The Two Ronnies - by James Archer

Peter’s miraculous escape from prison from Acts 12.

 

(Cast: Ronnie Corbett as himself; Ronnie Barker as Peter; the angel Gabriel; Rhoda, a servant girl.

 

Scene: Ronnie and Peter are in prison.  This is a typical Two Ronnies sketched starting with Ronnie C beginning one of his stories sitting on a chair in his cell and talking to the audience.  Peter is his cellmate and starts in the background.  This veers between story-telling and drama, with a bit of mime as appropriate at the crossover.  Two Ronnies theme music as Ronnie takes his seat.)

 

Ronnie     And now I want to tell you the story of the time that changed my life.  I was a footman (stands up and acts silver service)

in the palace of King Herod until I was caught red-handed helping myself to the left-overs and sent to the cells – ugh (shudders), cold, damp and dark – well, everyone did it – it would only have gone to waste – but I got a bit careless.  I’d been working there for a number of years and had seen some things that no one should have to see.  The king was vain, selfish and sadistic with some rather peculiar tastes.  Although the Romans held all the real power, they humoured him, and his sense of self-importance went to his head.  He obviously thought he was like God, and didn’t see our sniggers behind his back.  He had a particular fetish about religious fanatics.  I still feel sick when I think about the day I had to bring in the head of John the Baptist to the dinner table on a platter.  And then a few years later, he did it again with James, a follower of Jesus of Nazareth.  So when Peter, the leader of that sect, was thrown into my prison cell (Peter is thrown in from backstage and sprawls on the floor), I knew what lay ahead of him.  (To Peter)  Well, hello.

Peter        Hello.

Ronnie      Who are you?

Peter         Who are you?

Ronnie      And what are you doing in my cell?

Peter        It looks like its my cell too now.

Ronnie     (Offers him a hand) Ronnie.  Good to meet you.

Peter        (Takes hand and gets to his feet)  Peter.  Good to meet you.

Ronnie      Sandwich?

Peter         Thanks.  What have you got?

Ronnie      Fish, fish or fish?

Peter         I’ll have fish then.  I used to fish.

Ronnie      But you don’t any more?

Peter         No.  I met someone who taught me to fish for men instead.

Ronnie      How d’you do that then?

Peter         He said, “Cast your net upon the waters.”

Ronnie      And then?

Peter        “Draw in your nets.”

Ronnie      And you find men in them?

Peter         Yes.  Metaphorically, at least.

Ronnie      Metaphorically?

Peter         Yes.  They’re not real nets.

Ronnie      So who taught you this?

Peter         Jesus of Nazareth.

Ronnie      Jesus of Nazareth?

Peter        Yes, Jesus of Nazareth.

Ronnie      You mean, you’re a follower of Jesus of Nazareth?

Peter        Yes, I’m a follower of Jesus of Nazareth.

Ronnie      O-oh!

Peter         What do you mean, o-oh?

Ronnie      And you’re a prisoner of King Herod.

Peter         As you can see.

Ronnie      And he’s got a big dinner party tomorrow.

Peter         Has he?

Ronnie      And you know what he likes to do to religious fanatics at dinner?

Peter         I’m not a religious fanatic.

Ronnie       Have it your way.  But I expect he’s got plans for you.

Peter         Plans?

Ronnie       John the Baptist? (makes sign of slit throat)  James? (makes sign of slit throat)  Next Peter? (makes sign of slit throat) 

Peter         I’m not worried.

Ronnie      You’re not worried?

Peter         No.

Ronnie       How come?

Peter         Jesus told me.

Ronnie      Told you what?

Peter         How I’d die.

Ronnie      How you’d die?

Peter         Yes, he told me I’d be crucified when I’m old.

Ronnie      And you’re not worried?

Peter         No.  I’m not old yet.

Ronnie      How old is old?

Peter         I don’t know.  But I do know who’s in charge.  And it’s not Herod.

Ronnie      I wish I was so sure.

Peter         You can be.

Ronnie      How come?

Peter         Ask Jesus into your heart.

Ronnie      You mean become his follower?

Peter         Yes.

Ronnie      When I’m Herod’s prisoner?

Peter         Yes.

Ronnie      And he’s having a dinner party tomorrow?

Peter         Yes.

Ronnie      And I won’t be worried?

Peter         No.  The peace of God will fill you.

Ronnie      You really believe that, don’t you?

Peter         Yes.

Ronnie      So, how’s he going to rescue you?

Peter         I don’t know.  But he will.  And now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to sleep.  Good night. (lies down)

Ronnie      Good night.  (Returns to his stool.  Looks round at Peter and shrugs his shoulder.  Resumes his story)  And soon he was                  snoring loudly.

Peter         (Sound of snores)

Ronnie      Well, I was just about to kip down for the night, when the room was filled with light (lights come on full), and I heard a                loud whisper.

Gabriel     (appearing in the light)  Psst!  Peter!

Ronnie      I looked around, but I couldn’t see anyone, it was so bright.  And the voice came again.

Gabriel     (urgently)  Peter! Get up!

Peter         (more snores)

Ronnie      (goes over to Peter and shakes him)  Peter! Wake up!  It’s your rescue mission!

Peter         (stirring, rubs his eyes)  What is it?

Ronnie      Wake up!  It’s your rescue mission!

Peter         I must be dreaming.

Gabriel     Get up and get dressed.  Then follow me.

Ronnie      Well, while he was getting dressed, the door of the cell flew open.  I looked out, and the guards were fast asleep!

Gabriel     Come on, quickly!  Follow me!

Ronnie       So Peter followed the angel (acted).  And I followed Peter (acted) – well, I wasn’t going to look a gift horse in the                       mouth, was I?  And every time we approached a door, it flew open and the guards were asleep.  And after the fifth                   door, we were out on the street, and the angel disappeared (exit Gabriel). And we kept walking.

Peter          This feels real.  I’m cold.

Ronnie        It is real.  We’re free.  Where do we go now?

Peter           John’s house.  It’s not far. (They reach the door)  Now, the special code.   Dot Dot Dot (Ronnie knocks three times                       quickly) Dash (Ronnie knocks once separately)  Dot Dot Dot (Ronnie knocks three time again quickly)

Rhoda       (behind door) Who goes there?

Peter         Peter.

Rhoda       Peter?  We’ve been praying for you. (Runs back to the stairs without opening the door.  Calls upstairs)  It’s Peter!  It’s a                   miracle!

Peter         Let us in. (nothing happens)  Let us in.  (Rhoda opens the door a little, looks through, sees Peter, throws the door open                  and gives him a big hug)

Ronnie      So we went in (acted).  There were about a dozen of them in the room, and they were thrilled to see Peter.  Peter introduced me, told them to tell the others, and slipped out into the night (exit Peter), leaving me to tell them what had happened.  So I started, “Peter went fishing for men, and when he pulled in the net he found me in it.” (Two Ronnies theme music)

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