The Mighty Gargoyle

Candy is Dandy

a short play by Matt Gallagher Greta   |  Hal   |  Candace

Setting:   The Wild Woods

Trees upstage, bushes downstage.  The light is gold, as the sun sets.

A large motor home engine revs offstage.  By the sound we can tell it pulls away.

A breathless girl, age 11, bursts through the brush from far right upstage.  This is GRETA.  She wears shorts and tee-shirt, bandana on her head, colourful knapsack on her back.  She is very out of place in the woods.  She seems scared and a bit in shock.

Greta:    No!!

The sound of leaves rustling come from where Greta entered.  A small boy, age 8, climbs through the brush to enter on stage with difficulty.  This is HAL, Greta’s little brother.  He carries a stick as if it were a weapon.  He hacks at the branches of the foliage, doing battle with them.

Hal:      Hai-yah!  Yah!!

Greta:    Quiet, Hal!

Greta walks around the stage a bit, scoping out the situation.

Hal:      Greta, where’s Mom and Dad?

Greta:    I knew we should have hurried more.  They’re gone!

Hal:      Gone?

Greta:    Yeah, gone!  Do you see the motor home anywhere around here?

Hal:      I don’t see it.

Greta:    That’s ‘cause it’s gone.  You and your stupid stick you just had to have...

Hal:      I needed a sword.  To fight the monsters in the woods and protect us.

Greta:    We spent so much time looking for the perfect one that Dad and Mom left us!

Hal:      They couldn’t’ve.

Greta:    They did!

Hal:      They probably just went to get gas or something.  Or lunch.  I’m hungry.

Greta:    I told Mom I needed a cell phone for my birthday!

Hal:      We could call Batman!

Greta:    Yeah, or Dad on his cell and tell him he left us behind. (Turning to Hal and crossing to him, she holds his shoulders protectively.)  Don’t be scared, Hal.  I’m going to get us out of this.  Everything’s going to be okay!

Hal:      Get us out of what?

Greta:    Out of these woods.  Away from the dangers.

Hal:      I like it here. (With great bravado he brandishes his “sword” with a flourish.) I laugh at danger!  Ha ha!  I am Hal the Mighty!  No dragon can defeat me!  Hai yah!  Yah!  Yah!

Greta grabs him and pulls him down to a crouching position.

Greta:    Stop it!  You’ll let all the animals know we’re here!  We’ve got to be real quiet...

Hal:      I want to live in the jungle and grow up like Tarzan.

Greta:    This isn’t the jungle.  It’s the woods.  The Wild Woods.  With bears and skunks and puma...

Hal:      And wolves! (Growling and scraping like a wolf.)  Grrrrrrr..... We can be part of the wolf family like Mowgli.  Grrrrrrrr...... And then Baloo the Bear could teach me how to eat ants.

Greta:    Hal, wolves are not nice and would not invite us home for dinner... unless we were going to be their dinner.  Wolves eat people.  Bears eat people.

Hal:      They do not.  Wolves only eat other animals when they are really hungry.  And bears fish like Dad and his buddies.

Greta:    You’re so stupid! I can’t believe they left us like that! We’re so screwed!  I hate it here!  I didn’t wanna go on a stupid family vacation in a stupid Tioga to the stupid Wild Woods anyway!  I’m cold and I’m hungry and I wanna go home!!! (Hal walks away from his sister and starts to sulk.  Greta turns to notice him.)  What???

Hal:      Stupid is not a nice word.  We don’t say stupid.  I’m not stupid.

Greta:    I’m sorry, Hally.  You’re not stupid.  It’s just this whole thing is stupid.  Dad and Mom are stupid for leaving us here.

Hal:      (Screaming) Mom and Dad are not stupid!!!

Greta:    (Matching his volume) Yes they are!!!

Hal:      Are not!  Are not!  Are not!

Greta:    Shut up!  The bears will hear you!

Hal:      I don’t care!  Mom and Dad are not stupid!  Take it back!!!

Greta:    (Quieting down) All right, all right... I take it back.  Dad and Mom are not stupid.  Now come on, be quiet for a sec.  I gotta figure this whole thing out.

Hal:      The wolves will teach us how to hunt for rabbits and the bears will teach us where all the good dessert stuff is.  Like honey with berries and we could make jam and ---

Greta:    Shhh!  Maybe would could follow the tire tracks to the main road and wait for a cop to find us there.

The lights dim a bit and turn to cooler tones as night begins to fall in the Wild Woods.

Hal:      That’s a good idea, Greta.

Greta starts looking all over the ground for the tire tracks from the motor home.

Greta:    It’s getting too dark!  I can’t see ‘em!  Oh, we’ll never get out of here!

Hal:      We can follow them in the morning.

Greta:    In the morning we’ll be bear food. (A rustling in the bushes comes from the far left corner upstage.)  What’s that??  Omigawd, it’s a bear!  I just know it!

Hal runs to Greta and holds on to her.

Through the brush upstage enters a woman of some advanced years. CANDACE appears to be about 70, but in excellent condition, spry like a doe.  She’s dressed as if she’s at home in the woods, much like a scout:  khaki safari shirt and shorts; kerchief around her neck; hiking boots; strong walking stick; large wacky hat on her head.

Candace:  Well, hello there, dears.  Wherever did you two come from?

Hal:      We’re from Ottawa.

Greta:    Hal, shhhh!

Candace:  Ottawa is a beautiful city!  The Parliament Building there is like a palace.  And what brings you here to the Wild Woods?

Hal:      We’re on vacation.

Greta:    We were on vacation.  But we sort of got... lost here.

Hal:      Mom and Dad drove away and left us.

Candace:  Oh, dear.  That sounds serious.

Hal:      We’re going to be raised by wolves now.

Candace:  The wolves around here are very nice, but I’m not sure they could raise a pair of human children.

Greta:    Are you camping here?

Candace:  Goodness, no.  I live in the Wild Woods.

Greta:    You live here?

Candace:  Yes, dear.  My cabin is just through those trees over there.

Candace points to the far right entrance through which Greta and Hal had come.

Greta:    I didn’t see any house over there.

Candace:  Come, I’ll show you.  I can’t imagine how you could have missed it.

Candace leads the children across the stage.  As she does so, the trees upstage part.  Candace’s cabin moves forward, finally taking its position down stage right.

The cabin is cottage-style and has been brightly painted.  Each panel seems to be a different hue.  Flowers and other whimsical designs have been painted all over the small facade.  A large comical happy face adorns the front door of the cabin.

Hal:      Wow!  Your house is cool!

Greta:    Do you have a phone?

Candace:  No, dear, I don’t keep a telephone.  The civic power lines do not extend this far into the Wild Woods, I’m afraid.  I'm what you might call "off the grid."  Even my electricity comes from a gasoline generator.

Hal:      Does that mean you don’t have cable?

Candace:  That would be a correct deduction, young man.

Greta:    Gasoline!  You must have a car!

Candace:  I’m sorry, no.  My only mode of transportation are the legs God gave me.  I haven’t driven a vehicle in years.

Greta:    Then how do you go to the store and buy stuff?

Candace:  Why, I have very little need of anything at the markets in town, my dear.  The woods provide sustenance enough to keep me healthful.  I make my own clothes....

Hal:      What about candy?

Candace:  You know, that’s funny you should ask, young man.  I’ve been so rude, I haven’t told you my name.  I’m Candace.  My friends call me Candy.  Would you call me Candy?

Greta:    You have friends?

Candace:  And what are your names, dear?

Greta:    I’m Greta, and this is my brother Hal.

Candace:  It certainly is a pleasure to make both of your acquaintances.

They shake hands.

Hal:      Hi, Candy!

Candace:  My, but your hands are so boney, young man!  Come inside for dinner.  We’ll fatten you up.

Greta:    I don’t know if we should....

Hal:      Greta, I’m hungry!

Candace:  Don’t be silly, my dear.  I have a nice stew that’s been simmering all day.  I would love to serve the two of you tonight.

Greta:    Well, I’m hungry, too.

Candace opens the door to the cabin.  The front of the cabin spins around to become the inside of the cabin.  Trees spin around to become the fireplace and the cauldron containing the stew.  A bush down stage spins around to reveal a work table.

Candace:  Welcome to my humble abode.

Hal:      Mmmm... smells good.  I’m starving.

Candace:  You certainly look like you could use a good meal, young man.  Now make yourself at home while your sister and I set the table for dinner.

Candace leads Greta to a cupboard from where she retrieves cutlery and dishes.  She loads up Greta’s arms with the place settings.  Hal explores the cabin.

Greta:    Where’s the dining table?

Candace:  Right there, my dear.

Greta:    It looks like a work bench.

Greta starts to set the table, very much not amused.  Candace proceeds to scoop out stew from the kettle into large ceramic bowls.  She carries them to the table, one by one.

Candace:  Very astute!  It’s a wonderful surface.  I do all my work here.

Hal:      What do you do?

Candace:  I’m an artist.  I take objects from the woods to create my pieces.  Why, just this morning I finished that piece there.

She points to a skull on the wall that has been adorned with acorns and other natural items.

Hal:      Cool!

Greta:    You mean that was on here?

Candace:  Yes, dear.

Hal:      Did you kill it?

Candace:  Not that one.  I found the poor animal near the interstate.  Someone had hit it with their vehicle.  Now, who’s hungry?

Hal comes running to the table.

Greta:    I’ve lost my appetite.

Candace:  More for us, then!  Dig in, Hal.

Hal and Candace eat voraciously, making sounds of joy and satisfaction.

Hal:      This is so good!

Candace:  Eat up, Hal, eat up!  We need to get you plump.  Greta, if you are not going to eat, would you be a dear and you make yourself useful by stoking the oven?  After dinner I shall make a date-nut cake with brambleberry dressing for dessert.  How does that sound?

Hal:      What’s brambleberry?

Candace:  It’s simply one of the most delicious of all the woodland berries!  The bramble bushes are full of them, but they have these sharp little thorns that will cut you up to ribbons if you are not careful!  See, these wounds are from my last battle with the brambles.

Candace pulls up her sleeve and shows Hal red marks on her arm.

Hal:      Cool! (Showing her a bandage on his knee.)  I got this when I slid down some rocks into the creek.

Candace:  What was in the creek?

Hal:      A big alligator!

Candace:  How exciting!

Greta:    It was a tadpole.

Hal:      We were gonna fight!

Candace:  Very brave!

Greta:    I told you not to go down there, ‘cause you’d slip if you did.  And you did!

Candace:  Come, come.  To little eyes, a tadpole could well seem an alligator.

Hal:      Wanna see?

Candace:  Indeed!

Hal pulls off the bandage to reveal a nasty scab.  Candace squeals with delight.

Hal:      Gross, huh!

Candace:  Delicious!  Now, I think it’s time to stoke the oven. (Crossing to the fireplace.)  Greta, if you’ll help me....

Greta:    If I have to....

Candace:  Only if you want dessert!  What you need to do place the small sticks on the bottom, then the larger pieces on top of them.  Cherry wood is what I prefer, though walnut and pine can add an interesting aspect to the flavour, too.

Candace hands sticks from a woodpile next to the oven to Greta.  Greta slowly, reluctantly, places the wood into the oven.

Greta:    Ow!

Candace:  Be careful!  It’s still hot from the stew.  But we need to get it even hotter for baking!

Hal:      I am soooo full....

Candace:  Oh, my brave little boy.  You’ve had such a daring day.  Why don’t you take a little nap while we bake.

She leads him over to a large seat in which he curls up and falls asleep.

Greta:    So, you live alone here in this cabin....

Candace:  For fifteen years now.

Greta:    Why?

Candace:  I beg your pardon.

Greta:    Why do you live alone?  Don’t you have family?

Candace:  Everyone has family, dear.... but not everyone wants to live near family.

Greta:    Do you have children?

Candace:  My husband and I had a whole parcel of little ones!  But they grew up a long time ago, and moved away.  Most of them live in the City.

Greta:    Why don’t you live there?

Candace:  Family is important, but so is being free.  I could never be free in the City, child.  I am an artist and the Wild Wood is my palette!

Greta:    Do you ever see them?  Your family?

Candace:  Not in many years....

Greta:    Don’t you get lonely?  Don’t you miss your kids?

Candace:  It was good to be a mother, but in the end, they had to go.

Greta:    Maybe that’s what Mom and Dad thought, too.  We had to go....

Hal wakes up and rubs his eyes.

Hal:      Where are we going?

Greta:    I don’t know....

Hal runs to Candace and embraces her.

Hal:      We can stay here, right?

Greta:    Hal, we can’t stay here.  We have to get home.

Candace:  You can stay here until we find a way to contact your parents.

Hal:      That would be so cool!

Greta:    What if Mom and Dad don’t want us anymore?

Candace:  In that event, we’d have to find some other use for you!  How is the oven coming, dear?

Greta:    It’s very hot.

Candace pats Hal’s tummy.

Candace:  Looks like you've had almost to eat, young man.

Greta:    Can you show us how to get out of the woods and back to the main road?

Candace:  Certainly.

Greta:    So we can go in the morning?

Candace:  In a few days.  I am in the middle of several projects at present... and you can help me with them!  It will be nice to have an extra pair of hands helping clear up all the clutter I make.  I swear, I spend most of my time cleaning up!

Hal:      I want to help!

Greta:    I don’t want to stay here!  I want to go home.  We have to find Mom and Dad.

Candace:  As soon as they realize you are gone, I am certain they will come back to the Wild Woods to look for you.  So the sensible thing to do is stay here in my cabin, instead of gallivanting all over creation in search of your parents.  In a few days when my project is complete, I will escort you to the nearest ranger station where Mike the Ranger will be able to assist in your family reunion.  Now, who’s up for making a cake?

Candace begins to gather ingredients and put them on the work table.  Greta backs away.

Greta:    No phone.  No car.  No one even knows we're here.  (She grabs Hal and pulls him into a corner so they can talk privately.)  Listen, Hally.  This is important.  We have to get out of here.  I don't trust this old lady.

Hal:      She's nice.

Greta:    She's not nice.  She's not going to take us to find Mom and Dad.

Hall:     She's making us a cake.

Greta:    Yeah, of what?  Dead squirrel?  Yuck.

Candace:  (Calling over) Greta, would you be so kind as to hand me the big roasting pot on the shelf?

Greta:    For the cake?

Candace:  Oh, it's going to rise.

Greta:    Look, Hal... we're getting out of here.  I don't think she's planning to make a cake.  The way she keeps looking at you, and pinching you... Hal, I think she's going to cook you up and eat you!

Hal starts to bawl.  Greta clamps her hand over his mouth.

Greta:    Don't you start that, Hally.  Not right now.  We've got to find a way out of here before she kills you and turns you into one of her art pieces.

Candace:  Greta, the roasting pot.  I need it now.

Greta gives Hal a look.  She puts her free hand to her mouth, making the "Sssh" sign with her finger pressed to her lips.  Hal nods, agreeing that he will not cry out.

Greta releases Hal, then crosses to the shelf where a large roasting pot hangs.  She pulls it down, and stealthily steps to Candace, who is busy mixing her ingredients.

Greta:    I have it, Candace.

Hal:      Candy!!!

Candace:  That's right.  Candy, dear.  Call me "Candy!"

Greta swings and hits Candace in the back of the head with the roasting pot.  Candace makes a sickening cry and falls to the floor.

Hal screams, then cries.  Greta stares at Candace's body for a few seconds, then drops the roasting pot.  She runs back to Hal and tries to calm him.

Greta:    It's okay, it's okay, Hal.  She's okay.  She's gonna be okay.  She just had to go to sleep so we could leave and find Mom and Dad.  She's okay.  It's all okay.

Hal:      She's bleeding.

Greta:    She's not bleeding.

Hal:      From her head.  She's bleeding.  That's so gross!

Greta pulls Hal to his feet.  She starts to drag him to the door.

Greta:    We have to go now, Hally.  We have to find that ranger station.  Come on.  Where's my Hal the Mighty, hunh?  Only Hal the Mighty can get us out of this.  Come on, Hal.  Are you going to be my Hal the Mighty?

Hal:      (Wiping his eyes) I guess so....

Greta takes a look around the cabin, STEALS SOMETHING - WHAT DOES SHE STEAL??, and she and Hal exit.

The lights dim to cast shadows throughout the cabin.

Voice (Offstage):  Mom?  Mother?  It's me, Mike.  I just came to see how you were doing.  Mom?  You here?

A tall figure stands in the doorway of the cabin, casting a long shadow over Candace's body.
"Candy is Dandy" copyright Matt Gallagher. All rights reserved. For information, contact the author.
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Content copyright 2009 The Mighty Gargoyle. All rights reserved.