2003 Bardie Winner!

Best Line
Best Appearance by Support Female (Cyrene)

Amphipolisly Frivolous


Jane Fletcher

Scene one. Afternoon inside Cyrene's refurbished tavern. There are no traces of cobwebs, maggots, pools of blood or portals to hell. Eve is sitting cross legged on a table meditating. The door opens with a crash. Enter Xena and Gabrielle, in high spirits, with their arms around each other's necks.
XENA and GABRIELLE: [singing] Noumenia night's alright for fighting, get a little action in.
Eve glares at them but they don't notice her.
XENA: [breaking away from Gabrielle to mime the actions] First I got him with the left. And then the right. And then the left again.
GABRIELLE: Did you see me flatten those jerks with the pikes?
XENA: And that centurion? I just whipped out my chakram and...
EVE: Mother!
XENA: [hides the bloodstained chakram behind her back] Oh hi, Eve... Sweetie.
EVE: You've been fighting again.
XENA: [tries to look innocent] Oh, no... not really.
GABRIELLE: [elbows Xena] Go on Xena... you don't have to buy into her love and peace thing.
XENA: [to Eve, defensively] The Romans started it.
EVE: Did you kill any?
XENA: Just one or two...
GABRIELLE: [interrupts, sniggering] Legions.
EVE: [gets off the table] Honestly, mother. You act as if war is a game.
XENA: No, not a game... more of a team sport.
EVE: Mother! It is serious.
XENA: I know sweetie. I do take it seriously. Otherwise I wouldn't keep winning.
EVE: Violence can never be the answer to anything.
XENA: It depends on what the question is.
GABRIELLE: Yeah - if the question was, what's an 8 letter word, starting with V, that's...
EVE: [interrupts angrily] The pair of you are impossible.
Eve storms out. Xena and Gabrielle exchange looks.
GABRIELLE: You know, Xena. I don’t get it. You are the most complex person I've ever met. In your soul, you balance the conflicting forces of good and evil, light and dark. Your life is driven by the contradictions of an impossible search for redemption. Everything you do is in the context of moral ambiguity. How can your daughter be so one-dimensional?

Scene two. Evening of the same day. Cyrene's ghost is drifting around the kitchen. She attempts to pick up a wooden spoon, but her hand goes through it. Eve enters.
EVE: Hi Grandma.
CYRENE'S GHOST: Just the person. I wonder if you can give me a hand. [thinks for a second] Actually, you can keep it attached to your wrist, but if you could put these things away. I'm having trouble getting a grip at the moment.
EVE: Ok, Grandma. [she keeps talking as she works] I'm worried about mother and her fighting.
CYRENE'S GHOST: Oh, there's no need to worry about that. I've heard she's very good at it.
EVE: It's not how well she fights. She shouldn't be doing it at all. I can't make her see how wrong violence is.
CYRENE'S GHOST: I think the fighting is just Xena's way of getting in contact with her inner child.
EVE: But it’s terrible. She goes around breaking bones and stabbing people.
CYRENE'S GHOST: Yes dear, that's the sort of child Xena was.
EVE: [distracted as she opens a cupboard] Grandma, why have you got all these saucepans? I don't think I've ever seen so many before.
CYRENE'S GHOST: [smiling at the memory] Oh, you're just like your mother as a girl. She was always so impressed. And I'd say to her - I have many skillets.
EVE: [closes cupboard] I've got to find a way to deal with mother's aggressive behavior.
CYRENE'S GHOST: You could try learning to duck.
EVE: I'm going to pray for guidance.
CYRENE'S GHOST: Well, I'm sure you know best, dear.
Eve exits.

Scene three. Next morning. Xena and Gabrielle are sitting at a table in the tavern sharpening their weapons. Eve enters.
EVE: I've been praying.
XENA: [not looking up] That's nice.
EVE: [slides onto the bench opposite Xena] Mother, I've been asking for help, to get you to see the evil of violence.
XENA: And?
EVE: I've received permission for my spiritual father to return to Earth for a while, to help me in this mission. We'll be holding daily meetings, to see if we can work through the issues, by talking and trying to understand how to avoid violence. [leans forward] Please, please, will you join us?
XENA: Hey, that would be great.
EVE: [surprised] You'll do it?
XENA: Of course.
GABRIELLE: Yeah, it will be fun to see Eli again.
XENA: I still want him to tell me how he did that rope trick.
GABRIELLE: Or the one with the three cups and the pea.
EVE: It isn't... [stops herself]
XENA: Isn't what?
EVE: [smiles] Nothing. So I can say that you'll attend the meetings?
GABRIELLE: Sign me on too.
EVE: [edges off the bench] Right. I'll... um... go to tell the angels.

Scene four. That afternoon. The benches in the tavern have been pushed back to leave a clear space in the middle. Milling around are Xena, Gabrielle, Cyrene's ghost, and three Nerdy Unnamed Followers of Eli (NUFE1 is female. NUFE2 is male. The jury is still out on NUFE3). The door opens and Eve enters, followed by Callisto.
CALLISTO: [smiling sweetly] Welcome to the inaugural meeting of Crazed Psychopaths Anonymous.
GABRIELLE: Hey! Where's Eli?
EVE: I never said that Eli would be here.
XENA: You said your spiritual father.
EVE: In the circumstances, what else can I call her?
CALLISTO: Please, there is no need for contention. I am here to bring love and peace to you all.
XENA: Callisto teaching non-violence is like having Joxer teach swordsmanship...
GABRIELLE: Or personal hygiene
EVE: Which is why I thought she would be a good person to help. She has overcome the urge to fight and kill.
XENA: Only because I risked my soul for her.
GABRIELLE: [possibly correcting her] Our souls.
CALLISTO: I know that our relationship has had its difficulties in the past. But I wanted to come here to help you, because we have been so intimately involved with each other.
GABRIELLE: Intimately involved! In your dreams! Xena, Callisto never got you in the sack, did she?
XENA: [uncertainly, after serious thought] I don't think so.
EVE: Oh mother! Surely you'd know.
XENA: Hey sweetie. There were crazy times back then. At one stage we were swapping bodies so fast you could lose track of who you were - or who was inside you.
GABRIELLE: It's true. The first thing you knew about it, the person you were kissing had sprouted a moustache.
XENA: I was Callisto. Callisto was me. I was Autolycus.
GABRIELLE: Then I was you.
XENA: I've been a child, a skeleton, a bacchae, assorted supernatural beings. [shakes her head, thinking, and then looks at Callisto] I don't suppose you've ever been Lao Ma?
CALLISTO: [after a momentary flicker of irritation, returns to smiling sweetly] All of this is irrelevant. We are here to embrace love and renounce our violent impulses. In this, I am to be your guide and mentor. [claps her hands] Let us start by gathering in a circle.
Everyone does so.
CALLISTO: [looks disapprovingly at Xena and Gabrielle] I think it might be better if we all remove our weapons first.
XENA: We're not going to use them.
CALLISTO: [firmly] Weapons have no place here.
Xena and Gabrielle look annoyed, but they go to one corner and remove chakrams, swords, sais, breast daggers, hairpins etc.
XENA: [calling to Eve] Look sweetie. Mother's taken off all her nasty weapons.
Eve looks away, embarrassed. Xena and Gabrielle return to the circle.
CALLISTO: Now, in order to move on, we must confront our inner darkness. We must bring the evil out into the open. We will confess our past actions to the group. I will start. [lifts her hands and eyes to the ceiling] I, Callisto, was a heartless murderer. I killed men, women and children without mercy, driven by my own hatred and rage. I delighted in the screams of my victims and the sight of blood. I am solely responsible for the deaths of hundreds of innocent people. [lowers her hands and smiles at Eve]
EVE: [mimics Callisto's declamatory pose] I, Eve, was a vicious killer. I led my troops in a murderous rampage without thought for the misery I was inflicting. I was addicted to the power of holding another person's life in my hand. I wanted nothing but to kill everyone who stood against me. I am responsible for thousands of deaths. [looks expectantly toward Xena]
CYRENE'S GHOST: Oh. Can I go next?
EVE: But you haven't killed lots of people, Grandma.
CYRENE'S GHOST: No, only the one. But I did it very thoroughly. [raises her hands] I, Cyrene, am a murderer. I killed my own husband with an axe. It was just like chopping wood, except wood doesn't scream. [adopts a more conversational manner] And, do you know, it was far more fun than I expected. Although getting the bloodstains out was a Hades of a job. It put me off doing it again. I mean, I couldn’t have killed him again, because he was already dead. But with anyone else. [smiles at everyone, then remembers and raises her hands again] And I am responsible for one death.
XENA: [elbows Gabrielle and whispers] Go on, you go next.
GABRIELLE: [glares at Xena, but raises her hands] I, Gabrielle, have killed many people. I have stabbed, burned, blown up and battered people across the known world. I have done things that once would have shocked me. I lost my reverence for life. I am responsible for dozens of deaths.
XENA: [reluctantly] I, Xena, have been the destroyer of nations. I have led armies to kill and pillage from the Norselands to Japa. I wanted to have the entire world under my heel, and didn't care how many people died by my orders. I am responsible for hundreds er... thousands... [glances at Eve, guiltily] er... hundreds of thousands of deaths.
NUFE3: [enthusiastically] I want to confess my crimes. [Eve smiles tolerantly] There was an old woman who lived across the street from me. She was a harmless old lady but, in my wickedness, I developed a dislike of her that prompted me to wish her harm. And so, one day, when I knew that nobody was watching, I snuck across to her house. Then I knocked on her door, and ran away.

Scene five. Some hours later. Everyone except Eve and Callisto is looking tired and apathetic.
ALL: [singing off key and out of time] We ain't going to fight no more,
We ain't going to fight no more,
War is bad, makes people sad,
So we ain't going to fight no more.

CALLISTO: [claps her hands] You've all done very well. I think we've had enough for today
XENA: I think I've had enough for the next three lifetimes.
CALLISTO: [mimes a listening pose] Do I hear the voice of negativity?
XENA: No, it's the voice of someone who can spot a load of bollocks when she sees it.
EVE: Really mother! We need to bury all our hatred and anger.
XENA: [glares at Callisto] Some things just won't stay buried.
CALLISTO: We must forget our past mistakes.
XENA: Like not mixing cement with the sand?
CALLISTO: [clearly biting back an angry retort] May the spirit of fellowship and peace descend upon you.
Callisto goes, followed by Eve and the NUFEs.
XENA: [to Callisto's back] Peace on you too.
CYRENE'S GHOST: [to Gabrielle] You and Xena don't seem very fond of Callisto.
GABRIELLE: She killed my husband.
CYRENE'S GHOST: As a favor, or did you have to pay her?
GABRIELLE: I didn't want her to do it.
CYRENE'S GHOST: Oh well, it was probably for the best. Take my word for it, you can get into all sorts of trouble if you do it yourself. [exits]
XENA: [picks up a bottle and tankards from the bar] We have got to get out of this. I'm going to throw up if Callisto gives me another one of those syrupy smiles. We need a plan.
GABRIELLE: It wasn't quite that bad. I liked some of the singing. [dances while sings] If you're going to Epidamnus, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.
XENA: [gives her an exasperated look while pulling one of the tables away from the wall and sitting down] I've had more fun being crucified.
GABRIELLE: [sits down and takes drink] Oh, come on Xena. It's not that bad. Surely you can put up with it for a few days?
The door opens and Eve returns.
EVE: I'm so pleased that you have made this effort. You don't know how much it means to me.
XENA: Yeah, sure sweetie, whatever. Um... do you have any idea how long these sessions will last?
EVE: Callisto thinks that three or four months should do it. [sees bottle on the table] Oh Mother! Alcohol is one way that the Forces of Hell try to entice us from the path of righteousness. You mustn't allow yourself to be tempted. [removes bottle]
XENA: Hey sweetie, you didn't say anything about no drinking.
EVE: Only because I thought it was obvious. We are trying to free ourselves from sin and corruption. We must renounce it all; violence, lying, stealing, all the sins of the flesh. We must not only be pacifist, but also teetotal and celibate.
GABRIELLE: Celibate!
EVE: But, of course. [smiles at them and exits]
GABRIELLE: Ok, Xena. What's the plan?

Scene six. Some days later. Xena and Gabrielle are in the tavern.
XENA: I'm going crazy. We have to think of some way to stop these meetings.
GABRIELLE: And pretty soon Eve is going to get suspicious about the asthma attacks you have each night. There's a limit to how gullible she can be.
XENA: If you say so. [leaves the tavern]

Cut to Xena crossing the yard and slipping into the barn next door. After a quick check for onlookers, she kicks at a spot on the wall. A secret compartment opens and she retrieves a bottle of wine.

Back in the tavern. Xena sits at a table and pours drinks for herself and Gabrielle.
GABRIELLE: [joining Xena at the table] Maybe if we can convince Eve that you've totally renounced violence, then she'll think her job is done and move on to some other mission.
XENA: I haven't throttled Callisto yet - how much more convincing does she want?
GABRIELLE: Perhaps I could pretend to throttle Callisto, and you could save her. That might convince Eve.
XENA: Why stop at pretending?
GABRIELLE: Because we've tried killing her for real. It doesn't work.
XENA: It might be third time lucky.
The door opens suddenly and NUFE2 rushes in.
NUFE2: Is Eve in here?
GABRIELLE: [after pointedly looking around the room] She's hiding under the table.
NUFE2: [comes to check] I can't see her... Oh, it's a joke. Ha, ha, ha. Silly me. [sees the bottle] Is that the demon drink?
XENA: No. It's fruit juice.
GABRIELLE: Fermented fruit juice.
XENA: All the goodness of sun ripened grapes, enhanced by the vitamins of activated yeast. Here, try some. It's good for you.
NUFE2: If you're sure. [takes a cautious sip] It's not bad. [puts down tankard] But I've got to find Eve. A troublemaker has just turned up outside.
XENA: Hey. Send the thug in here. We'll deal with him.
NUFE2: It's a her. And you must remember not to resort to violence.
XENA: [oozing sincerity] The thought never crossed my mind.
NUFE2 leaves. There is shouting outside and the door bursts open.
MINYA: What sort of lousy tavern doesn't serve alcohol?
MINYA: Xena? Gabby? Is that you? Say, you guys don't look a day older than when we last met. [comes closer, looking puzzled] Like, you really don't look a day older.
XENA: It's a long story. Here, pull up a chair.
MINYA: What was all that bull about no alcohol in here?
XENA: It's just some wild idea of my daughter's. [pushes the bottle in Minya's direction] Help yourself.
MINYA: You've got a daughter? Who was the father? Ares? [looks at Gabrielle] Is he still alive?
XENA: And that's another long story.
MINYA: What's your daughter got against drink?
XENA: [sighs] She has a lot of odd ideas. She... [stops with a 'light bulb going on' expression] Hey, Minya. Do you think you could help us out? We've been having a bit of a problem.
MINYA: [flexes her arms] Name it. I may be over 50, but I'm still one tough broad. And I've been practicing with this [waves coiled whip in the air] for the last 28 years.
XENA: [smiling] That sounds like just the trick.

Scene seven. The next day. A meeting is about to start in the tavern, but Gabrielle is missing.
EVE: [impatiently] Where is Gabrielle?
XENA: [innocently] She said she'd be here. And I know how much she's been enjoying these sessions. I can't imagine why she's not here.
EVE: We're wasting time.
XENA: We could start without her.
EVE: No. Gabrielle was the first of Eli's followers. I don't want her to slip from the path again.
CYRENE'S GHOST: I'll go and look for her.
ALL THE NUFEs: We'll go as well.
Cyrene's ghost and the NUFEs leave. Callisto gives Xena a long cynical stare. Xena tries to look nonchalant.

Various shots of Cyrene's ghost and the NUFEs trotting (or floating, in Cyrene's case) in and out of doors around the tavern and outbuildings.

Scene eight. In the barn, The NUFEs are searching under bales and in corners.
NUFE3: Hello Gabrielle?
NUFE2: Are you here?
NUFE1: We're all waiting for you to start the meeting.
NUFE3 trips over a rake and crashes into the wall. The secret compartment opens.
NUFE1: [taking out a bottle] What's this?
NUFE2: [knowledgeably] It's fermented fruit juice. It's good for you. Sun ripened vitamins.
NUFE3: I'm feeling a bit thirsty.
NUFE2: All the singing does dry your throat out. Perhaps I'll have a drink as well.
NUFE1: Well, if it's good for you.

Scene nine. Back in the tavern. The door crashes open and Minya enters, dressed as a warlord and dragging Gabrielle behind her. Gabrielle falls to her knees. Her hands are tied.
MINYA: [hamming atrociously] I am the evil warlord, Sordzarus. And I'm going to brutally murder this young, innocent girl.
XENA: [also hamming it up] No, no. That is my friend, Gabrielle. You must not kill her.
MINYA: Yeah. Well, what are you going to do about it? Fight me?
GABRIELLE: Xena, you must not fight, for you have forsaken violence.
XENA: Oh. What am I to do? My best friend's life is at stake, but I have sworn to follow the path of peace. [presses her hand dramatically against her head] But I know that violence is never the answer. I am sorry Gabrielle, but peace is more important to me than your life.
GABRIELLE: It's alright Xena. I agree. We can never go back to the ways of violence. I am ready to die if I must.
MINYA: [drops her sword] Oh! Your goodness has overcome the evil in my heart. I will also renounce violence and join you in the way of peace. Please forgive my wicked intent. [removes ties from Gabrielle's wrists with suspicious ease]
EVE: Mother? Is this true? Have you truly forsaken violence forever?
CALLISTO: No. It's just a pathetic charade. Really, Xena. Did you think we'd fall for this?
XENA: [after a quick glance at Eve] It seemed worth a try.
EVE: [outraged] Mother!
The door opens and Cyrene's Ghost enters
CYRENE'S GHOST: Hello Minya, it's been a long time. And I see you found Gabrielle.
MINYA: Oh, hi Cyrene. [watches her bobbing up and down for a few seconds] You seem kinda ethereal.
CYRENE'S GHOST: Oh, I'm dead. But I try to look on the positive side. It's the most effective weight loss program I've ever been on. You know what they say, [mimes exercise] go for the burn.
The door opens again. Four members of the Moronic City Guard enter.
MCG SERGEANT: We've heard that the murderous warlord, Sordzarus, is here.
XENA: It's a joke.
MCG SERGEANT: There's nothing funny about murderous warlords. If you were to listen to the teachings of Eli, you'd know that. [sees Minya in her warlord costume] Look! There's Sordzarus.
All of the Moronic City Guard draw their swords and surround Minya.
EVE: [angry] Is this another of you games, mother?
XENA: No. I don't know who they are.
EVE: You expect me to believe that?
The door opens yet again. Three drunken NUFEs fall through and form a heap in the middle of the floor. NUFE1 crawls away until she reaches the feet of the MCG Sergeant, who she then uses as a support to clamber upright.
NUFE1: [slurring] Hey, big boy. Ish that a Doric column in y' pocket or are y' pleashed to see me?
NUFE3: [sitting on the floor, frowning] Doric column? Ish they the ones w' volutes on the capitals? You know, lumps like el'phant's testicles?
NUFE2: Nah, that's Ionic, w' decorated abacus and acroteria.
NUFE3: I fought that was Corinthian. Don't they get acanthus leaf on the... on the... [turns aside and throws up over Callisto's feet.]
EVE: [horrified] What has happened to you?
NUFE1: We found some fermented fruit juice.
NUFE2: It was good for us. [giggles]
EVE: You're drunk.
NUFE2: Who? No! Am I?
EVE: How could you? You have defiled your bodies with alcohol. You have forsaken your vows of abstinence. [turns to Xena] And it is all your fault.
NUFE1: [lets go of the MCG Sergeant and latches onto Eve instead] Now Eve. I'm your friend. Y' know I am. Which ish why I'm... I'm telling you thish, f' your own good. But sometimes, you can be a sanctimonioush pain in the ash.
The released MCG Sergeant and his colleagues assemble by the door.
CALLISTO: [pointing at Xena] You have corrupted these innocent followers of Eli.
EVE: [also to Xena] All I wanted was for you to forsake your murderous past.
MCG SERGEANT: [thinking slowly] Corruption? Murder? And you're a friend of the infamous warlord, Sordzarus. Right men. [points at Xena] Arrest her.
The Moronic City Guard advance.
XENA: [backing away and reaching for her chakram, but it is with the other discarded weapons in the corner] Quick, Minya. Use your whip to get my chakram from over there.
MINYA: But Xena...
XENA: Just do it.
Minya uncoils her whip and whirls her arm wildly. On the back flick, the whip catches one of the oil lamps from above the bar, which smashes in the center of the room. On the next flick it gets caught in the rafters. Minya tugs it free, bringing down a clump of straw thatch to feed the blaze. Everyone backs off.
XENA: Minya! You said you'd been practicing with the whip.
MINYA: Yeah, but I didn't say that I got to be any good at it.
CALLISTO: [staring at the growing flames] Oh no. Not again.
GABRIELLE: [hesitantly] Xena. Do you remember way, way back, before that thing with Morpheus, and the advice you gave me?
XENA: Never let a centaur use your bathroom?
GABRIELLE: No. All the stuff about how to avoid trouble, get out of trouble, stay out of trouble. Things like that.
XENA: No. What was the advice?
As the flames get higher, everyone rushes for the door, except Cyrene's ghost.
CYRENE'S GHOST: [calling after them] Don't worry about the fire. It only stings for the first few minutes.

Scene ten. In the tavern. Walls, ceiling and tables are scorched and smoking. Most of the ceiling is missing. The blackened door is hanging open crookedly. Present are Xena, Gabrielle and Eve.
EVE: [furious] That was the most humiliating experience of my life.
XENA: Then you haven't lived long enough, sweetie.
EVE: I give up with you. I will go and preach Eli's message to those willing to listen.
XENA: It's a lost cause. People aren't going to spend days talking things through, when they can get the same result quicker by kicking ass.
EVE: Eli's way will triumph. Love is all that we need. Now that the old gods have gone, people will be able to build their own lives.
XENA: Yeah. Well I don't trust most people any more than I trusted the old gods.
EVE: You are so cynical. With one true, loving God to follow, there will be an end to hatred and suffering. The days of people like you are numbered.
XENA: Yeah? Well, remember what my old friend Monti Pythonicus use to say - No one expects the Spanish Inquisition.
EVE: [squeals in frustration and storms out] Goodbye, mother.
GABRIELLE: So, what did old Monti mean by that?
XENA: [shrugs] Who knows? It just seemed to fit.


PostScript. Xena is looking out through the open doorway.
XENA: [calling] Eve. Sweetie. I didn't mean it.
GABRIELLE: Don't worry. She'll get over it. And at least we're finished with those god-awful meetings.
XENA: [sighs] Yeah. I guess so. It will be like old times again.
Xena turns away, swinging the charred door shut. Behind the door is Callisto with a manic grin and a very large sword.
CALLISTO: Oh yes. Just like old times.


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