BEST STORIES FOR CHILDREN

THE SPIDER AND THE BULLDOG

AN ENVIRONMENTALLY THEMED ACTION ADVENTURE PLAY FOR     
      CHILDREN OF ALL AGES WHERE AN OWL AND A BADGER FIGHT TO       
SAVE THEIR WOODLAND HOME FROM DESTRUCTION BY A GREEDY
DEVELOPER


WRITTEN FOR CHILDREN’S THEATRE 
IN 3 ACTS

BY LIAM MAHER

NOTE: Only the first act of this play is displayed here.  

CHARACTERS IN THE PLAY 

Oracle Owl (Female); Bilbo Badger (Male); Squiggy Squirrel (Female); Spike Hedgehog(Male);
Muggins the cat (Male); Mouse (Male or female); Mr Greedhog; The King; Princess Peaches and Cream; Magog the witch; Woodcutter; Clergyman.

Note: There are twelve character in the play, but it would also be possible to produce it using just eight actors, namely: by certain people doubling up Thus, Mr. Greedhog could also play the part of Magog the witch and the Clergyman. Muggins the cat could also play the role of the woodcutter. Squiggy Squirrel could additionally play the mouse.

ACT ONE

WILD WOOD (Actual name of the wood)

Trees and bushes portray a wood. Right of stage is a tree with a door that has a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign hanging from the doorknob. Left of stage in close unison are two tree stumps about the height of a table and a chair respectively. The stage backdrop shows a distant palace. Centre stage represents a clearing in the wood where a badger, a squirrel and a hedgehog are playing a game of ‘ring-a-ring-a-roses’:


Bilbo Badger                                                            Ring-a -ring-a-roses,
Squiggy Squirrel                                                      A pocketful of posies,
Spike Hedgehog                                                       A-tishoo! A-tishoo!.
                                                                                  We all fall down.

They get up laughing and repeat

 Ring-a-ring-a roses, 
  A pocketful of posies,
                                                                                 A-tishoo! A-tishoo!
                                                                                 We all fall down.

                                                                      They get up laughing and repeat

Ring-a-ring-a roses,
                                                                                 A pocketful of . . .

Bilbo  Stop! Shhhh! Quiet! I can smell something strange.

                                                                       The animals be begin sniffing the air

Squiggy  It’s a most peculiar sort of smell, not animal, is it?

Spike  Definitely not animal. I know, it smells like . . .like . . .

Bilbo  Human! That’s what it smells like.

Squiggy  Gosh! A human being! Here, in Wild Wood.

Spike  And the smell is getting stronger and stronger all the time.

Bilbo  That means whoever it is must be coming this way.

Squiggy  What shall we do?

Bilbo  Listen! Footsteps! Quick, everyone, hide.

The animals hurriedly hide behind the trees

Enter Mr Greedhog, the owner of the wood. He is wearing a smart designer suit and carrying a white cane. As he enters the clearing, he catches sight of Squiggy Squirrel’s bushy tail poking out from behind a tree. He peers around the tree to see who it is. At precisely the same moment Squiggy peers around the opposite side resulting in neither spotting the other. Simultaneously they proceed around the tree in the same direction, then go opposite ways and bump into each other.

Mr. Greedhog/Squiggy  Ohhhhhhhhhhh!

Squiggy  Oh! It’s you, Mr. Greedhog. You frightened the life out of me.

Mr. Greedhog (Angrily poking Squiggy with his cane.)  And you didn’t half give me a fright, you horrible squirrel. You had no right to go creeping up on me like that, especially in my own wood.

Squiggy  I’m sorry, Mr. Greedhog.  It was an accident.

Mr. Greedhog  Enough of your excuses, Squiggy.  In future, be more careful, or you’ll be sorry, do you hear.

Squiggy  Y… y … yes, Mr Greedhog.

Mr Greedhog  Right, where’s Bilbo Badger and Spike Hedgehog. I’ve got some very important news for you all.

Squiggy (calling)  Bilbo, Spike, It’s safe to come out now. Mr. Greedhog, the owner of Wild Wood is here. He's got very important news for us.

Mr Greedhog  Hurry up, you stupid animals. I don’t like to be kept waiting.

Bilbo and Spike come out of hiding

Spike  Good day, Mr. Greedhog. How nice of you to come and visit us.

Mr. Greedhog  Humph! Who’d want to visit you.

Bilbo  Hello! Mr Greedhog. Isn’t it a lovely day.

Mr Greedhog  Is it. I haven’t noticed.

Squiggy Would you like to play a game of ring-a-ring-a roses with us, Mr. Greedhog.

Mr Greedhog Certainly not. If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s playing games. A stupid waste of time, that’s all it is. There are better things to do, like making money, for instance. hee hee.

Bilbo What news have you come to tell us, Mr. Greedhog?

Mr Greedhog It's good news for me, and bad news for you, I'm afraid.  hee hee. The news is … is …is ...  You are all going to have to all leave Wild Wood immediately! It’s not going to be your home anymore.  

Bilbo/Squiggy/Spike    What! Leave Wild Wood!  You can't be serious!

Mr Greedhog I’ve never been more serious in my entire life. You can’t live here any more. Got it! Or do you want me to spell it out for you.

Bilbo But, Mr. Greedhog, Wild Wood has been home to us and our ancestors for over a thousand years. Badgers, squirrels and hedgehogs have been living here long, long before humans ever came to live in this part of the world.  

Squiggy You can’t just throw us out of here. Think of what your friends would say.

Mr Greedehog Don’t have any friends. Don’t want any either.

Spike Why are making us poor creatures homeless.

Mr Greedhog Because there’s a lot of money to be made from Wild Wood. I’m going to have it all chopped down.  

Animals gasp, then break down and cry

Mr Greedhog (continuing)  I will sell all the chopped timber first, after which, I will have all your secret dens and burrows ploughed up. I will use the empty land to build houses on and I will make myself millions and millions of dollars/euros profit when I sell the houses.  (Rubbing hands) Money-money-money!  (Looking at his watch) My woodcutter should be here soon. You’d better all clear out of here fast, unless you want to get crushed to death by falling trees. Hee hee.

Squiggy  Please don’t do this, Mr. Greedhog. There’s nowhere left for us to go. All the other woods around here have already been destroyed by greedy people like you.

Spike  Squiggy’s right. You’re turning us into a threatened species!

Mr. Greedhog  Hee hee. An extinct species would be better. Badgers, squirrels and hedgehogs are no use to humans. People don’t keep you as pets. People don’t cook and eat you. I suppose that's because you'd taste - Ugh! - horrible. Best thing that could happen to you useless lot would be to end up stuffed in museums.

Bilbo  If you don’t care about us, then care about the environment. There's too much carbon gas in the world. It causes global warming. Global warming brings terrible storms, floods, droughts, hurricanes and rising seas, putting us all in danger. Trees help to keep us safe by absorbing this carbon gas. 

Squiggy Trees also turn carbon gas into oxygen. We can't live without oxygen. 

Spike Trees are our best friends.

Mr Greedhog What would stupid animals like you know about global warming and the environment. I’m too busy making money to listen to such nonsense.

Bilbo But you’re already a billionaire Mr. Greedhog. You don’t need any more money.

Mr. Greedhog Oh yes! I do.

Bilbo, Squiggy, Spike Oh no! you don’t.

Mr. Greedhog Oh yes! I do.

Bilbo, Squiggy, Spike Oh no! you don’t.

Mr. Greedhog Oh yes! I do . . . I might be the richest guy in the country but I want to become the richest guy in the entire world, richer than all those computer guys.

Bilbo You’re just a horrible greedy-guts

Mr. Greedhog (chasing Bilbo with his cane) How dare you call me a greedy-guts. You … you … you’re going to be sorry for that.

Bilbo (singing while being chased around by Mr. Greedhog)

You’ve got more suits than there are stars,
A string of horses, a fleet of cars,  
A country mansion, that’s no bluff,
And still you haven’t got enough.
(Spoken) you’re greedy.

Bilbo, Squiggy and Spike sing chorus

Greedy-guts, greedy-guts, 
Greedy-greedy-greedy-guts.
Greedy-guts, greedy-guts, 
Greedy-greedy-greedy-guts.

Squiggy (singing while being chased around by Mr. Greedhog)

You own a yacht, you own a train,
You’ve got a private aeroplane,
Gold and silver by the score
And still, and still you want more, more.
(Spoken) You’re greedy.

Bilbo, Squiggy and Spike sing chorus

Spike (singing while being chased around by Mr. Greedhog)

And now you’ve come with news so bad,
The three of us feel very sad,
Our Wild Wood home you say you need
To make more money for your greed.
(Spoken) you’re greedy.

Bilbo, Squiggy and Spike sing final chorus

As the song ends, Mr. Greedhog’s  phone rings

Mr Greedhog (looking at Phone) Ah! It’s my woodcutter, about time. (Answering phone) Hello! What! You can’t find your way here. Ok, stay where you are, I’ll come and get you. (To animals) My woodcutter has got lost. I’m going to find him. Won't be long. There will be no Wild Wood left standing here soon. Hee hee

Exit Mr. Greedhog

Squiggy (crying) I’ve always been so happy living here. Now we’re going to have to go out into the wide, dangerous world. 

Spike (crying) We‘ll get cold and go hungry and probably die. Or we might even get hunted down and shot. Oh if only there was something we could do.

Bilbo There is something we could try. But I don’t know if it’ll work.

Squiggy/Spike Tell us Bilbo. We would try anything.

Bilbo We must go at once and wake up Oracle Owl. Oracle is the wisest creature living in these parts. We must ask Oracle is there’s anything we can do to stop Mr. Greedhog destroying Wild Wood. It’s our only hope.

Squiggy You’re forgetting about Oracle Owl’s horrible bad temper. You know what a filthy mood she gets in if anyone tries to wake her up during daytime.

Bilbo Come on, it’s our only hope.

They proceed to the tree with the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on the door. Spike knocks loudly several times. Eventually, the door slowly half opens.

Oracle Owl (calling from inside the tree) Stop that racket! I’m trying to sleep. Go Away. Leave me alone.

The door closes

Spike It’s no use.  

Squiggy knocks on door. Door opens and out fly several pots and pans. The animals have to run to avoid them. Door closes. Bilbo knocks this time. Door opens and out fly more pots and pans. 

Oracle (appearing in doorway, menacingly holding a large frying pan) Hah! So it’s you lot. (Pointing to sign) Can’t you read. Do I think I put that sign there for your amusement. (Oracle storms out and chases the animals with the frying pan) 

Bilbo trips over and oracle stands over him swinging the frying pan.

Bilbo Calm down Oracle. We had to wake you up. It’s an emergency. Something terrible has happened. You’re our only hope.

Oracle It had better be good, or you’re in for it. Go on. I’m listening.

Bilbo We’ve just had a visit from Mr. Greedhog. He’s going to chop down Wild Wood to built houses on.

Oracle (helping up Bilbo) What! That is terrible.  

Squiggy What are we going to do.  

Spike Can you tell us how to save Wild Wood.

Oracle Have you tried telling Mr. Greedhog there’s nowhere else for us to go.

Squiggy We have. He doesn’t care.

Oracle Have you tried telling him of the terrible harm he’s going to cause to the environment.

Bilbo We have. He won’t listen.  

Oracle (mournfully) Then there’s nothing we can do. Wild Wood belongs to Mr. Greedhog so he can do whatever he wants with it. This is the worst day in the history of Wild Wood.

The animals break down and cry. Soon comes the sound of approaching voices

Bilbo Voices! Coming this way. Quick! everyone, hide.

The animals hide. Oracle returns to her tree-house and shuts the door. Enter Mr. Greedhog with his woodcutter who is carrying a large axe.

Mr. Greedhog This is the wood I want chopped down. And I don’t want to see a single tree left standing. Is that clear.  

Woodcutter Perfectly clear, Mr. Greedhog. Which tree would you like me to chop first.

Mr. Greedhog (pointing to Oracle Owl’s tree) That one there will do nicely.

Woodcutter Stand back so I can take a good swing!

The woodcutter begins swinging his axe as My Greedhog counts

Mr Greedhog A-one! A-two! A-three! CHOP!

As the woodcutter swings his axe to strike the tree, a hole in the ground suddenly opens (the stage trapdoor) and a powerful voice shouts out:

Strange Voice Stop! Stop that at once! Leave that tree alone!

The woodcutter drops his axe in shock. Everyone stares in amazement as the the King climbs out of the hole. The animals come out of hiding while Oracle Owl opens her door and peers out.

Bilbo/Squiggy/Spike. Look! It’s the King! The King!

Mr. Greedhog (aside to audience) The King himself climbing out of a hole in the ground in Wild Wood. If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I would never have believed it.

Oracle Welcome to Wild Wood, Your Majesty. This is indeed a great honour.

Other shouts of welcome

King Thank you all for the great welcome. Well, hello Everyone.

All Hello, Your Majesty.

King A-ha! I can see by the surprised looks on all your faces that you are wondering what on earth am I doing here. Let me explain: Beneath this wood, there is a secret underground tunnel leading all the way to my palace. And I've just used it to escape from none other than the wicked witch Magog.

Gasps from everyone

​All Magog! The wicked witch! Ooooooooooo!

Bilbo I’ve heard it said that Magog is the most powerful, evil, and wickedest witch in all the land.

King You bet she is. You know what she’s done? She has taken over my palace. But worse than that, she’s turned my only daughter, the Princess Peaches and Cream into an ugly, slimy frog.  

All Ugh!

Squiggy Why didn't your guards stop her?

King They were so frightened of being turned into frogs themselves that they all ran away. And then! Magog was about to turn me into a frog when just in the nick of time, I managed to escape down my secret tunnel.

Spike Gosh! Weren't you lucky.

King Lucky I remembered I had a secret tunnel, You mean. It’s hasn't been used since it was built over 500 years ago.
`
Mr. Greedhog (interrupting) A-hem! A-hem! Can I have your attention. You are holding up the work. Continue your chat somewhere else. My woodcutter had a job to do.

King What job is that?

Mr. Greedhog Chopping down this wood.  

King Forget it! Nobody is going to do any chopping in Wild Wood until I say so.

Mr. Greedhog And when will that be?

King When Magog has been overthrown, and it’s safe for me to return again to my palace. Until then, Wild Wood is going to be my new home. So, no chopping, unless you and your woodcutter want your heads chopped off! Is that understood?

Mr Greedhog Y-Y Yes, Y-Y- Your M-M-Majesty.

King Then get out of my sight, quickly.

Exit Mr. Greedhog and his woodcutter

King I must sit down. I am exhausted from my journey through the long tunnel.

Bilbo Over here, Your Majesty, please.

Bilbo seats the King on the lower of the two tree stumps

King Ahh! That’s better.

Oracle fetches three baskets from her house. She gives one each to Bilbo, Squiggy and Spike

Oracle Here, run off to the hedgerows and fetch some wild fresh fruit for His Majesty’s dinner.

                                                Exit Bilbo, Squiggy and Spike. The King starts crying

Oracle What’s the matter, Your Majesty. Why are you crying?

King I am worried sick about my poor daughter, Princess Peaches and Cream. She’s used to be such a beautiful princess, you know. And now she’s just an ugly, slimy frog. Imagine when she looks in the mirror and sees herself. Oh I can’t bear the thought. And there’s no one in the world to help her.  

Oracle There is someone who could help her.

King Really!. Who is it? Tell me quick.

Oracle Me!

​King What! You! You're just an owl. You can't  work magic or cast spells. Magog would destroy you in a split second.

Oracle They don't call me the wise old owl for nothing. I am not scared of  Magog’s evil magic. So let’s do a deal. If I succeed in getting rid of Magog and rescuing the princess, will you stop Mr. Greedhog from destroying Wild Wood and allow us to go on living here forever.

King It’s a deal. You have the word of a king.

Enter Bilbo, Squiggy and spike, their baskets laden with wild fresh fruit. They curtsey to the King and place their baskets on the higher tree stump beside him

King (eating) Cool! This is delicious. I see I’m going to be well looked after here.

Oracle (to the animals) Come over here. I want to talk to you. Let the King enjoy his dinner. (They gather round Oracle) Now listen. I’ve just done a deal with the King. He's promised me he will save Wild Wood if I get rid of Magog and rescue the Princess.

Squiggy A great deal but I couldn’t think of anything more dangerous.

Bilbo Oh no! We might never see you again. .

Spike The witch will destroy you.

Oracle I will someone to help me. Someone who won't scare when they come face to face with Magog. Any volunteers? 

Squiggy Take me, take me. I’m not afraid of an old wicked witch.

Oracle Really. We’ll soon find that out. Listen! (Oracle sings)

I once knew a squirrel who looked like you,
A bushy tail and a coat of red,
She met with a witch and what did she do, 
She waved her wand and these words she said:
Robo-showbo, tic-tac-tuc,
Change into an ugly duck.
(Spoken) So just like that, she was changed into an ugly duck.

Squiggy How horrible. Then what happened to her.

Oracle (singing)  

​No fun or games had this ugly duck,
For whenever she went out to play,
Her friends all groaned and cried yuk-yuk,
You don’t look nice, now go away.
So if you meet a bad witch too,
That’s what could happen to you-you-you.

Squiggy (singing)

​You can meet her on your own, 
I don’t feel just quite that brave,
I would rather stay at home
In my Wild Wood where it’s safe.

Spike Take me Oracle. I’m not a scaredy-cat like Squiggy here. I'll soon prove to you how brave I am.

Oracle We’ll soon see about that. Listen: (Oracle sings)

I once know a hedgehog who looked like you,
Spikes on his back and a pointed head,
He met with a witch and what did she do,
She waved her wand and these words she said:
Oko-Boko, fee-faw-fog,
Change into a slimy frog.
Spoken) And in the blink of an eye, he was changed into a slimy frog.

Spike Oh no! What happened to him after that.

Oracle (sings)

He went to live in a murky pool
With slime on the water, it was no joke,
And the only thing that he could do
Was go hop-hop and say croak-croak.
So if you meet a bad witch too,
That’s what could happen to you-you-you.

Spike (singing)

You can meet her on your own,
I don’t feel just quite that brave,
I would rather at home
In my Wild Wood where it’s safe.

Bilbo That just leaves me. I would anything to save our home and protect the environment.

Oracle We’ll soon find that out. Listen: (Oracle sings)

I once knew a badger who looked like you,
Big and bold with a handsome head,
He met with a witch and what did she do,
She waved her wand and these words she said:
Hoodoo-voodoo, fay-faw-fee,
Change into a tiny flea.
(Spoken) And suddenly, this great big badger became a tiny flea. 

Bilbo Amazing! What became of the flea?

Oracle (singing)

A home he found in a doggy’s coat,
A cat, a horse, he next lived on,
A cow, a sheep, and then a goat,
Always biting some poor one.
So if you meet a bad witch too,
That’s what could happen to you-you-you.

Bilbo (singing)

But a flea I’d like to be, that’s true,
In the witch’s hair I would jump and hide,
To change me back she’d have to do
Or I would bite her till she cried.
So now you know, and now you see,
No wicked witch can frighten me.

Squiggy Hang on, Bilbo. Supposing she turned you into an ugly duck instead. What would you do then?

Bilbo (singing)

I’d peck her ears, her nose, her neck,
And I’d keep on going peck-peck-peck.
I’d peck her till she was black and blue,
So to change me back she’d have to do.
So now you know, and now you see,
No wicked witch can frighten me.

Spike And what would you do if she turned you into a slimy frog?

Bilbo (singing)

I’d croak all night so she got no sleep,
I’d croak so much that she’d cry and weep,
I’d be worse than a cow going moo-moo-moo.
So to change me back she’d have to do.
So now you know, and now you see,
No wicked witch can frighten me.

Oracle That settles it. Bilbo and I will leave for the palace immediately.

King Use my secret tunnel. That way, Magog won’t see you coming. And don’t forget to give my love to Princess Peaches and Cream. Tell her I miss her terribly.

Oracle Squiggy, Spike, take good care of His Majesty. Come on, Bilbo.

Exit Oracle and Bilbo down the secret tunnel

Squiggy (calling after them down the tunnel) Be very, very careful. You're going into great danger!

​                                                                                         CURTAIN







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