SEP 11 'The Honest Judges'
or ‘The Law and the Profits’
A play in an indefinite number of acts
Peter J James
Dramatis Personae: Judge, Town Official, Chorus of judges and townsfolk
The action takes place in a small seaside resort which is a finalist in the prestigious ‘Blooming U.K.’ competition. The time is, more or less, now.
ACT 1 Scene 1: Judges and town officials are perambulating and taking notes. The group pauses by an enormous fence whose upper parts reach as high as the flies.
Judge: ‘Well, we are delighted with what we have seen so far. You have a very neat and, indeed, blossoming town which demonstrates a great deal of civic pride.’
Town Official: ‘Thank you Sir. You are most kind. A great many people have put an enormous effort into achieving what you have seen today.’
Judge: ‘Since we have paused here (looking up at the high fence) we are intrigued to know what lies behind this palisade.’
T O: (Taken somewhat off guard) ‘Ah, well, I, I, ‘em, wouldn’t worry about that. You wouldn’t be interested and (looking at his watch) it’s almost lunch time.’
Judge: ‘I’m sorry to put you to any inconvenience but, as judges of the ‘Blooming U.K. competition, we really should be assessing all aspects of the town and, I’m sure you will agree that a ‘secret’ area at the very heart of the town is not something we can ignore. So, if you don’t mind, we would like to take a look inside.’
T O: (Now very flustered, he exchanges worried glances with other town dignitaries and, stammering, begins...) ‘well, er, it’s a little er complicated you see. It’s a sort of, an ecological project (he suddenly sees a possible escape route from the awkward situation and, warming to his theme, continues...) Yes, yes, that’s what it is, an ecological project to study floral succession. A team from the local University is carrying it out but, they tell me, that any disturbance of the site would produce a plagiosere.....
Judge: (Now impatient, interrupts) ‘What the hell is a plagiosere?’
T O: (Weakly) ‘They didn’t say, but, if one were to be created, it would ruin the study, they said.... (Tailing off).
Judge: ‘It all sounds very worthy but surely a quick peek inside isn’t going to produce .....er, whatever you said.’
T O: ‘I don’t have a key and the research team is in the Andes for a few months collecting hypogenous gasteromycetes and orchids.. and things.’ (He tails off again).
Judge: ‘What about the owner? Surely he has a key?’
T O: ‘He’s with the expedition in South America. He’s actually financing it.’
(By this time the other townsfolk are beginning to fidget and exchange nervous glances while trying to avoid eye contact with the other judges.)
Judge: ‘A step ladder, perhaps?’
T O: (Quick as a flash) ‘Health and Safety’
Judge: (Sighing, but giving the Town Official an admiring, albeit begrudging, glance) ‘You were clearly well chosen for this job but we’re not the fools you apparently take us for. I know you’re hiding something and I think that that something has to do with that ever-present incumbus ‘The Law and the Profits’. I suggest that, in the long term interests of your town, you come to grips with whatever dark secret you’re concealing behind that fence. We will be back. Now, what about that lunch?’
(The judges stride off followed by the town officials in a huddle whispering anxiously to each other.)
To be continued.....