It’s nearly Christmas and Will Shakespeare, haunted by writer’s block and the ghost of Christopher Marlowe, has 12 days to create the perfect holiday play for Her Majesty the Queen. With the deadline looming, we’re treated to mistaken identity, a love triangle, and plenty of sexual innuendo as a rousing band of misfit thespians stop at nothing to ensure the show will go on! Featuring laugh-out-loud parodies of your favorite Christmas melodies, this fun holiday romp is a merry, irreverent send-up that mashes Twelfth Night, Richard III, and A Christmas Carol with historical inaccuracies and slanderous fabrications into an Elizabethan pudding that serves everyone!
Will Shakespeare and his trusty leading man, Dicky Burbage, are sitting in the cold and empty Theatre on Christmas Eve, 1593. Things look rather grim: Will’s friend and fellow playwright Christopher Marlowe is dead, to begin with. The Great Theatre is facing imminent closure as the plague rages through London, having shut down Richard the Third while the show was still in the red. Despondency reigns...
...until a mislaid invitation from good Queen Bess to perform at Whitehall Palace on Twelfth Night presents itself as the golden ticket to solvency and Royal Patronage. With less than a fortnight to pen a masterpiece worthy of her Majesty, the Bard faces his greatest enemy: writer's block. Will’s quill had been limp for months, but the sudden appearance of Marlowe’s ghost arouses his creative urge once again. Marlowe claims he faked his own death to escape a plot by the Puritans to assassinate him because of his decadent plays. Will refuses to believe Marlowe’s appearance is anything more than a hallucination brought on by a bit of undigested beef. But the visit inspires Will to begin writing a new play featuring spirits who, late one Christmas Eve, attempt to save the soul of their murderer, Richard the Third… with song and dance.
With just twelve days to write and rehearse ‘Richard’s Revels’, Shakespeare and company travel to Whitehall where they quickly find themselves enmeshed in the high stakes passion and politics of the Elizabethan court. Parliament is threatening a government shutdown unless Her Majesty pays off her massive loans, but the randy Queen is more interested in the arrival of the players, and it's clearly another kind of entertainment she seeks.
The fanatically religious Lord Mayor of London brokers a deal with his fellow Puritan Sir Christopher Hatton, the queen’s High Steward: If her majesty agrees to shut down the sinful theatres of London for good, her credit will be extended.
Underneath Hatton’s Puritanical veneer, however, rages a carnal desire for his virgin Queen. Too tongue-tied to act on his feelings, he asks Charlie, a young actor, to woo her majesty on his behalf. The Queen, however, has ideas of her own, and Charlie-- who of course is really Charlene, a young woman in disguise -- soon finds him/herself in over his/her head, evading the queen’s lusty advances. Meanwhile, the queen's cousin, the inebriated Baron of Bollox, and his foppish friend Lord Eddie de Vere conspire with the actors to confound the vain Hatton and save the Theatre.
Their plan is simple: During a masquerade dance that follows the performance of the new play (which is absolutely dreadful), the queen is tricked into inviting the masked Hatton back to her room, thinking he is Lord Eddie. Once Hatton reveals himself and his presumptuous passion for the queen, her Majesty will no doubt toss him in the Tower!
Charlie, torn by her allegiance to WIll and her newfound love of Hatton, hatches a secret plan of her own, which includes taking the queen’s place in the royal bed to seduce the inexperienced steward.
When Hatton realizes he has spent the night with Charlie, Marlowe materializes to help him come to terms with his sexual confusion and reconcile his heart with his head. After the disastrous performance of ‘Richard’s Revels’, Will decides to pack it in and retire to the countryside. As Shakespeare and company make their final exit, the Lord Mayor enters, brandishing the Actors’ Expulsion Act, the final nail in the coffin of English theatre. All that is required to push it through parliament is Hatton’s signature.
Ending Option One: Cliff Hanger (we don’t reveal the actual ending in the synopsis): What will Hatton do when Charlie reveals herself to be a woman? How will the theatre survive? Is Marlowe really dead? And who the Dickens is Charlie? Everything comes together in a hysterical climax promising this to be a Twelfth Night to remember!
Ending Option Two: Spelling Out The Ending: The steward’s soul-searching over the past few hours, however, has changed him into a kinder, gentler Hatton. He tears up the act and embraces his true love Charlie, though he is thrown for yet another loop when Charlie reveals she is really a woman. The Lord Mayor gets his comeuppance when it is discovered he is far less pure than he claims. English theatre is saved, and the Queen gives Shakespeare’s company royal patronage. All are happy… except Will. Depressed from the failure of his atrocious Christmas play, he returns to the Theatre alone, determined to retire from writing. A final visit from Marlowe, however, encourages him to review the events of the past two weeks in a new light. As his ghostly muse leaves him for the last time, Will sits down, newly- invigorated, to begin penning a play called “Twelfth Night.”
An ingenious new comedy
–The Seattle Times
Will – William Shakespeare, a jaded playwright from Warwickshire.
Richard – Richard Burbage, leading man of Shakespeare’s troupe. *Strong Singer
Marlowe – Christopher Marlowe. Playwright, spy, atheist. Possibly dead.
Hatton – Christopher Hatton. Queen Elizabeth’s High Steward. A Puritan.
Elizabeth – Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth I.
Bollox – Henry Carey, Earl of Hunsdon and Baron Bollox. Cousin to Elizabeth I.
Charlie – Young boy actor – Actually a young woman, Charlotte. *Strong singer.
Lou – Another young male actor.
Eddie - Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford. BOLLOX's drinking buddy.
Aloysius – Old and decrepit actor.
Lord Mayor – Puritanical head of coalition seeking to increase bureaucratic power by denying the Queen money.
Mr. Tosspot - Social worker soliciting for a charity.
Mr. Stench - Another social worker soliciting for a charity.
*Casting Note: Although music is used frequently throughout, no special requirements for vocal range is needed. The songs are simple and can easily be sung in various keys as desired. Most of the cast is required to sing as a group, but in general only Richard and Charlie need to sing well.
Setting: The “Theatre” in London and various rooms in the Palace of Whitehall
Performance Royalties are based on theater particulars. Please fill out an application for a personalized quote.
Billing responsibilities, pertinent copyright information, and playwrights' biographies are available in the show rider that comes with your license agreement. To download the show rider for Holiday of Errors, click here.
“Another palpable hit for Sound Theatre Company as well as a charming addition to the holiday show genre. Everyone tries to create the holiday alternative show and Lawler and Flint have come up with one that has the potential to become a staple, not just here but all over the country.”–Jay Irwin, BroadwayWorld.com
“Holiday of Errors (Or, Much Ado About Stockings) is [a new] star in Seattle’s holiday-theater constellation.”–Brendan Kiley, The Stranger
“…Often ingenious… packed with antic wordplay, both nimble and groansome… Holiday of Errors has a license to exaggerate and turn anything topsy-turvy for a laugh.”–Misha Berson, The Seattle Times
“A Christmas theatrical comedy that is often genius.”–Miryam Gordon, Seattle Gay News
“A hilarious, fresh and intelligent mash-up of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and Richard III mixed in with desperate doses of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. **** [Four out of Five Stars]”–Jerry Kraft, SeattleActor.com
“Double entendres, slippery syllables, rapid-fire wordplay, and sly jokes! If you are a fan of any or all of these, if you like Shakespeare, then Holiday for Errors is for you.”–Nancy Worssam, Arts Stage/Seattle Rage
“Sound Theatre Company saves theater in this Shakespearean Christmas romp. In the new comedy from Frank Lawler and Daniel Flint, Holiday of Errors…delivers the naughty in this smorgasbord of holiday fun.”–A.B. Smith, Drama in the Hood
Materials: your materials will be sent to you two months prior to your opening date and will include everything necessary for your production and can be ordered in Printed or Digital format. Printed Materials are provided on unbound three-hole punched loose-leaf paper while Digital Materials are provided via email as downloadable PDF files for you to print in-house. All materials are yours to keep! No deposits, no returns.
The required materials for Holiday of Errors include:
Production Scripts, Piano/Vocal Scores
Orchestrations: Piano, Guitar, Bass
Print Edition – Beautifully bound scripts available at wholesale costs to sell in your lobby!
Director's Script – Single-sided script with space for director’s notes.
Logo/PR Pack – Includes high-resolution artwork, ready-designed posters, and reference photos.