From The Duchess. Linda Griffiths was a multiple-award-winning playwright, actor, and producer. Maggie and Pierre, which toured Canada and played Off Broadway, was her first major success. She died in 2014. The Duchess ran at the Cultch in Vancouver in April 2015.
(Blackout. In the darkness we hear squeaking bedsprings, heavy breathing, then silence. Lights up)
EDWARD I’m sorry, Wallis. Better luck next time.
WALLIS Talk to me.
EDWARD About what?
EDWARD Oh. Well, I… better luck next time. And so on.
WALLIS Your Highness, Americans aren’t so stuffy about these things.
EDWARD Please call me David, all those close to me do. The world thinks of me as a great lover, but the truth is, I’m not.
WALLIS Please don’t think I’m too forward, sir. David. But I learned a few things when I was in China.
EDWARD The real truth is, I’ve rarely… actually… fully… done it… Well, once or twice.
WALLIS Premature ejaculation?
EDWARD I seem to be highly excitable—
WALLIS Sir. David. Have you ever heard of the art of Fang Chung?
WALLIS Chung. It’s a skill, practiced for centuries, which involves, among other things…
(WALLIS straddles EDWARD and begins to touch him) relaxation of the male partner through a prolonged and carefully modulated massage of the nipples…
WALLIS The stomach…
EDWARD Ohhhh, yes…
WALLIS The thighs… and after a deliberately protracted and titilatingly unbearable delay…
WALLIS The genitals.
EDWARD (breathing heavily) I’ve always liked the Chinese.
WALLIS Do you like to play games?
WALLIS (taking off her long black gloves) Sometimes when we’re intimate, we like to feel big and powerful, sometimes small and… dominated.
EDWARD I remember my nursery… Mamma was the Queen… never there at all, really… and my Nanny would…
WALLIS Trust me.
EDWARD She would… she would pinch me… and spank me… and—
WALLIS Spank you… like this?
(She whips EDWARD with her gloves)
EDWARD Oh yes, don’t stop.
WALLIS She’d say you were bad.
WALLIS A naughty boy! A bad, naughty, dirty boy!
WALLIS Say “I’m not a bad boy.”
EDWARD I’m not… a bad… I’m not bad…
WALLIS Say, “I’m the King of England, and I can do as I like!”
EDWARD I’m not King yet, you know, I’m only Prince of—
WALLIS Say it.
EDWARD I’m the King of England and I can do as I like!
EDWARD I’m the King of England, and I can do as I like!
EDWARD I’m the King of England… I’m the King of England… I’m the King of England… and I… can… do… as… I… like!
WALLIS Just this once, you might want a cigarette. (lights a cigarette for him) But in return, you have to tell me about your work.
EDWARD My work? You’re the first woman I’ve ever met who was interested in my work.
WALLIS Oh there’s nothing better than pillow-talk politics. What do you think of the Communists?
EDWARD I think they’re a bunch of lying vipers.
WALLIS So do I. And what about Europe? Is it possible for there to be peace? Do you think women are secretly more lethal than men could ever be? Will there always be rich and poor, and it doesn’t matter what anyone does? Where is the power? Do you have power?
EDWARD Will the workers always be exploited? Why are they saying God is dead? Do you believe in God?
WALLIS No, do you?
EDWARD I think yes.
WALLIS Sometimes I think of Europe as this great dark rock, and every few years someone raises up the rock, and worms crawl out and begin to feed on each other.
EDWARD Yes! That’s what it’s like—only this time it won’t happen. And do you know why?
EDWARD National Socialism.
EDWARD You know of it?
WALLIS It’s all anyone is talking about in Washington.
EDWARD The most exciting social experiment of this century. Hitler is a great man. He’s brought his people from desperation to prosperity with the speed of lightning.
WALLIS Yes. And what will you do when you’re King, and in charge of all those areas of the map coloured pink?
EDWARD I will be the first modern King. The first to pilot an airplane, to dance to jazz, to speak without that plumby accent, the first to visit ordinary people in their homes. I want to… to loosen the buttons of the monarchy. I am very concerned about housing for the poor.
WALLIS I know about the poor. I used to be one of them.
EDWARD We ignore the gulf between rich and poor at our peril.
WALLIS So the rich must give up a little.
EDWARD I want to do something with my life and with my reign. I want to have the power to…
WALLIS The power to…
EDWARD The power to… there’s so much… Would it be considered unmanly if I asked to put my head in your lap?
WALLIS My lap is here for you anytime.
(EDWARD lays his head in WALLIS’s lap. She strokes his golden hair)
EDWARD Don’t go away.
WALLIS Shhhh, shhhhh, shhhhhh… there there.
EDWARD I’ve been so alone.
WALLIS There there, my little one, my little boy, there there.