Red Riding Hood And The Wolf – A Beastly Tale
(A fairy tale, but not as we know it.)
Life for the villagers is hard; they spend their days working to provide food and tax money to maintain Baron Blackheart and his gang of ‘Handy Heavies’, in the manner to which they have become accustomed. It is May Day, and the villagers are enjoying one of their few moments of leisure, but their celebrations are short lived. The Baron and his Heavies arrive to collect the latest tithes, which are now due. Red Riding Hood pleads with the Baron for some respite, as the villagers feel that they have no more to give. The Baron is not amused and from now on she is a marked girl. In response the Baron orders the villagers to take what little produce they have to his castle; he then proceeds to line up the Heavies so that they may take their daily ‘treat’. In theory, these ‘treats’ make the Heavies stronger, faster and scarier; however, in an aside, the Baron lets slip that in fact the ‘treats’ simply keep the Heavies in thrall to him, while the ‘treat’ that the Baron takes, makes him feel that he can take on the world. All of this is overheard by Robin, one of Red Riding Hood’s friends, who stores up this scrap of information.
Red Riding Hood sets off through the forest with a basket of food for her grandma, but is intercepted by Slyboots, a rather stylish wolf. Initially, Red Riding Hood is terrified, but when Slyboots tries to take her basket of food she fights back, only to discover that in fact he is a rather cowardly wolf. Despite this, she recruits Slyboots to her cause – if he could terrify her, then perhaps he can do the same to the Heavies.
On her return to the village, Red Riding Hood tries to persuade the villagers to join her in a fight back against the Baron; no one is prepared to help except her friends Robin, Anna, Tamsin and Mark. She introduces them to her ‘secret weapon’ – Slyboots; at first, they too are terrified, but soon come to accept him.
The Baron send the Heavies through the forest to deliver his latest haul of gold to the bank. They are met by Red Riding Hood and her friends, who demand that the Heavies hand over the treasure. Naturally, the Heavies ask for one good reason as to why they should comply, whereupon Slyboots appears. As hoped, the Heavies are terrified and flee, abandoning the gold.
The next morning, Red Riding Hood and her friends arrive back at the village with the gold; the villagers, initially concerned, are soon happy to accept their share of the loot, described by Red Riding Hood as a ‘tax refund’. The villagers are also introduced to Slyboots. The Baron, meanwhile, is impatiently awaiting the return of his Heavies. When they do arrive, they have to confess that they have been robbed – by a wolf; unsurprisingly, the Baron does not believe a word of this. The only clue they have as to the identity of the robbers, is that one of them wore red. The Baron and his men set out for the village in order to track that person down.
Slyboots arrives at the village to warn everyone that the Baron is on his way. Initially there is panic, but Red Riding Hood swears everyone to silence. When the Baron arrives, the villagers are lined up and the Heavies take turns trying to identify who robbed them – without success. As predicted, the Baron is determined to make an example of someone, and Red Riding Hood is picked out and marched away to the castle.
As Act Two begins, we find Robin, Anna, Tamsin and Mark regretting that they put up no resistance to the Baron and deciding that they must attempt to rescue Red Riding Hood. They suggest various madcap schemes before Robin remembers the ‘treats’ and decides that the only answer is to try to persuade the Heavies to swop the two sets of ‘treats’, so that the Baron takes those intended for the Heavies, and vice-versa – and therefore the Heavies will have an easier life. Rather than risk everyone’s freedom, Robin decides to ‘go it alone’ and sets off for the castle. Slyboots arrives and is horrified that Robin has set off alone; he immediately goes in pursuit, having sent the three friends to rouse the villagers to action.
Meanwhile, back at the castle, the Baron tasks the Heavies with getting the truth out of Red Riding Hood. They come up with a number of supposedly scary treatments, none of which work and sometimes rebound on them. When the Baron discovers yet another failure, he determines to deal with Red riding Hood himself, but not until he has recounted his money.
Robin arrives at the castle and tries to explain the plan and why the Heavies should help him; of course, they don’t listen and are preparing to set about him when Slyboots charges in. Once again, the Heavies are terrified into submission; so much so, that they agree to swop the ‘treats’ and to free Red Riding Hood. Robin sets off for the village to tell the villagers what has happened, while Slyboots and Red Riding Hood remain at the castle to ensure that the Heavies stick to their side of the bargain.
Sure enough, the ‘treats’ are swopped, the Heavies regain their independence and the Baron has an attack of kindness and decides that he rather likes the feeling – a reformed character. Red Riding Hood, Slyboots and her friends now wonder what they will do now for excitement; the Baron tells them of another noble who needs a lesson in kindness. Accordingly, the friends, led by Robin, decide that they will go to live in the forest, turn outlaw, and rob the rich to feed the poor. Finally, Robin asks Red Riding Hood what is her real name – funnily enough it turns out to be Marian.
Seven principles, plus eleven smaller speaking parts. (This number can be reduced if necessary and some lines re-allocated.) A chorus of villagers and ‘firefly’ dancers.
Two acts, with seven scenes in Act One and five in Act Two. Two main settings, the village and the castle; other scenes are set in front of half tabs or on a lower stage.
Red Riding Hood – a village girl
Slyboots – a wolf
Lumpy, Hunky, Chunky, Beefy, Whopper, Lumber, Clumsy and Millstone – Baron Blackheart’s enforcers, collectively known as The Handy Heavies.
Anna, Tamsin, Mark and Robin – Red Riding Hood’s friends
Chorus of villagers (Three speaking parts.)
Scene One: The village
Scene Two: Into the woods
Scene Three: The village
Scene Four: Into the woods again
Scene Five: The village
Scene Six: On the road Scene Seven: The village
Scene One: A secret place
Scene Two: Inside the castle
Scene Three: Inside the castle
Scene Four: A secret place
Scene Five: The castle