ASYLUM SEEKERS IN HEAVEN
MEPHISTO and PHELES
by Voyen Koreis
A comedy on the Faustian theme, with some recorded music from Gounod’s opera Faust. Three Hell’s trouble-shooters use modern methods of marketing, including computers, mobile phones and Viagra. Mephisto really wants to be a poet, his immaculately born twin brother Pheles is a compulsive computer games player, while former prostitute Brigitte is a probationary she-devil. Trying to find the final solution to the ‘Faust problem’, they end up as asylum seekers in Heaven. Things never go quite the way they were intended to. Mephisto falls in love with Faust’s maidservant Siebel, an innocent virgin girl. Brigitte, who poses as Marguerite or Meg, pretends to be a lesbian, to frustrate Faust, who wants to seduce her. Faust, who also wants to be an immortal literary character, is having continuous problems, not only trying to bed the politically correct Meg, but also with the Viagra and mobile phone, both of which he had earned as a bonus for signing up his soul. There are three male and three female roles in the play.
MEPHISTO and PHELES
Stage play, or semi-musical comedy on
the Faustian theme in three acts and epilogue,
a parody on political correctness
it could be staged with some of the music by
SECRETARY / SIEBEL
BRIGITTE / MEG
Give those Immortals who’ve become swollen
With pride, the benefit of the doubt,
‘Twas through their doings that they have fallen,
This is what their sojourn was e’er about.
Yearnings of going back to their own sphere,
Within themselves intensely they’ve carried,
Ad infinitum bound to interfere,
In human affairs for’er stay buried.
Tho’ longing for their abode o’er cloud nine,
Anacamptic sound of harps in their hearts,
They can’t evade it, but must lay supine,
Unable to outsmart the Cupid’s darts.
Knowing not what picking up this cherry
Entails, they moan: Enjoy life, be merry!
(An office, equipped in modern style. There is a large table with a computer. The two men by the table are perhaps in their thirties, dressed almost identically in smart looking three-piece business suits with ties, but they have taken off their jackets.
MEPHISTO on one side of the table is leaning back in his chair, resting his feet on top of the table while scribbling something into a small notebook held in his lap, taking his eyes off the text now and then, rolling them up, even closing them, as if in a quiet contemplation. We are not supposed to know that yet, but he is trying to write another of his poems.
PHELES on the other side of the table is as physical as one can be while playing a computer game. His eyes are totally focused on the screen in front of him; one hand is busy with the mouse while the other makes gestures of approval or disapproval, as the case might be. The speakers beside the computer blast out the sounds of various firearms and all sorts of other sound effects that usually accompany the games with violent content.)
PHELES: Yes, Mephisto. (his eyes do not leave the screen, while the hand continues to play with the mouse)
MEPHISTO: I need to talk to you.
PHELES: Couldn’t it wait a little?
MEPHISTO: How little? Can’t you put that thing on pause?
PHELES: (puts the game on pause) I’d really like to finish this segment. I’m beta-testing it now and I want it to be out of door next week.
MEPHISTO: What is it about?
PHELES: A planetary war. I’m playing here as Looney Homunculus, fighting Schizogladiators of Cyberspace, this alliance of space/time-travelling Thieving Cyborgs. I need to pinch their lapis mutus, to free with it those unfortunate Robotic Golems from the clutches of the Ruthless Torturers of Valhala.
MEPHISTO: And if you get that stone, what do you do with it?
PHELES: I’ll be able to move on to the next level.
MEPHISTO: Leading where?
PHELES: Towards making the Philosopher’s Stone. Naturally.
MEPHISTO: I see. But does manufacturing the Philosopher’s Stone really have to be this noisy? Couldn’t you go about it just a little more quietly, please?
PHELES: I told you I was beta-testing. That requires having all the sound options turned on. And, mind you, I’m not yet manufacturing the Philosopher’s Stone. I’m fighting to get lapis mutus from the Thieving Cyborgs. A combat usually means noise. Or would you expect such creatures fight to the sound of a Mozart minuet? Or a Vivaldi? (resumes the game)
MEPHISTO: (has to raise his voice) Try Tchaikovski and the 1812 Overture. There’s a lot of shooting in that one, did you know? With real canons…
(MEPHISTO stops talking as he sees the handle to their office door move. He is only just able in time to take his feet off the top of the desk and quickly bury his nose in the pocket book he already held in his hand, of which he hoped might make him look suitably busy. The Boss is dressed immaculately, in a three-piece suit, preferably with some combination of green and orange, something very loud in any case. THE SECRETARY trails him into the room. Mephisto’s attention turns to her immediately. It is obvious to us that he is in love…)
THE BOSS: (croons softly in a suave voice) Would it be possible to show a little more tolerance towards us with lesser hearing handicaps by having that sound turned down a notch or two, Pheles?
PHELES (who has only just noticed the new arrivals, too late to even pretend he was working): Yes, your Insignificance. (turns the sound off completely)
THE BOSS: Working on the Monthly Report, are we Pheles? When is that due, Cathy?
THE SECRETARY: Last week, sir.
PHELES: I was about to, sir—
THE BOSS: (walks to the table and looks at PHELES’ computer screen)—yes, I can see that you’re about to attack some monsters—what are they?
PHELES: Thieving Cyborgs, your Insignificance.
THE BOSS: I see. Thieving Cyborgs. They stole that Monthly Report too, haven’t they? And with it the Spread Sheet that was supposed to be attached to the Productivity Report you had so kindly sent me two weeks ago? Better make sure that you attack with a strong enough force, so that I can have it all on my table by this afternoon.
PHELES: Yes, your Insignificance.
THE BOSS: It will surely make for nice reading, I can’t wait. While we’re on the subject of missing documents, there was something else I’d missed, (turns to THE SECRETARY) what was it that we were missing, Cathy?
SECRETARY: The Market Analyses, your Insignificance.
THE BOSS: Yes, the Market Analyses. Where is it, Mephisto? Has it too vanished in the cyberspace?
MEPHISTO: No, Sir. It’s almost ready to go. I was just going to put some finishing touches to it.
THE BOSS: Oh yes, that must be what you’ve been writing on that pad as I walked in. It was obviously making you feel comfortable. Can I see it?
(MEPHISTO who was hiding the notebook behind his back now very reluctantly hands it over to THE BOSS, who reads aloud)
My Catherine, when in a dream
I’m meeting you by the stream
In night forest I redeem …
… oh no, that can’t be the Market Analyses. Looks more like a poem to me!
MEPHISTO: Yes, sir. I’m sorry, sir.
THE BOSS: Sorry for what? For writing such amateurish poem? And during the working hours? Who’s Catherine, anyway? Not our Cathy here, or is she?
(THE SECRETARY looks embarrassed, but not entirely displeased. MEPHISTO blushes, wants to say something, but THE BOSS had turned again to PHELES)
And how about your workmate, would I hear an apology from him too? For playing computer games instead of writing self-assessment sheets? Yes, that’s another thing that I’ve been missing, the self-assessment sheets, isn’t it so, Cathy?
THE SECRETARY: Yes, sir. The self-assessment sheets are overdue.
THE BOSS: How long by?
THE SECRETARY: By nearly three weeks, your Insignificance.
THE BOSS: They too are overdue by three weeks, gentlemen, by three weeks! When you finally get to do them make sure that you give yourselves good marks for writing poems and playing games…
(Suddenly, mobile starts chiming in the Boss’ pocket. He takes it out, makes an apologetic grimace towards them, answers it, and freezes. His jaw falls down and he stands to attention, with the heels of his shoes, made of the hides of sinning Benedictine nuns, sticking together. From his humble sounding answers, we catch only glimpses.)
Yes, your Unfathomable deepness … yes … I will … yes … Lord of the Flies …
(When the Big Boss ends the call, our Boss clicks his heels, and after a second or two of contemplation, he returns to the two offenders, who brace themselves for a hiding. Instead he smiles on them,)
THE BOSS: Well, let’s not dwell too much on the negatives. At least your sales figures for this galactic month don’t look too bad. How many politician’s souls have they gathered, Cathy?
(MEPHISTO and PHELES, and even THE SECRETARY look surprised at the turn around that seemingly leaves them off the hook.)
THE SECRETARY (she quickly recovers): One hundred and ninety-three, sir. That’s more than double the quota, your Insignificance.
THE BOSS: Not bad, more than twice the original quota. Impressive, in fact. And what about the bankers, how many bankers have they signed up?
THE SECRETARY: Two hundred and eighty-seven, sir.
THE BOSS: Good, good. Signing up this president of the World Bank, together with her secretary, that was quite a coup. Well done, gentlemen! It’s a shame though that the figures on clergymen were relatively low, but we all know that their numbers are down, as it is such a high-risk occupation being a clergyman these days, But let’s talk about something more urgent, gentlemen. Let’s talk about Faust.
(Mephisto and Pheles both look even more surprised)
MEPHISTO: Faust, sir?
THE BOSS: Yes, the one and only Johann Faustus, who had slipped through our fingers about five centuries ago, counted in the human terms. That’s approximately four galactic days, fifteen hours and thirty-six minutes. Those pathetic, pitiful humans! Faust had tried to make Homunculus and the Philosopher’s Stone. Couldn’t do either, so he signed up his soul. Then he outfoxed us and got away with it. And he’s a celebrity. In the Galactic terms it may have only been four days of fame, but it’s done our image no good at all. There were books, poems and plays written about him, even an opera or two. Haven’t seen that, fortunately, because I hate singing. I hate those fat middle-aged tenors trying to look like young men in love for the first time! And what I hate most of all is when they have women singing man’s parts. Imagine Cathy here having man’s pants put on her and made to sing some aria. Well, a pair of nice tightly fitting blacj leggings, I could put up with that, but singing? I hate singing! Anyway, what I mean is, there’s hardly a week gone by without someone taking on this Faust theme and making it into something. Even a TV commercial, as I’ve heard! Now it’s gone so far that his Infernal Majesty has taken a new interest in the matter and told me to do something about it. So, you two come up with some ideas, quick and smart!
PHELES (quickly): Could we perhaps drop those self-assessment sheets, sir? Otherwise that might hold us back a bit.
THE BOSS: OK. And the Market Analyses too, that could wait. Now put on your thinking caps, and come up with something. You’ve done well as trouble-shooters before, and I have confidence in you. I hope that it won’t be misplaced. Do your searches, come up with some idea of how to get rid of that Faust nuisance! Understood?
MEPHISTO & PHELES: (in unisono) Yes Sir!
EXEUNT THE BOSS, THE SECRETARY
PHELES: So, what do you make of all this, Mephisto?
MEPHISTO: That the Boss doesn’t like opera?
PHELES: And females singing male parts! But he wouldn’t mind black leggings on Cathy. Would you?
MEPHISTO: Don’t be silly.
PHELES: She was a bit embarrassed to hear those verses you wrote, wasn’t she?
MEPHISTO: Please, let’s change the subject. We are in poo, aren’t we?
PHELES: Nothing that these two heads and a female one, I’m about to call, won’t solve.
MEPHISTO: You are going to bring in Brigitte?
PHELES: That’s precisely it. Meanwhile, you could fill these good people in on some detail.
PHELES walks to backstage, where he makes a call on his mobile. MEPHISTO gets as close to the audience as possible to establish intimacy.
MEPHISTO: Time for the introductions, I think. My name is Mephisto. I’m the villain in this play, the Devil, the original tempter. I’m also a poet. He (indicating PHELES) is my partner. Pheles doesn’t write poems. But he has a devilishly brilliant mind, pity that most of it gets wasted on playing computer games. The guy who barged in on us so unexpectedly was our boss, as no doubt you’ve gathered. He’s not important. Cathy, his secretary, is more important, especially to me, because I’m in love with her. But I’m afraid that she’s not in love with me, in fact I suspect that she’s more interested in the Boss. The Boss and the secretary, the usual story, isn’t it silly?
BRIGITTE (who in the meantime had joined PHELES and together they walked to the fore-scène): Fits you. Because you’ve always been a silly boy.
MEPHISTO: Brigitte! You came!
BRIGITTE: Can’t leave you guys in a lurch, can I? Besides, this Faust thing interests me.
PHELES: Don’t tell us that you two’d had an affair…
BRIGITTE: And what if we did? That would have happened and be over long before I met you two.
MEPHISTO: You didn’t meet the two of us, Brigitte. You met my person. Pheles didn’t exist yet, as you know.
BRIGITTE: How could I forget that?! I still get flashes of that scene before my inner eyes. Guilt ridden and panicky, after I’d chopped off that piece of your anatomy, which at the time I found so offending—
MEPHISTO (to the audience): Don’t get the wrong idea — she’s talking about my tail..! Thankfully, we devils do have tails.
BRIGITTE: —yes, your tail. You know that I found the rest of you irresistible, but that tail was so repulsive to me. Since then I got used to seeing devils with the tails, but such things take time.
MEPHISTO (to the audience): So, when I wasn’t looking, she just picked up an axe and chopped it off!
BRIGITTE: Yes, I couldn’t bear the sight of it, so I took an axe and chopped it off. Then I didn’t know what to do with that snake-like fork-ended thing that was left squirming on the floor. In the end I picked it up and threw it into the fireplace. But to this day I don’t understand how could it happen that it had turned into Pheles?
PHELES: Nobody quite understands that. I took some time researching the various theories that the Hell’s scientists have come up with regarding this unique phenomenon of my immaculate birth. The latest theory, which was discussed and hotly argued during a recently held scientific symposium, is that the serpent power Cundalahini was behind the transformation. But the trouble is that this force is only recognised by those on the outside of mainstream science. According to its exponents, Cundalahini force is normally dormant and remains coiled up like a serpent at the base of the devil’s spine. Only when aroused by some stimulation, typically of a sexual nature, it would move into the tail of the devil it inhabits, in this case still named Mephistopheles. But as the tail had been so suddenly amputated it had nowhere to go, so it rushed up along the spine into the brain of Mephisto.
BRIGITTE: I always wondered what had made him stop stuttering so suddenly. That was the only other flaw I found on him. But how could the dead and limp piece of tail that was thrown into the blazing fire have turned into you, Pheles, such a virile young devil?
PHELES: Simply through the process known as ‘homunculisation’, according to latest theories of the leading experts. You mustn’t forget that fire is our natural element, Brigitte. That includes you, now that you’ve been granted the coveted Hell’s citizenship.
BRIGITTE: Probationary only, I’m still on a trial at this point, my dear. Which reminds me; I better go and tell my Boss where I am, so that I don’t get fired...
(BRIGITTE walks to the back of stage to talk on her mobile, while MEPHISTO continues to talk to the audience.)
MEPHISTO: I was on my first solo mission when Brigitte dropped into that old tavern, The Goblin and the Goat, which I was supposed be haunting. She had just been ran out of Chillingbluff, the town where she’d previously been doing good business as the leading local prostitute, and she immediately acted as if she owned the place—
PHELES (also to audience): — You see, he used to get such noble assignments, like haunting abandoned old taverns, in those days. That was before we were demoted to this three-piece business suit job.
MEPHISTO: Yes, with this crowd you start at the top and have to laboriously work your way to the bottom—
PHELES: —and sometimes, like he did, you have to live on grasshoppers and frogs, in the process—
MEPHISTO: —while if you happen to catch a viper you treat it as a great delicacy—
PHELES: —especially the venom it carries, that’s something really, really—
MEPHISTO: —You must understand; to us it is a kind of tonic. But personally, I’ve gone off it lately. Well, back to my story. I was stuck in that tavern, which was falling in ruins around me, because my bosses forgot all about me—
PHELES: —Can’t blame them. Not only is he such a forgettable character, but also at the time there were great upheavals in Hell. The general election was called. Then the opposition party, the Demonocrats, had won, and they were all too busy raising the temperature of their own seats by a thousand degrees—
MEPHISTO: —whilst the senior public servants were busy too, burning tones of documents under the boilers, making those souls suffer even more, I was there living like a hermit in that derelict building, foraging in the surrounding woods, all forgotten about, so perhaps quite understandably I was a bit run down, when Brigitte dropped into the tavern. Naturally, at first I tried to get rid of her. The regular poltergeist phenomena hadn’t worked on her, neither had my otherwise so successful Tax Inspector impersonation, so I tried a three-headed rabies afflicted black dog with a fiery tail and a bloodied mouth and paws. She chased me with a meat cleaver she found in the kitchen all the way to the attic, where I had to pop into the fourth dimension to dodge her. She laughed her head of when she saw me walking towards her as a giant caterpillar with the human hands holding a hangman’s noose. She knew straight away who I was and told me so. Not that she would have seen many run-down devils in her professional life, but she must have come across quite a few depressed clients.
PHELES (again to audience): She got interested in him, and the two of them became an item. Brigitte was the dominant one in the relationship.
MEPHISTO: Yes, I have to admit that. I was still young and inexperienced. But Brigitte taught me a lot about the ways of the world and about humans.
PHELES: That’s because she wanted to turn you into one.
MEPHISTO: Yes. There was one major problem that stood in the way.
PHELES: A long-standing problem. It was that tail.
MEPHISTO: Which she cunningly chopped off. You already know that it had turned into him, Pheles, after she had thrown it into the fire. I came into the lounge, looked at the fireplace, and in a lotus position there sits Pheles, almost fully grown, naked and really hugsome little devil, with the fine pink skin just like a new-born baby.
PHELES: Like a Homunculus. Anyway, that’s how I was born. I’m his tail. And since the dominant aspect of his personality is creativity, that part stayed with him, while I have inherited the part that was suppressed, the rational bit. In reality we are like one devil in two bodies, or like a human with a split personality. At least that’s how one of our expert psychologists explained it to us, after we were discovered in that tavern. Somebody finally remembered Meph and his mission, and came to rescue him from that tavern. Instead of one, they found two devils there.
MEPHISTO: And one prostitute. They took us all to Hell, even Brigitte.
PHELES: Yes, to our analysts she too was an interesting case. After an extensive debriefing the Hell authorities offered her a job in the public relations department, as well as naturalisation, and she had accepted. She’s now well on her way to becoming one of the high-powered females in the service.
MEPHISTO: We haven’t done so badly ourselves.
PHELES: True. Because of our unique status as tailless devils we were first sent to a special course for recruitment officers, where we learned how to close deals, overcome objections, transmit enthusiasm, warmth and caring in our selling attitude, and how to get more and more and more recruits. Also how to troubleshoot—
(Meanwhile BRIGITTE had finished her phone call and joined them on the fore-stage)
BRIGITTE: Which brings us to the problem at hand. Troubleshooting the Faust case.
MEPHIST (to BRIGITTE): How did you go? Will they let you stay with us for a while?
BRIGITTE: Believe it or not, I was given a green light immediately. The Boss made a quick enquiry and the Faust case is a high priority one, apparently. So you can count on me.
PHELES: That’s great! Does the big guy, I mean His Insignificance, actually expect us to fix it? And now? (to MEPHISTO) You’re supposed to be the man of ideas. (to BRIGITTE) And you’re the scheming female. I’m only a humble rationalist.
BRIGITTE: The root of the Faust affair lies in the sixteenth century, so we’ll have to do some time-travelling.
PHELES: You’re the expert on that time period, so you’re the obvious one to be beamed over there.
BRIGITTE: As a temptress, maybe, but if there is any negotiating involved it will have to be done by one of you.
MEPHISTO: Why so?
BRIGITTE: Because men like Doctor Faust have always been male chauvinist pigs of the highest calibre, that’s why. Such a man wouldn’t dream of making deals of any kind with a mere female!
PHELES: You might well be right.
BRIGITTE: Bloody heaven I am!
MEPHISTO: We’ll have to bear this in mind, because the deal that was done with Faust on the first instance will likely have to be renegotiated.
BRIGITTE: How would we go about that?
PHELES: Well, if we could find the root of the Faust affair; we could change the course of events and turn them to work in our favour.
MEPHISTO: You mean, undoing what has already been done?
BRIGITTE: Can’t be easy.
PHELES: It’s simple. We’ll enter one of the parallel worlds, go back in time and start afresh. We need to act decisively, to make a really strong imprint on our chosen plane of reality.
MEPHISTO: Yes, but what about the other planes?
PHELES: If we make a big deep furrow, the other realities nearby would tend to fall into the groove. There should be a snowballing effect.
BRIGITTE: Shouldn’t we first do some research on the fellow you want to fall into groove?
PHELES: Absolutely. Let’s have a look at the computer—
(they walk to the computer)
I’d first google Faust, that’s a good start. (looks at screen) I knew it! There are only fifty-six million entries on Faust. Well, here is one ... Faust is the protagonist of a classic German legend; a highly successful scholar, but also dissatisfied with his life, and so makes a deal with the devil it for youth, knowledge, and magical power. Literary treatments of the story include the Volksbuch of Johannes Spies, 1587, Christopher Marlowe's Dr. Faustus, 1593, Goethe's masterpiece Faust, 1808 and 1833—
MEPHISTO: Stop! It says Goethe’s masterpiece, doesn’t it? Now look up Goethe, Faust. We can’t possibly leave Goethe out.
PHELES: Fine. Here ... Wikipedia ... It is Goethe's most famous work and considered by many to be one of the greatest works of German literature ... et cetera ... that’s not interesting ... Here … Faust. Goethe’s drama of dissatisfaction, seduction, and infanticide is rooted in German legend, in the academic turmoil of his student days ... in part two the focus is on social phenomena such as history, politics, psychology—
BRIGITTE: Stop! We’ll use psychology.
PHELES: That’s your domain. You’d have used a lot of that in you former profession, so we better listen to you.
BRIGITTE: It’s simple. Faust wants youth, knowledge and magical power. He signs up and gets it all from us. Goethe more than two centuries later writes a famous story about it. Note, that without this, Faust would never have become a celebrity.
PHELES: So what do we do?
BRIGITTE: Can’t you see it? We would naturally want him to do the same as he did the first time, only this time we want to remain in full control.
PHELES: But we still need him to sign up with us.
MEPHISTO: Of course, to get him do it we’ll concentrate more on Faust’s egotism, on his vanity.
BRIGITTE: You’ve got it! And we could start by planting a nicely forged and good looking parchment among his papers, making it appear to be an ancient prophecy about his imminent rise to the realm of the immortals, how does that sound, guys?
MEPHISTO: I think it’s a wonderful idea! Let’s dangle the carrot of impending fame in front of our impoverished professor. Then let him become bedazzled by the imminent glory, by splendour and celebrity that lies in store for him. Let him luxuriate in thoughts about the fellow human beings standing in awe in front of him, the famous superstar, dancing wild rounds around his pedestal, and worshipping him as the Golden Calf!
PHELES: That’s the poet talking and it’s absolutely perfect! Worshipping him as their idol. The mortals are always at their most vulnerable while indulging in their egotistic tendencies, in their pride, and in their greed—
BRIGITTE: —Throw in a bit of sex …
MEPHISTO: Unfulfiled desire …
PHELES: Fine. Brigitte, you could do the sex bit. From what I’ve seen here, the sex object Doctor Faust is wooing is called Marguerite. You’ll be Marguerite.
BRIGITTE: Marguerite? Isn’t that a bit long? Why not taking it along the modern lines? Let’s call her Margo, or better still, Meg!
MEPHISTO: And make her act as a modern young woman?
BRIGITTE: Certainly. Don’t you think that would offer a whole new set of possibilities? We need to dazzle Faust; we need to show a whole new world to him. When he’s fully ours, then we could squash him!
MEPHISTO: I’d still stick to Marguerite. He’s old-fashioned, I expect.
PHELES: So what’s needed now is the forged parchment with the prophecy. I’ll see that it is made promptly and properly. Further, we’ll need a point in the fourth dimension, from which unseen and unsuspected we could observe the plot unfold and act when it is needed. That spot is going to be here:
(PHELES walks to one side of the fore-scène and with a piece of chalk he draws a Magical Circle around him, which for the rest of the play would define the area where these three characters could steal in from the backstage and remain there, deemed unseen. From here they will also be able to freeze all action with a magical pass of hands.)
You, Brigitte, go and put on your twenty-first century modern girl face and outfit. That should keep you busy for a while.
(BRIGITTE gives him a coquettish smile, and walks backstage.
PHELES: Mephisto, will you be our envoy?
MEPHISTO: I thought you’d never ask.
PHELES: You’re the natural choice. Now, while we’re getting ready, I suggest that we treat the audience to some music and at the same time give them some foretaste of our sinister personality! You, Mephisto, are the one with the artistic talent. Does that extend even to acting and singing?
MEPHISTO: Certainly! The Song of the Golden Calf is coming up! You’ll just have to excuse me my French!
(Song of the Golden Calf – Le veau d'or est toujours debout! A Boris Christoff or Nicolai Ghiaurov recording would be perfect for this. MEPHISTO stays on the fore-scène, acting and mimicking, pretending that he is singing the song. While this goes on, the scene is being prepared behind for the Faust’s study.)
END OF ACT ONE
(The main room also used as a study, in FAUST’s medieval house. The entrance leading to the street is on the right; the door leading to the kitchen and other rooms in the house is on the left. A few antique pieces of furniture are about, but nothing fancy, as our doctor obviously is not too well off. An old table with a few chairs dominate. Situated near the front entrance is a large hallstand, which is now empty. A pile of papers and some old looking books clatter the top of the table, more books are scattered around the room, mainly piled up on chairs. A candleholder with a pair of candles stands on the table, burning. An astrological chart of some sort hangs on the wall at the back. Everything we see in the room looks cheap and threadbare, so that we get the feeling that little was spent on furniture and on items of general comfort, because most of the money must have gone into buying books.
FAUST, played by the same actor as THE BOSS character, now looks as an old man with a beard – this should be removable so that it can be taken off without causing pain when he regains his youth. He sits by the table looking at some papers. He looks depressed, obviously down on his luck. The first few bars of the First Act of Gounod’s Faust are heard, then faded out)
FAUST: (recites the first few verses from Goethe’s Faust)
I've studied now Philosophy
And Jurisprudence, Medicine —
And even, alas! Theology —
From end to end, with labour keen;
And here, poor fool! With all my lore
I stand, no wiser than before:
I'm Magister — yea, Doctor — height,
And straight or cross-wise, wrong or right,
These ten years long, with many woes,
I've led my scholars by the nose —
And see, that nothing can be known!
That knowledge cuts me to the bone.
I'm cleverer, true, than those fops of teachers,
Doctors and Magisters, Scribes and Preachers;
Neither scruples nor doubts come now to smite me,
Nor Hell nor Devil can longer affright me.
(he breathes onto his frozen fingers, looks at the audience)
It’s cold! Yeah, I might be cleverer than all those dashers, doctors, teachers or preachers, but tell me, what have I to show for it? Just look around this room – all these are the fruits of my labours of many years!
(he picks up a book, flicks through pages)
Phew! The Gutenberg bible. The blighter had a hundred and eighty of these printed, just fancy that; with this many copies around could it really have any value? On top of that, this idiot named Martin Luther had put his name on it! And he scribbled all over it on margins! Now, tell me, who’d want a book with Luther’s signature and scribblings? But I need to sell something, and urgently. Why, it’s been such a cold wintry weather this year, and I don’t even own a half decent winter coat!
(looks at the empty hallstand by the door, stands up surprised)
I say, where is my winter coat? It was hanging over there only last night! Those darned Gypsies, it must have been them for sure; yesterday they stole a chicken from my backyard – I bet they’ve been here again and this time they even got inside the house!
(Through the entrance next to hallstand in comes SIEBEL (previously THE SECRETARY). She is almost lost under the heavy winter coat, which is far too big for her and which she trails along the ground. She takes off the coat that looks scruffy and has certainly seen better times, and hangs it on the hallstand. We see that she is a rather pretty and shapely young girl, though, like Faust, somewhat poorly dressed. MEPHISTO and PHELES creep into the Magical Circle, standing there, silently observing and occasionally reacting to the following scene.)
SIEBEL: Bhhrr! It’s so cold out there.
FAUST: So, that’s where that coat was! It had walked away. I thought that it must have walked out on some Gypsy, but it was on you.
SIEBEL: Morning, doc.
FAUST: Herr Doctor! Herr Doctor – and how many times do I have to tell you how the servant girl in a respectable German household should properly address her employer and benefactor.
SIEBEL: Employer? When was it that I was last paid? Let me think, was it February last year or March 1545?
FAUST: You get your full board, which is a lot more than you ever had when you were living in that orphanage, just remember this! And how do you repay me for rescuing you from that place full of vermin and lecherous clergymen? By steeling my winter coat.
SIEBEL: I only borrowed it, so that I could go out to the market and buy another chicken in place of the one that was stolen from our yard yesterday, to cook you a proper dinner tonight.
FAUST: (weakening) You borrowed it without asking me.
SIEBEL: You weren’t here. (accusingly) You were still in bed.
FAUST: That’s because I was so cold. Now stop being a vixen, go, bring some wood and make us a fire.
(Siebel leaves with dancing steps through the door on left. Faust wanted to do more reprimanding, but she is already gone, so at least he yells after her:)
And make sure that you knock on the door before you come in again! (to audience) Perhaps one day I might teach her some manners. (points to the table) If she could ever understand how much sweat went into all this learning, only to earn me the privilege to now call myself Herr Doctor, but this young generation—
(He waves his hand and buries his head in the papers on the table.)
(MEPHISTO and PHELES can converse unheard and unseen, while remaining within the circle.)
MEPHISTO: What do you say to that girl, Pheles?
PHELES: She reminds me of someone. Wait a minute, I got it, she looks like our Cathy!
MEPHISTO: Doesn’t she ever? Only, those shabby clothes suit her better, and wearing no makeup also improves her looks.
PHELES: As if I didn’t know it! I’ve seen you fall into love a few times already, is it about to happen again? The trouble is that nothing good had ever come out of it for either of us.
MEPHISTO: Yes, but have you noticed those lips on her? That colour must be natural; surely they don’t have any lipstick in the sixteenth century, or do they?
PHELES: We might yet be surprised with what they do have. Resourcefulness, for sure, to it add some feminine mystique—
MEPHISTO: This just oozes from her. Any idea who she might be?
PHELES: A servant girl, obviously, judging from the way he treats her. Now, I’ll have to go and make some arrangements with Scottie about that point of materialisation.
(PHELES hands MEPHISTO a scrap of paper.)
You follow the girl outside, and make sure that she finds this piece of paper and that she gives it to Faust. It’s the second instalment of that prophecy he’s about to find. And then be ready to turn into a poodle. A black one, you understand?
MEPHISTO: A black poodle, that’s me—
PHELES: Follow her into the house.
MEPHISTO: I’d follow her anywhere!
PHELES: Don’t overdo it. Remember, we are here to get Faust sign a contract, the girl is just incidental.
MEPHISTO: The kind of incident I find agreeable. Let’s go!
(EXEUNT PHELES, MEPHISTO)
(Throughout the previous dialogue, Faust has been studying his papers. Suddenly he lifts one up, turns it over, examines it…)
FAUST: This is interesting; I don’t recall seeing this manuscript before. It looks like some old prophecy. There is some talk here about prophetic gift ... pity, the paper’s old and it’s damaged a bit here ... No, that can’t be – there is something that appears to be about me! Here: (reads) Doctor Johann Faust, that’s me, surely, through Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, will become a figure of classical literature ... that's interesting, flattering, really ... But that’s what’s written here. But, it looks incomplete ... and who’s Goethe, anyway?
(a knock on the door)
Oh, could that be this Goethe they’re referring to? Perhaps to facilitate my entry into classical literature? Please, do come in!
SIEBEL: It’s only me, doc.
FAUST: (with some resignation) Herr Doctor, Herr Doctor, haven’t we been through this before? Anyway, at least you didn’t forget to knock before coming in. I thought it might be Goethe knocking.
SIEBEL: I didn’t see any Goethe, Herr Doctor. Unless… there was a black poodle outside, and he had a piece of paper in his mouth that he wanted to give me. Here it is, there is some writing on it.
(SIEBEL hands the paper to FAUST)
He is cute, he licked my hand. Could we keep him? WE could call him Goethe, that’s a nice name!
FAUST: We can’t afford to have a dog. But he is more interested in the piece of paper SIEBEL gave him) Heavens! It looks like this could be the missing part of that prophecy!
(FAUST reads, while SIEBEL puts on a good act of a curious maidservant, moving around the room with the feather duster she has picked up from somewhere, all of which gives her an excuse to occasionally steal a look over FAUST’s shoulder.)
... in 1509 a Johann Faust from Simmern receives the A.B. at Heidelberg; … ah, that’s definitely about me ... having studied theology he turns to magic and medicine ... yes, that’s me alright! ... Faust's successes as astrologer and soothsayer ... yes, yes ... here it comes … and the same Faust later becomes a major figure in world literature, namely in the morality play, largely compiled from sixteenth-century books of travel description, magic, demonology, theological discussion, religious-moral edification, proverb lore, and humorous anecdote. Its central action, more concentrated on a single protagonist and a single antagonist than earlier magus stories, has dramatic possibilities that Johan Wolfgang von Goethe, Christopher Marlowe and others immediately recognize and exploit. The problem that Faust has … however … is … oh damn it! It becomes completely illegible from here on … the problem that Faust has, and that’s it! Now, I’m supposed to have a problem, and I don’t know what it is. Or even where to look for it—
SIEBEL: (can’t keep her tongue tight any longer) Oh, come on, doc, there are problems everywhere! Look here, I have a—
(She proceeds to pull up her skirt, revealing a substantial part of the thigh. While doing this she looks and acts as a completely innocent virgin. FAUST watches her with some interest, and for as long as the modesty of a 16th century part-time theologian allows him; finally he interferes.)
FAUST: Look, Siebel, I'm not interested in this kind of problems, and didn't I ask you to refer to me as doctor or sir? The problems you have with your underwear are of no consequence, and of no use to me, and certainly not to the classical literature. They would make me look uninspired, if not downright moronic. Or liquorish, and that would be even worse. What I need here obviously must be a problem of world magnitude … a genuine literary problem, something poetic but challenging, something people would really love to listen to, or something that would even make them want to commit suicide for.
SIEBEL: Hey, doc, there is this minstrel who comes to the markets and don’t people just love listening to him! His songs are always full of problems. He insists that it’s high literature. A dashing young knight falls in love with a beautiful dame—
FAUST: Don't be silly, girl, just don't be silly. A high literature! When you are a bit older, I might let you read some pages from Boccaccio or Chaucer, as a timely warning about the dangers that lurk on its shadowy grounds, waiting to pounce on an innocent young girl … now I wonder, this von Goethe, would he write some juicy bits about me too? To help to sell the book!
But let’s face it, the old-fashioned problems that anyone could pick up at the markets for a dime are of no use to me. This calls for something quite extraordinary!
SIEBEL: You've got a problem, doc.
FAUST: Herr Doctor to you. Did you say a dog brought this paper to you?
SIEBEL: Yes. He’s in the kitchen, I gave him some milk.
FAUST: Maybe there’s some more of this somewhere, where he’s picked it up. Maybe he could lead you to it.
SIEBEL: I’ll try, and see if he does. Goethe, Goethe!
(She calls and goes into the kitchen. She returns almost immediately, looks amazed.)
FAUST: Herr Doctor. Or Sir.
SIEBEL: Herr Doctor, or Sir. There is a gentleman in the kitchen, he wants to see you!
FAUST: Could that be this Goethe, they’re talking about? Devil knows.
(SIEBEL hides in the kitchen, as MEPHISTO enters through the kitchen door. Throughout the following scene she is seen intermittently spying through door slightly ajar.)
MEPHISTO: Greetings, Doctor Faust. Hope that you’re not too busy—
FAUST: Ah! Are you by any chance Herr von Goethe? I had How did you get into the kitchen? Never mind … welcome, welcome sir, to my humble household.
MEPHISTO: Sorry, but Herr von Goethe I am not.
FAUST: Mr Marlow, perhaps?
MEPHISTO: I’m afraid not. Neither am I Friedrich Müller, Christian Grabbe, Alexander Pushkin, Hermann Hesse, Thomas Mann, Mikhail Bulgakov, Terry Pratchett, or any of the hundreds of other wordmongers that will ever write about Doctor Faust.
FAUST: All these people will write about me, you say? That’s great! But who are you? (sniffs air) Is something burning? (calls out) Siebel, are you lighting that fire?
MEPHISTO: Sorry. An occupational hazard. Mephisto is my name.
FAUST: What sort of business are you in?
MEPHISTO: Our business is in fire.
FAUST: Are you selling firecrackers or something?
MEPHISTO: You misunderstand me, Herr Doctor. It's an eternal fire.
FAUST: And you sell that?
MEPHISTO: The way we look at it, Her Doctor, we don’t sell anything. What we do is offer services.
FAUST: Yes, but in exchange of what? Don’t tell me that you are doing this free. No one ever does anything for nothing.
MEPHISTO: We offer our prospective customers fixed plans that are highly affordable and extremely advantageous. Beneficial to both parties that decide to be part of the agreement.
FAUST: So you offer fixed plans – for what exactly?
MEPHISTO: Career paths, opportunities, opening up of new horizons, self-improvement, personal growth, increased power of mind, development of personality, advancement of character, success in life endeavours—
FAUST: Heavens! Oh, by the way, I was thinking about making contact with the Heavens, when you came. But you are not the Heavens, it appears, or are you?
MEPHISTO: No, not at all, Herr Doctor, though I must admit that basically we are in the same line of business. But at the opposite poles, so to say. Still, in a way, we complement each other.
FAUST: But I was really going to contact the Heavens!
MEPHISTO: How would you have done that, sir?
FAUST: Why, with this formula I have, naturally.
MEPHISTO: Could you show it to me, please?
(FAUST hands him a parchment he has on the table. MEPHISTO looks at it briefly.)
Oh! Just as I suspected. It's outdated. Inferior, in fact. That's why His Inferiority has appropriated it, to put it in use on some of our sectors. Somewhere down the line it must have reached you.
FAUST: My formula is inferior, you say?
MEPHISTO: Unfortunately, yes, sir. It certainly won’t lead you to the destination you desired. But you have nothing to regret, sir. Our company is better. It’s more progressive, more reliable. We only use guaranteed scientific methods and scrupulously modern equipment. Our chief aims are miracles too, but principally in the field of economy. We can provide the best references; we guarantee absolute discretion without any obligation. We serve a clear wine to all our customers. Such as this.
(From the pocket on his coat MEPHISTO conjures up a bottle and two ornamental goblets, puts it all on the table.)
FAUST: What is this?”
MEPHISTO: This is a bottle, Herr Doctor. It’s made of glass. It can hold liquids, such as this fine old wine.
FAUST: Old wine? Wouldn’t that turn into vinegar?
MEPHISTO: Not at all if properly treated. In fact, it gets better and better, with age. And this one is first class. Just try it!
(he opens the bottle, fills the goblets, offers one to FAUST)
And with it a little preview of the pleasures that may await you.
(While they are drinking, the singing choir and Mephistopheles from the last act of Faust are heard in the background. PHELES slips onto the fore-scène, from where he would observe the action.)
MEPHISTO: To your health!
FAUST: Cheers. Ohm! It’s heavenly!
MEPHISTO: Hardly. But it’s clear, non-corruptible. Distilled from the corrupt politicians. And inside traders. And bankers. And judges. And captains of industry—
MEPHISTO: They all used to drink only the best available, when they still could, I can assure you. And not only this; nearly all of them had spouses who were much younger. Or at least had plenty of facelifts and boobs jobs.
FAUST: I don’t know what you mean by facelifts or boobs jobs, but did you mean the elixir of youth?
MEPHISTO: You’ve said it.
FAUST: Does this mean then that now, having drunk this wine, I’m going to regain my youth?
MEPHISTO: Unquestionably, but only if you fulfil certain other conditions.
FAUST: Forgive me if I’m too inquisitive, but you mentioned facelifts. Exactly, what is a facelift? Or a boob job? Sounds interesting. Could I have them too?
MEPHISTO: You shouldn’t need either, sir. It’s mostly the females of the species who have these done for themselves. Well, some males do too occasionally, mainly the actors in Hollywood.
FAUST: Hollywood, what’s that?
MEPHISTO: That’s a place in America, where in future they will be shooting motion pictures. If you ask me, they should be shooting some actors too, especially those with the facelifts…
FAUST: You mean, shooting them with arquebuses? And would they be killing the singers too?
MEPHISTO: No, the motion pictures are being shot with cameras. And no one gets killed, except an odd critic or two. You see, motion pictures are all make-belief, similar to the theatre, but instead of being on stage the actors and everything else is seen on canvas.
FAUST: You astonish me, sir. And all this will be happening in America? The place those Spaniards claim to have recently discovered? I never believed what they said about it, I always say: never trust these Spaniards!
MEPHISTO: Oh yes, they have indeed discovered America, and it’s the place where all this and a lot more would be happening. I might be able to show you some of it, but only if we could come to a certain agreement. That’s why we should now get straight to the point, Herr Doctor. You need a problem, an exemplary problem.
FAUST: How did you know that?
MEPHISTO: We make it our business to know about such things. And we can provide that problem. Provided that—
FAUST: —Aha, here it comes. I knew it would. You want my soul. To hell with you!
MEPHISTO: Your soul? Ha, ha, ha! You, Herr Doctor, such an educated man, with several degrees. And you still believe in human souls? Now, don’t tell me that you even believe in transmigration of such?
FAUST: Well, yes, maybe … I'm not really sure, no, perhaps I don't … but, still … to lose a soul, just like this, wouldn’t that be careless?
MEPHISTO: What's in a soul, if you don't even believe that you have one? Just sign here that you agree with the placement of your personality, we'll file it on our computer—
FAUST: —marked: destined to rot in Hell, I know.
(Siebel, who has recovered from her initial fright somewhat, walks in onto stage with some determination. She goes to FAUST and whispers something into his ear. MEPHISTO watches her, while trying to continue the conversation with FAUST. It makes him stutter.)
MEPHISTO: The des-destination of our personalities is of no concern to us. Dis-distillation, perhaps. Certainly, no rot-rotting. Look, Herr Doctor, if you are going to be dis-dis-distilled—I mean destined, to become famous, immoral … no, I mean immortal, surely all else is only of secondary—
SIEBEL: I just thought that I should that I should tell you—
FAUST: Out! Siebel!—Out!
(SIEBEL runs away rather gracefully, with MEPHISTO leering quite shamelessly. PHELES decides that the situation needs to be rationally reassessed. He stops the action with magical pass of his hands. FAUST freezes on the spot. MEPHISTO walks to the fore-scène to confer with PHELES.)
PHELES: I thought it was getting a bit out of hand. I know, that girl’s beautiful, but you’ll need to contain yourself, remain in control, Mephisto. That also means controlling your libidinous desires. It’s Faust we’re after, you’ll have to constantly bear that on mind!
MEPHISTO: I can’t help it, she’s so lovely!
PHELES: Then you can’t be trusted to be left entirely on your own there, I can see this. I’ll have to join you right now. You go back to Faust, the Cavalry’s on its way. Now, beam me up, Scottie!
(PHELES makes the magical pass to bring FAUST back to life. EXIT PHELES, while MEPHISTO goes back to FAUST, who wakes up from his freeze, continuing as if nothing happened.)
FAUST: You see, that's just like her, Siebel! I'm sure she’s been listening at the door and now she's telling me some fibs. There is a real sinner for you! Yes, what a wonderful idea, you can have Siebel, in exchange for the problem.
MEPHISTO: Really? Is she a sinner? To have her in Hell that might be an interesting proposition. Well, let's have a look at her. Pheles, you can come out now!
(From underneath the winter coat Pheles makes his way onto the stage. He carries his laptop.)
Oh, here you are. We’ll need your laptop right now.
(PHELES puts the laptop on the table and turns it on.)
FAUST: How did he get here?
PHELES: Through the time warp, like myself.
FAUST: Time warp? What’s that?
PHELES: According to Einstein's theory, time and space form a continuum, which can bend, fold or warp from the observer's point of view; naturally this is all relative to such factors as movement or gravitation—
FAUST: What’s he blabbing about? And who’s he, anyway?
MEPHISTO: Oh, sorry, I forgot to introduce you. This is Pheles, my partner and a computer whiz.
FAUST: You mean a wizard?
MEPHISTO: I wouldn’t quite call him that. He’s a rationalist and computer expert.
FAUST: Computer ... What’s that?
PHELES: (opens his laptop, points to it)
Technically speaking, computer is a programmable machine. Generally it includes the motherboard, central processing unit, also known as CPU, memory, also known as RAM, hard drive, and video card. Plus a host of accessories.
FAUST: But what does it do?
PHELES: It’s used mainly for calculating and storage of data.
FAUST: Something like an abacus?
PHELES: Well, yes, only much more advanced.
FAUST: (to MEPHISTO) But what does he do with this … what do you call it?
MEPHISTO: Computer. Not much, really. Most of the time he only plays games.
FAUST: Games? What sort of games?
PHELES: Computer games.
MEPHISTO: That’s another of our inventions. It's taken, or rather it will take, the world by a storm.
FAUST: Like the card games that our magistrate had to outlaw recently, after those blasted Gypsies brought the playing cards with them here from god-knows-where? Some people just wouldn’t know when to stop. When the church service attendances dropped alarmingly and the priests started to complain about the measly collections, the chief magistrate himself decided to step in.
MEPHISTO: Yes, introduction of the playing cards through the migrating Romanies certainly was one of our better executed schemes, quite successful at the time. Well, playing games on computer can be a bit like playing card games. Only, ha, ha, it’s even more addictive!
FAUST: When he plays, does he play with you?
MEPHISTO: No, he plays with his computer.
FAUST: Has it got another devil hiding in it?
MEPHISTO: No. Just the modern equivalent. Microsoft. Pheles, could you show Herr Doctor, what else your computer can do, besides games? Look up Siebel.
PHELES: Right-o, Mephisto! Siebel. But what should I look for?
MEPHISTO: I told you. Look for Siebel.
PHELES: Yes, but there are about twelve million entries on Siebel here.
MEPHISTO: That many?
PHELES: Well, there’s a software company …
FAUST: She’s a woman.
MEPHISTO: Isn’t she ever..?!
PHELES: Well, at least that eliminates about half the population. We should now be down to maybe six million. Let’s limit the searches to Germany. Still, over a two million Siebels. It must be a common name.
MEPHISTO: Reduce it to Heidelberg, Germany, and the 16th century.
PHELES: Now, that’s much better, leaves only one thousand three hundred and sixty. We could work with that. OK. S ... s ... s ... Siebel, Alice … Oh, nice—
FAUST: Not Alice ...
PHELES: Siebel, Barbara. Even better … a part-time prostitute—
FAUST: This one's a full-time housekeeper.
PHELES: Let's have a look at housekeepers. Google, housekeepers … Siebel … Siebel! Cordelia. Housekeeper and part-time prostitute.
FAUST: Cordelia Siebel is a prostitute? I know her and I had no idea! Would you believe it that I even considered her for this position, before I got Siebel?
PHELES: Yes, she’s entered here as a housekeeper, but she also has a record as prostitute. Must be moonlighting, I’d say. She steels, on top of all this.
FAUST: They all do. Siebel steals too, of course, but I don’t think that she would ever make it as a prostitute. If she had any such inclinations I would have found out, by now. Just put plain Siebel there.
MEPHISTO: That’s a family name, isn’t it? Doesn’t she have a first name?
FAUST: She probably has, but they never told me that at the orphanage.
PHELES: Sorry. We have no record. She’s completely clean.
MEPHISTO: (whispers to PHELES) Nice work, Pheles. (aloud) I regret to have to inform you, Her Doctor, that there's nothing joyful we could tell you about your Siebel. We can’t accept her, I’m afraid.
FAUST: And I'm afraid, Mr Mephisto, that you are wrong. Compared to other girls, Siebel—
MEPHISTO: Splendid! Now we’re getting somewhere. Compared to other girls, you've just said it.
PHELES: How about comparing your Siebel with a girl of the twenty-first century?
FAUST: Well, why?
MEPHISTO: First of all, let’s not use the term ‘girl’. It is far too sexist and therefore politically incorrect. So let’s use the gender-neutral expression ‘female person’. A problematic female person. And you have your problem.
FAUST: I don’t understand a word of what you’re saying. Could you tell me, please, in plain German, what you mean?
PHELES: Political correctness cannot be easily explained. It has to be not only personally experienced, but also fully digested. When it has taken over the person’s entire system, then indeed it represents a significant problem. If you just sign here, Her Doctor, then we could find out—
FAUST: I'm not signing anything.
MEPHISTO: So be it. If you don't sign, dozen others will. The world will not hear about Doctor Faust, instead it will have another idol to look up to. Justin Bieber. Or Lady Gaga. Or Edison Rusty Stephenson.
PHELES: Who is Edison Rusty Stephenson, Mephisto? Never heard of him.
MEPHISTO: No, you wouldn’t. I’ve just invented him. You’re free to use this character when you design your next game, Pheles. In it he can be a Nobody, but all he has to do is sign-up, that’s all it takes. Then he’ll have something that Herr Doctor here won’t ever have.
FAUST: What is it?
MEPHISTO: Im-mor-ta-li-ty. It’s been established that Doctor Faust cannot become an immortal character, without a vastly complex and far-reaching problem of a literary magnitude. Such problems are not easy to find. And what it will demand of you, this I can easily arrange. After all—
(a sound of rolling thunder)
I am the Devil!
FAUST: Shhh! Have some consideration, I don’t want you to wake up the neighbourhood. How did you do that?
PHELES: Ha! Our sound technicians in Hell can do anything.
(PHELES puts his hands to his mouth, forming a speaking-trumpet, aims it towards the infernal regions.)
Hey, you fellows down there, put on some heavy metal, for the good doctor’s enjoyment!
(The latest hit of some popular heavy metal rock group comes on. FAUST covers his ears. SIEBEL, looking extremely alarmed, runs in through the door like a startled doe, but turns around and runs back immediately, in terror. She does it gracefully though, offering MEPHISTO the opportunity to leer.)
FAUST: (screaming) Please, please, stop that! It’s tearing my ears apart! This is dreadful! Now it’s going to wake up the whole neighbourhood!
(the music stops)
PHELES: Our advisors from the treasury department, together with our health experts, have recommended increasing our spending as well as the volume of sound in the area of popular entertainment. It’s called the Noise Subvention Scheme, or NSS. They’re convinced that they’re on a winner here, so everything’s going to get even louder and everybody will be wearing hearing aids. To let them develop epilepsy too, add the laser displays and some flares—
FAUST: To hell with your flares! This was torturous enough!
MEPHISTO: (in a coaxing tone of voice) To hell, Herr Doctor, to hell. Your signature here and the Hell will be at your service.
(produces a parchment together with a writing biro; FAUST takes the biro out of his hand, examines it))
FAUST: What's this?
PHELES: A biro.
FAUST: What is it for?
MEPHISTO: It’s for writing. Your name, for instance.
FAUST: Are you serious? How could I write with this? Don’t you even have pen feathers?
PHELES: Oh, this is much better than pen feather. Just try it out. You can start by putting down your name on this insignificant piece of paper.
FAUST: You’re pulling my leg.
MEPHISTO: We wouldn't dare, Herr Doctor, to subject you to any practical jokes. After all, you are Somebody. Or will be, if you sign. The whole world will lie at your feet.
FAUST: Really?! But where is the inkpot?
PHELES: No need for any. It has a refill, supplied by the blood bank. (whispers to MEPHISTO) Now he’s making the right noises.
FAUST: (suddenly changes his mind) No, I'm not signing. Someone might see this, there'd be a gossip … like that time when I was accused of debauchery of my students at Kreuznach—
MEPHISTO: Well, if you don’t need our assistance … Never mind, the next time I’ll see Herr von Goethe I’ll recommend somebody else to him. Edison Rusty Stephenson, maybe. The Sorrows of Young Stephenson, Die Leiden des Jungen Stephenson … wouldn’t that be a great title, Pheles?”
PHELES: A grand title, very impressive! It would have all the erudite young men in the whole world on their knees, contemplating suicide, if not committing it downright!
FAUST: Wait! An absolute discretion—
PHELES: —Is totally guaranteed. Don't smudge it.
FAUST: I am the one who’d be smudged. It would be the ultimate sacrifice on my part. If I do it, it would only be for my fellow human beings!
MEPHISTO: (to PHELES, aside) Now out comes the Light Brigade, backed by the heavy artillery! (to FAUST)
If you do it, this is what you get as a bonus.
(from a pocket in his cloak he pulls out a late model of tablet and hands it to FAUST)
FAUST: What is this now?
PHELES: As my colleague said, it’s the bonus you get for signing up with us. A mobile telephone, a tablet. Our publicity department keeps upgrading it, I’m not even sure which model this is, but I can assure you that it has a touch screen and cutting-edge multimedia capabilities.
FAUST: But what does it do?
PHELES: (takes over the tablet) It's the latest in communications. It has replaced all the old fashioned formulae.
FAUST: You mean one can call the Hell with this?
PHELES: Precisely. If you have any wish, all you need to do is open it up, like this, and punch the devil’s number 666 (he does so), then wait till one of our receptionists, who are always awaiting our clients’ calls, appears on this little screen, then press this button here so that you can talk to her.
(hands the phone over to FAUST)
FAUST: Ohhhh! There’s a miniature portrait of a woman there!
PHELES: Yes, that’s one of our receptionists. This one’s Belinda, I think.
FAUST: She’s alive! She looks like she wants to talk to me. She’s so beautiful!
MEPHISTO: Just wait till you see our Marguerite.
FAUST: Marguerite? That’s a nice name.
PHELES: And a nice girl to go with it. Well, a female person. Marguerite’s the one we suggested could provide you with the problem. Do you want to see her?
FAUST: Now? With that thing? Of course, if it’s possible.
PHELES: It is possible, certainly. Excuse me.
(he takes the phone out of FAUST’s hands, talks to it)
Hi Belinda. Sorry to trouble you, but it’s for Herr Doctor here. Could you please put on that promo video that was done for us? She’s the one ... oh you know her? ... Really? ... I see ... thanks!
(turns to FAUST, hands him the mobile)
It’s this button, Herr Doctor. Just push it in.
(FAUST watches the video, speechlessly. Meanwhile, PHELES takes MEPHISTO to the fore-scène.)
PHELES: He’ll sign, now.
MEPHISTO: He sure will. No need to freeze the action, just look at him, that jaw’s about to fall to the floor. He likes Brigitte, that’s for sure!
PHELES: She knows that if she does well in this job the boss would give her recommendations, and that might go a long way towards gaining that permanent citizenship.
MEPHISTO: Has she ever had any experience as … you know—
PHELES: I don’t think so. But she would have met quite a few in her professional life, so I’m sure she’ll do well.
MEPHISTO: But is this strategy going to work?
PHELES: The last time we had him under contract we went the wrong way about it, at least that’s what I believe. We had fulfilled every one of his wishes plus some, and yet it got us nowhere. In the end he simply repented and slipped out of our hands.
MEHISTO: So this time we’ll make life harder for him, and right from the beginning, is that what you’re saying?
PHELES: Exactly. In Brigitte, Doctor Faust will meet his match!
MEPHISTO: Let’s get back to him. Looks like he’s finally about to make up his mind.
PHELES: Not before time, that’s for sure.
(They walk back)
FAUST: (comes to meet them, putting the mobile into his pocket) Where do I sign?
(Winces at PHELES, hands FAUST the parchment and the biro.)
FAUST: (Resolutely signs the parchment, hands it over to MEPHISTO. Examines the biro again, grins and puts it into his pocket as well.)
OK. Here is your contract. Now, the problem, please!
PHELES: Yes, the problem. There was a talk about comparing your Siebel with a female person of the twenty-first century.
FAUST: But this was the female person in question that I just saw on that moving picture, wasn’t it? Couldn’t see any problems …
MEPHISTO: On the contrary, Herr Doctor. The twenty-first century female person can be a problem and a very significant one, as you'll no doubt find out in case of our Marguerite. We could have provided you with anyone. Helen of Troy, for instance, even Lilith, Adam’s first wife, but these females are all straight and uncomplicated. And you do need someone more challenging.
FAUST: When shall I meet her?
MEPHISTO: Shortly. Pheles, why don’t you go and get things under way?
PHELES: Why not? Should I go with a bang?
MEPHISTO: Just a little one. We want to be easy on Herr Doctor’s ears, and we don’t want to wake up the whole neighbourhood either.
PHELES: So long!
(He walks away accompanied by only a small thunder. When he reaches the hallstand, he disappears under the coat. EXIT PHELES.)
FAUST: I hate to have to remind you of this, sir, but what about my youth? You promised that I was going to regain it, and surely I must have now fulfilled the necessary conditions!
MEPHISTO: Yes, thanks for reminding me.
(he walks to FAUST and pulls the beard off his face, then he hands him a small vial he takes out of one of his pockets.)
FAUST: What’s this?
MEPHISTO: That’s Viagra.
(reciting mechanically, while FAUST is getting progressively more excited)
The blue pill keeps the real men from being extinct.
Grab one little blue pill and prepare yourself for the night of adventures.
If you have a small bulge, the world around you seems small as well.
Fill your bed partner's brain with the excitement and satisfaction.
With the ability to make out for days you'll be the best candidate for girls to spend night with.
Blow her mind with this amazing supplement.
The vigour in your pants will be unbreakable.
FAUST: All that sounds promising, but I don’t know if I can trust this thing. Would you take one as well?
MEPHISTO: Why not?
FAUST: You mean, I just swallow one of these pills, and all that you just said would—?
MEPHIST: Yes. Those advertising slogans don’t exaggerate. Not much, anyway. And it’s safe. Look.
(MEPHISTO swallows one of the pills. FAUST hesitates a little, and then he does the same. SIEBEL again looks in through the door, this time she somewhat hesitantly decides to venture inside, but stays near the wing.)
MEPHISTO: The truly big things in our lives are really quite simple. Well, Herr Doctor, your Marguerite will be here soon. Give her the best time of her life. Have one yourself. I won’t be needed, so I too shall perform my disappearing act. I’ll do it quietly. Adieu, Herr Doctor. Good-bye, fair Siebel! I’ll see myself out.
(MEPHISTO walks to the coat hanger, turns around, throws another randy look towards SIEBEL, continues walking. Stops for a second or two, with the eyes wandering to his groin area, he shakes his head almost imperceptibly. Finally he moves under the winter coat on the hallstand and thus leaves the stage. EXIT MEPHISTO.)
FAUST: He disappeared! Did you see it, Siebel? He just vanished into the thin air.
SIEBEL: You are seeing things, doc. I only saw him crawl under that coat on the hallstand.
FAUST: Siebel, Siebel! Do you always have to spoil everything? And do address me as Herr Doctor.
SIEBEL: Yes, Her Doctor. What is it that he gave you there, Herr Doctor? And what’s happened to your beard, Herr Doctor?
FAUST: Never mind, Siebel, never mind. More important is what’s happening to my … Anyway, did you make up the bed? We are going to have a visitor.
SIEBEL: A visitor?
FAUST: You’ve heard, surely, from behind the door. A female person, and don’t act as if you didn’t know!
SIEBEL: Where does she come from?
FAUST: From the twenty-first century.
SIEBEL: Really? What does she want here?
FAUST: I want her here. She's going to be my problem. You already are my problem, unfortunately too small a problem to secure me a place in literature. But now, when I'm going to have a bigger … I mean, now I’ll add the big problem to the small problem of you and my problem of not having a problem should no longer be a problem.
SIEBEL: (with suspicion) What does it all have to do with the bed?
FAUST: Never mind. Just shut your face and tidy up the place.
SIEBEL: (walks to the hallstand) Why did he crawl under that coat here?
FAUST: He said something about there being a … I forgot what he said. Something to do with time, anyway.
SIEBEL: He’s a devil, isn’t he?
FAUST: Of course he is, but don’t tell anybody.
SIEBEL: I thought so. When I found him in the kitchen in place of the dog. He looked so smart in that black overcoat and with that tall hat! So much better dressed than I’ve ever seen you. You only have this one coat and it’s getting old—
(she feels the coat on the stand)
— Hey! Look! There’s someone underneath it! A woman!
FAUST: A woman? That must be her! My problem!
(MEG/BRIGITTE emerges from underneath the coat, appears a little dazed, acts as if she did not know what has happened to her. She is dressed appropriately like the 16th century travelling woman.)
SIEBEL: There must be some devil-hole in there. And some kind of a witch she must be, I’m telling you! Go away, you—
FAUST: Siebel! Be nice to her, will you? This is Marguerite.
MEG: Yes, I’m Marguerite, but please just call me Meg. What’s happened? Where is it they’ve sent me to this time? Why, look at the furniture, is this some heritage property? And who are you?
FAUST: Don’t worry, you are with friends. Doctor Johann Faust is my name.
MEG: (feigns surprise) Doctor Faust? Oh! The Doctor Faust? No kidding?
FAUST: Oh, so you’ve heard of me!
MEG: Who wouldn’t? Even as a young girl I’ve read about you. You were in all the schoolbooks.
FAUST: Really? That’s great! And what had these schoolbooks to say about me, my dear?
SIEBEL: (aside, but MEG has heard her) Now he calls her "my dear"!
MEG: This gall's right, you know. I don't like it at all when I'm being treated with undue familiarity; I want to make this quite clear. But why did they send me here?
FAUST: I have just signed my soul to the devil to get you here; can't I at least call you "my dear"?
SIEBEL: Oh, have you done that, doc? And for this ... female person?
MEG: Now, this sounds a bit crazy, but there was a doctor Faust, and as far as I know, he was supposed to have sold his soul to the devil. But that would have been a long time ago, the fifteenth or sixteenth century, I think.
FAUST: Well, I am this doctor Faust, and this is the sixteenth century.
SIEBEL: And female persons that appear from underneath the mantles and out of nowhere, in our times are called "witches", and as such they are burnt at the stake!
MEG: (acts like being scared) Is this true?
FAUST: About burning the witches? Yes, it is, mostly.
MEG: And about this being the sixteenth century?
FAUST: Of course. But you have nothing to worry about, Meg, I'm going to protect you.
(makes a move towards putting his hand around her shoulders)
MEG: Take that hand away from me! The fact that you've signed a pact with the devil doesn’t now give you the right to patronise me.
FAUST: (aside) I see, she's going to play a hard to get. And I’m getting a hard … But that has to wait. First she probably would want me to sweet-talk her about love, about marriage—
(aloud) I just want to make sure that no harm is done to you, Margueritte … Meg!
SIEBEL: Oh, and I must have scared you! I didn’t mean to frighten you this much, when I’d mentioned burning the witches.
MEG: So, you mean it doesn’t happen?
SIEBEL: Oh yes, it does, but it’s not so simple. First, someone would have to denounce you, and then you would have to be put to the trial and tested with the water. You’d be put into an iron cage and dipped into water for five minutes. If you die you’d be declared innocent and buried with all the Christian honour. Only if you don’t die, THAT would prove you are a witch so they’d maybe put you on the rack and use hot iron on you, and after that perhaps put you in the Spanish boot or whatever latest equipment they might have installed in the torture chamber, until you’ve confessed, and only after you’ve made the full confession that’s when they’d put you to the stake. But I know someone who knows the town executioner, so they could put a word in for you, and he might strangle you first before you burn. They’re willing to do this sometimes, especially when it’s a woman who’s to be burned.
MEG: No equality of sexes, eh? No, I wouldn’t expect that. Well, at least in this case a person gains some advantage.
SIEBEL: Don’t worry, I wouldn’t denounce you, and I’m sure that the doc wouldn’t do it either.
FAUST: (quietly) Herr Doctor.
(While SIEBEL was talking, MEG/BRIGITTE had made her way to the Magical Circle, from where she now freezes the action.)
MEG: This girl looks OK to me. A bit talkative, maybe, but she’s young and pretty. Pheles told me that Mephisto’s been falling for her, and he looked a bit worried about it. Frankly, I’m not surprised that Mephisto finds her attractive. And I wish him luck. What worries me is that she looks a bit too innocent to fall for a devil herself. Angelic, that’s what she is. Still, I’ll see what I could do, how I could help Mephisto. Who knows, maybe it could work for these two. The opposite attracts, and all that… He deserves some luck to come into his love life, for a change! But what about this Faust fellow? He looks like a real jerk to me, it should be a breeze to make him jump the way I want him to. It would steam him up right from the beginning if I look like I’m more interested in the girl than in him! After that, we’ll see…
(MEG unfreezes the action, talks to SIEBEL, with FAUST hanging about, pretending that he is not listening to their conversation.)
MEG: You two, the doctor and you, are you married?
SIEBEL: What gave you that idea?
MEG: Then you must be living in a de-facto relationship.
SIEBEL: What do you mean by that?
MEG: Like a married couple, but without actually being married.
SIEBEL: God forbid, no! That would be sinful, wouldn’t it? I’m just keeping the house for the doc.
MEG: (to herself) Aha, just as I thought, he’s exactly what he appears to be, a regular sugar daddy. (Aloud) Does he give you any money?
SIEBEL: No. Why? I have everything I need here.
MEG: In other words, you’re being exploited.
MEG: Taken advantage of. I think that this calls for some explanation and a bit of education. About how to positively apply your energies. Where could the two of us have a nice little chat?
SIEBEL: I don’t know. In the kitchen, perhaps?
MEG: That sounds good. You know what? Why don’t you make us a cup of coffee or something chronologically appropriate, while we two are going to have a nice little girl talk?
SIEBEL: That sounds fine. You must be tired, after such a long journey. Come, I’ll warm you some goat milk.
(EXEUNT SIEBEL, MEG, arm in arm, like the best of friends)
FAUST: And they’ve gone... What should I do now? I feel that I’m falling in love! Or could it be that pill Mephisto gave me? Anyway, customarily such a situation would call for a sparkling aria, perhaps one about the emotions that now fill this humble dwelling. If only I didn’t hate singing so much! Well, maybe this time, only once, and in French...
(Aria - Salut! demeure chaste et pure)
(EXEUNT FAUST, curtain falls, if there is one…)
END OF ACT TWO
(If there is to be an Interval, this is where it should come.)
(In the garden behind FAUST’s house. The stage is empty, except for a garden bench on one side. A light gauze curtain might be used behind which both female characters would mime while “singing” their arias. The aria “Salute de mere chaste pure” comes back briefly before the main curtain goes up. FAUST wanders about the stage, in a contemplative state of mind.)
FAUST: Well, that wasn’t so bad after all, was it? Especially that high ‘C’ that comes near the end. Those two women are there in the kitchen, again. It’s been going on like this ever since Meg arrived three days ago. When I try to join in, it’s being made clear to me that I’m not welcome. On that first night they talked and talked, then Siebel put Meg up in her own bed and went to sleep god knows where. The next day, there’d been more chitchat in the kitchen since morning, and it has gone on like this since. Women. To hell with them! Oh, that reminds me, the Hell. Meg won’t talk to me, it seems, but I can talk to them, and in this way I could make her talk to me. Deal is a deal. Or she could even remain silent, as long as she … I’ve been taking that pill Mephisto gave me daily, it has to start working eventually! Mephisto also gave me this thing, what did he call it … a tablet? Let's see.
( He pulls out the tablet, struggles for a while with dialling the number.)
Now, what was it? Oh, yes, of course, the Devil’s number ... 666 …
(He punches in the numbers, listens for a while, gets through.)
The Hell Incorporated, Customers Service? ... hmmm ... all their personnel are busy, apparently (listens again) ... now there is some music ... I wonder how long this is going to go on before someone talks to me … what was this lady’s name, Belinda? ... (listens), … ah ... someone’s there now … hallo! … is this Belinda? … no, says she’s Amanda … Amanda? That’s a different one … Doctor Faust here … yes … Doctor Faust … could I please speak to Mister Mephisto? … Mephisto, as in … yes … thank you …
(MEPHISTO appears behind FAUST while he still continues straggling with the unfamiliar devise)
MEPHISTO: Yes, Herr Doctor.
FAUST (into the phone): Ah, Mr Mephisto, is that you, sir?—
MEPHISTO: At your service, Herr Doctor.
(FAUST continues speaking to the mobile)
FAUST: It’s about that problem, Mister Mephisto.
MEPHISTO: Is there a problem with the problem, Herr Doctor?
FAUST: (finally realises that MEPHISTO stands next to him)
Oh, you are here! How did you manage to hop from there, wherever you were, to here, and so quickly?
MEPHISTO: We hop happily to the tunes of our ever-satisfied customers.
FAUST: Will you satisfy me?
MEPHISTO: I will try my best, Herr Doctor.
FAUST: This isn't going to be easy. It's a question of moral responsibility. You've sent me Meg and—
MEPHISTO: —She's causing problems.
FAUST: Well, Siebel is, really. That’s the problem. She appears to distract Meg, can’t imagine why—
MEPHISTO: That's part and parcel of the whole deal, Herr Doctor. Some women do get easily distracted by other women. On Greek islands in antiquity as well as in the 21st century Germany. It happens with the men too. You needed a problem, here is one.
FAUST: Not this kind of a problem.
MEPHISTO: What do you want us to do?
FAUST: Could you send her to Hell?
FAUST: No, Siebel. I think I can straighten up Meg.
MEPHISTO: The daring Doctor Faust! But I can't take Siebel with me, much as I would love to. She doesn’t qualify, she has no valid record. We have already established that.
FAUST: No record? Then just make it up! It can't be too difficult for a pair of devils. She's immoral and she masks it by pretending morality. Like ... stealing my coat, or singing those madrigals. You hear her and what would you say to yourself?
MEPHISTO: (emotively) I'd say to myself: Hark! Siebel is singing a madrigal.
FAUST: And what else would you say?
MEPHISTO: I'd say: Let's listen to her.
FAUST: And ...
MEPHISTO: That's all. I’d listen.
FAUST: That's just like you. When I hear Siebel singing, it's worse than if she were swearing.
FAUST: That's it. When I would say ... that is ... when others would use some ... you know ... perhaps even a four-letter word or two, she just wouldn't. She'd provocatively start singing.
MEPHISTO: Unbelievable. But there is nothing wrong with singing, and even swearing is not a punishable offence any more. It wouldn’t indeed earn you a week of re-education in Purgatory. Provided of course, that you stick to the gender-neutral terms. Or imply any kind of discrimination, along the lines of sex, age, race, religion or ethnicity. As for the four-letter words, they have become acceptable, nay, desirable.
FAUST: Really? Even for ladies?
MEPHISTO: Especially for ladies.
FAUST: And for gentlemen?
MEPHISTO: If you didn't use them, you'd look like a wimp.
FAUST: No shit? All right. Siebel. You are not going to take her to Hell?
MEPHISTO: No. It's impossible, we have no legal rights to do it, and if we are to maintain our integrity—
FAUST: Legal rights. Integrity. Phew!
MEPHISTO: Listen. There just might be a way around this. Perhaps we could create conditions for acquiring such rights. But I have to stress: we create the conditions. This means that the subject has to show some initiative on her part too.
FAUST: Now you're talking! Go on, do it ... and while we are on the subject of creating conditions—
FAUST: Well, perhaps when Siebel is gone and Meg is not getting distracted by her, it could be so arranged that I and Meg, that we find ourselves in a cosy little boudoir … you could have some nice soft cushions prepared for us there … and those technicians of yours could turn the lights off just at the right moment, could they do that?
MEPHISTO: They’re highly qualified, and have been trained to do things like that, and much more.
FAUST: So, they could put on some nice music too—you know what I mean? But no singing, please, I’m allergic to singing. And then, at the right moment, I could softly breathe a four-letter word or two, to make a suitable impression on her, and … you understand—
MEPHISTO: I fully understand what you mean, sir. We could do all that, we could prepare the ground, but you would have to bring Meg in yourself. Meg is your problem. That was the deal.
FAUST: All right, all right. It’s just that this pill that you gave me is … but about Siebel, we have an agreement, haven't we?
MEPHISTO: Yes, we have. I’ll invite Pheles and together we should be able to design some diabolical scheme.
MEPHISTO: That pill I gave him—I took one as well. Perhaps I shouldn’t have done that; it now seems to affect me too. Especially when I’m thinking of Siebel. I didn’t think that it would have any effect on me; those pills are supposed to have been only designed for humans. Am I turning into a human, perhaps? Well, maybe if with Pheles’ help we could manage to get her commit a sin or two, this might bring her closer to me, so let’s have a go.
(MEPHISTO walks to the Magic Circle, calls)
Pheles! Your presence is required ... can’t you use some cheat to get rid of those Wandering Stingdreamers? Or just save the game and—
PHELES: (joins him in the circle) That’s what I did. I don’t think that those Stingdreamers would give me much trouble now; I’ll use the Toxic Rippers Of Alpha Eridani Theta to subdue them and banish them to the planet Torehio Kappa—
MEPHISTO: Who are Toxic Rippers of ... what did you call it?
PHELES: Alpha Eridani Theta. They are an advanced race of philosophers, though biologically they should really be inclined to be traders. They are the unfortunate result of interbreeding within the races of Necroscavengers and Schizoid Microtitans of Antares.
(In the meantime, the Flower Song Faites-lui mes aveux, portez me voeux! is being heard in the background. As they are talking, on the stage behind them in a dim light, the figure of SIEBEL has appeared, with a broom in her hand, sweeping the ground. MEPHISTO watches her with some intent.)
What’s going on here, anyway? (he too sees SIEBEL) Ah, do I see more girl trouble?
MEPHISTO: I shouldn’t have taken that Viagra pill. But I did it to make Faust take it. It shouldn’t affect me, or should it, Pheles?
PHELES: Not normally, my friend. But the way I understand it, it’s to do with the brain and the way you’re using it. Put in too many human-like emotions, and you have to suffer. Sorry, but I can’t help you with this particular problem. (nods his head in SIEBEL’s direction) Maybe she could.
MEPHISTO: Well, there’s something we need to do with her. Faust wants us to get Siebel out of the picture, so that she wouldn’t distract Meg. Where is Brigitte, anyway?
BRIGITTE (Pushes her way into the circle) Here I am. What’s up?
MEPHISTO: Shouldn’t we be asking you that? Faust—
BRIGITTE —No silly jokes, please! This is serious business. He has the snowflake’s chance in Hell to get anywhere with Meg, you know that, and he’s getting frustrated. That’s what we wanted, isn’t it?
MEPHISTO: But now he wants us to take Siebel to Hell. I told him we’ll try to find some way.
BRIGITTE: I wouldn’t be too optimistic. From what I’ve seen of her, she naturally inclines towards the other place.
PHELES: Yes, she does look a kind of innocent to me, even with that broom in hand.
BRIGITTE: That may be a witches’ instrument, but—.
PHELES: She’s not likely to fly on it and fornicate with the devil. Tough luck, Mephisto!
MEPHISTO: Yes, she’s innocent. And just listen to her. I don’t know what is the matter with Faust if he can’t stand Siebel’s vocalising.
BRIGITTE: Yes musically, I may be as deaf as a doornail, but even I can appreciate it. Here she is, sweeping the footpath and singing to the flowers, like a nightingale. Even her French is perfect. I bet she doesn’t even know how to swear!
MEPHISTO: What do you suggest that I should do, Brigitte? Should I try to tempt her? We have to be at least seen to make the effort!
BRIGITTE: I think you’d be wasting your time. Though, on the other hand, one never knows where it might lead to… Duties calling, I’ve got to go now. See you guys later!
MEPHISTO: Well, for starters we should go for something easy. Since she seems to like those flowers so much and wants to give some to Meg, if I understand her correctly, how about making them wilt in front of her, as she’s about to touch them? Let’s see if we could draw some adverse reaction from her.
PHELES: Sounds good. Let me try.
(PHELES makes some magical passes, music stops momentarily.)
SIEBEL: Oh, shivers, pardon me my French, but I can’t believe what I see! Those flowers wither away even before I touch them. I can’t give them to Meg like this. I felt so bad about what I said about her being a witch, and I wanted to make up for it somehow. This has to be that devil’s work. But I know what I’ll do. I’ll dip my fingers into the holy water here (she pulls out a bottle bearing a sign: HOLY WATER); fortunately, since that black poodle came into the house I have taken to wearing a small bottle on my person. Let’s see. Do they wilt now? No! HA! Satan, I laugh at you!
(the same music comes back, in the same low volume, so that the two devils’ conversation can be heard)
MEPHISTO: Hmmm. That wasn’t terribly successful, was it?
PHELES: Just a warm up exercise. Let’s try to go up a notch harder. In my experience, most people succumb to materialistic temptations. A few glittering coins, strategically placed on the ground, looking abandoned, just waiting to be illegally appropriated, that should see her teeter on the very edge of abyss.
SIEBEL: Oh, look here is some money! The doc ... Herr Doctor must have lost it here, I’ll pick it up and give it back to him.
(Music comes back while SIEBEL is picking up the imaginary coins. She resumes sweeping the floor.)
MEPHISTO: It doesn’t look as though we are getting very far, does it?
PHELES: This wench is going to be a hard nut to crack, I can see that now. Well, I’m afraid that, in this area at least, my rationalistic tendencies severely limit my field of competence. I think that in this situation you, the lyric, should take over. You must use all of your imagination and turn on the full charm of your otherwise menacing self! Go ahead, and seduce her! Make her commit the ultimate sin of fornicating with the devil!
MEPHISTO: I could easily let you talk me into doing that. See, how gorgeous she is! How lithe, smooth and elegant, just look at the grace of the movements of her broom! Look how she is holding on to it, how she is caressing it!
PHELES: That’s the right attitude, my friend. Go on, seduce our pretty, little, innocent broom handler. Good luck!
MEPHISTO: You know that you should never say this to any performing artist!
PHELES: Sorry. Break a leg!
(MEPHISTO waits for the right moment when the song ends, to step out of the Magical Circle and become visible.)
MEPHISTO: Ehm ... ehm!
SIEBEL: Uhh! Who's that?
MEPHISTO: It’s me, Mephisto.
SIEBEL: The poodle? The devil! And I’ve left that bottle with holy water over there! (she points the broom at MEPHISTO while she mumbles the Lord's Prayer)
Pater Noster, qui es in caelis,
adveniat Regnum Tuum,
fiat volúntas tua, sicut in caelo et in terra.
MEPHISTO: (to himself) Oh, she’s so devilishly beautiful, even when she’s praying..! (aloud) I’m afraid that this won’t work on me, Siebel. Our laboratory technicians have developed a prayer-proof spray that we all have in our first-aid kit, which we always carry with us when we go out on any fieldtrip. We apply it preventatively whenever we have the slightest suspicion that people we would come in contact with might in any way be contaminated with religious fervour.
SIEBEL: (lowers the broom) Then I’m going to call the police!
MEPHISTO: That would be of no use either. At the ministerial and high commissioner level, at least, we’ve had a full amalgamation for quite some time now. Even in the 16th century Germany.
SIEBEL: I don’t understand at all what you are saying, but I know now what I will do. I’ll call on the priest. With a big bad cross! (she puts her arm across the broom handle, to form a cross)
MEPHISTO: You know, Siebel, part of basic training that every devil must undertake, is a course in self-defence EASE, which is short for Exorcism Avoidance Special Exercises, to which we could fall back at aby time. Regardless of whether the exorcist is a local priest, Bishop, Archbishop or the Pope himself.
SIEBEL: Why are you telling me this?
MEPHISTO: To make you aware of what stands in front of you.
SIEBEL: Yes, but why?
MEPHISTO: Perhaps because I like you and don’t want you to be hurt.
SIEBEL: Was it you who dropped that money over there?
MEPHISTO: No, that was Pheles.
SIEBEL: I thought it might have been one of you two. Why did he do it?
MEPHISTO: Simple, it was there to tempt you.
SIEBEL: To see if I would want to keep it?
SIEBEL: But why?
MEPHISTO: That’s our primary function, I’m afraid. Our Raison d’etre, so to say. To tempt people.
SIEBEL: Is Pheles quite like you?
MEPHISTO: We’re both devils.
SIEBEL: Yes, but I watched you through the keyhole when you both talked to Herr Doctor, and the two of you seem so much alike, yet different, somehow.
MEPHISTO: Do we? We are. He is the rationalist. I’m the poet.
SIEBEL: You are a poet, really? And do you actually write poems?
MEPHISTO: That’s what most poets do. Sometimes I do it too.
SIEBEL: Doc forever keeps writing things in his study, in German and I think also in Hebrew, and he keeps drawing those pentagrams and things like that, but he’s never written a poem. No one has ever written me one. Would you?
MEPHISTO: Let’s talk about writing poems. Something like that needs the right conditions. Imagine that we two are walking through a beautiful garden. Countless birds nestle in the tree tops and add their songs to the buzz of busy insects; together they sound an overture to the most joyful of seasons, when the virginal Nature turns on all her charms, while her warm breath seems to gently caress us on our faces. I wish I could take your hand into mine and press it, and press it hard, so that you would sigh – Oh, Mephisto, why do you have to press my lonely tender heart with such ferociousness?!
SIEBEL: Yeah, you can really talk, can’t you? Do you say things like that to every girl you meet? And what about that poem, would you write it for me?
MEPHISTO: I don’t think that my German would be up to it.
SIEBEL: Oh! And which language you write your poems in?
MEPHISTO: Usually in English.
SIEBEL: Why in English and not in German, or for instance, French?
MEPHISTO: A couple of reasons. In the historical period I usually exist in, English became the main language in the world. And, of course, it’s the language of poets I like the most; John Donne, John Milton, William Shakespeare, William Wordsworth…
SIEBEL: I don’t know any of these people, and I don’t understand English at all. But could you read me one of yours, just to hear what it sounds like? Please?!
MEPHISTO: (rummages in his pockets a bit; comes up with a piece of paper) Here is one I wrote only yesterday. It’s quite fresh, maybe it needs a bit more work on it, but here it s. A sonnet, the kind that Shakespeare I’ve mentioned composed. He wasn’t the first, the Italians were the first ─ da Lentini, Petrarch, Dante…
SIEBEL: The last two I’ve heard of.
MEPHISTO: You surprise me.
SIEBEL: A priest in the orphanage had taught me quite a lot.
MEPHISTO: (he reads)
Give those Immortals who’ve become swollen
With pride, the benefit of the doubt,
‘Twas through their doings that they have fallen,
This is what their sojourn was e’er about.
Yearnings of going back to their own sphere,
Within themselves intensely they’ve carried,
Ad infinitum bound to interfere,
In human affairs for’er stay buried.
Tho’ longing for their abode o’er cloud nine,
Anacamptic sound of harps in their hearts,
They can’t evade it, but must lay supine,
Unable to outsmart the Cupid’s darts.
Knowing not what picking up this cherry
Entails, they moan: Enjoy life, be merry!
SIEBEL: That was beautiful. But I don’t know what it was about.
MEPHISTO: Look at it as a sincere wish of a devil, who feels himself to be imprisoned in a train of gears or who is lost in a maze, out of which he can’t find a way out.
SIEBEL: Why can’t he find the way?
MEPHISTO: Because he has no one to show it to him.
SIEBEL: Why? Can’t he do it on his own?
MEPHISTO: Maybe he lacks the intrepidity. The bravery that’s needed if one is to throw away all certainties and inhibitions attached to them. The valour that’s needed to venture into the open arms of opportunity. (He is getting worked up gradually.) The fearlessness together with gratitude, which would allow him to drop on his knees and drink from the spring that Lady Nature has offered him, drink, and allow himself become intoxicated...!
(He drops on his knees, SIEBEL views him with concern.)
SIEBEL: Oh, God, are you alright? I must go and get you some water! (She runs away)
MEPHISTO: (totally enraptured, head covered with his hands, doesn’t even know that SIEBEL has left, keeps talking to her.)
Yes, yes, it is you, my beloved Siebel! Let's go and run away from all this! From this pompous ass, this doctor Faust, who wants to have everything in life, and when he is denied it he would sign his soul to me, the lone pilgrim who has been assigned the role of the tempter! Reluctantly, unenthusiastically I play it, that much I can tell you. Because, in the heart of my heart I am a poet, and I only thirst ... I only thirst ...
SIEBEL: (a little out of breath, carries a flask bearing the sign HOLY WATER) Here, have some water.
MEPHISTO: (drinks from the flask, doesn’t even look at it, gives it back to SIEBEL) Ah, that was good, thank you! But what I really thirst for is freedom!
SIEBEL: Really? Freedom? But freedom is free … anyone can have it.
MEPHISTO: That’s where you’re wrong! Freedom is what you have! Freedom to walk away from it all, even from me! Alas, I don’t have such freedom! I have to go on tempting people to do bad things; I have to keep doing it throughout eternity, even though I know that what I do is bad, knowing that I am a roguish rat, rotten rascal, and reeking scoundrel! And since I’m so dreadfully debauched, and since I can’t help it, I now wish I could go and take my revenge on doctor Faust!
SIEBEL: But why? What has he done to you?
MEPHISTO: Because he has had the freedom that I can’t have and because he chose to sign it away. Because of that, he’s the real villain!
SIEBEL: Who's the villain? Doctor Faust? Never mind, just don't be spiteful. It's not at all nice. It's sinful, in fact.
MEPHISTO: Sinful! Ha - ha - ha! I’m committing a sin! Ha - ha - ha!
SIEBEL: People should love each other. They should always forgive each other.
MEPHISTO: Ha - ha - ha! But I’m not people, I’m the Devil! I can do anything, except that I can’t have freedom!
SIEBEL: It's only a temptation that's befallen you!
MEPHISTO: He - he - he. Temptation. I’m the enticer! I’m the tempter! He – he – he!
SIEBEL: Sometimes it comes to me too, the temptation I mean. When it happens, I poor cold water on my head and I say a prayer. If that doesn’t help, then I would go and wash the dishes. The temptation goes away after a while and we are left with clean dishes. Why don't you try something like that?
MEPHISTO: I can't. I'm not as perfect as you are.
SIEBEL: You must chase away the evil thoughts! You must overcome them. You must stand up and face the devil that's in you!
MEPHISTO: Oh, she can perceive the devil in me! (to himself) Could it be that she might also find a tiny dark nook somewhere in the corner of her big, warm, wonderful heart, to accommodate this poor, hapless creature?! I'm so confused! All this is turning me upside down!
(he makes a clumsy attempt at a headstand)
SIEBEL: Are you all right?
MEPHISTO: (sounding somewhat exerted)
Yes, I’m all right.
SIEBEL: So why are you trying to stand on your head? If that’s what you’re doing?
MEPHISTO: I have to fight it, reverse it all, my dispositions towards evil, malice, hatred and vengeance!
(leaves the hopeless attempts at making a headstand, stands up in front of her, seriously)
You must have another name beside Siebel.
SIEBEL: Why are you asking? No one’s ever asked me about that before. No one knows it.
MEPHISTO: Not even doctor Faust?
SIEBEL: He’s always called me Siebel. I don’t think he even knows my first name.
MEPHISTO: I could find out, you know? We have the means. You might as well tell me now. I want to know it. So tell me, what’s your real name?
MEPHISTO: (somewhat taken aback) Catherine! What a lovely name. Catherine. Cathy. If I managed to get rid of all that’s bad in me, would I be acceptable to you, Catherine?
MEPHISTO: Still, be careful, Catherine, be careful… It’s a risky business. Don’t let the Devil serenade you!
(Up comes the famous serenade, Vous qui faites l'endormie, N'entendez-vous pas, N'entendez-vous pas, Ô Catherine, ma mie)
(MEPHISTO feigns singing, conducting, playing bad devil, filling the stage with his antics. When the aria ends with Mephisto‘s devilish laughter, he collapses to the ground. SIEBEL walks to him, puts her hand on his shoulder)
SIEBEL: Has this helped you?
MEPHISTO (sobbing quietly on his knees) No, it hasn’t! I still feel as malevolent as ever.
SIEBEL: What about this?
(From the flask she has been holding in her hand she pours some water over MEPHISTO’s head. Her lips are moving. As if she is saying a prayer. But perhaps she is.)
MEPHISTO: Maybe a bit. But I’m afraid that inside I’m still that same crafty, evil-minded, sly and malicious spirit. But you’re right. I’m off!
SIEBEL: Where are you going?
MEPHISTO: I’m going to play golf!
SIEBEL: Golf? What is golf? And why would you want to play it now?
MEPHISTO: Because it’s the only thing that I know would calm me down.
(EXEUNT MEPHISTO, SIEBEL)
(FAUST and MEG walk onto the stage)
FAUST: You know, Marguerite—
MEG: —Meg, please.
FAUST: Meg. I’d like to tell you something.
FAUST: You have beautiful eyes.
MEG: Thank you. That’s nice to know. Anything else?
FAUST: The rest of you. It’s something to behold, too.
MEG: Please, hurry-up. I was on my way to see Siebel.
FAUST: What is it that you two talk about all this time?
MEG: Not that I would expect you to understand, but we are covering the various feminist issues, particularly those regarding sexism, the cycle of which has persisted for thousands of years. I’d like her to better understand the need for breaking the passive female stereotype. Most of this you, being the privileged man, would not understand anyway. She would, eventually. Ta, ta, I’ve got to run now!
FAUST: Yes, she’s right, I don’t understand. I’ve tried it, but not in front of her, yet. I’ve used profanities. Swear words. Dirty words. Strong language. Obscene language. Lewd words. Four letter words … I’ve tried it all, in front of the mirror. I don’t look right doing it, I doesn’t sound right, either. That must be why Meg wouldn’t respond to me. I may have a young fresh face now but, basically, I'm still an old man with old-fashioned values. So, let's not try to change that. Let’s act naturally. How would an old fashioned gentleman impress a lady of his desire? Why, by giving her some jewellery, naturally! Could I afford to buy any jewellery? I couldn’t, not on my salary. What do I do? Ring 666, of course.
(FAUST takes the mobile out of his pocket, puzzles over it for a while, punches it three times, waits)
Ah, The Hell Incorporated, Customers Service ... some female there again ... Lucinda, she says … Hallo, hallo, Lucinda … this is Doctor Faust speaking … yes, Doctor Faust … could I speak to Mister Mephisto, please? … What? Transferring the call? What does that mean? … who’s this? … Pheles? … Oh yes, you’re the fellow with the abacus. Mister Pheles, could you please be so—
PHELES: (appears behind FAUST) At your service, Her Doctor.
FAUST: (turns quickly, startled) You guys do have ways of turning up in a flash, don’t you? But where is Mr Mephisto?
PHELES: I'm standing in for Mephisto, sir; unfortunately he's been unavoidably detained.
FAUST: Detained by what?
PHELES: By playing golf.
FAUST: Playing golf? What’s that? Never mind, you will do, I’m sure. Could you get me some jewellery? Something tasty, exquisite, ethereally beautiful, please.
PHELES: (instantly assumes the tone and the manners of a good English butler) Certainly, Herr Doctor. What is it that you would wish to have, sir, sapphires, rubies, diamonds..?
FAUST: Diamonds for sure, though sapphires and rubies would not go astray either.
PHELES: As you wish, sir. Would you prefer those precious stones to be set in rings, bracelets, tiaras, or perhaps necklaces?
FAUST: What would you recommend, Pheles?
PHELES: I would certainly recommend necklaces, sir. Necklace makes a wonderfully sensuous gift, especially when the lady of your heart favours you by allowing you to place it on her neck, thus giving you the opportunity to closely observe the gem finding its nesting place in her cleavage, caressed by her—
FAUST: OK, make it half a dozen. What about rings?
PHELES: Highly suitable, I must say, sir, particularly the diamond variety, any lady would—
FAUST: Fine, fine, a dozen diamond rings and let’s get moving. Could you get me some bracelets, a few tiaras with diamonds and perhaps some emeralds, and we mustn’t overlook earrings, at least a dozen pairs, better make it two dozen, all in pure gold.
PHELES: At once, sir. Please sir, allow me to express my admiration of your impeccable style.
FAUST: Thank you, Pheles. If I’m to be a privileged man, why not let it show? Oh, before I forget, could you also get me some really nice jewellery casket to go with all these precious ornaments? A silver one, perhaps, oh, no, no, that would be too common, better make it a platinum one, with the inset emeralds, rubies and, of course, more diamonds. How long is it going to take you to get it all?
PHELES: (stands near the prompt corner, where he turns to receive the casket from a stage hand and offers it immediately to FAUST)
Here is your platinum jewellery casket with the inset gems; inside it you’ll find all that you have wished for, sir.
FAUST: (opens the box, rummages through) This is wonderful! It’s all there! Thank you. That’s what I call service.
PHELES: Is there anything else, sir that I could help you with?
FAUST: Advise me, please. How would you go about casually offering these jewels to a lady?
PHELES: I would make it appear accidental, sir. Through a means of subtle persuasion that are at our disposal I would make sure that the lady of your heart comes to this place. Meanwhile I would make myself invisible to her and scatter some pieces of jewellery on path in front of her, while you, sir, would be hiding nearby. When she has found the jewellery and while she’s admiring the gems, you could come up and offer her this jewellery casket, thus nonchalantly revealing your identity as the donor.
FAUST: Great. Let’s do it!
(EXIT PHELES, while FAUST moves to the side where he becomes an observer. Meanwhile a pantomime, similar to that SIEBEL had performed with her broom, happens upstage, this time with MEG walking on and with Pheles scattering the jewellery in front of her. She is putting up a nice show for FAUST’s benefit, finding the gems, admiring them, etc.” Ah! je ris.” The Jewel Song, naturally accompanies her performance.)
MEG: Fabulous jewellery! It’s so astoundingly beautiful. I’ve never seen anything like this!
FAUST: (approaches MEG, offering her the jewellery casket) Aren’t you going to try these trinkets on yourself? They were meant for you. Here is a casket that comes with them.
MEG: Oh, so it was you. You shouldn’t have.
FAUST: I only wished to properly express my admiration of you. Do you like them? Please, do me the favour of allowing me to place this necklace on your neck!
MEG: I’d prefer to do that myself. Thank you, all the same. Is all this really mine? To keep?
FAUST: (disappointingly) Certainly.
MEG: Thank you.
(SIEBEL runs onto the stage)
MEG: Oh, here she is!
FAUST: Siebel, you are still here! I thought ... Where is Mephisto?
SIEBEL: Meph’s playing golf! He’s changed into this pair of chequered trousers, he calls them plus twos, and with a matching cup on his head, he looks so smart—
MEG: Just don’t let him bamboozle you. To me this looks like a typical male plot.
FAUST: Playing golf! What made him do this, anyway?
SIEBEL: He was swearing vengeance and things like that, but I’ve talked him out of it and I’ve showed him how to positively— (looks at MEG for help)
SIEBEL: —positively employ the—the—
SIEBEL: —negative energies. How to positively employ the negative energies. (to FAUST) He wanted to take revenge on you.
FAUST: Revenge? On me? Why?
SIEBEL: I don’t know exactly why, but I think that he might have been jealous of you.
FAUST: Jealous of me? Why?
SIEBEL: Because you have the freedom of choice, while he hasn’t. Or hadn’t. But I’ve talked him out of all this nonsense. He now says that now he’ll have all the freedom of choice. This, and playing golf has calmed him down. He’s a changed man, now. Not a devil, anymore. He’s a poet!
FAUST: (pulls the contract out of his pocket.) What’s this?! I have a contract here, signed by Mephisto, the devil. And now he’s Mephisto, the poet, no longer a devil? And he’s playing … what?
FAUST: Golf. What is it?
SKIEBEL: It’s a game. He showed me. He has a set of clubs, he picks one and with it he hits a little white ball, about the size of a small egg. It flies away, and lands a long distance away. He walks to it and hits it again, with a different club. It lands on a short grass. Then he keeps hitting it with a different club again, until it ends up in a hole that’s been cut into that short grass.
FAUST: And what’s the purpose of all this?
SIEBEL: To calm down. It works for him. He even allowed me to have a go with one of his clubs; I swung several times at the ball, but couldn’t hit it at all. Meph says that I would need a help from a professional, and that he’s going to arrange for it.
FAUST: That’s very unprofessional of him. I’m going to report this to his superiors. He has contractual obligations… and…
(a golf ball rolls onto the stage, landing at FAUST’s feet. Surprised, he picks it up.)
(MEPHISTO enters, with a putter in his hand. PHELRES immediately freezes the action. Both MEPHISTO and BRIGITTE join him in the Magical Circle.)
PHELES: We might be in trouble, if he sends that report!
BRIGITTE: (hands PHELES the jewellery casket) Especially if he finds out the real value of that jewellery. It’s all bogus jewellery, fake diamonds, fool’s gold, isn’t it?
PHELES: I’m afraid so. Can’t do much since our expenses budget was cut down so drastically that we can’t even afford a decent wine to offer our clients. The one Mephisto offered Faust in the flask before signing him up came from a casket. But he seemed to like it alright.
BRIGITTE: But if Faust found out what he’d given me now, we’d really be in trouble.
PHELES: We already are in trouble, Brigitte! Mephisto’s gone native.
BRIGITTE: I know. He’s crazy about Siebel, aren’t you Meph? Teaching a sixteenth century girl how to play golf! But it’s working. She’s gone crazy about him!
MEPHISTO: (with hope) Do you really thinks so?
PHELES: If she does, she might simply follow him to Hell and we’d have a solution.
BRIGITTE: Partial solution. What about Faust? It seems that he insists on contract being fulfilled. And if that means I would have to surrender to him, I would not be happy at all. He’s a moron, and when he’s around I’m perfectly happy playing the lesbian.
BRIGITTE: We can’t do that, can we? He needs help!
PHELES: We all need help, but I have an idea.
BRIGITTE: Tell me.
PHELES: Let’s Faust steal that contract back from us. That would nullify the mission, though leaving us looking a bit incompetent. But we could start afresh when we are ready, for the third time.
BRIGITTE: That would allow Mephisto to get over his infatuation—
PHELES: I would hesitate to call it infatuation, that’s the trouble. He’s had crashes on girls before, he’d even had one on you, and he’s always been able to get over them. But the signs are there that this time it might well run a lot deeper.
BRIGITTE: If it does, we’d deal with it later. But tell me, how would you get Faust steal that contract?
PHELES: Simple. Look there, he’s about to trip over it! It’s in that coat Mephisto left on the ground. Go and talk to Faust, at the same time making sure that he finds the parchment!
(PHELES unfreezes the action, and Faust trips over the coat MEPHISTO left had previously thrown away)
FAUST: (to himself) Aha that’s Mephisto’s coat. He must have left it here when he went to chop that wood. Wouldn’t it be great if I could find tin it that contract I’d signed?!
(MEG/BRIGITTE walks to him and stands in his way.)
MEG: What have you there, Herr Doctor?
FAUST: It’s a coat. Someone must have left it here.
MEG: Why don’t you look into the pockets? You might find something that would give us the idea who it belongs to.
FAUST: (Feels through the pockets, finds a parchment. With his back to Meg, he transfers it into his breast pocket, turns to Meg, immediately looking and sounding more confident.)
Nothing there, but I’m pretty sure that it must be Mephisto’s. I thought that you too girls were watching the fallen angel making show of his positive energy, and the brute force of his muscles. Women like to see that, don’t they?
MEG: Some might do, but I quickly tire of it, thank you very much.
FAUST: He wasn’t swearing by any chance while chopping the wood, or was he? Ah! Even if he were, you are more lady-like, and thus appreciative of a subtler approach, aren’t you? But you haven’t told me yet; there wasn’t the time for that. Did you like the jewellery?
MEG: Oh yes, who wouldn’t?
(the sound of distant wood chopping stops)
FAUST: Would you like more?
MEG: How would you be able to arrange it?
FAUST: Simply, with this mobile phone. All I have to do is call 666.
(SIEBEL runs onto the stage, hears him and sees the mobile phone)
SIEBEL: Hey, doc, is this the thing that you’ve...?
FAUST: What are you doing here again? I thought you were with Mephisto, watching him chop wood and admiring his bulging muscles.
SIEBEL: I was, but Meph’s run out of blocks. He’s so strong that he’s used them all up in no time. But at least he looks quite calm now, so I came here to get his coat. I don’t want him to catch cold before they bring in more blocks for him. But is that little thing you’re holding what you’ve sold your soul for?
FAUST: I haven’t sold my soul at all.
SIEBEL: But I saw you signing some paper, when I looked through the keyhole.
FAUST: Siebel, then you must have been mistaken.
MEG: But you have told me the same thing when we first met. You said that you are the Doctor Faust, who has sold his soul to the devil.
FAUST: I may have at the time, but that’s no longer true. If you don’t believe me, go both of you and ask Mephisto to produce the contract. You’ll find that he hasn’t got it.
MEPHISTO: (appears suddenly) Oh yes, I have it!
FAUST: Finished with your wood chopping? No, you don’t. Look into the pocket of your coat, and see if you can find it there.
MEPHISTO: I don’t have to. After you’ve signed the contract I had it scanned immediately, and a copy has already been lodged electronically with the Hell’s Registry of Souls. It’s all perfectly legal.
FAUST: And what is this?
(pulls out his piece of paper, reads)
Sweet Catherine, you’re a breath of fresh air
You’re a deep well of pure water
You’re a fire that consumes my soul
Only to you my love I declare...
... it’s a poem!
SIEBEL: Oh, Meph!
MEG: How romantic... The boy gets the girl.
SIEBEL: Give it to me, doc. Oh, look at this, it covers the whole page, and it only talks about Catherine — it’s so sweet of you, Meph! (she turns it over) But what’s this? (reads) I, the undersigned Doctor Johannes Georg Faustus, of Zwingenstrasse, Heidelberg—
FAUST: (rips the parchment out of her hand) That IS the contract I’d signed! And it is the original one. No one can deny this. It was signed in my own blood! And it’s in my possession now! But this doesn’t mean that you don’t have to fulfil your side of the bargain!
PHELES: What are you going to do about it?
FAUST: I know what I’ll do. I’ll ring the Hell’s Customers Service and complain about the misconduct of one of their field workers who’s neglecting his duties while only chasing females! I’ll do it right now!
(FAUST fiddles with the mobile, obviously still not quite familiar with it, and in agitated state of mind, turns it around a couple of times, eventually finding a button and punching it three times)
Six, six, six, there … (listens) What? … (looks up, apparently confused) There is a man in there, and he says it’s … he says it’s the Heaven’s Emergency Service! … Hallo! Hallo! … Where the hell is the Hell?!
(MEG and PHELES move to the Magic Circle, PHELES freezes the action. FAUST, SIEBEL remain frozen on the stage, MEPHISTO holding the girl in his arms.)
BRIGITTE: (to audience) Faust held it upside down when he was punching the number. (to PHELES) 999 – Heaven’s Emergency Service; that’s the opposition. And this might have opened up a new set of opportunities for us, Pheles.
PHELES: You’ve always been an opportunist, Brigitte. What’s on your dirty mind now?
BRIGITTE: Ever heard of double agents?
PHELES: Yes, of course. What about them?
BRIGITTE: We could turn into double agents right now. Currently we are the agents on the side of Evil. If we decide to switch the sides, then first we could call on this Heaven’s Emergency Service to rescue us, which would automatically make refugees out of us. We have to declare ourselves political refugees, mind you, otherwise this scheme wouldn’t work. They would be obliged to accept us, and at least give us a temporary refugee status!
PHELES: OK, thus far it sounds logical enough. Political correctness and all that—
BRIGITTE: —political correctness has to be even more rampant than it is in Hell. They’re the ultimate do-gooders, after all.
PHELES: What worries me is what comes after that. They’ll see through our deception, they’ll stall, denying us the full refugee status. We’ll be stuck forever somewhere in no land, bogged deep in the marshes of Purgatory, surrounded by clouds of busily stinking mosquitos!
BRIGITTE: Not if we have something with us that would give us some bargaining power. And we do!
(BRIGITTE whispers something into PHELES’ ear. His face brightens up into a big smile. PHELES unfreezes the action.)
FAUST: I was calling 666...
(MEG walks up to FAUST, who still looks very much perplexed, she yanks the mobile out of his hand)
MEG: Give it to me, Doctor! I’ll talk to them. (resolutely) Hallo … Whom am I speaking to? … You are the Emergency Service, are you? The Heavens? ... Yes, this is definitely an emergency. I need help! Could you get me out of here? I am Marguerite van Dyke, a 21st century person, who’s accidentally become stranded in the sixteenth century. There is a group of us, in fact … (she listens) ... Our precise location? Zwingenstrasse, Heidelberg in Germany, we are in the yard of the house of doctor Faust … yes, Doctor Faust … that’s the one … I see. (she listens, her face brightening up) Really? … You are dispatching the heavenly troops? … Now?! … That’s wonderful! … Thank you. Thank you so much!!
(MEG returns the mobile to Faust, who looks totally confused by all that goes on around him.)
MEPHISTO: (lets go of SIEBEL, to MEG and PHELES) I’d appreciate it if you two told me what it is that you are cooking up here.
PHELES: We two have decided that we are going to Heaven as asylum seekers. It’s up to you if you want to join us.
SIEBEL: Could I come too? Please?
MEPHISTO: Could Cathy come too?
BRIGITTE: I can’t see why not. Look, whatever you two decide to do, it has to be done quickly. The Heavenly troops are on their way already!
MEPHIST: Yes, I can hear them, the valiant soldiers.
(Music - March of the Soldiers – “Gloire immortelle de nos aieux” at the full volume.)
(MEPHISTO, PHELES, BRIGITTE, SIEBEL stay in the front of the stage, where they are debating and gesticulating in lively manner, obviously making up their minds on what to do.)
(FAUST wanders around with the mobile glued to his ear. The lights come gradually off, until only one spotlight remains on MEPHISTO.)
END OF ACT THRE
(MEPHISTO comes onto the proscenium, while the tail end of the Soldiers’ March is still being heard. The volume of music in most recordings decreases naturally so that it can be left to fade away as MEPHISTO begins to speak.)
MEPHISTO: So this is how it all ended. The Heavenly Troops marched in, to hoist us back into the 21st century. We became asylum seekers. Of course, it soon came to light who we were, and that only Siebel … Cathy … was truly deserving of gaining the status of permanent residency. The Commission of Equal Opportunities presided by St Peter however decided that I should also be given a chance, even though I was the devil. It was done on a technicality. My lawyer argued successfully that when Cathy poured holy water over my head, this should be classified as an Act of Baptism. As a result, at this moment I am living in a de-facto relationship with Catherine Siebel, while staying in a halfway house in Purgatory—
SIEBEL: (had walked to MEPHISTO during the last sentence or two, now she puts her arms around his neck and hangs onto him while kissing him on the cheek)
But we’re going to get married!
MEPHISTO: Oh yes, dear, we sure are.
SIEBEL: We have to get married, anyway. They wouldn’t let us migrate to Heaven if we didn’t legalise our mutual commitments.
MEPHISTO: Yes, the authorities over there frown on couples that are just shacking together. But I don’t mind marrying her. She’s my muse.
SIEBEL: Yes, Meph’s written me a lot of poems lately. And they’re getting better and better.
(PHELES and BRIGITTE appear behind them on stage. They slowly move closer, until they stand directly behind them.)
MEPHISTO: Well, I haven’t won any awards yet, but I’m sure that has to come too. Still, thus far I haven’t been able to find a publisher. I wonder, would any of you in the audience know about someone willing to publish The Devil’s Confessions?
PHELES: You’re looking in the wrong place, mate.
BRIGITTE: The publishers always end up down there! (Points to the floor.)
MEPHISTO: Pheles, Brigitte! How did you go?
PHELES: You are looking at the two new agents of HIS, the Heavenly Intelligence Service!
MEPHISTO: How did you swing that one?
BRIGITTE: Simple. Pheles brought them a gift. The laptop. It had a lot of information on it that they found very useful.
SIEBEL: Have you heard anything about my former employer? I’ve been dying to find out!
PHELES: Doctor Faust? He’s a person of interest to HIS too, so I’ve been able to look at his file. For a time he continued making complaints to the Hell Customers Service, about irregularities in our conduct and non-compliance with the contract.
MEPHISTO: Which went generally unheeded, you don’t have to tell us that. I wrote that poem on the reverse side of the original contract, so it would not be a valid legal document now, anyway. And he’s off the hook. Again.
BRIGITTE: You haven’t had it lodged electronically, as you said to him?
MEPHISTO: No, I lied to him. I know, I’ll have to get rid of such bad habits, now I’m here. We will all have to.
PHELES: Back to Faust. Eventually his mobile had run out of batteries.
SIEBEL: Which in the sixteenth century he found difficult to recharge.
BRIGITTE: You are catching up with the technology, aren’t you Siebel?
SIEBEL: Yes. I’ve even started a computer course for the beginners. They offer them free here. So that was the end of Herr Doctor’s complaining?
PHELES: For the time being only. There is a rumour that Faust’s been working on another formula, of which he expects to help him re-establish the connection.
MEPHISTO: Well, good luck to him. Do you think he’ll get away with it for the third time?
PHELES: Not our problem anymore, is it?
MEPHISTO: One thing that worries me. This laptop of yours. Weren’t there some sizeable files on us too? Once they’ve seen those we might have to kiss the citizenship of Heavens goodbye forever. Well, this place isn’t so bad, really.
PHELES: Do you think me stupid, or something? The first thing I’d done was delete all those files that could in any way have incriminated us.
SIEBEL: Our instructor told us that working with the computers just calls for using one’s common sense. And the common sense tells me that you’ve deleted all the sins of the past for all three of you guys!
PHELES: By a single click of the mouse.
Soldiers Gloire immortelle comes back, as all actors assemble on the
take curtain calls, if any…)