Here is my play version of Faustfeathers, which won the 1994 Paul Green Playwrights' competition sponsored by the North Carolina Writers' network. It was produced in Nov-Dec 2006 by Baby D. Productions in Omaha, NE.
by John Kessel
Cast of Characters:
Doctor John Faustus, professor of theology, University of Wittenberg
Wagner, his student and servant
Dicolini, a student at the university
Robin, another student
Frater Albergus, a spy for the Pope
Master Bateman, Albergus's henchman
Helen of Troy, a spirit
Mephistopheles, a demon from hell
Martin, a porter
students, demons, a barmaid
The entire play takes place in Wittenberg, Germany in late December 1519.
Scene 1: Faustus's apartment, evening
Scene 2: Albergus's room at the Boar's Bollocks Inn, the next morning
Scene 3: Faustus's classroom, late morning
Scene 4: Faustus's apartment, afternoon
Scene 5: The tavern at the Boar's Bollocks Inn, late afternoon
Scene 6: Faustus's apartment, that evening
Scene 7: The tavern in the Boar’s Bollocks Inn, after midnight
Spotlight downstage center. Enter Mephistopheles.
Mephistopheles: Know, ladies and gentlemen, that I am Mephistopheles, chief among lieutenants to our great Master Lucifer. For twenty-four years now I have been bound by magical contract as servant to the necromancer Doctor Faustus. But now the end draws nigh.
As all demons, in compensation for our damnation I am given the power to be in every place, and the power to render myself invisible (renders himself invisible by draping his head and shoulders with tinsel). I see you when you’re sleeping, I see you when you wake, I know if you’ve been bad or good, so…
Excuse me. It is Christmas of 1519. All of Europe lies in turmoil over the heresies of Martin Luther. The Pope and the Roman church attempt to keep repressed changes that cannot be repressed. To the West, a new world has been discovered. There is a rebirth of learning, a renewed quest for knowledge. It is an age of overreachers, where the certitudes of the Middle Ages have been challenged and in places, broken. New nations, new political movements, new commerce, new science, and old lusts. Vast opportunity for salesmen such as me.
Though you live some five centuries after the good doctor, you are bound as he by the self same laws of the universe. There, but for the grace of God, go you.
Lights come up. We are in a medieval apartment, divided into three rooms. To stage right is a bedroom, center stage is a common room/dining room, and stage left is a library/laboratory/study. Of the furnishings of these rooms, the most bizarre is a human Clock that stands in the corner of the commons room: a man in a modern business suit who calls out the hours aloud.
The bedroom and laboratory are dark, but four men occupy the apartment. Wagner is looking for something in the study. At the dining table, lingering over the remains of a dinner, are Frater Albergus , Master Bateman , and Doctor Faustus. Albergus is an imposing man of middle years, wearing somewhat elaborate medieval garb. Bateman is Albergus's henchman, a lascivious little man who has seen too much conniving and is cynically accustomed to it all. Wagner is Faustus's student at the university of Wittenberg, and his servant. He is waiting table at this dinner. Faustus looks exactly like Groucho Marx of the early Paramount Marx Brothers films. He wears gold wire-rimmed spectacles, a black academic gown over a loose white shirt, a sloppily tied black cravat, and tights.
It is winter and a fire burns in the fireplace. At the rear of each room a latticed window looks out on the alley behind Faustus's apartment. At the beginning of the scene Wagner leaves the commons for his study and Albergus continues his conversation with Faustus.
Albergus: Of course the power that comes from the blood of unbaptized infants is only good during months without an "r" in them. My colleague Master Bateman, here, is an expert in such matters.
Bateman (smiling): I before e except after c.
Faustus: You know, to look at those teeth you'd swear they were real.
Wagner returns from the study. Wagner: I cannot find them, master.
Faustus: Of course you can't. Frater Albergus, meet my apprentice, Wagner. Don't let the feckless demeanor fool you. He really is a Renaissance dope.
Faustus exits. Albergus: How long have you been Doctor Faustus's fag, my boy?
Wagner: Two years.
Albergus: Yet he treats you abominably. Why do you put up with it?
Wagner: I am a student of the magical arts. I seek knowledge.
Albergus: What sort of knowledge?
Wagner: The Meaning of Life.
Bateman: Big beautiful brown eyes are The Meaning of Life.
Albergus: He means magical knowledge. Am I right, son?
Wagner (hesitates): No. Learned sir, please keep my confidence. I have seen the most beautiful woman here, in Faustus's apartments. And yet she is not here, nor have I ever spied her entering or leaving. How I long to meet her! To get to?to converse with her.
Bateman: Have a friendly little chat. Discuss theology. Geometry. Anatomy.
Albergus: Was this woman Greek?
Wagner: How can one tell if a woman is Greek?
Bateman: There's a trick they do with?
Albergus: Enough, Bateman?
Faustus: Wagner! Get your sorry butt in here!
Exit Wagner Albergus: We proceed apace, Bateman! See the way Faustus accepted our introduction from Doctor Phutatorious at face value. Now I must draw him out. The Pope will not tolerate these magical tricks any longer. We must expose this Faustus as a dealer with the devil, discover his contract, confiscate his magic book, and drag him before the Inquisition.
Clock: NINE O'CLOCK. THE TEMPERATURE IS TWELVE DEGREES. DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR CHILDREN ARE?
Bateman (looking warily at Clock): I don't know about you, but I'd rather not end up as a piece of furniture.
Albergus (absorbed in his machinations): And now hear what this slack fool says. This woman he speaks of must be Helen! But we need proof more positive than this. Now hurry and find us some students we can use as spies. Have them report to my rooms at the inn directly tomorrow morning.
Bateman leaves. Faustus and Wagner return from the study and Faustus sets down a box of cigars. Wagner sits on a stool in the corner. During the ensuing conversation he occasionally rises to refil their cups with wine. Albergus: So tell me, learned Faustus, how you discovered the secret of this miraculous alembic.
Faustus: Never mind that, pick a card.
Faustus profers a deck of tarot cards. When Albergus just stares he folds them away, leans forward over his glass of wine, places one end of a cigar into his mouth, lights the other from the candle flame. He puffs a few times, then exhales a plume of smoke across the table at Albergus. He pushes the wooden box forward .
As Albergus reaches out to take one…
Faustus: Sorry your friend had to leave so soon. Have a cigar.
Albergus examines the cigar; he has never seen anything like this before and is not ready to take any chances with a magician like Faustus. Albergus: Ah?what is the nature of this?this 'see-gar' you burn here, Faustus? Albertus Magnus speaks of securing rooms against evil spirits by burning certain herbs, but he advocates the use of a brazier. Does not this smoke taste noxious to the palate?
Faustus: Just one.
Albergus: To be sure.
Faustus: I've had better smokes, but you won't be able to get them for a couple of hundred years. I just burn these ropes to drive the bugs away.
Albergus (sniffs): There does not seem to be any hint of cinnibar. How did you come by these instruments?
Faustus: That's an interesting story. I was riding a double decker down Broadway and when we took the corner to 42nd Street on two wheels (the driver was a dyspeptic Abyssinian) a young woman fell into my lap. Imagine my chagrin. Naturally I took her home with me and we became devoted friends. In the divorce settlement she got the Hemingway manuscripts, I got these stogies.
Albergus: In Nuremberg it is rumored you have had much success in conjuring the shades of historical figures.
Faustus: Hysterical figures. And I do mean figures. Remind me sometime to introduce you to Helen.
Wagner spills the wine. Faustus: Try again, boy: cup outside, wine inside.
Albergus (pushing Wagner away as he tires to mop up the wine): Helen of Troy?
Faustus: Troy, Schenectady?one of those towns.
Albergus: So you have indeed raised the dead?
Faustus: She only acts that way in the mornings. Lithium deficiency.
Wagner finishes mopping the spilled wine. Albergus: Have you heard the reports of the astounding incidents that took place recently in Rome? It is said that some sorceror, invisible, plucked food and drink right out ot the Pope's mouth. Then, to humiliate the papists further, this same necromancer stole the heretic Bruno away from the Inquisition and whisked him off to Austria. A most clever trick. I only wish I'd been able to manage it myself. The person responsible for bearding the Antichrist's tool in his own den must be the most powerful mage in all of Europe. Who do you suppose that might be?
Faustus: Are you going to smoke that cigar or eat it? Go ahead! You can pay me later.
Albergus: Pay you? Alas, Faustus, I have but little coin in pocket.
Clock: NINE THIRTY. MAYBE YOU SHOULD CHECK YOUR WALLET.
Faustus: Money, money, money! I'm sick to death of this talk of money! It's destroying our marriage! These cigars would cost a couple of guilders on the open market. Of course it's closed now, so you're left to your own devices. You did bring your devices, didn't you?
Albergus: What sort of?
Faustus: If not, you'll have to get your brothers to help you.
Albergus: I have no brothers.
Faustus: Your father must have been relieved.
Albergus: My dear Faustus, do not insult me. I may only be an itinerant scholar, but I've come all the way from Nuremberg to sit at your feet and learn.
Faustus: As long as you're down there, how about shining those shoes.
Albergus: You do not mean what you say.
Faustus: Let me tell you a thing or two about what I mean.
When I took this job
I told the dean
You play it nice
I'll play it mean
It don't pay to mess with the Wittenberg Man
The Greatest Scholar in all of Europe.
I'll clean your clock
I'll drink your hock
I'll be your friend
Until the end
Or something better comes along.
Wagner: It's true, it's true
He's beat me black and blue
Don't mess with the Wittenberg Man
The Wisest Guy in all of Europe.
Faustus: I've got my magical clock
And a book full of spells
I make deals with the spirits
I wear a cap with bells
I've got a dog with a bone
The philosopher's stone
So tell all your sages
All your magical mages
It don't pay to mess with the Wittenberg Man
The Faustest Doctor in all of Europe.
Albergus: Don't get me wrong, gentle colleague
I'm not here to try your patience
I've come to praise your great achievements
Learn to follow your investigations
Into the arcane hollows
Of these hallowed halls
The ivy covered walls
Of this great institution.
I won't dis the reputation of the Wittenberg Man
The most Powerful Professor in all of Europe.
Faustus: If you're looking, pal, for knowledge
Let me give you a clue
Don't go to college
It's the worst you could do
Take my word for it, buddy
I work here every day
Before your first semester
You'll begin to fester
In a most distressful way.
But if you must matriculate
Here's a tip I can relate:
Make a deal with the devil
Before you step through the door.
Don't worry about perdition
It's a faculty tradition
He'll get you grants galore
You'll publish oceans, magic potions
Win mysterious promotions
That a Chancellor can't ignore
Take a warlock's degree
Major in astrology
For a minor, sorcery
And a concentration in dissimulation.
For whatever the alumni say
About the university way
This fact is indisputable:
That it's a storehouse of knowledge
Because none of it ever leaks out.
Wagner: None of it ever leaks out
It's sealed in weighty books where
It's a heavy-duty obligation
To open even one
That old humanistic science
That new deconstructive fun
I've been searching for it full time
But a glimpse of a pretty ankle
Is all I've ever won.
Faustus: Take the kid's word, he should know
I'm the door that he can't peek through
Can't storm or even leak through
Can't speculate or guess, no
Students aren't here to be blessed, so
Forget the father confessor
I'm the universal professor.
Still I don't want to be inhospitable
'twould be pitiful, Bro' Albergus.
Leave ambition on the doorstep
And I'm the honcho, at your service.
But just don't mess with the Wittenberg Man
The Hottest Burgher in all of Germany.
He knows where your body's buried
Or meant to be. Albergus: I take your point, noble Faustus. But my questions were entirely innocent.
Faustus: But late at night, lights turned low, when you're alone with your answers? That's a different story!
Albergus: My dear colleague! There's no need to treat me like a mountebank.
Faustus: Oh, so now it's high finance? Well, money means nothing here, friend.
Albergus: Why must you keep speaking of money?
Faustus: This is a public university. What else are we going to talk about? You'll learn soon enough that a little Latin goes a long way in this institution. There used to be a little Latin around here, but he went away. That's how I got this job. You look a little Latin yourself, and I wish you'd gone with him. You foreign scholars want to dance to the music without paying the piper. And what does it get you? Asparagus, or contract bridge. But a card like you could care less who maintains the bridge contract, as long as you can pass water under it. Speaking of contracts, what makes you think you're going to get your hands on mine?
Albergus: I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about.
Faustus: If you're so sure, why aren't you rich? You brute! No, don't try to apologize!
Albergus: I didn't come here to be insulted.
Faustus: This is a good place for it. Where do you usually go?
Albergus stands, throwing down his napkin. Albergus: I beg your pardon?
Faustus: Don't grovel, I can't pardon you. You'll have to talk to the Pope. Too bad, I hear he's not much of an audience. Well, it's certainly been a pleasure talking to myself this evening. I must visit myself more often. As for you, sir, I want you to remember that scholarship is as scholarship does, and neither does my wife, if I had one, which I don't. Nor do my children, if I had any, who would be proud of me for saying so. Now get out!
Albergus leaves in a huff. Faustus goes to his side of the table, sits in his chair, takes a bite out of a chicken leg from Albergus's plate and sips his wine.
Faustus holds out his cup to Wagner.
Clock: TEN O'CLOCK. ALL IS WELL.
Faustus: More wine, boy.
Scene opens in Albergus's room at The Boar's Bollocks inn . Albergus is at his table composing a report for the Pope.
Albergus: When will those students arrive?
Bateman: They should be here soon.
Albergus: They're completely reliable men?
Bateman: As a logician, you realize as well as I that such judgments are necessarily subjective.
Albergus: Never mind logic. Stick to the facts.
Bateman: They're men. I would say that's a completely reliable statement.
Albergus seals the letter, hands it to Bateman. Albergus: Fair enough. Send this off to the Pope.Bateman leaves. A knock comes at the door.
The door opens and two sloppy men come in. The darker of the two, Dicolini, wears a black hat that comes to a point that hints at the pointed skull beneath it. His coat is shabby and two sizes two small. He wears an expression of small-minded guile. His companion Robin's face is round and empty as the full moon. His ragged clothes are even shabbier than Dicolini's if that is possible. He smells like a fishmonger and a mass of curly red hair explodes from beneath his floppy hat. They come forward in unison, hands extended.
Robin shakes his hand. Albergus recoils, draws back his hand and finds he is holding a dead fish. Robin contorts in silent laughter, slaps his knee. Albergus throws down the fish. Robin looks offended.
Albergus: Noble Robin and gentle Dicolini, welcome!
Albergus: Gentlemen, gentlemen. Let us speak of our business. I have called you here because you are brother scholars, acquainted with the university, and students of the reknowned Doctor Faustus. I have also heard that you are available for delicate work and for a reasonable fee can keep your mouths shut. I trust I have not been mislead?
Dicolini: Atsa some joke, eh boss?
Dicolini: I keepa my mouth shut for nothing. Robin, his mouth cost extra.
Albergus: What I want you to do is keep an eye on Doctor Faustus for me.
Robin opens his mouth and sticks out his tongue, from which a price tag dangles.
Dicolini: Atsa different story. Eyes cost more.
Albergus: No, no. 'Keep an eye on him'?that's just an expression.
Dicolini: You want the whole expression, it cost you a pretty penny. We give you a pretty expression, though.
Robin puffs out his cheeks, purses his lips and crosses his eyes. Albergus controls himself, ignores him. Albergus: I want you to find out how Faustus spends his evenings. Does he practice black magic? Is he in league with infernal forces? And I need proof, the sooner the better. Should you do this for me, your investigation shall receive such thanks as fits a king's remembrance.
Dicolini: How much you gonna pay?
Albergus: I'll pay you ten silver pieces.
Dicolini: We a-no want no pieces. We want the whole thing.
Robin honks a horn and nods, surly. Albergus: Another ten pieces then, if you provide me the information I need. That's all.
Dicolini: How do we know thatsa all?
Dicolini: Look, we shadow Faustus for you, how we gonna know when you give us ten pieces thatsa the whole thing?
Albergus: But I'm offering you twenty pieces for shadowning Faustus.
Dicolini: See what I mean? First you gotta ten pieces, now you gotta twenty pieces, but we no gotta the whole thing.
Albergus: You shadow Faustus for me, and then we'll talk about the whole thing.
Dicolini: You no understand. Suppose I drop a vase, itsa break. How many pieces I got? I don't know; I gotta count them. Now you give me ten pieces, you give me twenty pieces, I still don't have them all, maybe. I shatter vase, we shadow Faustus, itsa same thing: we no gonna do the job until we know we getta the whole thing.
As Albergus and Dicolini haggle, Robin creeps behind them. He draws another fish from the folds of his ragged cloak and slips it onto Albergus's chair. Albergus arguing with Dicolini, draws a kerchief from his sleeve, mops his brow, and sits down. A moment later he lets out a strangled cry and leaps from the chair, cracking his knee on the table. He picks up the fish and holds it out at arm's length. Albergus: What's this?Robin whips a sword out and lunges, impaling the fish and the sleeve of Albergus's doublet. Albergus steps back and slips on the first fish. His arms fly up, jerking Robin toward him. Dicolini catches Albergus under the armpits, and Robin sprawls on top of him. Dicolini: You no fool me, boss. Atsa fish.Albergus and Robin struggle to get up, but Robin's hand is caught in the guard. When they make it to their feet the pommel is wedged under the clasp that holds Albergus's cloak closed around his neck. The sword guard presses against his throat, and his arm stretches the length of the blade as if tied to a splint. Chin forced high into the air, Albergus whirls around like a manic signpost. Dicolini: Don't worry, boss. We get you out.Robin jumps on Albergus's back and shoves a hand down his collar. Dicolini pulls him over onto the table. He lies spread-eagled while Robin pulls the sword up through the collar, across his neck. Afraid they will cut his throat, he struggles, but Dicolini is sitting on his left arm. Dicolini: Relax. We take care of everything.Robin draws the sword completely out and the fish catches against Albergus's throat. Robin shakes hands with Dicolini. Albergus sits up, stands, tugs his clothes into order, trying to compose himself. Albergus: Gentlemen. I trust we are in agreement now? You'll do this piece of work for me?
Dicolini: We do the whole thing.
Robin honks. Albergus steers them toward the door, his arms across their shoulders. Albergus: Splendid. Remember now, should you meet me in public, I'm a stranger.
Dicolini: Stranger than who?
Albergus: Us. You and I?and your friend, of course. Strangers.
Dicolini: Hesa stranger than both of us put together.
Albergus: So I'm beginning to understand.
Dicolini: We gotta go now. We're gonna be late for the classes we wanna miss.
Albergus: My apologies for detaining you. Just make sure you get me something I can use against Faustus.
Robin pulls a red-hot poker out of the robe. He grips the iron in both hands, waving it under Albergus's nose. Albergus falls back; Robin offers him the poker. Dicolini shoves Robin. Dicolini: Whatsa matter for you? You crazy? The boss no play poker!Robin, hurt, puts the poker back in his robe.
Lights come up on a classroom. At the front is a raised platform with a table, a lectern and behind it a blackboard. A window to the streets of Wittenberg at the left, a doorway at right. Students gathering before class, Among them are Albergus, sitting in the front row, and Wagner, Faustus's fag, likewise in front.
Albergus: You seem melancholy today, young student. Did your master take last night's misunderstanding amis?
Wagner: I don't think he misunderstood anything. He did make me pick a card. Something he calls three card monte.
Albergus: He predicted your future?
Wagner: Not exactly. But he won back my salary for the next six months. As long as it keeps me close to her, it doesn’t matter.
Albergus: I see you are reading divine Homer. Practicing your Greek?
Wagner: Only dreaming of Helen, fairer than the evening air, clad in beauty of a thousand stars. Her lips suck forth my soul; see where it flies! Here will I dwell, for heaven be in these hips.
I came to work for Faustus seeking scientific sport
Over universal secrets to emote
But then one early evening as I was cleaning out his rooms
I caught a glimpse of Helen
And that was all she wrote
Yes it's true, I can't deny it
I'm in love with Helen's ghost
A spirit maiden, made of mist
My equanimity is toast
Her ectoplasmic thighs
Call from me so many sighs
That it isn't even funny
(Please don't laugh.)
Her hair it glows like golden wheat?
Let's not talk about her feet?
Skin of alabaster pure
A fleshy spirit, that's for sure
They say her face launched many ships
How I‘d love to kiss those lips
Find a way to mingle fluids
(In a chaste way, sir, of course)
To assay those frosty tetons
That a climber never clumb.
Though I cannot speak a sound sir
Please don't tell me that I'm dumb
When I think of her posterior
Fully round and fully packed
I can't imagine one superior
My imagination's racked.
Though it's true she's Greek to me
Nonetheless I seek to be
Round her temple holy shrine
Long to comprehend she's mine.
It's not a problem that's she's dead, sir.
Though my love's an ancient queen
She's as fresh as any daisy
On at Spring morn, that you've seen.
But she comes, and then she goes
She's at Faustus's beck and call
And I've not said any word to her
Just espied her from the hall
At a distance, faintly glowing
Mist of moisture on her skin
Dewy smile, one earlobe showing
But he never lets me in
How I'd love to try her virtue
And to have her try my own
But I guess that it's not destined
And I'm stuck here all alone
Facing humiliation daily
Who'm I kidding, I'm a mess
As I try to do his bidding
A mass of horny male distress
And my grades are really suffering
And my shoes are getting old
And my soul has lost its stuffing
And my bed is still and cold
Do you think I like this pining
I'm a handsome, vital man!
But the barmaids and the co-eds
Cannot lend me any hand.
So my eyes are growing shaky
My complexion is at risk
If I brush my hair much longer
I'll be bald before I'm kissed.
Sex I've found's the greatest mystery;
In that ocean, down we sink
It's the cosmic bang that made us
It's the power that I seek.
I'm in love with Homer's Helen
Homer's Helen makes me mush
Blushing like the greenest sucker
Mooning for a succubus. Faustus enters, wearing long black academic robe, puffing a cigar, in Groucho lope. Strides back and forth in front of the class, takes up a pointer, raps the lectern, turns and pulls down a chart of a human head with areas mapped out on it like a steer apportioned for slaughter. Except these parts are labelled "Imagination," "Love" "Sex" "Politics" "Sports" "Clothes" "Gambling" "Religion" Faustus: Here we have a diagram of the astral mind in the fourth quarter of the phrenological year. You'll note the eruptions at the zenith. These eruptions can be cleared up with fulminate of mercury, but the woman only comes on Tuesday afternoons. The rest of the week you have to take care of yourself, if you know what's good for you. Wagner, tell us what's good for you.Wagner, startled, stumbles to his feet. Wagner: Chastity, Doctor Faustus.
Faustus: Chastity, is it? What about obedience?
Wagner: Obedience. Of course.
Wagner: That, too.
Faustus: Quit monking around, boy! Who do you think you're kidding? You'd better sit down and hibernate until that bonus in your codpiece goes away. Or is that a cod in your bonuspiece?
With a crash, the door of the room slams open and in dash Robin and Dicolini. They trip over each other, get up, scramble into two seats in the front row. Dicolini sees Albergus, gives a double take, Dicolini: Who's this guy? I never saw him before in my life.He winks theatrically. at Albergus . Faustus turns his ire on Dicolini. Faustus: Late for class again, eh?Dicolini: We a-no late. Faustus: Why, the town clock struck not five minutes ago. It's half past ten!
Dicolini: No it's not.
Robin pulls an hourglass from out of his bottomless cloak. All the sand is in the bottom. He waves it at Faustus. Dicolini: See, we're right on time.
Faustus: Not according to that.
Dicolini: Atsa run a little fast. Shesa use quicksand.
Faustus: Oh no. You can't fool me that easily. By that housglass, it must be eleven o'clock.
Dicolini: Then class is over. Let's go, Robbie.
Faustus: Hold on, Macduff. I'm not done lecturing.
Dicolini: Too bad. We're done listening.
Faustus: Well, you can forget about leaving until my clock strikes eleven. Time is money, and my time is worth at least a couple of marks. You boys look like a couple of marks. Are you brothers?
Robin is insulted. He comes out of his seat, huffing and puffing as if he is about to go berserk. Dicolini: My friend, hesa get pretty mad. You watch out or he give you a piece of his mind.
Faustus: No thanks. I wouldn't want to take the last piece.
Dicolini: Atsa okay. He won't notice.
Faustus: Well, if you say so. Come here, young man.
Fausuts reaches for Robin's arm but somehow finds himself holding his thigh. He pushes it away in disgust.
Robin pulls a glowing skull from his cloak and presents it to Faustus. The class recoils. Faustus pops open its mouth and relights his cigar from the candle buring inside. He tosses the skull out the window, stands Robin in front of the chart, and backs off a step to appraise him. Moon-faced Robin looks about as intelligent as a hardboiled egg. Faustus taps his pointer against Robin's skull. Faustus: The astral mind is responsible for contact with the spiritual world without the intervention of either seraphim or cherubim. You all know what a seraph is, don't you?
Faustus: Let's take a look at your skull.
Dicolini (standing): Sure. On my pancakes, I like a maple seraph.
Faustus: No, no. Cherubs, seraphs.
Dicolini: I no like a cherub. I like a maple.
Faustus: These aren't food?they're angels.
Dicolini: I no like angel food, either.
Faustus: Well, that takes the cake. Where was I?
Robin is rubbing against the chart like a cat. Faustus: Let's forget about the astral mind. That's obviously not relevant with this subject. Don't let me wake you, now. I'm not offending you by talking, am I?Robin honks. Faustus: Gesundheit. Moving south from the astral mind, we come to the inferior regions of the intellect. And when I say inferior, I mean inferior. The inferior mind, as you'll remember from our last lecture, is responsible for worldly thought, for instance, how did your nose get that way, and wasn't that a great plague we had last month. Worldly thought, of course, must be processed by one of the other organs before it becomes definable in emotional terms. The heart, for instance, controls affection, the liver, love, and the spleen, anger. Who can tell us what the kidneys control?
Dicolini (rising again): The kid knees keep their legs from bending backwards.
Faustus leans toward Albergus.
Faustus: Do you hear voices?
Dicolini turns around, raises his fists to accept the accolades of his fellow students. Faustus turns on him.
Faustus: A kid's knees already bend backwards. Do you have any other bright ideas?
Dicolini: Not right now. I let you know.
Faustus: Do that. Drop me a postcard to warn me when you'll arrive. If I had a couple more students like you boys I could change gold into lead.
Wagner sighs. He's thinking of fair Helen. Meanwhile, Robin has moved to Faustus's lectern and opens Faustus's magic book. A small cloud of dust billows out. Robin pulls a kerchief out of his sleeve with a fluorish, sneezes, then blows his nose with a loud honk. There is a flash of light and a smell of sulfur. When the smoke clears there is an imp standing on the edge of the podium. The class is astounded. Albergus stands up. Faustus stubs his cigar out on Dicolini's hat. Robin, delighted, holds his hand out to the imp, which crawls up his arm onto his shoulder. Faustus: Oh, no you don't!
Dicolini: Come on, Robbie!
Faustus and Robbie dance back and forth on opposite sides of the lectern. Robin dashes for the door with Dicolini, who slams it in Faustus's face. Faustus whips it open, looks out, comes back to the lectern and whirls on Wagner. Faustus: As your punishment, you will retrieve that imp for me by midnight.
Wagner: But Magister, I didn't do anything!
Faustus: Since when has that made any difference around here? Scene Four
We are back in Faustus's apartment, in the study. Faustus is there, idly leafing through a copy of Esquire.With him is monstrous Mephistopheles, a demon from Hell and Faustus's servant.
Mephistopheles moves to stage front at points during this scene, addressing the audience directly in asides. Whenever he does, Faustus freezes in place in the background until Mephisto returns and takes up his place in the conversation.
Mephisto (aside): Better to rule in Hell than serve in Heaven, Lucifer told us. Little did I know that I would end up spending twenty four years playing mindless practical jokes for a man purported to be the wisest scholar in Europe. When I fell from heaven, I knew I was in for a poorer class of associate, but I never thought it could get this bad. Why this is hell, nor am I out of it.
Clock: FOUR O'CLOCK. HOW MUCH LONGER DO I HAVE TO KEEP DOING THIS?
Mephisto: Midnight tonight, noble Faustus. Then do the jaws of hell open to receive thee.
Faustus: How late do they stay open?
Mephisto: Long enough to swallow thee up, soul and socks.
Faustus (holding up cigar): Light it.
The cigar magically flares up, and Faustus takes a few speculative puffs. Faustus: And what happens after that?Mephistophiles points to the wall, and a Gustave Dore engraving of Hell and demons is projected onto it. Mephisto: Here is Dis, the city of Hell. You will be thrown into this perpetual torture-house. These are the furies, tossing damned souls on burning forks; their bodies boil in lead. Over here are humans broiling on coals that can never die. These souls that are fed with sops of burning fire were gluttons in their lives who laughed to see the poor starve at their gates. You shall see ten thousand tortures more horrid.
Faustus: You're not much of a travel agent. 'See Dis and die.'
Mephisto: Usually it's the other way around.
Faustus: You're right. Dis ain't no joke.
Mephisto: Fools that will laugh on earth must weep in hell.
Faustus: You won't settle for a moan in Cologne?
Mephisto (aside): Grubs on the eyeballs. Perhaps I'll start him with that. But no sense doing the other side's work for it. He might still repent.
Mephistopheles dissolves the vision of hell. Faustus: By the way, have you seen Helen lately?
Mephisto: In your closet.
Faustus: In my closet! What's she doing in there?
Mephisto: You told her to stay in it.
Faustus: I did? Oh, yes. Literal girl. Thank heaven for literal girls.
Mephisto: Heaven had nothing to do with it.
Faustus: Well, what am I supposed to do, swing both ways?
Mephisto: Shall I have her dress?
Faustus: It wouldn't fit you. Work on your thighs.
Mephisto (aside): When he tires, I'll strap him to a bed of razors.
Faustus (pacing): So she's in the closet, eh? And here I stand bantering with the help. Get her out here pronto. If she won't come, call for me, and I'll go in after her. If I don't come back, you can have my alembic.
Mephisto: This is no game, Faustus.
Faustus: It isn’t? I thought it was the alembic games.
Mephisto: Worry not about Helen, magister. If she disobeys you, I'll cull thee out the wildest Frauleins in the north of Europe.
Faustus: The cull of the wild, eh? Sounds like a bunch of dogs to me. And who's going to clean up after them, tell me that. If I gave you half a chance you'd wreck this happy home.
Faustus whips out a book of raffle tickets and proffers them. Faustus: How about half a chance? Cost you ten marks.
Mephsito (aside): An eon up to his chin in boiling manure. (to Faustus) Just now I don't feel lucky.
Faustus: So? Never mind that, pick a card.
Mephistopheles begins to beat his head against the table. Faustus: Hey, watch that finish! Okay, look, just keep an eye on Wagner for me, then. He wants to examine Helen's thesis. Can you imagine the consequences if she managed to seduce that boy? Why, she's been dead for two thousand years! What would his mother say? What would I say?
Mephisto: What would you say?
Faustus: Is it true that you wash your hair in clam broth?
Mephisto (aside): A codpiece of burning iron.
I was once an angel bright, lived by heaven's wall
Never had no problems, never took on city hall
Then Lucifer sought out my help in his election bid
To revolutionize God’s government; don’t ask me how we did.
Then I was proud to be a demon, didn't care if I was damned
Frolicked in the brimstone pools, surfed the Styx's strand
A sophisticated soul from Dante's seventh circle down
Until the day I found myself working for this clown.
Now I'm Faustus's fool
There's not a thing I can do
My fate's intollerably cruel
Each day it hits me anew
(If I were alive I would kill myself.)
Smuggled off to Rome to swipe the Papal second course
Riding on a bale of hay changed into a horse
Lighting his cigars, cleaning up his mess
Playing tricks on ostlers, IQs forty-three or less
Scaring up a bowl of grapes on January first
Mixing up a stupid drink to quench a stupid thirst
Chasing down new girls for him to catechise unsightly
Doing stupid card tricks watching stupid card tricks nightly.
I'm only Faustus's tool
There's no one that I can sue
Stuck in this backwater school
Feeling so battered and blue.
(Please sir, may I have another Tylenol?)
There's no kind of man I haven't tempted in my days
I've hung with every ex-seraphim this side of Hades
Sent Alexander a mosquito, taught Cleopatra how to kiss
Told Lao Tsu to quit his job, and now I'm down to this.
They say the Lord of Heaven’s ways work quite mysteriously
Pal, I'm here to tell you what they say they say it justly.
Just one thought has kept me sane for twenty-seven years
That’s at the stroke midnight I'll be drying all my tears
For now I'm Faustus's fool
Trapped within his arena
Doing hops through his hoops
I ain’t seen nothing obscener.
(Bet your dog can’t dance like this.)
Clock: You think you've got it bad, let's switch jobs awhile, Sam
At least you get to walk around, I'm frozen on this stand
What's more I can't remember why he strapped me to this block
I must have pissed him off some way. Bong! It's five o’clock.
Mephisto: Five o’clock! That means he's only seven hours away
From a certain course of exercise I'm planning from this day
I'll whip him into shape, I'll take a pound of flesh or more
He'll be twice the man he is today and I’ll be half as sore.
No longer Faustus's fool
There'll be some things I can do
I'll be intollerably cruel
He’ll end up scholarly stew.
(Wizard guts?they’re not just for breakfast anymore!) While Faustus and Mephisto banter in the study, the door to Faustus's apartments opens silently and Wagner sneaks in. He goes to the study door, listens, hears their voices, music. Sniffs the air. As Faustus comes to open the door he rushes across the common room into the bedroom, looks around frantically, then hides in the closet, where he trips over some shoes and bumps into Helen. The closet is it cut away, so we can view the inside. Dim light. Hanging robes. Heaps of shoes, boots. Helen, bored. Wagner: Mmmph! Who is it?
Helen (helping him up): It is I, Helen.
Wagner: Helen! Just who I've been looking for. I must see you.
Helen: And here I am without a candle.
Wagner: No one can hold a candle to you! I need you, Helen. You cannot know the torture I've been through imagining what Faustus has been doing with you.
Helen: Is that why you came into the closet?
Wagner: Faustus sent me on a fool's errand, but now that I'm with you I'll never play the fool again. He expects me to find an imp he lost. I snuck in to search his books for a spell to help me. I don't know why he can't do it himself.
Helen: He knows how to do it himself. But sometimes he'd rather not. Look at me.
Faustus and Mephistopheles enter the bedroom. Fausts makes Mephistopheles go down on all fours and begins to use him as a card table, laying out a solitaire hand with his tarot deck. Steam begins to rise from Mephisto’s collar. Wagner: I wish I could. Say, do you smell burning sulfur?
Helen: You should never eat radishes.
Wagner: Who can he have out there with him?
Helen: Some visiting scholar, surely. I'm so glad you found me. I didn't even suspect you knew of my existence. I've been so bored, cooped up in here. It's worse than life with Menelaus ever was. And Sparta was heaven compared to this! I'm still a young woman. I want to sing, I want to dance, I want to enjoy every particle of life! Can you help me, dear student?
She kisses him passionately. Steam begins to rise from Wagner’s collar, too. Outside in the bedroom, Faustus fis coughing from the gathering smoke in the room; he gathers up his cards, waves the billowing clouds of smoke away and retreats to the common room. Mephisto rises and follows. Wagner: I'll do my best. You have to realize I'm not very experienced at?
Helen: Don't worry. Troy wasn't ruined in a day. But now you must go.
Wagner: Go? But I just got here.
Helen: Nevertheless. If Faustus found you here his jealously would know no bounds. Come back later, fair student. Tonight! Faustus will be gone until midnight. Return at eleven, and I will show you arts of which I alone am mistress. Until then you must do his bidding.
Wagner: Eleven? How can I wait that long, thinking of you?
Helen: Troilus recommended strenuous exercise and cold baths. Until eleven, my love!
She propels him out the door.
In the Boar's Bollocks Inn. Albergus sits at a table with Bateman plotting Faustus's destruction. A buxom barmaid serves their beers. Albergus is indifferent, but Bateman inspects her avidly.
Albergus: A halfwitted student merely looks into that book and is able to conjure up an imp! Can you imagine the power that volume must contain?
Bateman: A guy could have a hot time with that book.
Albergus: It is all a matter of knowing the right words. Faustus's book must contain the language of UrCreation.
Bateman (watching waitress): Or even the language of procreation?
Albergus: You see, Bateman, most language is just empty words. You've sat outside on a splendid fall afternoon, and the sun warmed your limbs, the sweet breeze caressed your cheek, you lay back and watched the skies, the bullocks, the squirrels?
Bateman: ?the thighs, the buttocks, the girls?
Albergus: ?it's a total sensory experience?
Bateman: I'll say.
Albergus: ?and there is no way that ordinary language can capture even one thousanth of it.
Bateman: Preach it, brother!
Albergus: ?But that's ordinary language. What about extraordinary language? What about the language of God, Bateman? In what language did God originally say, "Let There Be Light!"
Albergus: He said it, Bateman, in that mystic, UrCreative language, the language of ultimate truth. The language that came before reality. If a man could grasp that grammar of creation, he could control all that exists! And that language, Bateman, I am convinced, is written in Faustus's book. Can you imagine it? Faustus has his hand upon the axis of the universe! Yet to what use does he put this power?
Bateman: Well he turned that guy into a clock. And there's those cigar things?
Albergus: Precisely. A total waste. The man has no more business owing that book than a rabbit.
Bateman: I don't think he owns a rabbit.
Albergus: That book belongs to he who can make use of it.
Bateman: Uh, speaking of grammar, I think that's supposed to be "to him," boss?
Albergus: To me, Bateman. And I aim to get it. Think of the things I might accomplish?strictly for the good of mankind, Bateman, the good of mankind!
I want power!
Enough power to allow
My unique knowhow to flower.
The world around is aching
For a wise hand to administer a braking
To this runaway cart
The ungovernable heart.
And I can do it.
Why cast my pearls before swine
Why waste my life drinking cheap wine
When I might have champagne
Which, given my intellect,
Is all I pursue, forsooth!
Not like Faustus, that uncouth pretender.
I must water the tender
Bud of my curiosity
So that my incipient virtuosity
Might grow into a prowess so vital
That it will delight all?
And a vision acute
I need knowledge
Not for my own agrandizement,
But for the advisement, see,
Of those rulers who so ignorantly
Mistake the proper course
Of action. I'll be the source
Of expedient counsel?
A man like me, responsible,
Will make them realize
That to do otherwise than I suggest
Would not be best
For the health of the common folk
Or their own.
Is what I suggest you initially explore.
I'll help you out, select moral subjects
For your experiments
In passion philters
And aphrodisiac science.
Don't risk your priceless mind:
I'll selflessly bind myself through rigorous paces
Endure numerous embraces
Test my tender body against feminine wiles
Quaff wild potions out of wilder vials
In Aphrodite's clinical trials.
This barmaid, here, for instance
Could no doubt benefit
From our ministrations
Don't you think?
Albergus: No greed
Of self-concern will tarnish my discerning need
To do what must be done
I'll take no bad advice
Or advice at all, indeed.
For it would not be nice
To be swayed
By the paltry parade
Of unenlightended folk who'll seek for my largess
My relief from their distress
The gratitude's store
Which I shall dispense
Or less. You see, Bateman? That man is an imposter; I shall be the true Faustus! But now, how to break in to his study? Who knows what risks that would entail?Wagner enters, looks around, goes to him. Wagner: Pardon me, sir. I am looking for my fellow students, Robin and Dicolini. Have you seen them?
Albergus: Not since they fled your master's lecture.
Wagner: I've exhausted myself searching. I thought they were my friends, but it seems they are more interested in other matters now.
Albergus: A sad breach of faith. Is there anything a fellow scholar can do?
Wagner: Nothing. Unless you can retrieve the imp that Robin called up.
Albergus: I am not without some magical prowess. Perhaps I can locate it. Not only that, but if you'll tell me when Faustus is away, I can deposit the creature--caged--in his rooms. It would make a good joke, don't you think? Especially after the shameful way he treated you today.
Wagner: If you could do that, my gratitude would surpass Goneril's to her father!
Albergus: You have only to ask.
Wagner: Yes, good Frater, please. Faustus told me he would not be home until midnight tonight. If you can arrive before then--
Albergus: I shall be there at ten.
Wagner: Uh?better make it eleven. Eleven-thirty? I have affairs?uh?business. I will let you in.
Albergus: Leave it to me. I will be discreet.
Wagner: Thank you, thank you.
Wagner pumps Albergus's hand vigorously and leaves, as excited as a groom on his wedding day. Albergus: So, we have our entry into Faustus’s rooms! Once there, I will discover the satanist’s iniquities. Bateman, you must go to the Bishop of Wittenberg and tell him at once to assemble an ecclesiastical tribunal. We will arrest Faustus by the dawn, have him convicted by noon and roasting at the stake by vespers. And for good measure, we'll roast this slack fool Wagner along with him.
But wait! I must not be compromized by being associated with the disappearance of Faustus's magic book. (snaps fingers) Aha! A disguise! (writes a hurried note) Bateman, after you speak to the bishop I want you to fetch me the following items.
Albergus hands Bateman the note and the latter exits. Albergus sips his tankard of ale, throws a couple of coins onto the table, then departs himself. As soon as he does Robin and Dicolini crawl out from beneath the table. Dicolini drains the remainder of Albergus's ale in a gulp. Robin picks up one of the coins and bites through it. He chews thoughtfull, pulls a salt chaker from his robe, sprinkles the remainder of the coin and pops it into his mouth. Dicolini: You hear that, Robbie? That Icebergus, hesa cross-double us. Hesa break the case himself and keep alla pieces. We gonna have to get tough.Robin thrusts a fist under Dicolini's nose, grimmacing and breathing heavily; his other arm goes into a windmill windup. Dicolini kicks him in the butt. Dicolini: Whatsa matter for you! Getta tough with him, not me. Now listen, we gotta move fast and get to Faustus's place before the boss, before Wagner, before anybody. We get there so early we be there before we arrive!Robinhonks. They exit. Wagner returns carrying a bundle of clothes. He addresses the barmaid. Wagner: Have you a bath here?
Barmaid: No, sir. In the summer, some guests use the rain barrel in the lower court. But of course it is frozen?
Wagner: Perfect. I want you to chop a hole in the ice for me. I need to keep cool.
Barmaid: You must be very hot.
Wagner (beginning to unlace his boots): You cannot imagine.
Barmaid: What clothing is that?
Wagner: You know Doctor Faustus? Well, a certain young woman I know is expecting to see him tonight. Imagine her surprise when she finds me in his place! Scene Six
Upstage left, lights come up on alley behind Faustus's study. Dicolini and Robin wheel a wooden cart or barrow full of paraphrenalia up below Faustus's second-floor bedroom window. Dicolini throws a rope over a rafter protruding out below the eaves, then ties one end around his chest.
Clock (from above): ELEVEN O’CLOCK. IT’S COLDER THAN A WITCH'S BICYCLE SEAT OUT THERE.
Dicolini: Okay, Robbie. You tug onna rope, and I'll get in through Fausuts's window. Keep a look out. If anybody comes, whistle.
Robin nods, spits into his palms, leaps high into the air and grabs the rope. The rope hauls Dicolini two feet above the ground, and Robin hands two feet above the ground on the opposite end; they struggle and flop together like hooked fish. Lights go down halfway, leaving them in stage left, and come up upstage right on the entrance to Faustus's apartments, where the porter, Martin, sits on a stool against the wall snoring, drunk as usual. Wagner comes up, sees Martin, then puts on a Faustus costume: black academic gown, mortarboard hat, greasepaint mustache, wire rimmed spectacles. He then strides up to Martin, who wakes woozily as Wagner salutes him and goes inside.
Lights go down upstage, come up downstage to reveal the inside of Fausuts's apartment. Wagner enters through common room door, then hurries to the bedroom and the wardrobe. He opens the door and stands on the threshhold.
Wagner is overwhelmed by her ardor, even perhaps a little scared. Wagner: Don't worry?it's me, Wagner! You can come out of the closet, now.
Wagner: What's wrong?
Helen: I thought you were Faustus. I forgot to tell you that I can't come out until he says I can. After all, I am his to command. Won't you come in?
Clock: ELEVEN FIFTEEN. I WONDER HOW THE METS ARE DOING?
A sound from the commons room. It's Faustus, who has come from his study toward the bedroom, followed by Mephistopheles. Wagner climbs into the closet just as Faustus and the demon enter. Faustus: I wish you'd stop following me around. I want to get ready for bed.
Mephisto: You shall not sleep this night, Faustus.
Faustus: I certainly won't if you keep pestering me. Go away.
Mephistopheles disappears in a cloud of sulfurous smoke and flame. Faustus goes to the closet. Faustus: Now where's my nightshirt? I thought I left it lying around here. (To Helen) Are you still in there?
Faustus: Unless you're keeping an owl, Helen of Troy.
Wagner nudges Helen frantically. She gets flustered. Helen: What owl? There's no owl in here.
Faustus: Owl take your word for it. Does one of you birds want to hand me my nightshirt?
Wagner fumbles among the clothes, gives Helen a nightshirt. She opens the door a crack and hands it out. Faustus peeks in. Faustus: Hope it's not too boring in there.
Helen: Not yet. I wouldn't mind some fresh air once in a while.
Faustus (sniffs): The air in there smells pretty fresh already. Or maybe it's my undershirt. (Hauls out tarot deck) Would you like to take a card?
Helen: No, thank you.
Faustus closes the door, takes the nightshirt and leaves. The rathaus clock strikes and Wagner jumps. Wagner: You said Faustus would be out tonight!
Helen: Did I?
Helen embraces Wagner. He forgets his annoyance and begins to nuzzle her. They fumble aorund in the cramped closet, and Helen finally pushes him away. Wagner: Noble queen?
Helen: I'm sorry, but I can't get into the mood lying on old shoes. Can't you find some way to let me out?
Wagner: Wait here. Faustus's magic book must be around somewhere. I'll find a spell of unbinding.
Wagner leaves the closet and sneaks out of the bedroom toward Faustus's study. The lights fade downstage and come up upstage right on the entrance to the building, where Martin still sits. Albergus enters in a blizard of impatience. He dons a Faustus disguise of robe, greasepaint mustache, spectacles and mortarboard and approaches Martin. Martin gives a woozy double take as Albergus enters.
Lights go down upstage right, come up downstage on Faustus's apartment. Wagner has gone into Faustus's study. Albergus enters the common room, considers the study but goes into the bedroom. He rifles through the bedside table, the trunk at the end of the bed. It's full of clothes, including a nightshirt of two that he throws onto the bed. He tries the closet door. As soon as he opens it Helen throws her arms around him.
Helen: Darling! Let me out of the closet! Then will I fulfill your every desire.
Albergus (stumbling back, hauling out a cross): Back, hell-fiend!
He slams the closet door on Helen. He wipes his brow, shaken. Just then there is a rattling from the window. Albergus hurries from the room. The window opens, and Dicolini climbs in, unties the rope. He peeks out the bedroom door, then hesitates. He ponders, sees the nightshirt on the bed, snaps his fingers. He takes off his boots, rolls up his pants, dons the nightshirt and a stocking cap. From the bedside table he takes some makeup and smears a greasepaint mustache over his lip, puts on some spare spectacles. ust as he's about to leave the room he hears a voice. Helen: Is that you?
Helen: Please let me out of here.
Dicolini: Who are you?
Helen: Don't be silly. You know who I am.
Dicolini: Itsa slip my mind.
Helen (sarcastically): Well, I'm the most beautiful woman in history.
Dicolini: Never mind coming out. I come in.
Dicolini opens the closet door. Helen throws her arms around his neck.
Wagner: ...party of the first part shall be called the party of the first part...contractee reserves the right to a speedy conviction, the right to a free lunch, the right to sing the blues, the right...in the event of a change of political party, the once ina blue moon, when hell freezes over, if the pope is catholic, and bears sit in the woods...rights to knowledge including but not confined to THE MEANING OF LIFE and any related subsidiary meanings, notions, ideas, quips, lemmas andpassing fancies...
Lights fade on the bedroom, come up on the study. Wagner is frantically seraching through the papers on Faustus's desk. He finds an impressive contract, Faustus's deal with the devil He tries to puzzle it out, reading aloud.
Clock: ELEVEN THIRTY. IT'S LATER THAN YOU THINK.
Albergus, in common room, and Wagner in the study both jump. The door to the hall opens and Faustus re-enters; Albergus immediately enters the study. When the study door opens Wagner stuffs the contract into his shirt and dashes under the desk. Albergus comes to the desk, rifles through the papers, finds nothing and goes to the ranks of bookshelves toward the back of the study.
In the bedroom, Dicolini and Helen are doing a combination werstling match and waltz as he tries to maneuver her toward the bed. She begins to realize that this is not Faustus, and resists.
In the common room, Faustus is searching through shelves and cabinets looking for something. Finally he gives up.
Faustus (to clock): Have you seen my cigars anywhere?
Clock: What, am I the maid, too?
In the study Wagner is about to sneak out from beneath the desk when Faustus gives up on the commons and enters the study. Wagner dashes back under the desk. Albergus watches warily from behind a bookshelf. In the bedroom Dicolini is pressing Helen toward the bed. Dicolini: Bella felissima ronzoni, alla pacino.
Helen: My lord, you know I don't understand Latin.
Dicolini: Atsa not Latin, atsa Italian.
Helen: I don't understand Italian, either.
Dicolini: Atsa okay. Neither do I.
Lights down in bedroom, up on alley upstage left. Robin is freezing. He tears a picture of a fire from a book and pins it to the cart, trying to warm his hands before it. He stomps around, flapping his arms. The imp, in his cloak, awakes, pops out, leaps onto the rope and scrambles up through the window. Robin runs around frantically. He stops, snaps his fingers. He rumages through the cart, gets out a nightshirt, glasses, nightcap. He smears black grease from the cart axle under his nose as a mustache. Thus dressed he goes upstage right to where Martin keeps the entrance. Martin gives a double take, Robin enters.
Lights go down on exterior and up on interior. Robin rushes in through the common room door and races to the bedroom. Inside he skids to a stop when he sees Dicolini and Helen on the bed. Helen has the upper hand. She's got her foot on his neck and is about to bash him with the chamber pot. Dicolini sees Robin.
Dicolini: Faustus!Robin looks over his shoulder. Helen releases Dicolini, who runs from the room. She smiles tentatively at Robin. Robin smiles back. She throws her arms around his neck. Helen: Darling!Robin leaps atop her, horn honking.
In the commons, Dicolini is heading toward the door when Mephistopheles materializes in light and smoke directly in front of him. They collide and sprawl across the dining table, scattering crockery and candlesticks.
Mephisto: You time is nigh, mortal. You will pay dearly for your sins.
Dicolini: I never touched her, boss. Shesa better man than I am.
Mephisto: You insist on playing the fool, even now?
Dicolini: No. Hesa still down inna alley.
Mephistopheles, furious, stomps into the bedroom to talk to Helen. He finds her with Robin on the bed. Once again she has the upper hand, stomping on his horn, which honks. Robin looks up to see Mephisto's glowing eyes. He leaps from the bed and hides in the closet. Mephisto: It will avail Faustus nothing to hide.
Helen: I don't think that's Faustus.
Mephisto: Who is it, then?
Helen: I don't know, but I've seen a lot of him lately.
Mephisto: Don't tell me you've succumbed to Faustus. Are you doing his bidding?
Helen: You find him and I'll try.
Mephisto: Where is he?
Helen: Hang around a while. He'll turn up. Or else somebody just as good.
Mephisto: This Faustus is devilishly clever and these dopplegangers make my job harder. I don't want to get the wrong man.
Helen: In my experience, not many men aren't the wrong one.
Mephisto: 'Better to rule in hell than serve in heaven.' Ha!
Mephistopheles renders himself invisible, then goes into the commons, deep in thought. Meanwhile, Dicolini has fled from the commons to the study. Faustus, seeing his double enter, gets up from behind the table. Faustus: So it's you, is it?
Dicolini: Atsa crazy. Itsa no me. Itsa you.
Faustus: How do I know it's me?
Dicolini: I just told you. I'm not here.
Faustus: If you're me, how come you're not smoking a cigar?
Dicolini: You no give me one.
Faustus whips out a cigar and gives it to him. Faustus: There you go. Let's see you get out of that one.
Dicolini: You got a match?
Faustus: Never mind.
Faustus takes back the cigar. Wagner, meanwhile, is trying to crawl out while they bicker. Faustus spots him. Faustus: Hold on there! I can't get away from me that easily!Wagner gets up and runs out of the room. Faustus tries to chase him, but gets tangled up with Dicolini. Meanwhile, Albergus sneaks out of the common room in the confusion. In the course of the next action he is searching through the room for Faustus's magic book, which he finally finds, just before the climax, with the assistance of Robin's imp. Mephistopheles, invisible, observes him doing this.
Wagner rushes through the commons directly into the bedroom, He shoves the door open and, not seeing Helen, jumps into the closet, tearing off his clothes. He embraces Robin.
Wagner: Dearest, I couldn't find the book, but?Robin's horn honks. Wagner is nonplussed. Helen: What are you doing in there?Wagner opens the door and pulls Rabin out by his collar. Robin's face splits in a shy smile of love. Wagner pushes him out the bedroom door and turns to Helen. Wagner: Helen?
She throws her arms around his neck and draws him toward the bed.
Clock: ELEVEN FORTY FIVE. LATE LATE LATE.
Faustus & Dicolini: Oh, so you're back, eh?
Mephistopheles, roused by the clock, makes a decision. He goes from the commons into the study. The instant he enters, Faustus and Dicolini speak as one.
Mephisto: Your doom is at hand.
Faustus fans out his deck of tarot cards. Faustus: Never mind that. Pick a card.
Dicolini (taking one): So, what am I got?
Faustus: You’ve got one, I’ve still got seventy-seven.
Dicolini: You wrong. Itsa ace of wands.
Faustus: Wandaful. (gesturing to Mephistopheles) Does your wormy friend want to try his luck?
Dicolini: Hesa outside in the alley.
At this, Robin enters munching a slice of bread. He goes to the alchemical table and smears the bread with some noxious chemicals, takes a bite. He offers the bread to Faustus. Faustus: No, thanks. It's bad enough being damned. Indigestion I don't need.
Clock: IT'S MIDNIGHT. BONG. BONG. BONG . . . (continues throughout following action.)
Mephisto: Enough! Which one of you is the real Faustus?
At that moment, Albergus, who has found the magic book, strides into the room. Albergus: Ha ha! Fools! Now at last ultimate knowledge is mine! My time has come, and I am become the true Faustus!
Mephisto: Good enough for me.
With that he snaps his fingers and a horde of misshapen demons erupt from the corners of the room. They seize Albergus, and in an explosion of light and smoke, drag him off to Hell. As the air clears the last stroke of midnight dies away. In the next room, the clock moves for the first time in the play. It stretches, shakes its aching legs and arms, gives a little hop of exhiliration.
Clock: HAPPY NEW YEAR! CLEVELAND, HERE I COME!
Wagner: Helen?Following the smell of smoke, he enters the study. Faustus and Dicolini are seated around a bonfire smoking cigars. Robin, using Mephistopheles's pitchfork, is shoveling books into the fire. Dicolini: Atsa good smoke.
Clock exits. In the bedroom, Wagner finds he is embracing empty air. He stumbles to the closet, but it is empty.
Wagner: Where is she?
Faustus gestures at Wagner's drooping trousers. Faustus: Cut is the branch that might have grown full straight.He pulls the sweaty contract off Wagner's chest and adds it to the fire. Wagner: What have you done with her?
Dicolini: She was one helluva wrestler, eh, partner?
Robin leans on his pitchfork and gives a long, low whistle. Wagner: But it's not fair! We were only getting to know each other!
Faustus: My boy, she was a scarlet woman and you're nothing but a green student. She would have made you blue someday.
Dicolini: If you didn't turn yellow first.
Faustus (offering a hot dog): Meanwhile, how about a little roast scholar?
Dicolini: Atsa no roast, atsa friar.
Wagner stumbles from the room. Lights go down.
Lights come up on the Boar’s Bollocks, where Wagner, moping , is seated at a table telling his story to the barmaid. At the next table a man sits with his back to the audience.
Wagner: ...and when I came to, she was gone! Did my master Faustus care? Did Dicolini and Robin, my closest friends, care?
Barmaid: I care.
Wagner: The story of mankind is a sad story. The saddest story I know.
Barmaid: Poor Wagner! Were you hurt?
Wagner: Emotional loss means nothing to the true intellectual.
Barmaid (touching his chest): Let me help you.
Wagner: The world is a cold place.
Barmaid: But you told me you were hot.
Wagner (standing, beginning to orate): And I’ve learned much from all this. The beginning of wisdom is mine. I’ve learned that despite the centuries that have passed since the beginning of time, despite the wars, heresies and degredations, the corruptions of institutions and loss of faith, the ages of bad behavior, one thing remains. People are, for better or worse, still human. That has not changed. Good and evil co-exist. Some souls are saved, others are lost. The apetites of the body and the mind conflict. Men aspire to the stars, women abandon them, scholars seek knowledge, students?
The barmaid seizes him by the shoulder,s bends him over and gives him a furious kiss. They fall off the bench, under the table. Bateman enters.
Bateman: Has anyone seen my master Albergus?
Clock: He’s busy. Will be for a while. Meanwhile, could you tell me what time it is?Lights down in tavern. Mephistopheles comes out to address the audience. Mephisto: These our revels now are done.
The man at the next table turns and hails him. It is the Clock.
All my power’s overthrown.
Wagner’s found a girl at last
History has swallowed past.
For me, I’m off to warmer climes
And giving up these wretched ryhmes.
Plagiarize I can no more
From better writers’ magic store
Of characters, ideas, words,
Comic mishaps tres absurd..
With brothers Marx’s sweet inventions
To tell of Faustus was our intention.
Now you must tell us if our play
Justified such rude display
A laugh’s the end we’re hoping for
Please don’t send us back for more.
But if our humor’s fit your plans
You may release us with your hands. Curtain