Plays

The Siren Song

by Espritia Melodics

Cast of Characters:

THE NARRATOR
MAGGIE
CAPTAIN JACK
MERMAID
PORPOISE
THE FIRST MATE
SAILOR

 

ACT I, Scene I

The Narrator gazes at the set, a small cottage set near the seashore, a young woman standing in the doorway

Maggie steps out the door, followed by a young man carrying a dufflebag. She smiles sadly at the man.

Captain Jack rubs Maggie’s cheek gently.

Jack recites:
I need to take this last run, Mags. It’ll give us enough money to get married. I know you don’t want me to go out to sea again, but I have to go. I’ll be back.

Jack embraces Maggie, kisses her hand on which an engagement ring gleams, then starts to walk down the path away from the cottage.

Maggie watches as he leaves, not taking her eyes away from the path. She sighs deeply when he is out of sight.

The Narrator gazes towards the harbor as a bell rings. A ship begins to pull out of its slip. Jack waves from the bow of the ship. His voice floats to shore.

Jack sings:
My Maggie, I love ya, and I’ll make you my bride
When I return, we’ll marry with pride
Don’t cry, sweet Maggie, I’ll be back before the summer subsides

I’ll be back, my love, before you know
We’ll cuddle together and watch the snow
You’re in my heart, Maggie, wherever I go

Maggie waves to the tiny figure of her fiancé onboard a large ship. A bell tolls in response.

The Narrator recites:
As the ship pulls out into the open sea, the men hard at work on the decks, a small splash and the tail of a remarkably large fish go unnoticed. A gentle humming is intermixed with the sound of the waves.

Maggie sings:
My Jack was a poor man when he went to sea
To earn his fortune so we can marry
But why money matters I don’t understand
I have never needed anything grand

I have never wanted more than him.
All we need is each other when pickins are slim
I would be happy just to be his wife
Poor, in love, and together for life

I begged and pleaded with him not to leave
He said he’d return soon, no need to grieve
But I have this dread I just can’t explain
That his reassurances are all in vain

Maggie hugs herself, shivering.

So now he is gone, and I must wait
And hope that Lemicus is kind with my fate
I pray this feeling is nae a portend
That he’ll be back by summer’s end

Maggie stares blankly out to see, following the ship with her eyes, totally missing the figure on a rock jutting out of the sea, watching the ship just as she does.


ACT I, Scene 2

The Narrator smiles as gulls circle in the skies, their cries echoing in the air. A mermaid, combing her long green-gold hair, sits on a rock watching the ship sail along.

The mermaid hums quietly to herself.

A porpoise breaks the surface of the water and chatters at the mermaid.

The Mermaid recites:
Yes, I did see something interesting, finally. He has a very bright smile, I think. Something reflected into the water in the harbor, got my attention. I poked my head up, and noticed him.

The porpoise chatters at the mermaid again.

The Mermaid recites:
Of course I’m going to follow him! I’ve been looking for something like him for weeks, I’m certainly not going to let him just float away in that big shell. I just haven’t decided what I will do yet.

The mermaid begins to sing a wordless song that attracts all animals within earshot, continuing to comb her hair and watch the ship.

The porpoise chatters a question to the mermaid.

The Mermaid sings:
Contrary to what you may have heard
Life under the sea is for the birds!

Mermaid says sarcastically:
If they could swim!

The Mermaid sings:
The sea is dark, and sometimes cold
Only at the surface do we see light the color of gold
It’s also so quiet, you generally hear not a thing
You’re lucky if you hear a whale sing

On the whole, under the waves it’s pretty dull
So many times, I’m bored out of my skull
The only way I have any fun
Is to watch those who live under the sun

The porpoise chatters another question.

The mermaid blinks at the Porpoise in surprise.

The Mermaid recites:
Now why would I go and do a thing like that? That’s just silly.

The mermaid returns to singing her ethereal, wordless song.

The Narrator stares, entranced, at the mermaid as the curtain comes down.


ACT II, Scene 1

The Narrator watches the curtain rise to reveal the town harbor, bustling with activity as sailors reunite with wives and sweethearts.

The Narrator recites:
Four months have passed since Jack left to go to sea. His ship is overdue, and Maggie visits the harbor daily, checking for word of his ship. She is sick with worry, and fears that the dread she felt when Jack left was an omen that she failed to make him heed.

Maggie enters the harbor; worry lines etched into her face. She scans the slips, looking for ships that have left the port, and for new ones that have come in.

Maggie starts in recognition as she recognizes one of the sailors from Jack’s ship. He notices her, but avoids her eyes, pulling a cap down low over his eyes.

Maggie frowns in puzzlement, and strides purposefully down the pier, searching for the slip that contains Jack’s ship.

The First Mate of Jack’s ship bumps into Maggie as he descends from the gangplank of a ship.

The First Mate recites nervously:
Maggie! I was just coming to see you!

Maggie excitedly recites:
You’re back, you’re truly back! Where’s Jack?

The First Mate recites:
Uh… Maggie, I need to talk to you…

Maggie furrows her brow.

Maggie recites:
Where’s Jack?

The First Mate recites:
Maggie, let’s go over…

Maggie loudly recites:
No! Where’s Jack?

The First Mate sighs heavily, takes Maggie by the elbow and leads her to a deserted corner of the pier.

The First Mate points to his ship and begins to tell his tale.


Act II, Scene 2

The First Mate takes over narration of this part of the story. He and Maggie stand off to stage left, and all action takes place on the main stage, as the First Mate explains what happened while at sea.

The First Mate recites:
It was about eight bells, Maggie, and Jack had the watch for the night.

Jack stands at the center of the deck, ringing the bell eight times.

Jack recites:
Eight bells and all is well!

Jack goes back to scaling and finning the day’s catch of fish, humming to himself.

Jack smiles at the gold ring on his finger, which glints in the light of the setting sun.

Jack sings:
For the love of a woman
A man will do much
Do work coarse and common
For one gentle touch

For the sweet kiss
Man would walk through fire
Swim a great river, or cross the abyss
Just for that heart’s desire

So, for my Maggie, I work hard and long
In preparation for the day I make her my wife
Separation is tough, but I must be strong
It’s not a long time when we’re together for life

For the love of that woman
I’ll do most anything
Swim any river, make all the plans
Because she makes me fee like a king

Jack gazes off into the distance and smiles, then goes back to humming.

Jack glances over his shoulder as he hears a particularly loud splash just off the bow of the ship.

A porpoise chatters loudly.

Jack laughs, and leans over the railing, tossing a small fish to the porpoise.

The mermaid surfaces silently, and begins to hum the tune from the song Jack just finished.

Jack turns around trying to find the source of the music. A flash of light reflects from the comb in the mermaid’s hair, and he reels in surprise at the sight of the mermaid in the water!

The Mermaid recites:
Well, you finally notice. I’ve been following your ship for many days, and many miles, ever since you left port.

Jack, still very shocked, fumbles for words.

Jack recites:
Wh-why would you do – why would you follow me?

The Mermaid recites:
Because you are the most intriguing landwalker I have ever seen. Your smile was reflected into the sea one day, and I could not help but follow.

The Mermaid sings:
Light sparkling through the water
Your smile was shone to me
My blood flows so much hotter
I had to follow, can’t you see?

I’ve never had this strange sensation
Curious and excited, wrapped up together
I’m almost afraid to take action
Preferring to hide beneath the water

And then I remember the sight of your smile
Reflected by the sea
The reason I’ve traveled so many a mile
And I must offer my plea

Come live with me beneath the sea
I offer you my kingdom
Marry this mermaid, eternally
You’ll never be lonesome
I promise thee

The mermaid raises her arms and begins to sing a wordless, enchanting song.

The porpoise looks at her sharply, and begins to chatter angrily. It begins to leap out of the water towards Jack.

Jack, staring blankly at the mermaid, climbs the rail of the deck. He leaps off the railing into the sea, landing with a loud splash.

A sailor, drawn by the sound of the splash, runs on the deck. He sees Jack’s ankles as he goes underwater.

The Sailor yells:
Man overboard!

The sailor runs for the bell near the mast and begins to ring it fiercely. The deck is suddenly overrun with men as they move to search the water.

The First Mate recites:
We searched for him for hours, Maggie, and lit lanterns when the night fell. We could not find a sign of him, not one. Not even a scrap of cloth. We had given up all hope of finding him… till he came to us… with a message for you.

Jack rises out of the water near the ship, crowned with small golden starfish.

Jack sings:
My lads, don’t fear, for I am fine
Healthy and safe under the sea
I’ve been given a gift divine
But I need you to deliver a message for me

I’ve long loved sweet Maggie, who lives on the land
Tell her I’m fine, and living free
Life with the mermaid is festive and grand
Can I marry the mermaid who lives in the sea

Jack sinks back down into the water, his question ringing in the air as the sailors gaze at him in amazement.


Act II, Scene 3

The Narrator recites:
On the pier, Maggie listens to the First Mate’s tale, shocked by what she what she has heard.

Maggie takes a deep, quavering breath as tears stand out in her eyes.

Maggie quietly recites:
Can you find your way back?

The First Mate recites:
Maggie, I’m sorry… we just couldn’t get him.

Maggie angrily recites:
Can you find your way back? Back to where you last saw him, steering by the stars or your sexton or whatever? Can you get there?

The First Mate recites:
Y-yes, Maggie. Why?

Maggie firmly recites:
Get the crew to the ship. We’re going back for him.

The First Mate recites:
What?! Maggie…

Maggie recites:
You’ve delivered his message, and I intend to give him my answer in person. Get the crew.


Act III, Scene 1

The Narrator recites:
The sailors have reluctantly brought Maggie back to sea, as close to where they lost their captain as possible. She has spent every waking moment on the deck of the ship, staring out at the water.

The First Mate walks up to Maggie, standing at the railing.

The First Mate recites:
As far as we can tell from the charts, this is it.

Maggie nods.

The First Mate recites:
What are you going to do?

Maggie recites:
Get his attention.

First Mate: How’re ya gonna do that?

Maggie (sighing): I don’t know yet. I’ll think of something. You said he was singing when he…

First Mate: Aye, I heard him singing about you, and how he loved you. Sure couldn’t hurt if you would do the same.

The First Mate pats Maggie on the shoulder and walks to another part of the ship.

Maggie leans on the railing and stares desolately out to sea.

Maggie sings sadly:
How did I know something bad would come to pass?
Just when my hopes had begun
You’d always said that our love would last
Oh, my love, what have you done?

Enchanted and charmed by a mermaid’s song
If this is not the worst I have seen
I dare not think what else could go wrong
Oh, gods, what a mess this has been!

I don’t know if I can put everything right
How does one break a mermaid’s spell?
But I’ll not let you go without a fight
I’ll try my best, come blood or hell!

The porpoise leaps from the water, chattering at Maggie encouragingly.

Maggie leans over the railing, gathering her courage.

Maggie loudly recites:
Jack! I have your answer, Jack. Come up here and speak to me face to face. Jack!!

Maggie swallows nervously as a fury of bubbles rises on the surface of the water near the ship. She grabs a nearby spear.

The mermaid rises out of the sea, sitting calmly on a wave combing her green-gold hair. She regards Maggie coolly.

The Mermaid recites:
You can’t hope to get him to come back with you.

Maggie recites:
I’m not here to talk to the likes of you.

Maggie loudly recites:
Jack! Come face me. If you want to marry her so bad, come talk to me, you coward! Jack!!

The Mermaid recites:
He won’t come to the surface. Just give up, go back where you came from and forget about him.

The mermaid begins to hum her song of enchantment, raising her arms over her head.

The porpoise leaps out of the water in front of the mermaid, chattering angrily.

Maggie laughs at the mermaid.

Maggie mockingly recites:
Do you think your song can bend me to your will and send me away? Think again – you don’t intrigue or fascinate me. You have no power over me!

The mermaid scowls as the sea beside her begins to boil with bubbles again.

Jack rises from the sea, his transformation into a merman started. His lower body is covered in pale green scales, though he still has legs.

Maggie gasps at Jack’s changed appearance.

Maggie quietly recites:
Oh, sweet Eluned, Jack, what has she done to you?

Maggie strips off her heavy skirts, then leaps over the side of the boat, spear firmly in hand, and begins to swim towards Jack.

The Narrator recites:
A commotion breaks out on deck as Maggie jumps overboard, sailors rushing about to prepare their small boat to save her. She pays no heed to the noise or the water, focusing only on the man she loves, swimming towards him with all her strength and will.

The mermaid raises her arms in command, and the sea rises in large waves to obey.

Maggie begins to flounder in the water, until the porpoise surfaces just in front of her, taking her upon its back.

The porpoise carries Maggie through the rough waters towards Jack and the mermaid.

Jack tonelessly recites:
Maggie, why did you summon me?

Maggie stares at Jack, aghast.

Maggie recites:
You told the crew to deliver a message to me, asking if you could marry … her. I am here merely to give you an answer.

Jack recites:
What is your answer, Maggie?

Maggie emphatically recites:
No! No, you may NOT marry the siren!

Maggie turns to face the mermaid.

Maggie sings angrily:
This man is mine, and I do not share
We have a bond of love, and by that I claim him true
Our bond is precious, our bond is rare
We have no use for the likes of you

Maggie throws the spear at the mermaid, who dodges easily. The spear splashes into the water and sinks.

Siren singer, your spells are in vain
You’ve no idea of how strong a mere woman can be
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again
You have no power over me!

Maggie leaps off the porpoise’s back at the mermaid. They struggle briefly in the water, Maggie slowly losing and flailing in the water.

The mermaid smiles with cold triumph.

Maggie desperately grabs at the mermaid’s head, pulling the mermaid’s comb from her hair. In a last-ditch effort, she stabs the mermaid in the gut with the sharp tines of the comb.

The mermaid slumps in the water, blood pouring over her hands and tail, staring in shock at the deep wound in her belly.

Jack stares dumbly at the mermaid and at Maggie swimming towards him.

Maggie reaches for Jack as she gets close to him, grasping his hand. As the metal of their rings touch, a blinding light flares around him. When the light fades, he is transformed back into a man, the mermaid’s enchantment broken.

The mermaid dies, the last of her magic and life’s blood poured into the sea.

Jack blinks, looking dazed and confused, as he treads water.

Jack recites:
Maggie, what are you doing here, why are we overboard?

Maggie embraces Jack fiercely.

Maggie recites:
Let’s get back to the ship.

The First Mate lowers a rope ladder for Maggie and Jack, and beams happily at them as they climb aboard the ship. He covers both of them with blankets.

Jack recites:
Maggie, I don’t understand, why are you here? You don’t even like the water!

Maggie quietly recites:
Do you remember what happened, Jack?

Jack recites:
Yes, but my memories are a little…off. It feels like a dream.

Maggie recites:
How could I stay on the shore, and just let you go?

Maggie sings lovingly:
For the love of my life
I would do much
Suffer through strife
For love’s sweet touch

Jack, don’t you know
I would die for you
My heart is the greatest gift to bestow
Tis what the strength of love can do

Jack smiles down at Maggie before he kisses her. The crew cheers at having their captain restored to them.

The Narrator recites:
Maggie and Jack married as soon as they returned to port. They never forgot the lessons learned from that voyage… and they lived happily ever after.

The narrator winks.

The Narrator recites:
Come on… you knew that was coming!