Excerpt of Alice in Quarantine (formatted for web viewing)

The beginning of Scene 8, A Game of Croquet, in which Alice plays Alice and the Sycophant plays all the other parts: two paintbrush-wielding gardeners, the queen, the hedgehogs, the flamingos, the king, and the executioner. 

SYCOPHANT

Look out. Don’t go splashing paint around. There’s no rush.

(ALICE enters. Stares. SYCOPHANT turns to face left.)

SYCOPHANT

We are in a rush! The Queen’s expected any moment,

and unless we paint the roses red, we’ll both be beheaded!

(SYCOPHANT turns to face right.)

SYCOPHANT

Why should we be beheaded?

(SYCOPHANT turns to face left.)

SYCOPHANT

For any reason at all.

ALICE

Excuse me. Is this the Queen’s croquet garden?

(SYCOPHANT turns to face ALICE.)

SYCOPHANT

Certainly. What did you think it was?

ALICE

I have no idea. Everything is so completely upside down. I’ve been inside for weeks

and ever-so-many weeks and I’ve been looking forward to an adventure of some

kind I could understand. But since I slid down the rabbit hole, I’m wondering what

kind of world I’ve entered. It’s completely different from what I remember.

SYCOPHANT

Completely right. Completely right. Isn’t that as it should be?

ALICE

What? Topsy turvy?

SYCOPHANT

Certainly. You didn’t expect things to make sense! Nothing makes sense here—not

at all.

ALICE

That has been my experience since I slipped down the rabbit hole.

Did I see you talking to yourself?

SYCOPHANT

Not at all. We all have many jobs and my job is to be two people. Or three. Depends

on the Queen’s whims. We all have to do many jobs.

ALICE

Well that’s the most sensible thing I’ve heard today. Because—

SYCOPHANT

Shush! The Queen!

ALICE

(In a stage whisper.)

Because I have a story to tell and there are ever-so-many characters, you see.

SYCOPHANT

Hush!

(SYCOPHANT throws himself flat on his face. ALICE does the same.)

ALICE

(After some time, in a stage whisper to SYCOPHANT.)

Where is she?

SYCOPHANT

Shush!

ALICE

But I don’t see her.

SYCOPHANT

Then we shall have to pretend she’s here.

ALICE

Why?

SYCOPHANT

Because if she says tomorrow that she was here, we shall have to say she was here,

and if she says she wasn’t here, we shall have to say she wasn’t here. Otherwise, she

will shout and fume and twitter and frown and finally we will hear the most dreaded

words, “Off with their heads!”

ALICE

Well, she must come because I must tell my story. I am right in the middle of it, and

if she doesn’t come, my story will not turn out the way it must.

(SYCOPHANT abruptly stands and takes a regal stance. ALICE does the same.)

SYCOPHANT

I shall play the part of the Queen!

ALICE

Then put down your painbrush or make it a scepter.

SYCOPHANT

Done!

(As the Queen to SYCOPHANT.)

Who are you?!

(As the gardener to ALICE.)

What do I do, what do I do? Oh my goodness. What must I do?

ALICE

(In a stage whisper.)

Answer her!

SYCOPHANT

(Making an about face.)

Only a gardener, Madam.

ALICE

(In a stage whisper.)

Answer yourself!

SYCOPHANT

(As the Queen.)

Off with his head!

(To ALICE, confused.)

Oh my! Oh my! What do I do?

ALICE

Nothing. You’re the Queen now.

SYCOPHANT

Oh.

(Angrily, as Queen.)

Who are you? What’s your name, child?

ALICE

Alice. Though I’m not sure of that today as I’m not myself and haven’t been for a

very long time.

SYCOPHANT

Of course not! I’m not myself either. I used to be a gardener, and last thing I knew—

ALICE

Hush or I shall behead you myself! You must play many parts! You are the Queen

now.

SYCOPHANT

Oh. Yes. Yes.

(Beat.)

Can you play croquet?

ALICE

Yes, your majesty.

SYCOPHANT

(As the Queen in a thunderous voice.)

Everyone! Get to your places!

ALICE

Is this it? The croquet-ground?

SYCOPHANT

Of course this is the croquet-ground! 

Why would you ask such a thing?

ALICE

Because, I mean—

SYCOPHANT

Out with it! Whatever do you mean?

ALICE

Well, it’s rather, well it’s all full of ridges and furrows. It’s quite the most curious

croquet-ground I’ve ever seen in my life. And I—

SYCOPHANT

Spit it out, girl!

ALICE

And I don’t see any arches.

SYCOPHANT

You are the most impertinent girl! Off with her head!

ALICE

(Bowing.)

I only meant—

(ALICE gestures to SYCOPHANT who drops character, runs, and, using his body,

forms an arch. First one, then another, possibly several; then returns and

becomes the Queen again.)

ALICE

I apologize Your Majesty. You’re quite right. There are hundreds of arches, and it’s a

very fine croquet-ground.

SYCOPHANT

Of course it is. It’s the very best croquet-ground. There has never been a croquetground

as pleasant as this.

ALICE

(Lying.)

Certainly. Never as pleasant as this. The furrows and ridges are a lovely

improvement on previous croquet-grounds.

SYCOPHANT

You are so right, young lady. I’ve decided I like you very much. You may go first.

(…continued…)

"A Game of Croquet," Timberview High School's production of Alice in Quarantine

"A Mad Tea Party," Timberview High School's production of Alice in Quarantine

© All text copyright 2018 by Micki Shelton