THE GOOD THAT

A BURGLAR CAN BRING

 

A one-act farce by Dario Fo

translated by Ed Emery

 

_________________________________________

For all queries regarding performance rights, please contact

Agenzia Tolnay : info [@] tolnayagency.it

For all queries regarding the text, please contact the translator at:

ed.emery [@]thefreeuniversity.net

Original text copyright © Dario Fo

Translation copyright © Ed Emery

_________________________________________

 

 

THE GOOD THAT

A BURGLAR CAN BRING

 

 

SCENE: As the curtain rises, we see a BURGLAR making a forced entry through a window, into a third-floor flat in a high-class apartment block. He's carrying the classic burglar's torch. He takes a look around. In the darkness we begin to make out furniture, drapes and tapestries, and valuable old paintings. The BURGLAR closes the shutters, and then switches the light on.

 

Just as he's about to open a drawer, the phone rings. He panics. His first impulse is to beat a hasty retreat, but then he realises that there's no sign of life in the house, and so he has nothing to fear. He returns to his work. He tries to ignore the ringing phone, but can't. Stealthily he creeps up to the phone, and leaps on it. He picks up the handset, and holds it to his chest, covering it with his jacket. As if trying to suffocate it. And, as if to make the crime more credible, we hear a voice coming out of the phone, getting increasingly plaintive and "suffocated".

 

VOICE: Hello, hello, who's there ... With whom am I speaking?

 

The BURGLAR finally gives a sigh of relief. The voice has apparently breathed its last. The BURGLAR brings the phone out from under his jacket, and cautiously raises the handset to his ear. Then he shakes it repeatedly, and we hear it giving a last dying sigh.

 

BURGLAR: Whew! At last!

 

VOICE: Oooooh... At last ... Who am I speaking with?

 

BURGLAR: [Taken aback] Maria... Is that you?

 

VOICE: Yes, it's me. But why weren't you answering the phone? [At this point, at one side of the stage, a spotlight picks out the figure of a WOMAN, who is speaking into a telephone]

 

BURGLAR: But are you crazy?! Now you even phone me at work? Imagine if someone had been in. that would have been a fine favour to do me!

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: But you yourself told me that the owners are out of town... And anvway, I'm sorry, but I couldn't take it any more... I was worried for you... I felt ill... In fact, a moment ago, as I was telephoning, I felt as if I was suffocating...

 

BURGLAR: I'm sorry. I didn't do it on purpose. I never imagined that it might have been you...

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: What do you mean?

 

BURGLAR: Nothing, nothing... But now look, will you let me get on with my work...? I've wasted enough time already as it is...

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: Oh, so I'm counted as wasting time am I? Thank you! Here I am, worried sick, eating my heart out...

 

BURGLAR: What are you doing?

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: Yes, eating my heart out... Eating my heart out for you... and this is the way that you treat me... You really are too good to me...!! But don't worry.. From now on, I'm going to stop eating my heart out... In fact, from now on, don't even bother telling me where you're going, because I really don't care...

 

BURGLAR: But darling, try to be reasonable... Can't you get it into your head that I'm not here just to amuse myself... Won't you, just for once, let me get on with my burgling in peace?!

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: There you go again... over the top... playing the martyr! There's hundreds of people who go thieving, even robbing with guns and suchlike... but they don't make all the fuss that you do. It's just as well that your work isn't fraud and swindle... Otherwise, just think what I'd have to put up with!

 

BURGLAR: [He hears a strange noise behind him. Instinctively. he puts his hand over the mouthpiece] Shhh!

 

Luckily it is only the striking mechanism of the grandfather clock, gearing up to strike the hour. It strikes midnight.

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: What's that noise?

 

BURGLAR: [Recovering from his fright] ... It's the grandfather clock. Just as well.

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: What a lovely sound. It must be an antique clock... Is it very heavy?

 

BURGLAR: [Absent-mindedly] ... Well. I'd say it weighs about... [Suddenly realising his wife's intentions] Look... you're not suggesting that I bring it home to you, are you"

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: Oh, no, not at all... How could you imagine that I would even think of such a thing ... You, who are so thoughtful for me... You who are always bringing me little presents... I don't think!

 

BURGLAR: You've got no consideration. You ... If I load myself up with that blooming great thing, would you care to tell me where I'm supposed to put all the silver are that I find here?

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: In that blooming great thing!

 

BURGLAR: And while you're at it, why don't you ask me to bring you home a fridge! There's a lovely one over there. Two hundred litres capacity!

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: No need to start shouting, if don't mind ... You're not at home now.

 

BURGLAR: I'm sorry. I forgot myself.

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: Leaving aside the fact that somebody might hear you, they'd also think that you were very rude.

 

BURGLAR: I said I'm sorry.

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: And anyway, I never told you that I wanted a fridge, let alone one of two hundred litres capacity. I wouldn't even know where to put it! All I want is a nice little present... It's the thought that counts. So you can choose. It's you who's giving it to me...

 

BURGLAR: But how am I supposed to know what you're going to like? Anyway, I've got other things on my mind...

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: Well, if you like. I could come myself and choose

 

BURGLAR: Lovely - that's all we need!

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: I'd so much like to see what a real upper class house looks like... and my friends would

 

MAN: I am here to burgle, don't you understand? Goodbye. I'm going to ring off.

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: But what's the hurry' Surely, it doesn't cost you a lot... to be nice to me, just once. I am your wife, after all... And you married me in church, not at the registry office like any old concubine!

 

BURGLAR: [Annoyed] I said goodbye!

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: Well, at least give me a kiss...

 

BURGLAR: Alright, then... [He purses his lips in a comic gesture, and gives a noisy, smacking kiss]

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: Do you love me?

 

BURGLAR: Yes... I love you.

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: How much? A lot?

 

BURGLAR: [Losing patience] Yes, a lot, a lot! But now I'm putting down the phone...

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: You first...

 

BURGLAR: Alright then... me first... [He goes to put down the phone. We hear the Wife's voice making a last, lurid plea down the phone]

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: Don't forget my little present!

 

The BURGLAR swiftly puts down the phone. He gives it a look of pure loathing. At this same moment, the figure of the woman disappears into darkness. Alone at last, the BURGLAR moves around the apartment looking for loot. He opens a drawer. He finds what he was looking for.. He pulls a sack out of his pocket, and starts to fill it. A sudden noise makes him jump. It's the sound of a key turning several times in the lock. Then we hear voices in the hallway.

 

WOMAN'S VOICE: There's a light on in the living room... Oh God... I'm scared. Let's go!

 

MAN'S VOICE: Relax... I must have left it on myself ... Who else can it have been'?

 

WOMAN'S VOICE: Supposing it's your wife come back?

 

The BURGLAR, meanwhile, has taken fright. He tries to escape through the window, but he won't make it in time. So he decides to hide in the roomy case of the grandfather clock.

 

MAN: [Entering rather cautiously] What do you mean... my wife?! What on earth could possibly have brought her back into town? [He peeps into the other rooms] She wouldn't even come back if she knew the whole house was being ransacked... You see? There's no-one here!

 

WOMAN: [Entering cautiously and suspiciously] I feel so guilty.. [The MAN helps her take her fur coat off] Goodness knows what you must think of me... Maybe I made a mistake in giving in to you so soon... I bet that your wife held out a lot longer against you than I was able to...

 

MAN: What's my wife got to do with it? She's a bundle of psychological complexes, of petty-bourgeois prejudices ... The only reason she held out was so that she could have a white wedding.

 

WOMAN: [Argumentatively] Yes, petty bourgeois, full of prejudices... but you still married her.. I'd like to see if you'd do as much for me.

 

MAN: [Caressing her, and trying to move her over towards the settee centre-stage] Darling... I assure you that if my wife didn't have such old-fashioned ideas, and if your husband had nothing against it... [The Woman sits down, and the MAN moves close to her]

 

WOMAN: [Extricating herself from his embrace]There you are, now you've ruined everything... [The MAN loses his balance, and falls back against the back of the settee, which tips back, leaving him sprawled across the divan] Why did you have to go and remind me that I've got a husband? How can I carry on now? Now you've made me start feeling remorseful, guilty...

 

MAN: I'm sorry. I didn't mean to. [He picks himself up, and fires the back of the settee] Maybe if we tried talking of something else... talking of this and that... Maybe it would get your mind off it, and then we could move over there.

 

WOMAN: Over there? Where?

 

MAN: [Shyly] Into my bedroom...

 

WOMAN: Maybe that would be the best solution... Let's try.

 

MAN: [Hopefully] What? Going into my bedroom'?

 

WOMAN: No. Speaking of this and that.

 

MAN: Well, couldn't we go in there, to speak of this and that?

 

WOMAN: Please, don't push it. Let's just talk... Let's talk about when you were a baby.. I really do like babies...

 

MAN: [Resignedly] Alright then... But if you don't mind. I'll start when I was five years old, because I don't remember a thing before that.

 

WOMAN: Five years old? Oh what a pity.... I prefer them younger.. They're more innocent... not so naughty - But if that's the best you can do...

 

MAN: Well, I remember that at the age of five I was still a baby... and that people took me for six [Leaping to his feet, annoyed] Oh! No! Listen... let's stop this I feel incredibly stupid... You've been making a fool of me for a full hour.. First my, wife, then your husband... I pity the poor man, if he had to put up with all this too

 

WOMAN: No, darling, with him it was quite different. He gave in immediately.

 

MAN: [Surprised] What do You mean, he gave in immediately?

 

WOMAN: Yes. With him, it was me who invited him to my house. So it was up to me to get him to give in. If one removes from love the pleasures of conquest, what is left? Unfortunately, my husband has always been a shamefully frivolous person,* and he gave in at once. That is the reason that I despise him. But with you, I feel that it will be different... You know how to persist with a woman... Go on, persist.

 

MAN: Yes, I persist... I insist, in fact. Very much. Let's go in there.

 

The two of them are about to exit, arm in arm, when we hear the phone ring. Then stop. They are embarrassed, and don't know what to do.

 

MAN: Who earth can that be?

 

WOMAN: Your wife?

 

MAN: No, surely not... not my wife... Why would she be phoning!? And whom? Certainly not me... She thinks that I'm at my mother's... And anyway, that's not the sound of an inter-city call... I bet it's one of my boring friends, or someone who's got a wrong number. [He puts his arm round her again] Come on, let's go in here. You'll see, it'll stop in a while.

 

But the phone continues its insistent ringing.

 

WOMAN: Please. Stop it ringing. It's driving me crazy.

 

MAN: [He goes over to the telephone, lifts up the handset, and shuts it in a drawer of the table] There are! Now it won't bother us any more!

 

WOMAN: [In a tone of despair] Oh God! What have You done?! Now, they'll realise that you're home... Who else could have picked up the phone?

 

MAN: [Alarmed, realising what he's done] How stupid of me ... You're right And they might even have realised that I'm not alone, that I'm trying to hide some dirty business.

 

WOMAN: Thank you! Dirty business, eh! Why don't you just say outright that you find me disgusting! [She bursts into tears] And to think that I was about to let myself be convinced... It serves me right...

 

MAN: [Trying to look as if he has everything under control] Darling... Don't misunderstand. Let's not lose our heads. For heaven's sake... Let's keep calm... After all, why should they think that it was me that lifted up the phone? It could have been anybody... Anyone at all. [He is unable to continue this line of argument]

 

WOMAN: [Ironically] Obviously... some passer-by...

 

MAN: [Embarrassed. [Missing phrase]] Precisely...

 

WOMAN:[In the same tone] Just somebody who happened to be passing through here... a burglar, maybe...

 

MAN: Yes, quite possibly... [Realising the absurdity of what he has said] What are you saying, a burglar?! If they thought something like that, they'd immediately call the police.

 

WOMAN: Precisely and what's to say that they've not already done it? [In a panic] Oh God! They'll find us here together, and they'll arrest us... [Almost shouting] Oh God, the police!

 

So saying, she rushes out towards the hallway, followed by the Man, who tries to restrain her. At this moment, the Burglar comes out of his hiding place. Obviously frightened.

 

BURGLAR: The police... That's all me need... And where am I going to hide now?

 

MAN: [From the hallway] Wait... be reasonable.

 

WOMAN: I'm frightened... Let's leave. Please!

 

MAN: Alright, let's PI]... But aren't you going to take your fur coat, at least?

 

WOMAN: Oh, Yes, my fur coat... I don't know what came over me... That would have been a silly thing to do...

 

The BURGLAR, who has been undecided whether to escape. [Missing phrase]He hears them returning. He dives back into his hiding place. But as he climbs into the case of the grandfather clock, he hits his head against the striking mechanism, which gives out a loud "dong".

 

WOMAN: [Momentarily frightened] Oh! What was that?

 

MAN: [Smiling] Oh nothing, darling... It was the grandfather clock... striking one.

 

WOMAN: Oh. I'm sorry. It's just that I'm so nervous [The MAN is holding the Woman's fur coat, and is about to help her put it on. The WOMAN notices that the phone is off the hook] But you've gone a bit silly, too. Look, we were about to go out and leave the phone off the hook.

 

So saying, she puts the phone back on the hook. But these words have barely come from her lips, when the phone begins to ring again. The two of them look at each other, even more alarmed. The MAN, as if hypnotised by the sound, picks rip the phone and puts it to his ear.

MAN: [In an unnatural voice] Hello?

As previously, the figure of the BURGLAR'S WIFE appears at the side of the stage, in a spotlight. At the same time, we hear her voice. She is irritated.

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: Oh. At last... I've been ringing for an hour! Do you mind telling me why look the phone off the hook?

 

MAN: Excuse me. With whom am I speaking? [His lady friend puts her ear to the phone so that she too can listen]

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: Ah, splendid! Now you no longer even recognise your own wife's voice

 

WOMAN: [As if about to faint] Your wife! I told you so... Oh God!

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: Who's that next to you? You rat...! I heard a woman's voice... Who is it?

 

MAN: [Turning to his girlfriend] Relax, there must he some mistake. I've never heard that voice before...

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: But I heard it! There's no point you trying to be clever.. Murderer, impostor, I've found you out, at last... Now I understand why you didn't want me to come to that house. But sometime you're going to have to come home. and then...

 

While this is going on, the BURGLAR peeps out of his hiding place, to listen to what is going on. Hearing his wife's voice sounding off, he becomes seriously worried.

 

MAN: Look, there must be a mistake... You've got a wrong number.. You've got the Frazosi household...

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: I know. I know. The Frazosi household, 47 via Cenini, third floor... And now stop playing the fool, and trying to disguise your voice. It's not fooling me at all... You rat ... ! And, to think, he didn't want me to ring him at work...

 

MAN: What do you mean, work?

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: Oh yes, that's what I call work! Carrying on with women! Traitor, cheat, liar! It really is true that liars are burglars... I mean, that burglars are liars!

 

MAN: How dare you ...? Burglar, liar... who do you think you're talking to?!

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: With my husband... who else?

 

MAN: If your husband is a burglar and a liar, that's your business... However, I am not your husband, but the husband of my wife, who, luckily for you, is not here... Otherwise...

 

WOMAN: That's all we'd need!

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: Well, to start with, my husband is not a false burglar, but a real burglar...

 

MAN: My compliments, madam.

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: And then, if you are not my husband, what are you doing in that house?

 

MAN: My dear lady, this is my house'

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: Fair enough. So you are in your own house, with a woman who is not your wife... alone, at this hour of the night, after putting it about that you were going out of town...'

 

WOMAN: We've been found out!

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: So, you see, you too are a traitor, a cheat and a liar, and therefore also a burglar... just like my husband.

 

MAN: Here we go with your husband again! More to the point, madam, would you mind explaining to me who told you that I was not going to be in town?

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: My husband... He always tells me where you're going. He's been trailing you for ten days!

 

MAN: What?!

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: Yes, he's been waiting for the right moment for ten days.

 

MAN: Your husband has been waiting! But why should your husband want to know...?

 

WOMAN: [Covering the mouthpiece with her hand] Don't you understand?! Your wife has had you trailed by her husband, who is obviously a detective.

 

MAN: Ah! Now I see! So that's the sort of honourable job your husband does!

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: Well, it's a job!

 

MAN: Yes, an excellent job! That is, if you think it's decent to do everything to make a wife leave her own husband!

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: My husband making wives leave their husbands!? What on earth are you talking about?

 

MAN: You can stop playing the innocent ... And don't try telling me that you don't know what's going on... Imagine, my wife... playing a dirty trick like that on me ... ! It really is true that these days nobody can trust anyone! And I, fool that I am, deceived myself into thinking... "MY wife is incapable of doing things like that... She's one of the old breed - simple, natural! I'm the one who's been simple!

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: What do you mean? You think that your wife and my husband...?

 

MAN: What do you mean, do I think' I'm absolutely sure of it, now.. and I'll ask you to stop all this play-acting!

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: Alright, alright. So where is my husband now?

 

MAN: If you don't know, how am I supposed to know'

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: I know that, not even an hour ago, he was still there, in your house.

 

MAN: Here, in this house!?

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: Yes. I phoned him there. In fact, that's why I'm ringing... I thought he was still there.

 

WOMAN: Obviously, your wife has given him the keys.

 

MAN: Yes... to come and go as he pleases. At any hour of day or night... And I'll bet that by now he's gone up to Villa Ponente

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: To Villa Ponente.' And what would my husband be doing up there?

 

MAN: [With heavy irony] What? Didn't he tell you? I thought your husband always told you everything he did and everywhere he went. Anyway, I'll put your mind at rest. At Villa Ponente, 34 via Aristide Zambone, phone number 7845, you will find my wife... or at least, my wife for not a lot longer!

 

So saying, he slams down the phone angrily. The BURGLAR'S WIFE disappears into darkness. and the GIRLFRIEND bursts into tears again.

 

WOMAN: Oh, the shame of it, what a scandal... When my husband finds out, it'll be a terrible blow to him... poor thing! When I think of the countless sacrifices I've endured so as to keep all this from him... to hide every little thing from him... so as not to make him unhappy... and now, look what's happened...

 

MAN: And don't you realise that it's even worse for me' I had decided to resign from the town Council. But now, after a scandal like this, it's a certainty that they'll put me up for Mayor!

 

WOMAN: So what are we going to do? All we can do is either run away or give ourselves up.

 

MAN: Now then, let's not go to extremes. Give ourselves up?! To whom? And for what reason? After all, what have we done wrong? Have they discovered us red-handed? No. In fact, we were only talking about this and that... We were talking about babies...

 

WOMAN: Precisely. I was telling you how much I like babies...

 

MAN: Ah yes... well, maybe it's best that we forget about that. People have got such dirty minds. They'd accuse us of premeditation. How maddening! I could shoot myself!

 

WOMAN: Yes, maybe that's the best solution! The only solution

 

MAN: What do you mean? The best solution'? Have you gone mad? I can just imagine the headlines in the newspaper: "Town Councillor. After Officiating at More than 50 Marriages as Deputy Mayor, Shoots Himself When Adultery is Discovered". Imagine how people would laugh!

 

WOMAN: Well, I'm glad that you're able to see the funny side ... You know, you're really thoughtless... In fact, you're irresponsible'

 

MAN: Well, what's the point in me getting all upset. We're caught, now, good and proper ... The best we can do is wait for my wife to return from Villa Ponente, in an hour or two. [After a moment's thought] An hour or two? Why don't we make the most of it? At least they'll have something to accuse us of!

 

He moves closer to the WOMAN, who is sitting on the settee.

 

WOMAN: Please, don't be vulgar. [She pushes the MAN away. As previously, the back of the settee tips over, and he goes sprawling, with his head over the back of the settee]

 

MAN: [Swearing, and banging his hand down opt the "patented" divan] And to think that I actually paid money for this thing!

 

WOMAN: How can you be so insensitive... so lacking in understanding of what this means for me' Don't you understand that I am desperate?

 

MAN: That's going a bit far! Desperate! Anyway, what do you expect me to do? [Dramatically] Do you want me to shoot myself? Alright, I shall shoot myself! [The MAN pulls a gun out of a drawer, and points it at his forehead] Then I suppose you'll be happy!

 

WOMAN: Noooo...! What are you doing? Wait!

 

She takes the gun out of his hand. Meanwhile, the MAN, who has obviously done this in order to frighten her, smiles to himself.

 

MAN: [In an ironic and self-satisfied tone] What?? You no longer want me to shoot myself?

 

WOMAN: But darling, if you don't lift the safety catch, and put a bullet in the chamber... like this [She sets the grin into a firing position. and hands it back to him] ... There, now you can shoot yourself

 

MAN: [In an unnaturally high voice] Ha, ha... now I can...

 

WOMAN: [Raising his hand, with the pistol in it, to head height] Yes, get on with it. You wouldn't want to he found alive here, when your wife comes, would you? [Terrified, the MAN puts the gun to his head, and precisely at that moment, we hear the clock strike half past midnight. When he hears the clock striking, the MAN is taken aback, and stares in horror at the gun barrel] What a strange clock. First it strikes one. And now it's striking midnight... It seems to he going back... I mean, backwards..

 

MAN: Yes, that's really strange... It's never happened before... Maybe it's a sign from Heaven! The hand of destiny, coming to stop the suicidal hand... To remind me that time, life, can be stopped, but that then there's no going back' Oh, thank you, blessed hand of heaven... Dear clock, you've saved my life!

 

So saying, he goes over to the grandfather clock, and embraces it rapturously as if it is a flesh and blood person... The clock continues striking, and at a certain point it almost seems to have come to life.

 

BURGLAR'S VOICE: [He can no longer restrain his groans of pain, every time the chiming mechanism bangs on his head] Ouch! Ouch! Good God! Stop it!

 

MAN: [Leaping backwards, and flinging his arms around the Woman. He has gone as white as a sheet] Destiny!

 

BURGLAR: [He comes out of the clock, rubbing his head] Ouch! What a bang, what a bang! Good evening... Excuse me, You wouldn't happen to have any ointment in the house, would you? I've got a few lumps coming up.

 

WOMAN: [Scandalised] Lumps indeed! A very vulgar destiny!

 

MAN: Do you mind my asking who you are!? What are you doing in my house? Speak up, or I'll give you a lump or two...

 

WOMAN: Please, there's no need for you to be vulgar too... After all, what does it cost you to give the man a little ointment...'?

 

BURGLAR: Come on, just a bit of ointment...

 

MAN: [Increasingly determined, and pointing his gun at him] So, you really want me to lose my patience? Who are you? Who are you?

 

BURGLAR: [Terrified] I'll tell you at once... I am the... husband... In short, that woman who phoned previously was my wife... and I am the husband.

 

MAN: Ah... so you are the husband... Well done!

 

BURGLAR: Yes... Yes... We were married in church.

 

MAN: I'm glad about that. That means that they'll he able to bury you in consecrated ground...

 

BURGLAR: What do you mean, bury? No, no, you can't bump me off just like that ... ! [Turning to the WOMAN] He's got no right... Madam, you are a witness that I am unarmed... Remember that, if you shoot me, you'll be in big trouble: article I27 of the Penal Code... At most, you can fire over my head if I'm running away.. But since I'm not running away, you can't. I must warn you, this would be premeditated murder!

 

WOMAN: Ah yes, you people know the law inside out... Obviously, since the law is always on your side... But if we decided to shoot you in the back, like they do with spies in wartime [Turning to the WOMAN] That's what you must do: shoot him in the back! [To the BURGLAR] You, would you mind turning round, please"

 

BURGLAR: I'm sorry, but I don't have the slightest wish to play war games'! Let's call the police instead...

 

MAN: Ah! Very clever! Let's call the police! The police then get positive proof of the adultery, we're done for and he gets the reward.

 

BURGLAR: I get the reward? From whom?

 

MAN: From my wife.

 

BURGLAR: But you're crazy. I don't even know your wife...

 

WOMAN: What a hypocrite! He doesn't know her!! Shoot him at once, please. He gives me the creeps...

 

MAN: Just a moment: how long have You been in here? [Pointing to the grandfather clock]

 

BURGLAR: Since eleven forty-seven... I went in there the moment that you arrived. Why .. ?

 

MAN: Well, if you've been inside that clock all the time, then you couldn't have made a phone call! Maybe if we get a move on we'll be alright.

 

WOMAN: How are we going to he alright if he is here, to go and spill the beans'?!

 

BURGLAR: [Not understanding, [Missing phrase] but attempting to keep out of trouble] No. I won't spill any beans... Word of honour... I couldn't...

 

MAN: Anyway, if we kill him, that would obviously be proof of our guilt.

 

WOMAN: We could just wound him seriously.

 

MAN: What good would that do?

 

BURGLAR: That's exactly what I say. What good would that do?

 

WOMAN: I know what good it would do. If we managed to hit a particular nerve... [She touches him at the back of the neck] ... the epistrophic, for example, which runs behind here, between the atlas and the epistrophe.' he would lose his memory completely...

 

MAN: Are you sure of that?

 

WOMAN: Certain. In any case, he'd he permanently paralysed and wouldn't he able to speak. So in any event it would be fine for us.

 

BURGLAR: [Acting as if he already feels the paralysis coming on]Yes, but it wouldn't be fine for me, though. Isn't there some other way.. a little bit less dangerous? Come on, lady, think up something else... You have such good ideas!

 

WOMAN: [Flattered] Yes, maybe there would be another solution. Get him drunk! Nobody would believe a drunk!

 

MAN: That's true! I always said that you were a remarkable woman!

 

BURGLAR: [With a sigh of relief] Yes, yes the lady is amazing... Of course, I realised that immediately.. [Rubbing his hands eagerly] Right, then, what are we drinking? If it's all the same to you, I would prefer red wine. The white is a bit too acid for me... I remember that from when I was a kid...

 

MAN: No, no, no wine. It'll take too long. Whiskey or gin would be better: three hefty glasses should see to you.

 

BURGLAR: To tell the truth... I'm not too keen on whiskey. It tastes too much of diesel.

 

WOMAN: [She has poured out a full glass] This whiskey doesn't taste of diesel. It's real scotch. [She hands it to him]

 

MAN: How is it, how is it'?

 

BURGLAR: [Tasting it like an expert] Excellent!! Really special!

 

MAN: [Also drinking] I should think so indeed... ! It cost me 5,000 lire a bottle.

 

BURGLAR: Mind if I have another drop?

 

MAN: [To the BURGLAR, who hands him his glass to get it refilled] Hey, go easy! If you guzzle it down like that, what are we going to drink?

 

WOMAN: Don't be so stingy, for heaven's sake... And anyway, the idea is to get him drunk, no?

 

BURGLAR: Yes, get me drunk... [Getting bolder] But if you like, you can get drunk too. Ha, ha, ha. [He laughs] When I tell my wife this she's never going to believe me... [Mentioning his wife removes the smile from his face] Speaking of my wife, what did you tell her to get her so angry. I bet you two have got me into a fine mess... Now, would you mind phoning her at once, and explaining the gist?

 

MAN: The gist? The gist of what?

 

BURGLAR: Yes, the gist of the situation. In other words, that it was you two that got me drunk... so that I wouldn't talk... about whatever it was, that only you two know about.

 

WOMAN: Ah, cunning! He wants a witness... You were right, it would be better to shoot him straight away and be done with it.

 

MAN: Yes... yes... it would be better. [He goes to pick up the gun, which he has left on the drinks cabinet. But the BURGLAR beats him to it, grabs the gun, and points it at him] Hey.. Let's not play games.

 

BURGLAR: You're the ones who ought to stop playing games... First you make me have to stay in that coffin of a clock, getting ding-dongs on my head. Then You set my wife against me. Then you plan to paralyse me, with my epistrophe. Are you going to pack this up, or not? I came here to burgle, not to play games!

 

MAN: To steal?

 

BURGLAR: Yes. I'm a burglar. Serious business.

 

WOMAN: [Amused] A burglar? So no, he says he's a burglar! DO me a favour! Where's your black mask, your stripey shirt and your felt slippers?

 

MAN: Precisely, where are they?

 

BURGLAR: Black mask? Felt slippers? I haven't popped out of a cartoon strip, you know. Anyway, what do know about burglars?

 

WOMAN: As it happens. I know everything about burglars... I trained myself for a TV quiz show... and my subject was "famous crimes and robberies

 

MAN: Ah, now I understand where you get all that stuff about how to shoot guns! [To the BURGLAR] I'm sorry, but I'm afraid you're picked the wrong one here. If I were you, I'd choose some other profession, because that one won't wash.

 

BURGLAR: Listen, if you're so clever, haven't you ever heard of the Martello Gang?

 

WOMAN: [Repeating from memory] The Martello Gang, made up of Mangia, Serafini, and Angelo Tornati, also known as Lo Stanca...

 

BURGLAR: Angelo Tornati, also known as Lo Stanga, if you don't mind, not Stanca... Stanga means tall...

 

WOMAN: Tall... do me a favour... suppose he was tiny!*

 

MAN: [Just for something to say] At least you could say "little", no?

 

BURGLAR: Why, do you find me little?

 

MAN: What have you got to do with it?

 

BURGLAR: I've got a lot to do with it! Because, if you don't mind, Angelo Tornati, also known as Lo Stanga, is me! And if you don't believe me, here's my passing-out card from Santo Stefano in Vittore. [He pulls a card out of his pocket] I spent three years there, if you don't mind!

 

WOMAN: [Enthusiastically, after glancing at the card] But this is wonderful, it really is him, Lo Stanca... I'm sorry... Lo Stanga! What a pleasure! Excuse me [She embraces him and kisses him on both cheeks] A burglar, a real burglar.. This has never happened to me before! Let me look at you...

 

MAN: [Jealous] But what are You doing now? This rogue comes here to burgle my house... and you start kissing him... It's disgusting!

 

WOMAN: Please! Moderate your language. "It's disgusting..."! What do you know about it? Have you ever kissed a burglar?

 

MAN: No.

 

WOMAN: Well, then? Try it, and then tell me if it's really as disgusting as you say! [At that moment, they hear the doorbell ring]

 

WOMAN: Who can that be?

 

BURGLAR: I bet it's my wife again. [Picking up the phone] In [Missing phrase]: do me the favour of explaining to her... Hello. Maria. [Missing phrase]you've made, phoning are here! I told you to leave me alone and not disturb me when I'm at work, even if the house catches fire. I want you to just stay at home and not bother me, alright!

 

MAN: But it's not the phone... It's the front door bell.

 

BURGLAR: [Giving the phone a look of hatred] Ah, that's why you let me get a word in edgeways! [He puts the phone down]

 

MAN: [Opening the window, and leaning out] Who's that?

 

WOMAN'S VOICE: Who do you think it is? It's me. Anna.

 

WOMAN: [Turning pale] Oh heavens... This time it really is your wife...

 

MAN: [Trying to sound as natural as possible] Ah, it's you, darling... I wasn't expecting you... But why are you here? What has happened?

 

ANNA: I want to ask you what's happened. Some crazy woman phoned me... shouting all kinds of insults...

 

BURGLAR: A crazy woman? It must be my wife... I might have known!

 

ANNA: What are you waiting for? Hurry up and let me in.

 

I'll let you in right away... [Moving away from the window] That's all we needed... And now what am I supposed to tell her?

 

BURGLAR: Well, as far as I'm concerned... I'm going to do a runner through the window..

 

MAN: [Grabbing him by the collar] Oh no, my friend ... That would be too easy.. It's all because of you and your wife that we're in this mess in the first place, and you're going to have to get us out of it!

 

BURGLAR: Me? What am I supposed to do?

 

MAN: [Turning to the WOMAN] Just a minute... Maybe if you two were to pass yourselves off as husband and wife... then we'd be in the clear!

 

WOMAN: What do you mean? Married to him, to a man whom I don't even

know?

 

MAN: Don't worry, love will come in time! Anyway, it's always better to pass yourself off as the wife of a false husband than as the mistress of a real husband!' [Preparing himself to meet his wife] And now, please, don't try any more tricks, otherwise..

 

He takes me gun that was on the table, and puts it, threateningly in his pocket. He exits.

 

WOMAN: Oh God. what a mess... Stand up, let's have a look at You. [She eyes the Burglar up and down] You could at least have put a less scruffy suit on! After all, you are in company.. And what are people going to think of me... ? You know that when the husband's a mess it's always blamed on the wife.

 

BURGLAR: I know, but I never thought anything like this was going to happen... Anyway, I've got a smart pin-stripe suit at home. I'll go and get it.

 

WOMAN: No, [Looking at his bulging pockets] Ugh! Those lumps!! [Standing like a shop window dummy] You like this model, madam?

 

[We hear her voice coming from offstage] So. Will you now tell me what all this is about? Who have you got here in the house with you?

 

MAN: I'll explain everything... There's been a misunderstanding, but now everything's been resolved...

 

ANNA: What do you mean, misunderstanding? More to the point, you were supposed to be at your mother's place. What are you doing at home?

 

MAN: [He enters, followed by his wife] That's precisely what I wanted to explain to you. Allow me. my friend... Dr Angelo Tornato,

 

BURGLAR: [Irritated, correcting him] Tornati..

 

MAN: [With a bitter smile] Yes. I'm sorry! Tornati, and his wife...

 

BURGLAR: It was your husband who married us off! He told us that love would come later.

 

MAN: [Explaining] Yes, that's right. When I was Deputy Mayor!

 

WOMAN: Please forgive our intrusion... especially at this time of night... I know it's inconvenient, but we had to turn to your husband, because... you see...

 

ANNA: [Annoyed, interrupting her] Would you mind telling me. You wouldn't happen to be the woman who phoned me, would you?

 

MAN: [Stepping in, relieved] Yes, yes! She was the one ... But you must understand, the poor woman was so distraught!

 

WOMAN: Please forgive me, but it was jealousy that made me lose my head. For some reason I was convinced that my husband was having a relationship with you... But now that I see you. I wonder how I could ever have imagined such a thing...

 

ANNA: Why's that'? Do you find me so unpleasant? While you're at it, why don't you say what you think, that I'm a monster!

 

WOMAN: No, I didn't mean that at all! What I mean is, you look so distinguished... and I know that my husband has rather vulgar tastes...

 

BURGLAR: What do you mean. I've got vulgar tastes!?

 

ANNA: Well, I'm sorry that you feel yourself to be vulgar, my dear, seeing that your husband did marry you, after all. But that doesn't mean that you have to think so low of me as to pair me off with a man like your husband here-present!

 

BURGLAR: Now that'll do! First I'm vulgar... then I'm low.. and "here-present" too!

 

MAN: [Trying desperately to take the drama out of the situation] Look, darling, don't overdo it. He might not he much, it's true... but one can get to like him!

 

ANNA: Oh yes, well done! There's a fine husband that I've married! Instead of feeling insulted because people have doubted his own wife's honesty, he insists that I say what a pleasant chap my presumed lover is! This is madness!

 

WOMAN: No, no, your husband didn't mean that. He meant that when a woman is in love, she always thinks that her own husband, no matter how vulgar he may be, has an attraction for other women.

 

Well, that's very clever! In other words, since I find my husband a nice person, then you must find him nice too, for example! In fact, my friend, since you like him so much, why don't you take him on as a lover'.

 

WOMAN: No, no thank you...

 

ANNA: Haven't you got anything to say for yourself?

 

BURGLAR: TO tell the truth. I too would prefer to have the lady, as a lover. rather than as a wife... always assuming that Your husband isn't opposed to it... Anyway, it's up to him to decide... He married us, after all!

 

ANNA: [Amused, laughing out loud] Ha, ha... That's funny, really funny. Now I understand why your wife is worried about other women ... Witty men are always the most dangerous... particularly when they've got vulgar tastes!

 

BURGLAR: [To the WOMAN] She called me vulgar again!

 

WOMAN: [In a burst of affection, caressing him] Ah Yes. he's really dangerous... You can hardly imagine how dangerous!

 

MAN: [Irritated] Come along, now, let's not exaggerate... [Correcting himself] All men are dangerous, one way or another!

 

ANNA: That's certainly not true in your case, darling! [She looks affectionately at the BURGLAR and the WOMAN, who are holding hands] Oh, look what a lovely pair they make... Just like a pair of newly-weds. You really suit each other.. don't they, darling!

 

MAN: [Losing his temper] Yes, but now .. maybe we should say goodnight... It's getting a bit late...

 

ANNA: Don't be so ill-mannered, please... Don't worry about leaving, you can stay as long as you like, In fact, why don't we have a drink?

 

BURGLAR: Yes, good idea. Let's have the whiskey...

 

He grabs the bottle, but the WOMAN signals him not to.

 

WOMAN: You're too kind... But we've already taken too much advantage of your hospitality... [The BURGLAR puts the bottle in his pocket] And anyway, it's getting really late. I wouldn't want my husband to come home and... [Correcting herself] ... to return home too late ... We live so far away, you see... On the other side of town... And he has to get up very early tomorrow morning... Don't you, dear?

 

BURGLAR: Eh?

 

ANNA: Well in that case, why don't you stay, the night with us? We've got a spare room... Come on, darling, tell them that they can stay!

 

MAN: [Absent-mindedly] Yes, why don't you spend the night here? [Realising what he has said] But what are making me say? Maybe they'd prefer...

 

BURGLAR: Yes, yes, we'd prefer it a lot.

 

ANNA: There, you see? They'd rather stay the night! You can't imagine how happy that makes me...

 

WOMAN: [Trying a last line of defence] But really, we haven't brought a thing with us... And my husband can't sleep without pyjamas!

 

ANNA: Well, if that's the only problem... [Turning to her husband] ... you'll give him a pair of your pyjamas, won't you, darling. The new ones...

 

MAN: [In desperation] Yes!

 

ANNA: Come along. I'll show you to your room... I'm sure be very comfortable here! [To the BURGLAR] Don't mind if I steal her from you for a moment. [[Missing phrase] looking at each other, one with embarrassment, and the other with a degree of hatred. The MAN is the first to speak]

 

MAN: Did you really have to go and play a stunt like that? A cheapskate Don Juan, that's all you are... But don't go thinking that you're going to be sleeping with my.. And in my pyjamas, too... You can forget it!

 

BURGLAR: Well, whose idea was it in the first place? Whose bright idea was it to pass me off as his girlfriend's husband' And then you start getting all nervous... A poor wretch comes here, just to earn his daily bread... Not only will they not let him carry off even an old broken alarm clock, but they force him to play along with the cretinous behaviour of the house-owner! Oh no, oh no, I'm sorry, but now you can do me the favour of phoning my, wife at once... In fact let's call your wife first, and tell her the whole truth... And then I'll call the police, too! Personally' I prefer to be interrogated at the hands of the police, than at the hands of my wife!

 

MAN: Will you listen to the gentleman?! He feels insulted! We've disturbed him on the job! Well, we'll make amends, immediately. You came here to rob? Alright, then, rob ahead! [He opens the silverware drawer] Go ahead, make yourself at home. Steal! There are some gold tea-spoons too!

 

BURGLAR: [He pulls his sack out of his pocket, [Missing phrase]. But then he has second thoughts] No thank you. Stealing like this goes a bit against the grain ... Thanks, I'll save it for another time...

 

MAN: [He begins to get a bit [Missing phrase]. He goes as if to pull the [Missing phrase]out ofhis pocket]

 

BURGLAR: Alright, if you insist... [He delicately picks up a teaspoon] There you are... Just to please you...

 

He slips it into a jacket pocket.

 

MAN: [Threateningly, pulling out his gun] I told You to steal... and hand-over-fist, at that. Never let it he said that in my house one steals poorly...! Or that we exploit burglars!

 

BURGLAR: I never said that.

 

But you're the kind that would... Come on. take these too...

 

He opens a drawer, and hands him a handful of silver spoons.

 

BURGLAR: I wouldn't want to take advantage of your kindness, your generosity..

 

MAN: Don't stand on ceremony get on with it... [At this moment, the BURGLAR'S WIFE enters. [Missing phrase] She throws herself between the two of them, embracing her husband]

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: No. no! Please. sir. don't kill him. He'll give you back everything. but don't kill him.

 

BURGLAR: Maria!! How on earth did you get in'?

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: The front door was open.

 

BURGLAR: And to think that I had to clamber up three storeys. from the outside, to get in!

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: I'm sorry.. It's all my fault, I know.. I realised it too late... But now it would be best if you give everything back to the gentleman ... And anyway, even if you get a couple of months' sentence. Xmas is coming, and they take pretty good care of you in prison ... They even give you Xmas cake and tangerines... Please, let them arrest you!

 

MAN: That's all we needed. The wife... ! And item what am I supposed to tell my own wife when she finds out that you have got two wives!

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: Who's got two wives?

 

BURGLAR: [His voice breaks into a frightened falsetto] ... Look. this has got nothing to do with me. alright! Fle "as the one who married me off to her, because he was frightened that his wife would find out that she wasn't my wife... but somebody else's...

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: [She snatches the gun from the MANís hand and points it at her husband] Ah, you dirty traitor. you cheat, You wretch And I, fool that I was, thought that you were carrying on with his wife And instead, you've got another wife... who's not even his wife... I'm going to kill you' [She tries to lifts the safety catch] Howdo I do it'? How do I do it?

 

MAN: You're not doing anything! [He grabs the gun] Please, don't make such a row.. If the other two wives hear, then I'm absolutely done for... and so is your husband... Listen, please, listen to me: I'm not going to explain all the whys and the wherewithals. It would take too long. But look, if you wailt to save your husband... just keep calm. [We hear footsteps returning] Heavens... Here they come... Now. what kind of story can we make up now?*

 

ANNA: [[Missing phrase]] Your darling little wife. Mr Tornati, is waiting for you I've brought you the pyjamas. because. if I had to wait for my husband [She stops mid-sentence, surprised to see[Missing phrase]her husband and the BURGLAR are attempting to [Missing phrase]her] ... I've... But excuse me, dear... who is the lady"

 

MAN: [Feigning innocence] Who'?

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: I am a wife... Allow me to introduce myself. Maria Tornati..

 

ANNA: What!? Another wife?

 

MAN: [He dives in, to save what can still be saved] Yes, dear. In fact, I wanted to explain to you before... The lady... appears to be...

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: What do you mean... appears to be!? I am the wife!

 

MAN: Precisely, I am the wife ... That is. she is the wife, of this gentleman... [He gives her a wicked look, almost as if trying to hypnotise her]The first wife of my friend, Tornato

 

BURGLAR: [Correcting him] Ti

 

MAN: [Uncertain] ... to-ti

 

BURGLAR: Ti-ti-ti!Tornati!

 

MAN: His first wife, from whom Tornati is now divorced.

 

At this point, the Burglar's Wife tries to interrupt, but her husband gives her a dig with his elbow.

 

ANNA: Are you foreigners?

 

BURGLAR: Eh? No, we're not...

 

ANNA: Alright, then. how could you have got a divorce?

 

BURGLAR: [Seeking help from the Man] Eh? Divorced? [Seeking help from the BURGLARS WIFE]

 

ANNA: Ah... ! I see... Your friend works in films'.

 

MAN: Yes, yes, yes, he works in films... He's a film director.

 

Director .. ? What kind of films does he make? [She notices the sack that he's holding in his hand] Excuse me, what's that? [She opens the sack] But that's my silverware! What were you doing?

 

BURGLAR: We were stealing...

 

MAN: Nooo! He was explaining to me the plot of his new film... where there's a scene of a robbery... and he was acting it out...

 

ANNA: Oh, how interesting! So you are really an expert?

 

BURGLAR: Yes, passed down from father to son...

 

ANNA: And your wife?

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: No... Not me. my husband wouldn't let me... He always leaves me at home...

 

ANNA: No, I meant... what's all this business about the divorce If you'redivorced, then how on earth can your wife still be your wife ? In fact, how can you now have two wives?!

 

MAN: Precisely ... They divorced, and then he got married again But then the State invoked Common Law. and wouldn't recognise the divorce, even though previously they had cited civil law, and had recognised his second marriage as valid... So that... the poor chap now finds himself, at one and the same time, a bigamist, an adulterer, a public sinner, and an observing Catholic to boot...

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: What? [To her husband] And you never told me a thing?

 

BURGLAR: But I never knew... [Turning to the MAN] How does it turn out that I am an observing bigamist ?[The MAN shoos him away from the women]

 

ANNA: Well, dear lady.. some things are best not known about... and anyway, sometimes even when you know. it's impossible to understand... Poor chap... And now who knows where he'll end up... They'll probably put him up for trial. and send him to prison, like a common thief!

 

MAN: Yes, like a stealer of cutlery... [Pointedly] And all because he's got a wife...

 

ANNA: What'?

 

MAN: I mean, two wives...

 

[Turning to the BURGLAR]While we're on the subject, what about that other lady... Maybe it would be better not to let her know that she's here... [Pointing to the BURGLAR'S WIFE] ... poor thing. And anyway, how on earth would you manage [Missing phrase] Even if you decided to do it. the bed is only a little bit larger than a single. and... you would be extremely uncomfortable!

 

MAN: Don't worry, dear, we'll sort everything out.

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: Sort out, be damned! Don't think that you're going to slip out of this so easily

 

BURGLAR: [He tries to take his sack with him, but is obliged to leave it where it is, so that he can push his wife out towards the door on the left] Yes,yes... But for the moment. let's go over here...

 

MAN: Come along, madam. I'll introduce to your husband's wife... I mean... well. step this way!

 

ANNA: [She looks at them as they exit, and shakes her head in s ' ilt?lpaill - 11] Poor woman! [Then she notices the bottles scattered on the table] God, what a mess and what a lot [Missing phrase]

 

She in turn pours herself a drink. At this moment we see a man appear at the door, and call to her in a loud whisper.

 

ANTONIO: Anna... are you alone'

 

ANNA: Oh! Oh God! Antonio... What on earth has come over you? Go away... go away at once... My husband's in!

 

ANTONIO: Do you mind explaining what happened to you? I couldn't understand a word you were saying on the phone What's all this business about my wife phoning you?

 

ANNA: Nothing, nothing, it was a misunderstanding Thank heavens! I got a phone call front a woman... who started abusing me, on account of her husband...

 

ANTONIO: And you thought it was my wife?

 

ANNA: Yes, exactly. I don't know your wife. let alone knowing her voice... I got such a fright But now, don't stay here... Go away, ... We'll see each other tomorrow ..

 

ANTONIO: AH. so I must go away... Oh no, darling. I'm not falling for that. [He walks right into the middle of the room]Who do you think you're fooling'That business about the phone call. the misunderstanding. your husband coming home. whereas he should have been at his mothers... No, there's more to this than meets the eye... All this has been organised so that you could skip out of our rendezvous at the villa, and come here to meet some other fellow... who is certainly not your husband...

 

ANNA: Eh? What!? Are you mad!? How can you even think such a thing?

 

ANTONIO: Don't tell lies. What about these glasses? It's obvious... You were preparing yourselves... spiritually! Where is... what's his name? Speak up, it'll be best for you... [He grabs her by the shoulder] Who is he?

 

At this precise moment, the BURGLAR re-appears, with his pyjamas still under his arm. He has come back to pick up his sack, but he takes fright when he sees the tier, visitor and drops his sack. [Missing phrase] ANTONIO spun round.

 

BURGLAR: Am I disturbing you? I just wanted to take this sack

 

ANTONIO: Ah, here he is... And with his pyjamas under his arm. The little fellow is all ready!

 

BURGLAR: [ANTONIO lays about him, grabbing him by the arm] I'm sorry but the lady gave them to me... But if you want them, here, take them... I'm not going to have myself throttled, just for a pair of pyjamas...

 

ANTONIO: I know, I know that she gave them to you... And it's precisely for that reason that both of you are now going to pay for this.

 

So saying, he locks the hall door, and slips the key into his pocket.

 

[Missing phrase]Please... Antonio, you're making a terrible mistake... The gentleman is a friend of my husband, and he's here as our guest, with his wives...

 

From the bedroom we hear the voices of the Women, who are obviously having an argument.

 

VOICES OF THE TWO WOMEN: Oh no, dear, I'm not so green behind the ears... I want the whole story my delightful little concubine... [Other Voice] Mind your language! Who are you calling a concubine?

 

ANTONIO: [Loosening his grip] Are those his wives? But how many wives has he got?

 

The BURGLAR makes a gesture with his hand, as if to say "enough".

 

ANNA: [Turning to the BURGLAR] Oh, please, Mr Tornati, don't say a word to my husband...

 

BURGLAR: No, no I won't say a word.

 

ANTONIO: Thank you, thank you... and pardon the misunderstanding...

 

BURGLAR: What's a few misunderstandings, between friends ... ?!

 

ANNA: But now you must leave at once... Where did you put the key?

 

BURGALR: Here, in my coat. [He searches in his pocket] Oh heavens... it's slipped down into the lining ... There was a hole in my pocket ... That's all we need...

 

He takes off his overcoat, so as to search more easily. All three set about trying to find the key, but the key seems to have a life of its own, and keeps escaping them.

 

ANNA: Here it is... Oh no, you made it move...

 

BURGLAR: Stop. Here it is... Oh hell... Where's it gone now?

 

ANTONIO: Hey, gently, you're going to tear out the whole lining...

Heavens, now it's gone up into the sleeve... [We hear voices coming from the other room, getting closer and closer]

 

ANNA: Oh, look, they're coming, and what are we going to do now?

 

BURGLAR: Look, come over here... I've spent a couple of hours in here, [He opens the case of the grandfather clock] And it's not bad in there, really... [He helps Antonio in] I warn you, though in a while, the clock will chime ... Watch out for the lumps and bumps. And by the way, no smoking!

 

The two WOMEN enter, followed by the MAN. They are pretty flustered.

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: [Turning to the Burglar] Since they won't explain all this to me, you are now coming home with me, and you are going to do the explaining.

 

BURGLAR: Why do you want to go home? It's so nice here... everyone's so kind... Look, they've even given me pyjamas. Anyway, even if I wanted to, I really don't see how we can leave. There's no key

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: [Rattling the door handle] Well, it shouldn't be too difficult for you to pick the lock... You are supposed to be a burglar, after all!

 

The BURGLAR pulls out of his pocket an enormous bunch of keys.

 

ANNA: [Turning to her husband] What a lot of keys! Why on earth ... ?

 

MAN: I told you, he's a producer. And if a film producer doesn't have at

least five or six offices... two or three villas... a couple of pied-a-terres, then what kind of producer is he?

 

At this point, the grandfather clock strikes the hour. There's a great there's a shout and the wretched inhabitant of the clock case comes out, cursing.

 

ANTONIO: Ouch! The pain! My head! Ouuuch!

 

BURGLAR: I told you... I told you that not even any ointment...

 

WOMAN: [Terrified] But that's my husband! [Feigning casual disinterest] Hello, darling!

 

ANTONIO: Giulia... What are You doing in this house'?

 

ANNA: What? You already know Mr Tornati's wife?

 

ANTONIO: Whose wife ... ? Look. let's not play jokes... Giulia is my wife...

 

MAN: [Turning to his wife] No, dear, no, don't worry... There's been a misunderstanding...

 

BURGLAR: Another misunderstanding? Oh. what a lot we've had this evening!

 

WOMAN: You are going to have to explain to me what you were doing in that clock. [To the BURGLAR] Was he already in there when you were in there!?

 

BURGLAR: [Perplexed for a moment] Well you know, it's so dark in

there...

 

MAN: But it's obvious... really obvious, only. now You're going to have to let me explain the misunderstanding... So...

 

BURGLAR: So, be damned! There's no misunderstanding here... I'll tell you what this is... What's happened here is...

 

The others, for fear that he's going to reveal all their various intrigues, immediately interrupt him, and won't let him speak.

 

ANNA: Yes, well, obviously.. Obviously there's been a misunderstanding!

 

ANTONIO: Yes, yes. I realised that straight away... In fact, I'm amazed that

this gentleman has not realised it too. It's all been a misunderstanding...

 

WOMAN: It's so obvious that even a child...

 

MAN: So, there's no need to explain anything... Misunderstandings don't need explaining... Otherwise they wouldn't be misunderstandings!

 

BURGLAR: [To his Wife] Come along, hurry, up!

 

BURGLARíS WIFE: Wait, don't pull me like that!

 

They go over to the hall door, which the BURGLAR has just opened. As they pass the light-switch, the BURGLAR switches the lights off.

 

ANNA: Who turned the lights out?

 

WOMAN: What's going on'?

 

get a lump! And now there's

 

ANTONIO: Stop them... Where are those two going?!

 

WOMAN: He's so crazy. that he's quite capable of going and giving himself up... Quick...!

 

MAN: Quick, stop them. Don't let them escape...

 

WOMAN: They went out through the garden... Hurry up. Run!

 

MAN: It's no good... Anyway, you two go over that way. and you come with me.

 

They all exit. Silence. Then, from the window, we see the light of a torch. The light moves into the room, and settles on the BURGLAR's sack. Now the owners of the house suddenly return.

 

MAN: He's come back in through the window, the crafty devil! He's come back to pick up the silverware ...!

 

ANNA: Grab him!

 

WOMAN: Quick, grab him! Don't let him get away...

Switch the light on!

 

They do as she says. We see that the figure is a SECOND BURGLAR, who stands, surrounded by his four pursuers]

 

SECOND BURGLAR: [In disgust] Hey, no! Hey, no! This is going a bit too far.. You can't have people setting traps for you like this... leaving windows open, leaving the loot sitting there in the middle of the floor... and then, the next minute: wham... you're under arrest! No... this won't do... I'm going to complain to the Union, and that's that!

 

ALL: Nooo!!!

 

MAN: No, please, listen to us. There's been a misunderstanding,

 

SECOND BURGLAR: A what?

 

ALL: A misunderstanding!!

 

MAN: Now, if you'll allow us, we'll explain everything...

 

ALL: So...

 

The lines that follow are all spoken at the same time. The result is a cacophony of shouting, completely incomprehensible.

 

WOMAN: This evening I was with my husband and I received a phone call.

I came down here immediately...

 

ANNA: I was at Villa Ponente... the phone rang, and from the other end I

heard a woman's voice insulting me...

 

MAN: I was at my mother's... We were eating... when I remembered that I had left my office keys at home.

 

ANTONIO: This evening I was on my way to the cinema... You know one of those B-movies, all love and passion... When...

 

The SECOND BURGLAR retreats under this barrage of verbiage, and finds himself first sitting and then tipped backwards across the collapsing settee. He is now at the mercy of the four unfaithful partners, who talk, talk, talk without as much as a pause...

 

[End]

 

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Last updated: 6.viii.2012

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