Damsel in Distress Syndrome

Damsel in Distress Syndrome

A Stage Play by
"

It doesn't fit the damsel-in-distress story, which is a sweet, young, blond girl disappears from a family home. ~ Kelly McBride

"

ACT ONE

SCENE ONE

 

(We begin with the curtain closed; lights come up mostly via spotlight focused on the NARRATOR, who stands center stage. The NARRATOR is dressed formally, in something vaguely late 18th or early 19th century.)

 

NARRATOR

A long, long time ago, in a kingdom far, far away --

 

(fx: glass breaking; lights come up completely, curtain stays closed.)

 

PLAYWRIGHT

(voiceover) No, no, no! You can’t start that way -- that’s copyright infringement! Do you want to get me in trouble for copyright infringement?

 

NARRATOR

Excuse me?

 

PLAYWRIGHT

That line has been used before. You can’t say that!

 

NARRATOR

Well fine then, how would you say it?

 

PLAYWRIGHT

“Once Upon A Time.” Duh.

 

NARRATOR

What? But that’s over used! It’s a cliché!

 

PLAYWRIGHT

It’s a classic and well-loved line!

 

NARRATOR

Who is the Narrator, here?

 

PLAYWRIGHT

You.

 

NARRATOR

So who’s telling this story?

 

PLAYWRIGHT

Me? The Playwright? Your God.

 

NARRATOR

...oh. Right. Um. (beat) You’re breaking the fourth wall.

 

(fx: glass breaking)

 

PLAYWRIGHT

What? Oh dang it, they’re going to take that out of my paycheck!

 

(long pause)

 

NARRATOR

Right, then. Once upon a time -- oh my God, my skin burns it’s so cliché -- once upon a time, there was a beautiful Princess named Jamie --

 

JAMES

I AM NOT A PRINCESS!

(JAMES runs onto the stage, scowling and snarling)

And my name is James! Prince James!

 

NARRATOR

...what? But -- Jamie.

 

JAMES

JAMES. MY NAME IS JAMES.

 

NARRATOR

Then, uh, why...?

 

JAMES

Because my father is crazy. And Mother always wanted a girl.

 

NARRATOR

Oh. I’m sorry.

 

JAMES

Whatever. Just... Not a Princess.

 

NARRATOR

Right. Not a Princess. (beat) Can I continue, now?

 

JAMES

What? Oh, sure. I’m sorry; I’ll be going now.

(Exit)

 

NARRATOR

As I was saying, there was a HANDSOME PRINCE whose kingdom was being attacked by a ferocious dragon. Being a noble sort of prince, he decided to let himself be sacrificed to the beast.

 

JAMES

(offstage) WHAT!

 

     (storms onstage)

 

Seriously? I let myself be sacrificed? How many times do I have to tell you all, I am not a princess! Princesses get ‘sacrificed’ and rescued -- not princes! Not me! I am not a princess! I am a prince! I mean, seriously people. Do I look like a princess to you?

 

(gestures at himself/his clothing; JAMES is obviously a handsome young man, maybe 20 years old. In fact, he is so handsome that really, he’s just plain pretty. His clothes [also late 18th or early 19th century] only emphasize this. In a completely masculine way.

 

Meanwhile, the QUEEN enters. She is, of course, in full regalia.)

 

QUEEN

Jamie!

 

JAMES

Oh God. Not Mother.

 

QUEEN

Jamie, what on earth are you doing?

 

JAMES

Mother, please --

 

QUEEN

Oh, Jamie, you’re not even ready! How are we supposed to make a proper impression on the dragon if you won’t cooperate?

 

JAMES

Mother!

 

(The QUEEN merely reaches out and latches on to JAMES’ arm, still talking. She heads back the way she entered, taking JAMES with her.

 

JAMES

Mother. Mother? Mother! Let go of me! I am not some damsel to be rescued from a flying lizard!

 

QUEEN

Jamie! The things that come out of your mouth. Now come along.

 

JAMES

...Yes, Mother.

 

(The QUEEN drags JAMES offstage, despite his protests.)

 

NARRATOR

Seriously? I quit.

 

(fx: glass breaking)

 

PLAYWRIGHT

Say what?

 

NARRATOR

I quit.

 

PLAYWRIGHT

You can’t quit.

 

NARRATOR

I just did.

 

PLAYWRIGHT

You can’t quit. You’re the Narrator.

 

NARRATOR

Either way, I just quit.

 

PLAYWRIGHT

You can’t. You’re written in.

 

NARRATOR

Well, so far the script hasn’t been quite solid has it?

 

 

PLAYWRIGHT

Okay, so there are still a few glitches in the scripting, but seriously.

 

NARRATOR

A ‘few glitches’? Ha! It’s like your entire script is rebelling against you!

 

PLAYWRIGHT

Hey now!

 

NARRATOR

I would only be keeping with precedent if I quit. Which, by the way, I just did.

 

PLAYWRIGHT

But... you can’t!

 

NARRATOR

(throws his/her hands up in the air, and screams in a frustrated manner. S/He stomps his/her foot and storms offstage.)

FOR THE LAST TIME, I QUIT!

 

PLAYWRIGHT

HEY! Get back here! Um. (beat) ACTION!

 

 

 

SCENE TWO

 

(Curtain opens, revealing JAMES tied to a stake in front of a cave. It is obviously the dragon’s cave, as there is a very large sign with an arrow on it pointing to the cave that reads, in very bad English: “BEWARE, ALL YE THAT ROAM! THERE BE DRAGONS HERE!” Also, as a final indignity, JAMES is wearing a frilly, glittery pink Princess hat. A sign hangs around his neck, proclaiming him, ‘Princess Jamie’.)

 

JAMES

Seriously? You’re all going to sacrifice me like I’m some kind of princess? I AM NOT A PRINCESS! Dang it, there is only so much abuse my masculinity can handle!

 

(beat)

 

I mean, isn’t it bad enough that my mother calls me ‘Jamie’? None of the other princes have to put up with that. Or getting ‘sacrificed’ to a dragon -- like a princess!

 

I mean, come on. Okay, so I realize that gender is strictly just a reaction to society’s expected behaviors for a certain sex, but it really is kind of emasculating to constantly be referred to as a woman. Plus? All the other princes will laugh at you in the taverns, and you never get any chance with a princess or noblewoman. Which only makes the other princes laugh even harder!

 

FERDINAND

(offstage)

 

What’s this? Guests? Oh, I hope this princess will stay longer than the previous one. Always being rescued by dashing knights and other heroes...

 

(FERDINAND emerges from the cave, revealing himself to be a dragon. He has a pair of beautiful curling horns of ivory and pale blue rising from his head, along with a six foot tail, and blue, white, and gold wings folded along his back.

 

He stares at JAMES in something like confusion.)

 

You’re a princess?

 

JAMES

I’m a prince!

 

FERDINAND

A prince? Well, you certainly look more like a prince than a princess. Not to say that you’re not a lovely princess, it’s just... well, you’re a bit masculine.

 

JAMES

That’s because I’m a prince! A prince!

 

FERDINAND

If you say so.

 

JAMES

Besides, what does it matter whether I’m a prince or a princess? You’re going to eat me anyways!

 

FERDINAND

Eat you? Oh my God! Oh yuck! Ew ew ew ew! Eat -- ewwwww! Eat red meat? That’s disgusting! Do you know how bad that stuff is for you? I mean, really. No thank you; luminescent cave moss is the way to go. Add a few spices, a little bit of vinaigrette -- mmm!

 

JAMES

You’re... a vegetarian?

 

FERDINAND

Of course! Is that so hard to believe?

 

JAMES

You’re a dragon! You certainly don’t look like a vegetarian!

 

FERDINAND

And you don’t look at all like a princess. Though you do have the right hat.

 

JAMES

I’m not a princess! I’m a prince!

 

FERDINAND

If you say so, honey.

 

JAMES

Agh!

 

(JAMES tries to escape from being tied up, but has very little success. After about a minute, he stops and slumps, defeated.)

 

(beat.)

 

Well, if you’re not going to eat me, then what are you going to do?

 

FERDINAND

Invite you in for supper, of course. I’m not too fond of the whole tying-someone-up-and-leaving-them-for-the-evil-dragon routine, but it does always give me company. Well, at least until the next knight or prince or hero comes along.

 

(dramatic sigh)

 

Nobody ever comes to rescue me, though. Is it too much to ask for?

 

 

JAMES

I... am not going to answer that. Besides, you’re a dragon. What do you need to be rescued from?

 

FERDINAND

Why, from loneliness, of course! (dramatic swoon) Oh, the lonely life of a dragon! Do you know how hard it is to get dinner company when you’re a dragon? Or to invite someone over for tea?

 

JAMES

Uh, no. I guess I don’t.

 

FERDINAND

Well, let me tell you -- it’s impossible! The only way I ever get company is when some kingdom decides that I’m ‘terrorizing’ them and they have to ‘sacrifice’ a perfectly nice young lady to ‘appease’ me.

 

(scoffs disgustedly)

 

And then some knights or prince or other hero comes along, determined to kill me just so he can get a kiss or two from the ‘fair damsel’.

 

JAMES

That... wow. That kind of sucks.

 

FERDINAND

You’re telling me!

 

JAMES

Tell you what, I’ll stay for a while. I’m pretty sure no one is going to ‘rescue me’ for a while, anyways. And since you’re not going eat me, and I really don’t want to go home just yet...

 

FERDINAND

(clasps hands together and squeals happily) Really? You mean it?

 

JAMES

Sure why not. Got nothing else to do, and it’s not like my reputation can get any worse.

 

FERDINAND

But princesses have excellent reputations.

 

JAMES

I AM NOT A ...you know, I’m not even going to bother anymore.

 

FERDINAND

Whatever you say. So, how do you feel about dandelion salad with fresh violets, mushrooms, wild spring grass, carrots, gardener’s delight cherry tomatoes, and other spring greens? With a homemade citrus-balsamic dressing, fresh bread, and pumpkin soup?

 

JAMES

You really are a vegetarian, aren’t you?

 

FERDINAND

Grow my own vegetables and everything!

 

JAMES

Sounds great. (beat) Are you going to untie me?

 

FERDINAND

Um. Well, see, all the princesses keep trying to run away when I untie them, or they scream and faint.

 

JAMES

Oh for the love of -- I’m really not a princess. And I’m starving. Can’t you just untie me?

 

FERDINAND

I don’t know...

 

JAMES

I seriously look like a princess to you?

 

FERDINAND

I’ve gotten some interesting ones over the years. Plus, you know --the hat. Princesses always wear that hat.

 

JAMES

For the love of God!

 

GEORGIA

(offstage)

Hello?

 

JAMES

What was that?

 

GEORGIA

(coming onstage)

I heard there was a princess that needed to be rescued?

 

(GEORGIA is dressed in chainmail, complete with helmet. At the moment, the visor is lowered and we cannot see her face. A sword hangs from her belt, and she carries a shield. She catches sight of JAMES and FERDINAND and comes to a halt.)

 

...what?

 

(raises the visor of her helmet)

 

You’re a princess?

 

JAMES

I’m not a princess!

 

GEORGIA

Well, that’s what I thought. I mean, except for the hat you look more like a prince, really.

 

JAMES

What the -- where did you come from? And ... you believe me?

 

GEORGIA

Why not? You don’t even sound like a princess. Besides, you’re not even wearing a dress. And no good princess goes anywhere without a good dress -- especially when she’s doing something like being sacrificed to a dragon. Got to look her best, you know.

 

FERDINAND

Another knight so soon? I haven’t even had this princess for a week.

 

JAMES

How do you know so much about princesses?

 

(GEORGIA takes off her helmet, revealing long hair.)

 

JAMES

Wait, you... you’re a lady. What are you doing in armor?

 

GEORGIA

My brother’s got the flu. And I’m sick of sitting in a tower and sewing samplers all day long while my brother gets to rescue people and have adventures.

 

JAMES

But you’re a lady!

 

GEORGIA

And you’re tied to a stake with a princess hat. (beat) Do you want me to rescue you so we can meet your parents, or not?

 

(beat)

 

JAMES

Did you... did you just, in a roundabout way, ask me to marry you?

 

GEORGIA

Isn’t that what I’m supposed to do? Oh no, did I do it wrong? That’s what my brother’s D.I.D.S. manual said!

 

JAMES

D.I.D.S.?

 

FERDINAND

Damsel in Distress Syndrome. And oooh, I just love weddings!

 

JAMES

Dasmel in Distress Syndrome? I am not a damsel! And I’m definitely not in distress!

 

GEORGIA

You’re tied to a stake in front of a dragon’s cave. And you say you’re not in distress?

 

JAMES

He’s a vegetarian!

 

GEORGIA

Really?

 

JAMES

Really really.

 

(FERDINAND cuts JAMES’ bonds and pushes him towards GEORGIA. The two collide with each other.)

 

JAMES

Hey! Um. Hi.

 

GEORGIA

Hi.

(both blush)

JAMES

So, uh...I’m really not a princess.

(swipes off princess hat)

I’m James. Prince James.

 

GEORGIA

I’m Sir George. Well, Lady Georgia, really. But nobody respects a knight named Georgia, you know?

 

JAMES

Nobody respects a prince who keeps getting confused as a princess, either.

 

GEORGIA

You look like a prince to me. (blushes heavily)

 

JAMES

You make a great knight. You even rescued me from the ‘fierce and terrible dragon’.

 

(both blush)

 

FERDINAND

Awww, you two are so cute! You’re such a perfect couple!

 

JAMES

Ferdinand!

 

(FERDINAND just laughs. JAMES turns back to GEORGIA)

 

JAMES

My dad’s crazy. Just so you know. But my mother will love you.

(takes GEORGIA’s hand)

 

GEORGIA

Okay.

 

(They exit, waving to FERDINAND, who happily and enthusiastically waves back until they are out of sight, calling out to them.)

 

FERDINAND

I’ll save the date!

 

(FERDINAND returns to his cave, dancing and loudly humming the wedding march.

 

NARRATOR stomps onstage.)

 

NARRATOR

And they all lived Happily Ever After.

(fx: glass shatters)

Happy?

 

PLAYWRIGHT

Yes.

 

NARRATOR

Can I go now?

 

PLAYWRIGHT

Go ahead.

 

(NARRATOR stomps away, muttering about bossy playwrights.)

 

PLAYWRIGHT

I love a happy ending, don’t you?

(fx: glass shatters)

Dang it! Freaking fourth wall!

 

FIN

© 2012


Author's Note

*and by "Nonsense", I really actually mean "comedy." And possibly even "farce" or "parody."

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Added on January 12, 2012
Last Updated on January 12, 2012
Tags: damsel, damsel in distress, d.i.d.s., dragon, knight, princess, prince, stage play, one act, meta

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