Wherein Faust Eats Green Eggs in Hell
A One-Act, One-Scene, Ten-Minute Play
Characters: FAUST, MEPHISTOPHELES, GRETCHEN, PLAYWRIGHT. All but the PLAYWRIGHT begin offstage right.
Props: Two chairs placed side-by-side on upstage center. Another chair on stage right. A written contract and a pen, hidden on MEPHISTOPHELES's person. A blue-and-yellow MetroCard, hidden on the PLAYWRIGHT's person.
Costumes: Meh, who needs 'em?
[Enter PLAYWRIGHT from stage left.]
Oh, my friends, it's good to see you.
Let me introduce this preview.
Remember Faust? I wrote a version
Which has a new kind of perversion:
It is brief, but it has guile:
I wrote in Dr. Seuss's style.
I'll publish it under his name.
I will get wealthy with his fame!
But now, without further ado,
Here is the play, from me to you.
[The PLAYWRIGHT walks off to stage left and observes the play as it unfolds. FAUST enters from stage right and collapses on the lone chair. MEPHISTOPHELES follows him, walking on all fours and looking very bitter about it. He sits at FAUST's feet in a canine posture.]
Oh, I am so bored, so tired;
Books I've read, assistants fired;
Classes taught, and papers graded;
Talents praised, slackers berated.
And in the end, what have I got?
Nothing but old age. Oh, rot!
How I wish I had a wife!
How I wish I had a life!
[He sighs. Pause.]
And all I have to comfort me
Is this annoying, wee doggie,
About as comely as a rat.
[MEPHISTOPHELES leaps to his feet. FAUST jumps with surprise and gets up.]
I resent that!
I am no man's-best-friend, you see;
Instead, his utmost enemy.
Yes, I am a Lord of Hell!
As you can very plainly tell.
PLAYWRIGHT: [To the audience.]
I'll get horns for him, in time.
MEPHISTOPHELES: [Annoyed, to the PLAYWRIGHT.]
Now how am I supposed to rhyme?
Never mind; please just go on.
Disruptive boy, begone!
[He turns back to FAUST. The PLAYWRIGHT doesn't move.]
I've heard you have a problem, sir:
You want to set your heart astir;
You want to feel! To live! To breathe!
You want to have your bosom heave!
Well, tell you what. I'll show you, son,
Just how to have a bit of fun.
I will be your servant dear,
[He pulls out the paper and pen.]
Just sign this little contract here.
Could you give me a great life?
Could you scare me up a wife?
Aye; with very little strife!
FAUST: [Taking them.]
Well then, sign me up, my friend!
[He signs the contract with a great, exaggerated motion and then tosses both items to the floor, where they stay for the remainder of the play.]
But say—in this, what is your end?
Never mind; you needn't worry.
To your pleasures, let us hurry!
But how will you convey us there?
MEPHISTOPHELES: [With a grand gesture.]
We'll just fly up and through the air!
PLAYWRIGHT: [Walking up to the pair.]
Oh no, you won't; you'll have to ride:
I've got no props to led you glide.
Here, M., just take this MetroCard.
[He gives one to MEPHISTOPHELES.]
A subway trip won't be so hard.
[He walks off to the side again. MEPHISTOPHELES looks disgusted. FAUST and MEPHISTOPHELES sit in the chairs, and MEPHISTOPHELES puts the card in his pocket.]
Oh boy, a train! What fun! How neat!
GRETCHEN: [Offstage right, imitating the electronic voice used on 6 trains.]
The next stop is Canal Street.
[The PLAYWRIGHT walks to center stage and faces the audience. FAUST and MEPHISTOPHELES stay seated.]
And so, our boys, with locomotion
Went out and got a magic potion
To make old Faust quite young once more.
Illegal, of course, in any store.
But that's what old Canal Street's for!
Now that Faust was full of life
He went to catch a lovely wife.
[He walks to the side again. FAUST, with MEPHISTOPHELES close behind, rises and walks up to GRETCHEN as she enters.]
Oh Gretchen, dear! Please do be mine!
Scram, or on your pancreas I'll dine!
[FAUST and MEPHISTOPHELES scramble offstage right.]
GRETCHEN: [To the audience.]
Oh, I was so short with him;
He thought I'd tear him limb from limb.
He must've thought that I was mad.
In truth, he was a handsome lad.
If he had had a holy heart,
I'dve been hit with Cupid's dart,
But that fellow by his side—
In his soul, dark powers hide!
[She walks to stage left as FAUST and MEPHISTOPHLES reenter and stand at stage right. Though all three characters are onstage, we're pretending that the two parties are separated: GRETCHEN doesn't notice FAUST and MEPHISTOPHLES, and vica-versa.]
Oh, but this one job is tough:
With innocence, the going's rough.
How can we seduce a lass
Who's got a conscience clear as glass?
Don't complain, you awful brute;
Love hurts my heart with pain acute.
Hurry up; improve my life!
Hurry up; get me a wife!
MEPHISTOPHELES: [To the audience.]
If only I hadn't signed up with this gent!
[He makes some kind of appropriate gesture (actor's choice) to smooth the transition here.]
A devil is faithful— one hundred percent.
PLAYWRIGHT: [Returning to center stage.]
Mephisto used some sneaky tricks,
And in due time, he surely fixed
A bond of love between these two
Who to each other were so new.
[The PLAYWRIGHT returns to his place as FAUST and GRETCHEN approach each other at center stage. MEPHISTOPHELES looks on contentedly.]
Oh, Gretchen! You're fetchin'!
Oh, Heinrich! You're fine… rick.
[FAUST and MEPHISTOPHELES suddenly rush offstage right.]
GRETCHEN: [To the audience.]
Alas, but that was long ago.
He disappeared like springtime snow.
I had a kid by him, of course.
[She looks left and right; then, conspiratorially:]
I drowned it with the river's force.
[She drops to a pathetic kind of slouching, seated position, as if wasting away in prison. (Hey, that kind of rhymes!) Unlike the rest of the play, the following speech should be recited with a modicum of gravity. Also, slower is better, especially considering the punchline.]
My innocence! Where did it go?
Today, a sinner's guilt I know.
I know the sting of judging eyes
That pierce a heart where evil lies;
I know the lash of scornful tongue
That won't forgive a sinner young.
How could my love, a thing so pure,
Put me behind this prison door?
How could they put me on death row—
Get on with the blasted show!
FAUST: [Running in.]
C'mon, my dear; we've got to go!
I will not live a fugitive.
Do not fret; God will forgive.
Don't you want to keep your life?
Don't you want to be my wife?
Hurry up; we'll miss the train!
FAUST: [Shrugging, to the audience.]
I guess she's damaged in the brain.
[He runs offstage. GRETCHEN finally collapses. The PLAYWRIGHT takes center stage.]
And that concludes this play's Part One.
But now you're in for yet more fun:
The next piece of this show, Part Two,
Has craziness out the wazoo!
[The other characters quickly surround the PLAYWRIGHT: GRETCHEN rises as FAUST and MEPHISTOPHELES walk up to the PLAYWRIGHT. He ignores them completely.]
What is this now? There can't be more!
My throat is hoarse!
My feet are sore!
Enough of this iambic-tetrametric stuff!
MEPHISTOPHELES: [To the audience.]
More like iambic tri-and-a-half-meter. It's not really consistent, as you might've noticed. I'm wrecking it right now!
Don't mind them— I'll call the bluff.
My loyal actors wouldn't dare!
They can never hope to scare—
ACTORS: [In unison.]
No, no, no! We've had enough!
PLAYWRIGHT: [Glancing worriedly at the ACTORS.]
I'd better run— this could get rough.
[The PLAYWRIGHT runs offstage, screaming, as the ACTORS pursue him.]
Special thanks to regular expressions for making all of that awful HTML formatting a lot easier.
See also Everything's Seussian Star Trek: The Next Generation and The Art of War nodes. (In fact, the former was the inspiration for this one.)