Neviim Tovim/TheHaftarah Circle Gillian Gould Lazarus

Archive for March 2016

Purim 5776

Performed at Sha’arei Tsedek North London Reform Synagogue on 23 March 2016 Script by Gillian Lazarus.

Purim poster 2016

Scene 1

Haman: Memusnape, you’re very nearly late. What news?

Memusnape: My Lord, I intend to move Vashti from her current position at the Ministry of Magic. The way will then be clear for your supporter Dolores to marry the chief minister, Ahasuerus Scrimgeour and to further your interests throughout the Persian Empire.

Haman: My interest, Memusnape is in the fall of the Persian Empire, which you all know was founded by the Zoroastrian Zionist, King Cyrus, the man who permitted the Jews to return to Jerusalem. . As an Amalekite, I intend to watch the demise of the Empire, as soon as I’ve disposed of any remaining Jews. Teresh, you will accompany Memusnape to the Ministry.

Teresh Malfoy: Whatever you say, My Lord. I am your most faithful servant.

Scene 2

Ahasuerus Scrimgeour: Drink up everyone! We’re celebrating a great success for the ministry.

Hagrid the Chamberlain: What sort of success is that then?

Ahasuerus: We’ve had an upturn of 127% in economic growth for the last quarter, Hagrid.

Hagrid: 127%?  It’s true I got a U in GCSE maths but even I know that’s not a realistic figure. More like 103% if you ask me.

Teresh Malfoy: A U in maths? I doubt you got anything higher than a Z.

Ahasuerus: Well it means I can budget for an overhaul of the marble pillars here at the ministry, and the silver couches can be re-upholstered in gold. It’s so much more comfortable than silver.

Hagrid: Does this mean you’re going to issue a grant to Battersea Home for Orphaned Dragons? I’ve been campaigning for it…

Ahasuerus: Of course Hagrid, of course. After I’ve dealt with the couches…first things first, you know. But now it’s time to call my wife Vashti. She can entertain us with one of her interpretative dances  and her ingenious Vanishing Queen card trick. Memusnape, go and fetch Vashti for me. She’s probably in her office in the Derren Brown Wing.

Memusnape: I’ll go at once, Sir.

Teresh Malfoy: Shall I accompany you? Just to make sure you don’t get lost?

Memusnape: That won’t be necessary.

Hagrid: Ask her to do the vanishing dragon’s egg trick.

exit Memusnape

Teresh: All Hagrid thinks about are dragons. He doesn’t have room in his brain for two different thoughts.

Hagrid: Yes I do. My other thought is that she might make you vanish. (pause) I should not have said that.

Ahasuerus: What’s this Memusnape, back already? You must have flown.

Memusnape: I used a Nimbus 2016.

Ahasuerus: How was it?

Memusnape: In view of our Clean Air Act, I suspect it exceeds safe emission levels.

Ahasuerus: Oh that’s nothing. I have trouble with emissions myself. So where’s Vashti?

Memusnape: I couldn’t persuade her to join us. I told her that you’d specifically requested the Vanishing Queen card trick and she asked me to let you know she’s vanished.

Ahasuerus: What kind of answer is that?

Teresh Malfoy: A very rude one. Allow me to suggest you divorce her and banish her permanently from the Ministry.

Ahasuerus: That sounds a bit draconian.

Teresh: We Malfoys are nothing if not draconian.

Hagrid: Did somebody mention dragons?

Teresh: I can suggest a very suitable replacement. Her name is Dolores. Dolores Ambridge.

Ahasuerus: No Teresh; I’m thinking more along the lines of holding a beauty competition and then I can marry the one who comes first. Or second, if there’s a mix-up, like the one at Miss Universe.

Memusnape: That can easily be arranged Sir. Meanwhile, I suggest you do a party political broadcast, telling all Persian wives to obey their husbands, otherwise it will be the worse for them. No need to mention Vashti’s disobedience. You can just say that she did the vanishing queen trick once too often.

Ahasuerus: Very well Memusnape. Spin, spin, spin, that’s your area of expertise. You should be the one called the Dark Lord.

Scene 3

 Dumblemord: Esther, I want to talk to you about something important.

enter Esther, Harry and Ron

Here I am Uncle Dumblemord. I hope you don’t mind but my friends Harry and ron have come round for a butterbeer and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans.

Harry: Esther’s been helping us with our Potions homework, Sir.

Dumblemord: It looks as if you’ve hurt your head, young man.

Harry: Oh, it’s just an old scar. I got it head-butting an Avada Kedavra curse.

Dumblemord: In Aramaic, we say avra kedavra – I create as I speak – but that’s another story.

Esther: Uncle, I read in the library that the Talmud is against wizardry. Tractate Sanhedrin 67b is a case in point, but there are many more examples…

Ron: That’s just mental, that is.

Esther: This is my friend Ron, by the way. He’s looking for his rat.

Ron: He’s called Galloway. He thinks he’s a cat. That’s the sort of rat he is – mental.

Dumblemord: Now Esther, pay attention. The Chief Minister is looking for a new wife, and now that you’re in the seventh year at Hogwarts and you’ve passed your N.E.W.T.S, you’re old enough to be married.

Ron: Hold on a minute…

Esther:  But I don’t want to.

Dumblemord: There’s more at stake than you realize, Esther. This isn’t about personal happiness but about saving our people from a great danger.

Esther: Then I’ll have to put my personal feelings aside.

Ron: She’s so brave, isn’t she?

Esther: Always the tone of surprise.

Harry: We’ll come with you Esther and look after you. We can get jobs as chamberlains at court. And I’ll bring my invisibility cloak. I’m likely to need it.

Ron: Yes, and I’ll borrow a set of extendable ears from Fred and George. If only I could find that useless rat of mine. I looked for him in Bradford but he isn’t there any more.

Harry: Perhaps he isn’t in Shushan either.

Esther: You could try Tehran. I’m just hoping he hasn’t got his nose stuck in a tight spot again.

Scene 4

Hagrid is with Harry and Ron

Hagrid: It turns out that Ahasuerus Scirmgeour prefers Esther to all the other young ladies. He’s planning to marry her as soon as possible.

Ron: Poor kid! What a miserable life it’ll be!

Harry: At least she’ll be able to get Ahasuerus up to speed with the post-Talmudic tractates. You know she’ll enjoy that.

Hagrid: Meanwhile, that no good chamberlain Teresh Malfoy is planning to poison Ahasuerus’s butterbeer.

Harry and Ron: Oh no!

Harry: That’s terrible. I’m going to tell Dumblemord and he’ll find a way to warn Ahasuerus.

Hagrid: I’ve heard that Teresh works for a master by the name of Vol-au-vent.

Harry: Vol-au-vent?

Hagrid: Shush, don’t repeat it. I should not have said it. But he has some other name, an alias he uses. I can’t think of it right now. Some Amalekite name I haven’t heard before…It’s on the tip of my tongue..

Ron: I’m quite partial to a mushroom vol-au-vent myself.

Hagrid: It’s a name beginning with an X, rhymes with orange…oh yes! Haman.

Harry and Ron: Haman?

Hagrid: Shh don’t even say it. But I’ve heard rumours. They say that a certain person, who has the same name as a popular canapé, has been given a powerful position at the Ministry. Everyone’s afraid to cross him, except for your Dad, Ron. And Esther’s uncle, Dumblemord.

Harry: Well I’m going to send an OWL to Dumblemord right away, warning him about the plot to kill Ahasuerus. (calls) Hedwig, where are you?

enter Hedwig, flapping wings

Hedwig (grumpily).  Another message? My wings are killing me. Haven’t you people heard of email? SMS? What’sApp? What century are you living in?

Harry: It’s the fifth century BCE, Hedwig. And you know we live in a magical world.

puts a message in her beak

Hedwig: So what’s wrong with writing a message on a shard and sending it by camel? That’s what normal people do. (exits, muttering sarcastically) Flap flap flap. Too whit to woo.

Potter at STNL

Scene 5

 Enter Ahasuerus and  Vol-au-vent

Ahasuerus: I’m shocked to hear that there are one or two scoundrels not showing you proper respect, Vol-au-vent. The least you can expect is props from the public.

Vol-au-vent: I’m dealing with it, minister. I’ve already sacked Arthur Weasley for being disloyal. The other character, Dumdlemord, is more problematic. Dumblemord is not even his real name. His name is Mordecai and he’s a Jew. Like all his people, he’s arrogant.

Ahasuerus: Did you say he’s Aragorn? Isn’t that from another…?

Vol-au-vent: He’s arrogant – they all are. They think they’re the chosen people, you know and meanwhile they hold the reins of power, with their secret lobbying, their incessant letters to the BBC and their MOSSAD dolphin.

Ahasuerus: That’s not on, is it Vol-au-vent? It’s just not the right way to go about things.

Vol-au-vent: If you leave it to me, I can sort out the problem for you. I’ll foot the expenses myself and, before long, Shushan, indeed, the whole Persian Empire, will be a Jew-free zone.

Ahasuerus: Like in Tehran? Sounds a good idea. Damn, what’s that creature scuttling past? It looks like a rat. Wasn’t one of the Weasley boys searching for his rat?

Vol-au-vent: Possibly, but I believe that one’s one of mine. He wants to be Mayor of London. I can probably make that happen, if I get my hands on the Elder Wand.

Ahasuerus: You’d better send some owls out to the provinces, to let them know what’s going to happen to the Jews.

Vol-au-vent: I’ve pencilled in 13th Adar as a suitable date to exterminate them and I’ll start preparing the owls. On second thoughts, I think I’ll use email. It’s quicker.

Scene 6

 Hedwig: To whit to woo. I’ve had enough of this. First Esther sends me to Dumblemord, to tell him about the murderous plot cooked up by that good for nothing Amalekite, Vol-au-vent, Haman, or whatever his name is. Dumblemord tears his clothes in grief, and I have to fly back and tell Esther. Esther sends me back to Mordechai with a new pair of stonewash Wranglers and a Charles Tyrrwhit denim shirt. Dumblemord tells me it won’t wash. Rubbish. He can use the short cycle, 30 degrees max.

Dumblemord: Hello Hedwig. Back again? Have you shown Esther Haman’s decree, about destroying the Jews?

Hedwig: If that’s what you put in my beak, she’s got it.

Dumblemord: What about my message, telling her to get an audience with Ahasuerus?

Hedwig: Don’t rush me. Do you know the distance between the Ministry of Magic and your bungalow?

Dumblemord: It’s not much more than a mile, as the crow flies.

Hedwig: As the crow flies?  Are you trying to be offensive?

Dumblemord: No of course not, it’s just a figure of speech.

Hedwig: Well this is the thing. Esther says it’s too dangerous. No one is allowed to approach the chief Minister, on his or her own initiative. There’s a penalty and it involves Azkaban Prison.

Dumblebord: The stakes are high, so of course the dangers are great. Tell Esther that she won’t escape in the Minister’s house, any more than all the other Jews.  Perhaps she’s there for a special reason, to save her people from destruction.

Hedwig: Are you seriously expecting me to say all that? Because you should know there are additional charges if you go above ten words.

Dumblemord: Just tell her: Go to Ahasuerus and plead with him.

Hedwig: To whit to woo. Onward and upward.

Enter Hagrid

Hagrid: ‘Scuse me. I’m Hagrid, one of the chamberlains from the Ministry. Are you Esther’s Uncle Dumblemord? If you are, I’ve got an important message for you. And if you’re not, I should never have started this conversation.

Dumblemord: Yes I’m Dumblemord. I was expecting an owl with a message.

Hagrid: Yes, that’s Hedwig. She’s on strike. All the owls are on strike, in protest against long hours and night work. So the message from Esther is this.

Dumblemord: Yes?

Hagrid: Now I wrote it all down and gave it to Norbert the dragon for safe keeping.

Dumblemord: Yes?

Hagrid: But Norbert sneezed and it went up in flames.

Dumblemord: Oh dear.

Hagrid: Anyhow, the message went something like this: Tell the Jews of Shushan to fast for three days. I, Esther, will also fast for three days, and then I’ll go to see Ahasuerus. And if I perish, I perish.

Dumblemord: Thank you. Message received and understood. How long is the owl strike going on?

Hagrid: It’s just a twenty-four hour fly out but I had to borrow Harry’s invisibility cloak to get past the picket lines. I understand their grievance, mind. Owls have as much right as anyone to weekend pay.

hedwig picket

Scene 6b

Owls (chanting):

Weekend pay is overdue

 Join us now, to whit to woo.

  Fight and don’t throw in the towel

   Weekend pay for every owl.

  Unity is strength

Disunity is weak

All together, flap your wings

And open up your beak

What are we asking? Fair play!

How shall we get it? Fair pay!

When do we want it? This day!

Will we be flying? No way!

No more working till we drop

Owlsploitation has to stop

Tell the bosses, tell the king:

Stand together, wing to wing.

One, two, three, four,

We won’t work for Dumbledore

Two, four, six, eight,

Hogwarts mail will have to wait

Scene 7

 enter Esther with Harry and Ron who are sharing the invisibility cloak

Esther: We ought to have a plan, in case Ahasuerus gets angry and sends me to Azkaban.

Harry: I’ll do an Imperius Curse to make him listen sympathetically. If that doesn’t work, offer him these two tickets for the Quiddich Cup Final.

Ron: How did you get those? Did you use a Summoning Charm?

Harry: No, E-bay. Esther, you look beautiful.

Ron: Poor kid, she’s been fasting for three days!

Esther: I do feel a bit light-headed. Come on, best foot forward. Look, there’s Ahasuerus! He’s seen me! Oh, thank goodness, he’s holding out his golden snitch. That means he’s pleased to see me.

Harry: Imperio!

Ahasuerus: What do you want Esther. Whatever it is, I’ll give it to you.

Ron: Nice one Harry.

Esther: Well, it’s just that I’m planning two dinner parties. I want you to be there and to bring Haman – I mean Vol-au-vent – with you.

Ahasuerus: As I said, I’ll give you whatever you ask, even if it’s the sword of Gryffindor.

Scene 8

enter Vol-au-vent and Dolores Ambridge and a cat

Vol au vent: There’s good news and there’s bad. What do you want first?

Dolores: My little kitty cats don’t like to hear bad news, unless it means someone has to be punished. We love devising punishments, don’t we, Pussikins.

Pussikins: Meow.

Vol au vent: Stop talking to your cat and pay attention.

Dolores: He’s in a teeny weeny bit of a grumpy mood, isn’t he Pussykins? I’ve got a feeling someone’s going to be punished.

Vol au vent: I’m to be the guest of honour at a banquet given by the Minister and his wife. That’s the good news.

Dolores: There’s a good pussy – see if you can bring me a juicy mouse for my potion.

Pussikins: Meow meow.

Vol au vent: But all this means nothing to me, as long as I see Mordechai the Jew here in Shushan, not bowing, eating those Rakuzen’s matzos and donating to the Second Temple Byuilding Fund..

Dolores: Disgusting! Hanging’s too good for him.

Vol au vent: On the contrary, hanging is just the right solution. I’ll have a gallows made, fifty cubits high.

Dolores: Ooh, I like to have something good to watch. Don’t we, Pussikins?

Pussikins: If you say so.

Dolores: The way to go is certainly the gallows way. Which reminds me, Pussikins, a rat would be better for my potion than a mouse. A rat in a hat perhaps.

Pussikins (enthusiastically) Meow!

Scene 9         

Ahasuerus in bed, Memusnape in attendance

Ahasuerus: I wasn’t asleep. I was just resting my eyes for a minute. As it happens, I haven’t had so much as a catnap all night.

Memusnape: I feel your pain, Minister. Could I perhaps bring you a mug of Horlicks? Or perhaps something stronger?

Ahasuerus: What’s the use? Nytol doesn’t work.

Memusnape: Brandy and soda?  A Moroccan meatball wrap?

Ahasuerus: No Memusnape. I just need to be soothed. Read me something boring. You’ll find old copies of the Shushan Chronicle in the ottoman.

Memusnape: Very well. This one’s six months old. (Reads)  Coldest winter for years set to bring months of snow and blizzards. Sub-zero temperatures and violent snow storms could hit as soon as late October…

Ahasuerus: What month is it now?

Memusnape: April.

Ahasuerus: So they got that wrong as usual. What else?

Memusnape (reads) Jew of Shushan saves minister Ahasuerus from assassination attempt. Dumblemord the Jew, also known as Mordechai, was instrumental in uncovering a plot to poison the Chief Minister. The perpetrator, Teresh Malfoy, was sentenced to twelve years in Azkaban, which was commuted to eighteen months by the judge, Barty Crouch.

Ahasuerus. Typical of Barty Crouch! What about the Jew? I suppose he was rewarded?

Memusnape: Not as yet.

Ahasuerus: I’ll have to do something for him. Knighthood, you think? Or will CBE cover it?

Memusnape: Privy council?

Ahasuerus:  No point. It’s full of all sorts of beardy weirdies and fellow travellers these days. It had better be some new form of honour. I’ll think about it in the morning, if only you’ll stop nattering and let me go back to sleep.

Memusnape: Yes Minister but dawn has broken and you have an appointment with Vol-au-vent in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.

Ahasuerus: All right, bring him to me. I read a strange rumour about Vol-au-vent on Twitter last night. They said Vol-au-vent isn’t his real name.

Memusnape: He sometimes uses Voldemort.

Ahasuerus: No, it wasn’t that, something more Amalekite, like Agag or Quirrell. I’ll remember in a minute.

Memusnape goes out

Ahasuerus (speaking to himself): How can I forget something I knew just a few hours ago. I hope I’m not the victim of one of Gilderoy Lockhart’s memory charms. What was that name? Shalmaneser? Livingstone? Antipasto? Well, it doesn’t matter, since everyone knows him as Vol-au-vent.

Enter Vol-au-vent

Ahasuerus: Ah, Haman! Bright and early I see. While you’re here, I need to ask your advice. What do you think should be done to reward a man I want to honour?

Vol-au-vent: Invest him with special powers. Let him ride on a state-of-the-art broomstick, a Firebolt for example and all the people below will bow.

Ahasuerus: Very well Vol-au-vent, see to it yourself as you’re so reliable. The man I’m rewarding is Dumblemord the Jew. You probably know him by sight.

Vol-au-vent (hisses): Only Parseltongue has enough swear words for this sort of situation.

Intermission

Scene 10

 Image of Hogwarts refectory. Esther, Ahasuerus and Vol-au-vent are dining. Harry and Ron are present under the invisibility cloak.

Ron: This bread is fantastic. Where did you get it Esther.

Esther: I baked it myself. I used the recipe from the Mishnah, order Zeraim, tractate Challah. The only problem was, you’re supposed to give one twenty-fourth of the loaf to a priest, as an offering, I mean a cohen of course, not a Zoroastrian priest, and the Talmud Yerushalmi, tractate Taanit 23b, makes a connection between the challah offering and the twelve spies…

Ron: Too much information.

Harry: It’s getting a bit hot under this invisibility cloak, and my scar’s giving me a bit of trouble. I feel as if I’m in the presence of evil.

Ron: Have some more challah, mate. It’s anything but evil.

Esther: Actually, there’s something I have to say to Ahasuerus. Have your wands ready boys – it’s going to be a bumpy night.

Ahasuerus: That was a fine spectacle today, when Dumblemord flew over the Ministry on a Firebolt. Don’t you think so Vol-au-vent?

Vol-au-vent (hissing). Hiss shish spritz kishkas

Ahasuerus: Ah, you’re still speaking in your native tongue. I get the gist of it, but there are words I don’t recognize, probably neologisms.

Vol-au-vent: Squish pish fish. Hiss.

Ahasuerus: I couldn’t disagree. Esther, what is the thing you wanted to ask me?

Harry: Imperio!

Ahasuerus: It shall be granted to you, even if it’s a seat in the Wizengamot.

Esther: Ooh, that is tempting. It’s so male-dominated at present. But no, what I want is this: only my life. There’s someone close to you who wants to destroy my people and me.

Ahasuerus: Who would dare do such a thing? Give me a name.

Esther: The adversary and enemy, this wicked Haman.

Ahasuerus: Who?

Esther: Haman.

Ahasuerus: You mean Vol-au-vent here? I always suspected that his name was Haman.

Ron: I think you’ll find it’s hashtag Haman.

Ahasuerus: What do you have to say to this Hashtag? No! Don’t answer! I’m just going outside and I may be some time. I’ll expect you to have an answer ready when I come back.

Vol-au-vent (approaching Esther) It will take more than a schoolgirl to defeat me. Do you think you, a mudblood, can have any power over me? I possess the most powerful  wand in Shushan. Hundreds of death eaters are in my service and that’s not even mentioning the Weasley boy’s rat. Avada…

Harry and Ron together: Expelliarmus!

Ahasuerus returns

Ahasuerus: What’s going on here? Is he daring to attack Esther here in the Ministry of Magic? Arrest him immediately.

Enter Hagrid

Hagrid (to Vol-au-vent): Haman, you great prune. I’m escorting you to Azkaban. I have to caution you that anything you say can be given in evidence against you.

Vol-au-vent: Hiss fizz Swiss crisps.

Hagrid: Sorry, you’re going to have to spell that for me. You can tell me all about it on the way to Azkaban.

exeunt

 

Scene 11

 (Esther, Harry, Ron, Hagrid)

Hagrid: What a battle that was! If it hadn’t been for Dumblemord’s Army and the Order of the Nudniks, we would have been hard pressed to keep the Death Eaters out of Shushan.

Harry: If it hadn’t been for Esther, Haman would have achieved his aim of destroying all the Jews in the Persian Empire.

Ron: Now he’s imprisoned in Azkaban, and long may he stay there.

Esther: Dumblemord says that we didn’t do it all by ourselves. We had help from another quarter.

Hagrid: Talking of Dumblemord, I hear that Ahasuerus has plans for his promotion.

Esther: Really?

Harry: Great news!

Ron: Tell us more.

Hagrid: Ah, I should not have said that. It’s all still under wraps. But I’ve started so I’ll finish. Ahasuerus wants Dumblemord to be the head of a big  new Talmud Torah and Yeshiva opening in Shushan. It’s going to be called Loxwarts, lox instead of hog you see, to make it sound a bit more kosher.

Enter Hedwig

Hedwig: Whew! To whit to woo. A hundred and twenty-seven provinces and all in one shift!  I’m not doing that again without double overtime. All they’ve offered me is time off in lieu. To whit to woo. Dumblemord’s to blame.

Esther: Why, Hedwig, what’s happened?

Hedwig: He sent me to all the Jews in the provinces, near and far, to tell them to keep the days of 14 and 15 Adar every year, as days of feasting and gladness, throughout the generations, so that the memory of these days of Purim will never perish.

Esther: Oh well remembered Hedwig!

Hedwig: You’d remember it too if you had to repeat the same message 127 times.

Esther: I’m going to write down all these events in a book and in years to come, people will still read it, and turn it into a successful film franchise. I’ll call it Esther Grainger and the Order of the Nudniks.

Ron: Why don’t you name it after Harry? It has a better ring to it: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Ramat Gan.

Harry: As it’s about Purim, you could use my Hebrew name and call it Hymie Potter.

Hagrid: Yeah! Hymie Potter and Norbert the Dragon!

Ron: What about Hymie Potter and the Half-Cooked Blintz?

Esther: No. No, I’ve made up my mind. It’ll just be called the Scroll of Esther.

Hagrid: Oh that’s very nice.

Ron: I like it.

Harry: Yes that sounds just right.

Hedwig: You think? Why not the Scroll of Hedwig? I’m the one doing the wing work around here. To whit to woo. I’m the one who gets zapped by a Death Eater in Chapter 5 of The Deathly Hallows. Knocked off my perch, like a Norwegian blue parrot. I dunno. Being an owl is a dog’s life.

Hagrid: Cheer up Hedwig. It’s Purim after all. Drink your butterbeer and chag sameach.

 

THE END

 

 

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