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Poetry by Rachel A. Gold

Savior Of The World

Drew Hurley

This is an original one Act play which takes place in a Romanesque room with portico overlooking a panoramic view of a Spanish village with its harbor below. The cast of character includes:
Manuel -- a causally dressed older man with aristocratic bearing, but a very light-hearted and comedic personality.

Pedro -- a casually dressed younger man with a much more serious disposition

Humberto -- nearly as old as Manuel, he is very conservatively dressed, but much more theatrical in manner and expressiveness than the other two.

Juan -- A male voice that is heard from beyond the portico, off stage.

Servants -- (8, unnamed) younger men and/or women. They have no spoken parts, but are called on-stage to “tidy” and rearrange the set. One or two could actually be stationed on the stage for dramatic effect.

(Curtain Rises)

[The scene opens with Manuel lying on the bed and Pedro standing in the open portico gazing absently at the village and harbor below.]

Manuel:
(Sitting up and moving to the side of the bed. He looks to the side of the portico to gaze at the view of the village and harbor.) Aaahh, such a good morning. The sun shines brightly in the Eastern sky. There is not a cloud to be seen. A soft, cool breeze blows from the East, off the Mediterranean. It is a beautiful day.

Pedro:
(Upon hearing Manuel speak, Pedro turns to look at him) Do you speak to me, my Lord?

Manuel:
(with light-humor) Of course, I do! Do you see anyone else in the room? Do you think that I talk to the sun and the wind?

Pedro:
I am sorry, sir. You were not looking in my direction. I did not realize that you were speaking to me.

Manuel:
(looking straight at him now, but with a deadpan expression) We have been friends for so long that I no longer have to look at you in order to sense your presence. I knew you were there.

Besides, there are times when it certainly must appear that I talk to the sun and the wind. I talk to myself enough these days.

(He gets up and walks to the edge of the room and looks out over the village with obvious satisfaction and pleasure.)

(Turning to look directly at Pedro, again) Or, is it the other way around? Do I really just talk to the sun and the wind? Is all of the rest merely and illusion? A pretense?

Pedro:
(speaking warmly) People would think of you as a lunatic if that were the case, my friend.

Manuel:
And how do the people think of me, dear Pedro?

Pedro:
(Speaking proudly, boastfully) They think of you as their Savior!

Manuel:
Savior?! (he spits it out in surprise and shock) Me?! Surely, you jest. This is me, Manuel, you are talking about. A man of weakness and sin.

Pedro:
(Smugly) Perhaps that is true, but it is of no consequence. The people in this village, indeed, in this entire region of Espana, they know you. They love you as a friend, because they know you care about them. You love them.

Manuel:
(very flippantly) I could not possibly have so many affairs.

Pedro:
That is not what I mean.

Manuel:
Then you must mean feelings. Therefore, you must also know how I feel about you.

Pedro:
Si! I cherish our friendship more than life itself. I would do for you all that you ask.

Manuel:
Such noble and valiant words, friend Pedro. I pray that you shall never be put to the test.

Pedro:
I share that prayer, too, amigo, but for different reasons. Like all of the people of this area, I am so very proud of you and what you have made us all become.

Manuel:
(Questioning) Become? I do not invent people. I have not made anyone become anything. At best, I may have helped a few people achieve some of the things they wanted in their lives. Sepio’s plan was simple: help people fulfill their goals. Sepio and I tried to organize a way to help people accomplish some of the goals they had for their own lives. That was all.

Pedro:
Is that all? That is quite an accomplishment. indeed, it is a miracle!

Manuel:
Miracle? (Laughing) I see no miracle (chuckles again lightly). Again, you joke with me.

Pedro:
(Slightly indignant) It is no joke. These people, they know that you care about them -- as a friend.

Manuel:
(Smiling) Well, of course, I do. I am their friend. I know them. I joke with them. This is not so many people. Several hundred, perhaps.

Pedro:
(Smiling at being able to correct him) No, Manuel, several thousand. There are a great many people who love you dearly. They know that you are care about each one of them, personally. For many of these people, you are closer than their family. For that reason, they respect and trust your leadership.

Manuel:
(Knowing he cannot win) Ah, it is not I they love so much; it is God. I am but a mere facilitator, an instrument with which to accomplish good, and create a little humor.

Pedro:
Yes. That is certainly true. And the people know that you are blessed of God. They love you for this, too.

Manuel:
(With self-deprecating humor) Touched in the head, do you not mean?

Oh, Pedro. You cannot continue this charade. I am no more blessed than any other man. We are all God’s children. As children, we are often overwhelmed by our own sense of self-importance. Whenever that happens, one is sure to fall flat on their face (showing a little sympathy).

That is what is happening to you. You grossly overestimate the sense of my importance, and perhaps therefore you own. I am but a mere man.

Pedro:
As we all are....

Manuel:
You are impossible, Pedro. Impossible! Perhaps that is why I like you so much (He smiles broadly).

Pedro:
Perhaps, that may be true.

Manuel:
Perhaps? Perhaps? Do you ever commit yourself to anything?

Pedro:
Oh, yes. My love for you.

Manuel:
(With exasperation) Oh, Pedro. You, dear friend, are impossible. But, still I simply cannot do without you. Just as I cannot do without Sepio.

Ah, Sepio. Now, he is your savior. There is the man who developed the ideas and plans which now make our valley so peaceful and happy. It is Sepio who is the real genius you honor. I have been only his comic accomplice. I am only his companion, and friend.

Pedro:
Like I am to you?

Manuel:
Yes, dear Pedro. Exactly. Thank you for pointing that out. You must know exactly how I feel when I tell you how desperately I miss him and how much I wish that he were here. I want so very much to show him the beauty and splendor of our happy valley. I want to show him how successful his plans have been. To see him smile with pleasure at these accomplishments, would make me so happy for him.

I have only, and always, wanted so much for his dreams of leadership to come true. And, now I am so lonely without his steady presence to lean upon.

Pedro:
(Looking past Manuel and beyond the harbor, he speaks excitedly) Manuel, I see a sail on the horizon!

Manuel:
(turns abruptly toward the sea) I think you are right! Could it possibly be Sepio? Oh, I so hope that it is.

Pedro:
(Still excited) Shall I fetch a spy glass?

Manuel:
Yes! Please do! Oh, we must decide how to welcome our guests, whoever they are. Perhaps markings on the sails will give us a clue as to who they are, and how we should welcome them.

.

(Pedro exists stage on the opposite side from the portico and quickly returns with two spy glasses. He walks directly to Manuel and had him one. They both raise the glasses to their eyes and peer at the horizon.)

.

Pedro:
(Speaking with excitement) I do believe that is the ship that brought you here on your last return voyage from Rome.

Manuel:
(Hopefully restrained) Are you sure?

Pedro:
I am not sure, no. It does appear to have the same sail markings. It is a vessel from the coast, South of Rome. They always fly a yellow vertical cross on their foresail.

Manuel:
(Smiling) Then it could be my friend Sepio coming to join us.

Make ready for a banquet! We must feast with our guest from Rome. There will surely be news of Sepio. Such a time for merriment!

(Taking charge) Pedro, would you go and meet this vessel when it docks, and brings the guests straight to me? And, pass the word: this shall be a day of rejoicing. Sepio may be joining us.

Pedro:
I will gladly do as you ask.

Manuel:
Very good. Then I will ready our humble abode for the banquet which we will prepare.

.

(Pedro walks swiftly from the stage and Manuel pulls the bell rope, eight times, to summons the servants. Very quickly, eight servants appear. They quickly cluster, as a group, in front of Manuel.)

.

Manuel:
(Very warmly) We have seen a sail on the horizon. It has the markings of a vessel from the Italian coast, South of Rome. It may bring our friend Sepio; it surely bears news of him. We must prepare a banquet. We should feast for all good and joyous occasions. Let us prepare this meager shelter for the celebration of our great joy.

.

(Each of the eight busy themselves with removing the bed from the stage and setting up several low tables and bringing in cushions which are set in clusters on the floor. They also set up a small stage, when it is ready two musicians walk to the stage, and take up position there. Each carries a small stool, with one holding a flute and the other a lute. Manuel walks around the room and visits with each of the servants as they work. He helps them with their tasks. As they were he carries on a whispered conversation with each of them. This preparation takes only a minute or two. When everything is nearly ready -- there should be a couple of cushions left to add:)

.

Juan:
Senior, Manuel! The ship has reached the dock. The guest is on his way here!

Manuel:
(Calling to the voice off stage) Thank you, Juan!

(He turns back to look about the room) Fortunately, we are nearly ready.

(The last few cushions are pushed into place and most of the servants disappear from the stage.)

(Speaking to one of the remaining servants) Set the wine on the table. Let us make ready for a great celebration!

(Manuel walks to the edge of the portico, and moves has close to the edge of the stage as he can get without disappearing from the audience’s sight.)

.

Manuel:
(As if calling down the street) My dear friend, Humberto, welcome to Espana! Does your friend and master, Sepio, come with you?

(After a moment, Humberto enters from the portico. He shakes hands in a double hand shake with Manuel, and is hugged by Manuel in a warm embrace.)

Humberto:
(Swallowing hard) He does not, my Lord, Manuel.

Manuel:
(Very warmly) Please, my friend Humberto. Here I am not a Lord. The Roman Senate is but a distant memory. Here, I am but a man. A friend to all who are my friends. (Smiling) And here, all are my friends.

The plans of our mutual friend Sepio are as successful as he dreamed they would be. Pray tell, what word have you of him?

(Pedro enters solemnly, and stands quietly in the background.)

Humberto:
I bear words of great sadness, don Manuel. Word that can only offend the dignity of your ears. If it shall be your wish, I will instantly cut out my offending tongue, which must utter such sad tidings. (He takes his sword from its scabbard.)

Manuel:
Put away your weapon. You are not capable of any wrong against dear Sepio. Pray, tell me your news. Is my beloved companion ill?

Humberto:
He is not ill, my Lord. He is dead. Moreover, there is a legion of Roman troops on their way to kill you, my Lord. And me, too.

.

(Manuel silently recoils in shock.)

.

There. I have performed my duty. I have spoken this terrible message which you have no wish to hear. (He, again, takes his sword from the scabbard.) Say the word, and I shall cut out my tongue which has so offended your dignity and desire.

Manuel:
(Speaking calmly) Humberto, hand your weapon to Pedro. You are in no condition to hold a blade. You shall surely harm yourself.

.

(Humberto steps toward Pedro and hands it, handle first, to him. Pedro leans it against the wall, next to the opening of the portico.)

.

(As Humberto turns back toward him, Manuel continues) I am so puzzled and confused by this news. I know not how to respond. Is there no explanation?

Humberto:
There is, my Lord.

Manuel:
Tell it, friend Humberto. Then, tell it!

Humberto:
You may recall that Sepio admonished you in the Senate chamber and ordered you to your residence, but that I met you at the steps of the Senate and, instead, escorted you to the port and passage to Spain.

Manuel:
Yes, I remember. I was so confused at these events until you told me that Sepio did not mean what he said; that this was a plan of his to confuse the Senate Leadership who opposed his decentralization ideas.

Humberto:
That is so. But, I was not completely honest with you. Sepio had already been financially ruined. He was severely in debt. Cassius and Orphretus bought up his obligations and demanded their payment in full, under penalty of death. Sepio knew that he could not fulfill his debts, and that once they had disposed of him, they would do the same to you.

He pretended to be afraid of death. He tricked them into believing that he would deliver you into their hands if his life was to be spared. That is why he ordered you to your house. They were going to arrest you the moment you arrived home.

Manuel:
So, instead, Sepio had you spirit me out of Rome knowing full well that this meant certain death for him.

Humberto:
Yes, my Lord. Although Sepio did have a plan whereby he could escape to Palermo.

Manuel:
Palermo? Why, Palermo?

Humberto:
To lead them away from you, dear sir.

Manuel:
And his plan, did it work?

Humberto:
Not as he had hoped. He did manage to conceal his way to Palermo. He did lure Cassius and Orphretus to him there. He even managed to make them promise to accept his life in exchange for your life. However, they have chosen to disavow their pledge.

Manuel:
(Sadly) Oh, Humberto, this news grieves me so. And, my friend Sepio, did he suffer?

Humberto:
Death was swift. He knew no great suffering.

Manuel:
(Pointing outside, beyond the portico) I so much wanted him to see the fruition of his dreams. His plans are successful. Here, there is happiness and joy all around you.

And, now, in the midst of this great joy there is grief for the loss of our dearest friend.

Humberto:
At my final departure from his side, Sepio asked that I deliver a parcel to you. (Claps his hands twice. A servant enters bearing a shoebox-sized case. The servant hands the case to Humberto (and then quietly exists the stage). Humberto hands the case to Manuel) In the name of Sepio, eldest son of Malcolm, I present his bequest for Manuel Melania, descendant of Trajan and honored Clarissimi of Rome.

Manuel:
(Accepts the box) I am humbled by the care and concern of my dear friend. I accept his bequest, and his spirit as my own. (Manuel opens the box and looks silently into it. Slowly he withdraws a beautiful gold Sun Medallion attached to a heavy gold chain. Manuel sets the box on the edge of the table and puts the medallion around his neck.)

Humberto:
(As soon as Manuel releases the medallion) may the spirit of Sepio bless you always.

Manuel:
(puts his hand into the box and removes a small scroll. He begins to read it silently, but begins crying and cannot finish it. He staggers to a cushion, and sits down. After a moment, he looks to Humberto) Please, dear Humberto, join me in my sorrow. I know that you grieve dearly for the loss of your friend. Sit here with me (pointing to a nearby cushion) and listen to the eulogy Sepio has written for us to remember him by.

Dear Pedro, please come read this scroll, so that all may hear.

Pedro:
(Walks to Manuel’s side and accepts the scroll. He stands straight and reads firmly, but with feeling):

Believe in life.
As you live, look always to life and love.
Do those things which are good and helpful to others.
All acts of hurtfulness, of pride, of selfishness, of vengeance, carry with them seeds of their own destruction.
Lust not for property or possessions -- otherwise, in the end they will own you, not you them.
All that which has real value is found in the essence of life, and in the spirit of love.
As the spirit of life is love, the fulfillment of life comes only with the sharing of love for all things.
Above all else, be good, kind and understanding with each other.
The spirit of life, the spirit of God, is in all things.
Love life fully, every moment of every day, and thou shalt have joy and happiness beyond compare.
Believe always in life.
Love Life always.

Manuel:
Sepio has written truth. There is nothing more to be said.

.

(Pedro hands the scroll back to Manuel, then returns to stand next to the doorway to the portico. Manuel places teh scroll back in the box, on the table.)

.

Humberto:
There is one other matter of great concern, friend Manuel.

Manuel:
(Very seriously) What is that?

Humberto:
There is a Roman legion marching toward Spain for the purpose of murdering you.

Pedro:
(With urgent animation) Give me the order, my Lord. I shall form and Army. We shall defend you from this invasion.

Manuel:
(Curtly) You shall do no such thing. I will not trade the life of a single one of my friends for my own. Have you not learned from Sepio’s selfless example?

Pedro:
Then, we shall help you escape.

Manuel:
There can be no escape. Wherever I go, they will follow. No, death must surely come to us all. My time draws near.

Pedro:
(Defiantly) No! Say it is not so!

Manuel:
(Humoring him) Oh, my stubborn friend, do you not believe your own ears. It must be so. There can be no other choice.

Humberto, what of yourself? Are you safe?

Humberto:
No. There are assassins waiting, should I ever return home, and I fear that if my presence is discovered here, that I, too, shall perish.

Manuel:
Not so, dear friend. As Sepio had it within his presence to save my life -- at least for a short while; so I have it within my power to save you.

Friend Pedro!

Pedro:
Yes, Manuel...

Manuel:
You have said, this very day, that you love me more than life itself, and that you would do all that I ask.

Pedro:
That is true.

Manuel:
I have need to ask your all.

Pedro:
Say it, and it shall be done.

Manuel:
Pedro, behold your brother, Humberto. Take him into your home and into your heart. Care for him as if he, too, sprang from the womb of your mother and carries the seed of your father. Introduce him to all you your friends, kin and countrymen. Your brother has returned from Palermo, whence he long lived.

That is the feast that we shall, therefore, celebrate today. (Rising, full of confidence) Come, let us prepare the banquet. Pedro’s long departed brother, Humberto, now returns to the village of his -- spiritual -- birth. We welcome our brother. He and our own dear Pedro must carry on the work only just begun. There will be much that they must do long after I am gone.

Pedro:
(Speaking to Manuel) Humberto shall be my brother, as you have said. But, what shall become of you?

Manuel:
Make ready the vessel in which Humberto arrived. It must return to its home port on the next favorable tide. We cannot create unnecessary suspicions for the Romans.

When they arrive, they will find no battlements. They will think that they have caught us by surprise. They will send spys into our village to scout out defenses and the nature of my life.

They will find no preparation for war, or defense. They will find a peaceful, happy, prosperous village living in harmony with the world.

They will find me doing what I always do; caring for my friends.

Pedro:
(A question asked in shock) You will not resist?!

Manuel:
Of course I will not resist. I am a comedian, a lover; I am not a soldier.

Frail human beings that we are, we too infrequently understand that the way one chooses to die determines the way one lives their life. That understanding has been made clear to me this day.

I choose to die happy. I choose to do what makes me most happy. Of all of the things that I do, helping my friends provided me with the greatest sense of happiness, satisfaction, and fulfillment.

I choose to love the people of this valley. All of them. As much as I can. As often as I can. In as many ways as I can. I will do my utmost to bring happiness to those I love. I will do anything I can, except hate.

My life shall end exactly as I intend to lead it: bringing joy and happiness to the people around me.

There is one certainty. My assassin must know this: I am a many who dearly loves a great many people, and I am deeply loved by these people. My assassin must understand the personal responsibility for the grief that he will bring to this valley. My assassin shall know the burden of this great guilt. That shall be punishment enough. No hand shall be raised against him.

(He looks to Pedro and then Humberto) I command it.

(They each nod.)

I have one, final request of you Pedro, and of you, Humberto.

Pedro:
Speak and it shall be granted.

Humberto:
Your wish is my command.

Manuel:
It shall be your collective responsibility to carry on these great plans, once I am gone. Complex rules easily become tedious and burdensome. I ask that you follow but one rule in my behalf: help people. Do those things which help people in the most positive ways.

Keep alive the words of Sepio. (He picks up the scroll) Let these words be felt with all of your heart, and you shall be truly wise. Honor these precepts; herein is the root of justice. Cherish these values always. They are the hop of mankind.

Pedro:
The examples that you and Sepio have set shall be with us always.

Humberto:
We shall do our very best to continue the happy prosperity that this fine land enjoys.

Manuel:
I know that you will succeed. My blessing shall be with you always. (He goes to Pedro and then to Humberto. He shakes hands -- double hand shakes -- with each, and then embraces each of them.)

Now, let us celebrate. It shall be a time of great feasting. Our brother, Humberto, whom we dearly love, returns to the bosom of our soul.

Today shall be a holiday (he starts to get into the spirit of celebration). Invite all of our friends from the village, and the country side. We shall have a parade. We have much to rejoice. The blessings of love are everywhere on this land.

A toast (he picks up the goblet of wine): The love that I have for you shall be with you forever, and my spirit shall dwell with your spirit for all time. (He sips the wine and passes the goblet to Pedro and then Humberto each sips and then repeats the toast:)

Pedro:
The love that I have for you shall be with you forever, and my spirit shall dwell with your spirit for all time.

Humberto:
The love that I have for you shall be with you forever, and my spirit shall dwell with your spirit for all time. (He sets the goblet on the table)

Manuel:
(Stepping between the two men, he crocks an elbow around each of their waists and leads them toward the portico) Come! Let us descend to the village and spread our celebration across the land.

(Manuel -- in the middle -- leads them slowly off stage) It is time to begin our parade.

(Now, for off stage, all voices slowly trail off, as if they are walking away) Humberto, there is much for you to learn about our village. Why does the farmer stake his sheep on the hill side?

Humberto:
I do no know.

Manuel:
Because there is no grass on the roof.... (muffled laughter from others and then silence.)

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Tuesday, 04-May-2010 14:47:53 EDT