Barnaby, Wentworth and Jam in a line on stage. Wentworth on the audience’s left, Barnaby in the middle and Jam on the right.
J: [thoughtfully] It’s been a long time
W: [unemotionally] Yes
J: [mournfully] Is this it?
B: [melodramatically, gesturing] When shall we three meet again? In thunder -
J: [wearily, not malicious] Oh, do shut up, Barnaby
B: [indignant] Why?
J: We are not witches. We’re not intelelelectuals. We are not about to greet Macbeth with the news of his iminent appointment as Thane of Cawdor. Wandering around quoting The Bard at inappropriate moments…it’s not the done thing.
B: [taking the piss] Not the done thing? Oh gollygosh, it’s just not cricket.
J: Do shut up, Barnaby. This should be solemn.
The three men fall into silence. Some time passes.
B: I’d quite like to be a witch. A wizard I mean. I’d be great and terrible. Like a god. Or the Wizard of Oz.
J: I did think the others would come. They RSVPd…
B: I like it just us three! Like old times. Remember? [pause] Oh, one could get quite soggy with nostalgia and need wringing out to dry.
J: Oh do shut up, Barnaby.
J: I was getting all solemn until you ruined it Barnaby. Prattling on about the bleeding Wizard of Oz! If anyone gave you magical powers I’d disappear faster than you could say Abracadabra.
B: [laughs, appreciatively] I say, good punning there.
B: He made a joke.
J: I most certainly did not. I was observing the solemnity of the occasion. [pause] Unlike some.
B: Oh, bollocks to solemnity. Don’t you know any synonynonymns for solemn? Sombre? Grave? Serious? Fucking Miserable? [pause] Anyway, you did make a joke.
J: I tell you, I did no such thing. And watch your mouth, Barnaby.
B: [impatiently] But you did! If it was unintentional then I suppose it was an example of your inate (read: deeply hidden) wit. You said that if anyone gave me magical powers you’d disappear. Now, you meant that you’d run away because you wouldn’t trust me with magic, and you could also have meant that I would make you disappear, with my new-found magical gifts. Do you see how it works?
W: [impassive] Yes.
J: [unamused] Oh! Now I feel guilty. To make a pun at such a time…only a callous sort of chap would do such a thing. To think that I could pun with such gay abandon. [shakes head in self reproach]
B: Only Wentworth and I heard you. And we wouldn’t besmirch your reputation by revealing that you destroyed any semblance of solemnity on this occasion by punning, would we Wentworth old chap?
B: Although, the occasion did have a certain gravitas until you said that.
W: For shame, Jam. For shame.
J: What? It was a mistake!
W: [solemnly] Never trust a man named after a foodstuff. That’s my advice. You’d do well to mark it young Barnaby.
[Barnaby shuffles closer to Wentworth and away from Jam]
J: Me Mam just liked the name…that’s all.
[B shuffles closer to W]
J: [with a note of desperation in his voice] Chaps? Everyone likes Jam…
B: [triumphantly] But that’s got a double meaning too! Do you mean everyone likes Jam-the-man or Jam-on-toast. [pause] Or bread. Or scones. I mean, I like jam on scones. But Jam-the-man….well, at best I’m indifferent.
B: Which did you mean?
W: [hard] Either way, you have now made a pun and told an untruth. This cannot stand.
J: [wildly] An untruth? I…certainly…did not…
W: [gathering steam] From Barnaby’s previous statement it is clear that not everyone likes Jam-the-man, he is “at best indifferent”, and I happen to hate Jam-on-toast. And scones. Thus, neither interpretation of your pun is truth.
[B and W are now shoulder to shoulder, facing J]
J: I didn’t intend…to pun…
B: But you did.
B: Although the second was feeble.
J: I should…
Exit J. W and B shake hands.