlie, brave Charlie
Come o’er the stream, Charlie
And dine with MacLean
And though you be weary
We’ll mak’ your heart cheery
And welcome our Charlie
And his loyal train
We’ll bring down the track deer,
we’ll bring down the black steer
The lamb from the breckan and doe from the glen
The salt sea we’ll harry and bring to our Charlie
The cream from the bothy, and curd from the pen

And you shall drink freely the dews of Glen-Sheerly
That stream in the starlight when kings dinna ken
And deep be your meed of the wine the grapes bleed
To drink to your sire, and his friend Maclean
Our heath-bells shall trace you
the maids to embrace you
And deck your blue bonnet wi’ flowers of the brae
And the loveliest Mari in all Glen-M’Quarry
Shall lie in your bosom till break of the day

If aught will invite you or more will delight you
‘Tis ready a troop of our bold Highlandmen
Shall range on the heather with bonnet and feather
Strong arms and broad claymores, three hundred & ten


SCENE 3: Glenfinnan

The Bonnie Prince & his entourage are recently landed from France / a number of highland chiefs await him, including Lochiel & Maclean

Charlie
Men of the Highlands & the Western Isles
Behold your right & proper royal heir
Who since the shame of sick king Billy’s guiles
We Stuarts usurped from their regal share
My father’s father fought before the Boyne
At Sherrifmuir my father’s shafts did fly
When truth & justice was the only coin
& mettle tested by a clansman’s might
Amidst these misty mountains towered high
I raise my standard for the Jacobite

Maclean
Ma prince, ye are as bonnie as the sun
& ahm-a bound with honour to yer course
The age of gory glory hus begun
I offer ye ma heart, ma sword, ma force
As dae the Stewarts & the bold MacRaes
& many other clansmen hangin youth
Strong boned & gallus fer the coming days
Fired up fer kennin that we fecht fer truth
& goch upon the loch, whose is that boat!
Och aye! by that MacDonald ah have fought

A small boat lands on the shore – a messenger jumps out

Macdonald
Yer highness, as ah bow before yer feet
A’ bring grave parlance from the men of Skye
Gallant MacLeod & MacDonald of Sleat
Are not to join their voices wi’ yer cry
To gan wi’ ye must end in their defeat
They’d rather remain chieftain than to die
& reckon ye shid sail back hame tae France
Fer now yer cause belongs across the sea
Yer venture, altho wrought fae high romance,
Can only end wi’ woe & tragedy

Lochiel
Gan coward! Gan back to the Cuillin range
& tae the Campbells, McKays & Munroes
Bide those lads their allegiance flashes strange
When in brave hearts the rose of battle grows –
Och! see ‘em row, a flight that will be shared
When we cun meet the redcoats on the field
As soon as our braw army is prepared
We’ll march wi’ musket, claymore & wi’ shield
Tae slay the sassenachs of Jonnie Cope
& aw them that survive drape fae the rope!

Charlie
Your words of gold are stardust to mine ears
& here beneath the flutter of this flag
I sense the passion of these sixty years
Prometheus descending from his crag
Being thy regent in my father’s name
We walk the way of happy victory
These islands shall be partial to his fame
& all our subjects live here tenderly
But first the rumble of the guns must start
Come, friends, let us to Edinburgh depart

D’Eguiles
The star has landed on the shore
His standard smartly raised
The Highlands are aloft for war
Tho some his prompt return implore
He marches on unfazed


SCENE 4: The Highland Countryside

Rosie & Eric are just getting dressed after making love

Fergus
Good morning Rosemary

Rosie
Morning my darlin’

Fergus
Ive been watching you sleep, you look like an angel

Rosie
Last night felt… special, Fergus

Fergus
Aye lass, we were born to be together, you & I

Rosie
But I’m worried… war’s not a joke

Fergus
Don’t say it lass – none of that dying business is written in our stars

Rosie
You dinna ken what’ll happen Fergus, no-one does

Fergus
Och – it wont be long before the Prince is back on the throne & all his loyal soldiers shacked up in one of them big castles doon south telling the Emglish what tae dae

Rosie
Do you think we’d have servants too

Fergus
Aye, of course, we’ll have a cook, a gardener & even a nanny for each of oor ten bairns

Rosie
How many?

Fergus
At least ten – we gonna have so many bairns we’ll be making a whole clan of our own

Rosie
Och you’re such a dreamer Eric

Fergus
& they’re all full of you lass – come here

ROSY MORN

Fergus
Im alive
Im alive for you
& all my love for you
Is burnin strong

You are my rosemary
& like the Hebredes
You are in my melodies
When Im in song

Chorus
& makes me sing
This song for you
When rosy morning
Keeps shining through

Rosie
All of those things you do
They keep me inter you
Just like the winter dew
You taste of spring

& when you take off your clothes
You make me curl up my toes
Your back unfurls as it grows
An angel wing

Chorus
& makes me sing
This song for you
When rosy morning
Keeps shining through

Fergus
You are my silver rose
& when my lovin grows
It falls like summer snows
In golden corn

& just one look at you
Gets me all co-ca choo
Some drop of silver dew
This rosy morn

Chorus
& makes me sing
This song for you
When rosy morning
Keeps shining through

You are my silver rose
& like a flight of rainbows
Im never comin down
This rosy morn

Enter Eric

Eric
Fergus, come on lad, I’ve been looking all over for ya – the burning cross cover’d the island last night, mountain to mountain it went – the Macleans are going to war

Fergus
Already

Eric
Aye – today we’re meeting Duncan doon the glen – we’re off to join the Prince

Rosie
Do you think you can win brother

Eric
Och, aye – we’re invincible, just one blast of our highland lungs & that fat German pig doon London will be swimming the channel to France – now move it Fergus, we’ve got a war tae fight!

Fergus
I’ll see you soon Rosie, try not to fret lass…

Rosie
Try not to die, alright

They kiss & the men exit – Rosie in tears


THE CONCHORDIA FOLIO

“Its worth a pop, right, to try & knock that Shakespeare

Off his feffin’ perch!”

35062508_10156430365647520_5136386788406853632_n.jpg

Interview: Damian Beeson Bullen

Malmaison: Scenes 12-14


Scene 12: Outside Malmaison

Maria Waleweska, Lucien, Caulaincourt, Gourgaud & all the staff. All are in civilian clothes.

Lucien
With my brother set to leave forever,
As Alexander died in the palace
Of Nebuchadnezzar, & as Ceasar
Was assassinated in the Senate
I fear this is the age’s denoument,
& Malmaison the fatal mortal stage
Where glory throttl’d from a demi-god.

Maria
You are the best of all your family
Most loyal to your brother

Lucien
As are you
There are many who, in prosperity,
Once flattered & fawn’d him, those who bow’d down
The lowest, those who wiped dust from his feet
With their foreheads, those rais’d to high office,
Enrich’d by most exalted dignities,
For the most part loaded him with insults
Witnessing adversarial events

Caulaincourt
I notice how the good he did ignor’d
While error’d handfuls catapulted wide
Callous pretexts tearing him to pieces.

Gourgaud
Remember we are now a republic,
In honest memories of the masses
He was an active citizen of France
Unpapal father of a family
By foreign forces only overthrown

Enter Napoloen

Napoleon
Monseiurs et madames, good morning to all
What is the situation in Paris?

Caulaincourt
The government proclaims a state of siege
But the city is all tranquility

Gourgaud
The Prussians, however, hurrying here
With cavalry & horse artillery
& infantry, two battallions worth

Lucien
Your life is in terrible danger, sire,

Gourgaud
We must cross the bridge at Catoul quickly

Napoleon
Yes, yes, yes, yes, but why the glum faces
The ocean is so beautiful in June,
& we are going for a pleasure sail.

Lucien
The passports?

Napoleon
The passports will soon appear
I cannot see the least opposition
Would be offer’d to a western voyage,
Money the only obstacle I see,
We will be made to pay royal prices

Achille
We have packed several chests of jewels
Numeral years shall pass before them spent

Napoleon
& books, books, did you instruct Barbier
Make best selections from my library

Achille
I did sire, a choice & wide selection
There are Greek & Roman historians

Napoleon
Plutarch

Achille
Yes, of course

Napoleon
Is there a Bible

Achille
Yes

Napoleon
Good, Americans are religious
To their marrow, did you pack my Homer

Achille
Yes, sire, the Iliad, the Odyssey,
There are encyclopedias, dictionaries,
& a complete set of the Moniteur,
You’ll have modern dramas also; Racine
Voltaire & Corneille

Napoleon
Good, I love Corneille
Despite of imperfections he will choose
Always a subject lofty as my dreams

Hortense
All has been attended to & succinct
Your library will join you at the ships

Lucien
I wish our route was not so linear,
Clever rabbits dig several burrows,
I sense you may be riding to a trap

Napoleon
We shall be safe, foreplanning ensures this,
Complexity invites complications,
As long as we stay focussed on the goal
Our futures remain in states of control,
A few days hence I quit France forever
To fix my spot in some natural clime
To recieve all my glorious soldiers
Once more, to reminisce & share old wounds,
Yes, all of my companions in arms
Will find asylum with me, veterans
Of when we bent the world within our will.

Hortense
Father, all the carriages are ready

Napoleon
How many in the suite

Hortense
There are seven
In total

Joseph
Each one, sire, is bearing arms

Napoleon
My swords

Joseph
Yes sire

Napoleon
You have pack’d Aboukir

Joseph
& the Champ de Mai, there are seven pairs
Of pistols, & your repeating rifle

Napoleon
& the Sevres factory porcelain

Joseph
Yes sire

Achille
There are two field beds with cards, books,
The calesh furnish’d with a steel canteen,
Toilet articles, little rolls of gold.

Napoleon
Then we are set, as tiny footsteps start
Undertakings of epic adventure
Let us depart, Hortense, my daughter true,
Painful to leave the ones we love the best
Take care of your precious, precocious son,
I sense the noble emperor in him
Come to my arms…

Hortense
Travel safely father

Napoleon walks silently to the carriage, casts a look back at Malmaison.

Napoleon
Wait, we have time, I want to see her room

Napoleon returns to the house

Caulaincourt
But Sire

Napoleon brushes passed the group

Lucien
Let him go

Hortense
I will follow him


Scene 13: Josephine’s Bedroom

Enter Napoleon He stands in silence staring at the bed. Enter Hortense.

Napoleon
I should never divorced your mother
I am Corsican, & when we feel fate
Entwines two stars, let them not separate
Else rises ancestral superstition
To consume precious destiny with ghouls,
Hers was an early death, & mine exile…
Tell me how she died, tho’ it destroys me.

Hortense
To please the Tsar she left a heated room
Drove off together by open carriage
She wore a flatteringly flimsy dress,
& caught a chill, went coughing to this bed
Terrible melancholy descended
Her cough worsening, her chest lead-heavy,
She barely could breathe, began to lose hope,
Inflammation of the whole trachea
The doctors said, a case beyond extremes,
& dress’d in rose-colour’d satin she died,
But in the moments approaching the end,
I heard her whisper…

Josephine
Bonaparte, Elba,
The King of Rome

Hortense
Bertrand administer’d
The last sacrament, she had pass’d away
As gently to meet death as she met life

Napoleon
Adieu, Josephine, forever Adieu

Hortense
Father, I know this is emotional
But you really have to go

Napoleon
Yes I know
But leave me alone a few moments… please

Exit Hortense / Napoleon stares at the bed

A musical montage of the songs is heard; the choruses of Lucky Star, Loversong & Signet Dynasty, then Josephine singing

Josephine
Sweet angel of mine
Won’t you come up to my house sometime
I’ll unblock my windows, unlock my doors
I’m yours

Napoleon
Sweet angel of mine
I’ve been thinking about you all the time
I’l forget the heroes
Give up the wars
I’m yours


Scene 14: The HMS Bellerophon / The Solent off Portsmouth

The HMS Bellephron, below deck. Caulaincourt, Gourgaud & Achille.

Caulaincourt
{groaning}
On leaving Malmaison this not the dream
His Majesty is mostly indisposed,
Our days are passed sploshing this damn’d channel
The sea is rough, our guts churning seasick.

Gourgaud
We wasted too much time in Rochefort

Achille
{looking through window}
The English navy is magnificent
Whenever His Majesty goes on deck
The marines immaculate under arms
Sailors hang from masts & yards like bunting,
Order & cleanliness reigns everywhere
& everything above the water-line
Smooth-scrubb’d with sand, it is most marvellous.

Gourgaud
Appearances are never what they seem,
In what rough hands has he just put himself,
My protests upon English perfidy
On deaf ears fell, deadly resolution,
Implacable enemies possess him,
Napoleon, you are lost forever,
A frightful presentiment tells me so

Napoleon returns from the deck

Napoleon
Every day an infinity flocks
About the Bellepheron, crowds small craft
Collected in close curiosity,
Pressing to see novel Napoleon

Caulaincourt
The interest is admiration, sire,
Their officers are making profound bows
The greater part of men wave hats on high
While pretty ladies flutter handkerchiefs,
If these were masters of your majesty
They would dall raw your carriage to London
Like you were their conqueror, one may say
By your presence alone, the sympathy
Of the English has been, & will be, won.

Napoleon
We hope the higher echelons agree,
It is never without danger to place
Oneself in the hands of one’s enemies,
But better to risk trusting their honour
Than being captur’d as a prisoner,
To the voluntary surrenderer
Compassion wings, singing with good treatment.

Enter Lord Keith

Keith
Your majesty

Napoleon
Lord Keith, welcome aboard,
Permit me a moment to speak my mind
Exposed to rotten factions which divide
My country, & the shocking enmity
Of the Great Powers of Europe, I come
To England to terminate my career,
Throw myself, like Thermistocles, upon
The hospitality of the Britons
Claim protection from your Royal Highness
Most powerful, constant & generous
Of all my enemies,

Lord Keith
The decision
Of all the Allies has been made today
They consider you their joint prisoner
& handed me responsibility
To relay that decison, you shall sail
To Saint Helena come the next good tide
& there, until your passing, shall reside

Napoleon
It is not so! I solemnly protest
For in the face of Heaven & of men
Forcible disposal of my person
Strikes violations thro’ my sacred rights
I was invited upon this vessel
As a guest of England, yet you treat me
Not with courtesy, but imprisonment
You want to make me a Prometheus
I insist I speak with the Prince Regent

Lord Keith
That will not be a possibility

Napoleon
Upon whose command

Lord Keith
The Prime Minister’s

Caulaincourt
Your government is preventing their meeting
Denying an appeal to human reason
Between fellow heads of state, but instead

Napoleon
You treat me like a common criminal,
Condemn’d to some prison hulk off Toulon!

Gourgaud
This was a snare to trap you all along

Caulaincourt
Your government is forfeiting hounour
& sullying its flag

Napoleon
If this vile act
be consummated, it will be in vain
All the talk of English integrity
Of your laws, of your love for liberty,
Whom offering a hospitable hand
A manacle conceal’d in the other.

Lord Keith
The Allies are determined the failure
Of Elba suffers no repetition,
The world grows exhausted of your ego
You shall never be allow’d to set foot
Upon the soil of Europa again,
For when you do the bloodshed is immense,
Incendiary & beyond excuse,
Good day to you sir, you leave in three days.

Exit Lord Keith

Caulaincourt
Your majesty…

Napoleon
Go… leave me… please… please go

Exit All

Napoleon
I suppose it was always to be so,
A visionary seldom understood,
Even rarer permitted to exist
Side-by-side with powerful patriots
Else crumbling social structures haul’d to dust,
So-call’d noble princes fawn at your feet
But Saint Helena’s distant pygmie rock!
This seperation from the universe,
Is like the guillotine that lets heads live
To look bock on the bodies they once moved;
What mortal could experience greater
Vicissitudes of fortune than myself?
My woes are solely lock’d within my heart,
I am powerless to drive them away,
But with this final chapter I feel calm,
Having nothing more to fear from this Earth
My grey frock coat I hang upon its hook
To fight old battles in my memories,
While in the annal’d histories they’ll say
Napoleone di Buonaparte was born…

Fin.


THE CONCHORDIA FOLIO

“Its worth a pop, right, to try & knock
Shakespeare off his feffin’ perch!”

35062508_10156430365647520_5136386788406853632_n.jpg

Interview: Damian Beeson Bullen

Malmaison: Scenes 10-11

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Scene 10: Josephine’s Bedroom

Josephine is alone playing the harp (singing).
Napoleon enters, she does not notice him

Josephine
{singing}
Sweet angel of mine
Wont you come up to my house some time
I’ll unblock my windows
Unlock my doors, I’m yours.

Napoleon
You sing & you play celestially

Josephine
Napoleon Bonaparte, you are here!
What tears of joy flow creases to my cheeks

Napoleon
Embrace me, let them mingle with mine own
{They embrace}
My Josephine, my ever Josephine
My clever Josephine, my rushing heart,
Tumbling waters from the Falls of Delight

Josephine
Such happiness as this renews sorrow
Back in your arms my agonies begin,
Each separation draws on closer Death,
I study physiognomies of shades,
Yes, my destiny must play itself out,
But… it is you who slays me, Bonaparte.

Napoleon
You must show resolution & courage
Do not despair & give yourself away
To melancholy’s fatal spirit snare,
Expelling sunshine from your precious state,
Aspire to contentment, take care of health,
For how you fare my life’s most precious news.

Josephine
It is the silences that destroy me
Not a word for weeks, then all I hear
Is how the King of Rome grows happy, fat,
& how you much you adore your little eaglet,
Such tact is like an elephant gone mad,
Blunt instrument to plague me with terror,
That nothing of our love left permanent,
Unworthy even of former favours,
Banish’d entirely from your memories.

Napoleon
Without you in this world my heart would cease
Its beating like a bust & broken clock,
If I could never whisper Josephine
When suddenly you flood into my mind
I could not bare to dwell upon this Earth,
My tears would swell the oceans & then I
Would drown myself inside them, with my tears,
So, yes our souls’ attachment ever strong,
But if you love me you show me real strength
Of mind, make yourself happy, you cannot
Count on my constant, tender affections,
& there is something, please, to understand,
I shall never be happy nor content
Unless I know your smiles & feelings calm.

Josephine
I understand, I do, but it still hurts
Nevertheless as I was empress
Crown’d, an empress I shall be forever
& with that comes a duty to the court
Of placid perfection in relations,
& so I shall pray most unceasingly
For your Majesty’s constant happiness
Be assured that I shall always respect
Our new relationship, rooted in past
Attachment, & shall call for no new proofs;
I limit myself to ask one favour,
To mitigate the loss of our congress
That you will deign to find a convincement
Proving to myself and my entourage
I hold a small place still in your esteem.

Napoleon
I shall send you jewels from the Kremlin
Neckworn by all tsarinas at the balls,
Tomorrow I depart for Germany
& may be gone some time, Russia is vast,
So here I am to gain my fair refresh
Of your flower face & your fairy flesh!

Josephine
This is a strange adventure Bonaparte
My stoumach knots with anticipations,
For you, & for my son, my brave Eugene,

Napoleon
He marches, yes, his father bids him so,
Twenty-seven thousand Italians
Go with him to the Vistula meeting,
Six hundred thousand join them on the march,
Soon Russia should fall begging at their feet,
The Romans took ten years to conquer Gaul
I calculate I shall need only two
To claim the epic wastes of Scythia
Which Darius fled, which slaughter’d Crassus,
Which cover’d Charles the Twelfth in disasters,
Which envelop’d Valerian in shame,
Which even Alexander beat away!

Josephine
Be ever wary for how many friends
Can counted be in factions, your armee
May be Grand, a dissolute creation,
But more than half the soldiers are not French
& Muscovy so very far from home,
I’ll think of you each day & pray each night,
Protect my son & go with all my love,
Tho’ all your love I know is not return’d
Tell me, how is this new empress of yours?

Napoleon
You wish me to compare?

Josephine
Yes, certainly

Napoleon
As you spread style & grace, Marie Louise
Unfurls simplicity & innocence,
As apart as Arctic & Atlantic
The art of pleasing your constant study
Concealing method, obtaining effect,
Every artifice imaginable
Employed to heighten charms already great
Mysterious, with all suspicionless,
But Marie-Louise ignores artifice
& anything like dissimulation;
All roundabout methods to her unknown.

Josephine
She will not meet me still, she wants nothing
To do with me, such a plain rejection

Napoleon
To jealousy Her Highness is disposed

Josephine
Well I am jealous too, doubly jealous
She has my throne, my only Bonaparte,
& you remain raw with recalcitrance
To all the passion-steel between our souls,
Open the gates, let end the siege of truth,
Come spend a treasure-night, you want it so,
I know, let me rise late in the morning
Explaining to my ladies reasons why?

Napoleon
A thousand times I would, but not tonight
Hard preperations take me to the field,
This war must spurn irregular courses,
When burning spots on the face of the Sun,
I shall return to thee in victory,
Remember our royal reunion
After Austerlitz, we shall celebrate
Again, my triumph, with kisses discreet

Josephine
{pointing through a window}
Behold that bright star shining, it is ours,
It follows you, but if you do not stare
& think of me, it shall fall from the sky
& as our fate decided by the stars
I worry so

Napoleon
Our star is shining still

Jospehine
{flinging arms about his neck & covering his face in kisses}
Write to me often, the waiting is grief
Between ghostly ambrosial letters,
That are my calming balms of bare beauty,
The words contain thy likeness

Napoleon
I shall write
O Heaven, how a heart doth break & bleed!


HEARTBREAKER

Like mountain men & archipelagos
Or young sweethearts sniffing a first red rose
Like monkey men glimpsing a glint of gold
Or distant kin returning to the fold
We are two rabbits sprinting cross the glen
We are two badgers snuggled in their den
We are the thistle of your bonnie land
We are the seaweed strewn across the sand
Hand in hand

My eagle-lashed Latvian poetess
My pearl-eyed raven in her Persian dress
My Spanish pea-hen singing as she comes
My nude Numidian banging djembe drums
We are white birds gliding between the waves
& morning dawnin’ in the Tuscan enclaves
We are midnight on the sea of Gallilee
For we are one in nature, you & me,
Me & you

But Cupid cruelly took away the dream
Me in my river barge & you led by the stream
Twas a sweet & fleeting momentary bliss
When you smiled & blew my soul a tender kiss
Now my heart is broken
& I’ve lost those tokens
Of when we were beautiful back then
Ahaha ahaha ahaha
Take a ride

As I look inside my wayward mind
& feel her kiss again
Ahaha ahaha ahaha
Take a ride….

Now my heart is breaking
(take a ride, take a ride, take a ride)
& I’ve lost those tokens
(say goodbye, say goodbye, say goodbye)
Of when we were beautiful back then

Exit Napoleon – enter Odette & Fleur, weeping maids –  Josephine bursts into tears


Tulips-at-Malmaison.jpg

Scene 11: Malmaison, Gardens

Napoleon is pruning roses in the garden singing an opera air. He is wearing a hunting waistcoat, nankeen pantaloons (with feet), red slippers & a broad-brimm’d straw hat with a narrow black ribbon. Hotense enters carrying a silver tray with glasses of lemonade on it.

Hortense
Good morning, father

Napoleon
& to you, Hortense

Hortense
Your spirits seem light, you slept well I trust

Napoleon
They are, a mix of roses & sunshine.

Hortense
I thought you might try a glass of champagne
Half-water of course

Napoleon
Yes, my lemonade
Again your hospitality outshines
The processions of Rajput palaces
& the principle houses of Europe.

Hortense
Father, drop the frivolous flattery
Have the passports for America come

Napoleon
Not at this time, but doubtless they’ll appear

Hortense
Would it not be better to wait for them
Far away from here, some safe place out west

Napoleon
Tittle-tattle child, we possess time yet,
Come & view the quality of these blooms,
Your mother set new standards of texture,
Scent & size, I begrudg’d her no expense,
Even the English allow’d botanists
& collections to bypass the blockade,
England… the singular crime in their eyes
Was not the conquest of Europe, not so,
But the overthrowing of tradition,
It is if I had cancell’d The Derby,
But there moves inkling implings thro my mind
I want a little cottage & garden
To grow your mother’s roses as a guest
Of His Highness, I declared a world peace
On my return from Moscow, they made me fight,
Surely this allows me the recompense
Of sliding gently into aulden age.

Hortense
I ruminate on trusting the English
& never find a pathway to your gain
America is the land of the free
Where the current passion for liberty
Began & won its battles, London wept
At the loss of its former colonies,
Their mortal foe must thrive in such a place.

Napoleon
This is the most important decision
I shall ever make, the magnanimous
Prince Regent must respect our regal house.

Hortense
It is a grave, grave chance, think of mother
Opining upon this predicament
What would she say?

Napoleon
When my mind fermented
She cast an aura of serenity,
Unchallenging, undemanding of me,
A soothing balm for restless malady,
Then I could see things clean as mountain springs,
Focus on infinitesimal details
Which swerve events one way or another,
Your mother gone I realise my loss,
On countless wretches I have heap’d favours
But what have they latterly done for me?
Marie-Louise has stol’n the King of Rome
& wrapp’d him up in Viennese values,
Abandonato on every side!

Hortense
She never would have left for Vienna,
Her love’s will compelling her to Elba,
She wish’d to bear your exile, but she fear’d
Embarrassment tarnishing your future;
Madame de Stael, return’d to Paris,
Had the impertinence to ask one day
If mother loved you still, would you believe!
Her humour cut to ribbons in a flash,
& said, with concision, to the party
As madame has had the effrontery
Enquiring whether I am still in love
With the emperor – as if I could feel
Less ardently for my soul’s mate today
In his misfortune – I, who never ceas’d
To love him every second I breathe.

Napoleon
Hah, that is sooo her, loyal to the last,
Tell me, the Tsar Alexander was here,
How did they dwell, as soft as he & I?

Hortense
They were two stately stars who pierc’d the murk
That follow’d your first sad abdication
He was here, in Malmaison, at leisure
Admire’d these very roses that you prune,
Promising everything in his power
To conserve mother & my family.

Napoleon
A great & noble man, an Apollo…
& a damn’d stubborn fool, I reach’d Moscow!

Hortense
Father! It is done! The wars are over!

Napoleon
Of course, I lose myself sometimes, go on

Hortense
When the Tsar was here Malmaison bustl’d
Monarchs, crown princes, assorted grand-dukes,
All were here, exacting their privilege,
With mother still an empress to her bones,
Balls, receptions, dinners, it was dazzling.

Lucien Bonaparte

Enter Caulaincourt & Lucien

Caulaincourt
Sire, forgive me, the passports not yet come
The Duke of Wellington has responded
Thro’ Fouche, he has no authority
To answer for the British government

Lucien
We cannot dilly-dally in delay
The Prussians are like leopards set to pounce
We must leave for the coastal ports at once.

Hortense
Papa! It is time to leave Malmaison.

Napoleon pauses, then sighs, the pauses again.

Napoleon
We leave in an hour, send for Las Cases
I wish to commence lessons in English
Straightways in the carriage, waste no more time
I must prepare for my next adventure,
Beyond these mountains of uncertainty
Lie fertile valleys of futurity,
Meet me upon the steps, allez! allez!


THE CONCHORDIA FOLIO

“Its worth a pop, right, to try & knock
Shakespeare off his feffin’ perch!”

35062508_10156430365647520_5136386788406853632_n.jpg

Interview: Damian Beeson Bullen

Malmaison: Scenes 8-9

DSC00415.JPG


Scene 8: Malmaison, Dining Hall

Josephine & Napoleon are sat for dinner but none are touching their food, not speaking – Napoleon is tapping a plate with his spoon – two servants wait nearby, Achille & Joseph Archambault.

Napoleon
Take it away

Achille
Yes sire

Napoleon
& the empress also

Servants begin clearing the table

Napoleon
Let us take some coffee
{to Achille & Joseph}
you may leave

Napoleon & Josephine move to the coffee table. Napoleon pours them both a cup

Napoleon
So many die in Spain, imperil’d force
Raking raw at my imperial crown
Their sacrifice must never fail in vain,
Their swords not stab the loud winds without wounds
The revolution embodies in them
As I, their man of state, its fate upholds
Spreading wide its enlighten’d ideals,
Are you listening to me, Josephine?
From Russia’s icy wastes to the Tagus
From Hamburg to the toe of Italy
Seventy million subjects are mine,
Where prefects & monarchs exist simply
To carry out my will… one thing remains
Beyond control… if tomorrow I die
In battle, everything I have built up
Degenerates into dull nothingness,
I must, I must, I MUST, create an heir,
Else old crown’d heads crawl’d out from under rocks
Resume rotten regimes

Josephine
I’ll try again
The thermal spa at Plombieres-les-bains
Follow strict courses, tonics & potions,
Mineral baths & periodic rest.

Napoleon
These may restore your menses to full flow
But guarantees not your fertility,
Let us abandon contriving events
We both know beloft beyond redemption;
Such motions past, the people pressure me
To sire healthy successor sons, & soon!

Josephine
Then darling, there is one way that we may
Avoid the odium of forc’d rupture,
If it would ever please you so we could
Father a child with another woman,
& let me pretend pregnancy the while
She comes to term, & pay her handsomely

Napoleon
No, no, Doctor Covisart refuses
Anything to do with such proposals
Disclaiming it dishonorable deed!

Josephine
Harsh opinions may slay us, my love,
To circumvent draining situations
Still possible, maybe your family…

Napoleon
Impossible, each of them are unfit
Reprobates of royal insignia
Jerome is feckless, Pauline scandalous,
Incompetent scoundrels all the others,
Grown insubordinate, at drop of scarf
My throat to slash they would not hesitate
On making them monarchs they soon were up
Imagining t’were god who gave them thrones,
Not I, their one singular deity,
Swapping walking staffs for silver sceptres.

Josephine
Even upon the summit of greatness
Your ambition reaches greedy for clouds
In thy deepest distress I sense sea-change,
No longer am I indispensable
To the happinesses of my husband
Spurning the dedication of your wife
Your expressions of love are faltering
Your countenance alters to stern reason
My hour is come at last

Napoleon
Give me your hand
& let it press against my woeful heart,
Chastise the desperation of my blood,
The bleeds insensible on both our lives
Josephine, my excellent Josephine,
Thous knowest alone if I have loved thee,
To thee & thee alone I only owe
My happy moments in these mousetrap spheres,
But destiny overmasters my will
My dearest affections forc’d to silence
Before the best expectations of France


SIGNET DYNASTY

Napoleon
Josephine, Josephine
You & I were swans a-sail the silver stream
Germany, Italy,
We were set to seal our signet dynasty
All I ever wanted was your child
All I ever wanted was my, my, my, my

Jospehine
Napoleon, Napoleon
All I ever wanted was to sire your son
Every dress, every rose
I would swap them all for those 10 twinkle toes

All I ever wanted was my child
All I ever needed was your child
Let him run thro’ Malmaison piglet wild
All I ever wanted was my, my, my, my

Josephine
Many say Middle age
Is a time for one’s leisure
But I would sacrifice
Just to satisfy you
Come with me, let us lie
In the glow of our treasure
Make a son, raise him up
On our heavenly dew

Napoleon
Josephine, Josephine
You & I transcended all those kings & queens
I used to think my life’s truth
Was not to conquer empires
But to lie with you
But now our Signet Dynasty must fly from you
Has died in you…


Josephine
Sing – say – no more – for this I was prepar’d
But the blow lands no less mortal

Napoleon
My love
It must be done, all France calls for divorce

Josephine wails while rolling on the floor

Josephine
Please god, no, I shall never survive it
You cannot do it, surely I’d be slain

Napoleon
Believe me, this does violence to my heart
But irrevocable the decision
You are the last obstacle to my reign
Nothing will move me, not prayers nor tears

Josephine
The People & the Papacy shall blame
The one who tramples down his holy vows
With callousness & cruelty so vain

Napoleon
The ceremony was irregular
Your parish priest witness’d not proceedings
& so our marriage legally dissolves

Josephine
{standing up}
You dare to shame me with the dross of law,
Withdraw the stamp of honour from our love
Confound & bruise me with your scorn & flout!
Our solemn oaths were heard by God’s first voice
Thro’ him all Christendom our rites did hear,
So many sacrifices I have made
Tho’ these were sweet because them made for you
These interests, you say, of France, they seem
A pretext to my poor immolation
Your dissembl’d gut-thirsting for glory
Which guided you to endless victory
Now urges you disasterwards

Napoleon
It does?
Perhaps it may, but I am driven on
By daemon or angel, I know not which,
Hounded & surrounded by tormentors
Squeezing on me unite with another
But I am only marrying a womb.

Josephine
You are, whose womb, the choice already made?

Napoleon
Yes, the arch-duchess, Maria-Louise

Josephine
That Hapsburg whore, how old is she?

Napoleon
Eighteen

Josephine
Eighteen! What? She is younger than Hortense

Napoleon
There are rubies worth a million francs
On the billiard table, your titles
Now Duchess of Navarre & Normandy

Josephine
You try & buy me off, make ME the whore

Napoleon
It has to be so, if ever I see
A child, Heaven knows I am envious
A deadly poison darts into my heart
On viewing rosy cheekpuffs of an infant,
Near joys of mothers, by hopes of fathers
Dwell I in androgynous barrenness

Josephine
Stop talking

Napoleon
It is true

Josephine
Please stop talking

Napoleon
You must listen –

Josephine
I said stop talking

Napoleon
But-

Josephine
Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah!

Josephine faints

Napoleon
Jospehine, my darling, I am sorry

Napoleon rushes to door. On opening it Hortense, Odette, Fleur Joseph & Achille fall in after listening at the door.

Hortense
Mother… what have you done Napoleon!?

Napoleon
She has had some sort of nervous attack

Hortense
Odette sniffing salts, Joseph, Achille,
Carry mother to her rooms, Fleur… hot tea!
Shame on you father

Napoleon
Just take her away

Josephine
{raising briefly from her feint}
Not so hard, you are holding me too tight

Josephine returns to her feigned faint


Marie Walewska

Scene 9: Malmaison, Dining Hall

Napoleon & Maria Walewska are together – the table is being set including soup by the Achille & Joseph

Napoleon
Many thanks, Maria, for joining me,
Both you & Malmaison tender my heart
With soothing mists, denying harsher truths

Maria
I had to see you, Bonaparte, of course
Presenting tidings of our little child
Before flotsam tides of pernicious fate
Carry you forever from Europa,
With all of your enemies approaching,
With Prussians encroaching upon Versaille
Why dare dally, Paris too dangerous,
Protracted delayments may be fatal
I urge you with good reason to depart

Napoleon
Procrastinations are necessary
I intend to sail for America
Thus fresh victuals & passports must prepare,
But here we are safe until tomorrow,
We dine & talk like happy times of old.

Maria
In this house all the memories are hers

Napoleon
She dreamt of you, before we ever met
I got a letter in desperate script
Describing how I had fallen in love
With a Polish beauty, swift I replied
Do not be silly, then one week later
We collide in miraculous meeting.

Maria
I was a dove, you a swooping eagle
Came to your claws only for my country
The tyranny of Russia drove desire
I curs’d my enemies with our kisses
& still… three perfect weeks at Finkenstein
Forever follow by me, at strange times
Flashes of remembrance rustle my thoughts –
Our long field walks, our talks, our burning bed –
Awakening my sensuality,
Where moons conceal’d emotions in our moans
I grew into this elated fondness
Which sees me dedicated to your fate,
Until the passing of my final breath,
Your name the very last words on my lips.

Napoleon
But never love?

Maria
How could I be in love
With one who lov’d another, even now
We are prepar’d to settle for a meal
At the very table you once declar’d,
I’m sure, sweet Josephine your only love.

Napoleon
I was – I am – will always be in love
With you my pretty volcano, with you,
Once I was an acorn, then I was oak
Yet when I was an oak to all others,
I was glad to be an acorn to you,
Who drives the shadows back across the hills,
Angelical, furtively unselfish,
Your charm & your enchanting gentleness,
Connect me to a cosmos of content,
& glad your special qualities reside
With our young son, how is our little bird?

Maria
He is happy, healthy, in his prayers
He hopes his Papa Empereur is safe,
You should have married me & made him heir,
When you married the Austrian princess,
Whom I hate with redoubtable candour,
My heart grew darker than a moonless night.
Enter Hortense

Hortense
Madame Walewska, welcome to my home,
Father the rest of our dining party
Assembl’d, are you ready to receive?

Napoleon
Show them to their seats, sit here Maria,
Beside me, would you like a little soup?
{Napoleon tries the soup}
Take it away, this sea of frozen ice
It must be hot… hot-hot-hot-Hot-HOt-HOT!

Enter the rest of the party- Caulincourt, Lucien & Gourgaud

Caulaincourt
Your majesty

Napoleon
Gentlemen, welcome, sit

Hortense
{raising the food pots}
We shall have eggs; boiled, poached, broke in omelettes,
Beef fillets, broiled lamb-breasts, lentils & beans,

Caulaincourt
Delightful &, I am sure, delicious

The servants begin bringing out dishes of food – the diners choose what they wish & begin to eat

Maria
Malmaison seems so deserted these days
There are more pretty paintings than people

Lucien
But with Van Dyck, Holbein, Rembrandt, Rubens,
Leonardo, Titian, Raphael,
This is a sophisticated silence.

Napoleon
Indeed, in each a laurell’d memory
Of famous days of triumph… & how close
We were to adding to them, Waterloo!
Ah Waterloo! Such brutal, sluggish fight,
But a battle most inevitable
When they made me the king of that pebble
Within earshot of Parisian streets,
It seem’d as if they’d left unlock’d the cage,
My first hope came when I saw the gazettes
Where foolish King Louis insulted me
With rudest words unroyally spoken
In pamphlets & in private, losing friends,
That fat & gouty pile of impotence,
Who refuses to pay my pension! Non!
France did not choose to lose their Emperor
& have foisted on them an ousted king;
I am a man, and acting like a man
I felt I the need to show I was alive,
& so returned.

Caulaincourt
It was a joyous day!
The march you made from Antibes to Paris
Long-lined with celebrations never seen

Gourgaud
By the boldness and sheer audacity
Of your return to France you gave the lie
To those wiping noses in newspapers.

Napoleon
I left my fortune for war on Elba,
Methinks, forgotten in the secret flit,
One commonly, when looking at results,
Perceives what the person ought to have done,
My plan was working to perfection
The English and the Prussians were surprised
In their cantonments, & the conditions
All set to crush the Duke of Wellington,
I still envisage all advantages.
If only the day could be fought again!
If only Ney would not have hurl’d the horse
When I was absent from the field

Lucien
He lost
His head, a sense of past conduct impaired
His energy, however splendidly
Cuirassiers charge, without infantry
Marching in support, all won ground soon lost.

Gourgaud
His attack on La Haie-Sainte a mistake,
Repositioning my well-posted guns
Reduced vital efficiency of fire.

Napoleon
True… true… both Soult & Suchet better knew
My way of making war than e’er could Ney

Lucien
It was the impeccable discipline
Of the English that gained that deadly day
They advance thirty yards, halt, fire, go back,
Fire, and come thirty yards forward again,
Without breaking line, without disorder.

Napoleon
Poor France! to have been beaten, defeated
By those English rascals! Yes, it is true
The same sad thing happened at Agincourt
& Crecy before, but I was so certain
I should beat them, I had divined their plans,
& when at last had nail’d them to a field
They fought with unusual stubbornness,
Yet would have lost had Blucher not arrived.

Maria
I have heard that the Madame Hamelin
Thinks the Duke of Wellington talentless
& afraid of you, for once fortunate
& knows you would not lose a second time
Daring not risk his reputation so.

Napoleon
He will know, very well, he was lucky,
Regrets not for myself, unhappy France
With twenty thousand less of your soldiers
We should have won the battle, it was fate
That made me lose it.

Hortense
Dwell not on this defeat
Let us toast instead those majestic arms
Which carv’d an empire, gentlemen, to
France

All
To France

Maria
& to its shining emperor

Napoleon
The empire, O beautiful creation
Twenty-Eight millions, one grand nation,
We sent the revolution thro’ the world
When all would have been equal under me
Instead young men prefer’d to fight for kings
Who yoked them to unequal existence,
Led by the sly & obstinate bulldog
Reveal’d in Englishmen when interests
Of England at stake, robust patriots
They fight for their slavemasters, while Russia
Spews out countless peasants into armies
Manpower as prolific as the steppes!

Hortense
Father, enough of war-talk & regrets,
Posterity shall see your history
As if some supernatural romance,
The peals of praise shall evermore be yours,
Those fiery energies of youthful years,
Yielding to the magnificent progress
Of your irrisistable ambition,
Combining into visions of grandeur
As if you were a gift from heaven’s vaults.

Maria
You are indeed a greater man, when all
The lesser men & tumults of our age
Are pass’d away into oblivion,
Futurity shall dedicate these years
To your famous name of Napoleon.

Lucien
Remember, brother, you have transform’d France,
Imposing government that we desir’d,
Honest, efficient administration,
Guaranteeing the rules of free reason,
Designing law codes memorised by all,
Illuminating Parisian streets
With gas lamps, paving quais beside the Seine,
New harbours, canals, your poplar-lined roads,
You set examples to inspire our lives.

Napoleon
Yes… yes… bring the cheeses sil vous plait
But what use of my legacy to me
When I am not yet dead to celebrate
& cannot still decide on best passage
America has many assassins,
I may live longer among the English.

Armand-Augustin-Louis Caulaincourt

Caulaincourt
England, your enemies?

Napoleon
Yes, it tempts me
The Britons’ inviolable hearts deem
Sanctuaries of generosity,
I could find scenic rural seclusion
Ending my days gracious with nostalgia.

Lucien
I think it would be foolish in this clime
Of conquerors dictating to the French,
I have heard Blucher wants you delivered
To the Chateau at Vincennes, where the Duke
Of Enghien was shot, & the same spot
A pungent thought, a sordid phantasie
Better proceed you to America
Where Bolivars direct & ride the storms.

Napoleon
I need not resolute on this tonight
Instead to rest awhile & contemplate
Every angle drawn in my perception
Ruminating each expediancy –
The meal is done, I hope you found yours fine
If everyone could leave I wish to sit
Alone beside the fire, & with my thoughts.

While staff attend to clearing the table, everyone leaves saying ‘your majesty’ & ‘sire’

Maria
Shall I stay? Play a little vingt-et-un

Napoleon
I’d rather not, my love, my mind complains
To me each minute of pressing problems

Maria
You need not be alone, I’m here to share
All of your woes, even your exile, know
I’ll go where you go, flying on your flow.

Napoleon
I love you too much to put you thro’ such
Pain,

Maria
I understand… I’ll be in my rooms

Exit Maria, Napoleon is left standing alone staring into the fire


THE CONCHORDIA FOLIO

“Its worth a pop, right, to try & knock
Shakespeare off his feffin’ perch!”

35062508_10156430365647520_5136386788406853632_n.jpg

Interview: Damian Beeson Bullen

Malmaison: Scenes 6-7

07WEBER-articleLarge.jpg


Scene 6: Malmaison, Josephine’s Bedroom

Josephine is sat at her dressing table. Odette is tinting her hair & smoothing it with cream. Fleur is powdering her face with white & rouge.

Josephine
I expect him any hour, the hero
Of Austerlitz returns to me tonight,
Not even death could still my flutter’d heart,
My love for His majesty must outlive
My breath, my body, & my faithful bones.

Odette
Today all France is aflame with his fame
& your name sing in celebration too
In company together you defy
The very bounds of Human endeavour

Fleur
As if the Holy Spirit moved on earth
& settl’d in two vessels good & pure
Inspiring us all clean beakers to be,
So when your essence pours into our hearts
We too shall know a hint of the divine

Enter Napoleon, undressing quickly, throwing his great coat on the floor & placing his hat on a chair

Napoleon
Josephine, queen effigy of passion,
I am returned to sweep you to the seas
That deep across your bed entranquil’d lie,
But first we shall open every portal,
Draw in the air which God made for us all.

Josephine
You startle me, darling, but I am glad
To see you here, come press these waiting lips
To yours, & hold me tight as my husband.

They embrace, exit the maids.

Napoleon
Come let us stand together at the bay,
The evening drips a gorgeous net of stars,
The peace in your presence a thousand miles
From those starch’d fields about the Pratzen Heights
Where I became the best of emperors,
A masterpiece of cunning deception
Put paid to ill-conceiv’d alliances,
Ill-omen’d, grandiose, a ratsbane rout,
With one sharp blow the war was over, won
By brutal logic of the bayonet,
Triumph more clear than Ceasar ever saw.

Josephine
For you, I am as overjoyed as June
When roses grace long days, but did you think
Of me, my dear, when victory was yours,
Your little Josephine?

Napoleon
Of nothing else,
In the midst of military affairs
At the head of my troops, inspecting camps,
Over my heart an adorable sway
Is held by an image of your sweet face,
Alive in my mind as if it were real,
A mind you possess undisputedly
Engrossing all thought.

Jospehine
This cheers me to hear,
Your absences manifest as sickness
I cannot keep you from my intellect
Trampling serenity with hardest hooves.

F_Image-When-Napoleon-Met-and-Married-Josephine-de-Beauharnais.jpg

Napoleon
Forgive me, empress, all I do I do
For you, my captivated faculties
Focus every conscious iota
Into & onto you, oblivion
Strikes me when we part, deadly sense of death,
There is no survival for me, except
In you – condemn’d to live thro’ Josephine
That was, that is, the story of my life.

Josephine
That may be so, but tell me, mon cherie,
Tell me you were not abed with strumpets,
Perhaps some young actress of Vienna,
Distracting with assumption of beauty.

Napoleon
Please put no faith in jackal rumours spread,
Never doubt the reach of deepest feelings,
I love only my little Josephine –
Kindly, sulky, capricous – who quarrels
As gracefully as does she all things else;
& adorable always, excepting
When she screams suspicion, then she becomes
A regular devil.

Josephine
Could you betray
All that we are when we are led unclothed
In bed, in love, in passion’s pilgrim shrine.

Napoleon
Betray you? You betray me with such doubts,
I love with a love beyond the limits
Of imagination, all my minutes
Of living life are yours, consecrated,
I’ve never thought of another woman
When private in my mind & paused from war,
They lack – in my eyes – beauty, wit & grace
You alone & all of you, as I see
You as you are – only you can please me,
Absorbing all the faculties of soul;
You pervade mine to its furthest reaches;
There is no corner of my open heart
You do not see, there is no thought of mine
Which prospers insubordinate to you,
The day on which you change or cease to live
Would be my day of death.

Josephine
Dear Bonaparte
You are so dramatic – but I love it.

Napoleon
The world is only beautiful because…

Josephine
It is I who inhabit it

Napoleon
Quite true,
You must believe me else do not love me.

Josephine
Aha! It is the man who takes a sulk,
Come to my breast ye mighty warrior,
I barely slept to think you in the field
With all those guns & bullets.

Napoleon
I could feel
Your worries, some rare magnetic fluids
Flow between persons who love each other.

Josephine
I always want to see me in your eyes
As you desire me now, I shall remain
Devoted to your love & happiness.

Napoleon
I am in love & I am very happy
A banquet of excitable moods
Wondering what my precious victory
Could achieve, in our day no-one conceives
Anything great – we can set examples,
Balancing for good the nation’s budget,
Design a law code memorised by all,
Illuminate the night-streets of Paris
With gas lamps, pave the quais beside the Seine,
& best of all erect a marble arch
Surmounted by the horses of Saint Mark’s,
Perpetuate the glory of our arms
For all who visit Paris evermore.

Josephine
Forget those arms, let these arms curl caress
Across your chest, then let these tresses fall
Asplash your face as I descend a kiss,
Come swiftly to my bed, come lie with me,
& see how much of comfort it can bring.

Napoleon
I will, I thought of nothing else, but first,
Let us discuss occasional reports
Of wanton, boundless generosity
Indiscriminate, restless & impulsive,
You never wear a pair of stockings twice,
The smallest party merely an excuse
To order some new dress, in one season
You flit from polka dots to lacy ruffs,
You waste your life deciding what to wear,
So much discussion; petticoats, dresses,
Golden gowns cover’d in ostrich feathers,
Thirty-eight hats in September alone,
Cashmere shawls, silver slippers…

Josephine
Yes, so what?
I am Empress – you are the Emperor,
Do not impinge on my duties & I
Shall not impinge on yours, together we
Will complement each other & our roles;
I master curriculi you send me
Of Europe’s courts I know the hiostory,
Including boring genealogies
Of all those royal houses, I am not
Ideal, but whenever we are present
At gatherings of crown’d & coquette heads,
I never put a foot or eyelash wrong.

Napoleon
Well I appreciate your elegance,
Your magnificence on state occasions,
Attending grand galas especially,
But darling you are drowning under bills,
If anybody asks you won’t refuse,
You scatter pensions like them chicken feed,
Only supersceded by your spending
On shoes – if somebody shows you something,
You buy it then forget at once what bought,
Because all this has made common knowledge
Your waiting rooms teem with panting merchants,
Tongues dribbling out vastly inflated sums.

Josephine
But all of them, they are so very good
At what they make, I can never summon
Up the courage to turn just one away.

Napoleon
If sometimes I refuse to pay your bills ,
It is because you are so much imposed
Upon by tradesmen, & thus I cannot
Conscientiously sanction abuses…
I know about the necklace, Bourrienne
Gave me exact & staggering figures,
One million, two hundred thousand francs!

Josephine
{obtaining necklace from her table}
But look at it, so pretty in the light
Of morning, then better by candlelight,
Could you put it on me, around my neck,
You have always wish’d for me to dazzle,
Yet when I spend a little more than norm
You reproach me with Corsican tantrums,
I do not throw phantastical parties
Or run up millions at the tables,
I am no thrifty Marie Antionette
Nor Madame du Barry, she gladly made
A diamond necklace for her yappy dog,
I do it all for love, & love of you.

Napoleon
You charm me yet again, I shall repent,
Hanging divinely on your perfect neck
Let your necklace adorn my victor’s ball
Tonight at the giddy Tuilerries.

Josephine
We are the oddest couple you & I
Nature has made you strong & resolute,
While I am lace & gauze, I sail a swan
You fly an eagle

Napoleon
So perfect a thing!
We two have more in common than you think
We are both outliers & islanders
My Corsica, your little Martinique,
You brought it with you, stole my wintry heart
Its warmth & seductiveness fills your eyes.

Josephine
I see it in reflection

Napoleon
Kiss my lips…

Napoleon & Josephine kiss


INTRINSIC LOVERS

I won’t lie I dont care,
I’ll sing until the world’s aware
I feel pride by your side,
When we are sharing pleasure domes together
Together

& its true, I feel blue,
When I’ve been forced to part from you,
But I’m back to my bride
You know I am you saw I am
We’re living to your higher plan
Im/you’re woman to your/my man

Cos you’re the lover
I’ve always been dreaming of

I sing songs I say psalms
I’m tingling to your tender charms
& this world becomes ours
When two intrinsic lovers come together
Together

We’ve align’d in our minds
Cos this is destiny’s design,
Our fate fell from the stars
You know it would, you saw it would,
The glory your womanhood
Is glowing/flowing in/thro my blood

Cos you’re the lover
I’ve always been dreaming of

The world is unworthy of
The majesty of your throne
Come lie by my side my love
This bed is so cold alone

I love you Napoleon
I love you dear Josephine
I hate it when you are gone
But now you’ve come back to me

Cos you’re the lover…


Scene 7: Malmaison, Napoleon’s Apartments

The secretaries Marcel & Chapentier are setting their desks – enter secretary Desmarais

Desmarais
Good morning gentlemen, I am Jean-Claude.

Marcel
Good Morning – will you be working with us?

Desmarais
I shall.

Marcel
Are you a stenograph?

Desmarais
I am
Sufficient – is there anything to know?

Chapentier
You’ll need to be as fast as hunted fox.

Marcel
Rapidity the order of the day,
Ability to differentiate
For whom the dictation is essential,
He possesses a mind like no other,
His memory furnishes him with all
He needs when commanding written discourse,
He compares it to a furniture piece
Composed of a great number of drawers,
Pulls out the one which each new moment needs,
The classification of everything
Is done as if automatically,
Nothing remains but to utter the words.

Desmarais
Are we to transcribe any of his notes?

Chapentier
The Emperor is too hyperactive
To write himself, & even when he does
Tho’ his first lines are passably composed,
Those that follow are illegible,
One very much accustomed has to be
To the form of his letters, of his words,
To the way they run together, then hope
To divine meanings in a hieroglyph,
Producing a decipher, more or less,
Counterpoising with clarity acute .

Marcel
I can never make out his strange letters,
He writes like a cat, one deranged at that.

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Enter Napoleon in a dressing gown & leather slippers

Napoleon
Good morning gentlemen, how are we all?

Marcel
We are well your majesty

Chapentier
Very well

Napoloen
{pinching ears}
My rascal scribes, it is always wondrous
To see you, reminding me, above all,
That I am still alive… & who is this?

Desmarais
I am Monsieur Desmarais, Your Majesty.

Napoleon
Where are you from?

Desmarais
Five miles from Avignon.

Napoleon
I thought you were Provencal… very well
Let us begin, Marcel take the soldiers
& disputation to the deputies,
Chapentier the letter to my wife
In which the King of Rome shall hear my voice,
Young Desmarais, the English Regent, yours;
All four are more than vital, but before
Commencing, let me take a little snuff.

Napoleon takes out an oval snuff box made of tortoise shell lined with gold – on the cover is a silver portrait of the King of Rome, set in a circle of gold. He takes a sniff.

Napoleon
Men of the Provisional Government,
Disasters quake, but these we shall resist,
The enemy is on our native soil,
I propose my return to the army
To take advantage of any errors
The enemy commits, for I expect
To stimulate the national honour,
If all we do is argue all is lost,
Let not the fate Byzantium be ours;
My darling wife, empress Marie-Louise,
Do you remember the road to Soissons,
When first we met, from romantic meeting
Sprung the King of Rome – precious, perfect child,
How fares he now, I think of him each day,
Thro’ saddening times of strenuous strain,
The army has been exterminated,
The mood among the Representatives
More hostile than ever, I never should
Have come to Paris… To my dear soldiers
I have yielded to necessity,
& tho’ command no more our brave army,
I take away the happy certainty
That it will justify, by eminent
Service, all that the nation will expect;
To my gracious enemy of twenty years,
The most powerful, the most generous,
Your Royal Highness, I am made victim
To the factions distracting my country,
I live for peace & when I terminate
My political career, my true hope
Is to throw myself like Themistocles
Upon the gracious hospitality
Of Britisher civility & laws…
Exactly & precisely how they were
She preserves my apartments, as if I
Were still her dear husband…

Desmarais
Your majesty?

Marcel
Learn to differentiate

Chapentier
Between the Emperor’s thoughts & his words

Napoleon
Where was I? O yes… sweet Marie Louise,
What brilliant qualities adorn you,
Inspiring me with a desire to serve
You, your father, our nations & our child,
Despite the trying nature of these days,
I shall strive with an Assyrian will
To bring us back together in one heart
& on our kisses crown the God of bliss;
Soldiers of France, I follow all your steps,
With just a few more efforts from each corps
The coalition of our enemies
Will inevitably droop & dissolve,
Napoleon will recognise you all
Thro’ breathless blows yet struck, save the honour,
The independence of France & remain
To the very end, as I have known you
These twenty years past, the invincible.

Enter Gourgaud, Caulaincourt & Lucien

Gourgaud
My God, am I such a man to be born
To see my emperor a prisoner
Of his people at pretty Malmaison.

Napoleon
Gourgaud, Caulincourt… brother Lucien.

Lucien
How are you keeping?

Napoleon
Things could be better.

Général_baron_Gaspard_Gourgaud

Gaspard Gourgaud

Gourgaud
With your permission, sire, I shall assume
Command of the Gaurd, we shall take careful
Watch over the safety of your person.

Caulaincourt
While you remain in France, he means to say,
The country no longer can sustain you.

Gourgaud
Our enemies declared this current war
On you, a single person, & not France,
The nation must now be seperated
From Napoleon, you are all that stands
Between France & peace, a fresh new breeze blows,
Tho’ fidelity is not in question,
Our duty now is the welfare of France.

Lucien
The tide has turned against you, & the sea
It seems has chained the next in captive waves

Caulaincourt
We travell’d, sire, to the Pont de Neuilly,
The bridge was barricaded so I inch’d
Along the parapet, then found a chaise
& drove it on to the Tuileries;
The commision of government was sat
In council, Fouche was most astonish’d
To see me, I read out your last letter,
Inform’d them of patriotic duty
In demanding your presence at their head,
But Fouche’s reply, rebuking candour,
Complain’d of imposts & grave vexations.

Napoleon
Enough, how can they want to overthrow
The government, when mortal enemies
Snarl at the gates, the Representatives
Opposing me are thick, ungrateful swine,
I showered them with honours & treasures
Now all they do is swivel backs & grunt.

Lucien
The paths to power beyond redemption,
Your fate away from France & Paris lies,
I have already asked Decres to find
Two frigates to place at your disposal.

A silent pause descends for a while

Napoleon
There will be civic bloodshed if I stay,
I must not wade in blood, and be abhorred,
Far better to offer abdicatio
In favor of my son, all my glories
Concentrated in him, and leave the rest
Handling present difficulties themselves,
Then they will see it was not I alone
The Allies wished destroy’d, but all of France!

Lucien
To abdicate once more your wisest course,
Your legacy ensured, despite the pain.

Napoleon
If I must go then gentlemen obtain
The necessary vitals of the road,
Gourgaud, go to the kennels at Versaille,
At stag-hoof speed, ask there for sporting guns,
Marcel, Charpentier &… Desmarais,
Deliver your letters, I have finished,
But let me sign them first, who has a pen?

Charpentier gives Napoleon a pen – he signs the letters

Napoleon
Now everybody leave but Lucien

Marcel & Charpentier
Your majesty

Caulaincourt
Sire

Gourgaud
Sire

Desmarais
Your majesty

Exit all but Napoleon & Lucien

Napoleon
Take a pen, Lucien, are you ready?

Lucien
I am, but what for?

Napoleon
My abdication…
Frenchmen! Tho’ I commenc’d the recent War,
Maintaining national independence,
I relied on the total union
Of all our efforts, of all our desires,
In which all French authorities concur,
I had reason to hope for great success,
Braving all the Allied Declarations,
But circumstances appear to have chang’d,
My political life is terminated;
& I proclaim my son Napoleon
The Second, the Emperor of the French,
Under him, & for the public safety,
Let all unite, in order to remain
The independent nation we adore.

Napoleon takes the pen from Lucien, signs the abdication & leaves the room. Lucien follows.

Second_abdication_act_of_Napoleon-IMG_0525.JPG


THE CONCHORDIA FOLIO

“Its worth a pop, right, to try & knock
Shakespeare off his feffin’ perch!”

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Interview: Damian Beeson Bullen

Oor Wullie

Oor Wullie Cast. Photo credit Tommy Ga-Ken Wan..jpg


Dundee Rep Theatre
Sat 23 November – Sun 5 January

Script: five-stars  Stagecraft: five-stars
Performance: five-stars S.O.D.:five-stars


Get your dungarees on and spike up your hair for bucketfuls of songs, laughs and good traditional fun as Scotland’s own comic superhero makes his musical theatre debut at Dundee Rep this Christmas. Wullie’s appeal spans the generations. He’s been around – and been ten years old – for eighty years now, doing his scallywag thing in the town of Auchenshoogle. Accompanied by his best mates Soapy Soutar, Fat Boab and Wee Eck, a real slapstick trio if ever there was one, Wullie makes good-hearted mischief in the way young boys used to before the internet and Xboxes, dodging the long arms of PC Murdoch, Teacher and the slippers of Ma and Pa. Christmas without an Oor Wullie annual is like turkey without stuffing, or indeed the eponymous hero without his bucket.

That’s just the problem – someone has stolen Wullie’s bucket. As a result of this calamity, the comic-book coloured Auchenshoogle and the real world are getting mixed up. Expect high-jinx abundant. Can Wullie and his gang and new found friend Wahib retrieve his bucket from our world before his mortal enemy Basher McKenzie turns Auchenshoogle into a richt stramash?

L to R Martin Quinn and Eklovey Kashyap. Credit Tommy Ga-Ken Wan.jpg

Always bringing something special at Christmas, Dundee Rep have excelled with this year’s production. Bright, colourful and exciting from start to finish, it’s sure to appeal to young children and nostalgic adults alike. The songs are fun and the tunes catchy enough for folk to be humming them on the way out. Take children or don’t – you’ll love Oor Wullie. It’s good wholesome fun for the children in all of us.

Mark Mackenzie

five-stars

The Wizard of Oz

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Leeds Playhouse,
28th Nov – 25th Jan

Script: four-stars.png Stagecraft: five-stars
Performance: four-stars.png S.O.D.: five-stars


Tonight saw the opening performance of Leeds Playhouse’s 2019 Christmas show, The Wizard of Oz, in the playhouse’s recently opened Quarry theatre. This was a hugely important night for the theatre and it was abundantly clear from the outset that every effort had been made to ensure that this show was nothing less than outstanding. It’s certainly no exaggeration to say that everyone who stepped out into the drizzly November night after the show were still wrapped up in the show’s spell, their faces plastered with beaming smiles and their ears still ringing with the joyful sounds of Oz.

This is a big budget family blockbuster that absolutely delivers on all counts, giddy with the spectacle of hot air balloons, colourful rotating sets, bungee jumping monkeys, enchanting puppet work, and panto-style boo hiss villains. The colourful and exuberant cast make use of every inch of the new performance space, popping out of trapdoors, rising up into the lighting rig and spilling out into the auditorium, much to the delight of the younger theatre goers in the audience.

Everyone involved overflowed with an infectious eagerness to please, from the cast to the attendants in the auditorium, actively engaging with members of the audience before, during and after the production. This wasn’t a show, it was an event: everyone involved with the production and the theatre had eagerly seized this opportunity to shout loudly about their wonderful new space: Look how amazing it is, look what it can do! It’s an assertion that is pretty hard to deny.

But this isn’t mere spectacle. There’s real substance here and much to commend. This could have easily been an overenthusiastic splurge of colour and choreography, but James Brining’s hugely assured direction easily swerves this potential pitfall. Given how much is going on onstage, it never feels overwhelming – every element sits perfectly in its rightful place.

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The younger cast all hold their own and the early Munchkin sequence is an early high point in a show of many such high points. They enthusiastically pull the audience headlong into their colourful world. Their choreography is near flawless and their characters so joyful and memorable that they are single-handedly responsible for the grins that spread across the audience.

Standout performances include Polly Lister as the Wicked Witch, who thoroughly relishes the OTT villainy of the character, a character that inspires raucous boos and even more raucous laughter. Eleanor Sutton is a delight as Scarecrow, imbuing the character with boundless enthusiasm and Marcus Ayton as Lion delivers some crowd pleasing vocal performances.

It’s surely not possible to review The Wizard of Oz without mentioning the central performance as Dorothy. Dorothy can either make or break a production, and here it’s a resounding MAKE. Agatha Meehan and Lucy Sherman will be sharing duties throughout the run of this production and tonight was the turn of Lucy Sherman who provided a fantastic focal point for the show. Her performance was confident and effortless and her rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow provoked an early outburst of delighted applause.

Director James Brining has stated the parallels that he sees between environmental activist Greta Thunberg and the character of Dorothy, both taking on responsibility for a world that has been ruined and neglected by adults, and it’s clear that she is a huge source of inspiration for this take on the character, deliberately choosing a younger actress for the part.

There’s also an appropriately cheeky nod to the gay following of the 1939 Hollywood film. Sam Harrison’s Tin Man here is an overtly gay character, who has been punished for being in love with a man by having his heart forcibly removed. It helps to add depth to the story – this production’s Dorothy/ Greta is on a mission to help oppressed minority communities and individuals, not just to find her way back to Kansas.

Simon Higlett’s set design is nothing less than jaw dropping, creating a sense of constant movement – the sets rotate and evolve, vehicles move across the stage, forests bloom, tornadoes rip the scenery apart (what a fantastic sequence!) and the yellow brick road moves characters about the stage, bringing more and more outlandish characters into the path of the central protagonists. All of this is overlaid with video footage that lends further colour, movement and life to the stage. This reaches its crescendo when the cast arrive at the flashing green lights of Emerald City and the final showdown with the Wicked Witch – the sets are as brightly coloured and alive as any film set.

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In fact, it’s hard to not list all the names of those involved with the show as this is a hugely accomplished show, packed full of highlights. There’s aerial director, Tim Claydon, whose work provides so much of the show’s spectacle and energy. There’s Ailsa Dalling as Toto puppeteer, brings the delightful character to scene stealing life. Put simply, there’s far too much to mention.

The Wizard of Oz is a resounding success for both company and theatre, a perfect show to launch their Christmas season and to show off their new theatre to a wider audience.

Steve Bromley

four-stars.png

Malmaison: Scenes 3-5

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Hortense de Beauharnais


Scene 3: Malmaison, Josephine’s bedroom

Hortense & a maid, Fleuer, are cleaning

Hortense
You must dust underneath the porcelain,
How the fussiness flies from Bounaparte,
No speck of dust, no crease in the linen,
No particle seem alter’d in this room
From how my mother leaves it as she died.

Enter Odette

Odette
His majesty has just arrived your grace.

Hortense
Mon Dieu, how does he look, how does he fare?

Odette
He pales fatigue, madame, but looks relieved.

Hortense
Thank-you Odette, continue here with Fleur.

Exit Hortense

Fleur
I do not wish to see the Corsican,
My father left to rot in Syria,
His sons – my brothers – slaughter’d by Cossacks,
Soldiers devoured as fast as they were made,
My husband was slain at La Rothiere,
& of my sons who rush’d into the ranks,
This recent insanity’s insistence,
There is no word, I fear the very worst.

Odette
I too have borne my share of grief & loss,
But still emit the beautiful belief
That all will settle right, when all who died
To make France great should not have died in vain.

Fleur
They died, Odette, both in, & for, the vain.


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Scene 4: Malmaison, Front of House

Napoleon is with Lucien & Caulaincourt, preparing to enter the house / Hortense bursts thro’ the door

Napoleon
Hortense!

Hortense
Welcome home, father, welcome home!

Napoleon
Let us embrace as in those happy times
When all we will’d was magical & good,
Your winding arms comfort like dawn’s first rays,
Your happy face fair proof I am alive,
But tired… I shall remain some few days hence.

Hortense
We can decorate all to your own taste,
So you may think in peace how to proceed
With present universitalities.

Napoleon
No, leave things be, her memories are best.

Hortense
If you so wish… but what of recent wars?
Reports harangue conflicted; some say won,
Some say well beat, some even say you’re dead.

Napoleon
Here is a great event! A battle lost,
My soldiers were performing prodigies,
So tough & lustful, cheering every breath,
Facing the English on a tiny field
We ran them into ragged remnancy,
Six of their flags were ours, but old Blucher
Outwitted Grouchy in a day’s pursuit
& roll’d along our flanks in deadly fire,
Malicious elements cried in panic
Until we lost cohesion every point.

Lucien
These events can hardly be called your fault,
Your commanders were not the same soldiers
As those who fought for France at Austerlitz,
No, they are faint of heart, & think war sport,
Go flitting between fear & foolishness,
The Gaurd, with Lannes or Bessi at its head,
Would not have been defeated.

Napoleon
Yes, perhaps…
I now know how I march’d a month too soon,
This Grand Armee lack’d true consistency,
But let us re-enact the war no more,
Too late to ruminate on matters pass’d,
The present presses in relentelessly,
Someone tell me of the mood in Paris,
What of the salon gossip, do you know?

Hortense
All along the avenue Marigny,
At the Elysee, there were handsome groups,
Standing before the palace in full throat,
Shouts of ‘Vive L’Empereur’ were well heard,
Wich soldiers echoed back with happy hearts.

Lucien
Why not fight on, lead armies to the Loire,
Rallying all with a single slogan,
La patrie en danger!

Napoleon
Still they cheer me?
The appetite last year was not for war,
But twelve more months of the fat Bourbon kings
Sticking their snouts in Republican troughs,
Has taught them who is better for the throne,
Let us declare a war of survival,
Announce that I will never sign a peace
As long as enemies trample Gallic soil
With booted footsteps of its soldiery.

Caulaincourt
If I may interject, Your Majesty
The enemy is legion, & possess
The border fortresses, the Prussians press
At Compeigne already.

Napoleon
Compeigne?
But that is only forty miles away!
Inform the chambers of my willingness
To resume the command of the army,
There must be eighty-thousand troops to hand,
Yes, thirty-thousand more than in Fourteen,
When I held off the armies of three states –
Russia, Prussia, Austria – three whole months
Eighty thousand is forty-five thousand
More than cross’d the Great Saint Bernard Pass –
We can defend Paris for many years,
Until our foes are thoroughly repulsed.

Lucien
We must persist, we must resist, levee
En masse, like Ninety-Three, the peasantry;
All men are soldiers, sire, sound the trumpet,
The Spanish did it to our very selves
They drove us back to France at pitchfork point,
Bolstered by handfuls of regular troops
Commanded by a lesser mind than yours –
Let fields & orchards, farmyards & churches
Become part of the fortress that is France,
Protracted war will stickle in the throat,
Of those who thought the French would merely lie
Down at their feet, prostrate, like panting dogs.

Caulaincourt
There is a problem, sire, the Deputies
Are turning in their chamber, mostly turn’d
By Fouche, who says you are a tyrant,
Your second abdication by them call’d,
It is a sordid spectacle to see.

Napoleon
Then the Chamber I shall simply dissolve,
Thro’ prosperties they crawled at my heels
Like bodiless creations, to act now
With strength, resembling my authority,
Is merely flashing mirrors from my will.

Caulaincourt
The Chamber only yesterday decreed
If anybody dared them to dissolve,
They shall be deem’d a traitor to all France.

Napoleon
All France? All France! All France belongs to me,
I should have had that scoundrel Fouche hang’d,
Incredulous he even dares to speak!
Who is he that invokes the Tricolor
Who France fled when I went off to Elba,
Who owes me his own return to Paris,
& while his feet are kicking weightless air
I’ll fling a number of the Deputies
Into the Seine, & have the Chambers closed,
Just like Cromwell.

Caulaincourt
Alas, your Majesty,
All this should lead to bloody anarchy
Do you have courage for the guillotine
& a legacy like Robespierre?

Hortense
Gentlemen, let us from this talk divert,
This was my mother’s house, as well you know,
For war & politics she ground no salt,
& commanders best left from decisions
When sheerest exhaustion abstruses mind,
We have prepared hot waters for him here,
Better that he has bath’d before them cool’d.

Napoleon
Agreed, relaxing baths worth four hours sleep,
I’ll take one now & then a little food.

Exit Napoleon taking off his gloves, he is watched in
silence.


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Scene 5: Malmaison, Gardens

Hortense is in the garden pruning Roses, singing an air.
Enter Napoleon in casual clothes.

Napoleon
I recognise that song, from Aquitaine?

Hortense
It is father, how was your food, your bath?

Napoleon
They conjur’d revitalising essence,
I was an ocean’s weary, three full days
Lacking food of any substance, nor sleep
Dared visit me with blanket tenderness,
Delirious of Malmaison I dream’d,
This chateaux blesses comfort in my smiles,
It should be a merry dish of delights
If I could end my days entranquil’d here.

Hortense
Malmaison is your home, your majesty

Napoleon
It never was, no, always your mother’s,
This elegant, heavenly enterprise,
That now is yours, & legally bestow’d.

Hortense
Paperwork… it is yours via manna
Of existence, as ancyent Celtic gods
Are eterniz’d by name in sacred groves,
Malmaison shall frame Human memories
Of Josephine & her Napoleon!
Stay as long as you like, but with plain speech
Your safety is of issue paramount,
The Prussians close on Paris hour on hour

Napoleon
Let us not fret on matters such as these,
We are safe today, & for tomorrow,
Time enough to take delight in nature,
How are your mother’s flowers? Summer’s heat
Provides life when, vibrating in their terms,
Each flower like a censer fumes, perfumes
The air with such a melancholy waltz.

Hortense
They prosper well as always, & I feel
Inebriated with their sheer beauty,
Exotic blooms of June, sweetly breathing,
Mass’d rhododendrons rambling by jasmine,
& roses of every shade & species.

Napoleon
She loved them so, adored their inspection,
Her loveliest roses would bloom for weeks,
The future’s garden lovers, I am sure,
Will praise her extension of loveliness
From petal-days to month-long majesty.

Hortense
She was a master-mistress of her craft,
No guild could teach her what she breath’d inside,
But those are flowers, father, this is life
As every second sends its urgencies,
Where will you go? Perhaps America
A fine letter from Eliza Jummel
Reach’d me, she & her husband shall prepare
A royal residence to woo New York.

Napoleon
Considerations I shall give to this,
My destiny might be accomplish’d there,
Making amends to my posterity,
Dedicated devotee of science,
From Atlantic sound to Pacific rim
I could cross that vast & fantastic land,
Studying physical phenomena,
From botany to planetary spheres.

Hortense
As one door closes, opens another,
If remaining salutationally
Determined, insurmountable hardship
Crumbles… labours persevered undaunted
Overhaul even broken destiny!

Napoleon
My destiny ruptured when we parted,
Your mother & I, my life’s large regret,
So strange that this fair chateaux which witness’d
Scenes of indescribable triumph, sees
Disaster never known by any man,
& she – she is absent – her tenderness
Could soothe fury.

Hortense
I cannot take her place,
But sympathies solicited still yours,
I sense exactly how she would have felt,
In flummox-flux at her unhappiest.

Napoleon
Your mother was the true guide of my life,
The one who taught me fluency of love,
The love I bare for Maria-Louise
Is familial, you do understand?
No-one removes Josephine from my heart,
Within its lonely beats she sits in state.

Hortense
I understand, but it pains me to hear
The name & source of your separation.

Napoleon
She never was the source, never the cause,
At work were forces dampening constraint,
An incredible empire to preserve;
On looking back… wiser, unvisor’d eyes
Acknowledge how my fate was built for her
Whose face I see, whose form goes where I roam,
Strolling paths, applauding in theatres,
Her irrisistabilty haunts me,
The most enchanting being I have known,
Vivacious & vivid in every sense,
She was a woman to her fingertips.

Hortense
I miss her fashion, father, her passion
For elegance, to look her best, empress
Excuisitor.

Napoleon
The fairest in all France,
No painter ever captured her beauty,
For hers the deftest beauty of movement;
She was the most glittering ornament
Of empire, & this garden sings her style,
Best stage & setting of our better times.

Hortense
I, too, cannot abide this fragrant place,
Without wondering if, any moment,
She might appear in happy finery
Pricking along the paths, plucking flowers.

Napoleon
With what sad tears she water’d all her blooms

Hortense
I disagree, Malmaison her happiness,
These gardens were your union’s children,
Your nurseries these lush, umbrageous grounds.

Napoleon
Such well-will’d words are wounding me too much,
Let us stroll instead as did your mother
& I, so many times.

Hortense
Of course father
{they link arms & head off thro’ the gardens}
Do you remember dining al fresco
Upon the lawns on warm summer evenings,
Talking about science, literature,
The supernatural, female attire…

Napoleon
I do, & after, on a path like this,
New plants would we admire & sometimes gaze
On recent vistas open’d thro’ the trees,
When doing so my political life
Evaporated like the early dew
That forms bright pearls upon the ageless grass.


THE CONCHORDIA FOLIO

“Its worth a pop, right, to try & knock
Shakespeare off his feffin’ perch!”

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Interview: Damian Beeson Bullen