The Red Ettin

 The setting for The Red Ettin (2m, 2w) is “somewhere or other,” represented by a unit set with a bed, table, chairs, and a hat rack.  “The actors move.  The set doesn’t.  Engrave these words onto your eyeballs.”  We hear ravens as lights come up on Jack and Widow.  Widow tells Jack that his two dead brothers were also named Jack and that he had a sister who was eaten by a big red thing.  Jack starts again to tell the story of a Widow who lived on a small bit of ground which she rented from a farmer.  She interrupts, asking which Jack he is talking about, and then continues the story about her asking Jack to bring her a bucket of water, but the bucket had a hole in it and so she could only make him a small cake to take with him on his adventure.  She says that if he gives her half the cake she will bless him;  if he takes the whole cake she will curse him.  He took the whole cake, she says, and she hasn’t seen him since.  Jack says his brother gave him a knife to keep until he came back.  If the knife became rusty, then something terrible had happened to his brother.  Each morning Jack would unwrap the knife from the red engineer’s kerchief (his father, according to Widow, was cut into three pieces by a locomotive when he was lying on the tracks thinking of her beautiful, naked body).  One morning the knife was brown with rust and Jack knew it was time to find his brother.

      Jack continues his narration of the story as we hear sounds of sheep, and Shepherd appears saying that the sheep belong to The Red Ettin who, according to a song, stole the King of Scotland’s pretty daughter and tied her up naked in his big brass bed.  Shepherd says a young man who looked like Jack, hearing the story, decided to rescue the girl, but he’s dead because The Red Ettin has three heads and eats young fellows like Jack with fried potatoes and ketchup.  Shepherd gives Jack directions to The Red Ettin’s castle, hands him a pig’s eyeball to give to the old woman in the castle, and leaves.  Jack narrates his following of Shepherd’s directions, coming to a field full of two-headed bulls, noting that, “You’ll need to use your imagination for that.  We have a limited budget here.  We only had enough for the sound effects.”  We hear the sound of enraged two-headed bulls charging, the sound of a door slamming, and see firelight come up on Old Woman (played by the actor who played Widow).  After he gives her the eyeball, she tells him the daughter of the King of Scotland is tied up in the tower but that it’s a trap and he must remember three things—a ball bat, roller skates, and meat tenderizer.  When Jack says she looks remarkably like his mother, she says she’s not getting cast as the Princess any more and must leave to put the eyeball in a pickle jar, explaining that the “greater part of dramaturgy is just figuring out how to get people in and out of doors.”  She says if he needs to save money on the corkscrew staircase he can just turn out the lights.  In the blackout we hear the daughter moaning.

     Jack turns up a lamp and we see King of Scotland’s Daughter tied on the bed, a blanket barely covering her.  Jack says he has come to save her and cuts the ropes with his knife.  She wants him to give her his clothes, telling him he can wear the blanket.  She wants him to get pizza for her before The Red Ettin kills him as he has killed all the Jacks before him.  She says if he does kill the three-headed bull he can do whatever he wants with her.  He says he wants a girl who loves him for himself.  She says the story always wins and he is just another character.  She offers him a baseball bat as he leaves for the barn and then finds roller skates under her bed as the light fades on her and comes up on The Red Ettin, a large older man (played by the actor who played Shepherd) drinking at a table.  He tells Jack that his three-headed bull costume is on the hat rack and says that Jack would eat those who came to kill him because we play the role we’re cast in.  “Lines make the man.”  He offers Jack a drink and Jack sits at the table with him.  Red tells Jack that his name is Albert and that he killed The Red Ettin and took over the business.  He says he is Jack’s father and tells him he feels dizzy because of the muscle relaxer he put in the wine that also acts as a meat tenderizer.  When Jack falls to the floor, Red takes an ax and gets ready to cut off Jack’s head.  With a war cry, King of Scotland’s Daughter zooms in on roller skates and hits Red three times in the head with the baseball bat.  She kisses Jack as Widow walks in holding a pair of galoshes and introduces King of Scotland’s Daughter to Jack as Ethel, his sister.  After Widow leaves, King of Scotland’s Daughter asks Jack if he wants to start in on the sexual intercourse.  When he says they can’t because she’s his sister, she replies that she is royalty and “we do that sort of thing all the time.”  She suggests that they cut Albert up in three pieces so he will fit on the grill and tells Jack that he could take over, inheriting the family business, becoming The Red Ettin.  The Jacks will come to save her, he’ll kill them, they’ll barbecue them.  She says that with the barbecue sauce and the wine and the meat tenderizer they could pull in pretty good money, perhaps start franchising fast food barbecue places.  She says that sometimes you’re offered a role you can’t say no to, and, when Jack hesitates, she says she will let him tie her up.

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