Comedy: Estimated Running Time 90 minutes (without intermission).
40-minute version available.
Cast: 7 Male, 3 Female, 2 Extras, 12 Total. Setting: Single Interior Setting.
7 Male, 3 Female, 2 Extras, 12 Total.
ARGANTE, father of Octave and Zerbinette
GERONTE, father of Leandre and Hyacinthe
OCTAVE, son of Argante, in love with Hyacinthe
LEANDRE, son of Geronte, in love with Zerbinette
ZERBINETTE, in love with Leandre; believed to be a gypsy, eventually discovered to be the daughter of Geronte
HYACINTHE, in love with Octave, eventually discovered to be the daughter of Geronte,
SCAPIN, valet to Leandre, a schemer
SYLVESTRE, valet to Octave
NERINE, Nurse to Hyacinthe
CARLE, a servant of Leandre
Single Exterior Setting: Naples.
The Schemings of Scapin (1671) is a hilarious farce set in Italy, about a scheming servant who brilliantly tricks two fathers out of money that their respective sons need to support their lovers. The way he pulls it off is a tour de force. In this instance it was the legal profession that Moliere cut loose on, as Scapin tries to frighten the father from initiating a divorce proceeding.
The Schemings of Scapin
Act II, Scene 5
What I think is I’ll take this to the judge.
Oh, sir, don’t stick at such a silly sum,
You must do what you can to keep this from
All right! Tack on those thirty more.
“I also need,” he said, “a pack-mule for --”
The devil take the man and take his mule!
Does he think me some simpleton or fool?
That’s it! We’ll take this matter to the judge.
But sir --
No, that’s enough! I will not budge!
Sir, just a little pack-mule that may pass --
No mule, no donkey, not the smallest ass!
But think about --
I’d rather go to court.
Oh, sir! If you think this man may extort,
Give thought to all the law’s great machinations
Which frustrate men of endless wealth of patience.
Think of appeals and writs of jurisdiction
Rapacious beasts with wicked predilection
At every stage you pass another thief
Who look to give your pocketbook relief.
These bailiffs, lawyers, counselors, and clerks
Reporters and the judges; each one shirks
The fairness that they owe for slightest perqs,
And then you’ll know just how the system works.
A bailiff serves a false writ on the case,
And you may disappear without a trace!
Your lawyer may be got at by your foe
And sell you out for bits of ready dough.
Your counsel might be won out that same way
And fail to make appearance on that day,
Or else he’ll argue everything obscurely
And see to it you lose the case securely.
These court reporter’s clerks find ways to hamper
By stealing the transcription which they tamper.
That is, assuming that the court reporter
Transcribed it all as said in proper order.
And even having made it past them all,
The judge himself might rather make you crawl;
Some pious folk solicit him against you,
Or else some woman that the man intends to ...
Signeur, I must beseech your sense of worth:
Do not get caught inside this Hell on earth!
To be at law is to be damned alive,
And I would sooner find ways to contrive
A trip to take me to the most remote
Location on the earth by fastest boat.
So how much does he reckon for the mule?
Sir, for the mule, the horse, the harness tool,
The pistols and to settle something weighty
Between the man and his supposed landlady,
He asks in all for two hundred pistoles.
The greediest of trolls!
Come on, we’ll take this matter to the court.
But think --
I’ll go to court.
Do not resort --
I want to go to court!
But it will cost
At least as much, or case will be quite lost.
You’ll pay out for the writ, the registrations,
The power of attorney, consultations,
The time your lawyer spends upon your case,
And time the advocates spend face to face,
Engrossing of the documents in piles
Will cost you long before you see the trials.
The substitutes reports, the judge’s fees,
The signatures, provisional decrees,
The registrar, the warrants, verdicts, stamps,
Upon your pocketbook will place their clamps.
And while each honest player you subscribe
That doesn’t count the folk you have to bribe!
And here’s a matter straining all beliefs:
You even pay for your attorney’s briefs!
If you pay out the money now, at first,
It’s only once you’ll be so badly cursed.
But two hundred pistoles ...
You’ll end on top,
I’ve worked out in my head how much you’ll drop
On all the little costs of getting justice
And find the process will quite quickly bust us.
By giving that two hundred as a giftie,
You save yourself at least a hundred fifty!
Which doesn’t count the worries and the trouble
You’ll find in getting through this awful rubble.
If all that you avoided was the snide
Remarks in which these lawyers take some pride,
Which they express for all the world to hear ...
I’d pay three hundred just to not appear!