Blesok no. 29, November-December, 2002
Theatre Play

Nothing without Trifolio
Translated by Alan McConnel-Duff

Rusomir Bogdanovski


A comedy in Greco-Roman style
Written after an encounter
with the effervescent spirit
of the Roman comic playwright
Publius TERENCE Africanus which,
released from its master's body in the year 159 B.C.,
has gone on wandering through the centuries.


Cantarion, an old man
Lavandula, Cantarion's wife
Petunia, Cantarion's older daughter
Melissa, Cantarion's younger daughter
Trifolio, a friend in deed
Miles Gloriosus Rosmarinus, commander of an infantry battalion
Hibiscus, an old man
Pinus, Hibiscus's younger son
Adonis, Hibiscus's older son
Camellia, Cantarion's illegitimate daughter

Act one, Scene 1

(Outside Cantarion's house. Lavandula comes out.)

    LAVANDULA: So what if my husband is a millionaire? What difference does it make that he's the wealthiest merchant in Lychnidus, and now a member of the Senate in Scupi, when he's a mean tight-fisted miser? Once he gets his hands on money, even if you beat him he won't let it go! He deals in silk and fine cloths, while his daughters and I go around in the meanest rags in town. It's not because he's clever but because he's mean and stingy that they elected him to the Senate. “In times like this,” they say, “we have to save!” Times have always been like this for us; as soon as we start enjoying life, letting go a little, we have to tighten our belts! Short rations at home, soaring prices outside. And now, while he's making his mark in the Senate, we're up to the arse in cobwebs! Our neighbours have built a place and all we have is this ten-room tumbledown house and the shacks in Scupi, Heraclea, and Stobi… And we have two lovely, darling daughters, both ripe for marriage!
    CANTARION (shouting from inside): Lavandula, where are you?
    LAVANDULA: Under the apricot tree. Here he comes – my husband, Cantarion!

Act one, Scene 2

(Cantarion comes out.)

    CANTARION: This I never expected of you!
    LAVANDULA: What?
    CANTARION: This piece of bread – you gave it to the dog!
    LAVANDULA: It's been stale for some time.
    CANTARION: It's not healthy to eat fresh bread!
    LAVANDULA (aside): It's not healthy, either, for you to be alive.
    CANTARION: What was that?
    LAVANDULA: May you live a long and healthy life!
     CANTARION: Listen, now. I'm going to Scupi. I've been called urgently to the Senate. I don't want you getting me into debt, d'you hear? People are envious: in no time they'll be saying: “He's only just got into the Senate and already he's started snatching and grabbing!” I want you to keep that door tight shut – three bolts!
    LAVANDULA: What, all three? Isn't one enough? The longest one?
    CANTARION: It's safer with all three.
    LAVANDULA: Are you jealous?
    CANTARION: Jealous of whom?
    LAVANDULA: You're frightened someone might suddenly drop in on me while you're away. I'm the most beautiful woman in town!
    CANTARION: Beautiful, beautiful – even far too beautiful!
    LAVANDULA: You don't sound very convinced! Anyway, do you imagine you could keep me just by locking me up? If I wasn't an honest woman I could have a real fling – and you wouldn't notice a damn thing!
    CANTARION: It's not yourself I want you to look after, it's your daughters! Now that I've got my promotion, there'll be a lot of stray dogs prowling around this house.
    LAVANDULA: I know you, through and through! Look, the girls are young – it's only natural for the men to be running around them. And you're afraid someone might give me the wink.
    CANTARION (aside): He might – if he was half-blind!
    LAVANDULA: Stop muttering into your beard. Tell me clearly what you want to say!
    CANTARION: Well, somebody might just want to see you. (aside) The gravedigger for instance.
    LAVANDULA: And if he does, what harm is there in that? He'll have his eyes full and his hands empty.
    CANTARION (aside): Ah, that's bad! (to Lavandula) But I must be on my way. If your friend Trifolio should turn up, tell him I've done my part of the job – now he can do his.
    LAVANDULA: All you can think of is jobs and business.
    CANTARION: And you, of spending money. Right, I'm off!
    LAVANDULA: No farewell kiss?
    CANTARION: I'll give it to you… when I come back!
(He leaves.)

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