Excerpt of A Game of Croquet  (formatted for web viewing.)

(From the middle)

ALICE

Shall I go then?

 

SYCOPHANT

(As the Queen.)

Of course. It is your shot.

 

ALICE pretends to knock a hedgehog with a flamingo.

 

ALICE

There. That was quite nice, wasn’t it, Your Majesty?

 

SYCOPHANT

Yes, dear. You are a very good shot. Not as good as me, of course, which is obvious because I always win.

 

SYCOPHANT as Queen and ALICE take a few more shots until ALICE nudges SYCOPHANT again.

 

ALICE

I’m afraid it’s time for the story to progress. The Cheshire Cat must appear now.

 

SYCOPHANT

Me?

 

ALICE

Who else?

 

SYCOPHANT

But the Queen?

 

ALICE

She’s entirely wrapped up in herself. She’ll never notice.

 

SYCOPHANT

Okay. Shall I—?

 

ALICE

Yes! You must play the Cheshire Cat or the story cannot move along.

 

SYCOPHANT stands and assumes a very broad smile. He is now the Cheshire Cat.

 

SYCHOPHANT

Ho-ooo-ooo-w do you like the Queen?

 

ALICE

Not at all. She’s extremely ill-mannered. She has only one way of settling difficulties and that is to banish people from her presence in a very, very wicked manner. She says nothing but “Off with their heads!” It’s astonishing that she has anyone left in her court at all. She’s also terribly—

 

ALICE stops as the CHESHIRE CAT momentarily takes on the aspect of the Queen.

 

ALICE

—terribly, terribly sure that she will win that it’s hardly worthwhile finishing the game.

 

SYCOPHANT resumes the smile of the Cheshire Cat.

 

ALICE

(Gazing dumfounded around the croquet-ground.)

Oh dear me! My hedgehog is engaged in a fight with another hedgehog and my flamingo has run to the other side of the garden. I don’t think it likes having its head used as a mallet. 

(Beat.)

Look there! It’s attempting to fly into that tree. I had better go fetch it before it jumbles itself in the leaves.

 

ALICE exits.

 

SYCOPHANT takes on roles of the Queen, the executioner, and the King all at once, turning and facing a different way for each character. The dialogue goes like this.

 

Queen: Off with his head!

 

King: Aren’t you being a bit hasty my dear?

 

Queen: I hate cats, and I hate this one especially! 

 

Executioner: But madam—

 

Queen: Don’t madam me! I am the Queen! 

 

Executioner: I only meant to say that I cannot behead a— 

 

Queen: A what?! 

 

Executioner: I cannot cut off a head unless there’s a body to cut it off from.

 

King: He has a point.

 

Queen: I want it off in less than no time or I will have everyone executed, all around!

 

Executioner: I have never done such a thing before and I am not going to begin doing such a thing now!

 

Queen: Off with his head! Heads off all around.

 

ALICE enters.

 

ALICE

Excuse me, Your Majesty.

 

SYCOPHANT

(As the Queen.)

What is it child?

 

ALICE

Am I to have my head cut off too? I am only asking because the Cheshire Cat is a friend of mine, and we could take it upon ourselves to leave all at once to save you the trouble and you won’t be troubled by him again. I promise you that.

 

SYCOPHANT

(As the Queen.)

I love to make promises, but I never keep them.

(contined ... )