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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
Ronnie When I’m Herod’s prisoner?
Ronnie And he’s having a dinner party tomorrow?
Ronnie And I won’t be worried?
Peter No. The peace of God will fill you.
Ronnie You really believe that, don’t you?
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?
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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