ACT V, Scene One
In darkness, quake sounds segue to blasts of a cruise ship's horn and clamor at theatre rear: First to ENTER are SLAVES (disguised GRACES and DIOMEDES) in "Nile a While" T-shirts with pyramid/sphinx motifs. They tote luggage, souvenirs, exotic plants and rich guest-gifts. As HELEN and MENELAUS ENTER, she shelters against him, dragging on a wheeled cart her abduction bag to which new stickers are added. He looks older; HELEN's face is veiled by sunglasses and a scarf under her crown. PRESS REPS (looking older) ENTER, dogging them with cameras. SLAVES reach stage and are greeted by beaming MAIN SLAVE (looking older) as lights rise on palace. (Set was easily recreated; since Troy was looted in battle; it remained only to scoot rampart to site of bedroom and set Spartan furniture.) SLAVES run up "Queen Helen Is In" flag and instantly furious PROTESTORS (played by KASSANDRA, IRIS and MUSES) ENTER; little Greek women like black bats, they leap from audience, try to tear banner down, hurl stones, chant slogans and wave signs naming them as WAH (Widows Against Helen) or MAH (Mothers Against). At this din, the teen PRINCESS HERMIONE (played by HEBE) ENTERS bedroom upstairs. Apart from a sulk and punk attire, she looks like her mom but has red hair. Old stuffed Gorgon lies on bed and many laurel crowns adorn bed-posts. PRESS REPS rush ahead to photograph PROTESTORS and HERMIONE, who chucks pottery down. With spear MALE SLAVE disperses PROTESTORS and PRESS REPS so ROYALS can go in. MAIN SLAVE curtsies, takes abduction bag and begins unpacking gifts. When HELEN removes scarf and shades, it's clear her fabled features haven't aged, but her manner has; she sinks wearily onto throne and, in the manner of rote, is brought amphora, gold-rimmed silver krater (mixing vessel) and tray of glauxes and plants by SLAVES. ALL SLAVES then unpack.
MENELAUS (calling up from base of stairs): Hermione! We're home!
HELEN (mixing herself a drink including exotic leaves): You're not stuttering.
MENELAUS: I haven't stuttered for at least seven years.
HELEN: Well, I stilI wish you would.
(HERMIONE appears at top of stairs and pauses, evoking first view
of her mom -- but as an icon of foul temper, not serene beauty.)
HERMIONE (Aside) : Like I wouldn't even recognize either one of them except from pottery, and all they have to say to me is 'we're home' --
MENELAUS: No, Mommy and I have big news for you, Princess. You're engaged.
(Light hits theologeion where HERA in queenly mode lowers "Best Wishes, Hermione and Neoptolemus" banner. Not yet seen by OTHERS, she'll remain unseen by MENELAUS throughout.)
HERMIONE (aside): Funny, I was about to tell them the same thing...(To HELEN and MENELAUS while showing a ring on her hand) I'm going to marry --
MENELAUS (as HERA stamps gold shoe and HELEN cringes): Over my dead body!
HERMIONE (to MENELAUS and HERA): Like don't start that again!
MENELAUS: Princess, listen to Daddy. It's all agreed. You were promised --
HERMIONE (crisply): Way back when at Troy.
MENELAUS (as HELEN lets out a sob): We don't say the T-word... (in whisper) unless Mommy's stoned...(To HERMIONE's "Isn't she?" look) Solid stoned.
HERMIONE: Okay, it was -- there. Part of the deal you and Uncle A.G. did to get Akhilles back in the battle was I'd marry him. Then his son inherited.
MENELAUS: So you know --
HERMIONE: That he's from another era! Neoptolemus was in the horse!
HELEN: He's just barely a vet. He did develop quite a crush, though.
MENELAUS (indulgently): But Mommy was already taken --
HERMIONE: And taken and taken and taken!...Look, I know the drill. I got the laurel crown in modern history at school.
HELEN (mixing another drink): I thought you were sent down --
APHRODITE (ENTERING above, laughing): Splat!...The child was reading entirely too much. Ignored all my pleas and neglected the basics. Look at her haircut.
HERMIONE (sniffling at HELEN): You were supposed to pick me up!...Iris packed me off with some phantom -- didn't even know my name.
MENELAUS: We were in Egypt then, Princess...(To HELEN) That was you, Dear?
(APHRODITE laughs as, evasively, HELEN drinks up -- then speaks to
SLAVES unpacking. Megaron now gleams with precious metals.)
HELEN: Careful with that hydria! Skythos a little to the right...(To HERMIONE while mixing another drink) See this lovely krater, it's from Phaedimus the King of SIdon; your great-uncle Heph made it...(To MENELAUS): You were saying?
MENELAUS (lecturing HERMIONE): You don't amass a load like this overnight, I'll
have you know, Missy. It took us seven years on the seas and great hardship.
HELEN (snipping leaves for drink): We had to visit everyone!
MENELAUS (indicating objects from each place): Cyprus, Phoenicia, Libya, Ethopia, Erembus...(indicating plants) Egypt --
HERA (sneering as HELEN snips more leaves): Race a'druggists, the Egyptians!
HERMIONE: What is that?...(Reading prescription label on plant HELEN hands her) "Robs grief and anger of their sting and banishes all painful memories."
HELEN: Just what the doc ordered...(Indicating silver workbasket and gold spindle) Nicest home furnishings in the world come from Egypt, too -- Thebes. Not that those silver chairs from Phaeacia are half-shabby -- wow, they shine!
HERMIONE: The scavenger hunt I don't get; you guys had a sh**load a'Trojan gold.
HELEN: What with war costs, ransoms, the traveling -- somehow it just goes.
MENELAUS: We had to get back on our feet before your wedding --
HERMIONE: To Orestes!
HELEN: Puh-leeze...Your crazy cousin tried to kill one of me.
HERA (to APHRODITE): Trollops still making their rounds?
APHRODITE: There's a war vets' convention in town.
HELEN: He slit my throat clear through, so I hear --
HERMIONE (not pleased): And you did what you always do -- disappeared.
MENELAUS (suspicious): Were you in on that, too?
HELEN: Listen here, that boy murdered his mother --
HERMIONE (proudly): And Aegisthus, her lover!
MENELAUS: My cousin or brother --
HERMIONE (as music builds toward song): Because he and Kay killed Orestes' dad!
HELEN: But A.G. killed Kay's daughter -- no wonder she was mad.
Only Gods Can Be Causes (REPRISE)
HERMIONE (singing): It shoulda been me if there hadta be sacrifice;
nobody'd care about me!
(as HELEN protests) You shoulda stayed home so they all woulda acted nice
-- not running off overseas!
(to MENELAUS) And you Atreides coulda been less inhuman
-- your cannibal grandpa and papa or unk;
if for stewing the kiddies they'd shown some compunction
we might not today be so dysfunctional!
Guilty as sin, all of our bloody kin
so Orestes deserves me and I deserve him!
HELEN (to APHRODITE after a beat, during which music stops and OTHERS share
troubled glances): Let me guess -- she took the crown in psych.
HERMIONE (complaining as APHRODITE nods): She won in philosophy! Twice!
APHRODITE: In other respects, Helen was very attentive. (Calling) Prob, Zeusy!
ZEUS (ENTERING above): Y'think I dunno?
(HERMIONE turns away, snubbing ZEUS, as HELEN waves to him; MENELAUS, confused, waves in same direction. Music resumes.)
HERA (to ZEUS, singing): Th'guilt-trip she's gotta stuff;
I have heard quite enough.
Who does the girl think she is?
(indicating APHRODITE) Th'slut here, she started this,
then A.G. bugged Artemis.
Me n'Athena already were sore --
HERMIONE (spoken impatiently): And Ares and Hermes were pissed off before.
(Singing) Yeah, I know the gyrations of past generations:
of Tantalus, Pelops, Thyestes and such.
Sure y'hated th'pond-scum;
my forebears were all bums
-- few worse than Atreus and none worse than us!
MENELAUS (gently): You've given that lots of thought
while all us grownups fought
-- feeling there's rot at the root of our line.
HELEN (gently): I, too, felt polluted
but that's been refuted.
Whatever my choices, they're never just mine!
MENELAUS (joyfully) Whoever the boss is, I'm not on the line!
APOLLO (singing on entrance): As for Orestes, I drove him to crime!
IMMORTALS (together): Guilty as sin, all of your bloody kin
but get over your ego -- blame divine origin.
HELEN AND MENELAUS (together):
Only gods can be causes! So when we aren't flawless
it's not our department; another assortment's at play!
ZEUS: Who made y'that way?
HELEN (with a shrug and a woozy grin): Feet a'clay.
MENELAUS (kissed by HELEN): When she seeks to excite me, it's our Aphrodite.
HELEN (grabbed by MENELAUS): When he wants t'ensnare me, it's all due to Hera.
ZEUS (as HELEN breaks free): When you slip the noose, give credit to Zeus!
ARES (singing ON ENTRANCE): When you're feelin meaner, it's Ares --
ATHENA (ENTERING and chasing ARES off with spear): Athena!
EROS (singing ON ENTRANCE): When you're feelin sweeter, it's me or Demeter.
APOLLO (singing ON ENTRANCE): Whenever you feel a bit odd -- it's a god!
IMMORTALS (TOGETHER): Only gods can be causes. That's just how the law is.
It's awfully pretentious to claim you're licentious;
it's prideful to say that you're vile. Infantile!
As for casting aspersions, we have an aversion
to mortals who opt to lob stones.
It's our job to condemn or condone.
HELEN (going for glaux): We're not in this alone.
Can't even get wrecked on our own.
HELEN AND MENELAUS: Only gods can be causes!
That's just how the law is: We're locked in their jaws
and there's no escape clause!
When we laugh -- when we cry;
when we're crass -- when we lie;
'til we give up and die, it's a fact
that we're haunted by gods!
HELEN (as IMMORTALS clap): Listen to them applaud.
ZEUS (to HERMIONE, who sulks): Wave hello to Grandpa!
HERMIONE (aside, snubbing him) He's a moral outlaw.
HERA: Right, he won't keep his drawers on!
ZEUS (to HERA) O Sister and Wife, when'll you get a life?
APHRODITE (giggling): And a tan?
HERA (huffily descending to megaron) I demand that we celebrate;
lovebirds'll set a date or I'll be most irate!
HERMIONE (snubbing HERA) You can't intimidate me!
HELEN: If you don't wed Akhilles' kid, Sugar, you'll wish you did.
This is her kinda affair --
APHRODITE (descending, too): She lacks flair.
(As HERA shoves tables and APHRODITE rearranges them, SLAVES -- except MAIN SLAVE -- wail and flee, not seeing GODS. APHRODITE
whistles and GRACES (quick change for SLAVES) ENTER with flowers. HELEN inspects these, plucks some leaves and rolls a jay.)
ZEUS (after a laugh): Only gods can be causes and those two are awesome.
It's as I foresaw -- but I always like watchin 'em go.
HERA: So let's bring on her hero -- get on with the show!
(At HERA's fingersnap NEOPTOLEMUS ENTERS. Shoved by unseen force, he rolls on couch at HERMIONE. He's entwined
with DELPHIC PRIESTESSES. APHRODITE and EROS laugh.)
NEOPTOLEMUS (as music halts): Uh, what's up? I had lunch pencilled in Friday.
HERMIONE (shoving couch at MENELAUS and HELEN): Surprise engagement bash.
NEOPTOLEMUS (as HELEN and MENELAUS shove couch at HERA): I, uh, got hung up at Delphi. Oracle business.
HERA (to NEOPTOLEMUS as she shoves him past EXIT): You I narrowly saved from being sacrificed for fair winds to get outa there. Now I'm not so sure.
HERMIONE: Just get it into your heads, Guys -- I'm marrying Orestes!
(TYNDAREUS ENTERS doing doubletake after near-miss with exiting couch. He's in black robe with walking stick and shorn white hair.)
MENELAUS: Greetings, Tyndareus, Marriage-Partner with --
TYNDAREUS: You let up about Great Zeus, I won't mention Paris. Or Deiphobos.
HELEN (rushing to greet him): Stepdaddy!
TYNDAREUS (waving stick): Keep this depraved wretch away! Two wicked women have I raised as daughters!
HERMIONE: But you're in mourning for Auntie Kay.
TYNDAREUS: Nonetheless, she had it coming.
HELEN: Less than Aggie did!
TYNDAREUS: You can tell your whore of a mother I'm not speaking to her. I won't speak to you, either, if you don't give up this Orestes nonsense.
HERMIONE: Hey, I was promised to Orestes first.
MENELAUS: It would've been a good merge then, but things have changed.
HERMIONE: You mean we can claim that throne anyway, if there's a conviction.
HELEN (to APHRODITE, who nods): She also got the crown in poli-sci?
TYNDAREUS (to MENELAUS): I'm testifying against Orestes. And Elektra, who enflamed his rage, saying A.G. sent dreams of the gods damning Kay's infidelity.
HELEN (giggling with APHRODITE): Like Aggie wasn't fooling around!
TYNDAREUS (miming "lips sealed" at HELEN): I'll see the brats exiled or stoned.
HERMIONE: Your own grandkids, Popsy!...To honor kinship is an Argive law.
HELEN (to APHRODITE, who nods): She won jurisprudence, too?
APHRODITE (to HELEN): She scored everything trivial.
TYNDAREUS: They thought themselves above the legal process.
MENELAUS: Yes, Orestes should've prosecuted when Kay killed A.G.
HERMIONE: Eight years ago? We were all kids. You coulda prosecuted if y'were --
TYNDAREUS (to MENELAUS) Now you're in town, you'll speak at the Assembly?
MENELAUS: Against a niece and nephew who avenged my brother's murder -- I don't think so....(As HERMIONE hugs him) But that doesn't mean I'll defend him. And I certainly won't let you marry a matricide.
HELEN (over HERMIONE's howling): It's not done, Hon...(Over howling plus door chime) Oh, Ga-ahs, a guest! Ten minutes home and the universe finds us!
(HELEN and SLAVE run to hide treasures. Angrily TYNDAREUS EXITS. APHRODITE, MENELAUS and HERMIONE peek out window.)
MENELAUS (pointing through window -- literally; no glass): That's Odysseus, look!
APHRODITE: No, he'd be older.
HERMIONE (eyes alight): This one wasn't a soldier!
(Gold-shod HERA, since no one else does it, clomps to answer door. TELEMACHUS (ODYSSEUS) ENTERS, not seeing HERA behind door.)
TELEMACHUS: Greetings, Wise Menelaus...(After a bow) Anybody seen Dad?...(Sensing tension) Um, if this is a bad time --
HERA (moving into view): For a guest? Never!
TELEMACHUS (awed): White-Armed Hera!...(As APHRODITE and HELEN giggle) Gee, those are the whitest arms I ever -- wait'll I tell Mom; you're her fave!
(ATHENA AS OLD MAN (MENTOR) ENTERS.)
ATHENA AS MENTOR: That's a tie with Miss Athena, Telemachus.
TELEMACHUS: Meet my mentor, Mentor...(As MENTOR goads him with spear) Like he said, it's a tie with Athena -- Dad owes her a lot, I hear...(Seeing APHRODITE) Of course my mother has immense respect for you, too, Miss Aphrodite...(Seeing GRACES) And you ladies and -- (seeing HELEN) Wow!
MENELAUS: Our daughter, Hermione.
TELEMACHUS: Sure true what they say about Sparta being the City of Fair Women. These two have gotta be sisters, though. My mom's holding up good, but you!
HERMIONE (aside): The Eternal Ingenue. Couldn't you just tear her limb from limb?
MENELAUS: Have a seat, have a snack, have a drink, have a guest-gift!
ATHENA AS MENTOR (plopping on couch): Don't mind if we do.
HELEN (struggling to keep a straight face): So Cousin Penny's still on her own?
ATHENA AS MENTOR: We wish. She has suitors out the wazoo.
HELEN: Ooh, the gaiety -- extravagant compliments outdone only by the pressies.
TELEMACHUS: These ones are parasites.
APHRODITE: Not the right kinda boys.
MENELAUS: Any of them murder their mothers?
TELEMACHUS: Not that's been mentioned, Wise Menelaus.
MENELAUS: Then things could be worse.
HERMIONE (again glaring at HELEN): Oh, I don't know --
In megaron, HELEN fiddes with silver workbasket and gold distaff, abduction bag and glaux at hand. MAIN SLAVE sits at her feet with "In" and "Out" trays. HERMIONE, upstairs, yowls and bangs door. PROTESTORS march on apron.
HELEN (dictating as MAIN SLAVE inscribes): Darling Polly, many thanks for your precious invitation to the drill team reunion. The gang'll have a fabu time in Rhodes, I know, and I'd dearly love to get away -- you know me, ha-ha! -- but I just got home and there's a wedding to organize. Not mine for a change -- ha-ha! I really do regret missing your fete -- and what happened at --
MAIN SLAVE (as HELEN wipes a tear from her eye): The T-word.
HELEN (as she chokes on a sob, then dictates): I'm really grateful you don't hate --
(HELEN breaks off. HERMIONE is quiet, whispering at barred window. With key and glaux, HELEN goes upstairs.)
HERMIONE (blowing kiss as HELEN quietly unlocks bedroom): I love you, Orestes!
HELEN (startling HERMIONE): Love, is it? You depicted the issue as ethical parity.
HERMIONE: Drinking this early?
HELEN (angrily calling up): Auntie A!
APHRODITE (doing hair and makeup as light rises above): Drinking this early?
HELEN: Helios is over the yard-arm somewhere -- Gahds!
ORESTES, OFF: The Furies hunt me ever onward -- those female fiends, all black --
HELEN: I believe he's mistaken my welcoming committee for Powers of Hell that give a damn.
ORESTES, OFF: With bloody faces wreathed in snakes, dogs' jaws and Gorgons' eyes adrip with blood, they leap at me! Fell is their breath!
APHRODITE: Whoo, they'd better fluff up if they ever expect to see any action.
ORESTES, OFF: They're armed with scourges!
APHRODITE (laughing): At least they can exfoliate.
HERMIONE (calling, off): Those are just Hate Mommy placards. Go back to your fragrant well-made bed.
(HELEN and HERA glare at APHRODITE, EROS and GRACES, at whom ATHENA jabs spear.)
HELEN: Just how far has this progressed?
GRACES: He's been really sick...Like pathetically sick...Since before y'got home.
APHRODITE (snapping fingers as ALL eye her): "All he needs is love ---"
HERMIONE (singing backup hopefully): "Da-ta-ta-tatatata."
HERA (with a snort at HERMIONE, who dreamily drifts away): Y'can't do better than a double-cousin?...Pursuin this princess, there shoulda been dozens!
ATHENA: And where's our next war comin from?
ATHENA: Hey, we all have our vision of a better world.
APHRODITE: Face it, your power-trip's passe...(Separating GRACES from spear of ATHENA) Forget the thrills of conquest -- no strategists left. ..(Knocking on ATHENA's helmet) And "wise" as you are, you neglected to recall you'd need engineers and artisans to rebuild palaces for your outa-work heroes. What your disciples knew died with them -- it's over. For a long, long while.
ATHENA (calling ON EXIT): Daddy!
APHRODITE: (Freeing EROS from HERA's grasp) Looks like we're going back to basics. It's down to Zeus -- us -- and the Fates. Where everything originates.
HERA (as EROS sticks tongue out at her): An aspect of relationship, love is!
APHRODITE: Your kind's a contract; ours is way beyond ya.
GRACE 1: It's an event of the soul: the eternal spell which sows all seeds, renewing youth and the world.
GRACE 2: Spirit no less than matter, the whole universe is born from Love.
GRACE 3: It refreshes the imagination -- dispels earthly concerns -- restores faith -- inspires the courage to believe there is a paradise and all wounds can heal.
APHRODITE: Though mutual yearning and sacrifice, love connects humanity with divinity...(Smiling at HERA's scowl) Haven't seen the Author of Mankind around today, havya? (Laughing) See, even he's ruled by Love.
HELEN (to APHRODITE as HERA EXITS): Campaigning for Queen of Creation?
EROS (turning HELEN toward HERMIONE): Look how pretty she is!
HELEN: In a dream.
GRACES: But it's the Big One...Big -- big -- big!
HELEN: She'll be destroyed.
EROS: And created. Only love survives death, y'know -- the soul, the second self.
HELEN (eying GRACES): The phantom twin...(With a wry grin) It's a theory.
(HELEN locks bedroom door behind her and goes downstairs. MAIN SLAVE remains bent over clay tablet, a scarf or robe's
cowl draped over her head. HELEN pours herself more wine.)
MAIN SLAVE (reading from tablet): "I'm really grateful you don't hate --"
HELEN: -- me like most people do. My own daughter, maybe most of all.
MAIN SLAVE: Oh, she's getting over it.
HELEN (pouring herself another drink): Since when you're an oracle?
(HELEN looks around and sees MAIN SLAVE AS HERMIONE. In "Hermione" mask, she's shed robe to reveal same dress. The FAUX-HERMIONE extends a hand. They freeze. Above, ATHENA
RE-ENTERS with a warcry and lightning bolts. Charging at APHRODITE, she's tripped by EROS, who snaps bolts in two.)
Night. In megaron, four thrones are companionably arrayed. HELEN again does something useless with workbasket and spindle. TELEMACHUS watches, awed. MENELAUS casts spears and ATHENA AS MENTOR whittles and eyes nearby loom with interest. Upstairs, HERMIONE furiously shakes bars added to window.
TELEMACHUS: The way you're sitting there, y'look like the pictures of Artemis.
HELEN: Can't think where that idea came from. Step-sis, she's a huntress, knows less about what to do with a distaff than -- well, notice I'm just playing with it.
ATHENA AS MENTOR (nodding toward loom): Need a rug, Wise Menelaus? Bedspread? Greek Key pattern, good n'austere.
TELEMACHUS: He's a wizard with Greek Key.
ATHENA AS MENTOR (to HELEN): Could be you want somethin flashier?
HELEN (with a wistful glance at abduction bag by her): I do kinda miss --
MENELAUS (casting spear): We like Simple...(As spear hits bull's eye) If he'd only stood still, I'da got him. Then that damn golden haze everyplace.
HELEN (on the verge of tears): Let's please not think about it.
HELEN (screaming and jumping up as if it were a tarantula) Horse!
HELEN: That night, I can see it: all the warriors falling, the women taken as slaves!
APHRODITE: Aeneas gets flashbacks, too.
HELEN: Hektor's little boy flung from the walls, old Priam killed at his own altar --
APHRODITE (with a wink to HERMIONE): By Neoptolemus. Not the guy for you.
HELEN: It's like it's all happening again...The first quake, the ground rippling like water and my boys crushed -- and then when Paris -- he was burning.
MENELAUS (teary, too): Half my buddies gone. My bro...(To TELEMACHUS, who weeps also) Your dad lost at sea. There's no spot not full of our sorrow.
HERMIONE (aside): There's no spot not full of their bullshit. It's a new age.
APHRODITE: Not yet. You're somewhere between Bronze and Iron, actually.
HERMIONE: If I hear one more crying jag about the Great War, I'll puke.
APHRODITE: Nothing time-warp about her feelings, Darlin. She lost three sons so young they'd barely lived; she saw a lover die before love died. Identify.
HELEN (weeping with TELEMACHUS): It's so sad about your daddy.
TELEMACHUS (choked up): He told Mom to remarry if he wasn't back when I came of age. Now I'm almost old enough to take the throne, but do you think
those suitors are gonna let me do it? If I go home without Dad I'm --
ATHENA AS MENTOR (working loom): Dog-meat.
HELEN (caressing TELEMACHUS): Your hands are like his, and how your head's shaped. The way your hair grows, even how your eyes move...Damn I miss
that old sneak.
MENELAUS (steering TELEMACHUS away): For our cause, he strove hardest.
ATHENA AS MENTOR (weaving): Fuckin glorious...(Aside) Got a touch too cocky, though. I'm bringing him down a peg, n'toughening-up his kid for the big fight.
HERMIONE (shouting down as HELEN sobs): My mama needs her medicine!
(Hearing this, HELEN looks up to see APHRODITE EXIT smiling; her gaze turns to MAIN SLAVE, who ENTERS with cocktail trolley.
HELEN plucks leaves, frantically chews some, then gulps a drink.)
TELEMACHUS (as MAIN SLAVE offers glaux): Uh, no leaves for me, please.
HELEN: C'mon, Telemachus -- you look way depressed...(Giving glaux to MENELAUS) Drink up, Wise One.
MAIN SLAVE (to ATHENA/MENTOR): Same for you -- Sir?
TELEMACHUS (as HELEN chokes back giggles): He's on a special diet.
MENELAUS (calmer after gulps from glaux): We were real tight, your dad and me; I even offered him one of my towns in Argos.
HELEN (cheery after second drink, now mixing third): Ithaca is sorta the back of beyond n'Penny was raised here in Sparta. Y'know I was flower-girl when they married...(Sitting with a grimace) Hung the waterlilies...Ga-ahds, it'd be fabu to have y'all for neighbors -- folks who don't want to kill me. Or does she?
TELEMACHUS (sitting now that HELEN sat): Always said you were steamrollered.
HELEN: I'm so glad! If she's going to Polly's reunion, I may reconsider.
MENELAUS: We do have a wedding to host --
HELEN: Wise Menelaus, remember how you got that rep?
(MENELAUS obligingly shuts up. HELEN gives a handkerchief to TELEMACHUS, who blows his nose, then gives key to SLAVE.)
HELEN: See if maybe she'd like to come down, huh?...(To TELEMACHUS) Now about your daddy; he was delayed on Ogyria, last we heard.
MENELAUS: Shacked up in Calypso's cave -- this I wouldn't tell Penelope. Old Man of the Sea said so. Immortal Proteus, Shepherd of Seals. Sees everything.
HELEN: Couldn't have a sense of smell, though; he sleeps on the rocks with 'em!
(ALL giggle, sputtering in glauxes, as HERMIONE emerges upstairs.)
HERMIONE (aside, after taking in giggly scene below): Story Hour.
HELEN (to MAIN SLAVE): That's it -- keep it flowin!..(As TELEMACHUS sits after HELEN and HERMIONE do) Beautiful manners. Penny raised y'right...(Seeking relevant diary entries) Hm, where all had your daddy n'his guys been by then?...Hm, they first sacked Ismarus, tryin to get home. Then their party raised a ruckus, tryin to get home...
(Sounds of blues guitar rise as MUSES play, OFF or ON. The tune is Blind Willie McTell's Tryin to Get Home.)
HELEN (half-singing): So th'neighbors got nosy n'things stopped bein cozy -- hadta fight 'fore they could mosey, tryin to get home...
Odyssey Blues (Tryin' to Get Home)
HELEN (singing): All day battle was intense then
ALL (singing at her cue): -- tryin to get home!
HELEN: Next gods raised gales against them
ALL: -- tryin to get home!
HELEN: On the next shore where they floated
vegged-out natives lived on lotus,
and his crew got mega-loaded
ALL: -- tryin to get home!
HELEN: Back to the oars he hadta fight 'em
ALL : -- tryin to get home!
HELEN: Soon he found nymphs to delight 'em
ALL: -- tryin to get home!
HELEN: But a squadron went off pryin;
found a Cyclops who was dyin
for a snack. Then men were fryin
ALL: -- tryin to get home!
HELEN: So this ogre your pop blinded
ALL: -- tryin to get home!
HELEN: Which Poseidon gravely minded
ALL -- tryin to get home!
HELEN: Seems the monster was his offspring;
-- Unk Poseidon'll screw anything
-- so Odysseus took a drubbing
ALL: -- trying to get home!
HELEN: On the waves he was a target
ALL: -- tryin to get home!
HELEN: He just couldn't get a break yet
ALL: -- trying to get home!
HELEN: Laestrygonian giants ate 'em
Though Aelous tried to aid 'em
and the sea-witch Circe laid him
ALL: -- tryin to get home!
HELEN: He was stalled for years with Circe
ALL: -- tryin to get home!
HELEN: Then the gods showed him some mercy
ALL: -- tryin to get home!
HELEN: While Poseidon was on tour
Hermes went down with a cure;
turned his pig-guys back to crewers
ALL: -- tryin to get home!
HELEN: Next they sailed away to Hades
ALL: -- tryin to get home!
HELEN: Met Tieresias and dead ladies
ALL: -- tryin to get home!
HELEN: Every prophet said he'd make it
but for now he had to take it
-- and did Unk Poseidon shake it
ALL: -- tryin to get home!
HELEN: Hm, he went back to the sea-witch
ALL: -- tryin to get home!
HELEN: And she warned him of Charybdis
ALL: -- tryin to get home!
HELEN: She also clued him about Scylla
and the Sirens, fabled killahs;
the guys tied him to a pillar
ALL: -- tryin to get home!
HELEN: After all this, he was shattered
ALL: -- tryin to get home!
HELEN: Then his final ships got battered
ALL: -- tryin to get home!
HELEN: All but one man wound up wasted
and Calypso found him tasty
, so she said, "Let's don't be hasty --"
(Spoken as music continues): That's all I've got.
(ALL laugh as HELEN closes diary, MAIN SLAVE serves drinks, HELEN fires up a hookah and ATHENA spreads new rug. ALL sit
around pipe as MUSE music segues to something psychedelic.)
Day. In megaron, SLAVES open a packing crate that contains Helen's pink desk from Troy. MAIN SLAVE dusts it, as OTHERS EXIT. PROTESTORS on apron hurl stones at HERMIONE when she peeks out upstairs window.
PROTESTOR 2: Oops, that's the kid -- I think. Who can tell?
PROTESTOR 1: Bet Helen's been under the knife more often than Damocles.
PROTESTOR 3: Wish I had her under mine now.
(HERMIONE comes down with basket of diaries and a big pink bow. She ties bow on desk and arranges diaries on top. MAIN SLAVE
peeks in a volume.)
HERMIONE: Mama oughta focus on that last year when she edits; it's kinda dull to then.
MAIN SLAVE: She may not be ready to deal with this.
HERMIONE: We gotta get her off the sauce. It'll be great therapy.
(Amid PROTESTORS, ORESTES runs on screaming and pounds door. He's played by PARIS/NiREUS.)
HERMIONE: Something has to be done for Orestes, too. Let me answer that.
MAIN SLAVE: Only to drive him away; it's the law.
HERMIONE: She can cause the death of ten thousand; he can't get away with two...Okay, Mama never actually killed anyone...Did she?
(SLAVE gives HERMIONE a shifty look. Din outside intensifies, prompting MENELAUS to ENTER.)
MAIN SLAVE: I can't see that Her Majesty is getting away with anything.
HERMIONE: Who'd she kill?...Who'd Mommy kill?
MENELAUS (seeking carnage): Did one of them break in? Where's the body?
(HELEN ENTERS and offers MENELAUS her cheek for a kiss.)
HELEN: You referring to me as a body? I slept late but I assure you I'm breathing (Seeing desk) Now I'm hyperventilating. (Ripping bow) Whose idea of a gift?
HERMIONE: I saw it showing Telemachus the stables; we both thought --
TELEMACHUS (ENTERING, nose in diary and crashing into desk): This is brilliant! Cousin Helen, y'do have a knack!...(Reading) "Dawn, fresh and rosy-fingered!"
HELEN: Your daddy liked that image, too.
HERMIONE: I read all night -- couldn't put 'em down...(Indicating certain diaries)These, especially.
HELEN: Oh, the finale.
HERMIONE (showing a passage in diary): You ould start here, work in some background but boil it down a lot...(Seating HELEN at desk) I mean, now
that you've got the emotional distance.
(HELEN grows engrossed in diaries. Laughing and crying to herself, she's oblivious to PROTESTORS defaming her and ORESTES
raving about Furies. Nobody notices POSTMAN (now aged), who ENTERS apron dripping as in Act II. MENELAUS consults newspaper scroll, HERMIONE and TELEMACHUS read diaries, whispering together, and MAIN SLAVE mixes Helen's standard drink with herbs.)
POSTMAN (forcing his way through CROWD): Postman!
MAIN SLAVE (presenting drink to HELEN): Usual breakfast, Ma'am...(Sharing a look with HERMIONE as HELEN ignores her) I guess she won't be wanting --
HERMIONE (delighted): Take the day off!
(MAIN SLAVE slugs the drink and EXITS into palace interior. MENELAUS pecks Helen's cheek in farewell.)
POSTMAN (pounding on door): Postman!
MENELAUS (pecking Helen's cheek in farewell): Think I'll nip in at the VTW convention downtown. ...(To TELEMACHUS) There's a Helen Look-Alike contest, if you'd care to --...(To HERMIONE as they move to door and he takes spear from umbrella) Talent show of course is what interests us...(To CROWD outside as he opens door) Back! Stand back!
POSTMAN (being bashed by PROTESTORS): Postman!
MENELAUS (flipping through tablets and scrolls): Catalog, catalog, Rhodes travel brochure; all for Mommy...(Finding tablet with black ribbon) What's this -- Dolphin Express from Delos?
(MENELAUS puts on glasses and reads. HERMIONE peeks at mail. Light rises on theologeion as APOLLO ENTERS.)
APOLLO (to HELEN): Lo, Neoptolemus has met his end -- by Delphic swords...Helen, I said --
HELEN (idly, not looking up): Huh?
APOLLO: A blind man could've seen that coming, Sis.
(HELEN finally looks up just as APOLLO EXITS. HERA ENTERS distraught, wailing to APOLLO.)
HELEN: What?...Apollo, wait. Lemme ask ya about Kassie!
HERA: Out, the invitations have gone already! Flowers ordered, cake -- the dress!
(HELEN looks around, puzzled, as HERMIONE chirps to HERA.)
HERMIONE: No prob; I'll just marry Orestes.
HERMIONE: You'll do.
Night. In torchlit megaron, HELEN writes. HERMION reviews notes. A "Best Wishes, Hermione and Telemachus" banner now hangs from theologeion, replacing prior version. In shadows, SLAVES (GRACES) ENTER set tables and linens, tie bows on chairs, wind garlands on columns. A few PROTESTORS march on apron.
HERMIONE: Um, I wouldn't take it in that direction, Mama. All the Odysseus material's a book in itself, and it's not like you were there...(Setting a couple of diaries aside as HELEN nods) And this Egypt stuff goes on too long.
HELEN: That's how it happened, Sugar.
HERMIONE: But you might as well have been waylaid there the whole time, if --
HELEN (a flash, as a PROTESTOR's stone thunks wall): I could claim that's where I was, maybe shipwrecked. Guys at Troy coulda been fighting over a phantom.
HERMIONE (unimpressed): Takes the focus off you.
HELEN (as another stone thunks against palace): I don't mind.
HERMIONE (lifting painted rock from desk): Neat Rhodes brochure Polly sent. That reunion, y'should go. It's just a long weekend; you'll be back before the rehearsal.
HELEN: Perhaps I will.
HERMIONE(picking up abduction bag by desk and packing diaries): Yeah, see the girls, bake on the beach, do some editing...(Lifting gold dagger from bag) Why's this in here?
HERMIONE (dropping knife back into bag): Yuck, there's dried blood all over it.
HELEN (rising to unpack diaries): I don't believe I'll take that bag. Too many memories...And when I think what I mighta accomplished if it hadn't been for guys! Maybe I coulda made a name for myself.
HERMIONE (as another stone thunks wall): You didn't?
HELEN (giving bag to HERMIONE): Hang onto this while I'm gone.
HERMIONE: Wow, it's a national monument!
(After a furtive look upward, HELEN drops gold key in bag, a move not missed by HERMIONE, who hugs her, then takes bag upstairs.)
HELEN (aside, showing drawer full of gold keys): Duplicate, the key. Like me...Whatever the gods do, they redo 'til they've done it to death...(Putting diaries in basket) So it can't be right to leave out the phantoms. Each is a parta me --
SLAVE 1 AS FAUX-HELEN 1 (turning to reveal "Helen" mask): Let's call it synergy.
SLAVE 2 AS FAUX-HELEN 2 (turning to reveal "Helen" mask): I vote for mystery.
SLAVE 3 as FAUX-HELEN 3 (turning to reveal "Helen" mask): Nope, proto-history.
FAUX-HELEN 1: Call it whatever; we can't call it off. (Shedding robe to reveal drill team tunic as OTHER FAUX-HELENS do, too): Now it's time to cruise Rhodes!
FAUX-HELEN 2: Right, these old guys are toads --
FAUX-HELEN 3: So it's Dolls by the Shipload!
HELEN: Why do I feel this foreboding?...Gals, one me we need here.
MAIN SLAVE AS FAUX-HELEN 4: Guess who'll volunteer.
(MAIN SLAVE turns to reveal "Helen" mask, then removes it to show her own long-suffering face. Under robe is drill team tunic she swaps for Helen's crown and clothes.)
FAUX-HELEN 1 (to SLAVE): You're a dear!...(Showing basket of swimswear and sandals to HELEN) We don't need to take much, just bikinis and such.
MAIN SLAVE (a warning): These chums she's seeing -- they're old friends.
FAUX-HELEN 2 (as FAUX-HELENS rush toward door): Yeah, let's rub it in!
FAUX-HELEN 3 (over ship's horn): Grab those books and let's blow this popstand.
MAIN SLAVE (as HELEN takes a long look upstairs): It's your destiny, Ma'am.
(Dressed as her queen, MAIN SLAVE drops deep curtsy to HELEN. HELEN takes diary basket and, from coatstand, chooses a spare
crown and gold robe -- hanging next to black one. HELENS dash off, squealing as PROTESTORS chase them.)
MAIN SLAVE (calling too late): If I were you, I'd take the black!
PROTESTORS' cries segue to laughter as AGED SPARTAN GIRLS (as cast in Act I but looking older) frolic on apron, shedding black mourning robes to reveal ill-fitting drill team tunics. In bikini and crown on sunchaise, HELEN catches rays and writes in pink diary while referring to another which she soon tosses in basket with others A grin shows she's finished her book: one pink volume. A tree evokes the oil-and-waterlily ceremony as AGED SPARTAN GIRLS circle-dance around it.
HELEN: Hey, Gals, I'm all through!
SPARTAN GIRL 1 (aside): How utterly true.
(HELEN -- looking too perfect to live -- gets menacing looks when she rises to join the fun. She slips drill team tunic on and still gets dark looks. She adds long gold robe, stowing diary in pocket.)
SPARTAN GIRL 2 (beckoning): Now you're well-covered, we won't look askance.
SPARTAN GIRL 3 (POLYEIXA): Since you're not busy, come join the dance.
(SPARTAN GIRLS laugh, circling tree as HELEN, trying to join in, is brusquely shoved into the middle and forced progressively
closer to branches.)/p>
SPARTAN GIRLS (singing): Here we go round the wedding tree, the wedding tree, the wedding tree....(Beating HELEN) This is for what you took from me!...And me!...And me!
(By ropes, HELEN is raised into tree branches. Beating continues.)
HELEN: Forgive n'forget, y'wrote me, Polly! Girlfriends, didn't I say I was sorry?...Okay, so whip me if it helps y'cope. I won't run away; y'can lose the ropes.
SPARTAN GIRL 1 (lashing HELEN): Die, vile betrayer of Greek womanhood!
SPARTAN GIRL 3 (POLYEIXA): This isn't Hell Week -- you're goin for good!
HELEN (a mighty howl): Gahds!! Help me out; you know I was framed! It was never about me; y'all slandered my name!
(FAUX-HELENS run on in black capes, to HELEN's relief.)
FAUX-HELEN 1 (aside): Here y'can't find coverups except black.
HELEN: Postpone the style update -- hurry, attack!
FAUX-HELEN 2: Uh, at the moment we're otherwise cast.
(FAUX-HELENS become FURIES. Beneath "Helen" marks, they wear masks of creatures dog-jawed, gory-eyed, snaky-haired
and otherwise as depicted by Orestes. With hellish cries and scourges, they mercilessly set upon HELEN as SPARTAN GIRLS draw back. Light hits theologeion, where MUSES accompany NEMESIS, APHRODITE and EROS, who sing a little waltz.)
Never Pass on Passion
NEMESIS, APHRODITE AND EROS: Never pass on passion.
Love's always in fashion.
Makes y'feel so dashin.'
Everyone looks flash in love.
Never pass on passion.
Always claim your ration.
Don't be shy; just splash in
for there's such panache in love!
(Apron goes dark. GODS peal laughter on theologeion, then continue song as curtain opens to deep starry blackness through
which HELEN -- saved as never before -- walks, her wondering face in spotlight, as if on air. *A wide black plank should do it.* Once plank is removed, light floods party-decorated theologeion
where song is concluded by ALL GODS (except Athena, who's below); GODS ENTER gaily to form a reception line of welcome.)
GODS IN CHORUS: Never pass on passion
'til you're frail and ashen.
At times you'll take a bashin'
but there're no losers when y'cash in love!
(As GODS finish greeting HELEN, MUSES strike up All I Wanna Do Is Have Some Fun.)
HELEN (over Immortal Laughter): You mean it's for keeps?
ZEUS: That's the joke, Kid...(Pointing) Your star's there, by Pollux and Kastor.
HELEN: They retired?...(Waving) Wondered why I hadn't seen the boys lately...(Hearing noise below) What's that?...Party, right. As above, so below.
(IMMORTALS watch lights rise on palace, where WEDDING GUESTS party with TELEMACHUS and "best man" ATHENA AS MENTOR in tux . In bedroom, boombox plays same tune as
above and HERMIONE in bridal gown stares glumly in mirror while veil is placed by MAIN SLAVE. MENELAUS starts upstairs.)
HERMIONE (sensing truth as she sees FAUX-HELEN's reflection by her own): You're not Mama!
MAIN SLAVE AS HELEN: Phantom stand-in...(with a curtsy) Queen Hermione.
HERMIONE (aside): Got one who knows my name today...Huh? Queen, did y'say?
MAIN SLAVE AS FAUX-HELEN (removing mask): Helen's gone up to Olympus.
HERMIONE (looking up and calling): Mo-om -- as far as I'm concerned, this is a piss-poor day for mountaineering!
HELEN (calling down): Sugar, I'm dead.
HERMIONE (as MAIN SLAVE places gold robe and crown on her): Dead!
HELEN: Well, not-dead dead.
MENELAUS (knocking on bedroom door): Hermione! Princess, it's time.
MENELAUS (bursting in): You're playing dress-up? Cut the crap n'move it...I said move it. They don't call me Wise Menelaus Favorite of the Gods for nothing.
HERA (as OTHER IMMORTALS laugh): So who does he think he is, the Pelopid?
HERMIONE (aside, taking knife from bag): They don't call me Queen Hermione for nothing, either...(To MENELAUS) I read about this dagger -- guess y'recognize it?...(As MENELAUS shakes his head): Then you didn't mutilate Deiphobos.
MENELAUS (timidly confessing): Mommy did.
HERMIONE (testing knife against fingertip): Could be I have the knack, myself.
MENELAUS (looking from HERMIONE TO MAIN SLAVE): Where is she?
MAIN SLAVE (sidling out of room): I was just tidying up, Wise Menelaus.
HERMIONE (laughing as she raises dagger and MENELAUS cowers): Some hero!
HERA (laughing, too): Every favor he ever had from above was because of Helen.
APHRODITE: Huh? Y'hate her.
HERA: You I detest, too, but she's one of us.
HELEN (touched): Like that is really sweet, Stepmom. You've never said anything so sweet to me before.
HERA: The step-kid deal -- there's nothing tougher. I'll make it up t'ya somehow.
(HELEN points below -- where HERMIONE, holding MENELAUS at bay with dagger, turns boombox to full blare, takes abduction bag and backs out door, locking it.)
HERMIONE (calling to TELEMACHUS as she runs downstairs): It's okay with you if I split now, right?
TELEMACHUS (with a good-natured wave as HERMIONE EXITS): Oh, sure.
HERA (calling to ATHENA as she starts to dash off): We'll just pretend we didn't see that!
(ATHENA and IMMORTALS face upstage. Parties grow more riotous on theologeion and in megaron, as HELEN watches MENELAUS bang door and shake windowbars.)
MENELAUS (as HELEN watches, singing with boombox): Helen! Helen!! Helen!!!
(As MENELAUS bashes pink boombox to end song, lights fade while spots strike empty golden robe hanging from tree on apron and vanity mirror in bedroom, to which MENELAUS turns, riveted. After a blazing instant, the dazzling spots dim.)
Alone in eternity and midair, HELEN is lighted as first we saw her: statuelike, an icon of perfection none the worse for wear.
HELEN: Athena n'Apollo got Orestes off, which was fabu for our honeymooners, though I hated their argument. They claimed Kay was a worse criminal than Orestes, because it's not so bad to kill a mom as a dad -- said only fathers are real parents, since Athena burst outa Pop's head n'Bubba Dion grew in his thigh...Shit, they were transplants -- Pop killed their mamas first. Not that any mortal guy could even do that much. Best defense move was a change of venue to Athens. Between Stepdaddy Tyndareus n'Aegisthus' pals, Orestes woulda been crucified in Sparta. At home, he stayed persona non grata. No matter that he got acquitted and crowned, nice people didn't wanna know him. He died young. The Furies never let up, to hear him tell it -- projections of Kay, I expect; there was an exceptional resemblance!...Hermione did eventually marry that sweet Telemachus, who with his old man n'Athena turned Cousin Penny's tacky suitors into kebobs. So Odysseus retook his throne; Telemachus succeeded...From there things went downhill in Greece, like Pop "foresaw" -- n'micromanaged. Place collapsed within one peacetime lifespan. Five centuries on, it's only startin to revive. Meanwhile Pop n'Auntie A developed major clout in Italy as Jupiter n'Venus. So did Ares n'Dion as Mars n'Bacchus; battle and booze are welcome everywhere...Hera over there's called Juno or Moneta -- they named money after her, surprise-surpise! Lately she's workin on some clan of tight-asses lost for decades in an itsy-bitsy sand patch -- like duh. They even think she's a guy! Pop'll muscle her out when the time's right, pretending he's cleaned up his act. Bet he ties that someway into his Roman Empire and edges Auntie A outa the spotlight. She's hot now. Notice what "Roma" spells backward? Y'maybe heard of her grandson Julius; Aeneas' tour group did well. As for me: worse things for a beauty queen to end up with than a star. More secure than California real estate. May as well look on the bright side, though I can't agree immortality's a fair payoff for all they put me through. For one day back with Paris n'our kids, I'd ditch this. Well, maybe not for just one day, but if...Okay sure it's been dull just hanging here, watchin the demise of Palace Culture, so I sub for Persephone at school; she made prof but she's still away a lot. I teach stuff like how to eat a pomegranate. Not!...It's also kicks watchin Polly hanged in effigy each year; on Rhodes they worship me as "Helen of the Tree." And I'm sighted on the White Isle, my ghost allegedly married to Akhilles'. Gotta be a phantom. Thousand ships like heck; a billion shipwrecks you could pin on those dolls and still be counting. Kinda cool having devotees after all this time, even if these Greek schmucks can't read or write or figure how anybody ever moved big rocks without a Cyclops. They just love tales of heroes and monsters -- most of all,Troy and me. Let's see what they're on about now...
(On apron, spots and sidelights suggest torchlight as in initial scene. Tapping a white stick, A BLIND BARD (played by TYNDAREUS/PRIAM) moves among LISTENERS -- any number including BOY (seen as EROS/BYNOMOS) and teenaged GIRL SCRIBE (also HEBE/HERMIONE). She begins making notes as scene progresses.)
HELEN: This dude's not a bad bard, though he does lack visuals.
BLIND BARD: Anyone remember what I said last night about who made Troy fall?
ALL LISTENERS (reciting): "It was the gods who were responsible for Troy's fall, weaving catastrophe into men's lives to make a song for future generations."
HELEN (with a laugh): Thought he'd blame me, huh?...I like this guy; he gets it.
BARD: Now where did we leave off?
GIRL SCRIBE (reciting): "Laughter-loving Aphrodite, hiding Paris -- "
BLIND BARD. Yes...Somehow --
HELEN (calling down): In a dense mist, gold like it gets when the veil between worlds thins!
BLIND BARD: Somehow the goddess whisked him from the dueling field and set him down -- guess where? In his own perfumed fragrant bedroom!
HELEN: He does go all-out with aromas...If he could capture stuff like how the guys' armor flashed -- horned moons risin -- the streaky pink of the sky at dawn -- the sea dark as a good Zinfandel, all that, he'd really have a story.
BLIND BARD: Then she found Helen on the tower and plucked at her sweet-scented robe --
HELEN: Again with the fragrance...(Calling) Lofty tower! White and glossy robe!
BLIND BARD: The goddess spoke to her --
HELEN (calling down): Not just any old way! She was impersonating this elderly gal I was really fond of, who used t'make fabu wool for me -- back when I lived in Lacedaemon, deep in hills, with Sparta rising like a rock upon broad plains of wheat and clover --
HOMER: She said, "Paris wants you to go home to him. There he is on the bed --"
HELEN (calling down): The inlaid bed, radiant in his beauty and his lovely clothes!...(Aside) Sad, huh? What's beauty to a blind man? Like what's kindness to Hera?...(Looking down again, stunned and thrilled) That girl down there, she's writing his sh** down! For this I've been waitin a long time...(Calling ) Y'read Linear B, Girlfriend?...(Calling urgently after no response) Your scribe read Linear B?
(THE BLIND BARD, sensing Something, looks up smiling.)
HELEN (calling down): Is that a yes, Homer?
(THE BLIND BARD, HOMER, sensing Something, lifts his arms as HELEN takes Something from her bosom. Into his hands, which
sense the object's warmth like fleece, there falls a cosmic gift caught infallibly: a pink diary.
There's sudden black, then distant stars shine.)
BOY (unseen in darkness): Is all that really true?
HELEN (unseen in darkness): True enough...Once upon a time, there was a princess -- the most beautiful princess in the world.