Dame Ayeesha, Ali’s mother
Karim, Ali’s Friend
Captain of the Guard
The courtyard of Ayeesha Baba’s house
SONG 1 Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah
(Servants exit leaving empty stage. Enter COW, humming a tune)
COW (Does a short synchronised Arabian dance) Oh what a beautiful morning, oh, what a beau… (Stares at audience. Goes closer and peers out) My oh my, what have we here. Looks like children. Can’t be though, not in this neighbourhood. You don’t get many children in this far corner of Arabia. I say, you wouldn’t have any grass, would you? Eh, any grass ..? GRASS! Oh, never mind. I bet you can’t answer this: if a cow is tied to a 10m length of rope, how far can it wander …. eh, eh? As far as it likes, the other end is not tied. (COW laughs very loudly) Hey, you’d better not stay too long. Dame Ayeesha will be here in a minute, she does not like uninvited guests and she’s got one hell of a temper. You’d better be really quiet when she arrives ….. hold on ….. I can hear someone coming now. Shhhh ….. shhhh …..
(Cow wanders off stage. Enter servants)
DANCE: 1 Servants
SERVANT 3: (Preparing feast and looking around nervously) We’d better hurry up, she’ll be here soon.
SERVANT 2: Who’ll be here?
SERVANT 1: Ayeesha.
OTHERS: Bless you!
SER 3: You know what happened last week when we were late with lunch.
SER 1: Ooh, don’t remind me. (rubs bottom) I couldn’t sit down for days.
SER 2: Should be a law against all this flogging.
SER 4: (Enters) May Allah help us, I forgot the washing. (starts to hang very large bloomers) It’s Wednesday today, the day for washing Dame Ayeesha’s smalls. (pause while others stare at the bloomers)
SER 1: My oh my, you certainly are getting short-sighted, my friend.
SER 4: Ayeesha has not been in good spirits lately.
SER 3: She thinks Ali is of an age when he should be looking for a bride.
SER 2: One with a handsome dowry.
SER 3: But he is too lazy to spend time looking for a girlfriend.
SER 4: And the inheritance left to her by her poor dead husband…
OTHERS: (hats off and sung) May Allah rest his soul…
SER 4: Is nearly gone.
SER 1: Quiet, I can hear her coming. (most servants exit quickly)
DAME: OOOh, my feel are killing me, I must stop wearing these high heels. (pulls out a dead fish) No wonder, I need a new sole. (throws shoes across the stage in temper) What a day! I spent all morning queuing at the bazaar and all afternoon queuing for a taxi. (aside) The producer told me it wouldn’t matter if I missed some of the cues. Never mind… my nephew Ali will be home soon. He lives with me you know… he never knew his mother. (aside) Just as well if you ask me, the trollop. Ali’s friend Karim lives with us too. Karim is so very clever, he was always top of the class at school (crossly) and Ali was always bottom.
KARIM: (Off stage) Knock, knock.
DAME: Ooh, I do like a good joke don’t you?
KARIM: (Louder) KNOCK KNOCK!
DAME: (Looking at the audience) Who’s there?
DAME: Bella who?
KARIM: Bella not working so Ia knocks.
(Raucous guffaws of laughter from DAME)
DAME: Ooh you are a one Karim. (slaps him on back and he staggers) But where’s Ali?
KARIM: Oh, he went to hire a magic carpet. They’ve got a good offer on today – only 10 pieces of silver for one hour’s hire.
ALI: (Flying in from the wings) Aaaah! Hello Auntie.
DAME: Hello my little Alikins… (mothers him)
KARIM: (Looking at magic carpet. Aside) Wow, this must be the TURBAN-charged model.
ALI: You must have had an awful day, you look pretty dirty.
DAME: I know, and I look even prettier when I’m clean. It’s getting crowded in here. You know, two’s company and three’s a crowd.
ALI/KARIM: K Yes.
DAME: Then what’s four and five.
ALI/KARIM: Nine! (groans)
DAME: Tell me, where have you been all day?
KARIM: Oh, nowhere in particular, Auntie, just here and there.
DAME: What do you mean “just here and there”?
ALI: Well, I went to the doctor and said: ‘Doctor I feel like a bird’. He said “Stay there and I’ll tweet you in a minute.”
KARIM: And I said: Doctor, everyone keeps being rude to me and he said “Get out of here you silly idiot”!
DAME: I just don’t know which one of you is daftest, you’re both as bad as one another!
ALI: That’s right Auntie, like two peas in a pod that’s why we’re such good friends.
SONG 2 The Best of Friends
(Bell rings off and servants enter. ALI and KARIM hide)
DAME: Ah, time to break the fast. I’m so hungry I could eat on ox. (She sits on the rug and tucks in)
ALI: (Coming out of hiding) And I could eat a flaming camel.
KAR: Ali, you should not swear like that.
ALI: Why not, Shakespeare did.
KARIM: Then you should stop hanging around with him.
ALI: You are supposed to be the intelligent one and you don’t even know who Shakespeare is. What else don’t you know? What was the tallest mountain in the world before Everest was discovered? (Steps towards KARIM who backs off)
KARIM: Why, Everest of course.
DAME: Alright, but I bet you don’t know what a fjord is!
KARIM: I do, it’s a Scandinavian motor car.
ALI :(Thinks) Er… name me seven animals that come from India.
KARIM: Six elephants and a tiger.
DAME: Enough! That’s enough of this madness. Ali Baba… it’s about time you did something with your life, you lazy good-for-nothing. All you seem to do is hang around in the bazaar drinking sherbet. Tomorrow you will go and find a job… at last you can start to earn.
ALI: What’s an Arabian earn Auntie?
DAME: Stupid boy! It’s what we store our wine in.
(Bell rings off, boys hide, servants enter to serve wine)
SER 4 What is it with you two? Every time the bell rings you jump.
(They serve drinks and clear plates)
ALI: We heard that all young men between the ages of sixteen and twenty four are being called up for service in the Sultan’s army.
KARIM: And we refuse to join; it’s not our style.
SER 1: But serving in the Sultan’s army is a great honour. The army is proud of its great feats.
SER 2: Is that why they have such big shoes… because of their great feats…?
SER 1: Foolish boy, do you not know that a great treaty with the King of Persia has just been signed.
SER 2: Oh really, where was it signed.
SER 4: At the bottom of course.
SER 2: Did you hear about the karate expert who joined the army. The first time he saluted he nearly killed himself.
SER 3: I hope you do not mind my mentioning this, honourable Dame, but… on the subject of wages…
DAME: How dare you, you snivelling little wretch.
(Servants begin to exit, backwards)
You dare to mention money while we are sat at table. Have you no shame?
SER 3: A thousand pardons my lady. We simply…
DAME: Enough. Leave my presence, at once, all of you.
SER 4: (Aside) There you are… I told you she had a temper.
(AYEESHA throws a shoe at the servants. ALI and KARIM stand and make as if to exit, backwards)
DAME And where do you think you two are going? Clear this table and get on with the washing up. Life will be different from now on. We will have to manage without servants… and you can do the work.
(They stand open-mouthed. She shuts each of their mouths in turn)
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