The Black Rose


The Black Rose is a tale of pirates, a tropical island and a chase on the high seas involving the royal navy. The catchy score will delight your audience and they will love the varied cast of characters in this show. Backing tracks are provided.



Dramatis Personae

Jack White best friend to Archie
Archie Ffoliott-Fluffitt a young aristocrat
Jacob Jenkins an excise officer

Horace Brewster, R.N the naval captain
First Mate on the navy ship
Fred Smith pressed-ganged sailor
Frank Cooper sailor
Bert Mason sailor
Tom Riddle cabin boy
Rear Admiral Barnaby’s Second-in-Command
Admiral Barnaby Commander in Chief, Navy
Naval Officer

Herbert Brewster pirate captain
Bosun second in command on the pirate ship
Bilge-water Brown
Harry the Hook
One-eyed Oliphant
Mad Mike
Cutlass Carew
Black-Hearted Jim

Cecil Great Chief of Tagula Suva
Umbulu Islander
Malamwa Islander

Synopsis of Scenes:

Act I
Scene 1: A Secluded Cove, Somewhere on The South Coast
Scene 2: The Office of The Commander-In-Chief, Portsmouth
Scene 3: The Deck of The Pirate Ship
Scene 4: On Board HMS Neptune, the Navy Ship
Act II
Scene 1: On the Island of Tagula Suva
Scene 2: On Board HMS Neptune
Scene 3: On the Island of Tagula Suva

Based on an original concept by David Barrett, Malcolm Brown and John Davies. Additional script ideas by John Davies.

Scene 1: A Secluded Cove on the South Coast of England

SONG 1: Men of the Sea (Pirates’ Song)

The pirates unload contraband onto the beach.

HERBERT (PIRATE CAPTAIN): Come on lads, look lively. We need to get this cargo ashore before the excise men hear about it. Bosun, show ‘em the rope’s end.
BOSUN: Aye, aye, captain. (He displays the end of the rope [whip] to the men and they admire it.)
HERBERT: Not like that man.
BOSUN: But you said ‘show ‘em the rope.’
HERBERT: Oh, never mind. Just get this cargo unloaded, and careful with those bananas, they don’t grow on trees.
(Exit HERBERT, Jack and Archie enter down the cliff path)
BOSUN: Landlubbers ahoy, shipmates! Make yourselves scarce.
(Pirates look confused.)
Hide, quick!
(Pirates all hide behind rocks.)
JACK: Cheer up, Archie. You’ll find another girl.
ARCHIE: I could never marry another girl. There will never be another girl like my Florence.
JACK: You said that last time, with Gertrude, remember.
(Mocking) ‘I will never find another girl like Gertrude!’
ARCHIE: You don’t understand. It’s different this time, Jack.
JACK: You said that about Victoria… and Catherine… and Violet…
ARCHIE: But I had not found true love then.
JACK: That’s what you said about Mabel… and Helen…
ARCHIE: I do believe you’re mocking me, Jack White.
JACK: Just being realistic, old boy. And if you were to face the facts, you would understand the reason for your string of broken engagements.
ARCHIE: And what would that reason be?
JACK: Your mother!
ARCHIE: My mother! What does she have to do with this?
JACK: Perhaps the fact that she coos over your girlfriends, showers them with unwanted gifts, pampers them and smothers them…
ARCHIE: You go too far, Jack. You need to mind your own business.
JACK: But it is my business, Archie. You’re my friend and I don’t like to see you in this melancholy frame of mind.
ARCHIE: Well you won’t have to see me for much longer.
JACK: What do you mean? Surely, you’re not going to…
ARCHIE: I’ve been watching some sailors from the clifftop, unloading their cargo. I shall ask them to let me join their ship – and sail to Africa, the Caribbean, or wherever it is they’re sailing to.
JACK: Bound, Archie.
JACK: Wherever they are bound. If you want to join a ship you have to learn nautical terms. Anyway, how do you know they’re not sailing to Southampton, or somewhere even worse than that?
ARCHIE: Is there anywhere worse?
BOSUN: (Revealing himself and startling Archie and Jack) And what makes you think you’ll be welcome aboard?
ARCHIE: My goodness, where did you come from.
(They suddenly find themselves surrounded by pirates [not Brown, Oliphant or Harry])
BOSUN: Never mind that. Give me one reason why we should take a posh young gentleman like you on board a respectable vessel like ours. Have you ever been to sea?
ARCHIE: Well, not exactly (pirates laugh) but I could make it worth your while. I am rich.
BOSUN: How rich, exactly.
ARCHIE: Well, Papa gives me an allowance of five hundred pounds.
BOSUN: A year?
ARCHIE A month.
BOSUN: Then it’ll be a pleasure to have you aboard. (Goes to shake his hand.)
JACK: Wait a minute. What sort of ship is this? And your uniforms don’t look like regular navy.
MIKE: Our ship’s called the Black Rose.
(Captain silences Mike with a stab in the ribs.)
BOSUN: HMS Black Rose, you mean, MIKE. He’s a bit of a joker, aren’t you, Michael?
MIKE: (Through gritted teeth) Yes, Bosun.
BOSUN: And we’re not regular navy. We’re highly irregular.
(Laughter from pirates)
MIKE: We’re special forces. We sail where others fear to venture.
ARCHIE: Then I shall be proud to join you.
JACK: Just a minute, Archie, you’re making a big mist…
MIKE: (Clamping his hand over Jack’s mouth) You keep out of this, young man, or you’ll live to regret it.
BOSUN: Well, that’s settled. On the next tide we shall shake out sail, run before the wind and make headway.
ARCHIE: (Thoroughly confused) What?
(Jack has his head in his hands)
BOSUN: I’ll give you a signal when it’s safe to join us aboard and we’ll find you some suitable clothes for a… sailor! Just don’t let the captain see you coming aboard. He has a bit of a temper and… well, just take care you are not spotted.
(Pirates laugh as they exit.)
ARCHIE: Why, thank you. You are very kind.
JACK: Well, Archie, I hope you know what you are doing. Life can be harsh aboard ship.
ARCHIE: There is no life for me here. A life at sea may promise better things.
JACK: I doubt it, Archie.
(The Bosun appears and whistles.)
ARCHIE: That’s my signal. Farewell dear friend… I hope to see you again…
(Two pirates appear with a cloak, which they throw over Archie, muffling his last words to Jack. They escort him onto the ship. Jack looks on in horror.)
JACK: There he goes – a true Ffoliott-Fluffitt.
JACOB: (Entering stealthily from behind the bush where he has been hiding.) Hands up – and drop your weapon.
JACK: (Turning slowly around and raising his hands) I don’t have a weapon. Why would I?
JACOB: Huh! No weapon! Do you think I was born yesterday? Who’s ever heard of a pirate without a weapon?
JACK: Pirate? Look, there’s been a misunderstanding here. I’m not a pirate. Why would you think…? Oh, my goodness. Those men… Surely you don’t mean…
JACOB: Pirates, every black-hearted man amongst them.
JACK: But my friend… he’s on board that ship. I’ve got to get him back to shore. Who are you, anyway?
JACOB: I’m an excise officer.
JACK: But did you know they were pirates?
JACOB: Yes, sir. They’re well known in these parts.
JACK: And yet, you didn’t arrest them.
JACOB: No, sir.
JACK: Why did you just hide behind a bush?
JACOB: I’m a coward, sir… and I just resigned.
JACK: Well, are you going to help me now?
JACOB: Yes, sir, I feel I owe it to you.
JACK: And you won’t hide again when you meet a pirate.
JACOB: I’ll try not to, sir.
JACK: (Offers his hand) Then, call me Jack.
JACOB: Thank you, sir.
JACK: Jack.
JACOB: Jack. And I’m Jacob.
JACK: Well, Jacob, you know the law, I presume. What do you suggest?
JACOB: Pirates always make stowaways walk the plank.
JACK: Anything more helpful?
JACOB: Well, Jack. I suggest we go to Portsmouth and seek out the admiral. He might be able to spare a ship to give chase.
JACK: That’s more like it. Do you know the way?
JACOB: I certainly do. My little sister went to school there.
JACK: Well, let’s go. There’s no time to lose!
JACOB: Just one moment.
JACK: What is it now?
JACOB: I just need to grab some bananas for my uncle’s shop. (Grabs bananas and exits)
(Jack scratches his head in disbelief.)

Song 2: If I could Join a Ship (Jack)

End of Scene

Scene 2: The Admiralty, Commander-in-Chief’s Office The Admiral and Rear Admiral are poring over charts on the table.

REAR ADM: Well, Barney, you seem to be in a bit of a pickle.
ADMIRAL: Not at all, Harvey, it’s a temporary situation and I am planning ahead for victory.
REAR: But, you’re totally surrounded and your best ships have been sunk.
ADMIRAL: You know me, Harvey, never give up until the last shot has been fired, eh!
REAR: If you insist, but there seems little point in carrying on.
(There is a knock at the door.)
Yes, what is it? Is there no peace? We’re in the middle of a strategy meeting here.
(Another knock at the door.)
ADMIRAL: For Pete’s sake come in – or do you intend to keep knocking until the door falls in?
(Enter Horace Brewster, looking flustered.)
Not you again, Brewer. I thought we’d seen the last of you.
HORACE: Brewster, sir.
ADMIRAL: Whatever!
REAR: Surely, you’re not still harbouring the notion that there might ever be a command for you again.
HORACE: Well, as a matter of fact, I was hoping there might be.
ADMIRAL: With your record, Brewster, you’re lucky not to have been court-marshalled and clapped in irons.
BREWSTER: Sorry, sir.
REAR: As I remember, your last command was of an ice breaker, was it not?
HORACE: Indeed. Sir.
REAR: You were deployed to assist the Swedish navy in the Gulf of Bothnia.
(Horace looks sheepish.)
ADMIRAL: And you navigated your ship to the coast of Bosnia.
REAR: Good job, Brewster, only about a thousand miles off target.
ADMIRAL: I don’t suppose you found much ice in the Adriatic.
(Admiral give a huge guffaw and REAR joins in.)
HORACE: No sir. Geography never was my strong point.
ADMIRAL: And before that, Brewster, do you remember the exercises with the Dutch navy.
HORACE: Unfortunately, yes, sir.
ADMIRAL: You were supposed to be firing blanks but somehow managed to put a cannonball through the porthole of the Dutch admiral’s cabin while he was entertaining guests for dinner.
REAR: Damn it, man, you could at least have waited until the last course was over!
HORACE: It was the King’s birthday, sir. We were firing a salute. The cannon was not supposed to be loaded.
ADMIRAL: You should check before you attempt to murder an admiral of the Dutch fleet. No, I’m sorry Brewer, but there is no place for such gross incompetence in His Majesty’s navy.
HORACE: Perhaps one last chance, sir?
ADMIRAL: Absolutely not! Good day, Brewer.
HORACE: Brewster, sir.
(There is an impatient knocking on the door.)
ADMIRAL: Remind me to fire Jackson, Harvey. He does not seem to know the meaning of, ‘do not disturb’.
REAR: Come in.
(Enter Jack and Jacob, tentatively.)
JACK: Good afternoon, Admiral.
ADMIRAL: And who the devil are you?
JACK: Jack White, sir… and this is my friend Jacob Jenkins.
REAR: Look here, White, I don’t know how you bluffed your way in here but you must leave now.
JACK: But sir, I have a message from Lord Ffoliott-Fluffitt.
ADMIRAL: Marmaduke Ffoliott-Fluffit, eh? We were both midshipmen together back in the day. A most appalling sailor. The only ships he threatened to sink were his own.
(REAR laughs raucously)
What’s old Fluffy been up to? Not seen him for twenty years.
JACK: He lives on the south coast now, sir, but he needs your help. His son, Archie, has been kidnapped by pirates.
ADMIRAL: Kidnapped you say? Pirates? When did this happen?
JACK: Yesterday, sir, and if we are quick, we can rescue him. We just need a spare navy vessel…
REAR: Now just stop right there, young man. Even if we had a spare ship, we can’t spare a single captain to go off on a wild goose chase – even if it is for old Fluffy’s son.
(Horace tries to get the admiral’s attention.)
JACOB: There must be someone who can take command of the ship.
HORACE: Ahem, if I may be so bold, Admiral…
ADMIRAL: Are you still here Brewer?
HORACE: Brewster, sir.
ADMIRAL: Whatever.
HORACE: Please, sir… just one last chance. I’ve lived my whole life under the shadow of my dishonest, cutthroat brother Herbert. Any chance of promotion has been thwarted by the fact that my brother is a pirate captain. (He weeps into his hanky)
REAR: Pull yourself together man. You’re an officer of the King’s navy, not some blubbering schoolboy.
HORACE: Sorry, sir.
JACK: Please give this man a chance, Admiral, for old Fluffy’s sake.
ADMIRAL: Alright, but this is your last chance, Brewer. If you let me down, I’ll have you flogged, keel-hauled and then fed to the sharks.
JACOB: He’s beginning to sound like a pirate now.
(Jacob goes to examine the charts on the table.)
HORACE: (Sniffing) Thank you, sir. I won’t let you down.
REAR: Pah! Where have we heard that before?
ADMIRAL: Gentlemen, if you would excuse us; we need to get back to our charts.
JACK: Are you planning your strategy for the next battle with France?
ADMIRAL: Something like that, yes.
JACOB: Actually, no! They are playing battleships.
(The officers go back to the table and are engrossed in the game.)
JACK: Well, captain, it seems they’ve given you a command after all.
HORACE: And this will be a chance to get even with that black-hearted brother of mine.
JACK: Obviously, Jacob and I will sail with you.
HORACE: Civilians – on a naval vessel? Absolutely not!
JACK: Remember, the prime aim of the voyage is to rescue my friend, Archie.
HORACE: Then I suppose you had better come along, but do not get in the way of the smooth running of my ship. Tell me, how was Archie kidnapped? Were the scoundrels brutal? Did they harm him?
JACOB: Well, actually it was more of a misunderstanding. Archie sort of… joined.
HORACE: Joined? You mean he was not taken by force?
JACK: But he didn’t realise it was a pirate…
HORACE: Don’t worry, Jack. I’ll see he gets a fair trial.
JACOB: A fair trial?
HORACE: Yes, of course, then we’ll throw him in jail!
(They exit, Jack protesting indignantly.)

End of Scene

Scene 3: On Board the Pirate Ship, ‘The Black Rose’ (Archie is on the deck, looking sea-sick and disapproving of the untidy ship.)

BOSUN: There you are, you young scoundrel. You’re supposed to be hidden below decks.
ARCHIE: I couldn’t stay down there a moment longer. The smell – the heat.
BOSUN: It’s not safe here; the captain may see you.
ARCHIE: Perhaps he might not mind, after all…
BOSUN: You don’t know the captain, boy. It’s best not to cross him – if you want to see your next birthday.
ARCHIE: Could I not do something useful, like tidying this place up – it’s a disgrace!
BOSUN: Steady now, boy. Don’t overstep the mark.
HERBERT: (Off) All hands on deck. At once.
BOSUN: Quick, hide here, under this old sail.
(Archie hides, the crew enter and form a line.)
HERBERT: Good morning, men.
CREW: Good morning, Captain.
HERBERT: Silence, you mutinous rabble – or I’ll fry your hearts for breakfast. Bosun, let them feel the lash.
(The Bosun lets them feel the end of the cat-o-nine-tails.)
Not like that, man. Strike them with it.
(The bosun gives a few pathetic blows.)
You, Bosun, epitomise what is wrong with this crew. You’ve gone soft – (shouts, and the crew jump) all of you. And I intend to tighten things up around here. Do you hear me?
CREW: (Pathetic response) Yes, Captain.
HERBERT: (Shouts) Do you hear me?
CREW: (With more conviction) Yes, Captain.
HERBERT: Quiet! (In the crews faces – they shrink from him in horror) If any of you let me down – you’ll wish you’d not been born. Now I’ve been reading this book.
(He produces a small black book. One of the crew leans forward to read the cover and is rewarded with a clip around the ear with the book.)
Corporate Success for Senior Managers. Senior managers – that’s me. And to be a success we need a corporate image. You lot need to toughen up – and it starts here. Now let’s practise snarling. Get into a pose and show me your rage.
(The captain demonstrates and the crew follow. Pathetically at first, then increasing in intensity until the captain is satisfied.)
That’s better. Now for some menacing. Brown, step forward. Now draw your knives, thus!
(He draws his knife and prowls around Brown in a crouch whipping the knife around from time to time. Brown cowers. The pirates follow Herbert’s example.)
Menace him, you pathetic rabble; menace him.
(The pirates carry on menacing until Brown quivers in fear. Oliphant starts to menace the captain and is pulled off by the Bosun.)
At last, you’re getting the hang of this. Now, for some jogging. You men need to be in peak physical condition – and don’t forget the company motto. (He chants and the crew join in, like US marines.)
We will keep you on your toes,
CREW: We’re the crew of the Black Rose.
(Repeat and all jog off, except Bosun (who jogs back to Archie in a U-turn, led by Herbert.)
ARCHIE: (Coming out of hiding) He seems a fine man, full of good ideas, your captain. What sort of business is it that you do?
BOSUN: Didn’t I say? What an omission!
(The crew re-enter and Bosun pushes Archie into the shadows. Bosun gabs some oversized clothes. The crew exit again.)
BOSUN: Here, put these on. You are too conspicuous in your posh togs, (aside) and they might fetch me a few silver pennies.
ARCHIE: (Changing his clothes) What do you trade in – and where do you pick up your cargo?
BOSUN: Oh, just here and there; wherever there is a profit to be made. (Bosun snatches Archie’s clothes.)
(Archie hides as the captain and crew enter, exhausted, and flop onto the deck.)
HERBERT: That’s enough for now. Crew – dismissed!
PIRATE: Damn that captain and his contemptible little black book.
HERBERT: (Overhearing) Well done, lad, that’s the spirit. Bosun, give him twenty lashes. And get the flag hoisted right away – I should say: the company logo.
(Exits, followed by the Bosun and pirate.)
(Enter Archie, dressed as a pirate. Oliphant puts a knife to his throat.)
BROWN: Who the devil are you?
ARCHIE: I’m Archie, a new crewman.
OLIPHANT: We ain’t expecting no new crew. How did you get aboard?
ARCHIE: I came on board at the cove, where you unloaded.
HARRY: How do we know he’s telling the truth, boys? He sounds too posh to be one of us. Perhaps he’s an excise man come to spy on us.
ARCHIE: No, no, I’m not an exercise man, you’ve got to believe me.
BROWN: Well, we’ll have to see what the captain says about this. But first, if we don’t hoist the flag before the captain comes on deck, we’ll be fish food. Fetch that flag, Shrimp.
(Archie goes to get the flag and he gasps when he sees the skull and crossbones.)
ARCHIE: But surely this can’t be the right flag.
OLIPHANT: What sort of flag did you expect on a pirate ship.
ARCHIE: A p… p… pirate ship! Then I’ve been deceived. Your bosun didn’t say anything about this being a pirate ship.
HARRY: Perhaps you didn’t ask the right questions.
ARCHIE: No-one in the long, unbroken line of Ffoliott-Fluffitts has ever been a privateer – and I don’t intend to break that tradition. I’ve got to get off this ship.
BROWN: And how do you propose to do that, Shrimp? We’re hundreds of miles from Land’s End, bound for the South Seas.
ARCHIE: The South Seas – golly gosh! Will you be doing trade there?
OLIPHANT: You could say that. But the main purpose of the trip is to attend the pirates’ convention. It’s held every five years on the South Sea island of Tagula Hula.
ARCHIE: Sounds like a good place for a holiday.
OLIPHANT: This ain’t no holiday, boy. It’s a conference. All the big pirate chiefs will be there: Cutlass
Carew, Black-Hearted Jim…
ARCHIE: It sounds like a perfect opportunity to give up your wicked ways, turn over a new leaf and start a new life.
HARRY: And what would we do for a living?
BROWN: A pirate’s life is the only life we know.
OLIPHANT: You talk about your ancestors, well we come from an unbroken line of cut-throats and privateers.
HARRY: We’re as proud of our ancestors as you are of yours.
BROWN: Many years ago, when the world was young,
OLIPHANT: Our brave forefathers ruled the China seas.
HARRY: Free spirits, not afraid to die.
PIRATES: Never would they surrender, but fight to the death,
For their comrades – and for glory.

Song 3 Formosan Legend
(The song ends with Oliphant and Brown restraining Archie and Harry holding a knife to his throat. Enter the captain and Bosun, followed by the sheepish-looking pirate who defied the captain.)

HERBERT: Aha, what do we have here – a stowaway with a taste for oversized clothes – or is he on his way to a fancy-dress party? Either way he shall be fish food when he walks the plank.
BOSUN: Let me explain, Captain.
HERBERT: I’m all ears, Bosun, and it had better be good.
BOSUN: This is my young friend, Archie Ffoliott-Fluffitt. He wants to join our crew.
HERBERT: I pick my crew, Bosun, not you.
BOSUN: Quite right sir, but I would like to recommend him.
HERBERT: And I would like to keel-haul him.
ARCHIE: I refuse to become a pirate!
BOSON: As a rich aristocrat he would make a very valuable hostage – I mean, crew member. (He slaps Archie on the back.) And his family name could be useful for your new business plans.
HERBERT: (Ponders) Ffoliott-Fluffitt, you say. Are you related to Marmaduke?
ARCHIE: My father, sir.
HERBERT: And Algernon?
ARCHIE: My grandfather.
HERBERT: Well your name would certainly enhance my letterhead. (Ponders) I shall make you a company director – and my business advisor.
ARCHIE: Thank you, sir.
HERBERT: Didn’t I tell you to hoist the flag?
(The crew stare at the deck.)
Well, get on with it – now!
(Two pirates pick up the flag and prepare to hoist it.)
And as for you, Archie Ffolliott-Fluffitt.
ARCHIE: Yes, sir?
HERBERT: Let’s see if we can find you some more suitable attire. And we have a business meeting to attend.
ARCHIE: Thank you, sir.
(Captain and Archie exit. Pirates go back to their daily tasks on deck.)

Reprise chorus of Song 1

End of Scene

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The Black Rose Score Sample

Portsmouth High Prep School

Additional information

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Script & licence for 1 performance : £15, Additional performance licence: £15, Musical score : £5, Backing tracks : £10