"The Trials of Bill and Monica" is centered on the affair that rocked the White House during Bill Clinton's second term of office. It is dubbed a "historico-tragi-comedy" and contains elements of all three genres. It is written in Shakespearean verse and has many playful allusions to Shakespeare plays.
The play roughly follows the main events in the scandal, though certainly in no slavish manner. The sequence and timing of events are at times compressed or altered, and the characters are a mixture of history and invention. The clearest departure from history lies in the fate of Monica, which is allegorical. Several characters, including Bemona, the mother of Monica, are entirely fictional.
The events that form the basis of play are part of recent American history. They led to a debate in Congress on impeachment of the president and were subjected to the tasteless microscope of the Starr Report. They form a fitting subject for dramatic treatment; especially, "The Trials of Bill and Monica" will appeal to those who combine some acquaintance with Shakespeare, those with an interest in contemporary American politics, and those who love a bit of wordplay.
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The Trials of Bill and Monica
By John Gordon Gray
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2014 John Gordon Gray
All rights reserved.
On a blasted heath below the Washington Monument, the night blowing up a storm.
The spin-doctors coven. Three spinsters throng around a cauldron casting in their tit-bits
Spinster 1: Eye of newt, dismembered toad, Bobbett's thingeme from the road
Spinster 2: Nickers from a Georgetown whore, Left discarded on the floor,
Spinster 3: Midnight's amorous residue, Decanted after congress hue,
Spinster 1: These the ingredients of our times Lusty potions for our mimes
All: Stir it up, down and round While we dance atop this mound Future, present, past confound With our awful dinning sound.
Spinster 1: Extracts torn from tawdry rags Playboy's mid-page nubile hags,
Spinster 2; Videos in blue and red Parading all that's done in bed
Spinster 3: Nether hairs newly extracted From the teeth of the attracted
Spinsters: These the ingredients of our times, Lusty potions for our mimes.
All: Stir it up, down and around While we dance atop this mound Future, present, past confound With our awful dinning sound.
Spinster 1: But harken, tarry, strain your sense I smell the reek of blind ambition The blind seeking direction From the misleading. (All three spinsters) Ha Ha Ha!!
Spinster 1: Hail, lofty son of patrician house
Spinster 2: Hail, worthy vice, yet free of vice!
Spindter 3: Hail deputy, yet still ungored!
Gore: Greetings, dark shadows from the depths of night That use these hallowed fields for your delight Will you provide some forecast, some insight, To know what fate keeps stored, should I attempt To scale the utmost peak of my intent? So speak. How stands the fight? How lean the fates?
Spinster 3: Hail, deputy. What would you know?
Gore: The upstart Bush with legions manifold Has launched his strike from deep within the South. His coffers lined by that dark gold which flows So freely in his native Texan fields, Atop his father's shoulders proud he struts, A bloated toad that stomps with pride unchecked, The name on every lip, who stands to knock All competition from the republican side. Yet in our camp my brightness is eclipsed By this subservient role I needs must play – Forever second fiddle, loyal hack, To one who has such glib and easy tongue, The Trials of Bill and Monica He could beguile a snake. How to slough off My sponsor's mantle with my own bright light?
Spinster 1: The brightest sun seems darkest when eclipsed The moon shines bright when bright sun's brightness fades
Spinster 2 And this bright star carries within itself A weakness shall o'er-shadow his bright light.
Spinster 1: Your master's fatal flaw is soon displayed, The laughing-stock of all the turbid world.
Spinster 3: So be not caught up in his coming fall,
Spinster 1: But be on guard, keep cautious counsel tight.
Spinster 2: And Bushy, him you shall roundly defeat
Spinster 3: In straightest fight,
Spinster 1: by simple plebiscite!
Spinster 3: But yet beware the flaccid hanging chad That hides the voter's true wish and intent
Spinster 2: And brother's hand of florid poll deceit, The seed for eager victor's late defeat
Spinsters(Dancing) Stir it up, down and around While we dance atop this mound Future, present, past confound With our awful dinning sound. (Exeunt)
Gore:(aside) They're through, and yet their message sure provides Good cheer to our camp in our planned assault. Whilst yet I cannot claim to follow all The cryptic deeper meaning hid within The riddles that these old hags like to spin, But yet I hear the chief point loud and clear – I'll win the vote and snatch the crown, In headlong clash between Bush and Gore I'll stem the gush of this o'er-weaning bore That like an overflowing uncapped well Springs up from deepest South with wanton pride And seeks to swamp our subtler northern lights. The old and tarnished line of Bush Pushed sideways by the rising star of Gore. (Exit)
On the "blasted heath", in daytime (Enter Bemona and Monica)
Bemona: See there below, my chick, the White House rests, Gleaming in the morning sun, resplendent, The wealth and majesty of national power, Its burnished windows glinting in the sun, The roses clipped, obedient in their rows, The guards, with uniforms ablaze, patrol The gates.
Monica:: Indeed, 'tis sweet, but have we come All this way just to catch the White House view?
Bemona: This, my chick, your own future comfy nest.
Monica: How so, Mama?
Bemona: Your mother's gift to you! But set aside the dreary and mundane, The housewife's life in torpid Tennassee, The lifestyle of some workman's dullard maid In mindless Milwaukee. No, soar above. Seek out the crown, and spend your livelong life The envied idle belle, delight of princes.
Monica: How so?
Bemona: Within this neat and stately house Our president resides, Long weary of His wife, attention easily caught by each New passing dame. An apple ripe to fall. Go forth and pick the fruit! And to assist I have conspired, through tricky, devious paths, To have you placed within those hallowed walls, The freshest intern listed on the staff, With constant access and seclusion. Within these portals of our high-browed state You'll like some tropic worm insinuate Beneath the skin of our proud prince, induce An itch that festers in his fervid flesh, That soon he'll be by restless lust distraught And so expose himself to reckless acts. So creep between his matrimonial sheets. And, cuckoo-like, expel all rival chicks, Push out th' incumbent from her cosy nest.
Monica: Mama, such opportunity were a boon, Yet I do doubt your scheme can easily work: The amorous pigeon takes its mate for life, But men are restless, seeking new delights. I fear rejection, though the fruit be sweet. 'Twere better pick a man from my own rank, With some small hope of heartfelt lasting love.
Bemona: Enough philosophy. You know your task. Remember also this, that time is short. (Exeunt)
The White House: the Rose Garden Enter Bill and Hillary, hand in hand)
Bill: See how the maple leaves are trimmed with gold, In ripe maturing of the passing year And promise rich autumnal glow as summer's Warmth recedes. So too our lease in this great Hallowed house must all too soon expire, And bring to natural and most fitting end Our second and triumphant term. While yet The restless world throws up each year its crop Of problems fresh, yet can we take some pride: The world's a better place, the rule of law Extended o'er the teeming, boundless globe. It's at such times as this I'm mindful of The constancy of your support, my dear, My ever-present succour, my dear wife.
Hillary: Indeed such times must have their term – within A few short months we must at last revert To tedious norm, leave off this White House hub, To sluggardize in Little Rock's retreat (Enter Rubin)
Rubin: Your pardon, my lord, and Good My Lady, To thus disrupt such moment of delight,
Bill: Full well we know the sleepless world still spins, E'en when we take the air. What's new that needs Such unwelcome intrusion?
Rubin: Fresh outrage in the sullen Horn, My Lord, Our force for peace most recklessly attacked, Great loss of life. the UN under siege. Mog'dishu by tempestuous riots rocked,
Bill: I come this instant. My dear Hillary, Do you yet linger, savour these last days Of deep maturing summer while you may. I will anon.
(Exeunt severally)CHAPTER 2
Outside the White House Gate Enter Bemona
Bemona: Greetings, sparrow, how like you your new home?
Now three full months ensconced beside the throne In daily intercourse with him, the object Of our fervent hopes. So tell what dainty Progress can you recount towards our aim. He has your eye? Perchance the bed's now laid With promise of fulfilment of my dreams?
Monica: Dear mother, be not pressing in your haste. I'm of a score of interns bright, hand-picked, Each set to shine out and excel, to catch Th' attention of our lord through meritous Repute, attention, duty well performed. It's true we see our master frequently In staff debriefings. But yet are these meets Replete with those of rank, high in the land. Our master is a gracious, witty lord, Whose smile beams equally on one and all.
Bemona: You speak as though you keep time in your purse, To be economised, drawn down at ease. But know you well it is not thus. Within These few months shall his two term lease expire, Erasing all our hopes. To some forsaken Bureau you'll be moved, the object of our hopes Retired to chew the dull provincial cud. The catch in the net must be landed quick Nought's gained by prudent dull procrastination. And yet I think the task is not so fraught This man hath roving eye, and grasping hands For all that does a woman's scent exude. You that have so fair parts of woman on you Have too a woman's heart that ever yet Affected eminence, wealth, sovereignty. So stand more brazen in your planned assault Grasp the fleeting chance: the merest soft touch Can rouse man's inner beast, an eyebrow cocked Can set the snare for easy lifelong bliss. Go to, I do expect within the week To hear more pleasing, more robust report. (Exeunt)
(Capitol Hill. The Republican Party caucus),
Newt: Good friends, good lords, fellow republicans, Near eight long years this yoke of impotence Weighs on our necks. We play the idle fool, Observe the antics of a playboy prince, One who, if right prevailed, would even now Be chewing impeachment's bitter aftertaste, So legion are his foibles, rampant faults. Yet phoenix-like he rises from each blaze, Renewed, invigorate. The idiot plebs Cheer at each disgrace, feed on each outrage, His name untarnished in the public eye. These nearing polls but prolongation threat – To double 'ready doubled discontent: Patrician Gore stands poised to worm, to slink From out behind his staunch protector's cloak. If we're to end such dismal, idle diet, Must needs set to, with firm resolve and well-Honed, crafted plan.
Republicanlord: It's but with one accord that we'll prevail. Within our ranks the sentiment stands clear: The southern Bushey leads the onward pack, Spurred on by his father's well-earned repute.
Newt: But yet I fear this common cause may fail. The tedious Gore does still untainted stand In the common eye, ready but to catch The prize so easily, quickly slipped his way
Rose: Time is, my lords, the thief of our intent, Will rob us of our prize, so act with haste. But let us be more devious in our plans. Must needs lay schemes with womanish conceit. Pry out the weakest points, and there drive home. Th' anodyne Gore, to public mind unseen, Can nurse his frailties yet unmatured, So stands less vulnerable to our assault. Not so his lord, whose Achilles Heel is set Right squarely in his fetid, turbid loins. His weakness known to all: the fairer sex.. 'Tis like some rampant, o'er-sexed, untamed beast, That can but yield to each attendant chance. The remedy is plain, female the bait; For us it's but to set the trap and wait The beast will be delivered on our plate.
Newt: The thinking's fine, I like the scheming thrust, But where to find such bait, his office stuffed With democrats, dull acolytic scribes?
Rose: Know well. my lord, it's lightly that his staff Affect their party colours, and more so The ladies, who do seek at every turn Some avenue for speedy upward flight, By swift progression through the soiled sheets. I'll vow some brief enquiry, light research, Will yield up possibilities most ripe, Endowed with juicy, tempting, female parts, Dainty morsels to dangle 'fore the beast. A small inducement raises foul play's cry, Else we but prime the gawping world ourselves And challenge him in falsehood to deny.
Newt: This scheme offers some promise of success At least some faint relief amidst our plight, To observe his self-inflicted discontent The fish that wriggles vainly on the hook. I say, get to it! We'll meet again soon. (Exeunt)
The White house
(Enter Janet and Monica from different directions)
Janet: Hey ho! Miss Monica, sweet sis! What's new? But yet your bulging papers fast betray Your liking for dull work - all work, no play.
Monica: I say it is not so, but yet I must Confess I am in duty's call engrossed.
Janet: You've heard the word on every gossiping tongue?
Monica: No, speak
Janet: Scheming Suzanna is, they say, Now set to dine with James, DSOS, In secret tryst, unknown to Panamour.
Monica: Let's wish her well, and yet I like Miss Chris Well enough, and would not see her easily Supplanted in his heart by one so brash.
Janet: This James, though he be kind, is somewhat stiff
Monica: Whom would you then prefer, if choice were yours?
Janet: Must needs pass out these cramping White House walls
Monica: Lik'st not the President, do you not dream......?
Janet: It's best to fish where you can land the catch
Monica: In me he yet inspires a fearful awe. Whenever he passes, a shiver runs Right down my spine. I ask, what would I do If were to stop and speak sweet nothings or Caress my hair. I do believe I'd faint.
Janet: Ha! 't seems your mind is not so fully set On labours as I'd thought. But must be off, I have a formal banquet to prepare. (Exit)
Monica: In truth these papers are but shams, deceits, That give concealment for my seething heart To camouflage the content of my thoughts. Since that bright day when first I stepped in here, My heart against obedience must fight. This man, the target of my mother's schemes, Is like to none. Body and the mind compete Each the other in action to surpass. He moves from scene to scene with total ease Abreast of every argument, dispute. His manner mus engage, his laugh infects He fires each meeting to a fever pitch. Lucky the dame who can command his heart. And so from due respect I am most loathe, To seek to dupe or trap such noble lord. Yet well I know, if he would somehow show Some leaning to my humble self, I'd not Be able to resist such charm. So let's Await the course of things, and now betimes Catch up with all of these dreary chores of mine.
The Oval Office
(Bill is seated at his desk)
Bill: How sweetly do I like this present role, The world is mine, to fashion and to mould, In this the second term of our proud rule, All immature uncertainty of youth Now set aside, I can indeed now stride The world like a colossus, a giant benign, With our great force disposed to give effect To my designs. In these my final months, A twofold task. On the spacious canvas of The world, to seal a lasting Mid-East truce, Lead these sharp foes into the fold of peace, And on the humbler home domestic stage T' unleash such force of fiscal rectitude, That future generations heap on us Their thanks for prosperity without end, For soaring Dow and Nasdaq's giddy climb.. A few more weeks, a month or two, then we'll Retire to Little Rock, our homely state's Most honoured and respected citizens. (Knock at the door) But ho! Who knocks? Come in.
Monica: My lord, 'tis not my wish to thus intrude; Th' assignment you have set is now complete ... My work lies here within this slender file..
Bill: Most speedily have you finished this task
Monica: Drawn ever onward by the aim to shine, To show none but the best of my faint skills.
Bill: Wherefore such modesty, do you not know Your own true worth? For straight did I espy Some special trait in all your work. Yet not By work alone should we be judged but by That rounded personage which knows to make Dull work a boon for all around to share.
Monica: I follow not the trail of your intent.
Excerpted from The Trials of Bill and Monica by John Gordon Gray. Copyright © 2014 John Gordon Gray. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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