Comedic Shakespeare Duologues

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8 comedic duologues (scenes for two actors) that help students learn the plots of various Shakespeare plays.

Here are eight short scenes that feature commoners gossiping about the characters and events in a variety of Shakespeare plays! Written in modern English, but with a cockney flair, these scenes will delight students and audiences alike.

A duologue is a dialogue between two actors. In these scenes, actors take turns reading every other line.

In these scenes, two characters discuss the main plot points of the play as if it were village gossip. The scenes provide an easy way for students to familiarize themselves with the characters and events in each play.

Also included are instructions for using the duologues and discussion questions.

About the Playwright…

Trevor Suthers has had over seventy of his plays produced, ranging from monologues to musicals, full-length plays, one-act plays and sketch shows, in every kind of venue and numerous non-theatre spaces. He has written for British ‘TV Soaps’, ‘Coronation Street’, and ‘Eastenders’. A number of his plays have been both staged and broadcast in the US with many published online. He is the founder of award-winning JB Shorts, Manchester’s most popular fringe theatre event, presenting, bi-annually, six short plays by TV writers and now in its tenth year. He has written and had published a number of plays for Youth Theatre and recently won the audience-voted British Theatre Challenge 2018.

Example of a duologue:

Two women gutting fish

Who you say? Edgar?

That’s right, Edgar. News just come in, Edgar’s the new King.

Edgar’s the new King? What happened to the old King, Lear?

He’s dead.

I supposed he must be dead, but how? And who’s this Edgar anyway? I’ve never heard of him. Lear just had the daughters didn’t he? What happened to them?

They’re all dead as well.

What, they’re all dead? Did this Edgar have something to do with it?

No, it’s more complicated than that. Edgar’s the son of Gloucester. Gloucester’s son.

You’re telling me the Earl of Gloucester’s son is now the King. Why not Gloucester himself? Why wasn’t he made King?

He’d had his eyes gouged out.

Good grief. I hardly dare ask. Who did that?

If memory serves that would be Cornwall, the Duke of Cornwall, Regan’s husband.

Regan, Lear’s daughter? You said she was dead. What, was this eye-gouging some sort of revenge? Her husband seeking revenge.?

No, no, no, this all happened earlier.

Who told you all this? Are you sure you’ve got this tale right?

I told you it was complicated.

Well, let’s start with King Lear, how did he die?

Well, some say he died of a broken heart.

That’s an odd one, with Kings it’s usually died in battle, of gout or they get poisoned or stabbed in the back by one of their relatives, died of a broken heart, now that’s a new one.

It was the death of Cordelia that really did it for him.

You said all the daughter’s died.

Yes, but it was Cordelia in particular that affected him.

She was his favourite, right?

You wouldn’t think so the way he treated her earlier. Virtually had her banished. Something of a fit of pique. That’s what started off the whole sorry process, Lear turning on her, got in a strop because she wouldn’t flatter him.

Wouldn’t flatter him?

Well, the way folks tell it, all three daughters had to say how much they loved him, you know, in return for lands and castles and that. And of course Regan and his other daughter, not Cordelia, the other one

Goneril?

That’s right, Goneril, they both went completely overboard saying how they loved him more than life itself whilst Cordelia….

His favourite.

She just says she loves him as much as any daughter would love their father and that’s when he throws the strop. Disowns the poor lady and banishes her to France. So, from that point onwards, everything’s thrown into confusion and chaos and that’s how come we’ve now got Edgar as King. Sort of last man standing. Lear brought it all on himself really.

Well, you know what they say, there’s no fool like an old fool.

Funny you should mention that because he died as well.

What?

Lear’s fool. Hanged.

Poor fool.

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