Old London Town
Curtains open on a busy street-market scene. Fitzwarren’s shop front is (USR) and has a practical door. Music cue 1: Alice and Chorus. After song ends…
ALICE: (to audience) Hello there! I’m Alice Fitzwarren – how do you do? Welcome to old London Town, where every day is an exciting adventure and you never know what’s just around the corner.
CHORUS 1: But it’s usually a rat.
ALICE: I must admit that London does have a bit of a rat problem.
CHORUS 2: You can say that again.
CHORUS 3: We’re completely overrun with them!
Enter Fitzwarren (SR)
FITZWARREN: Good morning everyone!
CHORUS: Good morning, Alderman Fitzwarren!
ALICE: Good morning father.
FITZWARREN: Good morning Alice.
Music cue 2: Enter Rats at a run (SL) and chase Chorus off (SR)
ALICE: Something needs doing about London’s rat problem, father.
FITZWARREN: I agree Alice. Let’s hope the new Mayor sorts it out. Now, have you got everything ready for our trip to Morocco tomorrow?
ALICE: Not quite, father.
FITZWARREN: Then I suggest you hurry up and do so. We catch the early tide.
ALICE: Okay father, I’ll just go and finish packing. (exits into shop)
FITZWARREN: (to audience) Hello there. I’m Alderman Fitzwarren, and that’s my shop just there. It’s stocked with all kinds of exotic goods from all over the world. And I’m going to Morocco, to bring back a cargo of dates. Actually, I wouldn’t mind a date myself. You see, I lost my wife five years ago. No, she isn’t dead. She just ran off with somebody younger, richer and more handsome. Personally, I can’t see what she saw in him.
Enter Sally from shop.
SALLY: Hello boys and girls! At last, a bit of class has arrived!
FITZWARREN: (looking past her) Where?
SALLY: It’s me, you silly Alderman! There aren’t many employers who can boast that they employ the best cook in London.
FITZWARREN: No – and I’m one of them.
SALLY: Aren’t you going to introduce me to your customers, then?
FITZWARREN: Oh, very well. (to audience) This is my cook, Sally. Although I use the term cook, advisedly.
SALLY: I suppose Celebrity chef, would be more in keeping with my creative culinary credentials.
FITZWARREN: I’ve never even seen your credentials.
SALLY: Play your cards right and I might show you them later.
FITZWARREN: No, thanks. I’m off inside to do a stocktake. (exits into shop)
SALLY: (to audience) Now he’s gone, we can get properly acquainted. Now, I like things to be nice and friendly. So, every time I come on and shout, hello boys and girls! I want you to all shout back, hello Sally! Will you do that for me? Let’s try it then. (exits and re-enters) Hello boys and girls! Wonderful! Now who’d like a boiled sweet? I only have the one, so you’ll have to share. (gives sweet to person on front row) There you are, dear. Give it a suck and then pass it on. I’d love to stay and chat some more, but I must go and get the Alderman’s breakfast ready. I’m doing cornflakes in ketchup, followed by bacon and banana omelette. I bet you wish you were having some, don’t you? Ta-ra then. (exits into shop)
Enter Dick and Puss (SR)
DICK: Well, here we are in London Town, Puss. It only seems like five minutes ago we left Gloucester.
PUSS: That’s panto for you.
DICK: We must have encountered some sort of time warp on the way.
PUSS: Yes, that must be it. And a good job too – my poor paws are red raw.
DICK: I also have blisters on my blisters, Puss. But it’ll all be worth it now that we’ve reached the place where the streets are paved with gold.
PUSS: So, you keep saying. Personally, I can’t help thinking you’re delusional.
DICK: Then maybe I’ll ask the audience what they think.
PUSS: Go ahead. I bet they don’t believe in something as stupid as that either.
DICK: I don’t see why not. They seem quite happy to believe in a talking cat.
PUSS: And why shouldn’t they? Humans are always talking to their pets, so we’re bound to pick it up eventually. The clever ones amongst us that is.
DICK: London is such a wonderful place, Puss. The sights, the sounds…
PUSS: The smells. (holds his nose)
DICK: All the women are so cheerful, with their cries of, how about it dearie! And the men are so keen to carry my case, I have to keep running after them and snatching it back.
Music cue 3: Enter King Rat (SL)
KING RAT: (pointing around audience) I hate you! And you! And you! But most of all, I hate…(points at Dick)…you!
DICK: Me! But I don’t even know you!
KING RAT: Then allow me to introduce myself. I am King Rat! The evilest, rattiest rat in all ratdom!
DICK: King Rat?
KING RAT: That’s what I just said, cloth-ears! My rat subjects are everywhere. In the dustbins, under the floorboards, in the drains. We’re even in the kitchens at this here venue So I wouldn’t eat anything that looks like it contains raisins if I were you.
DICK: Thanks for the warning. But why do you hate me when we’ve never met?
KING RAT: Because you have a cat, and I hate cats and anybody who owns them. And yours is a particularly mangy specimen.
PUSS: How dare you! I’m a well-groomed feline! I lick myself from tip to toe every morning.
KING RAT: And they call us rats, disgusting.
DICK: You want to watch it, you know. Puss here is the best ratcatcher in the business. He could gobble you up in a flash.
KING RAT: Oh, meow! I’m really scared. I’d advise you to head back to the sticks and take your smelly cat with you. Before I destroy you both! (turns and exits SL)
DICK: Come on Puss, we’re heading back to Gloucester.
PUSS: Suits me. I never wanted to come here in the first place.
Music cue 4: Enter Bowbells (SR)
BOWBELLS: Stop right there, Dick Whittington!
DICK: How did you know my name?
BOWBELLS: It’s written on the side of your suitcase.
DICK: Oh, yeah. And who are you then?
BOWBELLS: I’m Fairy Bowbells, and I’m here to help you realise your dream.
DICK: You’re going to help me win the lottery?
BOWBELLS: No, Dick. I’m going to help you become Lord Mayor.
DICK: Of Gloucester? Great!
BOWBELLS: No, Dick – London.
DICK: Even better! Will I get to wear one of those funny hats?
PUSS: I think it comes with the job, master.
DICK: Cool! But how can I become Lord Mayor of London? I’m just a poor uneducated country boy.
BOWBELLS: We live an era of equal opportunities, Dick. I can also work a little fairy magic if necessary. Listen! Can you hear that?
DICK: (cocks an ear) I can’t hear anything.
BOWBELLS: (pulls Dick’s ear) Listen harder.
SFX: Bells chime.
BOWBELLS: Now can you hear it?
DICK: Oh yeah, I can hear it now. What is it?
BOWBELLS: It’s the sound of Bow Bells. They’re saying, turn again Dick Whittington, turn again.
DICK: Are they? All I can hear is, bing-bong, bing-bong.
BOWBELLS: Look, just take my word for it will you?
DICK: And if I do, turn again. I’ll become Lord Mayor of London?
BOWBELLS: Cross my heart and hope to fly. (giggles) Just a little fairy joke there.
DICK: All right then, I’ll do it.
BOWBELLS: You won’t regret it Dick, believe me. I’ll catch you later then. (exits SR)
PUSS: Aren’t we going back to Gloucester now?
DICK: No Puss, we’re going to stay right here in London.
PUSS: (to audience) It’s amazing what a whiff of power does to some people, isn’t it?
DICK: I’ve heard there are lots of juicy rats in London’s sewers, Puss.
PUSS: I hope it wasn’t from the same person, who told you that the streets were paved with gold.
DICK: Don’t forget what that fairy said. One day I’ll be Lord Mayor of London.
PUSS: Personally, I’m not convinced.
DICK: Don’t be a sourpuss, Puss
PUSS: So, when are we going to dig up all this gold you keep telling me about?
DICK: Just as soon as I get a pick and shovel and a big wheelbarrow. But first, I’ll need a temporary job to get the money to buy them.
Enter Alice from shop.
DICK: Look at that girl, Puss! Gosh she’s beautiful. In fact, I think I’m in love.
PUSS: That’s a bit quick isn’t it?
DICK: This is panto, Puss. We don’t have time for long courtships.
PUSS: Fair do’s. Why don’t you go and talk to her, then?
DICK: I can’t do that!
PUSS: Why not? Cat got your tongue – no pun intended.
DICK: But she looks like a rich lady and I’m just a poor country boy.
PUSS: You humans really ought to sort out your class-based hang-ups. Us cats don’t stand on ceremony when it comes to wooing the opposite sex.
DICK: I know – I hear them every night outside my bedroom window.
ALICE: (goes to Dick) Hello there! You’re new here, aren’t you?
DICK: How did you guess?
ALICE: That London Tourist Guide sticking out from your pocket, is a bit of a giveaway. Your cat is very sweet.
DICK: (shyly) And so are you.
ALICE: Thank you. I’m Alice, by the way.
DICK: Pleased to meet you Alice. I’m Dick, and this is Puss.
ALICE: Hello Puss. Can I stroke him, Dick?
DICK: Yes, if you like.
ALICE: (strokes Puss) My, what lovely soft fur you have.
PUSS: Yes, well don’t crease it dear. It took me hours to lick it into shape.
ALICE: Goodness you can talk!
PUSS: I’d be a pretty dull cat if I couldn’t.
ALICE: I didn’t mean any offence. It’s just that I’ve never heard a cat talk before.
PUSS: I’m not like other cats, dear. I’m a one-off.
DICK: Puss here was the best ratcatcher in Gloucester. Isn’t that so, Puss?
PUSS: I don’t like to brag master – but yes, I am. (to Alice) Wiped them all out I did, every last one.
ALICE: We could do with you doing that here, Puss. London is overrun with rats.
PUSS: I’ll think about it.
ALICE: Where are you both staying, Dick?
DICK: Nowhere yet.
ALICE: You’re sleeping rough!?
PUSS: I never have rough sleep. Us cats are great at sleeping.
DICK: No Alice, we’ve only just arrived in London.
ALICE: I see. And do you have a job
DICK: Not yet. I just need something temporary.
ALICE: You’re not staying long then?
DICK: Just long enough to buy some tools and dig up a fortune in gold.
ALICE: (puzzled) Gold?
PUSS: That’s right. Apparently, the streets here are paved with the stuff
ALICE: What idiot told you that?
DICK: (realises his mistake) It was, erm…Puss! Cats are very gullible creatures, you know.
PUSS: (outraged) Gullible! Me?
ALICE: And you believed him, Dick?
DICK: No, of course not! I was just humouring him – cats are easily offended.
PUSS: Only by rotten fibbers!
ALICE: My father might give you a job in his shop, if I put in a good word for you.
DICK: You’d do that for me, Alice?
ALICE: Yes, Dick.
DICK: That’s very kind of you.
ALICE: But first, let me show you around London.
DICK: I’d like that, Alice. Coming Puss?
PUSS: No, thanks. I’ll check out the local felines and catch you later. (exits SL)
ALICE: This way Dick.
Exit Alice and Dick (SR)
Enter Sally and Fitzwarren from the shop.
SALLY: Hello boys and girls!
FITZWARREN: Your cooking’s getting worse, Sally.
SALLY: What are you talking about? I’m a Cordon Blue cook.
FITZWARREN: You’re cooking out to be cordoned off!
SALLY: Didn’t you enjoy your brekkie then?
FITZWARREN: No, I did not! Whoever heard of cornflakes in ketchup? Why can’t you do some plain food for a change?
SALLY: I’m a creative cook, Alderman. If you wanted somebody to do plain food, you should’ve employed soggy-bottomed Mary Berry.
FITZWARREN: It might’ve been cheaper than spending a fortune on indigestion tablets. I dread to think what’s for dinner.
SALLY: Liver in custard, followed by jam roly-poly in beef gravy.
FITZWARREN: Fitzwarren gags – covers his mouth and exits into shop at a run.
SFX: Microwave ding.
SALLY: I’d better go and check on my microwave chocolate mousse. It’s made with real moose you know. Bye! (exits into shop)
KING RAT: So, Dick Whittington has decided to ignore my warning about leaving London with his smelly cat and will soon regret his decision. I’ll enjoy destroying them both, as well as terrorising the whole of London with my rats. (calls) Enter my subjects!
Enter Rats from the back of the auditorium and make their way to the stage, tormenting the audience as they go. Music cue 5: Rats. After song ends…
KING RAT: Aren’t they sweet? Oh yes, they are! Never mind, you’ll soon learn to love them. (to Rats) Come my little darlings!
Exit King Rat and Rats (SL)
Music cue 6: Enter Bowbells (SR)
BOWBELLS: Now this is where it gets really exciting,
With lots of suspense and a little fighting.
King Rat and his vermin belong in the bins,
And I’ll make sure, that our hero Dick, wins. (exits)