The Rise and Fall of Sir Jaspar Hardmaster

 By John McNeil

Summary

A script done in the style of a silent movie melodrama. In which our heroine is saved from the clutches of a wicked landlord with the help of a ministry which aims to give resources to the poor.

 

Note: This script was written to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Kingdom Resources Trust, a Christchurch (New Zealand) organisation which has a three-fold ministry: 1) It gives loans at no interest to help people break the debt cycle; 2) It provides budget advice; 3) Employment preparation and job-seeking help. However, it can easily be adapted to illustrate the themes of compassion, breaking from poverty, etc.

 

Performance note:

The play is performed in the style of a Victorian melodrama/silent movie. The characters mime their parts, in over-the-top manner, freezing at intervals while captions (dialogue and scene setters) are flashed on the screen. The dialogue in the script is for the guidance of the actors, and should only be mouthed, not spoken aloud. Costuming should suit the silent movie period, and will be anachronistic in terms of the time period of events. Silent movies type piano music should accompany the play throughout. In the original production, a movie projector was set up, with a rotating disc (which had wedges cut out of it) in front of the lens to simulate the flicker of a silent movies film.

 

Characters

Pauline, our heroine
Charlotte. her daughter
Sir Jaspar Hardmaster, the villainous landlord
Harold Trueblood, our hero
Richard, husband of Pauline

Script

 

CAPTION: The Rise and Fall of Sir Jaspar Hardmaster

CAPTION: Or, "A Lady Imperilled"

(for those who can't do without gratuitous sex and violence)

CAPTION: Or, "The Triumph of Harold Trueblood"

CAPTION: Spreydon, 1988

CAPTION: A humble cottage on the wrong side of Brougham Street

SCENE: Enter our heroine, Pauline, a mother with two children, one in a pram, which she is pushing, and the other, a daughter, tugging at her skirts. She is frantically weary, draws her hand across her brow, and sinks into chair. She takes the daughter in her arms and cradles her for a moment, then sits her down in her place, and gives her a drink.

Pauline hears a baby cry. She goes to the pram, and lifts out a bundle covered with a shawl. She unwraps the shawl to reveal a cabbage. She shakes her head, puts the cabbage on the table, and draws out her purse, which she opens and up-ends. Some moths (paper) fly out.

CAPTION: All gone!

Our heroine lifts her baby out of the pram, and rocks it. She takes out an outsized pacifier and puts it in the baby's mouth, then puts the baby back in the pram. She wheels the pram to the side of the stage, and taking up a broom begins to sweep.

Enter Sir Jaspar Hardmaster, our villain. He comes to the front door of the humble cottage, obviously relishing the scene about to be played. He tweaks his moustache, twirls his cane, and preens himself with an oily smile before knocking on the door.

Hearing the knock, Pauline gives a cry of hope.

PAULINE: At last, my husband has returned!

CAPTION: At last, my husband has returned!

She rushes to the door, and flings it open, and is about to fling herself on Sir Jaspar when she realises in shock/horror who it is.

PAULINE: Oh no, it is Sir Jaspar!

CAPTION: Oh no, it is our evil landlord, Sir Jaspar Hardmaster.

Pauline backs away, as he steps inside.

PAULINE: What do you want?

SIR J: I have come for the rent, my proud beauty.

PAULINE: But I cannot pay!

She shows the empty purse, the empty cupboards.

PAULINE: I cannot even buy milk for my little ones.

SIR J: What has that to do with me? I want my money.

Our heroine sinks to her knees, pleading with Sir Jaspar.

CAPTION: When my husband returns, he will pay all that we owe.

SIR J: I have waited long enough. One more day only. If you cannot pay me by tomorrow, I will have you thrown onto the streets without mercy!

CAPTION: Pay by tomorrow, or you will be evicted!

SIR J: Or, you could pay in another way. I need a good maidservant at Hardmaster Hall.

CAPTION: There is another way you could pay! I need a good maidservant.

PAULINE: (Recoils in horror) Never! Never!

SIR J: We shall see how you feel when the removal men arrive. Tomorrow!

He exits with a flourish, leaving Pauline weeping on the floor. Daughter goes to comfort her.

CAPTION: A few minutes later.

Enter our hero, Harold Trueblood. He is wheeling/pushing a trolley on which is a small desk with a sign, "Bank of Heaven - Jesus Saves With Us". He hears the cries of our heroine, stops, and knocks on the door. Our tear-stained heroine drags herself to the door, but before opening it calls out.

PAULINE: Who is there?

HAROLD: It is I, Harold Trueblood.

PAULINE: (In delight) It is Harold Trueblood!

CAPTION: It is Harold Trueblood!

PAULINE: Who's Harold Trueblood?

CAPTION: Who is Harold Trueblood?

HAROLD: I am an agent of the Bank of Heaven. (He points to the sign on the desk) My mission is to help people escape the evil clutches of unscrupulous debt compounders.

CAPTION: I am here to help you...

CAPTION: ...escape the evil clutches...

CAPTION: ...of unscrupulous debt compounders

HAROLD: (He takes out a money bag) I can lend you money at no interest to break the debt cycle.

He takes from the desk a small blackboard with the word "25%" on it in large letters. He takes a piece of chalk from his pocket and crosses it out with a flourish. He offers the money bag to Pauline.

With a cry of joy, she embraces Harold, while the daughter dances round them with glee.

Unfortunately, at that moment who should appear but Pauline's husband, Richard. He stops in the doorway, stunned at the sight of his wife in the embrace of a stranger.

(The next bit of action is lit by a strobe light to give a "stop action" feel to the action.)

With a roar Richard rushes forward, flings her to the ground, and accuses her of being unfaithful. He then turns and confronts our stunned hero.

RICHARD: So! Making love to my wife while my back is turned.

CAPTION: So! While my back is turned, you are unfaithful.

Richard swings at Harold and knocks him to the ground. With a cry, Pauline rushes between them and grabs Richard's arms.

PAULINE: No, no! It's a mistake. He is not my lover. He came to save us from wicked Sir Jaspar.

CAPTION: You misunderstand! He came to save us.

PAULINE: But now that you have returned, we can pay Sir Jaspar after all, and we will be happy ever after.

CAPTION: But now that you are back, you can pay Sir Jaspar.

(Fade strobe light)

Richard drops his arms, and turns away from Pauline.

PAULINE: What is the matter?

RICHARD: (Stricken) Alas! I have no money. The ship sank with all my savings.

CAPTION: The ship sank with all my savings.

PAULINE: Then we are sunk, too! (Then remembers) But no! The Bank of Heaven is here to help us!

They turn and appeal to Harold, who with a flourish takes out an outsized calculator. With their help he adds up some figures and enters them on to a clipboard-held paper. After some worried frowns over the figures, his eyes light up.

HAROLD: Yes! The budget works!

CAPTION: Yes! The budget works.

They all dance round in a circle, singing "Ding dong, Sir Jaspar's done"

CAPTION: The next day

Enter Sir Jaspar, carrying a large sack. With great relish he swirls up to the door of the humble cottage, and knocks. Richard and Harold Trueblood are hiding, and only Pauline answers the door, pretending to be frightened.

SIR JASPAR: Aha, my lovely, here I am. Have you the money?

PAULINE: No, no please spare us!

SIR JASPAR: If not the money, then perhaps you would like to work in my kitchen. Or else.......

He begins to grab household things and stash them in his bag. He even tugs Charlotte's last toy away from her. As he does so, Richard dashes from his hiding place, followed by Harold. Richard grabs Sir Jaspar by the coat collar.

RICHARD: Unhand my goods, you villain.

SIR JASPAR: Give me my money, or I will have you all evicted.

Richard takes the money bag held by Harold Trueblood. He thrusts it into Sir Jaspar's hand.

RICHARD: Go! And never darken our door again.

Sir Jaspar leaves dejected, helped by a parting kick. Pauline and Rchard rejoice while Harold looks on benignly. Then Richard stops with realisation.

RICHARD; Bit I still have no job.

CAPTION: But I still have no job.

However, our hero has the answer.

HAROLD; Never fear, my friends.

CAPTION: Do not lose heart, my friends

Harold goes to his desk, and turns around the "Bank of Heaven" sign. On the other side it reads "Kingdom Careers Plus - Job Help Service".

HAROLD: See! We can help you there, too.

CAPTION: Our job help service - my latest idea!

Laughing with relief, the family embrace Harold, and all bow their heads in prayer.

CAPTION: Kingdom Resources

Not a handout, but a hand up.

CAPTION: THE END

 

 

© Copyright John McNeil 1998
All rights reserved
This play may be performed free of charge, on the condition that copies are not sold for profit in any medium, nor any entrance fee charged.
In exchange for free performance, the author would appreciate being notified of when and for what purpose the play is performed.
He may be contacted at soulcommunication@paradise.net.nz
Or at: 36B Stourbridge St, Christchurch 2, New Zealand.