Mansfield Park

Fanny is center stage.

FANNY: Hi, I'm Fanny Price. I have been sent to live at Mansfield Park with the Bertrams, my nearest relations. My cousin Edmund is very sweet, but Tom is a party animal and gets into lots of trouble. My female cousins, Maria and Julia, are brats and they're not very smart upstairs.

Maria enters.

MARIA: Actually it is Fanny who isn't very smart upstairs. I am Maria. My mum named me after Mariah Carey. My sister Julia was named after Julia Roberts.

FANNY: As you well know, Mariah Carey and Julia Roberts did not exist during the Regency, the period in which Jane Austen lived. My cousins, as I have already mentioned, are brainless.

MARIA: I have the utmost privilege in describing my cousin to you. SHE (pointing at Fanny) is Fanny Price, my homely cousin! She is shy, thinks she is always right, and lacks self-confidence. Jane Austen's mother called her insipid. I think Mrs. Austen was very right.

FANNY: So what do you think of that Mr. Rushworth fellow? I think him to be very lame.

MARIA: Mr. Rushworth? Now THERE is a fine, rich dude.

FANNY: Would you marry him?

MARIA: Marry him? I am twenty-one. I am beginning to slip past marriageable age! Of course I ought to marry him.

Edmund enters the stage frantically.

EDMUND: Maria! Maria! Don't marry Mr. Rushworth. I implore you as your brother and friend, he is very lousy and will not do for you.

MARIA: Edmund, you are so silly. I just received a reply from Father today saying he is pleased with the match. Father is so much older and wiser than silly you.

EDMUND: But Papa is away on business. He has only heard the figures of Mr. Rushworth's great income. This has blinded him into thinking you and Mr. Rushworth are the perfect match. He has not met your tedious fiancÚ.

MARIAH: Tedious! Of course Mr. Rushworth is tedious, the most boring fellow on the face of the earth! Only I do think that I can handle him, AND his great wealth. Ha, ha!

EDMUND: All right, I don't know how else to convince you, but to compare your situation to your hero's. Mariah Carey made millions of dollars, but she has been in and out of psychiatric hospitals. Wealth does not equate with happiness.

MARIA: Oh Edmund, darling. You are just jealous since you do not have a chance at fortune yourself. Your fate is to be a reverend all your life. I am so sorry that your heart secretly desires fortune. Life has bestowed a chance for great wealth on me and not you, and I aim to take it!

EDMUND: I am warning you Maria, you will not be happy with Mr. Rushworth.

MARIA: Edmund, do you actually think I will spend all of my new fortune on myself? I'll give some cash to you too. How can you still insist that I not marry Mr. Rushworth?

EDMUND: I see you are obstinate, Maria. Now as for you Fanny, are there not any young men you are interested in?

FANNY: No.

MARIA: See how dull Fanny is.

EDMUND: (gently) Maria, be kind. What about Henry Crawford, Fanny? He is handsome and pretty well-off from what I have heard.

FANNY: Yes, he is a very good person. However, I am not so sure about him.

MARIA: But I am sure that Edmund likes Henry's sister, Mary! Edmund and Mary! Edmund and Mary! Edmund and Mary!

EDMUND: Maria, yes. I do adore her. She is the air I breathe, the wind in my sail. I feel she is why I exist on this earth. Thank you for asking.

FANNY: Edmund, you warn Maria of Mr. Rushworth and I warn you of Mary. She has outspokenly declared that she will never be a reverend's wife. You are to be a reverend. It wouldn't be practical to fall in love with Mary and set yourself up for disappointment.

Edmund exits.

MARIA: Well if you don't like Henry, that is good. I'm sure he would much rather prefer my sister, Julia.

Tom enters.

TOM: (very peppy) Hullo, hullo! And how are my dearest female relations?

MARIA: I am doing superbly, Tom.

TOM: Speak up, cousin Fanny. Speak up.

FANNY: I am well enough.

TOM: Even if you lie and are miserable, I have news that will brighten your countenance.

MARIA: Yes! Yes?

TOM: A play, my good sister. A play! It's called Lover's Vows and you shall play the part of Agatha.

FANNY: But Lover's Vows is a bad play with inappropriate scenes.

TOM: How do you know, Fanny? Have you read Lover's Vows? Or maybe you have even seen it in a theater?

Tom and Mariah laugh at her.

FANNY: No, I have only heard. Its notoriety is so great that everyone knows.

MARIAH: Certainly not I. I am completely comfortable acting out Lover's Vows. In the year 2004, it would be silly to deem this play "BAD."

FANNY: But Mariah, you are mistaken. This is not the year 2004. It shall bring disgrace on the entire household.

TOM: 2004 or two hundred years before that time, I assure you that Lover's Vows is and was a very suitable play, Fanny. You may set your soul at ease. There are not enough female parts to go around anyway. Do you wish to not participate?

FANNY: Oh Tom, I would like to have no part in this!

TOM: It is settled. You won't participate, but Julia and Edmund and Edmund's little sweetheart: Mary Crawford, will. How grand an affair this shall be.

Tom exits.

MARIAH: Oh, I was wrapped up in my lover's caresses last night.

Fanny covers her ears.

FANNY: Oh stop! Bad play.

MARIAH: What shall be forgiven? Kiss me again, dear fiancÚ!

Father enters.

FATHER: What is the meaning of all this?

MARIAH: Oh father, we were just acting out Lover's Vows, a play.

FATHER: A play! What great shock!

MARIAH: But Father, we used to put on Shakespeare shows when we were children. Tom played Julius Caesar thousands of times.

FATHER: You are making a parallel of Shakespeare and modern day rubbish! Daughter, I am ashamed of you.

MARIAH: Punish Fanny. She was obstinate and did not participate in it at all.

FATHER: Fanny is to be applauded for her stand against the wretched, filthy playacting. Fanny?

FANNY: Yes, kind uncle.

FATHER: It is because of your uprightness that you have earned the love of a young man who saw me about taking your hand in marriage. You are deserving of his kindness, his wealth, and his position in society.

FANNY: Pray, who asked me to be his wife?

FATHER: Henry Crawford.

FANNY: Henry Crawford! Oh no! I can't be his wife.

FATHER: You question my judgment, Fanny?

FANNY: Oh dear, yes I do.

FATHER: You refuse to marry Henry?

FANNY: I do.

FATHER: I must send you back to your home in Portsmouth, back to your poor mum and dad, where you will cease to have such great opportunities in marriage. Do you decline Henry's offer? You choose to be ruined if you go back home.

FANNY: I am not sure of his character. I stand firm in my decision. You cannot persuade me otherwise.

FATHER: You are then sent home.

FANNY: Oh dear, home. The thing I regret most about being home is being away from Edmund. He is my dearest cousin. True, he took part in Lover's Vows, but I feel he was forced to. His brother Tom made him. Oh how bad Tom is.

Fanny picks up letter from the ground.

FANNY: (cont'd) A letter... Oh no! It seems I should not have bad-mouthed Tom. Good Tom, good Tom. He is dying. The conditions of his illness are not too virtuous however; he has drunk too much! Alcohol may be the cause of his death. I am to return to Mansfield Park immediately. Good! I get to meet Edmund again. Ah, Mansfield Park.

Maria enters during Fanny's speech.

MARIA: Remember me?

FANNY: Yes, Mariah.

MARIA: Good. It seems everyone else is so preoccupied with Tom. It's not fair. I agree with everyone else and follow the norms. I need attention! Why do they ignore me?

FANNY: Because Tom is dying!

MARIAH: I'm not oblivious, Fanny.

FANNY: Alright, if you're not oblivious, correctly guess who I will marry at the end of the story. It is someone whom you know very well.

MARIAH: Duh, it's Henry. He's so hot and so rich and so cool. You returned to Mansfield Park to become engaged to him. If you don't marry him, it would be a crime.

FANNY: No, it's not Henry.

MARIAH: I am steadfast in my answer. You have to be teasing if you say it isn't Henry. Why he's the best man for you. If he hadn't taken a fancy to you, I would have had him for myself.

FANNY: Nope, it isn't Henry. Do you give up?

MARIAH: I guess. This must be some sort of trick, though.

FANNY: It's Edmund, dear cousin.

MARIAH: Edmund? My brother, your cousin? That's not fair. I didn't guess Edmund because you aren't allowed to marry him. He's your cousin. Edmund is an illicit choice.

FANNY: I assure you Maria, that it was perfectly legal during the Regency.

MARIAH: Sick! You are disgusting. Just because it's legal, doesn't make it appropriate or right. No wonder Jane Austen's mum didn't like you.

FANNY: I am sorry if she didn't. However there is nothing in my character to cause such reproach.

MARIAH: It is your very character that causes "reproach", Fanny.

FANNY: Alright, well, Edmund and I are about to be married, so we must continue this conversation later. You are now to be my sister, and not simply my cousin.

MARIAH: Oh how awful, to be more closely related to someone so nauseating by law. I wish Edmund had chosen anyone else!

FANNY: So how is Mr. Rushworth?

MARIA: He is beyond tedious! He is dreadful! I shall divorce him.

FANNY: You can't divorce him.

MARIA: It is the year 2004. I will divorce him.

FANNY: I am afraid you are mistaken. It is the early 1800s and divorce is not legal. However, marrying your cousin is legal. You need to say within the confines of the appropriate times, Mariah.

MARIAH: You mean I am stuck with Rushworth forever?

FANNY: Yes. If you had waited and not been so hasty to enter into marriage, Henry Crawford would have been yours.

Maria exits, running and screaming. Edmund enters.

EDMUND: Dearest Fanny! It's been so long.

FANNY: Edmund! Are you recovered from falling in love with Mary after all?

EDMUND: Quite, Mary Crawford's name shall never be found on my lips again.

FANNY: Edmund, I am so glad we are together at last.

EDMUND: You came just when Tom was recovering. How glad I am that he is all right.

FANNY: Me too. It would have been a pity if Tom died.

EDMUND: Yes. I am the next heir to Tom. If he died, Mansfield Park would have been mine. But I love my brother so. I am glad his health is completely restored.

FANNY: And you know Tom. He will probably not reform. He will probably die from his reckless ways, sooner or later. Then Mansfield Park will be ours.

EDMUND: Yes dear, true.

FANNY: It's nice to benefit from Tom's company at present, though.

EDMUND: Let's spare waiting to get married any longer.

FANNY: OK. I am now Fanny Price Bertram, wife of Edmund, my cousin. I will continue to live at Mansfield Park forever. How happy I am!

EDMUND: And how happy I am to be married to my favorite cousin. Ah, life is wonderful.

Fanny and Edmund exit.