Upstart Crow (2016–…): Season 3, Episode 1 - Lord, What Fools These Mortals Be! - full transcript

Will needs inspiration for his new play A Midsummer Night's Dream. Meanwhile, how can he get hold of some love potion, and where is Bottom going to put that stuffed donkey head?

Are you wondering how healthy the food you are eating is? Check it -
And Titania, the fairy queen,
awakens in the forest glade

and spies the lowly
weaver cavorting.

Mr Condell, Mr Kempe,
in your own time.

What angel wakes me
from my flowery bed?

The finch, the sparrow and the
lark, the plainsong cuckoo grey.

I pray thee, gentle mortal,
sing again. I love thee.

And woof, bang!

Show stops, roof comes off, audience
wets its collective puffling pants.

There's your most
celebrated comic moment

in the entire history of
English theatre right there!

Celebrated comic moment, Will?

I don't understand. Surely for it
to be a celebrated comic moment,

it has to be funny.

It js funny.

The fairy queen awakens
from an enchanted sleep

and is instantly smitten
by the first person she sees.

A common weaver!

He's common!

You know my rule -

all people of lowly birth
are inherently hilarious

because of their pathetic
stupidity and delusions of grandeur.

It's not enough, Will.

When you spoke of this
Midsummer Night's Dream

you promised a
comic tour de force.

I was expecting at the
very least a funny name.

And an inspired visual gag.

And yet you give us neither.

So never mind the finch, the
sparrow and the lark, mate.

What you've got here
is a fresh-plucked turkey.


It's A Midsummer
Night's Snooze, Will.

And unless you can come up with a
funny name and an inspired visual gag,

then I must needs
find a writer who can!

Good day at rehearsals, master?

No, Botsky, it wasn't.
They don't like the play.

They think it's dull
and needs more gags.

That's not a very
helpful comment, is it?

No, it isn't.

I mean, they could say
that about any of your plays.

Just get me some ale and pie!

What do you think,
Kate? Loving it?

I bet you are.

So, the whole plot
depends on the machinations

of this mischievous band of fairies
meddling in matters of the human heart?

Absolutely. Got to
love a meddling fairy.

Box-office gold!

And the lovers' eventual
devotions are dictated

by the administering
of a magic potion?

A magic potion, yes.
Punters love all that.

Mr Shakespeare, is
your play suggesting

that a drugged person is
capable of giving consent?

What? Blimey, I
didn't see that coming!

But, you know, if the drug is
administered by well-intentioned fairies...

that's all right, isn't it?

No, it isn't!

Goodness gracious,
Mr Shakespeare.

This appalling Puck figure
goes about drugging people

so they can then be
forced into intimate relations

with those whom they
had previously despised.

That is sexual assault,
Mr Shakespeare.

God's boobikins, Kate. If...

if a mischievous sprite

can't administer a simple love
potion to a sleeping innocent

without being accused of
assault, then... then I give up!

Really... you must curb your tendency
to apply a joyless sociopolitical agenda

to every situation.

He's right, Kate.

If you keep banging on with
all this whiny-woman stuff,

you'll never get a
man to marry you.

I don't want a man to marry me if
it means I must needs deny myself!

Kate, have a care.

As you are well aware,

clever, gobby birds like you who
remain unmarried be thought witches.

And as one who looks upon
you almost as a daughter,

I'd really rather not see you burnt
at the stake or drowned in the pond.

If I marry, it will be to a man
who respects me for my mind.

You have spoiled me
for that, Mr Shakespeare,

treating me as your equal
and seeking my opinions.

Well, yes, although, kind of
only when they're complimentary.

Speaking of which,
predatory sprites aside,

do you like my
Midsummer Night's Dream?

If I'm honest, I think it's all a bit
mimsy-whimsy soppy-grotty doodah.

soppy-grotty doodah?

How can you say that?

Well, for a start, three of the
principal characters are fairies.

And proudly so.

I would have thought that you of all
people would agree that it's high time

that members of the
FSNEP community

were properly represented
in popular drama projects.


Fairy, sprite,
nymph, elf and pixie.

FSNEP characters are appallingly
underrepresented in mainstream culture.

So, you really do
believe in fairies, then?

Absolutely. I've met one.

You've met an actual fairy?

Indeed I have.

A puckish sprite, a will-o'-the-wisp
in the employ of the fairy queen.

‘Twas from him that I
got the idea for the potion,

and it is to just such a potion that I
owe the love of mine own sweet Anne.

Is this one of your jokes?

Could be. I mean, it's not
funny - that's usually a clue.

I'm not joking. It
happened many years ago.

I'd just met gorgeous Anne
Hathaway, the milkmaid,

and, after a whirlwind of sweet
romance and heartfelt emotion, had...

Knocked her up.

Knocked her proper
up the muffly-duffington.

My fault entirely.

She had begged that I take
care in my frenzied haste,

and promised had I to ensure that the
stranger in the purple helm who had...

who had come a-visiting
beneath her petticoats

would ne'er outstay his welcome

but would instead withdraw post-haste
before, like fiery Mount Vesuvius

disgorging hot lava upon Pompeii,
an unfortunate eruption occurred.

But cometh the
hour... cometh the man.

And Anne, being fertile
as a new-sown meadow

spread thick with fresh
and steaming dung,

was pregnant before I'd had so
much as a chance to light a pipe

and ask how it
had beeneth for her.

Thus was our wedding day set.

Are you actually going anywhere
with this tsunami of oversharing?

Yeah. I thought you were about
to tell us about meeting a fairy.

I'm getting to that.

You see, I loved
Anne with all my heart

but I feared that she did only marry
me because she was knocked uppeth.

To be honest, I've always
lacked a bit of confidence with girls.

Yeah. Being bald.

I am not bald!

I have a tall face.

Besides which, in those days,
my face was much shorter.

I had gorgeous raven locks

and as pretty an ankle as any
hot-blooded youth in South Warwickshire.

But, Mr Shakespeare, if your locks
were raven and your ankle pretty,

why didst thou lack confidence?

Well, I'm not saying I wasn't a
catch. I was hot stuff, all right,

just not as hot
stuff as mine Anne.

She was just such a classy bird!

Master, I love Mrs S to
death, but classy...? You think?

I remember you telling me she
didn't even let go of the cow's teats.

‘Tis true, she
was a dutiful maid

and verily did milk a bucketful
whilst I didst roist around the back...

which, I do confess,

lent a surprisingly erotic
frisson to the encounter.

Anne was just so sexsome.

All did love her,
and she love them.

And many a lusty-trousered sap-bursting
roister had plighted his troth before me,

and she didn't
marry any of them.

She was 26 by the time
she gave my troth a plighting.

Why, having waited so
long, did she choose me?

Because she was
up the duffington.


She Aadto marry me.

But she didn't have to love me.

And distraught was I at the
prospect of a reluctant bride.

And that's when I
met the fairy sprite.

Blimey! I'd forgotten about him.

Not me, Bottom.

You never forget
your first Puck.

Wandered had I alone
in the merry greenwood.


Either I mistake your
shape and making quite,

or else you are that
shrewd and knavish sprite

call'd Robin Goodfellow
- are not you he

that frights the
maidens of the villagery?

Thou speak'st aright.

I am that merry
wanderer of the night.

I jest to Oberon
and make him smile,

when I a fat and
bean-fed horse beguile.

But since in daisy chains
I've got you, just call me Puck.

That's as in "what the...?"

Why, then, naughty sprite,
what the Puck would you with me?

A clever bargain would
I strike with you, sir.

In love methinks
thou art a total loser.


Put this potion in
your sweetheart's eyes,

and when she wakes
she'll get a big surprise.

To him who first she
sees, her heart's enthralled,

even if, like you, he
ends up going bald.

And he gave me the potion.

Oh, my goodness!
And it all came true.

Well, not entirely.

As you can see,
I didn't go bald,

just a little bit less not bald,
which is a completely different thing.

Anyway, Puck charged me
fully five shillings for the potion.

Every penny I had, in fact.

But a small price to pay for a lifetime
of domestic bliss, because it worked.

Mine Anne has been
besotted with me ever since.

Just as I am with her.

Well, I mean, we've
had our ups and downs.

The "dark lady"
episode, for instance?

Sweet Emelia Lanier, daughter
of the Danish court musician,

whom you did lust
after most hornsomely.


I do admit a brief and
unfortunate infatuation there.

And the "fair youth", whom also
did you want to roister most rigidly.

For the final time, Bottom,

I did not want to rigidly
roister the Earl of Southampton!

Honestly, I just don't know
how these rumours get about!

Well... you did write
most gushsomely

about wanting to expend your
spirit in his waste of shame.

By which I meant
"have a nice chat".


But never mind all that.

The point I'm making is that my
midsummer's play be not fey whimsy

but gritty realism.

You don't think this Puck bloke
might have been a conman?

Absolutely not.
The potion worked.

Anne's constant
heart is proof of that.

And now that we have established beyond
any doubt that A Midsummer Night's Dream

is definitely not mimsy-whimsy
soppy-grotty doodah,

I must return to the question of
gagging up the big reveal scene.

I've promised Burbage that I'll give
the lowly weaver a hilarious name,

but what could that
name be, Bottom?

I ask you - Bottom,
what could it be?

I've no idea, master.

Also, Burbage is
expecting a big visual gag

and I'm equally at a
loss for inspiration there.

In come I to make
an ass of myself!

What merry trick is this?

Who am I?


Oh, it's you, Mr Marlowe!

Oh, absolutely. I just thought I'd
have a bit of fun with my latest trophy.

Me and a couple of posh
mates just been on a stag hunt.

Mr Marlowe, that's
an ass's head.

Yeah. So much easier to bag.

I mean, think about it.

Stag - five hours creeping
through streams and gorse

to probably miss anyway.

Ass - tethered to a post in a
small paddock. You do the maths.

Anyway, I thought I could hang it
here till I get my permanent digs.

Oh, I just love its proud
brow and noble expression.

Gosh, Kit, what fun!

Nice to have something to take my mind off
my search for a really telling comic image

for my midsummer's play...

which continues to
completely elude me.

I can't help you there, mate.

Bottom, ale and
pie, if you please.

And afterwards, I'd be
obliged if you'd mount my ass.

That is not in my
job description.

Ha-ha, did you see
what I did there?

The head, Botsky. I
meant mount the trophy.

Who is it?

Be-Be careful. Let
none know I'm here.

It's that old bastable
Robert Greene.

Right, well, that's
all right, then.

Goodness, you
seem a bit jumpy, Kit.

Can't deny it, Will.

Laying low. Debts.

Vengeance, spying, betrayal.

It's all getting a bit much,
and I fear for my life.

That's why I was
wearing the ass's head.

Going incognito, so to speak.

Ah! Mr Shakespeare,
here I am come a-calling.

‘Tis passing strange, Mr Greene,

as 'tis well known about the
town that you do hate my gutlings.

I do not visit you,
Mr Shakespeare.

I would rather enter the dungeons of
the Spanish Inquisition testy-baubles first

than seek your company.

‘Tis this fortunate maid
with whom I would speak.

Me, Mr Greene? How so?

And why be I fortunate?

Because I come as messenger
from the noble Lord Egeus,

the richest man in Southwark.

Lord Egeus, as you may
know, has been ever a soldier -

a hard, manly bachelor life.

The closest he has e'er come to a boon
companion to bring him comfort and love

hath been his horse.

Yes, I've heard those rumours.

Now, however, he would take him
a wife and he has spied you, miss,

upon the dilly as you flit
daintily from shop to shop.

I can't help it. Mad
shopper, me. Love shops!

Yes, well, His Lordship's
fancy hath been tickled.

He therefore sends me
post-haste to plight his troth

requesting your
hand in marriage.

Zounds, Kate! Lord Egeus is
the richest man in Southwark.

And fully 50 years
old, and mean and ugly,

and most warty
be his countenance!

And he's the richest
man in Southwark.

And he doth also own this house.

My mother has a lease.

A lease which be subject to terms,
terms which be defined in courts,

courts which be ruled by judges,
judges who owe their positions to...?

The richest man in Southwark.

Lord Egeus's sap is rising, and his fruity
loins do long for your tender favours.

He demands an
answer in a fortnight.

He may have my
answer now, Mr Greene.

Never. Ne'er shall
I marry Lord Egeus!

Madam, have a care. Lord
Egeus doth love you now

as he has previously loved
only Mr Snorty Velvet Flank.

- His horse? - Just so.

Please him and you could sleep
on a bed of lavender-scented hay

and wear a
diamond-studded muzzle.

Deny him, and you
will feel his whip.

I advise you to think again.

Good day.

Kate, maybe I'm
being thick here,

but what part of the sentence
“the richest man in Southwark"

could you not get?

The part which says I do
not love him, Mr Marlowe!

Kate, what's love
got to do with it?

What be love but a
second-hand emotion?

A woman in our times has no legal
status at all, save that defined by a man.

She passes from being the property
of her father to that of her husband.

Eventually, you must needs throw
yourself on the mercy of a man,

and not all will be the
richest man in Southwark!

I will not marry
him! I swear I won't.

You married for love, Mr Shakespeare,
and yet you think I deserve less?

I hate men.

I hate, hate, hate them!

But this is awful.

It breaks my heart to see
the child in such distress.

What's more, this rich
match would secure her future.

I mean, Egeus will die soon
enough and Kate'll be set for life.

Still, I suppose we can't
make her love the bloke.

Can't we?

Home am I!

Bring ale, bring pie.

Let all rejoice. Father is home.

Good journey, love?

Nothing more than the
usual hellish nightmare, Anne.

15 hours!

15 bloody hours,

awaiting, and I quote, “a
member of the on-coach team".

Oh, the irony of it.

I can't get home because the lazy
bastable's who's supposed to get me home

is at home.

You're always moaning
about your journeys!

I reckon you should write
about it, put it in your plays.

It will be funny and also appealing
to contemporary audiences.

But I don't want my plays to
be contemporary, daughter.

I want them to be timeless.

Well, why wouldn't
that be timeless?

I'm sure it would be of great comfort to
the travelling public of some future age

to know that my brilliant
son shared their pain.

Oh, come now, Mum.

I hardly think such issues will
concern travellers centuries hence.

Do you really think the peoples of
this sceptred isle will endlessly suffer

an underfunded, ill-run and pointlessly
fractured transport infrastructure

to hobble the nation?

Thou would be mad.

What d'you reckon they're
going to do about it, then?

Why, ‘tis certain that one day it will
not be a ragbag of private companies

that run the means
of transport in Albion

but the public itself

in some form of nationally
organised collective

run for the benefit of
all and profit of none.

Well, I must say, that does
seem like a pretty good idea.

Except, if ever there was such a
publicly funded service like that,

the first thing the Queen's ministers
would do is flog it off to their mates.

Come now, Father! I hardly
think people would be so stupid

as to allow that to happen.

I don't know why you bother coming
home at all if it's such a total pain!

Why, to see you all, of course.

Mum, the twins, you,
Sue, mine own sweet Anne.

Not Dad, obviously.

But... But the rest of
the family, certainly.

Besides, I had a
yearning for the country.

I would wander in the greenwood
once more as I did when but a youth.

Well, if you're going to the woods,
you can pick me some mushrooms.

You go too, Susanna, and make
sure you pick the right ones this time.

Grandad's still coming down

from the lot you gave him
last week with his chop.

I have opened the doors
to spiritual perception.

Claims he saw the haloed
head of Jesus in his gravy.

It was a dumpling
and an onion ring!

So, you see, Sue, now
you know the whole story,

and I'm returned here now in search of
Puck with another love dilemma to solve.

Did it ever occur to you, Dad, that this
Puck bloke might actually be a con artist

who just took five bob off for you for
a bottle of water with a few petals in it?

I told you, Sue, it worked.

Your mum has
loved me all her life.

Maybe she just loved you anyway.

Nice thought, Sue,
but you're dreaming.

What gorgeous girl like
Anne would e'er love me

without the help
of a puckish potion?

I'm the greatest poet in all history
but I know my limitations. I'm also...

A fartsome baldy-boots who the
children laugh at on the village green.

Who comes to the
greenwood with weary sigh?

Speak up,

for Puck would
know the reason why.

Good sprite, some years ago,

thou didst present me with a potion
that when administered to a sleeping soul

would cause them to
fall in love at first sight

with whomsoever they
encountered on awakening.

Which is, by the way,
really, really creepy.

It's not creepy.

It's fun.

And charming.

And romantic.

It's also gone up. Ten bob.


on the morrow, Lord Egeus
will come for his answer.

Yes, I know.

You have been weeping.

No, I haven't.

I have brought you a soothing
balm for your red and swollen eyes.

Except they're not red and swollen,
because I haven't been crying.

I-I think soothing
balm could help.

I don't need balm.

I will not quarrel with thee, child,
but I beg you, get a good night's sleep,

and since you
have been crying...

I have not been crying!

Use this soothing eye balm.

No, seriously, just...

just put it on your eyes.

For the love I bear
thee, I promise.

By the fairy's false fandangle

does this fond fool
think to gull me.

‘Tis clear this soothing
balm of which he speaks

is the very potion with which
he did seek to enchant his Anne.

‘Tis certain he
intends to ensure

that Lord Egeus be the
first person I lay eyes on

on the morrow.

Well, while I be very sure
that this be not magic at all

and none but a
conman's trickery,

nonetheless I see a way to
serve his trick back up to him

and put an end to his
hopes that I marry Warty.

Who the maid?

Me the maid.

Robert Greene
has come a-calling.

I am arrived at this ridiculously early
hour, as instructed, Mr Shakespeare.

A most uncivilised imposition.

Well, you know, today
is the big decision day,

and Kate just couldn't
wait to see Lord Egeus.

He will be here shortly?

I trust your urgent summons means
the girl has come to her senses.


She will love Lord Egeus most fervently
the moment she sets eyes on him.

But ‘tis crucial that when His
Lordship arrives we hide ourselves,

that when Kate emerges
she sees only him.

She must see His Lordship first.

I need no potion to
perform my magic trick.

Just a fine brain
and a firm resolve.

Oh, oh, Bottom! Bottom!

My night-time turding pot
be fully rank and loaded.

Canst thou turf its
contents from the window?

Oh, Bottom! Bottom!

Kate's awake. She'll
want her turding pot turfed.

Bottom, no!

What angel wakes me
from my flowery bed?

Angel? Kate, it's me, Bottom.
I've come for your turding pot.

- You're so beautiful. - What?


What madness is this?

‘Tis as if I see thee
for the first time...

My Bottom!


Embrace... my Bottom!

Kiss... my Bottom!

Caress, cuddle and
delight... my Bottom!

- Bottom's his name. - Oh!

And, of course,
that's all right, then.

Except not!

Lord Egeus will do
dark murder to us all!

His Grace, the Lord Egeus.

I've come for the girl.

I'm sorry, my lord,
but I am spoken for.

I love my Bottom.

And with good reason.

Fine buttocks.

Strong flanks.

Like a noble horse.

It's your athletic equine
quality that attracts me.

Your Grace, this foolish wicked
girl doth reject your advances.

She loveth another.

Never! If I can't have
her, no-one shall!

I will ruin her!

I will ruin you all!

Bottom, grab Mr
Marlowe's trophy,

and when I shout, "Ass!"
put it on, and everybody duck.

Look over here, Lord Egeus!


What angel wakes me
from my flowery bed?

You are the most attractive
biped I have ever seen.

I do love thee!

I shall mount thee!

No, oh, oh!

Run, Bottom!

Lose him in the local
paddock! He can take his pick!

What madness is this?

There is sorcery afoot!

Lord Egeus, what aileth thee?!

Well, that was all a bit weird.

Long story, Kit, but I think we've
heard the last of Lord Egeus's infatuation.

I am completely
stunned, Mr Shakespeare.

The potion worked.

Well, of course it worked. You're
in love with Bottom, aren't you?

God knows how
I'm going to fix that.

I'm not in love with Bottom.

I didn't use the potion.

I just wanted to find
a way to stop you

trying to make me marry
someone I didn't love.

Clever bird, Will.

They'll end up making a deal of
trouble in the world, just you watch.

But I take back everything
I said about your play.

Turns out it really
is grittily realistic.


But Burbage won't stage it.

Or at least, not unless I can come up
with a really funny name for the weaver

Titania falls in love with

and an inspired visual
gag for her to wake up to.

Really, I should be
working on it now.

But what with Bottom putting
on the ass's head and...

Lord Egeus falling in love with
him, I've been a bit distracted.

Hang on.

Hang the futtock on!

It's going very well, Will.

Yes. And the big
scene's still to come.


I heard there was a show needed
stopping, a roof that needed raising.

I can't believe you gave my name
to a bloomin' donkey-headed clown.

Oh, don't be such a snob,
Botsky. You have lent your name

to what is destined to become
the funniest comic scene

in all English
Renaissance theatre.

Yeah, because there's
so much competition!

Mr Kempe, stick the funny head on
and go out there and make theatre history.

What angel wakes me
from my flowery bed?

The finch, the
sparrow and the lark,

the plainsong cuckoo grey,

whose note full many
a man doth mark,

and dares not answer... nay!

Listen to it, Will.

The very first laughs for the big donkey
gag in A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Laughs destined, I am
sure, to ring down the ages,

as generation after generation
discover your genius anew

and adds its voice to the
ongoing chorus of merriment.


And those who don't find it
funny will feel obliged to pretend to,

adding their glazed,
forced, teeth-gritted garglings

to the merry cacophony of mirth.

Happy with that.

Quite a story, husband.

You gave Kate a balm to
soothe her troubled eyes.

That's right.

But actually it was a potion you got
from a woodland sprite to make her love

- whom first she saw upon awakening?
- Yes, that's right.

Funny, that.

I recall upon our wedding night you giving
me a balm to soothe my troubled eyes.

Oh, right, yes, but... of course,
that was eye balm, my love.

Well, it doesn't matter
anyway. I didn't use it.

You... You didn't?


My eyes weren't troubled.

And I don't need no bloomin'
potion to love you either.

You fartsome old baldy-boots.

If we shadows have offended,

think but this
and all is mended.

That you have but slumbered
here while these visions did appear,

and this weak and idle theme

no more yielding but a dream.

If fun you've had
and more fun seek...

come... dream again with us...

next week.