10 characters. 4F; 6M; 15 pages in length. Approximately 15-20 minutes running time. A Roman comedy (with classroom materials) adapted by August Mergelman. (3 Credits)

By Jove is a Roman Comedy adaptation. In accordance with the prophesy, a great hero is to be born of the mortals Alcmena and Amphitryon, but Jupiter fears that the timidity of the two young people will impede the will of fate. Thus, he disguises himself as Amphitryon (and his sidekick, Mercury, as a lowly servant) in order to spark the romance himself. The operation becomes more complicated when three additional deities—Juno, Venus, and Cupid—descend upon the scene. Hercules narrates the story of his parents’ courtship, which eventually triumphs in spite of divine interference. This hilarious play also includes added materials including improvisation and acting exercises, a project for students and questions for discussion and research. You can find these other fantastic plays by August Mergelman in our Script Library: Spider Besider, Fancy Nancy & the Ants, Persephone, The Magpies, By Jove, A Merry Interlude at Camelot, Mum’s the Word, The Vixen, Couth, Pantalone’s New Pantalones, The Honest Impostor, The Weaver Girl & the Cowherd, The Dragon & the Pearl, Polly Peachum & the Pirates, Lady Scottish Play, Penny from Heaven, The Cat Noir, Trade Trade Secrets, Jackie & the Beans Talk, North Paws.

As a playwright, August Mergelman has one simple goal: to bring classical works to the modern audience. It seems that so many of the world’s great dramas are obscured by their own magnitude. August does not believe that any of history’s great playwrights would truly want their works to be intimidating or bewildering. First and foremost, they were showman; they crafted their works to be engaging, challenging, and most importantly, entertaining. As a fourth-generation Colorado native, August is proud of his western heritage, which is manifest in several of his western settings. His works have been featured in the Playwrights’ Showcase of the Western Region and the Rocky Mountain Theatre Association’s Playwrighting Competition.

Excerpt from the play:

CAST OF CHARACTERS

Hercules — a lummox
Megara — his girlfriend
Mercury — Messenger of the Gods
Jupiter — King of the Gods
Alcmena — a marriageable maiden
Sosia — a servant
Venus — Goddess of Love
Cupid — her son
Juno — Jupiter’s wife
Amphitryon — a soldier with promise

(The action takes place outside the home of Alcmena in the Greek city of Thebes. A fountain with a reflecting pool sits center.)

(Megara and Hercules recline on the ground up right, her head on his shoulder.)

Megara
(Sighs.) They tell so many tales about the famous Hercules. I’d like to hear one straight from you.

Hercules
Oh, I don’t know. I…

Megara
Please!

Hercules
It all depends on which adventure you would like to hear?

Megara
Um… tell me all about your first heroic act.

Hercules
My dear, it happened long ago, and there is much I don’t recall. Why, I was just a baby demigod then, after all. In fact, it really starts before the day that I was born. I don’t think I could tell it right.

(Megara pouts.)

Hercules
Now, don’t look so forlorn.

(As Hercules tells his story, the central characters appear in cameo around the fountain and reflecting pool.)

Hercules
They tell me that it started with an ancient prophesy, that Greece’s greatest hero… “Who is that?” you ask? It’s me—the firstborn son of beautiful Alcmena…

(Alcmena enters through the door of her house left.)

Hercules
And his dad? None other than Amphitryon…

(Amphitryon enters right and tries to work up the nerve to talk to Alcmena, but fails.)

Hercules
That clever little lad. He demonstrated such outstanding promise as a soldier; they knew he would be a general once he grew older. At the time, however, dear old Dad was much too shy. He wouldn’t ask my mom out on a date.

(Amphitryon, disappointed in himself, exits right.)

So from the sky, His Majesty, the King of Gods, looked down upon the sight, and worried I might not be born at all.

Megara
How dreadful.

(Alcmena exits left.)

Hercules
Right? So helping Dad to build his nerve was up to Cupid—er… Oh, maybe it was Venus—sent to Earth by Jupiter. I can’t remember which it was, but one of them was asked to make my parents fall in love, a monumental task. Well, Jove grew so impatient he came down to Earth with Merc, the fastest of the gods, and then they set about their work.

(Lights FADE on Megara and Hercules. Mercury and Jupiter enter down left.)

Mercury
I feel a bit peculiar dressed in this disguise.

Jupiter
What’s wrong?

Mercury
I look like such a common mortal man.

Jupiter
We won’t be long.

Mercury
It might not be as easy as you think. I’ve never seen a guy more shy. Amphitryon’s no match for that Alcmena.

Jupiter
Don’t be such a ninny. This’ll be a piece of cake. (Produces a vial.) This potion Hippocrates made for me will help me take the perfect likeness of a mortal man. Amphitryon, In fact. With my disguise, I will be poised to prey upon—I mean, to win the sweet affections of the lovely girl.

Mercury
You think it can be done?

Jupiter
Of course. No mortal of this world could possibly endure my overwhelming magnetism. Wouldn’t you agree with that?

Mercury
Well, sir, perhaps it is… um… Possible that she will be… (Decides to go with flattery, not reality.) …mere clay at your disposal.

Jupiter
Excellent.

Mercury
And how do I fit into your proposal?

Jupiter
You will take the form of Sosia.

Mercury
Who is he?

Jupiter
A servant.

(Mercury looks at his disguise and groans.)

Jupiter
Doesn’t that sound fun?

Mercury
I’m feeling slightly less than fervent. Still, you are the boss.

Jupiter
Then, bottoms up.

(They drink from the vial. Sound effect—magic SPELL.)

Mercury
I feel the same.

Jupiter
Perhaps in our reflections.

(They peer into the reflective pool. Mercury groans.)

Jupiter
That’s more like it.

Mercury
What’s my name?

Jupiter
It’s Sosia.

Mercury
Right.

Jupiter
Remember it. It’s time for me to hide, while you keep watch out here—and don’t let anyone inside!

(Jupiter exits right. Sosia enters through the audience.)

Mercury
(Observes.) That must be Sosia now. He’s clearly not a real go-getter. His face is just like mine, and yet I wear it so much better.

Sosia
(Weary from a day’s work, addresses members of the audience directly.) More work than any man can do from dawn to setting sun. If there were two of me, we’d still be pressed to get it done. I go to bed so late and wake so early that it seems I meet myself outside the door each evening. (Arrives onstage.)

Mercury
Pleasant dreams.

Sosia
(Sees Mercury, pauses.) I didn’t mean that lit’rally.

Mercury
Why not? It’s clearly true.

(They take a moment to play several mirror games, Mercury always one step ahead of Sosia.)

Sosia
Who are you?

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