This is dedicated with the utmost affection and respect
to the authors of The Comedy of Errors and Farmer Giles of Ham,
and with infinite gratitude.

Click to open a new window with a hi-res version suitable for printing


retold in the vernacular as a dramatic script
(with apologies to Messrs. Tolkien & Shakespeare)

Dramatis Personae & Cast, in order of appearance
[this is how I'd cast them - you're free to supply your own actors, of course.]

    The Human Bard Gower (appearing courtesy of The Rose Playhouse)
        Derek Jacobi (appearing courtesy Henry V)

    Luthien aka Tinuviel, Princess of Doriath
        Claudia Black (appearing courtesy Farscape)

    Elu Thingol, King of Doriath
        Jeremy Irons (appearing courtesy Brideshead Revisited)

    Melian the Maia, Queen of Doriath
        Emma Thompson (appearing courtesy Sense & Sensibility)

    Beren Barahirion, Human Warrior
        Christian Bale (appearing courtesy Treasure Island, Little Women)

    Mablung, Captain of Doriath
        Ronald Colman (appearing courtesy The Prisoner of Zenda)

    Beleg Cuthalion, Elven Ranger
        David Niven (appearing courtesy The Prisoner of Zenda)

    Daeron the Bard, Elven Flautist
         Lani John Tupu (appearing courtesy Farscape)

    Citizenry of Doriath (nonspeaking parts)
        as themselves (appearing courtesy of Mandos)



        envision wide upon this meager screen,
        the lofty arches of deep Doriath,
        where Elu Thingol, gray King of Elves
        and Melian the Wise his wife
        whose birth precedes the eldest stars,
        hold high court before their host.
                    --Let thy mind
        make of our panel white and keystrokes black
        Shining caverns, enlumened all with bright
        lamps of white gems all fashioned fair
        upheld by dragons carved and gilt,
        and water flowing o'er the stone
        like to a grotto fashioned of the gods
        where birds do sing beneath no sun --
        into the shade of the holy trees
        Luthien Tinuviel doth lead her love,
        Beren the wanderer from out the woods,
        before her mother musing and infuriate sire
        before the assemblage of her friends and kin
        and doubtful Daeron that betray'd of love . . .

        Mom, Dad -- this is my fiance, Beren.

        Well, well, well.  So you're the fellow who's been camping in my woods
        this past year.  How did you get past the security system?

    [distracted by the spears/crowd/nightingales/jewels/waterfall/trees/Melian]
        How . . .?  I, er, just, erm, kept walking, and . . . then I was here.

Thingol: [thinking]
        --Yeah, right.
        So, --Beren, is it? --what do you do for a living?

        Orcs.  Um.  I, uh, I hunt them.  Sir. [winces]

        Really.  And do you foresee a long-term career in this . . . admirable
        venture of yours?

Beren: [desperate flippancy]
        Well, I expect I'll be doing it the rest of my life.

Thingol: [not amused]
        And this should impress me why?

        Well, my dad was a good friend of the King of Nargothrond,
        saved his life at the Siege of Angband, and they say I take
        after Da -- I might be useful to have around, is all I'm saying.

Thingol: [biting sarcasm]
        In case you hadn't noticed, this isn't Nargothrond -- or do I look
        like Finrod Felagund to you?

        I, I don't know, sir; I've never met King Finrod --

Thingol: [forced patience]
        --That was a rhetorical question, boy.  I'm saying I don't care
        who your friends-and-relations are, I want to know what you
        have to offer my daughter. I didn't raise Luthien to be a beggar
        or a gangster's moll -- I expect her to take over the administration
        of Doriath after me.  We have lots of people who can kill Orcs,
        and with eons more experience than you've got, so I don't really
        see a place for your talents in our organization.

        Well, my parents ran a realm too, not as big as this, but nevertheless --

Thingol: [losing it]
        Silence!  Impertinent puppy!  Can you give me one good reason why
        I shouldn't throw you into the labyrinth and delete the key?  Do
        you really expect me to believe that you've just been taking music
        lessons from my daughter in the forest?  I should chop you into
        pieces and chop the pieces into pieces! --unfortunately, you'd miss
        most of it --

Beren: [nervously]
        Um, I know this isn't the best time to remind you, but Tinuviel
        did say you'd promised me a safe conduct . . .


Thingol: [lethally]
        Who's Tinuviel?

        . . .

Luthien: [exasperated]
        It's my nickname, Daddy.  Like yours is Thingol.  Because of my singing.
        And you did promise.  In front of witnesses.

Thingol: [raising voice]
        --but as I was about to say, I stupidly promised her that I wouldn't
        kill or maim you (I can't think why, all she does is look at me and
        I give her whatever she asks for) but that doesn't mean I can't find
        other ways to keep you from getting at her, you empty-handed vagabond--

Melian: [mindspeech]
        Ahem. Elu.

Thingol: [mindspeech]
        --Yes, dear?

Melian: [mindspeech]
        The good news is -- that he isn't a brainwashed slave sent here by
        our Enemy to assassinate you, kidnap Luthien or corrupt Doriath.

Thingol: [mindspeech]
        Hmph. What's the bad?

Melian: [mindspeech]
        That he isn't a brainwashed slave sent here by our Enemy to
        assassinate you, kidnap Luthien or corrupt Doriath.

        !?. . . !?

Melian: [mindspeech]
        He's just a boy who's fallen in love with a stranger
        he met in the woods.

    [longish pause]

Thingol: [mindspeech]
        --It was different for us...

Melian: [mindspeech, sighing]
        It's always different...

    [Simultaneous w/previous exchange: Enter the two chief warriors of Doriath.]

        All right, all right, what's all the fuss?

        Daeron, old boy!  Fill us in!

    [Daeron gives a guilty start and almost drops his flute]

        Erm.  Hullo, chaps.  It's that Man you were all out looking for.
        He just turned up.  --How did he get past you?

        How indeed?  We figured he'd jumped the gate and made
        a run for it.  Done a bunk, as it were.

        Right.  When was the last time anyone got past us, Strongbow?

Beleg: [thinking]
        Mm, seventy-four years ago.  That wolf light-cavalry unit down the
        cliffs on the other side.  Didn't get far, though.

        You sure it's been that long?

        Sure I'm sure.

        I don't remember all of that -- I think you've got an extra
        decade in there.

        No, that was the winter before the winter that the borders
        got four cubits of snow and five of those things with six legs
        and two heads.

        Anybody know what those things are?  What are they called,
        anyway?  Daeron?

    [Daeron gives a guilty start]

        You're the bard around here -- don't you know?

        What's wrong with 'those things with six legs and two heads?'
        or better yet, 'those dead things with six legs and two heads' --?

    [Melian gives them a Look, and they quiet down.  The conversation
    regarding a suitable dowry is just concluding.]

        So, if I brought back all three of them, and you had three
        daughters, would you let me marry all of them?  --Just curious,
        sounds like a real bargain on elf-princesses--

Luthien: [stage whisper]
        Beren!  Shush!  I don't know how long it would take me to get
        you out of the labyrinth -- it might take a hundred years!

     [Beren hushes up.]


        let us turn aside from counsels of the great
        and cast our thoughts upon the parting of the twain
        whose love enduring should downcast
        the powers of earth and e'en the gods . . .

    [The hall before the main gates.  Beren is pacing and ranting in
    nervous aftershock; Luthien holds his hand, anchoring him, compass-like]

        I had it all planned out.  I was going to say --
        'I've been engaged in a systematic program of destabilization
        targeted at the most vulnerable areas of Morgoth's regime,
        combined with a low-impact lifestyle which honors traditional
        Sindarin folkways and combines high efficiency with respect
        for Arda.'  That would have sounded halfway intelligent.
        And I completely lost it.  I must have been hyperventilating:
        I thought there was this -- glowing light around your mother.

        You could see that?  Most people don't notice.

        Y--your mom glows.  --Why?

        It's only when she's using her Power.  She doesn't try to show
        off or act like she's different from Eldar, really.

Beren: [confused]
        You're an Elf -- but she isn't?

Luthien: [surprised]
        She's Maiar.  Doesn't everyone know that?

        ! . . . !
     [shaking his head]
        I thought it was bad enough learning your father's the king -- now
        I find out your mother's a goddess --!
     [starting to hyperventilate]

        It's okay.  I think she likes you.  The fact that you got past her Maze
        without going mad means you're Good.  --I pointed that out to my father.

        I'm afraid it didn't convince him.

        He really isn't like this.  Well, he is sort of paranoid -- but he does have
        reasons for that.  Given that people keep ambushing and betraying and trying
        to destroy us -- and those are our relatives, not the Dark Lord's minions.

Beren: [starting to rant again]
        He doesn't think I have a chance -- but I can do it.  I made it through the
        borders; I can sneak into Angband.  Frontal assault didn't work because it's
        too obvious.  Well, and the Dragon and the Balrogs and the being outnumbered
        part of it, too.  --Maybe I'll go disguised as a slave.  They'll never expect
        anyone trying to get in, not out . . .

        Beren, you don't have to prove anything to me.  Let's just go.
        We can take care of ourselves -- we don't need civilization.

        No. Your dad's right.  I can't do that to you.  Argh!  Now I understand
        my parents' dilemma.  Poor Ma . . .

        I should go with you.

        No!  If anything happened to you I'd kill myself.  You -- you can't
        imagine what it's like out there.  The -- the spider-things and the
        things with the eyes . . .

        But it's okay for you to go.


Beren: [quietly]
        It's got to be easier the second time. And I've been doing it for years.

        Why don't you go ask Finrod Felagund for assistance?  He likes humans,
        and he owes your family.  At least he'd give you supplies and maps.

        Good idea.  I should have thought of that.  --Are you going to be all right?
        Are your parents going to make your life hell while I'm gone?

        What are they going to do?  Lock me up in my room?  I'm not a child of ninety.

        I wish we had some way to contact each other.  Even a pair of those matching
        knives like in stories.  --You don't have anything like that here, do you?

        No, that's magic, not reality.  --I should go with you.  You need someone to
        look after you --

        --Tinuviel, I'm comingback.  No matter what happens, I'm coming back to you.

        I'm counting on it.  I'll be waiting for you, Beren.  Forever.

        And here we draw the curtain dark
        across our scene of parting and desire;
        Of all that follows after, legend and song alike recount,
        to keep in mortal mem'ry what the gods remember still --
        how Luthien the elven-maid, and Huan hound of heaven,
        with Beren for love brought down the walls of hell
        and freed the First-light from dark Morgoth's claws
        and wove into the workings of the worldis Doom
        a brightling strand that shineth yet, despite
        (or through) the feeblest efforts of the bards.
        asking your gracious pardon for this flight of fancy,
        having proffered in hopes of gentle diversion,
        we end this our humble file.  Adieu!


    [Outside the opening of the Caverns leading to the Palace. To either
    side lean the Captain and Bowman of Doriath; they are playing a game
    similar to 'Rock-Scissors-Paper' but with edged aerial objects.]

Beleg: [between throws, leadingly]
        Oh, oh, wait -- I know what they are.


        In a word? --Fell.


    [Beren enters through the gates, slowly, looking backwards, oblivious
    to the knives being tossed to and fro.]

        Careful there --

    [In a flash Beren transforms from distracted lover to superwarrior,
    spinning round and drawing sword and dagger at once to ward against
    all comers. Seeing the Doriath Rangers he remains in guard position
    while he speaks.]

        What are you doing here?

Beleg: [reasonably]

        For what?

        Just waiting.

Beren: [lowers blades but does not put them up]
        You're here to see that I leave the grounds promptly and without
        any trouble, right?

Beleg: [shrugs]
        Something like that, yes.

        Something exactly like that, I'll bet.

        Clever lad. You'll go far, I shouldn't doubt.


Mablung: [sotto voce]
        But will you come back again, I wonder?

        Nothing -- and no one -- is going to stop me. --I don't expect
        you to believe me.

        So you're really off to infiltrate Morgoth's bunker? Defy the Lord
        of Paranoids himself, succeed where even Feanor (not to mention the
        Great of Arda) went down in flames?

Beren: [defensive]

Mablung: [guessing wildly]
        And you're what, all of fifty summers?

Beren: [still more defensive]
        Twenty-five. I think. --Wish me luck, why don't you?

Mablung: [seriously]
        Oh, we do. We do indeed.

Beren: [disbelieving]

    [He turns and starts to walk off.]

        Ah, not to be overly critical, but Angband's that way, not the way
        you're going.

        --Unless he's thinking of swinging by Nargothrond first.

        Clever fellow. Any final words of advice or farewell?

        Hm...'Be careful'?

        'Good luck'?


        Tell them that I won't come back empty-handed, and that they will
        see me again.


    [They lock stares. Pause.]

        --The light of Elbereth go with you.

Beren: [serious]
        Thank you . . . Sir. --Look after her for me.

        We always do.

Beleg: [sotto voce]
        We try, at any rate.

    [Beren looks round, pulls himself together, and vanishes into the forest.]

        Did you see how he did that?

        You neither, eh? --Twenty-five.
    [shakes head]

        Think we'll see him again?

Mablung: [shrugs]
        I'm no seer.

        Same here. Definitely. Herself, as well.

        You saw that too, eh? What do you think will come of it all?

        Oh, death, destruction, woe and lamentation.

        The usual, then. --This place is starting to get to me
        again. Up for a warg-hunt, Strongbow old chap?

        Silly question. Whenever not?

    [They leave, strolling leisurely. Luthien appears in the doorway.]

Luthien: [softly]
        Beren, you've made me see time as a mortal woman does. It's
        been an hour already! How will I survive a day -- a week --
        a year? Come back soon, my love, and safe, or I promise you
        I'll follow you to the ends of Middle-earth -- or the stars.

[fade to black]

On to Act II…

Notes for Act I
Leithian Script Project TOC