Spotlight is on an exhausted and dirty looking woman dressed in rags. She is sitting on a park bench there is a sleeping child of about ten at her feet in a bundle of blankets she is stroking his hair fondly. Grusha: Someone once said that “it takes a village to raise a child”, but I did it all by myself. No means of support, but a whole lot of love. [Pause] Someone else once said that “Having children makes you no more a parent than having a piano makes you a pianist.” My name is Grusha and this is my story.
Angry Villagers are charging in the direction of a castle, each brandishing a weapon such as a pickaxe, some are carrying torches; they overturn everything that lies in their wake leaving a trail of destruction behind them. Upbeat music is playing loudly as they near the castle the music fades, the leader climbs up onto a boulder. A queen and a servant girl (Grusha) are sitting in a very grand room; the queen is sitting on a throne whereas Grusha has a much harder stool next to a baby’s crib. The spotlight is on the queen. Grusha holds the baby out to the queen.
Queen: Grusha! Take that baby away from me! I told you- I will only hold it in public. Grusha: Sorry your majesty, I forgot… Queen: [cutting across her] Yes, well you’re not paid to forget now, are you? [Pauses as sounds of distant commotion grow closer to the palace]Grusha… What is that racket? Grusha runs to the window obediently Grusha: [scared] Well your majesty, it seems there is a riot. Queen: Pesky Commoners! They both freeze as words such as KILL or BURN reach them Queen: [also scared] It appears to be quite serious. Get me my cloak and some supplies, I’m leaving.
Grusha: Yes your majesty, [pause] what about the baby? Queen: I can’t very well take it now, can I? Grusha: [spluttering] You’re going to LEAVE the BABY? The Queen does not reply, she sweeps out of the doorway leaving Grusha holding the baby. Suddenly a pickaxe comes flying through the window, Grusha screams and runs out of the room.
A busy market place, Sellers are calling out bargains, A policeman patrols the street. On each pole there is a wanted poster featuring a picture of Grusha or the queen. Grusha enters, trying to hush the baby who is crying, she approaches one of the stalls. Grusha: Could you spare a bit of milk for my baby? Seller: Certainly not free of charge, You gotta make a living around ‘ere. Grusha: But I haven’t any money! Seller: Yeah, well neither ‘ave I.
Policeman: [to Grusha] Can I see some identification please? You look very similar to those in this poster. Grusha: I’m sorry sir, I left it at home, but I assure you I’m not Grusha or the Queen. If I was, do you honestly think I’d be walking around’she hurries off leaving the policeman looking confused.
Town-Crier: [shouting] five gold pieces reward for ‘elp in the capture of the Queen, the prince or the servant girl who are wanted in the name of the revolution. Villager: Ooh, what I wouldn’t do for five gold pieces, [grabs a scruffy looking child by the hand] Come along Annie the chickens need to be fed. Grusha hears the mention of chickens and follows behind stealthily. When they reach the house she waits and watches the little girl enter the chicken pen with a bag of scraps. When she returns to the house Grusha runs into the pen, when she takes some eggs the chickens start clucking and squawking loudly. The mother runs out of the house brandishing an axe.
Villager: You bloody fox, no chickens for you this time… [She enters the chicken pen and sees Grusha crouched immobilized] What in ‘eavens name? Get out! [She suddenly freezes] ‘ang on, you’re the one they all want [whispering] I’m going to be rich! [She grabs her wrist] Grusha: Please! No! I’m only trying to save the baby- Villager: [interrupting her, shouting towards house] ANNIE! QUICK, GET THE POLICEMAN! The child runs off back in the direction of the village. Grusha: Look, I’m sorry… but I have to. She twists her arm out of her grip, grabs the axe and swings it at her using the wooden part. Grusha exits.
Five years on, the revolution has ended and the queen is back on the throne but Grusha is still on the run. The baby is now a child. They are eating some bread and there is some water in a flask. The boy is climbing, he falls over and cuts his arm, he starts screaming. Grusha: Oh Michael! No! [She rushes over to help him] Michael: (crying) Mummy, it hurts so much. Grusha: Come on, We’ll have to get some help. She carries him into a farmhouse. They bandage him up, meanwhile someone fetches a policeman who arrives before Grusha [who is very flustered] notices.
Policeman: Miss Grusha, You’re under arrest. I’m taking you to see the queen. In a courtroom. Grusha is on the left and the queen on the right. The child is in the middle of the two. Judge Azdak: We are here to determine who will gain custody of young Michael here. The method is simple. You will each take one of Michael’s arms and the person who manages to pull Michael away from the other person will win. When they begin, Grusha lets go because she does not want to hurt Michael.