Oliver Twist

play script sample

(The ARTFUL DODGER takes OLIVER aside before climbing he stairs to FAGIN's hideaway)

DODGER: Oliver. Do you know what “peaching” is?
OLIVER: Telling? Squealing?
DODGER: You must never tell anyone about this place and who’s here, get it?
OLIVER: Don’t worry, Dodger. I won’t lie.
DODGER: I didn’t say no lying. I said no peaching!
(FAGIN and the GANG have come in and are miming getting ready for bed. DODGER gives a whistle. All freeze. Then they scurry to different positions of casual repose, but still on alert, hiding things as they go. DODGER takes OLIVER in the “door.” All murmur in reaction to the new kid.)
DODGER: Fagin, I want to introduce you to my new friend, Oliver Twist.
FAGIN: Well, now, how d’ye do? We’re very glad to see you, Oliver. (The GANG has crowded around, going through Oliver’s pockets.) Back, ye young scamps! Give our guest some room. (The GANG retreat to talk softly in groups.) Dodger, take off the sausages. Come Oliver, my dear, you must be starved.
(OLIVER sits down to eat. CHARLIE BATES hands FAGIN the locket he picked from OLIVER’s pocket. OLIVER starts to react.)
OLIVER: That’s my mother’s.
FAGIN: Safest place to put it is with my stuff. (whispering) There are thieves all around us.
(BILL SIKES and NANCY enter. SIKES seats himself, belligerently grabs FAGIN’S accounting book, but looks more and more befuddled as he continues to look through the pages. Several of the GANG rise and run to NANCY.)
GANG MEMBERS: Nancy! (ad lib) Hi, Nancy! How’s it going?
NANCY: Hi boys. (spots OLIVER) Well, who’s the new lad?
OLIVER: Oliver Twist, mum. (he bows)
NANCY: Well! (impressed) Aren’t you the polite young chap!
FAGIN: Green, Nancy, old girl! Totally green. He’s young and inexperienced as they come. But we’ll teach him.
NANCY: He certainly knows how to treat a lady.
CHARLIE BATES: If we see any, we’ll let him know. (GANG reacts)
NANCY: You watch your mouth, Charlie Bates! He’s twice the gentleman you are. (Pretending mock insult, she crosses away from them towards SIKES.)
OLIVER: Thank you, mum.
SIKES: Nancy, cut yer gabbin’ and get over here.
NANCY: What ya got there, Bill. (Puts her arms around his neck.)
SIKES: (knocking her hands off) Fagin’s books. I can’t make hide nor hair of the thievin’ scoundrel's scrawl.
NANCY: You can’t understand them because you can’t read, Bill. (GANG laughs)
SIKES: Shut up! All of you! (He roars, menacingly. They are all instantly silent, looking the other way.)
NANCY: Don’t be laughing at my Bill, you young hooligans! I’ll bet there’s not a one among you who can read any better than him, now, is there?
OLIVER: (tentatively) I can read, mum.
NANCY: Good for you, young Twist.
SIKES: Reading! Bah! (he spits) This ain’t readin’. It’s a bunch of numbers and chicken scratching.
NANCY: It’s called math, Bill. Another subject they taught while you were conveniently absent from school. Why you can’t even tell if you’re being cheated!
(GANG laughs again. SIKES rises menacingly. They stop.)
SIKES: I know well enough that this varmint is stealing from me every chance he gets. Where’s my money, Fagin?
FAGIN: There, there, my dears. No cause for concern. I’d never cheat you out of what’s rightfully yours, Bill.
SIKES: The Hell!
FAGIN: Now, boys, run along to your work. Mr. Sikes and I have some business to discuss. Dodger, I want you to watch after Oliver. It’s his first day.
DODGER: Right you are, guv’ner.
(The GANG boys and NANCY exit in one direction, SIKES and FAGIN in the other. DODGER takes OLIVER with him. TOWNSPEOPLE as street vendors begin to appear. MR. BROWNLOW enters and stops with his back to the boys at the “book stall.” DODGER eyes him.)

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