Helen!


A Musical Romp through the Trojan War


1995-2011 Katherine Anne Harris. All rights reserved.


Prologue


Sparta, circa 1200 B.C.E. Reflected in large vanity mirror as an icon of perfection -- blonde, blue-eyed, naked in honeyed, aphrodisical light -- PRINCESS HELEN sits facing upstage at a pink dressing table. A starry sky backdrop extends from her upstairs bedroom to stage left behind higher theologeion. In megaron (great hall) below, where a chiaroscuro of sidelights and spots suggests torchlight, THREE SPARTAN GIRLS (in drill team tunics with blue Sigmas) rest on lower steps. They jump out of the way when HELEN starts a pink boombox and, at music's summons, FOUR SLAVES ENTER from right and dash upstairs. MAKEUP SLAVE carries cosmetics; HAIR SLAVE, styling tools; COSTUME SLAVE and MAIN SLAVE, party clothes. GIRL TWO looks longingly after SLAVES, then whines to GIRL ONE (POLYEIXA).

GIRL 3: We gotta fluff up for the party, too!

GIRL 1: After one more run-through. From the start, huh?

(GIRLS line up and, in time with music, recite in chorus)

GIRLS: We're the Drill Team Girls of Sparta --
Princess Helen's dancing partners;
here we've come to celebrate
our chum's selection of a mate --

GIRL 2 (raising hands to heaven gratefully): No sh**!

GIRL 1: That's not in the script.

GIRL 1: Helen's choice of -- whomever,
we her pals extol with pleasure.
Being Greek, we'll also feel the woe
of those heartbroken here tomorrow.

(At "tomorrow," APHRODITE ENTERS theologeion, alarmed. Scantily clad and crowned in roses, she's a gorgeous older version of Helen, lighted the same way.)

APHRODITE (bellowing): Whoa! What's this "tomorrow" bit?

(Only HELEN sees APHRODITE and limply waves. Music builds.)

APHRODITE (calling off): Zeusy, spill it!

(As song begins, APHRODITE paces. HELEN directs SLAVES in tempo with music; garments she waves away are packed by MAIN SLAVE in a well-worn suitcase with travel stickers.)

Love Ruins Us All

GIRLS (singing slowly): Like the English know pageantry
and the Japanese gadgetry
there's a tribe that knows tragedy --
Greeks minted the word!

It further occurs that
our term for seduction
means the same as destruction
as maybe you've heard.

(Tempo turns upbeat. GIRLS dance; HELEN directs slaves more rapidly.)

GIRLS (singing): Love's our Akhilles' heel!
Love's our downfall!
One way or another
love ruins us all!

GIRL 2 (singing): If you hold the course of love runs smooth
well, Darlin, the Fates have clues for you.
Not on these Grecian shores
does bliss last forevermore.

GIRL 3 (singing): And the things we adore:
beasts of all kinds!
Over a swan, queens lose their minds
and Pasiphae's bull fling --
this gave us the Minotaur.

(Big bearded ZEUS ENTERS theologeion, twirling his lightning bolt.)

GIRL 3 (spoken aside): Some god was severely bored.

(ZEUS signs "Not I." APHRODITE laughs. HELEN waves. GIRLS dance on, oblivious to Immortals.)

GIRL 1: Whether up at the palace or down at the mall:
One way or another, love ruins us all!

APHRODITE (singing to ZEUS): Just what have you got in mind down there?

ZEUS (singing): That's actually Hera's affair;
wants to marry her off --

APHRODITE (singing): But Zeusy, you're boss! Don't rush the child.

(Stomping on gold shoes, gold-crowned HERA ENTERS theologeion.)

HERA (singing): Rush-shmush! She's run wild for far too long;
beguiled too many.
My dear step-daughter now must haul it down the aisle.
Such unbridled passions, matrimony will stall!

(ZEUS and APHRODITE share a look and sing mournfully.)

ZEUS and APHRODITE (singing): One way or another, love ruins us all.

GIRLS (singing at HELEN): The offspring of Zeus in swan's attire
sets every Greek prince's heart on fire
-- not to mention unmarried kings
who wanna' swap wedding rings.

For years she's monopolized
the elite of our single guys.

HERA (singing): I've smelled no nuptial sacrifice!
Starved I've grown for the scent of fat thighs.
Yum, that aroma! And tomorrow they'll roast --

APHRODITE (spoken): If y'wanna whiff now, Cow, get a beach-chair and toast.

GIRLS (singing): We're so bereft of affection
we'd kneel down and crawl!
One way or another
love ruins us all.

(ZEUS eyes pleading GIRLS wickedly and descends by ladder, slide or firepole to megaron. With HERA in pursuit, he dons a bull's mask and starts making bull-noises . GIRLS hear and see the "bull" which chases, catches and fondles them as they squeal and sing.)

GIRLS (singing): The gods on Olympus like to play
in less than beatific ways.
Though you seal your portals
they're glass to Immortals who crave your ass
and it's not a class act to refuse --
as if you could lose them.

ZEUS (spoken with a big sigh): Alas!
(singing) Even gods are afflicted -- led by the dick, in love's thrall!
One way or another
love ruins us all!

(APHRODITE laughs merrily, prompting HERA's return to theologeion.ZEUS follows slowly, winded, unseen by GIRLS after removing mask.GIRLS wander dazed and confused.)

HERA (singing, aside): Our Lady of Lust did this to Zeus!

APHRODITE (singing, aside): She's just making excuses.

HERA (singing, aside): 'Til Aphrodite washed in
he never knew sin!

APHRODITE (singing, with another laugh): No, not in his sister's bed!

ZEUS (singing): Who else was around to wed?
Or so Hera always said
though there were other sisters and aunts --

APHRODITE (spoken aside): And guess who got into their pants?

ZEUS (singing to outraged HERA): You knew, Dear; stop acting appalled!

HERA (singing and sniffling): One way or another
love ruins us all!
A martyr I am to urges roused
(indicating APHRODITE) by this one who scorns all marriage vows --

APHRODITE (singing): So does Athena!

(ATHENA ENTERS in helmet, with spear, singing in masculine tones.)

ATHENA (singing proudly): But I'm single!


APHRODITE (singing unhappily): And I'm wed to Hepaestus, the ugly cuss --

ATHENA (singing, indicating HERA): His own ma hurled the kid to Tartarus!

HERA (singing, indulgently) Such tricks Hephy plays: that grabby throne --
APHRODITE (singing): Which if I turned him down, you'd still be on!
Do you appreciate kindness? No! --
though I've been a doll.
One way or another
love ruins us all.

Whatever you give -- or take;
whatever you grasp or you forsake
if you act for pity's sake
you're making a vast mistake, no doubt.
You'll wake married to a lout --

HERA (singing, indicatng ZEUS): Or a thundering gadabout -- a celestial lech!

ZEUS (spoken aside): Or next to a kvetch.

ZEUS AND APHRODITE (singing): There's always a catch
for the lordly or small.
One way or another
love ruins us all.

ATHENA (singing): Much better is single blessedness
with no spouses to please or make a mess.
Like me and my half-sis Artemis --
we're not on the shelf.
We've got exciting lives
without romantic ties --

APHRODITE (singing, laughing): To guys -- but you're in love with yourselves!

(ATHENA raises spear at APHRODITE. ZEUS aims lightning bolt at ATHENA, creating thunderclaps and flashes. ATHENA cowers.)

ZEUS (singing): Pride's the worst passion --
the perfect pitfall!

ATHENA (spoken): Okay, have it your way. Love ruins us all.

(ATHENA EXITS. ZEUS conducts finale with lightning bolt, to more flashy storm effects.)

APHRODITE (singing): Like Hera loves marriage
and Ares loves war
I love a hot romance
while Zeusy loves power;
Apollo loves beauty;
Dionysos, the bar --

HERA (singing): And love's filled with perils, whoever you are.
Its results are quite galling --

APHRODITE (singing): Still, love never palls.

APHRODITE, ZEUS and HERA: One way or another
love ruins us all.
Nothing less can be forecast
based on recall:
One way or another
love ruins us all!

(Reacting to lightning, GIRLS rouse and QUEEN LEDA ENTERS megaron from right, making for imaginary window between columns down center. A pretty crowned matron, she has the faded, vague manner of a Tennessee Williams heroine and drawls over concluding strains of music.)

LEDA (spoken): My goodness, I do hope it's not fixin to rain.

ZEUS (spoken gently): For you, Honey, no rain.

(ZEUS instantly stops storm effects, at which HERA EXITS in fury. LEDA looks warily around, then out "window" again.)

LEDA (spoken): Ooh, here come the boys!

(Squealing GIRLS EXIT right, registering their dishevelment, as COSTUME SLAVE quickly drops a glitzy dress over HELEN, her hair and face done, and little EROS ENTERS theologeion with bow, arrows and a devilish grin.)

EROS (spoken): Did somebody say Troy?

(ZEUS waves EROS off, eyes still fixed on LEDA at "window.")

ZEUS (spoken quietly): Not yet --

APHRODITE (spoken): Huh?

LEDA (spoken): My, they're starting a brawl!

(LEDA looks around with this news and finds herself alone. Music ends as she remarks wistfully)

LEDA: One way or another, love ruins us all.

(Still facing upstage, HELEN stands and turns off boombox. Music ends as EROS EXITS above and, with clamor and clash of weaponry, SUITORS (AT LEAST FOUR) ENTER megaron from down left and scuffle for position at base of stairs.)

SUITORS (shouting upward): Helen! Helen! Helen!

APHRODITE (laughing): Dudes in place to adore....(Calling down): Sovereigns from Thessaly to Crete, prepare to greet the beauty you all sigh for, vie for --

(ZEUS shifts his gaze from LEDA to HELEN and nods.)

ZEUS: She's to die for.

(Theologeion and bedroom go dark as HELEN moves to stairs, followed by MAIN SLAVE carrying suitcase and a golden fan. OTHER SLAVES EXIT upstairs. SUITORS kneel in awe. Same action continues in...)

Scene One

(Spotlight strikes HELEN near top of stairs. At her cue, MAIN SLAVE waves golden fan, releasing swirls of golden glitter (Aphrodite's radiance) over HELEN. With a beauty-queen grin, the statue speaks at last, over wolf-whistles from SUITORS.

HELEN (aside): Some pretty girls can't get a date, but that's never been my problem. The secret's in maintaining your approachability. Like Auntie Aphrodite always says, if you're extra-cute, be extra-friendly.

(As spot follows HELEN down, she gestures toward suitcase.)

HELEN (aside): It's also a good idea to keep a bag packed for abductions. They're about a drach a dozen around here. Now and then you get good trips -- I did Athens deluxe, courtesy of Theseus and Peirithous' Excellent Adventure. A shame I was too young to appreciate it, barely ten at the time.

(HELEN reaches base of stairs and waves MAIN SLAVE away, taking fan. Her other hand she offers to NIREUS, the nearest suitor, very hunky. He rises and offers a courtly bow.)

NIREUS: Such great beauty is a gift -- and a gift presupposes a Giver. Ergo, your looks are divine.

LEDA: Isn't that just darling and precious

HELEN (aside, hiding yawn with fan): I've only heard that line a grillion times.

(As HELEN waves fan, glitter swirls again. SUITORS ooh. Before she can raise tough guy DIOMEDES, he's up and shoving NIREUS away.)

DIOMEDES: Uh, I've got one, too. "Men adore the gods and you're touched by the gods -- ergo" -- don't tell me -- "men adore to touch you."

(HELEN gives him an encouraging pat, but rolls her eyes.)

HELEN (aside): Some days I get so sick of sloppy syllogisms.

(IDOMENEUS, another big guy but an affable yuppie-type, and ANTILOCHUS, another cutie, hand her gift boxes and she allows them to escort her to her throne, by which lie more pressies.)

HELEN (aside): I never, however, get entirely sick of these.

(HELEN sits and unwraps jewels, perfume, cruise tickets, designer robes. LEDA cues MAIN SLAVE to offer refreshments from trolley.)

LEDA: Retsina, Boys? Tiropita?

(HELEN tries on new robe as trumpet sounds, off, and KING TYNDAREUS, her stepfather, ENTERS.)

HERALD, OFF: King Tyndareus of Sparta.

SUITORS (together): Hail, King Tyndareus, Marriage Partner with Great Zeus.

(TYNDAREUS holds his brow in misery. LEDA takes him to throne.)

HELEN (showing off new robe): Look, Mama, it's a Circe! Rad, huh, Step-Dad?

(More glitter swirls as HELEN twirls and fans. SUITORS ooh again.

ANTILOCHUS: She's Aphrodite-ing again!

IDOMENEUS: How much more can a man stand?

HELEN (aside): You suppose he's doing ontology with that, or just rhetoric?

LEDA (stage-whisper): If you're so smart, Sugar, you be smart enough to hide it.

HERALD, OFF (after another trumpet fanfare): Co-King Menelaus of Mykenae!

(Red-haired MENELAUS ENTERS at a trot and kneels before HELEN.)

HELEN (looking past him out "window"): Hot new chariot, Menelaus.

MENELAUS: I'll gg-get you one if y-y-you m-marry me.

HELEN: Same horsepower?...(Aside as he nods) I could go for that driver, too...(To MENELAUS) Sweet dreams, Man, but what've you done for me lately?

(MENELAUS offers a spectacular tiara and necklace.)

HELEN: Wow! Like Holy Cow!

(DIOMEDES rushes over with gold-plated cow idol.)

DIOMEDES: I got you one of those, see!

HELEN (aside): Guess where he went on his summer vacation...(Turning cow over to read) "Souvenir of Deir el Bahri. Come back soon."

(SUITORS jeer and laughter also sounds from theologeion. Flame flashes as APHRODITE lights a cigar for ZEUS. She then blows out the end of lightning bolt, while HELEN bites cow to test gold.)

ZEUS (laughing): My kid all right. Kid knows quality.

(Gold shoes stomp above and HERA ENTERS with a lantern.)

APHRODITE: Speaking of sacred cows --

HERA: Ox-eyed is the admiring epithet. Also White-Armed and --

APHRODITE (aside): She was born gold-shod, my mother-in-law.

HERA: Surf-Trash!
APHRODITE: Did I ask your daddy to cut off your grandpapa's things and fling 'em in the sea to make me?

ZEUS: Girls!


(ZEUS pounds lightning bolt and there's a thunderclap.)

LEDA: It getting stormy out?

MAIN SLAVE: Not a cloud, Ma'am.

(As LEDA shrinks in terror, HELEN casts a "go to hell" look at ZEUS.)

ZEUS: Oops.

HELEN: It's okay, Mama. I just thunked into the mail.

(Revealed after unwrapping of gifts, an "In" Tray" stacked with stone and clay tablets rests by Helen's throne.)

MAIN SLAVE: More proposals, Princess. Rings, diadems, rooms done up by the finest fresco crews from Knossos, slaves out the wazoo, the usual.

ANTILOCHUS: I'll see any offer and raise by ten slaves.

NIREUS: Twenty slaves!

IDOMENEUS: Thirty --

DIOMEDES: And a Lion Gate!

TYNDAREUS: That's generous.

HERA: For damaged goods, I should say so.

HELEN: Here's one pitching me a new palace higher than the gods' own temples.

(As IMMORTALS gasp, HELEN casts another "go to hell" look upward.)

LEDA: That boy is begging for trouble.

MENELAUS: W-want another y-yacht for Q-queen Leda and your-s-self, O Honored T-Tyndareus, Marriage P-partner with Great Z-Zeus?

TYNDAREUS: Can't anybody let me forget that setup for ten minutes?

(Fed up already, TYNDAREUS EXITS, groaning.)

MENELAUS: S-s-sorry.

LEDA (weirding out): Oh dear, it's all coming back!

HELEN: Mama, steady. Here, smash this piece of blasphemy; you'll feel better.

ZEUS: Whatta kid -- beautiful and pious!...Mom's no slouch, either.

(LEDA smashes blasphemous tablet and MAIN SLAVE cleans mess.)

LEDA (calmly to MAIN SLAVE): Standard proposal acknowlegments, please -- the "aren't you just the sweetest thing to dote on little me?" letter.

ZEUS: That Leda, she used to be a looker.

HERA: And a sucker.

APHRODITE: Her n'who else?

ZEUS (leering at HERA): Cuckoo! Cuckoo!

HERA (furiously): Doh't start with the bird-calls!

(HERA flies at ZEUS and APHRODITE as they laugh and "cuckoo.")

LEDA: How many of your gentleman-callers will stay to dine, Sugar?

DIOMEDES (to IDOMENEUS): Go fall down your labyrinth, Cretan!...(Brandishing sword) Nah, I'll save you the trip --

IDOMENEUS: Clear off, yourself! Helen's marrying me --

ANTILOCHUS: You're both too ugly!

NIREUS (to MENELAUS, who's laughing): Like you're not?

(MENELAUS casts a spear. Fight intensifies on both levels.)

HELEN (aside with a sigh): As above, so below. Usually...(To ALL) Will you hush?...(In ensuing silence) Nobody shows the least inclination to absent himself from your gracious table, Mama -- which I vote we set up in the garden. There'll be around twenty more coming --

LEDA: Plus your brother. I can't think which.

HELEN: It's Pollux on Friday...(Aside) I have alternate-day brothers. Otherwise Kastor'd be dead like permanently. They worked a trade-off with Pop. He woulda made 'em stars -- in the sky sense -- but they took the terrestrial deal.

ZEUS (still eying LEDA): Even now she's not a bad-looking woman.

APHRODITE: Wanna play swan again? I still do a mean eagle.

(APHRODITE does an eagle-dance and screeches, loosing a rain of golden glitter as she EXITS theologeion. Miming swan, ZEUS laughs and pounds more thunder. Again, HELEN looks daggers.)

LEDA (terrified): Oh Lord, they are watching us again, aren't they?

HELEN: Put them right out of your sweet tortured mind, Mama. (Leading LEDA off) You just work out the seating and flowers.

(LEDA EXITS, screaming at eagle-screeches. SUITORS go to "window.")

HELEN (to SUITORS): Chill, it's only her party trick -- Auntie Aphrodite's...Well, great-aunt sorta and cousin by marriage. And Godmother.

MENELAUS: H-how do you kn-know it's h-her?

HELEN: It's she. The nails, Dumbsh**. Her shade. How many birds of prey wear Paphos Pebble Pink?

(LEDA RE-ENTERS, singing over eagle cries in a tiny lunatic voice.)

LEDA (singing): "Seems t'me I've heard that song before"... (Lost in memory)Moonswan shining feather. Blood-claw eagle. Eagle, no! Splashfast faster swim to Leda, Moonswan, come!

(Laughing, APHRODITE RE-ENTERS theologeion. HERA glares.)

APHRODITE: Didn't hafta invite you twice, did she?...C'mon, Big Daddy, let's go again -- swan-attack, swan-attack!

ZEUS (after a beat): Nah, I've hurt her enough.

LEDA: Feathers heavy wet -- down softsttrong -- mouth stuffed feathers, puh --wings spread up big as sails, moonwater pours me deaf in wind of wings, red beak digs bloodletters, webfeet scallop-stomping fluid callous-rough. Eeooa!

ZEUS: She's still got a good memory.

HERA, HELEN and SUITORS (together): Yuck!

(SUITORS rush for more wine, then start another fight at bar.)

HELEN: The feet n'beak part, that's totally barfy. Get a grip, Mama.

ZEUS: Space case, but not a bad-looking woman at all.

APHRODITE: Shy, though. Not like Helen.

ZEUS: There's nothing like Helen -- present company excepted.

APHRODITE: It was the least I could do.

ZEUS (shouting down over combat): Kid, y'want we should make an appearance?

HELEN (joking): Actually we planned a quiet night...(After a shrug, yelling to SUITORS) Ready for the resta my family? Prepare to meet Thy Gods --

APHRODITE (shouting to MUSES, OFF -- who can enter or not): Muses, hit it!

(In a dazzling flash, theologion becomes visible to ALL. LEDA hides under a flokati. Mesmerized SUITORS freeze, seeing Immortals. GODS descend, HERA arriving last as music builds and song begins.)

An Advantage or Two

APHRODITE (spoken intro): When the Goddess of Love's your Godmother, you can expect an advantage or two...
(singing): Same golden hair!
Face ingenue --

(SUITORS lift APHRODITE and HELEN high.)

ZEUS (singing): Same derriere; I must declare she's just like you.

HELEN and SUITORS (singing): It was the least she could do!

ZEUS (singing): Same sparkling style -- charm through and through!
Irresistible smiles that so beguile;
she's just like you.

SUITORS (singing): An advantage or two!

HERA (singing to SUITORS): An advantage or two, she's got
the Barbie-Doll clone
but there's a thousand girls
who lovta share your thrones.
Here the odds are against ya
you've gotta admit
so why hang around?
Hurry home n'you'l woe n'commit!

Drowning out HERA, SUITORS laugh with HELEN and APHRODITE.)

APHRODITE (singing): My carefree brow; my lilting laughter
-- in the bliss of right now;
the kiss of right now
--not one minute after!

SUITORS (singing): F*** Hereafter! Hear her laughter!

HERA (singing, outraged): An advantage or two, that's rich!
Such values to prize:
the moment, the hair n'the eyes.
Just scratch the itch; we've got it clear.
We heard it here -- direct from Lord High Lecher n'the b****.
...(as SUITORS laugh again) You call yourselves officers?
You're unfit for command.
Don't burn another ox to me without a wedding band!
...(spoken storming off)Try a battle, we'll ream ya --- just wait'll I tell Athena.

(HERA EXITS. Music ends limply. HELEN and APHRODITE are set down.)

ZEUS: You all know nice princesses?

NIREUS: Mostly with mustaches.

APHRODITE: Darlins, even we're married. It isn't that scary --

ZEUS: Like Hades it isn't, but this is bite-the-bullet time.

(SUITORS rush at HELEN and skirmish again.)

SUITORS: Marry me or I'll die!...So drop dead! Apollo hates Aetolians n'so do I.

APHRODITE (aside): He wouldn't call it "hate," exactly --

SUITORS: Helen, y'gotta pick me!...No, me!...Me!

HELEN (wailing): Like I really hafta get married?...(As ZEUS nods) I couldn't just go steady? Maybe get pinned? (As ZEUS shakes his head) Do I get a last request?...(As ZEUS nods again) Ga-ahds, fix this party!

(APHRODITE drops her top -- which freezes SUITORS, gaping. ZEUS gently extracts LEDA from rug.)

HELEN (curtly): Thank you.

LEDA (spacily parroting): It was the least they could do.

ZEUS (spoken aside): She's irresistible, too...

(Music starts again, this time slowly, and ZEUS dances with LEDA.)

ZEUS (singing): Same limpid gaze -- a little hazy;
endearing ways your hairdo strays now that you're crazy.
Once more be kind -- such love we knew.
I'll f*** y'blind, Dear, I don't mind that you're missin a screw.

SUITORS (crooning silkily at APHRODITE's cue): It's the least he can do.

HELEN (spoken): Better lay off her, Dad.
ZEUS (spoken): But she gets t'me bad. She's so movingly mad!

APHRODITE (aside): What doesn't move Zeus?...(To MUSES, directing tempo up) A little more mirth, please!

(Unfrozen, SUITORS dance, lifting LEDA with HELEN and APHRODITE.)


SUITORS (singing): It's the gods' own truth these gals
are not like other Earthies.
Thanks, whatever you did,
Golden Goddess of Oohs,
for both mother and kid --

APHRODITE (singing): An advantage or two!

ZEUS (singing as he seizes LEDA dramatically): Divine Design, it's dead-set on you!
Tonight you're mine -- you're first in line;
we gotta rendezvous!
...(whirling LEDA to face upstage as he winks at audience)You cuties, too!

SUITORS (singing as they point out women in audience): God's got his eye on you
and you -- and you and you!

HELEN (singing): That's quite a test, Pop -- a marathoner.

SUITORS (singing): We're passion-possessed;
we'll give him a rest
when the old goat's a goner.

HELEN (linking arms with APHRODITE to sing): Save some lovin for us!

APHRODITE (spoken): Darlin, we've got a surplus. Check out that crowd, the fourth row --

HELEN (spoken): Oh! He has an advantage or two...Hey, Mister, you'll date us, wontcha?

(ALL surge forward lasciviously, as music builds to finish)


ZEUS (singing): Meet God face to face!

APHRODITE (singing): Give the Goddess her due!

SUITORS (singing): There's Olympian grace overflowin the place.
This parade's comin through!

HELEN (spoken in glitter from fan): Better believe me, it's the least they can do.

(Music segues to There's Gonna Be a Party Tonight as ZEUS and SUITORS riotously carry off HELEN, APHRODITE, LEDA and anybody they can pick up from audience. MAIN SLAVE follows with abduction bag. ALL EXIT at theatre rear.)

Black.


Scene Two

SUITORS, OFF clamor as HELEN -- on pink bed in pink negligee -- writes in pink diary, with abduction bag as lap-desk. MAIN SLAVE brushes HELEN's hair.

SUITORS, OFF (drunkenly): Helen, y'gotta marry me! Nobody loves y'like I do!...Sez you with no proof or logic!...I know I'm dumb but I love her, Man...(Over sobs) Hey, don't cry; someday we'll look back on this'n -- we'll all cry --

HELEN (aside): My last chance for abduction as a free woman and could those schmucks shove a boat in the water?

MAIN SLAVE: Undone by Abundant Dionysos.

HELEN: Bombed.

MAIN SLAVE: That dude from row four was fun on the beach, though --

HELEN: Way fun 'til Pollux showed up punching.

SUITOR, OFF (singing very badly over protest cries of OTHERS, OFF): Sweetheart Angel, you're my destiny -- choose me! It's meant to be, see --

(HELEN points to pink boombox on vanity table and MAIN SLAVE turns it on, choosing a pink CD at random. Drowning out SUITORS, OFF, Janis Joplin wails "Don't I make you feel like you wanna o-o-own me?")

HELEN (with a moan): I don't think so.

(SLAVE turns off music; again we hear SUITORS, OFF, ad lib. HELEN points SLAVE to window and SLAVE takes a look.)


HELEN: Anybody not out there bellowing?

MAIN SLAVE: Didn't notice Menelaus.

HELEN: Suggests a modicum of sense. I wonder what he's up to.

(HELEN signals SLAVE to open door. Below in megaron, LEDA ENTERS with torch. By row of cots MENELAUS hurls spears at target. SLAVE beckons HELEN; they look and giggle.)


MENELAUS: And the g-greatest sp-spearman in the u-universe is -- M-M-Menelaus, C-Co-King of M-Mykenae -- a-a-and C-Complete King of Sp-Sparta!

LEDA (knocking on column): Enough blankets in here?

MENELAUS: P-plenty, but --

LEDA: Whatever you need, Sonny, you just spit it out.

MENELAUS: W-would it be in t-t-terrible taste to ask f-for a p-pillow?

LEDA (freaking out again): Feathers! Everywhere it's feathers!

(MENELAUS jumps into a cot, terrified. Megaron goes dark as LEDA EXITS, screaming, with torch.)

SUITOR, OFF (singing very badly): Glorious Helen, I am thine. For thee, I pine.

SUITOR, OFF (over sound of singing suitor, choking): Kiss my a**; she's mine.

MAIN SLAVE: They're all pretty cute in their own quirky ways.

(HELEN nods assent as, in bloody boxing gloves, trunks and a Dioskuri coronet with star on front, POLLUX ENTERS "magically" from behind a column.)



POLLUX: The jaws'll heal. Prob'ly the noses.

HELEN: You're a boxing fool, Pollux...(Aside): So meet my other yolk. We've always been like really close -- we shared a shell.

(POLLUX shows cracked shell, bronzed like baby shoes, from vanity).

POLLUX (aside): Kastor and Klytemnestra were in a different one. They're legit, Tyndareus' kids, and we're Zeus' -- but Kay's supposed to be her twin. No resemblance.

HELEN: Thanks. Kastor's supposedly his twin and they do look it.

MAIN SLAVE: Go figure.

(LEDA, veiled head-to-toe in blankets and unable to see, stumbles about as she ENTERS and flings blankets over HELEN, also covering POLLUX and knocking both down.)

LEDA: Invisibility! That's the answer!...Don'tcha see the wisdom of it, Sugar?

POLLUX AND HELEN (beneath covers): We can't see anything!

LEDA: Who is under there with you?

MAIN SLAVE: Pollux, Ma'am.

(HELEN emerges from covers and sees last grains run through hourglass. Her brother continues struggling to get uncovered -- and changing costume.)

HELEN: She lied; now it's Kastor.

LEDA: Oh. Well then, where was I?

HELEN: Take off those blankies, Mama; I can hardly hear you.

LEDA: No! I am invisible -- this is the only answer!

HELEN: You may be perfectly right, Sweet Mama, but what was the question?

KASTOR (under covers): What's happening -- where am I? Where in Hades --?

HELEN (uncovering his head): Not!

(KASTOR emerges: the image of Pollux but in riding attire with horsewhip and a bulging briefcase.)

KASTOR (frantic): This is Sparta! These aren't my coordinates! I'm due on Santorini tonight; gotta rate a new B&B. Tomorrow I'm peptalking the Kos Welcome Committee, then there's a ship-christening on Lemnos.

HELEN: Y'take your work too seriously.

KASTOR: Hospitality Guide doesn't publish itself...Again Pollux goes into overtime and I pay th'price --

HELEN: Ingrate! You'd be history if Pollux didn't offer to share --

KASTOR: That capricious Child of Zeus!

HELEN (as LEDA emits muffled howl): Wouldn't mention Pop in front of Mama now.

KASTOR: That's Mama? Ignoring the sacred needs of a guest?

HELEN: Being invisible. She had a rough night.

KASTOR: No excuse for substandard hospitality. I'll have to write you up, Mom.

(KASTOR uncovers LEDA, who covers up again and huddles on floor.)

KASTOR: You're gonna lose at least one amphora next edition unless I get drinks, food and a club-class Dolphin Express seat within the hour. (Cracking whip in vain) Mo-om!...Helen!

(His "Helen" shout sets off further cries from SUITORS, OFF.)

HELEN (smug): Next express dolphin's at nine, so let's just talk about my boyfriends...(Pointing SLAVE to scroll) So reel off my choice of names.

MAIN SLAVE (reading): You can be Helen Queen of Sparta --...(As a yowl sounds from blankets on floor.) In due course, Ma'am.

HELEN: That's a given, Sibyl. I'm her heir.

MAIN SLAVE: And Queen of Tiryns...Or Helen Queen of Sparta and Rhodes...Or Helen Queen of Sparta and Crete...Or Helen Queen of Sparta and Thessaly...Or Helen Queen of Sparta and Co-Queen of Mykenae...Or --

KASTOR: Bottom-line it.

MAIN SLAVE: Forty prospective married names in total. Every spot with a decent palace in Greater Akhaia...(As HELEN yawns hugely) Do I sense the Princess getting bored?

HELEN: It's one of my best things. That's why I've never felt threatened by change...(As SUITORS, OFF, clamor again) Until now.

KASTOR: It's gotta be Menny, Sis. Another marriage between us n'them means we'll have the whole Peloponnese sewn up.

HELEN: You sound like Stepdaddy.

KASTOR: Hey, the Atreides are loaded, even though the kingdom's split between Menny and A.G. Worse places to hang than Mykenae Rich in Gold 'til Mom retires and then he'd be willing to move. Besides, Sister Kay's there --

HELEN: Not an inducement. And there's the Furies' curse on the House of Atreus.

KASTOR (taking Argive Hospitality Guide from briefcase): Think we dropped the hex symbol last edition...Right, they qualified. No family flesh on the sideboard for more than a decade.

MAIN SLAVE (showing mag from nightstand): They're in the latest Cursed Houses...(Summarizing as she reads) Tantalus -- still serving hard time for serving Pelops to the gods...Hm, victim rehabilitated with replacement shoulder. No persecution of progeny permitted, because victim was sole progeny --

KASTOR: Statute of limitations would've run out on that anyway.

MAIN SLAVE: Not on the murder of Atreus --

KASTOR: Ordinary fratricide; no menu entry.

MAIN SLAVE: What about the Children of Thyestes Banquet?

HELEN (aside): Atreus served his brother's own kids to him. Yuck.

KASTOR: No reported Fury-sightings.

HELEN: I can't believe they blew that by. Maybe they made Thyestes off Atreus.

KASTOR: Poor guy. He didn't last long after that.

HELEN: Prob'ly died of barfing.

MAIN SLAVE: Progeny liability remains an issue.

KASTOR: Loophole. Nobody knows which brother Menny and Aggie really belonged to.

HELEN: It was a murderer, either way.

(From beneath blanket, LEDA peeks out to say)

LEDA: Sugar, nobody's perfect.

Black.


Scene Three

Dawn. Kneeling by bed piled with wedding clothes, HELEN prays. Above, under banner "Miss Aphrodite's Academy of Celestial Femininity," APHRODITE watches shy HEBE and speedy IRIS (Divine Gofer in trademark "rainbow" tunic but heels, not winged sandals) walk with stone tablets on heads. Pale PERSEPHONE practices I Feel Pretty on piano; teacher-aides THE THREE GRACES coach and arrange posies; little winged EROS blindfolds himself, plays tricks and menaces ALL.

HELEN: Princess Helen to Queen of Love -- Auntie A, I know you're giving class, you're busy, but please tune me in! This is like urgent big-time. Over.

APHRODITE: Graces, take control. Talk fast, Helen; I'm dealing with schlumps here.

HELEN (fast): So do I pick Menelaus like the family wants or spin a bottle?

APHRODITE: Boobs out, Iris -- shorter steps and slow down! Persephone, do your blusher!

(Music stops for PERSEPHONE to make up.)

APHRODITE (aside): That pale, she must terrify the ghosts...(To HELEN) You don't love him, do you -- not dangerously?

HELEN: Not a scooch dangerously.

APHRODITE: It's a plus...Eros, shoot one more arrow at the girls and you're grounded! I'll pluck you, myself...(To HELEN) How's Menelaus on docility?

HELEN: Seems to be his best thing. And he never tries to fluff up and look better than I do, not that he could. And he's tres rich and he does have that stammer --

APHRODITE: Hebe, you're shuffling! Elevate yourself on your beauty, Hon; be a magnet, not a servant...(To HELEN) Stammer, yes. In a husband, any impediment's a blessing. Hephaestus with no limp to keep him in check doesn't bear thinking about.

HELEN: Wouldya happen t'know if Menny and his bro are on the Furies' shit-list?

APHRODITE: Hermes had some heavy grudge against his grandpa, but the Furies -- well, I don't move in the same circles as those Snakes-for-Hair. We've never had any use for one another, even though we all originated from the one -- dismemberment. Soothing how good can come of anything.

HELEN: For sure. The ontological excuse for optimism.

APHRODITE: Mustn't use such words. Girls who talk like dictionaries are doomed.

HELEN: You sound like Mama!

APHRODITE: Excuse you, she sounds like me. Who trained her? So what's she wearing to your wedding, Doll?

HELEN (near tears): Ratty blankets...(Breaking down over APHRODITE's howl of horror) If I twist her arm, she might upgrade to a flokati. And she hasn't done a lick about invitations or flowers or reception food, either.

APHRODITE (aghast): Oh my dear!

HELEN: It's all gonna be just tacky-tacky! Besides conceptually unspeakable -- I mean, this is no time for marriage -- forty Argive royals are drooling all over me n'I love the sh** outa it. I love 'em all!

APHRODITE: As is only right and proper.

HELEN: So what do I say? How do I tell 'em?...Ga-ahds, Auntie A, I've never said "no" in my l-i-i-ife!

(HELEN flings herself on bed, bawling.)

APHRODITE: Blame Tyndareus. What else is a stepdaddy good for, except maybe orthodontia?...All right, for you I'll come up with a better idea. Somehow. I'm not exactly a pro on "no," myself...You're s'posed to laugh at that. Keep crying, your eyes'll puff like muffins!...Okay, hang tight; I'm coming...(To CLASS) Put your little winged slippers on, Iris, and snag Helios while he's passing over -- scoot!...Graces, pile that chariot with flowers, and we'll need Muses, too -- whoever's free. Now where is he? Hey, Zeusy!

(Lightning flashes and thunder booms)

APHRODITE: His "Do Not Disturb" sign -- hm, we'll see...(Charging off) Drop whoever you're doing, Big Daddy -- you're going with me!

(APHRODITE EXITS. After lightning flashes once again, theologeion goes dark; ALL exit but HELEN.)

SUITORS, OFF: Helen, marry me n'you'll have everything y'ever dreamed of!...Yeah all you can steal, you crooked Augeian -- go shovel sh**!

(The fierce clash of weaponry is added to NOISES, OFF.)

HELEN (wailing): Dammit, Auntie A, your warlover Ares has not been invited!...(A sob) But then neither has anybody!

SUITORS, OFF: You're gonna wish you never said that, you Theban motherf****er!

(War drums add to NOISES, OFF.)

HELEN: Friggin war drums! Just great. What I need's a nice band. Usual wedding combo to cover the age spread enough so nobody complains -- like pick it up at Always, take it through to You're So Vain.

(Followed by MUSES playing You're So Vain on ancient instruments, then IRIS and GRACES, APHRODITE ENTERS and leads HELEN to window.)

APHRODITE (at window): Show 'em some bosom; that'll settle 'em down.

(As HELEN does so, APHRODITE joins in for fun and the air around them glistens with golden glitter. Hostilities fade to oohs.)

APHRODITE (as they repin robes): Do bear this trick in mind, often comes in useful.

HELEN (as she turns around): I know it's traditional, Iris -- but, Ga-ahds, you clash!

(A lump in blankets, LEDA ENTERS on the trot, bumping OTHERS.)

LEDA: Tell me it isn't true -- tell me you didn't expose yourself at this window!

HELEN: Aphrodite made me do it.

LEDA (kneeling, faced wrong way): Hail, Golden Aphrodite.

APHRODITE: Go on...(As HELEN takes laurel crowns off bedpost, piles them on her head and stands at attention) School song, Muses, 1-2-3-4 --

IRIS, GRACES, LEDA AND HELEN (singing): Hail, Golden Aphrodite!
Queen of the Pretty Nightie!
Lover of every god you'd give the time of day!
Rah! Rah! Rah!

Hail, Charming Aphrodite!
Keep me this cute and flighty!
Grant me a perfect bod
n'make me a hot lay!

(APHRODITE uncovers LEDA and places laurel crown on her head.)

APHRODITE: Now stop your neurotic silliness and be proud Zeus came back for seconds. I am depending on you to hold it together; we need our lovely hostess today.

LEDA (grinning, a schoolgirl again): Yes'm, Radiant Aphrodite.

APHRODITE (to GRACES): Give her the works, Girls -- take her away...(As LEDA, GRACES, IRIS and MUSES EXIT): Now Helen, have you made up your mind?

HELEN: More or less.

TYNDAREUS (peeking in with ODYSSEUS): Did she say Menelaus?

APHRODITE: She said more or less.

HELEN: Who's with you?...Uncle Odysseus, you old pirate, get your butt in here!

HELEN: So what were you dudes plotting?

ODYSSEUS: Why, how to turn all this youthful ardor to good account, instead of civil war...(At last bowing to APHRODITE) Hail, Spectacular One.

APHRODITE (flatly): Hail, Spin-Doctor...Any breakthroughs?

ODYSSEUS: Your inspiration could make the difference.

HELEN (as SUITORS, OFF, fight again): Ga-ahds, isn't there a battle someplace they're late for? Somebody find 'em an enemy!

ODYSSEUS: My thoughts exactly. Once those boys pacify Hera, we'll have the strongest force the world's ever seen out there.

(HELEN and APHRODITE drop tops at window again. Instant hush.)

TYNDAREUS: I suspect that force is in here.

ATHENA, OFF: Hiya, Guys -- snap outa it! Guys --

SUITORS, OFF: Yo, Wise Athena...Spearshaker, lookin good!

ATHENA (shouting behind her): Dump the bimbo -- get a war! Like Hera says, take a few days -- get married -- you'll forget this love crap...(Shaking spear happily as ODYSSEUS peeks down from bedroom) Yo, O -- it's my man!

ODYSSEUS (bowing as ATHENA clanks upstairs): My Lady.

ATHENA (aside, slapping his back so hard he nearly collapses): Ain't he cute?...Dad not here yet? Mighta known. Takes Hera forever t'get her sh** together.

(HERA ENTERS below and overhears. She stomps angrily upstairs -- a riot of peacock-print chiffon with a gold apple on a neck-chain.)

HELEN: At least Step-Mom tries -- like I'm trying to dress --

ATHENA: You'll learn. Got extra practice on the beach last night...(Furiously to APHRODITE) So hand it over -- my apple!

(Confused, HELEN offers bananas from fruit basket. TYNDAREUS and ODYSSEUS cringe and draw back.)

APHRODITE: Who says it's yours?

(HERA barges in, preening gleefully as she shows off the apple.)

HERA: To his lovely wife, the Almighty gave this prize, as why not?

APHRODITE: Because you aren't the fairest. And you have camp-followed too long, Athena -- the nails, the outfit, leather skin! That apple has my name on it

HERA: Pretty is as pretty does, Slut!

ATHENA: Got that right, Stepmom. So it's between us, which means I win so hand it over...(Grabbing for apple and shouting) Make Hera gimme, Daddy!

APHRODITE: Oh, just turn blue. It's so becoming. Suits you better than gold -- I mean pearls before swine! The apple's mine.

HELEN (as GODDESSES tussle): Ga-ahds, these family squabbles!

(In top hat and tux, twirling thunderbolt like walking stick, ZEUS ENTERS below. MUSES grab instruments and play a few bars of Hail to the Chief . GRACES and LEDA rise respectfully. ZEUS shudders with delight at the new improved LEDA and takes her hand. For once, she's equal to the attention,lapping it up.

ZEUS (crooning a capella): Leda, she couldn't be sweeta if she lived on ambrosia like we divinities do.

LEDA: You flatterer! I am so glad you're here. It's soundin like some sorta fruit-fetish may spoil our Helen's Big Day. You know, of course --

ZEUS: And for you I'll handle it...(Shouting up) Goddesses, assemble!...(As they descend stairs) I know a smart boy on Mount Ida; he'll decide this apple thing.

HERA: A mortal!

ZEUS: You'd rather I ship the damn vanity grenade back to the Hesperides?...No? So go. Now. Put it to Paris.

HERA: He means by that the case, Aphrodite.

ZEUS (as GODDESSES move to exit): Soul of honesty, Paris. Top livestock judge.

GODDESSES (together): He judges livestock!

APHRODITE (on exit, to HERA): Might give you the edge.

(As GODDESSES EXIT, ODYSSEUS and TYNDAREUS move downstairs, noting ZEUS' intent gaze at LEDA.)

ODYSSEUS (to TYNDAREUS): Gods don't often make housecalls anymore.

TYNDAREUS: We're just lucky.

Black.


Scene Four

Megaron decor is inspected by LEDA -- arm in arm with ZEUS. MUSES tune while APHRODITE, TYNDAREUS and ODYSSEUS huddle, whispering with HELEN. TYNDAREUS takes notes on scroll. ALL wear wedding attire, even IRIS who in rainbow frills tries to bar PRESS REPS clamoring at entry with notepads, Front Page-style suspenders and hats sporting press cards.

TYNDAREUS: I tell 'em what?

ODYSSEUS: You'll sell 'em -- can't miss.

APHRODITE (to HELEN): And then you'll tell 'em this --

(As APHRODITE whispers to HELEN, PRESS REPS ENTER -- making directly for buffet drinks and food.)

IRIS (frantic): What do I tell 'em, the press?

LEDA: About the dress -- let's tell 'em that.

(LEDA, racing ahead, intercepts ravening PRESS REPS, takes glaux from one and slaps hand of other, making him drop sandwich.)

ZEUS: Whirlwind feet ain't quick enough for press duty, Iris. Back to th'mailroom.

(As IRIS EXITS, sulking, LEDA spins PRESS REPS to face HELEN.)

LEDA: Helen's gown is by her favorite Sidonian couturiers -- embroidered in gold.

REP 1: Let's cut to the chase, Ma'am. Who's she marrying?

LEDA: Why, we can hardly make that public until the bridegroom knows, y'sillies...Her veil's woven with acanthus blossoms...(Slapping REP 2's hand as he reaches for food and waving to GRACES running downstairs in yellow) Meet the Graces, Helen's cousins and bridesmaids.

GRACES (sweetly to PRESS REPS): Hi-hi-hi...(Barking orders to MUSES) Muses, up-up-up! Reception's alfresco; tables out-out-out -- all but this one. Allegro!

REP 2 (as MUSES grudgingly set to work): Matron of honor's Klytemnestra, yeah?

LEDA: My Kay can't leave Mykenae yet; she just had the sweetest baby boy. Do her a birth notice -- name's Orestes...Odysseus'll be best man for -- whomever. Our Aphrodite is matron of honor, naturally...(To ZEUS) She will return in time?

ZEUS (tuning into the Cosmos): On her way.

LEDA: Ooh, you know everything!

ZEUS (aside): This is one a'the times I wish I didn't.

LEDA (to PRESS REPS): Attendants will wear -- no, "will be resplendent in" -- acanthus yellow...(As huddle breaks up) Seems we're ready with an announcement.

TYNDAREUS (taking scroll from HELEN): I'll let the boys in.

LEDA: With due precautions...(Clapping hands to summon) Muses to check-in!

MUSES (moving to hatcheck stand): Come down from Helikon,you're not an artist; you're a slave...At Knossos I had to tend bar between sets...How bourgeois!

(MENELAUS and, in bandages, ANTILOCHUS and NIREUS ENTER.)

MUSES: Check your lance, Mr.Macho. Also swords and spears, arrows, stones --

(DIOMEDES ENTERS and resists giving up weapons.)

LEDA: Be sweet. That stuff'd be no earthly use against lightning bolts, anyhow.

ZEUS (thundering): Do like the ladies say!...(Shouting out door) Resta y'contenders halt on that stoa. We're not takin chances.

ODYSSEUS ( a la game-show host as he takes microphone): Gents, your attention! Everybody hear me outside? (After big "yeah" from SUITORS, OFF) What a contest this has been, eh? You gave your best; you courted those bold hearts out! Give yourselves a hand...(After applause) Yep, you've been super compe- titors. I know Leda and Tyndareus wish they had a Helen for every one of you.

LEDA: This is so true!...(Calling sweetly out door) So true!

ODYSSEUS: Unfortunately there can be only one bridegroom. We'll soon know who that lucky king or prince will be --

DIOMEDES (darkly): Lucky? Unless it's me, he'll be dead!

ODYSSEUS (over SUITORS' fight, OFF): Such love they all feel for this little gal.

(ODYSSEUS beckons HELEN, who parades past entrance as MUSES hum There She Is, Miss America. SUITORS whistle and shout until she pretends she's about to drop her top. Silence falls and she takes mike from ODYSSEUS.)

HELEN: Gotcha, Guys!...Like j'adore every single one a'you honeys. Gotta thank y'for making this time in my life so special. Wish every girl could be Deb of the Year -- but like there aren't enough years, right?...(As SUITORS laugh) Anyway, this experience has enriched me more n'I can ever say, except with a humongous kiss. So catch this!...(Throwing kiss as SUITORS cheer) Now my darling stepdaddy's about to ask a teensy favor. It's for me n'the welfare of Greater Akhaia, so just repeat what he says -- okay?

SUITORS, ON AND OFF (a mighty roar as all are given drinks): Okay!

HELEN (warily): Let's do a libation to make it official...(Reciting as she pours a bit of wine on floor) O Zeus -- yo, Pop! -- maker of the laws of host and guest, grant that this day be one of joy for me and Whoever It May Concern. Grant that it be remembered by our descendants. Now be with us, Bubba Dionysos, giver of happiness...(over giggles from below draped table) n'also seal our vows.

(SUITORS pour out a bit of wine, then drink as ZEUS acknowledges offerings with a bow. A hiccup sounds from under table.)

HELEN (reacting to hiccup with a laugh): Sounds like Bubba Dion's out already!

TYNDAREUS (taking mike, reading scroll): Whether I win or she marries another --

SUITORS, ON AND OFF: Whether I win or she marries another --

TYNDAREUS: I will defend Helen like a brother.

SUITORS: I will defend Helen like a brother.

TYNDAREUS: Whoever the lucky bastard may be --

TYNDAREUS: Helen's spouse has my lifelong loyalty.

SUITORS: Helen's spouse has my lifelong loyalty.

ZEUS (thundering on "oops" moment of groaning SUITORS): Y'promised!

TYNDAREUS: And the winner is -- Menelaus of Mykenae!

LEDA: Muses to bandstand!

MENELAUS (as MUSES strike up dance music): M-M-Me! Oh T-Tyndareus, M-Marriage P-Part --

TYNDAREUS (wincing "not that again"): Call me Dad.

(SUITORS congratulate MENELAUS, who whoops and drains amphora, then in conga-dance line EXITS with ODYSSEUS, TYNDAREUS and GRACES. PRESS REPS flash cameras. ZEUS and LEDA dance romantically, apart from HELEN's routine with SUITORS.)

ANTILOCHUS (spoken over music): Why didn't you pick me?

HELEN (spoken over music): Like I wouldn't do that to us; I love y'too much! (She sings as she leads him to dancefloor, where he joins song)

Trophy Wife

HELEN (singing): He gets a trophy wife. He gets a city.
My "lucky" spouse t'be -- the schmuck deserves your pity!
See, it's a transaction. There's no attraction.
And married life results in sad dissatisfaction!

ANTILOCHUS (singing): Say your premise is right, just how do you know?

HELEN(singing): Epistemology's tight: Aphrodite told me so!

ANTILOCHUS (spoken): Oh.

HELEN (singing): Love should be poetry -- she scorns lengthy prose.
Such endless low-intensity gets up her nose.
Long tales are like marriage, a terrible yawn!
Bleak chains of Hera's bind when all the magic's gone!

ANTILOCHUS (singing): Sure this may be true, but I'll die to lose you!

HELEN: Don't be a fool, m'love; I could change my mind and choose you
-- then our passion would fade. You'd inspect brigades
and do treaties on trade and I'd open agoras!
With all those chores before us, we'd never get laid.

ANTILOCHUS (singing): But with pure love we'd cope --

HELEN (singing): That's so wrongheaded!
Somebody tell this dope Pure Love's always unwedded!

MUSES (singing as HELEN kisses fingertip and with it seals "secret" on ANTILOCHUS's lips, then whirls to macho DIOMEDES):
She's not kissing you off. It's you she adores!
Her y'can boff, but find some other princess to bore!

DIOMEDES (singing): Oh Baby, we're soulmates. Together we're so hot!
Why try t'fight Fate, Babe? Y'want what I got --

HELEN: Granted, boring you're not. You're sexually torrid;
you're great as a date -- never less than an eight.
As a spouse, you'd be horrid!

DIOMEDES (raging): My future is dashed, crashed, smashed without you to wed!

HELEN; You're talkin trash; you'll pick some chick -- she'll end up dead.

DIOMEDES: So y'ditched me from fear?

HELEN: Nonsense, I wantcha near -- sayin "one more time, Dear"
not "B***h, bring me a beer."

MUSES: Has she made herself clear?

DIOMEDES: Y'mean you'll still see me despite Menelaus?

HELEN: He's such a wuss he'll never sus' the lust between us!

MUSES (as HELEN pulls free of DIOMEDES' clench and goes to cute NIREUS, who joins the song):
Such sacred desire's a strictly private matter;
she'll light your fire, but find some other princess to batter!

NIREUS: Grow old with me, Helen!

HELEN: That doesn't sound fun. But 'til your beauty dies, stop by;
I love your buns --

NIREUS: Hon, you're missing my message: Consider Mileage.
Though it ravages nerds, time's sword, I'll age like Robert Redford!
(Posing as PRESS REPS flash cameras) It's the bone structure.
Thinka th'future! Your fiance, no Apollo today, is sure to get scary.
Me y'should marry! Helen, please be my wife --

HELEN (sealing "secret on his lips): It would degrade our lovelife.
What a media fest!

MUSES (as HELEN whirls away): Gorgeous, that she'd detest!
But loads princesses out there want press.

SUITORS (singing as HELEN serves them wine): Sun, moon and stars to me, you are eternally --

HELEN (aside): A noumenon before my time, I seem to be.

SUITORS: Thou art like a fair wind, in how you send us!

HELEN: Metaphors, similes -- cut the fuss; steady.

SUITORS: But we want you!

HELEN: And you've got me already! So give it a rest.
Would Helen bar her doors to Great Akhaia's Best?
(Raising toast as APHRODITE ENTERS above, misting golden apple with her breath)
To our fascination -- without calculation.
No altercation, suffocation, consecration.
(Indicating MENELAUS, staggering as he ENTERS, conga-ing back into room with TYNDAREUS and ODYSSEUS)
It's a shame about him -- he draw the short straw.
He wins the dim ghost of love, blessed by Coldest Law.

SUITORS: Aw!

(APHRODITE laughs and throws glitter below, blessing Helen's vows. Catching HELEN's eye, she shows off her golden apple, miming "I won I won I won.")

HELEN: It's just that Hera Thing: a ring without meaning;
deepfreeze without a thaw. His deal's so raw --
he'll merely be my king.
(Staring hynotically into SUITORS' eyes as APHRODITE tosses glitter)
When I give him my hand, I promise you my heart.
By Golden Auntie's will, we'll never be apart!
Ours is the deeper vow that secrecy allows:
Never neverever can we lose each other now!!

SUITORS (transfixed as HELEN waves, then moves toward MENELAUS) Wow!!!

(While HELEN isn't looking, three WOMEN IN "HELEN" MASKS -- last seen as GRACES -- ENTER at APHRODITE's cue and dance with SUITORS. When HELEN sees, she rubs her eyes.)

HELEN (spoken): And how.

(As HELEN rubs eyes again, dancing SUITORS and FAUX-HELENS EXIT and APHRODITE climbs, swings or slides to megaron level. All is changed when HELEN looks again; once more she's stunned.)

ATHENA, OFF (spoken): Guys, c'mon -- I'm behind ya -- act like killers; stop dancing!

(MENELAUS, as if obliging ATHENA, thuds to floor. Music fades, though ZEUS and LEDA dance on. HERA ENTERS, HEBE in tow.)

HERA (shouting behind her) Your rage, Athena --don't misdirect it!. A wedding this is, and after a terrible dry spell...(With evil looks at ZEUS and APHRODITE)Hope y'don't object we brought a friend.

(MUSES play a sinister break as, behind HERA and HEBE, NEMESIS -- formerly seen as MAIN SLAVE -- ENTERS in white, holding whip of snakes and dragging the clanking Wheel of Destiny like a pull-toy. ZEUS holds his head in an "ohmygod.")

LEDA: Hail, Queen of Heaven...(After curtsy to HERA) Nemesis, why are you here?

NEMESIS (coolly meeting LEDA's glare): My daughter's wedding day.

ZEUS (as LEDA looks to him for help): Even I can't fight Fate.

LEDA (as PRESS REPS scribble): My Helen is not your daughter!

HERA: Ach-ach-ach, a different tale y'told to Tyndareus. To your husband y'said y'were just hatching an egg, bein helpful...For Nemesis, who wouldn't wanna be nice? Arbitress of all Things, Ms. Necessity, Ms. Divine Retribution, herself ... Wasn't that th'story y'got privately, Tyndareus, about this poor Titaness mixed up in awful bird nastiness with the Head God, not much fault a'her own?

NEMESIS: I did change in every creature I could think of.

HERA: Goose wasn't smart...(Aside) As a swan, he got t'her, too.

LEDA (to ZEUS): How could you?

ZEUS: So now and then imagination falters...Sue me.

HELEN: Ga-ahds, like whose egg am I?

NEMESIS: Hermes took mine directly to Leda -- that's what Zeus told me.

MENELAUS (rousing to giggle): Y'don't s-suppose he st-stopped f-for an omelet?

HERA: That he arrived you didn't check -- you of all goddesses?

NEMESIS: Don't confuse Fate with micromanagement. I often delegate.

PRESS REP 1 (to LEDA): Ma'am, were you visited by Hermes?

LEDA (zoned out again): I recall -- swan. White. Huge. Soft --

PRESS REP 2: Statement from Hermes'll clarify...(As GODS laugh) Can't we ask?

HERA: 'Til y'turn purple, ask -- from him y'won't get straight answers...Nemesis, don't go!

NEMESIS: Wheel's in motion. All this tension, I'm getting one of my headaches.

PRESS REP 1 (to LEDA): Ma'am, besides the swan, did you see or hear anything odd on the evening in question?

LEDA: Swan paddle water swish. Moon stars tree. Eagle!

PRESS REP 2: Also an eagle! Hm, functioning in what capacity?

LEDA (shrieking at APHRODITE): You! My mentor! Awful eagle! Eeeooaaeeek!

NEMESIS (aside ON EXIT): Might not sleep nights if I knew every detail.

(NEMESIS EXITS. HELEN tosses matron of honor dress to APHRODITE while chasing LEDA, running under a flokati to palace interior. HELEN beats back pursuing PRESS REPS, near exit.)

HELEN (to APHRODITE): Put this on...Mama, you take that off!...(To PRESS REPS) N'you guys take a hike!

(HELEN and LEDA EXIT. PRESS REPS turn to ZEUS.)

PRESS REP 1: What's your position in all this, Dread Son of Kronos?

ZEUS: Bloody awkward...(Pointing to MENELAUS) Interview him -- there's also debate on his background.

MENELAUS (before passing out): N-nothing hot, o-only between my p-pop n'uncle.

APHRODITE: Well, that's something to be proud of. Ambiguous parentage makes a child special..You can quote me. Aphrodite. The Fairest.

(APHRODITE shows apple, then begins changing clothes. HERA stomps gold shoe ferociously.)

ZEUS (stage-whisper): Stow th'damn apple or Hera'll eat it for lunch.

HERA (demanding of ZEUS): So when's wedding bells?

ZEUS: Soon...Sober that one up, willya, Tyndareus? Muses, grab a limb. Media, a little help from you?...(Raising thunderbolt) I mean it, People n'So Forth.

ATHENA (PEEKING ON): Stepmom, they're lightin your sacrifices.

APHRODITE: Fat thighs -- yum-yum. She'll waddle right behind you, Frowsy.

ATHENA: Da-ahd! She called me Frowsy, Daddy!

ZEUS: Y'look sweet t'me, Little Athena...You, too, Hera.

(HERA and ATHENA EXIT. APHRODITE sings as she finishes changing.)

APHRODITE: "It had t'be me, beautiful me, wonderful me." Gee, never knew Athena was vain except about her spear arm. Evidently they're both delusional. Of course Paris was polite to them -- at first refused t'choose --

ZEUS: Held out for bribes, yeah.

APHRODITE: Can't tell you anything.

ZEUS: Y'know there'll be Hades to pay, dontcha?

APHRODITE: What could I do? Hera offered him rule over Asia and Europe, then Athena countered with military conquests everywhere -- the whole chinchilla!

ZEUS: Megillah.

APHRODITE (playing ditz): I can't seem to keep those straight, but even a Mortal Fool could see power was not Paris' hot-button. Beauty seeks beauty -- this I oughta know. Wouldn't you say so, too, Handsome?

(At her cue, spotlight strikes PARIS -- last seen as NIREUS -- on theologeion. He rotates on a turntable. Unlike "long-haired Akhaians," his hair is short; his Phrygian tunic is sleeved and vivid.)

APHRODITE (snuggling ZEUS): O Zeusy Darlin, no wonder y'like him! Let's fix it up for him to go home to the palace --

ZEUS: Because Helen wouldn't fall for a small-time rancher?

APHRODITE: She'd fall, but that's irrelevant. She has to marry him -- I promised! Besides, he deserves to be a prince again, you're right. Musta been your thought, it's such a good one. S'pose he wins next familiy funeral games n'then his folks recognize him? Wouldn't that be a movie-moment?

ZEUS: What about the omen -- got him exiled in the first place?

APHRODITE: His mama's nightmare about Troy burning up because a'him? Hadn't crossed my mind but, hm, it's surely figurative. Paris strikes some sparks, all right, but not in the sense of There Goes the Neighborhood...I don't know like you do, but it might be no matter who he picked today, there'd be war. All that talk of battle triumphs, thrones...And I notice Nemesis didn't exit throwing confetti... And poor Helen -- soon enough that girl's gonna be more than ready for a change... (As ZEUS laughs hugely) Perhaps, that is; it's just an idea.

(ZEUS and APHRODITE EXIT, laughing.
PARIS spins on above, unnoticed by HELEN who, at sound of bells, enters in full bridal attire. Joyless, HELEN crosses to front exit.)

Black.


Scene Five

Off, wedding bells segue to MUSES playing The Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time. Swinging gold sandals, HELEN climbs to bedroom from shadowy megaron, where ODYSSEUS dances with ATHENA and a few SUITORS with SPARTAN GIRLS in drill team tunics (played by IRIS, HEBE and PERSEPHONE). Lights rise upstairs as HELEN flings veil on bed. Muffled sounds come from the covers: LEDA.

HELEN: It came off fine, Mama. They were wild about your stifado -- like Hera's frantic for the recipe, wants to adapt it for ambrosia...(Answering muffled reply) Sounds barfy t'me, too...What say?...Sure I told her no way, and of course I didn't leave before the drill team finale; I know that'd be tacky...Yeah, all the gals from gym and temple, a hundred forty. I thought they'd never go...Right, I registered my plane tree. Sick excuse for a wedding tradish, having your girl- friends hang a slimy waterlily crown n'carve "Worship Me, I am Helen's Tree." And I'm s'posed to ooh n'ah at it, like Just What I Wanted...I'm not being blasphemous -- jusst practical. Why can't brides pick nice glauxes; a pottery pattern?

(APHRODITE ENTERS with GRACE who carry clay tablets.)

APHRODITE: Seen Leda, Hon?

HELEN: Not lately. But she's right here.

GRACES: Good-good-good! We have press kits for you to clear, Aunt Leda.

APHRODITE (over muffled sound from bed): Can you make out what she's saying?

HELEN: Doesn't bear repeating...Mama, willya listen to the official statement?

GRACE 1 (reading): "Princess Helen of Sparta and Co-King Menelaus of Mykenae were married today at Sparta amid a distinguished company of Immortals and Argive royals and heroes. The bride, current Deb of the Year and a beauty renowned throughout Greater Akhaia, is the daughter of All-Powerful Zeus and Sparta's Queen Leda and/or the Titaness Nemesis --"

APHRODITE (over LEDA's muffled protest): If Nemesis wants billing, she gets.

HELEN: Y'can't fight Fate, Mama...(Reaching under covers) Here, hold my hand.

GRACE 2 (reading): "The groom, a noted athlete who shares the Mykenean throne with his brother Agamemnon, is the son of Queen Mother Aerope of Crete and the late King Atreus or his brother and successor the late King Thyestes."

GRACE 3 (reading): "Helen was attended by Radiant Aphrodite of Cyprus and Olympus, and by cousins Aglaia, Euphrosyne and Thalia Grace of Olympus. Menelaus was attended by King Odysseus of Ithaca"...We go on to cover fashions and reception details --

APHRODITE: Leda, perk up, peek out and pay attention to the pretty parts.

HELEN: She doesn't give a flying f -- Mama, don't bite!...She's disinterested.

APHRODITE (flouncing away): You are trying my patience, Leda!

GRACE 1 (as APHRODITE EXITS): Aunt Leda, if these kits aren't distributed pronto, those media guys'll start eating your tables.

HELEN: Sign, Mama. Just stick out your little paw n'play like you're shopping. (Guiding hand) Fabu...(To GRACES) Y'all shoo the press out n'move Menelaus.

LEDA (PEEKING OUT as GRACES EXIT): He is not -- ambulatory?

HELEN: Not even close...Lovely t'see ya, Mama...(Holding on as LEDA tries to hide) Hermes didn't slip y'any egg, did he?

LEDA: Not that know of, but with him it's always something.

HELEN: Well, I don't look like a child of Grim Necessity, but it's okay if I do have two mamas; I can handle that. And don'tcha stew about Tyndareus; he bought Nemesis' story totally -- says he never had a doubt...Stuck on himself, huh?

LEDA: It's a crying shame when your own husband can't recognize and appreciate that you're a spiritual person.

HELEN: Everybody else does! You're on all those swan statues...Okay sure Zeus shouldn't have recycled his act; that was low, but no cause for you to hide. This crap's their prob...How cosmic, at this moment here comes mine.

(As MUSES ENTER, lugging MENELAUS, who snores and cuddles his spear, LEDA hides.)

MUSE 1: The Junior League sent us.

MUSE 2: Where y'want him?

MUSE 3 (as HELEN indicates right side): He sleeps on the left.

(HELEN trades "how does she know?" looks with MUSES 1 and 2)

HELEN: I won't have him squashing my mama.

(MUSES EXIT with "bizarro" looks; POLLUX ENTERS via window.)

HELEN: Past midnight already? How time flies when you're deeply bummed out...(As MENELAUS snorts) For this I gave up suitors?...Ooh right, I didn't quite!

POLLUX (as HELEN runs to window): They're halfway to the harbor, Sis. For getting married, Hera gave 'em a tight deadline.

HELEN: She didn't even give me a toaster.

(HELEN rushes to bed as POLLUX starts to sit.)

HELEN: Not there!

HELEN uncovers LEDA, at takes her thumb out of her mouth.)

LEDA: Tell sto-wy.

POLLUX: Flipped out again, huh?

HELEN (after a nod): Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess...

LEDA: Nonononononononono!

HELEN: It's okay -- throughout her mama's queendom there were no pets, and all her subjects were atheists.

LEDA: Tragedy coming. Fate. Bad end!

HELEN: No Fate, either. Like the entire universe was random chaos!

LEDA: Nice sto-wy.

(LEDA sucks thumb as light fade.)

Black.
Curtain Falls


Interlude

Played outside curtain on apron in torchlight or dawn, this interlude in (loose) hexa-meter allows set changes to be made with no halt in action. A labelled plane tree stands down front as SPARTAN GIRLS ENTER (in drill team tunics or party dresses). GIRL ONE (POLYEIXA, an important figure later) carries a waterlily garland; GIRL TWO a gold cruet and GIRL THREE a gold knife.

GIRL 2: Hera Be Blessed!

GIRL 3: Yessssss! Finally Helen is offa the market.

GIRL 1 (seeing label on tree): Park it; this is her tree -- see.

GIRL 2: Weird-ass symbology. Funeral oil! Waterlilies!

GIRL 1: Beats me.

GIRL 3: I'm way too hung over; you kids climb --

GIRLS 1 and 2: Unh-unh. We did it last time!

GIRL 3: I'm holding the knife, if you see my point.

GIRL 1 (to GIRL #2): Anoint! I'll weave.

(GIRL 1 climbs highest and begins weaving a waterlily crown in branches; GIRL 2 oils leaves of the tree. GIRL 3 incises bark.)

GIRL 3 (looking up): Hey, stop drippin grease on me. Gross!

GIRL 1 (grinning): Worse! It's plant yuck --

GIRL 2 (looking up): Polly, puh-leeze! Slime-crown's grunging me now.

GIRL 1: Just duck. Who can control this stuff? And ease off -- droplet by droplet, you oil those leaves.

GIRL 2 (raising her voice): What is the diff, Girlfriend? Are we making aioli?

GIRL 1: This drill's meant to be holy! Pipe down.

GIRL 3: Quiet, we'll hear that when the guys leave town.

GIRL 1: It'll be the grave...Therefore I got engaged...(Showing ring) Tlepolemus! Herakles' son! Grandson of Zeus --

GIRL 2: Whoooooo!

GIRL 1: Soon I'm off -- to the palace at Rhodes.

(Finished with their tasks, GIRLS 1 and 2 climb down.)

GIRL 3: Kiss a toad and become Queen Poleixa.

GIRL 2: Hope I'm next -- huh? Please, Tree! See, I'm worshipping you.

(GIRL 2 kneels by tree while GIRL 1 studies completed inscription, which reads: "Warship me; I am Helen's tree.")

GIRL 3 (sarcastic): Gosh -- me, too.

GIRL 1: Oh, no! Worship's carved with an "alpha" -- wrong letter.

GIRL 3: I know better. "Omega." (Correcting error as GIRLS 1 and 2 giggle) Just a slip!

GIRLS 1 and 2: War-ship! Ha!

GIRL 1 (aside while admiring her ring): Gosh, do I hope that stupid goof's not Freudian.

Black.



Second curtain's rising!