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If Gilbert & Sullivan wrote Shakespeare

Chapter Text

1. "What plain proceedings is more plain than this?"
(Henry VI, Part II + The Pirates of Penzance)

2. "Philosophers may sing of the joys of being King"
(Henry VI, Part II + The Gondoliers)

3. "A monarch who boasts intellectual graces"
(Richard II + The Grand Duke)

4. "Your Highness, tell us where you've put the body"
(Hamlet + The Grand Duke)

Chapter Text

Henry VI Part 2, II.ii + "I am the very model of a modern Major-General" (The Pirates of Penzance)


YORK
Now, my good lords of Salisbury and Warwick,
Our simple supper ended, give me leave,
In this close walk, to satisfy myself
In craving your opinion of my title,
Which is infallible, to England’s crown.

SALISBURY
My lord, I long to hear it at full.

WARWICK
Sweet York, begin; and if thy claim be good,
The Nevilles are thy subjects to command.

YORK
Then thus:

[Music starts: “I am the very model of a modern Major-General”.]

YORK [singing]
My lords, you will recall Edward the Third, he fathered seven sons.
Edward Prince of Wales and William of Hatfield were the first two ones.
Third was Lionel, Duke of Clarence; fourth, John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster;
Fifth was Edmund, sixth was Thomas, and the seventh William of Wind-sor.
Prince Edward died before his dad and left behind an only son –
That’s Richard, and he reigned as king when Edward the Third’s reign was done.
But then came Henry Bolingbroke, the eldest son of John of Gaunt…
Who seized the realm, deposed the rightful king, and said, “Richard, avaunt!”

SALISBURY AND WARWICK [singing]
Who seized the realm, deposed the rightful king, and said, “Richard, avaunt!” (etc.)

YORK [singing]
This new usurper, Henry Fourth, disposed of all the previous court.
Poor Richard went to prison, and his queen King Henry did deport.
And as for Richard’s sad demise, I’m sure you both know everything.
So if you listen closely, I’ll explain next why I should be king!

SALISBURY AND WARWICK [singing]
And as for Richard’s sad demise, we do in fact know everything.
So let us listen closely now and find out why York should be king.

WARWICK
Father, the Duke hath told the truth.
Thus got the house of Lancaster the crown.

YORK
Which now they hold by force and not by right;
For Richard, the first son’s heir, being dead,
The issue of the next son should have reigned.

SALISBURY
But William of Hatfield died without an heir.

[Music starts up again.]

YORK [singing]
Recall the third son, Lionel. His daughter married Edmund Mortimer,
The Earl of March, and they had issue: Edmund, Anne, and Eleanor.
While Bolingbroke was still the king, young Edmund valiantly tried
To claim the crown – but was betrayed and then kept captive till he died.
My mother was his elder sister, Anne. My father, Richard, was
The son of Edmund Langley (Edward’s fifth son, sure), but wait! Because
My mother was descended via Lionel (the third in line),
That means I’ve better claim than Henry. Ergo, the crown should be mine!

SALISBURY AND WARWICK [singing]
If thou hast better claim than Henry – truly the crown should be thine! (etc.)

YORK [singing]
I trace my roots to Lionel, while Henry’s just go back to John
(The fourth son). Thus you see, he hasn’t got a leg to stand upon!
So really, when you look at it, it’s obvious as anything!
If issue of the elder son takes precedence, then I am king!

SALISBURY AND WARWICK [singing]
Yes, really, now we look at it, it’s obvious as anything!
If issue of the elder son takes precedence, then York is king!

[All three link arms and dance around until the music ends. Then…]

WARWICK
What plain proceedings is more plain than this?

Chapter Text

Henry VI Part 2, general plot summary + "Rising early in the morning" (The Gondoliers) [music recording]


KING HENRY
Rising early in the morning,
In an apprehensive mood,
My thoughts full of dire warning:
How will this new day conclude?
I embark without delay
On a most… eventful day.

This began a pleasant outing,
With our falcons and no shouting,
But my squabbling court are all at odds again,
Like a sunny April morning
That transforms with little warning
To a darkened sky and floods of chilly rain.
Buckingham brings news that makes this bad day worse:
Apprehension of some sorcerers mid-curse,
With intent to do me harm. And what is more,
They were led by my dear auntie Eleanor!
So I have to have her banished.
But the scandal hasn’t vanished:
There’s an uproar and my uncle’s forced to step down in disgrace
From his role as Lord Protector.
I already fear the specter
Of some national emergency I’m unprepared to face.
My authority is tested
And my uncle is arrested
‘Midst a flood of accusations I am helpless to prevent.
Come on, Henry, chill a minute!
Hold a trial; he will win it!
For I’m sure my uncle Humphrey is completely innocent.

Oh, philosophers may sing
Of the joys of being King;
But it’s really very stressful when your court won’t get along.
No-one tells me what they’re doing
But I know there’s trouble brewing
And I have this dreadful feeling something’s very, very wrong.

I announce my uncle’s trial.
He’s been murdered?! Full denial
Of wrongdoing from his rivals in the court.
Warwick says it’s Suffolk’s doing,
So he’s banished. ‘Midst ensuing
Chaos, comes a servant with a grim report:
Beaufort’s gravely ill and soon will be a corse –
He dies feverish and haunted by remorse.
Then a messenger arrives with Suffolk’s head –
Pirates captured him and now he, too, is dead.
More bad news: now London’s falling
To a rebel leader calling
Himself “Mortimer”. (He’s really just a tailor named Jack Cade.)
Meg and I must flee the palace
To escape his vicious malice…
Wait – the Commons have switched sides again and Cade has been betrayed.
Crisis solved? While we’re still reeling,
I’ve another awful feeling,
Like a ship that ‘scapes a storm, then meets a vicious pirate threat.
Suddenly – approaching horses:
York’s returned with mighty forces
Which he claims he’s only brought to rescue me from Somerset.

Oh, my enemies may sing
Of the joys of being King;
But it’s not a job I wanted, and I’d gladly yield my crown.
Oh, a shepherd’s plain existence
Is a path of less resistance
Than this treacherous position with its duties and renown.

Chapter Text

Richard II, II.i + "Oh, a Monarch who boasts intellectual graces" (from the Act I finale of The Grand Duke)


NORTHUMBERLAND
My liege, old Gaunt commends him to your Majesty.

KING RICHARD
What says he?

NORTHUMBERLAND
Nay, nothing; all is said.
His tongue is now a stringless instrument;
Words, life, and all, old Lancaster hath spent.

YORK
Be York the next that must be bankrupt so!
Though death be poor, it ends a mortal woe.

KING RICHARD
The ripest fruit first falls, and so doth he;
His time is spent, our pilgrimage must be.
…So much for that! Now for our Irish wars:

[Music starts: this tune from the Act I finale of The Grand Duke]

KING RICHARD [singing]
Oh, a Monarch who boasts intellectual graces
Will find ways to fund a successful campaign!
When waging war in inhospitable places
Where the foe is as treacherous as the terrain,
The cost of it all rather quickly outpaces
Our funding. We worried about the disgraces
Of losing the wars, to retreat with grimaces…
But now Gaunt’s sad loss is our fortunate gain!
Our fortunate gain – our fortunate gain –

BUSHY, BAGOT, and GREEN [singing]
A fortunate, fortunate, fortunate, fortunate gain!

KING RICHARD [singing]
Oh, forget about rules! We’re the King, so we’re seizing
All plate, coin, and movables Gaunt did possess.
This new source of revenue’s welcome and pleasing –
Our Irish campaign should be quite the success!

BUSHY, BAGOT, and GREEN [singing]
Oh, forget about rules! He’s the King, so he’s seizing
All plate, coin, and movables Gaunt did possess.
This new source of revenue’s welcome and pleasing –
His Irish campaign should be quite the success!

[They dance around for a while. FINALLY, York manages to confiscate the conductor’s baton and the orchestra stops playing.]

Chapter Text

Hamlet, IV.ii-iiithis scene from The Grand Duke [music recording]:


ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN
Your Highness, tell us where you’ve put the body —
Your Highness, kindly tell us where you’ve stashed it —
It’s imperative we find it,
So we really wouldn’t mind it
If you’d tell us. Your behavior’s rather shoddy.

Your relation with your family’s a mess —
We fear that you have well and truly trashed it —
Your uncle’s on his way now,
And if you do not obey now,
What will happen next is anybody’s guess!
(We’d rather not be here for that, oh yes!)

[Enter Claudius, in a fury.]

CLAUDIUS
With fury indescribable I burn!
With rage I’m nearly ready to explode!
There’ll be grief and tribulation till I learn
Where Polonius’s body has been stowed!

For whatever may be due I’ll pay it double —
There’ll be terror indescribable and trouble!
With a hurly-burly and a hubble-bubble
I’ll pay you for this pretty episode!

ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN
Oh, whatever may be due he’ll pay it double! —
It’s very good of him to take the trouble —
But we don’t know what he means by “hubble-bubble” —
No doubt it’s an expression à la mode.

CLAUDIUS [to Hamlet]
Do you know what you’ve done?

HAMLET
I don’t;
Please tell me, that I may know, good sir.

CLAUDIUS
Stop playing the fool, my son.

HAMLET
I won’t;
(And you’re not my dad.) I’ll go, good sir.

CLAUDIUS
Express your grief profound!

HAMLET
I shan’t!
This tone I never allow, my love!

CLAUDIUS
Polonius at once produce!

HAMLET
I can’t;
He isn’t at home just now, my love.

CLAUDIUS
He isn’t at home just now?!

HAMLET
He isn’t at home just now!
He has an appointment for supper; you’ll meet him
Not where he eats, but where others eat him;
A convoy of worms have been sent forth to greet him,
And he isn’t at home just now!
He isn’t at home just now!

CLAUDIUS
But bless my heart and soul alive, it’s impudence personified!
Just tell me WHERE HE IS. I will not let myself be so defied!

HAMLET
Worms feed alike upon a king or beggar. Consequentially:
If you don’t find him in this month, you’ll nose him out eventually.
Tol the riddle lol, lol lol lay! (etc.)

[Hamlet dances around wildly, to Claudius’s continued irritation.]